Part Two of PZ and John Glover’s November movie highlights is here! Set your DVR’s or tune into the Turner Classic Movie channel to see these wonderful films with profoundly Christian themes. All times Eastern, and, where possible, streaming alternatives are provided in parenthesis. 

November 16th, 3:00 am, Solaris (1972)

An alien intelligence infiltrates a space mission. Takes a while to get going — slow Russian pace! But the ending, the concluding sequence of restoration and reunion, is as redemptive, in the full Christian (and J. S. Bach) sense, as any movie you will see. The female lead, Natalia Bondarchuk, was the daughter of Serge Bondarchuk, cinematic genius of War and Peace (1966); and the director, Andrei Tarkovsky, was a “closet” Christian when he made this movie. (For rent on Amazon.)

November 18th, 1:30 am, Shag: The Movie (1989)

The adventures of four young women in South Carolina in 1963. This is a truly pure delight, taking us through a high-school getaway weekend at Myrtle Beach in the mid-1960s. The “Beach Music” is incomparable, and the dancing unforgettable. Phoebe Cates is heav’n — mainly because she reminds one of Mrs. Zahl in that era — and there are only non-ironic and “happifying” connections. Plus, it depicts a fairly innocent adolescent world as it really was. I would say that Shag is one of my ten favorite movies of all time. It also stars Bridget Fonda and Annabeth Gish.

November 18th, 5:00 pm, A Patch of Blue (1965)

Somewhat dated, but its heart sure is in the right place! Elizabeth Hartman plays a young blind girl who is white that falls in love with a sympathetic black man played by Sidney Poitier. A Patch of Blue is really a story of first love unusually framed, and there is almost no cynicism, given the racial theme. This movie opens doors rather than closing them. Shelley Winters plays the girl’s impossible mother.

November 20th, 12:45 am, Pinky (1949)

Although it comes from a very different world from the one in which we are now living, Pinky has its heart in a good place. The opening scene, in which the title character, played by Jeanne Crain, is welcomed home by Ethel Waters, is as touching as anything you will see this year. (It has John Ford’s hand on it, though he was let go as director of Pinky quite soon into production.) The movie also stars Ethel Barrymore, and was directed by Elia Kazan.

November 21st, 1:00 am, La Strada (1954)

This is both an “art house” movie and a very touching story. Directed by Federico Fellini, La Strada is about a brutish strong man, played by Anthony Quinn, who is humbled into real love, and loss, by a waif whom he basically “purchases” to help him in his circus act. The ending is famous and justly so. Giulietta Masina stars as the mistreated, beguiling waif.

November 22nd, 12:15 am/10:00 am, Kiss Me Deadly (1955)

One of the great “noirs,” with “Atomic Age” espionage thrown in — spectacularly. There is a sci-fi feel to the ending, and definitely a “low anthropology,” to coin a phrase. Kiss Me Deadly stars Ralph Meeker, who was later in an epochal “Outer Limits” episode about South American amphibian-monsters; and it was directed by Robert Aldrich.

November 22nd, 2:15 am, The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)

This is a kind of failed jewel, with spectacular color photography at the start by Haskell Wexler and the Michel Legrand ballad “The Windmills of Your Mind.” An important romantic scene between Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway also happens to have been shot about a block from the rectory of a famous Boston Episcopal parish, the relatively recent purchase of which ended up in the local newspapers because of a protest sparked by a college friend of mine. (Does that come under the heading of TMI? LUV U!). (For rent on Amazon.)

November 22nd, 3:45 pm, Splendor in the Grass (1961)

This is a great movie! It is the playwright William Inge’s story of “star-crossed” high-school lovers, played by Warren Beatty and Natalie Wood. The whole thing is just very moving. William Inge himself plays the rector of the local Episcopal parish and carries an unforgettably moving scene with Natalie Wood in the church. Elia Kazan directed Splendor in the Grass. Oh, and this is also one of the Rev. Nancy W. Hanna’s favorite movies of all time. (For rent on Amazon.)

November 22nd, 6 pm, Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)

Gosh, this brings back memories. It absolutely connected with our sons when they were young; and not only that, it has a scene concerning the Orson Welles War of the Worlds scare in 1938 and also features (briefly) Max von Sydow. PLUS, the ending is not bittersweet, but truly lovely. Woody Allen directed. (For rent on Amazon.)

November 23rd, 4 am, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962)

This movie was sort of the apex of the “angry young man” school of English cinema. It was intended to be harshly rebellious against just about the whole of English society, and the “class system,” in particular. But it is also touching and heartfelt, especially in the brief exchange of real love between the Tommy Courtenay character and his girlfriend. To me, though, and I saw this movie twice the year it came out, the high point of the film is the sequence when the long distance runner jogs through the fall forest outside his borstal on a bright sunny day. Listen to the music which accompanies that scene. The right word is “lyrical.” Directed by Tony Richardson. (For rent on Amazon.)

