I don’t how many of you out there who have the misfortune to welcome CharredHer (Charter) Cable into your homes, but this weekend after returning from dog-sitting I put one of its niftier features to work. They offer an “On Demand” service (they’re not unique in this, of course, other cable companies do the same) that allows you to watch movies in your home for an extra-fee…but they also make available free flicks to those people who wouldn’t pay to see most of the “fee” movies when they were in the theater, so why should anything be different? (Um...sorry about that last part...that's me I'm describing.)
Most of the free movies come from the cable channel Flix, the bastard child from Showtime and The Movie Channel that occasionally offers up a goodie or two (that’s where I saw Wise Blood…and it was letterboxed, too). The first time I used the On Demand service was to finish a movie I had started watching at Kat’s, A Night at the Roxbury (1998)…and please don’t ask me why I watched that odious piece of fromage: it might be either because I was trying to demonstrate to myself that not everything Will Ferrell touches turns to comedy gold, as is Kat’s fervent belief, or I lost the remote and was too lazy to look for it. The awfulness of Roxbury turned me off on trying the On Demand service ever again, but one night here at the new Castle Yesteryear I couldn’t find anything to watch and so I decided to take a peek at the 1999 remake of The Out-of-Towners (1970)…which was even worse. I know the original’s a bit dated and Jack Lemmon’s character comes off as a bit annoying (not to mention Sandy Dennis) but Gott in Himmel, it was miles and away better than that updated time-waster with Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn. If I ever have contact with either of these two on the street, I can't promise I won't take a swing at them. (I can only hope everyone connected with the film was well-paid for the enterprise, particularly John Cleese, for whom I was actually embarrassed.)
Anyway, I get home last night around 8:00pm and I start to look for something to watch when I pop up the On Demand screen to check and see if there’s anything worth writing home about—and I notice that they’ve added some items from TCM to the inventory. All the TCM movies they have listed I’ve either seen or have no desire to, but they did offer the documentary on Val Lewton, Man in the Shadows, that I had considered buying…but after watching it last night I’ve decided to take a pass. (Not that it wasn’t good—it was superb—but I already have the other Lewton doc on the first DVD box set of the Lewton horror films, Shadows in the Dark: The Val Lewton Legacy.) I also watched the Under the Influence (a new series on TCM where film critic Elvis Mitchell talks with filmmakers to find out what classic movies had an impact on them; the Bill Murray show was very entertaining) segment with Sydney Pollack; and its only saving grace was that it was only twenty-nine minutes long. (I’m curious as to why this was available under the “Movies” section of TCM when it makes much more sense to file it under “Shorts & Trailers.”)
Flix On Demand has a few films that I’m curious to see: I want to catch Alice, Sweet Alice (1976) on film historian Danny Peary’s recommendation and they’re also showing Billy Liar (1963), a movie I never got around to seeing…though I have seen the Britcom it inspired, and it’s amusing at times. With a little luck, they’ll start expanding the TCM On Demand section soon. And speaking of TCM, don’t forget to set your DVR’s to catch the outrageously funny The Good Humor Man (1950) with Jack Carson tomorrow at 6:00am. Niatpac Levram!