Love old or unusual movies but never know when they’re on? Here are several I recommend:
One Way Passage (1932): Kay Francis is not remembered much these days, but in the early ’30s she was a huge star. If you’re not familiar with this forgotten star, One Way Passage is an excellent introduction to her charms. A strange, sad, and romantic film, it stars Francis as a terminally ill aristocrat on an ocean liner who meets William Powell, a convicted murderer on his way to San Quentin. Neither knows the details of the other’s situation, but somehow they know their time together is precious and short. Beautifully done with the wit, sophistication, and charm that are the hallmarks of the best studio pictures of the ’30s, One Way Passage is a short, haunting gem that will stay with you long after its 70 minutes are over.
Turner Classic Movies, 1:30 p.m. Friday
Darkman (1990): Before becoming a directorial superstar with the wildly successful Spider-Man movies, wild man Sam Raimi was famous for his crazily violent and entertaining Evil Dead movies. Darkman was made during a period of transition for Raimi between zombies and spiders. The movie is a sort of update of The Phantom of the Opera, starring Liam Neeson as a scientist who’s out for revenge after he’s horribly scarred and left for dead. His gimmick is that he’s developed a high-tech artificial skin that allows him to look like anyone — for 100 minutes. This creates lots of fun possibilities in the plot. Darkman is not a great movie, but it’s a fun, heartfelt, ingenious little romp.
Now streaming on HBO GO / HBO NOW
Everything You’ve Always Wanted to Know About Sex, But Were Afraid to Ask (1972): Believe it or not, this is a Woody Allen movie, and an alarmingly funny one. Released in 1972, it follows the format of the famous bestselling book, which was a series of questions and answers. Of course, Woody tackles great questions like “What is bestiality?” and “Do aphrodisiacs work?” The movie is bawdy, not dirty, and features riotously comedic work from Lynn Redgrave, Burt Reynolds, Heather MacRae (who has the movie’s best line), John Carradine and Louise Lasser. Special mention should be made of Gene Wilder’s amazing turn as a man in love with a sheep.
Now streaming on Amazon Prime
The King (2019): Director David Michôd and screenwriter Joel Edgerton have concocted an irresistible riff on Shakespeare’s Henry V. I say Shakespeare’s, because even though they do not use his language, it’s his fictional version of the young, dissolute playboy Prince Hal (Timothée Chalamet) who has to clean up his act and become King of England. Edgerton himself entertainingly plays the (also fictional) Falstaff. The entire production is extremely atmospheric and convincing. It’s also full of terrific actors. If you are a sucker for English history (even the fictionalized kind), you don’t want to miss The King.
Now streaming on Netflix
Trivia Question 817: Which of this week’s performers lost a spouse to a skiing accident?
Answer to Trivia Question 815: Rachel McAdams has played the romantic interest of a time traveler in four (unrelated) movies: The Time Traveler’s Wife (2009), Midnight in Paris (2011), About Time (2013) and Doctor Strange (2016).