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'Trouble with Harry' was Shirley MacLaine's first film role

'Trouble with Harry' was Shirley MacLaine's first film role

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Love old or unusual movies but never know when they're on? Here are several I recommend:

New this week: Who knew there was a treasure trove of classic films (with mostly beautiful prints) showing for free on YouTube? Yeah, I'm always a bit slow to the party. Starting this week I'll include this source of cinematic goodies as we cast our net for fun movies to watch.

The Trouble With Harry (1955): This strange black comedy from Alfred Hitchcock was Shirley MacLaine's first film role. She's in very good company, with John Forsythe, Edmund Gwenn, Mildred Natwick, Mildred Dunnock, and pre-Leave it to Beaver Jerry Mathers. All of these nice people inhabit a quiet New England town and they all have one problem -- an annoying corpse named Harry. This movie is worth seeing simply for the incredible photography of the autumn leaves, not to mention Bernard Hermann's fine score (his first for Hitchcock and the beginning of a beautiful partnership indeed). Though it's not a masterpiece like Vertigo, The Trouble With Harry is still worth a look for the curious.

Tuner Classic Movies, 10 a.m. Tuesday

Double feature: Sacrificing mothers!

Madame X (1966): Oh, the melodrama. Lana Turner stars in this gloriously glossy '60s remake of the old chestnut about the shady dame who gives up her chance at a better life for love. Lana Turner stars as Holly Parker, whose mother-in-law (Constance Bennett) just can't get over her wrong-side-of-the-tracks scent. What poor Lana goes through to protect her son is positively operatic, and the courtroom climax will have you reaching for the box of tissues. Don't miss this delightful weepie.

Turner Classic Movies, 7 p.m. Tuesday

Always Goodbye (1938): My love Barbara Stanwyck frequently played self-sacrificing mothers. This time around it involves a badly timed wedding-hour car crash, the world of high New York couture and one of the most insane Movie Elevator Coincidences I've ever seen. Featuring sturdy Herbert Marshall and charming Binne Barnes. Special mention to Cesar Romero, who plays a relentless Italian lothario who makes the Energizer Bunny look like one of those sloth-crossing-the-road videos. I keep muttering "Decaf, Cesar, decaf, dude," whenever he comes on screen. YouTube features a sparkling print with French subtitles.

Now available on YouTube.

Stronger (2017): I'm not a very big fan of Triumph of the Human Spirit movies. But I am a big fan of siblings Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal. In Stronger, Jake plays Jeff Bauman, a real-life regular guy who had his legs blown off in the Boston Marathon Bombing. What I liked about this movie is that it works really hard to subvert the clich├ęs of the Triumph of the Human Spirit movies. Bauman finds himself a hero and a public figure and is emphatically uninterested in being either. Featuring champion thespians Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black) and Miranda Richardson.

Now available on Amazon Video.

Trivia Question #717: Which of this week's performers starred in a big-budget adaptation of a video game?

Answer to Trivia Question #715: The heroically talented Amy Hohn (featured in Hitch and many other films and Broadway and stuff) was my roommate in New York in the 1980s, and is still my dear friend.

Bryan native Ray Ivey is a writer and movie fan in Hollywood, Calif. He would love to hear from you at rayivey@ca.rr.com. You can also visit his blog at www.starkravingray.com.

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