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OK, fess up. There are TV movies you really like.


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I'll start.

 

*Isn't It Shocking? (1973)* Alan Alda, Louise Lasser (god's gift to movies and television), Edmond O'Brien, Lloyd Nolan, Ruth Gordon, Will Geer. Clever little serial murder mystery, with Alan Alda as a harried small-town sheriff, thinking of leaving, he thinks. Alan Alda manages to control the excesses he trends to, the old pros deliver their stuff (especially Ruth Gordon), and Louise Lasser, that wonderful actress, dreadfully underused by Hollywood and TV, provides a source of equanimity, the personification of the concept of centered.

 

*Thursday's Game. (1974)* After their usual poker game dissolves in disaster, two guys decide to keep up the pretense so they can hang out together. An ostensibly low-key comedy, there are some really hilarious scenes, as the movie charts the upheavals in their lives. Gene Wilder and Bob Newhart, two bull elephants of comedy, do a remarkably refined pas de deux. But wait, there's more. A gamut, a slew, a virtual cornucopia of talent then current in movies and TV, each having at least one good moment: Ellen Burstyn, Nancy Walker, Chloris Leachman, Valerie Harper, Rob Reiner (who teams with Wilder for the funniest scene), Norman Fell, and Martha Scott. It looks like they had a lot of fun making it. I hope so.

 

Special note for Canadians and Britons: I know the CBC and BBC made movies for TV (I'm talking about the pre-cable heyday of the '70s and '80s), but can they really be said to compare with the cheapness, the cheesiness, the flimsiness of movies made by American TV networks? I think not.

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*83 Hours Till Daylight (1990)*

 

 

This film is an intense recount of the Barbara Mackle kidnapping. It starrred TV mainstays Robert Urich, and Peter Strauss, (who I once saw at an airport.) It also features an amazing performance by Samantha Mathis as the inhumed kidnapped victim. She never became a huge star, but she always seems to give an interesting performance. She was on Lost for about a minute,

litteraly.

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*Leave Yesterday Behind* (1978)

 

Paul Stallings (John Ritter) is rendered paralyzed after a polo accident. At his grandfather's ranch, he meets Marnie (Carrie Fisher), who pulls him out of his bitterness and depression as they fall in love. With Buddy Ebsen and Robert Urich.

 

I was used to Ritter's schtick in Three's Company when I saw this many moons ago, but I thought he acted the heck out of his part here. He impressed me as a good actor.

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Earlier this year I saw *Christopher and His Kind*, a BBC movie made for television. It's based on Christopher Isherwood's 1976 autobiography, written to set the record straight as to what really happened in Berlin. Isherwood felt that Cabaret (particularly the film), based on his Goodbye to Berlin stories, was being taken as factual by too many people.

 

Christopher and His Kind is a beautifully written and acted full-length TV movie featuring Matt Smith (the current Dr. Who) as Isherwood and Imogen Poots as Jean Ross, the woman on whom Sally Bowles is based. Here's a clip of Poots in a heartbreaking scene, though perhaps not ideal out of context:

 

 

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*QB VII* (1974) - Thoughtful, provocative drama in which Adam Kelno (Anthony Hopkins), is a Knighted physician in England who is accused of having been a Nazi war doctor twenty years after the war has ended. He sues the novelist for published statements which implicate the doctor in Nazi war crimes and finds his reputation at stake. The title QB VII refers to the courtroom Queen's Bench Room 7, where the trial is held. Also starring in this film are Ben Gazzara, Leslie Caron, Lee Remick and John Gielgud. This Emmy Award winning film was aired in 2 parts on television.

 

*Special Bulletin* (1983) - Taking a page from Orson Welles' playbook, this Made-for-TV movie presents itself as a special news bulletin interrupting a regularly scheduled television program with the news that a TV reporter and cameraman have been taken hostage on a tugboat while covering a workers strike. The demands of the hostage-takers are to collect all the nuclear detonators in the Charleston, SC area so they may be detonated at sea. They threaten to detonate a nuclear device of their own of their demand isnt met.

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>He sues the novelist for published statements which implicate the doctor in Nazi war crimes and finds his reputation at stake.

 

He won the lawsuit and was awarded damages in the amount of about half a penny ("The lowest denomination coin in the British realm").

 

>Taking a page from Orson Welles' playbook, this Made-for-TV movie presents itself as a special news bulletin interrupting a regularly scheduled television program with the news that a TV reporter and cameraman have been taken hostage on a tugboat while covering a workers strike.

 

Very frightening. I liked the ending where the news people went back to covering daily mundane stories not long after the event.

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I see you liked these two TV movies also, eh Fred?!

 

I've always thought Hopkin's performance in *QB VII* was one of his best, and one which seems to have been forgotten.

 

And yep, I too thought that ending in *Special Bulletin* was spot on.

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*Brian's Song*

*Duel*

*That Certain Summer*

*The Neon Ceiling*

*The Glass House*

*The Execution of Pvt. Slovick*

*Farewell to Manzanar*

*Go Ask Alice*

*The Man Without a Country*

*Crisis at Central High*

*My Sweet Charlie*

*QB VII*

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> {quote:title=FredCDobbs wrote:}{quote}

>

> In QB VII, it's too bad the network felt it had to keep telling the audience that this was just a movie and not a real news broadcast. :)

>

You of course meant that comment about *Special Bulletin*, not *QB VII*. But yeah, I think the network was trying to avoid another "Grover's Mill, NJ" incident there. However, as I recall, the following day after the *Special Bulletin* broadcast, there still were a few reports of some people being a little slow on the ol' uptake about it being a dramatization.

