Join ichannel for thought-provoking classic and contemporary feature films starring some of Hollywood’s biggest names, from the Golden Age to the present day.
TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE
Tuesday March 4
Stars Jack Lemmon and Hank Azaria both earned Emmy Awards for their performances in this Oprah Winfrey-produced 1999 adaptation of Mitch Albom’s autobiographical best-seller. Azaria plays Albom, a driven, workaholic sports journalist who decides to pay a visit to his former Brandeis University professor Morrie Schwartz (Lemmon, in his final screen appearance) when he learns that his onetime mentor is dying from Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS). Though the old man’s body is deteriorating, his mind is still vital, and as their meetings become a regular weekly event, Albom starts tape-recording their conversations, drawing inspiration and understanding from Morrie’s insights into living life and facing death. The film earned four Emmys in all, including Outstanding Made for Television Movie. Mick Jackson directed.
GUYANA TRAGEDY: THE STORY OF JIM JONES
Two Parts: Wednesday March 5 | Thursday March 6
In November 1978, a U.S. government fact-finding mission led by Congressman Leo J. Ryan arrived in “Jonestown,” a community carved out of the Guyana jungle by Jim Jones, the messianic pastor of The People’s Temple cult. Three days later, Ryan’s party had been gunned down, and more than 900 members of The People’s Temple (including some 300 children) were dead, having taken their own lives in a horrific act of mass suicide. This gripping 1980 made-for-television production stars Powers Boothe (Deadwood) in an Emmy Award-winning performance as Jones, tracing his path from radical preacher to madman and re-creating the shocking final chapter in the life of his People’s Temple. The all-star cast includes Ned Beatty, James Earl Jones, Randy Quaid, Brad Dourif, LeVar Burton, Veronica Cartwright, Diane Ladd and Colleen Dewhurst. The screenplay is by Oscar Winner Ernest Tidyman (Shaft, The French Connection). The music is by legendary screen composer Elmer Bernstein. William A. Graham directed.
LIFE WITH FATHER
Friday March 7
The great William Powell earned his third Oscar nomination playing wealthy Wall Street stock broker and family man in this period comedy, set in 1883. A gruff, old-school patriarch, Powell’s Clarence Day imagines himself firmly in charge of his family and its affairs. But it’s his not-as-ditzy-as-she-seems wife Vinnie (Irene Dunne) who secretly rules the roost — a suRprisingly feminist-friendly twist for a film made in 1947. Clarence’s resistance to being baptized (“They can’t keep me out of heaven on a technicality,” he fumes) and a patent medicine scheme gone awry provide the major sources of conflict. A 15-year-old Elizabeth Taylor co-stars as the love interest for the eldest of the Day children, Clarence Jr. (Jimmy Lydon). Director Michael Curtiz (Casablanca) adapted the successful Broadway play by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse.
Sunday March 9
Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep both earned Oscar nominations for their performances in this polarizing 1987 adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by William Kennedy. Nicholson stars as Francis Phelan, an alcoholic drifter grinding out a dismal day-to-day existence on the back streets of Depression-era Albany, New York, while an almost unrecognizable Streep portrays his companion of many years, the equally down-and-out Helen Archer. (Her barroom rendition of “He’s Me Pal” is hands-down the movie’s standout scene.) Burdened by an accumulation of failures and tragedies, Francis returns home for the first time in more than 20 years to make peace with his estranged family, only to find himself confronting ghosts from the past as well as the present-day living. Carroll Baker, Michael O’Keefe, Diane Venora, Fred Gwynne and singer-songwriter Tom Waits also star. Hector Babenco (Kiss Of The Spider Woman) directed, from a script by Kennedy.
