A holiday classic and others

Ready for a movie this weekend? Check out what’s available on broadcast and standard cable stations!

That’s Entertainment (1974)

Back in the “good old days” of Hollywood, the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio ruled the business with its opulent productions, especially musical movies. This tribute – created by Jack Haley, Jr. – includes scenes from the great MGM musicals including Singin’ in the Rain, Gigi and The Bandwagon as it reminds us why these films will always be special. Guest hosts include Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor and Liza Minnelli. If you love musicals, this is the movie for you!

Saturday, December 5, 12 noon, Turner Classic Movies (TCM)

Erin Brockovich (2000)

In a picture perfect match of actress and role, Julia Roberts soars as a self-proclaimed champion of people who find it challenging to fight for themselves. When a large electric utility refuses to settle claims essential to residents of a small town, Brockovich jumps in to show big business that little people can come together to be heard. Roberts is perfectly cast – and well directed by Steven Soderbergh – in the role that won her an Oscar.

Saturday, December 5, 7:15 p.m., Sundance

The Exorcist (1974)

When a novel sells a lot of copies, chances are it will be adapted into a film. This movie – based on the best-selling book about a young girl and a devilish spirit – created a sensation on screen with its strong language, graphic sequences and memorable performances. Today it may look a bit dated and feel less frightening than it seemed at the time. But the heart of the film – Ellen Burstyn’s touching performance as a mother overwhelmed by outrageous incidents – still works.

Saturday, December 5, 7:15 p.m., Sundance

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

It wouldn’t feel like the holidays without the annual showing of this classic from director Frank Capra. James Stewart – in his first film after serving in World War II - delivers what may be his most passionate performance as a man who carries the weight of his family while trying to make ends meet with his small business. When things go wrong, and he faces challenges beyond his resources, he wonders what life actually means. This classic still packs a strong and meaningful punch.

Saturday, December 5, 8 p.m., NBC

Sunset Boulevard (1950)

The great silent film star Gloria Swanson made a big comeback to the talking-movie screen with this made-to-fit story of a silent film star who wants to make a comeback. As the larger-than-life actress, Swanson is funny, touching and blistering, a complex woman who can’t understand why the world no longer cares what she’s about. Look for the young William Holden who almost walks away with the film as a writer with too much on his mind.

Saturday, December 5, 8 p.m., Turner Classic Movies (TCM)

Call Me Madam (1953)

While Broadway legend Ethel Merman only made a handful of movies, this adaptation of her Broadway hit is a delight. The grand diva soars as an exaggerated woman who gets to serve the United States as the ambassador to a mythical European country. The flimsy plot offers just enough narrative to string together a collection of Irving Berlin songs (of which Merman’s duet with Donald O’Connor is the show stopper). And, when she sings, Ethel never lets us forget she is great star (even though she can overwhelm the camera).

Sunday, December 6, 10:45 a.m., FXM

An American in Paris (1951)

The great Gene Kelly – the extraordinary dancer from Broadway who made it big in the movies – is center screen in this Oscar-winning musical about a young man trying to find his rhythm in France after World War II. While the incidental plot may not be substantive enough to hold an audience, the dancing – by Kelly and the fabulous Leslie Caron – makes us overlook any weaknesses in the script. They create marvelous music together especially in their quiet duet along the river in Paris.

Sunday, December 6, 3:30 p.m., Turner Classic Movies (TCM)

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.