With the remnants of snow almost gone, the second weekend of April brings a host of worthwhile films to broadcast and cable stations. Sit back and enjoy what’s showing.
The Godfather (1972) and The Godfather Part II (1974)
This two-part masterpiece from writer/director Francis Ford Coppola sets the standard for epic family dramas. Based on the novel by Mario Puzo, the films explore the dynamics within the fictional Corleone family as they navigate the challenges of organized crime. While Marlon Brando won an Oscar for the first film, Al Pacino emerges as the star of the set with his dynamic portrayal of a young man who gradually lets go of his idealism to seek revenge on those who do his family wrong. He makes us believe that a man can love his family and be a bad guy at the same time.
The Godfather: Saturday, April 11, 9 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.; Sunday, April 12, 1:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., AMC
The Godfather Part II: Saturday, April 11, 1 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.; Sunday, April 12, 9 a.m., AMC
Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1975)
After scoring at the box office – and nabbing her second Oscar nomination – for The Exorcist, Ellen Burstyn had the clout to make this insightful look at how a widow adjusts to life without her husband telling her what to do. As a woman who once believed she could be a successful singer, Burstyn reveals the layers of loneliness she seeks to fill as well as the obligations she chooses to honor. The actress won the Oscar as Best Actress the same spring she won a Tony for Same Time, Next Year on Broadway. And she is still magical on stage and screen.
Saturday, April 11, 8 p.m., Turner Classic Movies
The Way We Were (1973)
After winning her Oscar for Funny Girl –and scoring at the box office with The Owl and the Pussycat and What’s Up, Doc? – Barbra Streisand delivered her strongest screen performance as an aggressive woman with illusions of romance in The Way We Were. This classic Hollywood love story casts Streisand and Robert Redford as ill-fated lovers with little in common. She is outspoken, he plays it safe; she is ambitious, he is willing to take it easy. As their relationship progresses, and their differences begin to separate them, we hope they will find a way to make it all work. And they give us a great time at the movies.
Saturday, April 11, 4 p.m., Turner Classic Movies
Roman Holiday (1953)
Like Ellen Burstyn, lovely newcomer Audrey Hepburn was starring on Broadway when she was nominated for the Best Actress for playing a strong willed royal who wants to experience a bit of real life before settling into her fantasy life. Hepburn is wonderfully spontaneous as she explores the treasures of Rome with a reluctant Gregory Peck as a reporter who would like to write the scoop of his career. Together they discover that what people can mean to each other is more lasting than what can fill a headline. And, like Burstyn, Hepburn won the Oscar and the Tony the same spring.
Sunday, April 12, 1:45 p.m., Turner Classic Movies
Guarding Tess (1994)
After winning her Oscar for Terms of Endearment, Shirley MacLaine entered a prolific period in her long career with interesting character roles in Postcards from the Edge, Madame Sousatska, Steel Magnolias and this comedy costarring Nicholas Cage. As the domineering wife of a late President of the United States, MacLaine turns what could be a cardboard character of a former first lady into an insightful look at how a powerful woman deals with the realities of age. She is touching, funny and ultimately real as a reel-life lady who finds it difficult to accept the passages of time.
Sunday, April 12, 5:30 p.m., POP
Love Me Or Leave Me (1955)
After starring in a series of feather-weight comedies and musicals, Doris Day went dramatic in the mid-1950s, first with this serious biography of singer Ruth Etting. As an ambitious performer with a stubborn streak, Day shines when she sings and moves when she acts, showing there’s more to her than her earlier films revealed. With James Cagney in an Oscar-nominated turn as the man who tries to dominate her life and her career, Day delivers a performance that should have been remembered by the Academy. But voters can get stuck in what they think an actor should play on screen. Perhaps they found it difficult believe their Doris could play such a complex role.
Sunday, April 12, 8 p.m., Turner Classic Movies
Pillow Talk (1959)
After making a few more dramas – including Alfred Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much – Doris Day returned to comedy with this delightful romance from producer Ross Hunter. As a stylish interior decorator intent on protecting her virtue, Day inaugurated a new chapter in her career with a sure-fire comic performance that brought the actress her only Academy Award nomination. She discovered that audiences simply could not get enough of watching the lovely Day – dressed to the hilt in lavish costumes – try to escape the romantic advances of a most-determined leading man. Rock Hudson fills that role this time around. And Day kept playing a variation of this role for the next several years.
Sunday, April 12, 6 p.m., Turner Classic Movies
Meet the Fockers (2004)
After directing her star vehicles Yentl, The Prince of Tides and The Mirror Has Two Faces, Barbra Streisand signed up to play a colorful supporting role in this sequel to the hit comedy Meet the Parents. Opposite Dustin Hoffman – also taking a break from more serious fare – Streisand is a hoot as a free spirited woman who is as exaggerated a mother-in-law as we have seen at the movies. While Ben Stiller and Robert DeNiro carry this situation comedy, Hoffman and, especially, Streisand provide a good dose of healthy laughter. And she looks like she is having a lot of fun.
Friday, April 10, 5:20 p.m., TNT
Sharing movies can be as easy as turning on the television or going online. And, when you watch as a family, take the time to chat about what you’re seeing. That makes it even more fun.