Some unmissables on TCM, Monday Jan 23

*Many of these are part of a Shelley Winters tribute.

6:00 am EST/3:00 am PST
**The Naked Spur **(1953)

My review from The Scarecrow Video Movie Guide *The Naked Spur *is a Western in setting and in context–the verdant, rolling landscape of Colorado gives a performance that almost overshadows the work of the human actors—but not in spirit. It’s Greek drama; it’s Shakespeare. It’s a tale of backstabbing greed, with a Maguffin that just won’t shut the hell up (Robert Ryan, as Ben Vandergroat, a bad guy worth $5,000 dead or alive). James Stewart is Howard Kemp, the Tortured Man with a Past, who needs that money to buy back his old ranch and stanch (he thinks) an old wound. Kemp meets up with a failed prospector (Millard Mitchell) and a shady soldier (Ralph Meeker, at his snaky, silky best), who help him capture Vandergroat, along with his hellcat travel companion and frontier masseuse (Janet Leigh). What follows is a peripatetic chess game of manipulation and deceit, with Vandergroat, the rope-bound frontier Iago (placed atop a burro with the other provisions, lest we forget that he’s just a package to be redeemed for cash) making the most trouble without a weapon, but with a sly wink and and a mean whisper. The Naked Spur is one of the great “anti-Westerns.” None of these people is innocent, and the inevitable redemption is hard won and well earned. Directed by Anthony Mann.

1:30 pm EST/10:30 am PST
The Young Savages* (1961)John Frankenheimer directed Burt Lancaster and Shelley Winters in a gritty urban drama about a savage group of juvenile delinquents.

3:30 pm EST/12:30 pm PST
Lolita* (1962)One of Winters’s most memorable performances, as the naïve widow who thinks she’s a woman of the world. Winters is fearless, and gives the brash, embarrassing Mrs. Haze a sympathetic depth that earns the audience’s pity. Directed by Stanley Kubrick, with a bravura performance by Peter Sellers.

6:15 pm EST/3:15 pm PST
Winchester '73* (1950)Another truly great Western. The first of eight classic collaborations between Jimmy Stewart and director Anthony Mann. Stewart broke his everyman mold to portray a man bent on vengeance, a theme he and Mann would visit again and again. Shelley Winters plays, get this, a “dance hall girl” with a heart of gold.

8:00 pm EST/5:00 pm PST
**A Patch of Blue **(1965)Shelley Winters walked away with this movie (and an Oscar) for playing the unsympathetic mother of a blind white girl who falls in love with (oops) Sidney Poitier. Wonderful performance from Winters; otherwise a dry polemic.

10:00 pm EST/7:00 pm PST
A Place in the Sun* (1951)For many people, the essential Shelley Winters performance. She plays a middle class frump to Elizabeth Taylor’s uppercrust debutante, both vying for Montgomery Clift’s gorgeous heart. Guess who wins? More importantly, guess who loses? Based on Dreiser’s An American Tragedy.

12:15 am EST EST/9:15 pm PST
**The Night of the Hunter **(1955)My personal favorite Shelley Winters Movie. Once again she’s a widowed mother whose choice of a new husband proves fatal to her and dangerous to her children. The shot of her final demise si among the most hauntingly beautiful images ever captured on film. A tragically overlooked masterpiece, the only movie directed by Charles Laughton. In my personal top ten.

*Many of these are part of a Shelley Winters tribute.