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.
Oct. 1: Two by Nicholas Ray - “They Live By Night” (also filmed by Altman as “Thieves Like Us”) and “King of Kings” (in which Jeffrey Hunter as Jesus had to shave not only his chest but also his arm pits).
Oct. 3: “Hook, Lines and Sinker,” avec Jerry Lewis, and “Manhattan,” arguably Woody Allen’s best movie. Or is it? Funny. I look at the films I revered in the '70s and now wonder, What was I thinking? In this case, Gordon Willis' shimmering black-&-white cinematography is still a feast for the eyes (and actually makes New York more attractive than it really is), but, boy, are these characters annoying.
Oct. 4: Kicks off screenings of films featuring the star of the month, Henry Fonda. Plus Spielberg’s “Jaws,” Davis and Hopkins in Vincent Sherman’s “Old Acquaintance” and Glenn Ford in the charming Geroge Marshall flick, “Imitation General.”
Oct. 5: “Star Struck,” Sidney Lumet’s wonderful film about the theatah (featuring Susan Strasberg in her only great film role) and the 1942 short, “The Tell-Tale Heart,” about a killer haunted by the sound of his victim’s beating heart.
Oct. 6: “Born Losers,” the first “Billy Jack” movie, and Woody Allen, Andrea Marcovicci and Zero Mostel in Martin Ritt’s “The Front.”
Oct. 7: More with Mostel - “The Angel Levine,” directed by Jan Kadar and co-starring Harry Belafonte. This is a good day to stay home and watch Turner all day - “Three for the Show,” a disarming Betty Grable musical; the peerless Dennis O’Keefe in Allan Dwan’s marvelous “Brewster’s Millions”; Douglas Sirk’s “Written on the Wind” and John Huston’s “The Misfits” and the 1962 family film from Columbia, “Safe at Home,” starring Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle.
Oct. 8: Norman Taurog’s difficult-to-see “Please Believe Me” with Deborah Kerr, Peter Lawford and Robert Walker. Plus: “The Tender Trap,” in which Frank Sinatra, Debbie Reynolds, david Wayne and Celeste Holm get to sing the title song under the end credits.
Oct. 9: “Jeanne Eagles,” in which Kim Novak plays the ill-fated actress for her “Pal Joey"/”The Eddie Duchin Story” director, George Sidney. Plus: Richard Quine directs his pal Jack Lemmon yet again in “How to Murder Your Wife,” their sixth and final film together.
Oct. 10: “Lover Come Back,” surefire sex comedy with Hudson and Day.
Oct. 11: “The Ox-Bow Incident,” William A. Wellman’s acute commentary on America’s lynch-mob mentality.
Oct. 12: Burt Kennedy’s “The Rounders,” with Fonda and Ford; Plus a William Castle film fete - his nifty “Homicidal,” and “Strait Jacket,” “13 Ghosts” and “The Tingler.”
Oct. 13: “Cimarron,” Anthony Mann’s excellent remake of the Edna Ferber story with Glenn Ford and Maria Schell.
Oct. 14: Two for ‘tweens – Gary Nelson’s original “Freaky Friday” with Jodie Foster and Barbara Harris, and Ida Lupino’s terrific “The Trouble with Angels,” with Rosalind Russell, Hayley Mills, June Harding and ... Gypsy Rose Lee.
Oct. 15: “Lord Love a Duck,” George Axelrod’s love letter to Tuesday Weld. Roddy McDowell has a ball in this one. Plus: “Felix Saves the Day,” a silent short with Felix the Cat, and Georges Franju’s deliciously creepy “Eyes Without a Face.”
Oct. 17: “Panama Hattie,” with the irresistible Ann Sothern, and George Stevens’ “The Greatest Story Ever Told,” with Max Von Sydow as Christ.
Oct. 18: Steven’s affecting “The Diary of Anne Frank,” a must-see.
Oct. 19: “Scream of Fear,” another with neglected film ingénue, Susan Stransberg.
Oct. 21: “Fiddler on the Roof,” Norman Jewison’s superior film version of the beloved stage musical, with an outstanding Topol, may be the last truly great film musical - certainly the last with a dream sequence. To Jewison's credit, he didn't stint on the Jewish-ness of the material to appease the masses.
Oct. 22: Ingmar Bergman’s art-house epic, “Fanny and Alexander” and Robert Wise’s “Until They Sail,” starring Piper Laurie, Joan Fontaine, Jean Simmons and Sandra Dee (her first film) as sisters. With Paul Newman for a little testosterone.
Oct. 23 & 24: VCR alert, VCR Alert! a two-day Louis Malle tribute, including “Calcutta,” “Murmur of the Heart,” “Zazie Dans le Metro” and “Black Moon,” among others.
Oct. 25: Delmer Daves’ lovely, highly watchable “Spencer’s Mountain” (the Earl Hamner Jr. story that was the basis for “The Waltons”), starring Henry Fonda, Maureen O’Hara, James MacArthur, Mimsy Farmer (great! as usual) and Wally Cox.
Oct. 26: “Big Hand for the Little Lady,” Fielder Cook’s studio-alienating hybrid (with Henry Fonda and Joanne Woodward) that in its time was both mainstream movie and art-house film.
Oct. 27: Herk Harvey’s seedy “Carnival of Souls” and “The Trial,” in which Orson Welles and Anthony Perkins take on Kafka. With the much-missed Romy Schneider and Jeanne Moreau.
Oct. 28: Anthony Perkins again, this time with Sophia Loren in Anatol Litvak’s “Five Miles to Midnight.” Plus: Richard Brooks’ great “Elmer Gantry,” with a mesmerizing Burt Lancaster. Why hasn't anyone turned this into a Broadway musical by now?
Oct. 29: Masaki Kobayahi’s exotic “Kwaidan,” a ‘60s art-house treasure encompassing four short stories - a horror film, I suppose, but with visual style to spare.
Oct. 30: “Song Without End,” George Cukor’s opulent take on the life of Franz Liszt (with Dirk Bogarde and Capucine) and the underrated Sal Mineo in Don Weis’ forgotten “The Gene Krupa Story.” Plus: “Tender Comrade,” with the interesting team of Robert Ryan and Ginger Rogers.
(Artwork: Louis Malle directing Brigitte Bardot in 1962's "A Very Private Affair"/"Vie privée," and the French poster art for Delmer Daves' lovely "Spencer's Mountain")
* * *
Anyone interested in perusing some 2060 of my film reviews, dating back to 1994, can do so by simply going to RottenTomatoes.Com