Love old or unusual movies but never know when they’re on? Here are several I recommend:
The Woman In White (1948): There have been many movie versions of Wilkie Collins’ classic Victorian gothic suspense novel, The Woman in White, but this one is undoubtedly the most famous. This time around the chilling story gets the full studio treatment. Gig Young plays a young painter hired to give lessons to Laura Fairlie (Eleanor Parker). On the way to the house, however, he chances across a mad young woman (also played by Parker) who bears an uncanny resemblance to his student. This is just the tip of the iceberg to all of the intrigue and dark secrets Young discovers in the creepy Fairlie mansion. The fine cast includes Alexis Smith (improbably cast as Laura’s “plain” cousin: as if!) and Sydney Greenstreet and Agnes Moorehead as the disturbed and disturbing Count and Countess Fosco, who are almost certainly up to no good. Though purist fans of the novel may be annoyed at some big plot changes, this film is good, old-fashioned, gothic fun.
Turner Classic Movies, 3 p.m. Tuesday
Gilda (1946): I love Rita Hayworth, but I’ve never enjoyed her most famous movie. It’s not her fault, really. She’s beautiful and seductive as the title character, and the movie is in a genre I generally love — film noir. I blame Glenn Ford. He just doesn’t belong in film noir; he’s too much of a goody-two-shoes. He’s so square I can’t really believe him playing anything more edgy than a high school teacher. It throws the whole movie into a weird off-kilter posture. I’m reminded of Hayworth’s glorious quip about why all of her five marriages failed: “They all married Gilda; they all woke up with me.” On the other hand, pretty much everyone in the world disagrees with me and loves this movie. What do you think?
Turner Classic Movies, Tuesday, 1:15 a.m.
Signs (2002): This is the last Mel Gibson movie I ever saw, and it’s a really good one. Back before writer/director M. Night Shyamalan’s reputation was in the tatters it’s in now, he made this chilling thriller about one family’s experience with an alien invasion. Gibson stars as a widower facing the terrifying event with his younger brother (Joaquin Phoenix) and two young children (Rory Culkin and Abigail Breslin). The smartest thing the movie does is keep the focus tight on the family. This isn’t War of the Worlds — it’s our house, right now, tonight. The immediacy and intimacy of this family thriller wouldn’t be matched until 2018’s A Quiet Place.
Now streaming on HBO GO / HBO Now.
Harold And Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay (2008): Oh, Harold and Kumar. You just can’t stay out of trouble. In this idiotic sequel to their classic first film (Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle), our fearless duo (John Cho and Kal Penn) board a plane for Amsterdam and end up being arrested as terrorists. It gets nuttier from there. I have a serious weakness for all three films (so far!) featuring these characters. I cannot tell you that it’s actually a good movie, but I am not ashamed to declare my love for it.
Now streaming on Netflix.
Trivia Question No. 794: Which of this week’s performers spent several years working at the White House?
Answer to Trivia Question No. 792: William Mapother from In the Bedroom is a cousin of Tom Cruise.