Each August, Turner Classic Movies holds "Summer Under The Stars," a month-long festival in which each day is dedicated to 24 hours of movies featuring a particular star. For example, you might have John Wayne day, or Bette Davis day. But the festival isn't just dedicated to leading men or leading ladies; there are usually a handful of supporting players thrown in there as well, so you might have a day of movies featuring, let's say, S.Z. Sakall or Thelma Ritter. As I write this on Monday, Slim Pickens is the star of the day. And the only requirement is that the actor of the day be in each movie somewhere; they could be playing a bit part from early in their career, or the movie could be some sort of all-star spectacle.
So when I saw that this Wednesday, the next-to-last day of the festival, is dedicated to George Sanders, I hoped for a few brief moments that "Good Times" might be on the schedule, perhaps in the wee hours of the morning, when I could set to record it on my DVR. Alas, no such luck.
"Good Times" -- no relation to the 1970s sitcom with Esther Rolle and Jimmie Walker -- is a 1967 movie starring Sonny and Cher , with George Sanders as the ... well, let's call him the antagonist.
"Good Times" is not necessarily a good movie by normal cinematic standards. In fact, let's come right out and say it -- it's a bad movie by most cinematic standards. But it's still fun to watch, especially if you think of it as a series of music videos instead of a movie. Or maybe just think of it as a preview of their TV variety show from a few years later.
The premise of the movie has Sonny and Cher playing gently-fictionalized versions of themselves. Sonny, against Cher's better judgement, has signed a contract with Mr. Mordicus (Sanders), a somewhat sinister movie mogul, for the couple to appear in a movie. They talk about what type of movie they might like to appear in, which leads to various fantasy sequences -- a western saloon, Tarzan in the jungle, a hard-boiled private eye, et cetera -- built around musical numbers. Sanders appears as a heavy in some of the fantasy sequences.
The movie was directed, amazingly enough, by William Friedkin, who went on to make classics like "The Exorcist" and "The French Connection," and who is currently Alec Baldwin's guest co-host on TCM's Saturday night showcase, "The Essentials."
TCM has shown "Good Times" in the past, and I hoped maybe they might sneak it in during George Sanders day this week. But, as I said, no such luck. I would have enjoyed seeing it again.