AGENT OF INFLUENCE
Tuesday March 11
The great Chistopher Plummer stars in this Gemini Award-winning 2002 adaptation of the Cold War espionage novel by journalist and author Ian Adams. Based on real-life events, the film tells the story of renowned Canadian diplomat John Watkins (Plummer), a former ambassador to Moscow and a close friend of Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson. In 1964, Watkins was secretly detained for questioning by the RCMP and the CIA, on suspicion of being of Soviet agent. He died while in custody just a few days later – and the circumstances surrounding his death were covered up for more than 15 years, until Adams’ investigative work exposed the truth. A persuasive depiction of Cold War paranoia at work, Agent of Influence foreshadows more recent revelations about the CIA and its adoption of practices such as “extraordinary rendition” and waterboarding in the wake of 9/11. Ted Whittall earned a Gemini for his performance as CIA agent Robert Madison. Marina Orsini also stars. Michel Poulette directed, from a script by Ian and Riley Adams.
ASSAULT AT WEST POINT: THE COURT-MARTIAL OF JOHNSON WHITTAKER
Wednesday March 12
Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction, Django Unchained) stars in this 1994 film, which dramatizes a shameful chapter in America’s troubled racial history. The Wire‘s Seth Gilliam plays Johnson Chesnut Whittaker, a former slave who went on to become one of the first African American cadets at West Point. In 1880, Whittaker was brutally beaten by his fellow cadets, only to be court martialed by school administrators who charged, bizarrely, that he had staged the attack to avoid a philosophy exam. Lawyers Richard Greener (Jackson) and Daniel Chamberlain (Law & Order‘s Sam Waterston) defended Whittaker at the proceeding, but approached the case with very different agendas. John Glover also stars. Harry Moses (Who The #$&% Is Jackson Pollock?) wrote and directed. President Bill Clinton awarded Whittaker a posthumous commission in 1995.
THE WOOL CAP
Thursday March 13
William H. Macy (Shameless) gives an Emmy-nominated performance in this 2004 made-for-TV drama as Gigot, the mute superintendent of a ramshackle New York apartment building. Haunted by a troubled past, Gigot finds new life when he befriends Lou (Keke Palmer), a young girl who has been abandoned by her mother.With the help of elderly tenant Ira (Don Rickles) and Gigot’s supportive friend Gloria (Catherine O’Hara), the pair are able to confront their respective demons and rebuild their lives. Ned Beatty also stars as Gigot’s estranged father. Steven Schachter wrote and directed the film, which is based on a 1962 feature starring Jackie Gleason.
Friday March 14
Romantic comedy and white-knuckle suspense collide in this twisty, sophisticated thriller from director Stanley Donen (Singin’ In The Rain). Audrey Hepburn stars as Regina Lampert, a young widow who learns that her late husband was, in fact, an ex-spy who absconded with $250,000 in U.S. government money. With three ruthless killers (James Coburn, George Kennedy and Ned Glass) pursuing her through Paris, Regina turns to charming stranger Peter Joshua (Cary Grant) for help. But Peter’s motives and identity prove elusive, leaving Regina wondering who she can really trust. Walter Matthau also stars. Henry Mancini wrote the music, including the memorable, Oscar-nominated title song, “Charade” (with lyrics by Johnny Mercer). The costumes are by French fashion icon Hubert de Givenchy, who dressed Hepburn in her most famous films, including Breakfast At Tiffany’s, Sabrina and Funny Face.
THE TRUMAN SHOW
Sunday March 16
Cleverly anticipating the metastasization of reality TV and celebrity culture, this high-concept 1998 sci-fi drama stars Jim Carrey as Truman Burbank, an ordinary man whose every breathing millisecond is lived under the scrutiny of television cameras — and unlike the Kardashians, he doesn’t know it. Truman has spent his entire life in the cheerily artificial community of Seahaven, where everyone — from his friends and family to strangers passing in the street — is an actor, and thousands of hidden cameras capture the minutaie of his daily life for a rapt 24-7 viewing audience. Trouble arises however, when Truman begins to suspect that the reality he has so long taken for granted may be a massive fabrication. Ed Harris delivers an Oscar-nominated performance as Christof, the smoothly megalomaniacal producer who has masterminded Truman’s existence for 30 years, and Laura Linney plays Truman’s “wife,” who brightly drops product placement pitches into everyday conversation. Noah Emmerich, Natascha McElhone and Holland Taylor also star. Peter Weir (Dead Poets Society) directed, from an incisive script by Andrew Niccol (Gattaca).