Wednesday, July 10, 2013

It's the Summer of Amazon Prime!

As a full time student, I know how important it is to stretch a penny so thin you can see through it. Tuition is expensive enough, but add the extra costs of textbooks, parking and other sundries and you have to be pretty crafty if you want to afford other things. You know, like food. I buy most of my books through Amazon because it is super cheap and it makes me feel super smart. But I also know that sometimes you need to spend money to make money. I decided to take advantage of Amazon Prime because I get a lot of stuff and the free shipping allows me to hold onto my holier-than-thou-look-what-I-saved-smugness that I enjoy so much. Amazon Prime is for more than free shipping though, as it has given me access to a whole new avenue of streaming TV movies! Who knew, right? I didn’t until recently, when I was poking around the net and came across the Scarecrow and Mrs. King episodes on AP. After I screamed in utter delight, I started surfing and found not jut a decent amount of TV movies streaming, I found some super crazy cool titles. I came across way more than ten, but here is a list of the films I think might be of interest, and some I plan on watching this summer myself (and some of which I've already watched, of course). You can access the TVMs by clicking on the titles. So simple. So awesome. Enjoy!

Death Follows a Psycho: I was gobsmacked when I ran across this TVM, which is actually two episodes of the short-lived series Griff edited together. Griff ran on ABC during the 1973 season and only produced 13 episodes. Griff, played by Lorne Greene is a private eye who used to be a cop. His assistant is played by Ben Murphy and The series has an interesting history. According to Wikipedia, the pilot didn’t actually air until 1975, but the reason is unknown (although I'm sure someone out there can tell me why). There were also two movies compiled from different episodes. Psycho was comprised of the episodes Countdown to Terror and Elephant in the Cage. The editing is clumsy and odd, as you can tell that footage/sound was added after the fact to make the two episodes feel like they existed simultaneously. However, it’s worth seeing for Montalban’s harrowing performance as the lunatic with a bomb strapped to his chest. As far as I know, Griff is fairly rare, making this TVM an ultra-rare TVM treat. See it.

The Defiant Ones: Robert Urich and Carl Weathers team up for the small screen remake of the classic film, which originally starred Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier. Wowee wow wow. Although it’s been years since I saw the 1958 version, I love the original film. However, I’ve been dying to see this remake, which originally aired on ABC on January 5th, 1986, because the charm factor of both Urich and Weathers can go a long way. The biggest issues critics had with the film was that they felt it didn’t carry the racially charged politics of the first film, and was therefore rendered moot. In 2009, a writer for the Michigan Daily picked The Defiant Ones as one of the top five most unnecessary remakes (along with Psycho and the 2004 TV remake of Spartacus). I dunno. I can think of at least ten movies less interesting as far as remakes go, but of course I haven’t seen this one yet. But I will. Mark my words. I will.

Dixie: Changing Habits: OK, let me get this straight – The premise for Dixie, which originally aired on CBS on February 16th, 1983, is that Suzanne Pleshette is a madame who must go to a convent as part of a rehabilitation sentence (!) and goes up against Mother Superior, who is played by Cloris Leachman?!? Surely, I’ve died and gone to TV movie heaven! Maybe Dixie will show the nuns a trick or two, or maybe old habits die hard… har. This is also on DVD.

Murder of Innocence: I caught this movie by accident when it originally ran on CBS on November 30th, 1993, and was completely swept away with Valerie Bertinelli’s harrowing turn as a young woman dealing with a serious mental disorder. For whatever reason, I was not able to finish the movie and had never had a chance to catch up with it. Well, here it is on AP (and DVD and Hulu!), and it’s very close to the top of my Must See Stream list!

Rebecca: This is a 1962 adaptation of the classic Daphne Du Maurier novel, which had been turned into a fantastic motion picture by the one and only Alfred Hitchcock in 1940. I have not seen this adaptation, but love Joan Hackett and I think it’s pretty damn cool that this live broadcast is still with us. After a brief google search, it seems the biggest gripe is that the story had to be told in under an hour. Otherwise, the critics were kind to this adaptation. NBC’s Theatre ’62 seems to have been short lived, but featured many interesting actors, including Elizabeth Montgomery and Lee Remick, among others and was produced by the man behind Playhouse 90, Fred Coe. As far as I know, this is the only episode from the series that is available. The original airdate was April 8th, 1962.

