Another Wednesday is upon us and that means the lineup of TV travel programs on WYCC-TV in Chicago is set for tonight (Feb. 10).
8 p.m. (CST) — “Rick Steves’ Europe” — Rick visits what he considers the great cities of Switzerland — Bern, Lausanne, Lucerne and Zurich.
8:30 p.m — “Joseph Rosendo’s Travelscope” — Obviously, this episode was done way before the recent major earthquake in Taiwan. Joseph gives an overview of the nation including Taipei, the capital.
9 p.m. — “Globe Trekker” — It’s a journey to Antactica. There’s kayaking and penguin watching in Paradise Harbor. The show pays a visit to Ukrainian biologists working at Port Lockrov and there’s an attempt to scale Mount Scott. We will also see a crossing of Drake Passage to South America.
TWO OF THE BEST PLAY TONIGHT ON TURNER CLASSIC MOVIES
TCM continues its “31 Days of Oscar” celebration tonight of Oscar-winning and Oscar-nominated films with two of my all-time favorites.
7 p.m. — “The Great Escape” (1963) — It’s one of the best action films ever made. It’s based on the true story of how over 200 allied prisoners escaped from a German POW camp during World War II. It’s based on the book “The Great Escape” by Paul Brickhill.
The movie takes some liberty with the facts. I read the book and how the escape was organized and how the tunnels were dug is pretty well accurate. Escapees were given forged documents, civilian clothes, maps, etc. Reading the book or seeing the movie will give you an appreciation of what an incredible accomplishment it really was.
But the escape was mastered almost entirely by British Commonwealth POWs and the movie turned up the role of Americans several notches so the film would have more appeal in the United States. Steve McQueen, as an American flyer, has primarily the biggest role of the film.
However, that doesn’t take away from a movie that works on all levels. Directed by John Sturges, it has an all-star ensemble that includes not only McQueen, but James Garner, Richard Attenborough, Charles Bronson and James Coburn. “NCIS” fans will see a youthful David McCallum as one of the British POWs.
And the theme by Elmer Bernstein will stay in your head a very long time.
10 p.m. — “Bullitt” (1968) — This movie is so coo that you will need a jacket to wear while you watch it. I first saw it in high school film class and enjoy it thoroughly every single time I watch it.
Steve McQueen plays San Francisco police lieutenant Frank Bullitt. He is assigned to protect a witness over a weekend so that witness can testify before a senate subcommittee hearing on organized crime Monday morning in San Francisco. It’s organized by politician on the rise Walter Chalmers (Robert Vaughn).
The witness is murdered and Bullitt has to find out why. McQueen was on the top of his cool game as Bullitt. He drives a Mustang, has a cool bachelor pad and a beautiful artist girlfriend (Jacqueline Bisset) and is living in 1960s San Francisco.
The movie contains what is considered one of the most advanced car chases in film to that point. That and the entire movie was filmed on location in San Francisco. Frank P. Keller won an Oscar for film editing and for good reason especially with how he put together the chase after it was filmed.
“Bullitt” was directed by Peter Yates and I consider it the best police movie, based on fictional material, ever made.
And don’t forget the oh-so-cool music in the film by Lalo Schifrin with a heavy jazz emphasis.
RATINGS FOR BOTH FILMS — An easy to give **** stars each.
UNTIL NEXT TIME. . .