Work & TCM Wednesday

A Monarch butterfly enjoys the resting pad provided by a fuchsia zinnia.

“Pedestal”
Virginia, USA

All right! Our kitchen’s beautiful new backsplash is up (the old one was pretty poorly done—to say nothing of the fact that it literally sucked light out of the room!) and I’m back to attempting a normal schedule. I hope to have pictures soon, though we’ve still got to caulk and then touch up the paint.

As always on Wednesday, it’s time for me to share some of my recently-released photographs while we look at what’s worth enjoying or DVRing on TCM in the coming week. We’ll start with tomorrow, Thursday the fourth of October (oh my WORD, I still cannot believe it’s October!)!

  • 6:30AM Bathing Beauty ’44    Esther Williams’ first movie ever is likely to be fluff, but this one also features greats Basil Rathbone and Red Skelton. Xavier Cugat and Harry James and His Orchestra appear as well.
  • 8:15AM The Harvey Girls ’46    This one is actually pretty fun. Starring Judy Garland , Ray Bolger (he and Clay Aiken were separated at birth, I’m TELLING you), Angela Lansbury, Marjorie Main (one of my favourites!), and Cyd Charisse, the movie’s script is a bit goofy (TCM calls it ‘silly’), but the terrific cast and good songs make it worth watching. There was a Harvey House or two along Route 66 as well, though this was very much in the early days of these civilizing forces.
  • 10AM Holiday In Mexico ’46    I’ve not seen this one, but it stars Walter Pidgeon, Roddy McDowall, and Xavier Cugat in the musical tale of an ambassador’s daughter swooning over a famed musician. Comedy. They say.
  • 12:15AM Cass Timberlane ’47    Long-in-the-tooth judge Spencer Tracy marries young and wrong-caste Lana Turner, causing a ruckus in his social and professional set. Based on the Sinclair Lewis novel, the movie also stars Mary Astor, Albert Dekker, John Litel, Mona Barrie, and Walter Pidgeon. Have never seen this, but it might be good. Considered one of Turner’s best performances.
  • 8PM Son of Fury ’42    This South Seas adventure has a terrific cast—George Sanders (love!), Tyrone Power, the beautiful Gene Tierny, Frances Farmer, Roddy McDowall, John Carradine, and Frances Farmer. Sanders plays the villainous uncle of Tyrone Power. It just sounds delicious, don’t you think? One of Robert Osborne’s picks.
  • 1:30AM Marked Woman ’37   A fine script makes this tale of Humphrey Bogart’s DA trying to get four nightclub hostesses—including Bette Davis and Lola Lane—to testify against their dirty boss a very good drama.

Sun bounces off the blue skin of a '55 Studebaker Commander.

“Blue Again”
A beautiful blue 1955 Studebaker Commander

TCM gets spooky on Friday, October 5. Yup, I’m still in shock that it’s already October.

  • 9AM The Reptile ’66    This sounds just horrid enough to have entertaining kitsch value: an explorer’s daughter is turned into “a hideous monster” by Indian snake worshippers. Laughfest?
  • 10:30AM The Curse of the Cat People ’44   Believe it or not, this is a pretty good one to watch. Sequel to “Cat People”, “Curse” is the charming-at-first tale of a lonely little girl who creates friends of her own, but this seemingly innocent act almost results in disaster. This is not a horror movie at all—more of drama/suspense—and is fascinating to watch, really. If you ask me, it might be better than the first film. Stars Simone Simon and Jane Randolph.
  • 1:15PM I Married A Witch ’42    Enjoyable flick about a man who marries a witch burned by his own descendants long ago in Salem. Veronica Lake and Fredric March are the stars, but Susan Hayward and Robert Benchly hold their own as well.
  • 2:45PM Curse of the Demon ’58    Based on Montague James’ short story “Casting the Runes”, this movie portrays the conflict between those who deny and those who believe in the occult and supernatural, a story framed by a series of murders. I saw this a long while back, and it is a bit of a doozy! Dana Andrews is the big name here.
  • 9PM Mr. Smith Goes To Washington ’39   One of my favourite movies of all time, starring one of my very favourite actors, Jimmy Stewart. We all know the story of small-town troop leader Smith, who goes to Washington with the intention of doing Big Things and faultlessly adhering to the Constitution—but it never gets old, and never fails to tug at the hearts of Americans. The corruption portrayed is as real in 2012 as it was in 1939; if only we had  more Smiths to fight for we the people. Also starring the great Claude Rains, Jean Arthur, Eddie Arnold, Guy Kibbee, Thomas Mitchell, Beulah Bondi, Harry Carey, Charles Lane, Jack Carson, Guy Kibbee and, of course, directed by Frank Capra. I choke up every time.
  • 12:15AM Meet John Doe ’41    Another sort of Manchurian Candidate story, but in this one, a genuinely good guy is used by a corrupt pol to deceive the voters. Not as good as “Mr. Smith”, but if you can’t sleep, you can’t really go wrong watching this enjoyable film—though it does get a bit draggy at points and is a bit long, if you ask me. Frank Capra’s patriotic idealism comes through yet again as he directs Gary Cooper, Barbara Stanwyck, Walter Brennan, Eddie Arnold, Gene Lockhart.