Smash-Up on Interstate 5: Fantastic 70s tele-drama with a cavalcade of friendly small screen faces, Smash Up is surprisingly moving, and extremely well crafted. The film, which originally aired on ABC on December 3rd, 1976, starts at a major crash site and then backtracks 48 hours to show how everyone arrived at this moment. And not unlike the great theatrical disaster movies of the same decade, you are never quite sure who will make it out alive. Seriously amazing storytelling, this is one to put at the top of your list. Click here for a full review.

Starflight One (aka Starflight: The Plane that Couldn’t Land): At the tail end of the disaster genre, Starflight One comes along to kiss the beloved world of all-star-casts-in-big-time-calamity-flicks goodbye. Starflight, which originally aired on ABC on Febrary 27th, 1983, stars Lee Majors as Captain Cody Briggs, a philandering airplane pilot who must find a way to get his new hypersonic plane back into earth’s orbit! Yes sir, this is one crazy premise for a fun, if silly, made for TV movie. The cast alone makes it worth seeing. Check out Hal Linden, Lauren Hutton, Tess Harper, Ray Milland other great faces in one of the last of great disaster flicks (for more small screen supersonic mayhem - and you know you want it - check out SST: Death Flight).

The Stranger Who Looks Like Me: This is a rare ABC Movie of the Week featuring Meredith Baxter and Beau Bridges as two adoptees looking for their biological parents. The tele-film featured a scene between Baxter and her real life mom Whitney Blake and was well received upon its original release. Director Larry Peerce had just come off two theatrical films that did not meet box office expectations, A Separate Piece and Ash Wednesdays. In an interview he said he asked to make a TV movie because he “needed money to live on.” Stranger, which originally aired on March 6th, 1974, was a success and he returned to, and became a prolific, tele-film director in the 80s and 90s. Stranger also features great early performances from Patrick Duffy and Jocelyn Jones during a groovy rap session in the film.


Through Naked Eyes: OK, so I’m not a super huge fan of this movie, which originally aired on ABC on December 11th, 1983, but unless you have the VHS and a VCR to watch it in, this one is a little rare. It’s definitely worth checking out at least once, if only to see the great John Llewellyn Moxey’s take on small screen sex thrillers. David Soul is appropriately creepy as the weird voyeur who finds a beautiful young woman (Pam Dawber) who likes to be looked at, which further provides some interesting small screen scopophillia! Unfortunately, a rash of killings begin to occur in the area and guess which creepy peeper is Suspect #1? I do have a copy of Naked Eyes on VHS, but I plan on giving the movie a second shot this summer on AP, if only to see if the print has been improved upon… Hope is good.

The Women of San Quentin: This NBC tele-film, which originally aired on October 23rd, 1983, features an elite team of female prison guards stationed at one of the most infamous male prisons in America. Stella Stevens, Debbie Allen, Amy Steel and Rosana Desoto make up the group of guards. Apparently this film features self-reflection, female bonding and riots. One critic said the movie made your living room feel like a drive in! Oh yeah, I’m watching this one soon!

And here are some other cool tele-films floating around AP's ether:

Assassin (also on DVD)

The Burning Bed (also on DVD, but tre expensive)

The Last Days of Patton (also on DVD)

The Pioneer Women of Television (this one has Stefanie Powers, Nichelle Nichols, Linda Evans and Angie Dickinson... if that's not must see TV, I don't know what is!)

Return of the Rebels (also on DVD, and click here for my review)

And there's plenty more. So, why don't you stop by, say hi, kick back and stay awhile. 


BillyWitchDoctor said...

Smash-Up on Interstate 5?!? Oh HELLS yeah!

You mentioned SST: Death Flight, and I'd like to point out that it's part of Echo Bridge's 6-Movie Disaster Pack (listed only as "6-Movie Disaster 2" at Amazon), getting its DVD premier along with Jill Clayburgh and Le Var Burton's Firestorm: 72 Hours in Oakland and such tish as Miami Magma and Traci Lords' Epicenter.

It's listed simply as Death Flight and flagged for brief nudity, meaning it's the European theatrical cut.

Classic Film and TV Cafe said...

Great post, especially since I just recently joined AP. I've been enjoying a lot of the British imports, especially DOC MARTIN.