Love old or unusual movies but never know when they’re on? Here are several I recommend:
Easy Living (1937): Here’s the movie that made me a Jean Arthur fan. It’s a classic screwball romantic comedy written by the great Preston Sturges. Edward Arnold plays a rich New Yorker who’s fed up with his wife’s spendthrift ways. In a fit of anger, he tosses her brand new sable coat out the window of his Fifth Avenue mansion, and it lands on unsuspecting working girl Jean, who’s riding by in a double-decker city bus. How the coat affects her perspective and her life is fascinating to watch, especially when Arnold’s son, Ray Milland, comes into the picture and is captivated by her charms. This is a classic ’30s movie, full of wit, sophistication, and warmth.
Turner Classic Movies, 5:30 p.m. Thursday
Mousehunt (1997): Before he took over the world with his Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, Gore Verbinski made his directorial debut with this daffy broad comedy about two brothers vs. a crafty mouse. The setup is that the brothers (Nathan Lane and Lee Evans) have inherited a broken-down but potentially valuable mansion and the mouse is standing in the way of them fixing it up. That’s pretty much the whole movie. If that sounds awfully slight ... well, it is. But somehow it doesn’t matter. The brothers’ increasingly spectacular attempts (and failures) to foil the mouse are consistently entertaining, believe it or not.
Now available on Amazon Prime.
Frantic (1988): This unnerving thriller has a terrific premise: What if you were in the middle of a dire emergency but couldn’t convince anyone you were actually in trouble? That’s what happens to poor Harrison Ford, whose wife (Betty Buckley) disappears from their Paris hotel room. And then Ford tries, in vain, to convince anyone that something’s actually wrong. The hotel staff are polite, professional ... but do not think anything terrible has happened to the wife. Ford knows better, and before the movie is over, he’ll be able to prove it.
Now streaming on HBO GO / HBO NOW.
Aguirre: The Wrath Of God (1972): I finally caught up with this famous movie about a brutal conquistador gone very rogue. Klaus Kinski stars as the second-in-command of a splinter of Pizarro’s army searching for the lost golden city of El Dorado in the Amazon. Aguirre is a ruthless martinet who seems unaware that he’s bringing his small expedition into more and more danger. Legendary director Werner Herzog works in a very minimalist style here, and the result is an unglamorous, muddy and visceral look at foolhardy exploration. If you can get over the awkward dubbing, it’s a chilling and even beautiful experience.
Now streaming on the Criterion Channel.
Trivia Question 813: In what famous David Lean epic did Klaus Kinski have a memorable cameo?
Answer to Trivia Question 811: Gore Verbinski was the director who helped create the enormously successful Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.