Love old or unusual movies but never know when they’re on? Here are several I recommend:
Eyes in the Night (1942): I have such a fondness for late-’30s and early ’40s B-pictures, and here’s one of my favorites. Veteran character actor Edward Arnold plays a detective who’s investigating a murder that leads to a nasty Nazi plot. So what, right? Well, this movie has an unusual twist — the detective is blind. Aided by his trusty seeing-eye dog (in quite a movie star performance, by the way), Arnold struggles to get to the bottom of the mystery. Along for the ride are Ann Harding, Rosemary DeCamp and Donna Reed. This was the first film directed by Fred Zinneman, who went on to make such films as High Noon, From Here to Eternity, Oklahoma!, A Man for All Seasons and Julia. This film was enough of a success that Arnold got to reprise his role in the 1945 film The Hidden Eye, which is also a lot of fun.
Turner Classic Movies, Tuesday, 2:15 p.m.
Midnight Special (2016): I’m a big fan of writer/director Jeff Nichols. I particularly like the films he put out in 2011 (Take Shelter) and 2012 (Mud). He topped both of those with this 2016 effort, a science-fiction thriller that deals with issues related to cults, NSA interference and … well, maybe aliens? It’s all pretty rowdy and exciting and anchored by a tremendous cast which includes Michael Shannon, Adam Driver, Joel Edgerton, Kirsten Dunst, Bill Camp and Sam Shepard. What I like about Nichols at his best is the specificity in his films. Nothing ever seems generic or rote. You feel like you’re watching particular human events that truly matter.
Now streaming on Netflix.
Gothika (2003): I’m a Halle Berry fan, so I’m always rooting for her, as long as she’s not playing Catwoman. This creepy psychological mystery/thriller shows off her talents well. Berry plays a prison psychiatrist who wakes up as an inmate in an asylum with amnesia (I know, don’t you HATE it when that happens?). Evidently her husband (Charles S. Dutton) is dead, and people think she did it. Featuring Robert Downey Jr. and the wonderful John Carroll Lynch. Directed by the twisted and talented Mathieu Kassovitz.
Now streaming on Amazon Prime.
JFK (1991): My favorite Oliver Stone movie is a wild mélange of paranoia, conspiracy theory, bravura, over-the-top acting and simply great filmmaking. Kevin Costner stars as New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison as he investigates the conspiracy to assassinate John F. Kennedy. The cast is enormous, and includes Tommy Lee Jones, Sissy Spacek, John Candy, Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, Kevin Bacon, Gary Oldman and many others. You may not believe in Stone’s interpretation of the events that led to that fateful day in Dallas, but it’s hard to deny the power of his moviemaking skill. Sadly, this is the last good movie he made.
Now streaming on HBO MAX.
Trivia Question 861: Which of this week’s directors made a film about a real-life story which led to a landmark Supreme Court decision?
Answer to Trivia Question 859: Cristin Milioti (from Palm Springs) was nominated for a Tony Award in 2012 for the musical Once.