Love old or unusual movies but never know when they’re on? Here are several I recommend:
Death on the Nile (1978): The huge success of Sidney Lumet’s Murder on the Orient Express (1974) sparked a mini revival of splashy Agatha Christie adaptations. This is probably the best one, and it boasts a stunning cast: Angela Lansbury as a flamboyant adventuress, Mia Farrow as a repressed young wife, and let’s not forget Maggie Smith, Lois Chiles, Bette Davis, George Kennedy, Jane Birkin, Olivia Hussey, David Niven, Jack Warden, and, of course, Peter Ustinov as Hercule Poirot. The scenery is dazzling, as are the ridiculous costumes. A couple of years ago I got to attend a screening of this with an appearance by Lansbury herself, who claimed that this was the first time she’d ever actually sat down and watched the film. I was glad I watched it, and you will be, too.
Turner Classic Movies, 7 p.m. Wednesday
The Glass Key (1942): Dashiell Hammett was one of those writers who was very, very good for the movies. The Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man films are based on his novels. The Glass Key may be lesser known than those classics, but it’s very much worth discovering. First of all, it stars Veronica Lake, which is practically anything any movie needs. Plus, it’s a scintillating story of political corruption, betrayal and the weight of a tainted past. The wonderful cast includes Brian Donlevy, Alan Ladd, William Bendix and Dane Clark. Atmospheric as hell, this is a grand movie to sink into and enjoy.
Turner Classic Movies, 11:30 p.m. Saturday
Touchy Feely (2013): Every now and then I see a movie that allows itself to reflect the general messiness of life. The hook of Touchy Feely is that it’s about a masseuse (Rosemarie DeWitt) who develops an aversion to human-to-human touch. But that’s not really what the movie is about. It’s about an extended family (Elliot Page, Josh Pais, Scoot McNairy, Allison Janney) who struggle to connect, grow and generally comprehend this conundrum called life. The acting is wonderful, and it’s perfect if you’re in the mood for this sort of thing.
Now streaming on Kanopy
The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend A Broken Heart (2020): Frank Marshall is mostly known as a film producer, but I’ve always thought he was an underrated film director, and this wondrous documentary helps bolster my case. This film reminds us that the musical legacy of The Brothers Gibb goes far beyond disco and Saturday Night Fever. Theirs is a remarkable story of ups and downs, going in and out of pop favor, and a stubborn ability and willingness to reinvent. Like me, you may be repeatedly stunned as you’re reminded over and over again, “Oh, yeah, that’s a Bee Gees song, too!” It’s full of terrific interviews from the brothers themselves, their peers and some surprising additions. It’s a terrific watch.