November 23rd, 6:15 pm, The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)

So much has been written about this movie that you would almost think it was a kind of rough draft for what was really in Orson Welles’ mind, who directed it. But that’s not true. With the exception of a possibly rushed — but not terminally rushed — ending, The Magnificent Ambersons is polished, complete, complex (because the novel on which it is based, by Booth Tarkington, is complex), and gorgeous to look at. The movie is an utter dream! (For rent on Amazon.)

If you get a chance, read my short essay about it in Mockingbird Goes to the Movies (on sale now!).The ending of the original novel consists of a psychic religious miracle, the genuine appearance of a real ghost, and will blow you away. Welles’ movie skips that, though one understands why. It is this movie that set PZ on a path to read every novel written by Tarkington. Though Claire Ambler is probably my favorite.

November 24th, 10:30 am, Wild in the Streets (1968)

Well, I wish TCM weren’t showing this one, as it brings back mega-memories from the night I saw it the week it opened, in Ocean City, MD. At any rate, Wild in the Streets is terrible but also wonderful, a calculated tie-in with the student protest movements of that year. But hey, catch the final song, “The Shape of Things to Come” by Max Frost and the Troopers, AND watch for the Jane Austen poster in the big protest scene on Capitol Hill. Plus, note the sequence when all the Deplorables are rounded up and taken to internment camps. Shelley Winters, Ed Begley, Hal Holbrook, and Christoper Jones star. (On YouTube and for rent on Amazon.)

November 26th, 10:00 pm, The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)

This is top-drawer, stellar Hitchcock, and stars Jimmy Stewart and Doris Day. The sublime technicolor, the use of “Que Sera Sera” as Miss Day’s decoy during the rescue of her child, and the EXTRAORDINARY (for Mbird readers) scene in the Dissenting chapel near the end: these are classic, quintessential jewels! “Guess who’s coming down the aisle,” sings Jimmy Stewart softly to his wife. (For rent on Amazon.)

P. S. Question of the Week: To what denomination did Jimmy Stewart actually belong?

November 27th, 8 pm, 7 Faces of Dr. Lao (1964)

This movie, which stars Tony Randall (as all the “Faces”) and Barbara Eden and was directed by the inspired George Pal, is an odd menagerie of fantasy and morality play, which at the end of the day doesn’t fully work. But watch for the amazing sequence in which “Pan” the Satyr tries to get through to Miss Eden and also for the Jim-Danforth dinosaur attack near the end. The conclusion, as well as the whole persona of “Dr. Lao”, is benign and child-friendly. (For rent on Amazon.)

We all loved this movie as “Monster Kids.”

November 28th, 8 pm, An American in Paris (1951)

This uniquely beguiling musical, starring Leslie Caron and Gene Kelly and directed by Vincente Minnelli, is a must-see — that is, if you haven’t seen it before. The climactic and dazzling American in Paris ballet, a whole host of musical numbers prior to the climax, the rich technicolor in literally every single scene: it is all high art come to popular art. So see it for sure. However, the romantic resolution is flawed and the final image connotes despair. The stunning rose comes at the expense of one very dear man and one disappointed lady and is therefore not “all’s well that ends well.” Don’t be taken in! (Even if this is my second favorite of all Hollywood musicals.) (For rent on Amazon.)

November 29th, 2:15 am, Topaz (1969)

This is Alfred Hitchcock’s take on the Cuban Missile Crisis, and it is excellent, though a little spotty. With no big star to focus on, the movie has several “set pieces” that are almost immortal: his “Pietà” composition of the tortured Cuban resisters; the death of Frederick Stafford’s love interest in Havana with her spreading black gown; and the upstairs Paris bistro scene, when the French equivalent of the Deep State Swamp gather for a “bitchy” back-and-forth. Also, the consistent use of varying shades of yellow throughout the film works. (For rent on Amazon.)

November 29th, 2 pm, Annie Get Your Gun (1950)

This somewhat creaky musical, though with several inspired tunes, can seem maddeningly over-acted as well as dated — between the tunes, that is. But it also contains magic, to wit, “My Defenses Are Down,” sung to the heroine by her surprised and vulnerable admirer. See this movie, but don’t be afraid to skip between the musical numbers.

November 30th, 8 pm, The Poseidon Adventure (1972)

This is actually a pretty good movie — and the title song, “(There’s Got to Be) A Morning After,” performed by Maureen McGovern, is (oddly) terrific, and not only apt for this story, but for the whole Story of Our Lives. Gene Hackman, Red Buttons, Ernest Borgnine, and Shelley Winters are all trapped below decks when their ocean liner capsizes because of a tidal wave. But there’s got to be a morning after, and there is! God gets more than one mention, too. (For rent on Amazon.)