Yes, it’s that time again: this time, four TV movies, all worth watching.
Rehearsal for Murder, 1982, color, David Greene (dir.), Robert Preston, Lynn Redgrave, Patrick Macnee, Lawrence Pressman, Jeff Goldblum. 1:36 [1:40 jacket]
Remarkable cast, nicely-done staged mystery. The setup: Prestonâ€™s a playwright, Redgrave the star of his new showâ€”and his fiancÃ©e, with the two to be married the day after opening night. Opening reviews are bad; everybody leaves the cast party at her place. Next thing we know, sheâ€™s an apparent suicide. A year later, Preston gathers the rest of the cast and the producer (that is, the money man) together to read some scenes from a new playâ€”which turn out to be various scenarios as to how each of those gathered could have murdered her. Sure, the final plot twists are a bit implausible, but itâ€™s all very well done. Very good to excellent print and sound.
Engrossing, satisfying. $1.50.
How Awful About Allan, 1970, color, Curtis Harrington (dir.), Anthony Perkins, Julie Harris, Joan Hackett. 1:13 [1:30 jacket]
Anthony Perkins in a movie about a son stricken by hysterical blindness when his father dies in a fire and his sister (his fatherâ€™s favorite) is disfiguredâ€”and, after some time in a hospital, heâ€™s only semi-hysterically semi-blind and comes home to his sister, who wears a plastic appliance to cover the scar. Anthony Perkins: what more need be said? Itâ€™s TV-movie quality, but not at all bad. (The 1:30 time is almost certainly the run time with commercials.) Very good to excellent print and sound. $1.
F. Scott Fitzgerald and â€œThe Last of the Belles,â€ 1974, color, George Schaefer (dir.), Richard Chamberlain, Blythe Danner, Susan Sarandon. 1:38
Part fiction, part (apparently) nonfiction: F. Scott Fitzgerald copes with a failing marriage by writing a story that, sooner or later, is about him and his wife. (Well, that and drinking a lot.) Big cast, big scenery, well-played; interesting enough that, one day soon, Iâ€™ll read the story and read a little more about Fitzgerald himself. Very good to excellent print and sound. $2.
To All My Friends on Shore, 1972, color, Gilbert Cates (dir.), Bill Cosby (also exec. producer, music), Gloria Foster, Dennis Hines. 1:10 [1:30 jacket]
The jacket calls this â€œan uncharacteristically grim roleâ€: True enough. Cosby as an airport luggage handler, odd-job hauler, and whatever else he can do to try to save up enough to buy and restore a decrepit old house and get his wife and kid out of the ghetto. The kid turns out to have sickle cell anemia, and Cosbyâ€™s character must deal with his always being a â€œtomorrow manâ€ (that is, forsaking today for the promise of tomorrow, where his father was a â€œyesterday man,â€ always looking back on the way things were). Good to very good print, but dark, and Iâ€™m not that wild about Cosbyâ€™s scoring, but itâ€™s a low-key, powerful TV movie in its own right. $1.
I have to say that all the dollar figures given here may be on the low side: With the probable exception of How Awful (just not my cup of hysteria), I’d probably watch all of these again. There was a video-audio synch problem with two of them, but that appears to be player-related: I can’t replicate it on my PC, and it went away as soon as I started the movie’s second or third day. Since I’m guessing few of you have $80 Apex 13″TV-DVD combos, don’t worry about it.