Love old or unusual movies but never know when they’re on? Here are several I recommend:
Bombshell (1933): This classic farce was Jean Harlow’s chance to send up her own celebrity image, and in fact the entire Hollywood establishment. She plays a barely fictionalized version of herself — a spoiled, platinum blonde movie sex goddess. The joke is, she’s surrounded by so many hangers-on that her life is woefully complicated. Chief among her tormenters is her publicist, played by the great fast-talking actor Lee Tracy (and with the wonderful character name of Space Hanlon). Frank Morgan plays her leech of a father, and Louise Beavers her loyal maid. The entire movie is frantic fun.
Turner Classic Movies, 7 p.m. Monday
The Spy Who Dumped Me (2018): After the success of the Melissa McCarthy vehicle Spy in 2015, it makes sense that this movie got the green light. It’s another silly girl power spy movie, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon star as BFFs whose world is turned upside down when the figure out that a recent ex-boyfriend was a spy. This leads them into a ridiculous globetrotting spy-movie plot. Along for the daffy ride are Justin Theroux, Sam Heughan and Hasan Minhaj. It’s a quippy, sarcastic, improbable mess. Enjoy!
Now streaming on Amazon Prime.
Frances Ha (2012): This can be a polarizing movie. Some of my friends hate it. But I really like it, mostly because it’s an unblinking look at an under-explored theme: What happens when your dreams run out of steam? When do you transition from and aspiring something to … something else? Greta Gerwig fearlessly delves into this territory in director Noah Baumbach’s Francis Ha. She and the director co-wrote the screenplay. The lovely cast includes Adam Driver, Michael Zegen and Charlotte D’Ambroise. Gerwig went on to great success writing and directing 2017’s Lady Bird.
Now streaming on Netflix.
Human Desire (1954): I’ve never been a Glenn Ford fan. I’ve just always found him boring and unconvincing. However, I recently watched Fritz Lang’s Human Desire, and it went a long way towards me letting Ford out of jail. He’s really good in this tense, sexy, dirty story of lust, infidelity and violence in the shadow of the railyards. Gloria Grahame stars as the dame who causes all of the trouble. Broderick Crawford plays her miserable SOB of a husband, and Ford is the bright-eyed returning war vet. What I like about this movie is how it doesn’t shrink from its own smutty turpitude. The movie knows what it is, even if Grahame’s character doesn’t. Ford delivers some memorably shaming withering looks before the film is over.
Now streaming on The Criterion Channel.
Trivia Question No. 796: What epic silent film is German director Fritz Lang most known for?
Answer to Trivia Question No. 794: Kal Penn (of the Harold and Kumar movies) spent several years working in the White House Office of Public Engagement.