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I have to admit, there are lots of TV movies I like. To mention a few:

 

 

BRIAN'S SONG (1971) with James Caan and Billy Dee Williams in a story about the two Chicago Bears running backs Brian Piccolo and Gale Sayers.

 

 

BLOOD FEUD (1983) with Robert Blake giving a great performance as Jimmy Hoffa during the days involving the battles between Hoffa and Bobby Kennedy.

 

 

THE RATINGS GAME (1984) with Danny DeVito as a TV writer/producer that fixes the ratings system so his terrible shows become big hits with the ratings.

 

 

THE RAT PACK (1998) Ray Liotta playing Frank Sinatra in this story about Sinatra and his relationship with John Kennedy and the rest of the members of his 'Rat Pack'.

 

 

FOR RICHER, FOR POORER (1992) Jack Lemmon is a millionaire trying to teach his lazy son the value and pride of earning a 'dollar'.

 

 

And that's just a few. I could watch the "Columbo" movies over and over again. And then there are a bunch of Christmas themed movies that are shown at Christmas.

 

 

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> {quote:title=Dargo wrote:}{quote} You of course meant that comment about *Special Bulletin*, not *QB VII*. But yeah, I think the network was trying to avoid another "Grover's Mill, NJ" incident there.

The fiorst time that NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD aired on WABC-TV in NYC, anytime they showed the "news" footage within the film, there was a disclaimer on the bottom of the screen that "this is a dramatization."

 

Whew, i was really worried about zombies attacking my home

 

Obn the subject of Grover's Mill, the TV-Movie THE NIGHT THAT PANICKED AMERICA is a particular favorite of mine as it dramatizes the Welles broadcast and its effect.

 

.

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>the TV-Movie THE NIGHT THAT PANICKED AMERICA is a particular favorite of mine as it dramatizes the Welles broadcast and its effect.

 

Yes, that was a good one. I remember the sound-effects man using some kind of large jar or can with a screw-on lid as a sound effect in the story, and in the TV movie he had the microphone and jar in a bathroom, which gave just the right echo effect.

 

Years ago I heard a copy of the full broadcast, including the several warnings and disclaimers. So, most people would not have been fooled. Plus, there was the time-compression, with several days events taking place in less than an hour.

 

But I think the ones who panicked were mainly rural people and uneducated people who had just recently bought radios for the first time, and they were not yet knowledgeable about the differences between a real event on the radio and a drama. Its not that the people were stupid, its just that the medium was new to them.

 

This reminds me of stories I heard when I was a kid, about when older folks went to see movies for the first time in the 1920s and 30s, and they thought when someone was shot in a film, they were really shot. They thought of dramas as all being documentaries.

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I wish I could help you out here, movieman, however I have to admit I haven't watched this film in many many years. I just remember being very impressed with it, and remember that it was the performance of Sir Anthony's in it which solidified in my mind that he was, and is, one of the best actors of our generation.

 

 

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>The Day After (1983) - Drama of a nuclear war and its aftermath.

 

Yes, that one was frightening too.

 

Few people remember that there was a live TV drama show in the late-1950s that had this same theme. It was something like a Playhouse-90 program. It was frightening too. It showed that even if we won a nuclear war with the Russians, we'd all be devastated and mostly wiped out too. The movie had a great punchline. After showing the widespread devastation in the United States, the audiences assumes we lost the war, but the final punchline was a statement about how we actually won the war. "We clobbered them," said the narrator or some actor in the show.

 

This might have been it:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0053581/reviews

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*Guilty Conscience* (1985)

 

Anthony Hopkins as a criminal lawyer who will lose much if he divorces his wife Blythe Danner. It will be far cheaper and easier to kill her. She has a safety deposit box full of incriminating information about him so he has to work many angles at once if he is to be successful.

 

This is not a linear movie. The lawyer daydreams scenarios of how he will defend himself in court.

 

It is a very talkie movie. There are few scenes containing notable action.

 

It has a truly wonderful ending which is perfectly true to the characters and plot and I would not ever have guessed it was coming. :)

 

Edited by: SansFin on Dec 29, 2011 2:38 PM because I did not proofread to see if I any words out.

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"OK, fess up. There are TV movies you really like."

 

Yesh, I know, and yes, I intentionally spelled yes wrong. But, "Yesh" sounds funnier.

 

Anyways, I do love *The Late Shift* (1996). It's one of my guilty pleasures. I can't help it, Kathy Bates gets me every time with that Line:

 

Jay: "I CANT BELIEVE YOU MADE ME LIE TO JOHNNY CARSON!"

Helen: "Big Effin' deal! So go to %$^#* Confession!"

 

Hilarious.

 

Plus, I love Dave Letterman, so naturally I like any movie that makes Jay Leno look like a spineless rat.

 

~The Howling Mad Cinephile

 

 

 

PS: The Movie is about Jay Leno and David Letterman's battle to replace Johnny Carson when he retired after 30 years of hosting The "Tonight" Show. It's a real hoot, but the book is the best. I was fortunate enough to talk with the author, NY Times reporter Bill Carter, heck of a guy.

 

Edited by: charliechaplin101 on Dec 29, 2011 2:32 PM

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