Saturday, October 6 offers thin gruel indeed.

  • 9AM The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe ’54    This Luis Brunel-directed version of Dafoe’s tale is a good one to plop the kids in front of if it’s too nasty to send them outside (or you want a little bit more sleep).
Detail of the mod canopy of Springfield, Ohio's Townhouse Motor Lodge. US40, National Road, USA

Detail of the Townhouse Motor Lodge in Springfield, Ohio.

There is quite a variety to choose from Sunday, October 7; not sure what the theme is, but there should be something for just about everyone.

  • 8AM Kim ’50    The makeup will probably leave you aghast for a while, but overall, this is a good version of Kipling’s story of an orphan helping the Brits fight the rebellious natives in India. Starring Errol Flynn and Dean Stockwell.
  • 10AM Goodbye, My Fancy ’51    I’ve never seen this one, which stars Joan Crawford as a Congresswoman (can you imagine?!) who finds her affections for a college beau renewed. Robert Young and Eve Arden mean this one at least has a fine cast!
  • 4:15PM Cheaper by the Dozen ’50    Another sweet movie about an old-fashioned big family—with Clifton Webb as the father and Myrna Loy as the mother.
  • 6PM Monkey Business ’52    Though if you ask me this one starts to grate near the end—particularly the far too long revert to childhood scene for the starring couple—it’s still a cute and loopily fun movie, and one with star power you’d be daft to deny: Cary Grant, Ginger Rogers, Charles Coburn, Marilyn Monroe and Hugh Marlowe.
  • 2:30AM Not Against the Flesh ’32    It looks like this one is best known for its fantastic use of light and shadow, but the addition of a castle, rolling fog, and a vampire should make it worthwhile viewing for all. Originally titled “Vampyr” in Europe.

Monday, October 8 provides us with an opportunity to enjoy solid work from some truly great actors and actresses—Spencer Tracy, Garbo, Barbara Stanwyck, Myrna Loy, Fredric March, Jean Harlow, Clark Gable, William Powell. Watch and learn, young actors!

    • 6AM Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde ’32    Fredric March won an Oscar for his portrayal of Dr. Jekyll. Miriam Hopkins is the co-star.
    • 7:45AM Queen Christina ’33    Greta Garbo will play your heartstrings as the Swedish Queen who must choose between her throne and the man she falls in love with. I agree with the critics: this is one of Garbo’s best films, and almost certainly her best performance in a dramatic role (though, yes, I know there’s “Camille”). John Gilbert once again plays Garbo’s lover; Ian Keith, Lewis Stone, and Reginald Owen also star. Do DVR this if you can’t catch it as it airs. The final scene is one of the more famous in film, and with reason. Garbo is one of the few who could pull it off.
    • 12:30PM Golden Boy ’39    Barbara Stanwyck, Bill Holden (in his debut), and Adolphe Menjou. Do we need further reason to watch?
    • 8PM Fury ’36    Star of the Month Spencer Tracy is wrongly accused of kidnapping just as he has earned enough money to marry the woman he’s long loved, played by Sylvia Sidney. The famed Fritz Lang directed this film in America after fleeing Hitler and the Third Reich, and “Fury” is very much Lang’s stylistically speaking.
    • 9:45PM Libeled Lady ’36    After the heavy “Fury”, you may well be in the mood for this zany, classic comedy starring Tracy, Myrna Loy, William Powell, Jean Harlow, and Walter Connolly.
Look handsome for the camera, Ben!

