Love old or unusual movies but never know when they're on? Here are several I recommend:
The Cincinnati Kid (1966): This is one of those wonderful movies that showcases the talents of multiple generations of terrific actors. Heading the young contingent is Steve McQueen as a down-on-his-luck poker-playing drifter. Along with Steve are youngsters Tuesday Weld and Ann-Margaret (each a worthy addition to any movie). Steve really thinks he's hot stuff in the card department, and he wants to prove it by getting in on an important upcoming game. He's got to deal with the older generation to accomplish this, and that includes Edward G. Robinson in a great performance as poker legend Lancey Howard, Joan Blondell (superb in one of her last major roles) and even Cab Calloway! Also on hand are Rip Torn and Jack Weston. Director Norman Jewison does a great job of creating a seedy 1930s New Orleans atmosphere, and the poker game sequences are absolutely unforgettable. Grab your chips and ante up!
Turner Classic Movies, 5:30 a.m. Friday.
Caché (2005): This super-creepy film tells the story of a French family (Juliette Binoche, Daniel Auteuill and Lester Madedonsky) whose life is turned upside down when they are delivered a series of surveillance videotapes of their own lives. The director is auteur Michael Haneke (Amour, Funny Games) and he's not a guy to cater to audience expectations. The best way to experience this movie is to imagine it happening to your family. What would you do? What could you do? Don't look for easy answers: this movie is about unsettling questions.
Now streaming on The Criterion Channel.
Long Shot (2019): No, I wouldn't have thought up Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron as a romantic comedy couple, either. But here Long Shot is. Theron plays the secretary of state who, because it's a movie, used to be journalist Rogen's babysitter. When they reconnect, she ends up making him her speechwriter -- and we're off to the races. In addition to being a love story, it's also a fish-out-of-water story (for Rogen), and the movie is full of engaging wit and warmth. Sadly, the movie didn't do much business when it came out earlier this year. Here's your chance to rediscover it!
Now streaming in HBO GO / HBO NOW.
The Thirty-Nine Steps (1935): Here's the granddaddy of all chase films. Poor hapless Robert Donat is a tourist in London who meets a young woman who claims she's on the run from spies. After she is murdered (don't you just hate it when that happens?), suddenly he's on the run from the same spies. The chase takes him all over England and Scotland, and for a lot of it he's literally handcuffed to the beautiful Madeleine Carroll. This groundbreaking film helped create the formula for many Hitchcock (and other) films to come, from North by Northwest to Silver Streak. Donat and Carroll are charm personified, and the movie is as winning today as it was when it was released in 1935. Beware the two tepid remakes!
Now streaming on Amazon Prime.
Trivia Question 822: Can you name a Best Picture winning film that contains a pivotal poker scene involving cheating?
Answer to Trivia Question 820: Steven Soderbergh's film Sex, Lies and Videotape contains Andie MacDowell's hilarious rumination on being happy and getting fat.