October 26, 2014

Memorable musical and memorable actors this weekend

What’s on your family’s movie menu this weekend?

How about a man who hopes to make a difference to his family after he dies? A couple looking for ways to change their personal circumstances? An aging news producer who hopes to make a difference to millions of people who watch television? Or a reluctant hero who saves a royal? These nourishing films are available this weekend on television.

We remember Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II for writing the songs for some of the most memorable musicals from Broadway and Hollywood, including The Sound of Music, Oklahoma! and South Pacific. One of their special shows, Carousel, moved from stage to screen in 1956 (the same year as their hit The King and I), in a film version starring Gordon MacRae and Shirley Jones who starred, the year before, in the movie of Oklahoma! While Carousel on film is serious in tone —  with its narrative of a man and woman in a combative marriage —  the beauty of the Rodgers and Hammerstein music and the sincerity of MacRae and Jones turn what could have been a musical mystery into an accessible production that deserved a stronger response when first released. Few musical scores offer such a rich variety of melody and lyric. Look for Carousel on Sunday, June 23, at 1:45 p.m. on Turner Classic Movies (TCM).

We remember Jane Fonda in the 1970s as an outspoken woman with deep convictions about the injustices that people face. Her political views informed her movies of the decade from the Oscar-winning Coming Home to Julia and The China Syndrome. What many forget is she started the decade with a delightful comedy with George Segal, Fun With Dick and Jane, where she reminds us what a lovely comedienne she can be. With her beautiful speaking voice, ideal sense of timing, and crystal clear diction, Fonda takes us on a wonderful ride as a financially-challenged suburban woman who decides, with her husband, to enter a world of crime to make ends meet. While their approach to economic recovery may not make sense, it is fun to experience. Look for their capers on Friday, June 21, at 6 p.m. on Oxygen.

We remember William Holden as a dynamic leading man of the 1950s who won an Oscar for Stalag 17 and delivered iconic performances in The Bridge on the River Kwai, Sunset Boulevard and Sabrina among others. The 1960s were less kind to him and, by 1976, he was a man who showed every year of his life on a face filled with lines and wisdom. Holden was perfectly cast that year as an aging television news producer who reluctantly accepts the changes in the medium in Sidney Lumet’s thrilling Network. He was again an Oscar nominee for one of his strongest performances. The actor is charming, funny and touching as a man who believes in the potential of his work and fears for what can happen if the potential of television is placed in the wrong hands. Check out Network on Friday at 8 p.m. on Sundance.

And we remember Harrison Ford as the man who helped Luke Skywalker win the battles of space in the Star Wars films, discovered rare antiquities (and all the fun that goes with them) as Indiana Jones, and first grabbed attention for driving a hot car in American Graffiti. One of his most satisfying roles was CIA agent Jack Ryan in Patriot Games, a delicious thriller with all the ingredients for a great time at the movies. From the early moments of Ryan saving a member of the British royal family during a London ambush, to the climactic confrontation at his lake house, the film rarely lets up the action and Ford never varies his precision of performance. He is convincing, believable and original in his interpretation a reluctant action hero. This entertaining film —  no matter how many times you may have seen it —  can be seen Saturday, June 22, at 3:15 p.m. on TNT.

Serving nutritious movies can be as easy as turning on the television. And be sure, as you watch together, to share what you observe, question and consider. Watching movies together can prompt valuable family discussions.