This is the time of year where you can still see the best movies – by avoiding the theaters. Fortunately, there are some great movies on TV during late August – and here are six of them. Thank God (and Ted Turner) for Turner Classic Movies.
Cool Hand Luke (1967): Paul Newman plays a free-spirited character that refuses to bend to The System – even in a Southern chain gang. Many memorable scenes include the fight with George Kennedy’s Dragline, the wager on eating a massive amount of hardboiled eggs, getting sent to the hole, the scariest aviator sunglasses ever and the unforgettable: “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate”. One of my 10 Best Prison Movies and 10 Most Memorable Food Scenes. TCM 8/21
A Place in the Sun: One of the great films of the 1950s. Montgomery Clift is a poor kid who is satisfied to have a job and a trashy girlfriend (Shelly Winters in a brilliant portrayal). Then, he learns that he could have it all – the CEO’s daughter Elizabeth Taylor, lifelong comfort, status and career. Did I mention Elizabeth Taylor? The now pregnant girlfriend is the only obstacle to more than he could have ever dreamed for – can he get rid of her without getting caught? TCM 8/23
A Face in the Crowd (1957): This is a brilliant political classic by Elia Kazan. Lonesome Rhodes (Andy Griffith) is a failed country guitar picker who is hauled out of an Arkansas drunk tank by talent scout Marcia Jeffries (Patricia Neal). It turns out that he has a folksy charm that is dynamite in the new medium of television. He quickly rises in the infotainment universe until he is an A List celeb and a political power broker. To Jeffries’ horror, Rhodes reveals himself to be an evil, power hungry megalomaniac. Jeffries made him – can she break him? The seduction of a gullible public by a good timin’ charmer predicts the careers of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, although Lonesome Rhodes is meaner than Reagan and less ideological than Bush. One of my 10 Best Political Movies. TCM 8/26
Anatomy of a Murder (1959): Otto Preminger delivers a classic courtroom drama that frankly addresses sexual mores. James Stewart is a folksy but very canny lawyer defending a cynical soldier (Ben Gazzara) on a murder charge; did he discover his wife straying or is he avenging her rape? Lee Remick portrays the wife with a penchant for partying and uncertain fidelity. The Duke Ellington score could be the very best jazz score in the movies. Joseph Welch, the real-life lawyer who stood up to Sen. Joe McCarthy in a televised red scare hearing, plays the judge. TCM 8/26 score
The Stunt Man (1980): Steve Railback plays a young fugitive chased on to a movie location shoot. The director (Peter O’Toole) hides him out on the set as long as he works as a stunt double in increasingly hazardous stunts. He is attracted to the leading lady (Barbara Hershey). It doesn’t take long for him to doubt the director’s good will and to learn that not everything is as it seems. Shot on location at San Diego’s famed Hotel Del Coronado. One of my Overlooked Masterworks. Listen to Director Robert Rush describe his movie in this clip. TCM 8/28
The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976): This is one of my very favorite Westerns. Clint Eastwood directs the movie and plays a Civil War vet on the run, who unwillingly picks up a set of misfits and strays on his journey. TCM 8/31