The Kansas City Chiefs' gripping overtime victory over the Buffalo Bills this past Sunday night Jan 23 kept me from getting too involved with TCM's showing of Joseph Mankiewicz's Oscar-winning "A Letter To Three Wives" (1949). I had seen it before and will see it again.
More on Douglas and TCM upcoming films in a moment.
I felt bad for Buffalo and the ardent fans of western New York State. They were only 13 seconds from hosting an AFC championship game this coming Sunday against the surprising Cincinnati Bengals and their growing-before-our-very-eyes young quarterback Joe Burrow.
Whatta duel Buffalo's young QB Josh Allen engaged in against Kansas City's equally youthful QB Patrick Mahomes. Time to forget about the forty-something QBs Tom Brady and the insufferable anti-vaxxer Aaron Rodgers. Time to give props to these youngsters still in their mid-twenties.
And let's give a shoutout to the good parenting they received. Patrick Mahomes' father, Pat, pitched for the Mets in 1999 and 2000. Hard not to believe that Patrick's poise and remarkable calm under pressure had its roots when he was only five years old and he shagged fly balls at Shea Stadium before the 2000 Subway World Series.
A quick Wikipedia perusal led me to a nice tidbit from Josh Allen's mother. "You bloom closest to where you plant," she said in explaining why her son never switched high schools in their small home town 40 miles outside Fresno, Calif.
Neither did Josh go to a fancy QB camp. He played all sports in high school that left him further off the radar of the modish top football recruiters.
After a year of junior college, only Eastern Michigan and Wyoming were interested in Allen, and he chose the latter. Interestingly, EMU beat Allen's Wyoming team twice.
In an interesting side note, now that the transfer portal is brimming with activity, EMU has lost its top two QBs and their ace kicker who helped them beat Illinois and Purdue in 2021. It is the Wild West in college recruiting now on so many levels.
As for the big games this Sunday to decide the Super Bowl contestants on Feb 13, it is a rare if not unprecedented rematch with teams who met on the last day of the regular season.
After all his years toiling for the woebegone Detroit Lions, Matthew Stafford might be a sentimental favorite leading the LA Rams. I would guess that his Texas high school battery mate Clayton Kershaw will be rooting for him. Love the story that Stafford not only caught Kershaw in baseball but Kershaw centered the ball for his classmate in football.
Stafford must cut down the needless turnovers because the San Francisco 49ers will be ready to capitalize. As the home team the Rams are slight avorites.
In the other matchup, I would think the Chiefs and the magical Mahomes should end Cincinnati's surprise run. But even in close football, youneverknow, youneverknow. Just hope the refs don't needlessly decide the outcome.
Turning to baseball - and I'll believe spring training starts on time on Valentine's Day when
plaayers and owners truly work out their differences - I thought David Ortiz's election into the Hall of Fame was a foregone conclusion when he became the powerful voice of Boston Proud after the bombing of the Boston Marathon in 2013.
That Ortiz wrapped up the year with a third World Series triumph cemented his enshrinement in the hearts and minds of the 77% of the 400-plus writers who voted him in.
That Ortiz's life in the Dominican Republic has not been exemplary was not a concern to the American voters. He was almost shot to death a couple of years ago in some kind of drug dealing incident. Only the finest medical treatment here in the States saved hs life.
I don't share the indignation that some sportswriters are spewing that Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds were not elected after ten years on the ballot. Now only a veterans committee can elevate them.
Turning to the exciting college basketball season and my two favorite teams, Columbia's women's basketball team improved to 5-0 in the Ivy League and 14-3 overall with a stirring come-from-behind win on Jan 26 over a longtime nemesis Penn.
There will be a rematch on the road against Penn on Sat Feb 5 at 6p preceded on Fri Feb 4 at Princeton at 5p against the other undefeated team in the league. Both games will be on ESPN+ as will the 2p Sat Jan 29 game at Dartmouth.
As for the Wisconsin men's basketball Badgers, they lost at home to Michigan State last Friday. The absence of junior forward Tyler Wahl really hurt, but there are signs that his injured ankle is healing.
There's a big matchup at Illinois, last year's champion, on Tu Feb 2 at 9p EST, TV on the Big Ten Network. Their star center Kofi Cockburn has been out for a few games but they
are still formidable.
And Badgers can't overlook a game at Nebraska on Jan 27 at 5p. Then come two home battles - first against Minnesota on Su Jan 30 at 1p and another vs. Penn State on
Sa Feb 5 at 6p. Then a visit to Michigan State for a rematch on Tu Feb 8 at 7p.
No game in the brutally competitive Big Ten is a gimme and the Badgers are not deep. Johnny Davis, the emergent Player of the Year candidate, has to stay healthy himself.
FINALLY here are some TCM tips for the end of the month and into February:
"Letter to Three Wives," noted earlier, was Paul Douglas's first big role. 1949 was a big year for the former radio announcer and baseball broadcaster who had a worthy run in Hollywood until his death by heart attack in September 1959.
On Tu Feb 8 at 1245p, Douglas stars as a grumpy baseball manager in the original "Angels in the Outfield" (1951), much of it filmed at Pittsburgh's Forbes Field. The always-excellent
Janet Leigh plays a manners newspaper reporter who tries to smooth his rough edges.
BTW Douglas was Ray Milland's catcher in Valentine Davies' marvelous baseball fable, "It Happens Every Spring" (1949). A year before, Davies created a classic Christmas fantasy, "Miracle on 34th Street," some of which actually was filmed at Macy's. With Edmund Gwenn as Santa Claus, Maureen O'Hara, and young Natalie Wood.
The other somewhat baseball-related film coming up is on F Feb 11 at 1p "Three Little Words" (1950) about the musical comedy team of Harry Ruby (Red Skelton) and Bert Kalmar (Fred Astaire). Skelton doesn't do justice to Ruby and his genuine love of baseball.
But several ballplayers appear including George Metkovich as onetime pitcher-turned-
comic Al Schacht. Ruby himself makes a cameo as a player as do former Yankee Jerry
Priddy and Pacific Coast League legend Frank Kelleher.
On the serious film front on TCM, I'm curious to see the original "Dillinger" (1945)
Fri Jan 27 at 1015a - Mozart's birthday no less - with an all-star cast of gangsters including Lawrence Tierney in the title role and such classic gangsters as Eduardo Ciannelli, Elisha Cook Jr., and Marc Lawrence.
Sa Jan 29 245p Burt Lancaster, who did all his own stunts, in "Birdman of Alcatraz" (1962)
Tu Feb 1 Henry Fonda night including 8p John Ford's "Young Mr. Lincoln" (1939)
10p William Wyler's "Jezebel" (1938) with Bette Davis
F Feb 4 at 6a worth at least taping "The Breaking Point" (1950) John Garfield's last Warner Brothers film and produced by his own company. With Phyllis Thaxter as the solid wife, Patricia Neal as the noirest of women, and the unjustly forgotten Juano Hernandez as Garfield's boat assistant.
Sa Feb 5 2p Fritz Lang's "Rancho Notorious" (1952) with Marlene Dietrich, Arthur Kennedy, and Mel Ferrer
Su Feb 6 12M, 10A "The Turning Point" (1952) - Noir Alley presents William Holden fighting
corruption with or without the help of Edmond O'Brien and Alexis Smith. Don't get confused. This is the "Turning Point" not the "Breaking Point".
12N "Rhapsody" (1954) Elizabeth Taylor must choose between a violinist or a pianist.
Another one of TCM's odd juxtapositions but the classical music is very good in this film.
That's all for now. Always remember: Take it easy but take it, and stay positive test negative.