Love old or unusual movies but never know when they’re on? Here are several I recommend:
The Slender Thread (1965): Sydney Pollack made a very promising feature directing debut with this taut tale. Based on a piece by journalist Shana Alexander, it stars Sidney Poitier as a Seattle college student who’s working a crisis hotline. On one particular night he’s manning the phones all by himself, and he gets a call from a distraught woman (Anne Bancroft) who’s just taken a pile of sleeping pills. The film is a journey of exploration as Poitier does his best to keep the woman on the phone while he gets out of her the information he needs to get her help. The strong supporting cast includes Stephen Hill, Telly Savalas and Dabney Coleman. Get ready for some nail biting.
Turner Classic Movies, 10:15 p.m.
Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018): This movie was originally supposed to star Julianne Moore, and I don’t think she would have been nearly as right in the part as the fabulous Melissa McCarthy. McCarthy plays real-life has-been author Lee Israel, who discovers a not-exactly-legal way to repair her fortunes: Forging letters of famous dead authors. As you might imagine, things get pretty thorny. McCarthy is a revelation, playing an almost completely unlikeable character who still manages to charm you. Richard E. Grant has the role of a lifetime as her sort-of sidekick. Jane Curtin also shines in a small role as Israel’s exasperated agent.
Now streaming on HBO GO / HBO NOW.
Demolition Man (1993): I can’t believe I’ve never featured this movie in the column. What’s wrong with me? While average movie fans may have enjoyed this 1993 for all of the mano-a-mano between stars Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes, us real movie lovers revere this film for its sharply satirical projection of a Southern California circa 2032. Sandra Bullock, who came into the movie on zero notice after Lori Petty was fired, absolutely kills as Lieutenant Lenina Huxley, the chirpy, naïve cop who’s used to a city that’s moved past violence. The details of this brave new world are weird and funny and smart, and you should check it out if you missed it the first time around!
Now streaming on Hulu.
Bathtubs Over Broadway (2018): Steve Young used to work on a recurring segment on the Late Show with David Letterman called “Dave’s Record Collection.” As he journeyed through the world of esoteric and rare recordings, he discovered an entire genre of album he didn’t know existed: The industrial musical. Turns out that for decades, big corporations would hire Broadway-level talent to create entertainments for huge company-wide meetings. If this sounds extremely boring, trust me, you haven’t lived until you’ve seen some of these production numbers. Young becomes obsessed over these shows, and by the end of this movie, you may be, too.
Now available on Amazon Video.
Trivia Question #808: Which of this week’s performers has co-starred in films with Matthew Broderick Tom Hanks, and Jane Fonda?
Answer to Trivia Question #806: Mary Astor had an affair with playwright George S. Kaufman, which became embarrassingly public.