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The Televisionist, Dec. 18

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THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL (1951)

American Movie Classics

9 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 23

Given that this writer just got through raking the new Keanu-fied version of “The Day the Earth Stood Still” over the critical coals (Too much CGI! Too much Keanu! Too little “Klaatu Barada Nikto!”) I'd be remiss if I didn't put my money where my mouth is by directing you to this, a completely-free-if-you've-got-cable showing of the original “The Day the Earth Stood Still.” Starring Michael Rennie, Patricia Neal and Hugh Marlowe, it's pretty much the Honus Wagner card of early sci-fi movies, the flick that taught us that robots — for all their metallic goodness — were just waiting to go haywire and fry our meaty pink asses. Though the space ship Klaatu and his robo-pal Gort arrive in looks suspiciously like a Nash hubcap, Gort seems a little rubbery, and we never did figger out what the heck “Klaatu Barada Nikto” means (I'm thinking: “Please! Don't microwave! My face!”), it's still a great example of the Cold War Era morality play, with a few subplots that likely got everybody connected to the film a nice, juicy FBI file. In short: It's a classic, and great fun. Be sure to check it out.

 

DON KNOTTS THREE-FER

American Movie Classics

Begins 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 24

I'm not ashamed to say it: I love Don Knotts. Not in the I-might-go-gay-for-him way I love Paul Newman, but I do love him. Some of my earliest memories are of watching Knotts play twitchy, homophobic and yet strangely queer landlord Mr. Furley on “Three's Company.” From there, I was hooked. “The Apple Dumpling Gang?” “The Incredible Mr. Limpet?” Reruns of “The Andy Griffith Show?” Guest spots on “Love Boat” and  “Scooby Doo?”  If it was in the least bit Knottsy, I was watching, because— let's face it — nobody did the “Holy crap, what was that?” bug-eye take like Knotts. Here, AMC presents a Christmas Eve gift to the masses: three films from the Don Knotts Golden Age (sure, no “Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo,” but you can't win 'em all). The Don-athon kicks off with “The Reluctant Astronaut (1967)” followed by “The Shakiest Gun in the West (1968).” Then, it's the immortal “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken (1966).” Kick back, have some egg nog, and prepare to laugh. It's Christmas Eve, dang it. Have a little fun with Knotts. 

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