Note: This is a regular monthly feature, highlighting, well, the highlights on Turner Classics' schedule. Why? Simple. Because Turner Classics remains a veritible college education in film. Say no more.
June is an unusually satisfying month for Turner Classics, with the premiere cable channel (1) paying tribute to the singular Ida Lupino as both actress and director, (2) devoting a good part of its schedule to the impressive/exhaustive "Screened Out: Gay Images in Film" (including the subgenre of prison flicks) and (3) building a series around James Sanders' exquisite picture book, "Celluloid Skyline: New York and the Movies." And that doesn't include its usual line-up of classics ("North by Northwest," "Cape Fear," "The Diary of Anne Frank," "Lord Jim" and "The Big Knife"), plus premieres and difficult-to-see titles.
Here are a few assorted titles scheduled this month that I highly recommend (check your local starting times):
June 4 – A Kim Novak double-bill: Richard Quine’s “Bell, Book and Candle,” not officially part of Turner’s gay series but note playwright John Van Druten's shrewd witches-as-gays-and-lesbians subtext here, and George Sidney’s “Pal Joey” – or, better known as “An Evening with Frank Sinatra." Rita Hayworth is on hand, too. A Bonus: "Thunder Road"! With Mitchum! Keely Smith sings! Watch it!
June 5 – Paul Wendkos’ “Gidget,” with the irresistible Sandra Dee in her signature role, and “Out of the Fog,” with Anatol Litvak directing Lupino.
June 7 – “Bells Are Ringing,” in which director Vincente Minnelli, seemingly cognizant of changing times, serious redefines the film musical into something lighter, less insistent and virtually dance-free. Note in particular the revolutionary way in which Minnelli staged "I Met a Girl" and what's left of "Mu-Cha-Cha." Also, check out Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis in "At War with the Army," a title that has reportedly fallen into public domain, and in "Living It Up," in which Jerry does a scene-stopping jitterbug with Sheree North (in a repeat of her performance from the Broadway musical, "Hazel Flagg," on which "Living It Up" was based).
June 11 – “Caged,” John Cromwell (James’ father) directs Eleanor Parker, Agnes Moorehead and Hope Emerson in a juicy women-behind-bars saga.
June 12 - The "Men and Women Behind Bars” series continues with “So Young, So Bad,” “The Strange One” and “Women’s Prison.” Also check out “Gangster Story” (Walter Matthau’s only directorial effort), Billy Wilder’s “Ace in a Hole” and Franklin J. Schaffner’s film of the Gore Vidal political play, “The Best Man.”
June 14 – “Reflections in a Golden Eye,” John Huston’s take on the Carson McCullers tale set on a military base where perversity reigns, with Marlon Brando and Elizabeth Taylor chewing the scenery, and John Gage’s “The Velvet Touch,“ with Rosalind Russell as an actress who unintentionally murders her husband and Claire Trevor as her rival, who is blamed for the crime.
June 16 – “Celluloid Skyline”: “Moonstruck,” Norman Jewison’s valentine to New York and its eccentric denizens.
June 17 – Celebrate Father’s Day with Gilbert Cates’ excellent (and topical) “I Never Sang for My Father” and Vincente Minnelli’s charming “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father,” among other titles. Gene Hackman and Glenn Ford excel, respectively.
June 21 – A Jane Russell double-bill: Norman Taurog’s entertainingly trashy “The Fuzzy Pink Nightgown” and “His Kind of Woman,” with Russell’s male counterpart, Robert Mitchum. John Farrow (Mia’s father) directed. Also, a Judy Holliday double-bill: George Cukor’s “The Marrying Kind” and Richard Quine’s “Full of Life.”
June 22 – H.C. Potter’s “Three for the Show,” a saucy musical starring Betty Grable as an unwitting, gleeful bigamist (one of the reasons the film was condemned by the Catholic Church’s Legion of Decency), plus Otto Preminger’s “Angel Face,” with Mitchum and a very evil Jean Simmons, and a Lee Remick double-bill of Preminger’s “Anatomy of a Murder” and Arthur Hiller’s “The Wheeler Dealers”
June 25 – “Screened Out”: Minnelli’s “Tea and Sympathy” and Preminger’s “Advise and Consent” (featuring the scariest gay-bar scene ever).
June 26 – “Screened Out”: William Wyler’s “The Children’s Hour,” with outstanding performances by Shirley MacLaine, Miriam Hopkins and especially Fay Bainter, and Edward Dmytryk’s “A Walk on the Wild Side” with the knockout cast of Jane Fonda, Capucine, Anne Baxter, Joanna Moore (Tatum O’Neal’s mom) and Barbara Stanwyck. Plus, a trio of minor classics directed by Ida Lupino – “The Bigamist” “Outrage” and “The Hitch-Hiker”
June 27 – Two more fine Lupino-directed movies, “Hard, Fast and Beautiful” and “The Lady and the Mob,” plus the enchanting Vincent Sherman homefront comedy, “Pillow to Post” with Lupino and William Prince (channeling Henry Fonda here). Also, set the VCR to tape these three now-obscure “Screened Out” entries: Stanley Donen’s “Staircase” with Rex Harrison and Richard Burton, Mark Rydell’s once-shocking “The Fox” and Billy Friedkin’s film of the Mart Crowley trailblazing play, “The Boys in the Band.”
June 28 – “Screened Out”: Beryl Reid, Coral Browne and Susannah York, all riveting in Robert Aldrich’s must-see “The Killing of Sister George.” Also: A repeat of Martin-&-Lewis' "At War with the Army."
(Artwork: Hayworth, Sinatra and Novak brighten Rodgers and Hart's "Pal Joey." Jerry and Sheree do a mean jitterbug in "Living It Up." Celebrate Father's Day with Glenn Ford in Minnelli's "The Courtship of Eddie's Father." Also poster art for Minnelli's "Bells Are Ringing," Preminger's "Angel Face" and Cukor's "The Marrying Kind")
* * *
Anyone interested in perusing some 2060 of my film reviews, dating back to 1994, can do so by simply going to RottenTomatoes.Com