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DAVID BIANCULLI

Founder / Editor

ERIC GOULD

Associate Editor

LINDA DONOVAN

Assistant Editor

Contributors

ALEX STRACHAN

MIKE HUGHES

KIM AKASS

MONIQUE NAZARETH

ROGER CATLIN

GARY EDGERTON

TOM BRINKMOELLER

GERALD JORDAN

NOEL HOLSTON

 
 
SATURDAY
JULY 4
2020

BIANCULLI’S BEST BETS

 

Decades, 12:00 p.m. ET

The Decades channel may have given this Independence Day marathon of Twilight Zone episodes a terrible name (Really? Rod, White and Blue? Even blanch at that one.) However, the selection of episodes is beyond criticism. Just look at the first three entries in this mini-marathon, which begins at noon ET. First up is 1959’s “Time Enough At Last,” starring Burgess Meredith as a man in urgent need of a post-apocalyptic Lenscrafters. Then comes 1960’s “The Hitchhikers,” starring Inger Stevens as a woman on a particularly harrowing road trip. And then, from 1963, there’s “The Living Doll,” in which Terry Savalas (pictured) plays a father freaked out by his daughter’s talking doll – whose creepy voice, by the way, is provided by June Foray, the voice of Rocky the flying squirrel in the Rocky and Bullwinkle adventures.
 
  
 
 

AMC, 1:00 p.m. ET

Be more specific, Bianculli. An Independence Day Marathon of what, exactly? Ease up. In this case, I am being specific. For 12 straight hours, starting at 1 p.m. ET, AMC is presenting back-to-back-to-back-etc. showings of 1996’s Independence Day movie. And here’s something scary to consider: Next year, this Will Smith-Bill Pullman-Jeff Goldblum sci-fi blockbuster will be 25 years old. And something else to consider: In one of its scenes, one of the alien destroyer ships takes aim at New York City, where its targets include the World Trade Center – a few years before the Twin Towers were targeted, and destroyed, by alien terrorists of a terrestrial type.
 
  
 
 

TCM, 3:00 p.m. ET

If you watched Hamilton last night on Disney+, you heard the tossaway lyric “Sit down, John!” – which wasn’t really a tossaway at all. It was a shout-out to a previous musical about American independence, 1776, which was preserved on film in this 1972 version. William Daniels plays John Adams, with Howard Da Silva as Benjamin Frankin, Ken Howard as Thomas Jefferson, and Blythe Danner, Gwyneth Paltrow’s mom, as the luminous Martha Jefferson. And the opening song, in this musical about the complex political battle to draft the Declaration of Independence, is titled “Sit Down, John!”
 
  
 
 

TCM, 5:30 p.m. ET

As WWII was erupting all around him, director Michel Curtiz made two back-to-back movies in 1942 that were unabashedly patriotic, and which are revered to this day, in no small part because of the iconic performances by their leading men. In this movie musical biography, James Cagney plays George M. Cohan, and struts energetically through such songs as the title number. Then, later that same year, Curtiz cast Humphrey Bogart in a little wartime drama called Casablanca.
 
  
 
 

PBS, 8:00 p.m. ET

SPECIAL PREMIERE: Usually, this annual 4th of July concert is broadcast live from the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol. This year, because of the pandemic, performances are pre-taped from remote locations. Which actually, it appears, makes for a bigger guest list: scheduled performers include Kelli O’Hara, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Renée Fleming, John Fogerty, Patti LaBelle and others. Vanessa Williams and John Stamos host – remotely. Check local listings.
 
  
 
 

TCM, 8:00 p.m. ET

There’s trouble, right here in River City – trouble, and a wonderful family musical that’s a great way to end any 4th of July celebration. Gather the family, and watch Robert Preston command his way through this 1962 film version of Meredith Willson’s Tony-winning musical. Shirley Jones is a shimmering Marian the Librarian, and Ronny Howard – already a few years into appearing as Opie on The Andy Griffith Show – steals his scenes as little, lispy Winthrop.
 
  
 
 
 
 
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