September TV Films With an "Ayn Rand Connection"
Each month, cable and satellite TV networks broadcast movies and documentaries that have some association with Ayn Rand. Here is a sampling of September films "with a Rand connection."
Rand loved Ian Fleming's novels (and the early Sean Connery films) about fictional secret agent James Bond. The American Movie Classics (AMC) cable network will air a lighthearted look at the iconic, ironic, and often laconic super spy, titled The James Bond Story on September 15th.
I'm pleased that the Sundance Channel is broadcasting a rarely seen classic by Fritz Lang, Rand's all-time favorite film director. Lang's early movie, M, is a haunting yet tastefully understated work about a homicidal pedophile, played by Peter Lorre in a remarkable debut performance. This summer, when child abductions are daily news, this brilliant movie is particularly timely. Rand would not have approved of Lang's psychological excuse-making for the tale's villain; but this early German film (with English subtitles) is a model of Lang's incomparable artistry as a filmmaker. Sundance airs M on the 6th, 7th, 18th, 19th, 26th, and 29th.
Regular readers of this feature know that Rand also thought highly of Alfred Hitchcock's work. The following from the Master of Suspense air this month on the OXYGEN (OXGN) network: Family Plot (28th and 29th), The Man Who Knew Too Much (Hitch's 1956 remake, starring James Stewart and Doris Day, on the 21st and 22nd), Rear Window (7th and 8th), and Rope (14th).
Hitchcock chillers appearing on other networks during September include North By Northwest (the 21st on Cinemax's "More Max" channel); Strangers on a Train (7th) and Suspicion (25th), both on Turner Classic Movies (TCM); To Catch a Thief (A&E;, the 7th); and The Wrong Man (TRUEthe True Stories channelon the 7th, 11th, and 29th).
Moving from directors to actors, Gary Cooper represented her ideal male physical type, according to Ayn Rand's long-time associate Nathaniel Branden. That's why he was picked to play hero Howard Roark in the film version of her novel, The Fountainhead. Cooper's most memorable performance, though, was his Oscar-winning turn as sheriff Will Kane in the 1952 Western classic, High Noon. TCM broadcasts it on the 22nd and 23rd.
At Rand's suggestion, the elegant Walter Pidgeon was cast in the role of "Guts" Regan in her stage drama, Night of January 16th. Pidgeon is a commanding presence as stage impresario Florence Ziegfield in one of the greatest movie musicals ever made, Funny Girl, starring Barbara Streisand in her stunning film debut, and co-starring the Omar Sharif as her suave lover, Nick Arnstein. Savor this unforgettable romance when HBO's Signature network broadcasts it on September 8, 22, and 27.
This month TCM highlights the matchless talents of Fred Astaire, whom Rand ranked among the finest of dancers. Enjoy Fred's grace and charm in The Band Wagon (9th), The Barkleys of Broadway (19th), Easter Parade (9th, 20th), The Gay Divorcee (18th), Shall We Dance (19th), Silk Stockings (9th), and Top Hat (18th). In addition, Fox Movie Channel (FMC) also airs Astaire's delightful Daddy Long Legs on the 12th and 13th.
As you may know, "the young Katherine Hepburn" would have been Rand's first choice for heroine Dagny Taggart in a film version of her novel Atlas Shrugged. You'll see why if you watch young Kate in Holiday with Cary Grant on the Turner Classic Movies (TCM) channel September 17th, or teamed again with Cary in the great screwball comedy, Bringing Up Baby, airing on American Movie Classics (AMC) on the 11th and 19th.
An older Hepburn, at the top of her performing art, appears in other terrific films this month: with Humphrey Bogart in The African Queen (AMC, the 24th and 25th); with Peter O'Toole in the magnificent The Lion In Winter (TCM, the 28th); with real-life companion Spencer Tracy in the comedies Without Love (TCM, the 8th) and Desk Set (AMC on the 11th, 12th, 23rd and 24th); with handsome Rossano Brazzi (who also played Leo in the Italian film version of Rand's We the Living) in the wonderful romance, Summertime (IFCthe Independent Film Channelon the 12th and 21st); and with Henry Fonda in his last film role, On Golden Pond (on the FLIX cable channel on the 6th, 12th, 15th, 18th, 23rd and 28th). Don't miss these if you wish to appreciate some of the finest acting ever filmed.
For movies based on literature that Rand enjoyed, don't miss the 1952 film version of Oscar Wilde's delightful stage comedy, The Importance of Being Earnest, airing all month on the Showtime 3 Channel. In addition, Victor Hugo was her favorite author, and a 1982 film rendition of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, starring Anthony Hopkins and Derek Jacobi, appears on the LOVE network on the 5th, 9th, 10th, and 27th. An engrossing 1998 film version of Les Miserables stars Liam Neeson as Jean Valjean and Geoffrey Rush as the fanatical Inspector Javert; catch it on the Independent Film Channel (IFC) on the 11th or 12th.
Finally, the Apollo space program that so inspired Rand is honored in the heroic, gripping 1995 docudrama, Apollo 13, starring Tom Hanks and Ed Harris. It will be shown on the WAM! cable network on the 14th, 26th, and 27th.
As always, check your local listings for broadcast times in your area.