Love old or unusual movies but never know when they’re on? Here are several I recommend.
Mad Love (1935): I’m not sure where to begin with this lunatic horror treasure from Universal. Packed into its 68 minutes is a mad scientist obsessed with an actress (Peter Lorre and Frances Drake, respectively), a concert pianist who loses his hands in a train accident (Colin Clive), a serial killer with serious knife-throwing skills (Edward Brophy) and the drunk housekeeper with a cockatoo on her shoulder (Sara Haden). Just hang on and enjoy all of this madness speed by. You won’t be sorry, I promise.
Turner Classic Movies, Saturday, 11 a.m.
The Locked Door (1929): I’m such a Barbara Stanwyck fan that there are few of her 84 feature films that I have not seen. It turns out that in the growing list of vintage movies available for free on YouTube, there are several of those elusive Stanwyck titles. The Locked Door is one of them. It’s her first credited role, and in it she plays a young woman who has a bad night on a sort of speakeasy pleasure boat. Later in life this unpleasant incident comes back to threaten her comfortable and happy life. Even at age 22 Stanwyck commands the screen with poise and clarity. For the record, the story is bookended with two locked doors, not one.
Now streaming on YouTube.
One Night in Miami (2021): Oscar-winning actress Regina King makes her feature directorial debut with this fascinating film. It’s a fictionalized depiction of an actual meeting between four legends: Cassius Clay (Eli Goree), Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir), Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.) and Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge). It takes place the night Clay defeated Sonny Liston to become the heavyweight boxing champion. Written by Kemp Powers, based on his play, and performed by a powerhouse quartet of actors, it’s riveting viewing. Special shout-out to the endlessly talented Odom, who not only knocks it out of the park as Cooke, but also does his own spectacular singing.
Now streaming on Amazon Prime.
Sunshine Cleaning (2008): In the mood for a quirky character study starring two of our best actresses? Look no further than Sunshine Cleaning. What’s a single mother to do who needs money to improve the educational situation of her recently expelled kid? If you said “start a biohazard home-cleaning service,” you’d be right. Inspired by a true story, this off-kilter tale explores what happens when the sister who has her act together (Amy Adams) bring in her sister who, let’s just say, doesn’t (Emily Blunt), and the two of them see if they can make a go of this unusual way to make a living. It doesn’t hurt that Alan Arkin (as Dad, of course) and Steve Zahn (as a married boyfriend) are along to add to the fun.