Love old or unusual movies but never know when they’re on? Here are several I recommend:
Flamingo Road (1949): Don’t miss Joan Crawford in one of her absolute best vehicles, 1949’s Flamingo Road. Directed by Michael Curtiz (Casablanca, The Adventures of Robin Hood), this crackling melodrama tells the kind of story no one did better than Joan — the girl from the wrong side of the tracks who attempts to claw her way to the top of the social heap. An added attraction to this film is Sidney Greenstreet in an unusual role as a ruthless Southern political boss. After she’s stranded in an insular Southern town, watch Joan go from carnival dancer to roadhouse hostess to ... oh, well, you get the idea. If you’re a Joan fan, this one’s a must see. If you aren’t a Joan fan yet, this is the movie that could convert you.
Turner Classic Movies, 10 a.m. Friday
Pillow To Post (1945): Here’s an offbeat wartime romance starring the ever-appealing Ida Lupino. She portrays a young woman whose life has been complicated by the war in more ways than one: The shortage of available men leads to her job as a saleswoman, and while on the road she suddenly is without a place to stay. Her madcap movie solution: Pretend to be a war bride to get a place on an Army base. Her hapless victim/fake husband is played by a young William Prince. This is a silly but enjoyable piece of fluff.
Turner Classic Movies, 11:45 a.m. Friday
The Conversation (1974): Released the same year as his much more famous Godfather II, The Conversation is a truly great thriller from writer/director Francis Ford Coppola. Gene Hackman stars as a surveillance expert hired by Robert Duvall to spy on two of his employees (Cindy Williams and Frederic Forrest). Because of his past work, Hackman is afraid of what his work will be used for — and with good reason. What follows is quiet, low-key and truly terrifying and surprising. There’s a disturbing scene in a hotel bathroom that will haunt you long after seeing this underrated masterpiece.
Now streaming on The Criterion Channel.
Unfriended (2015): You know I love gimmicky movies, and the gimmick this one uses is a doozy: The entire film takes place on a single computer screen. If that sounds static and boring, it’s not. The story is straightforward horror pulp: Exactly a year after their friend committed suicide, a group of online friends get a message from her account… spoooooky. Things escalate from there, and let’s just say it’s not pleasant. In a great way. Unfriended is scary and clever.
Now streaming on HBO GO / HBO NOW.
Trivia Question 823: An excellent 2018 thriller used the same clever gimmick as Unfriended. It also has a one-word title. What is it?