Ben does his best to look handsome for you all. 😉

  • 11:30PM Test Pilot ’38    Spencer Tracy, Clark Gable, Myrna Loy, Lionel Barrymore, Marjorie Maine, Gloria Holden, Samuel Hinds. Oh, come on. (According to TCM, “An irresponsible test pilot’s wife and best friend try to get him to grow up;” comedy.)

Tuesday, October 9, TCM screens one of my very favourite movies: “The Best Years of Our Lives”..

  • 9:45AM Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde ’41    No, not a typo—this is the famed Spencer Tracy retelling of the tale, and as he’s working with the likes of Ingrid Bergman, Donald Crisp, and Lana Turner, it’s bound to be good. The transformation scenes are said to be especially good.
  • 11:45AM Tortilla Flat ’42    Based on Steinbeck’s novel about a fishing village in Southern Cali, the performances of Tracy, Frank Morgan, Hedy Lamarr, and John Garfield make this sparkle.
  • 9:45PM The Best Years of Our Lives ’46    I love this movie more every time I see it—it’s one of the best WWII films you will ever see, and nary a shot is fired. William Wyler sensitively and honestly follows three veterans as they readjust to civilian life. And the cast! Myrna Loy, Dana Andrews, Harold Russell, Fredric March, Teresa Wright, Virginia Mayo, Gladys George, Steve Cochran, Hoagy Carmichael. Superb, superb, superb. One of the best movies you will ever see.
  • 12:45AM Reach For The Sky ’56    Saw a clip of this the other night, and it looks good—it’s the story of a British flying ace after losing both of his legs. Lewis Gilbert directs.
  • 3:15AM Bright Victory ’51    Another tale of a soldier triumphing over physical injury—permanent blindness. Arthur Kennedy stars.
  • 5:15AM One Who Came Back ’51    Documentary listens to a soldier talk about his attempts to evacuate and treat those hurt during the Korean War.
Feel like you're being watched?

Folks on Flickr got a kick out of this shot of Buckley keeping an eye on me, so here you go, in case you missed it there!

TCM seems to want to spend at least part of Wednesday, October 10 in court with those members of the OTHER oldest profession—and then the evening with classic horror films. Are they trying to tell us something?

  • 6AM Lawyer Man ’33    William Powell and Joan Blondell star in this pre-Code flick about a skirt-chasing attorney and his fight with (as always) corrupt politicians. According to TCM, Powell speaks a little Yiddish.
  • 12:45AM Woman Against Woman ’38    Mary Astor is in it and wants her man back. That’s all I know.
  • 2PM Made For Each Other ’39    Though this melodrama is soapy and dances close to the edge, it’s a satisfying movie to watch. Jimmy Stewart and Carole Lombard play  luminously in-love newlyweds dealing with the things of everyday life: illness, financial issues, meddling parents, and a sick child. Charles Coburn, Lucile Watson, and Ward Bond also appear in what is really a very good film with terrific performances all ’round. Yes, it’s a mixed bag, but I like it.
  • 10PM The Uninvited ’44    Excellent cinematography make this tale of siblings buying a haunted mansion a very solid horror film that is more thoughtful than scary. Good cast, too—Ruth Hussey, Ray Milland, Donald Crisp, and Gail Russell.
  • 12AM The House On Haunted Hill ’59    A truly freaky house, goofy gazillionaire, murderous guns, loaded guns as party favours, and Vincent Price—could we want more? This is the original. Lots of screaming.
  • 1:30AM Dead of Night ’45    Another tale of a country house and supernatural happenings. Is one of the guests’ nightmares coming to pass before his eyes?

That’s it for the coming week—many I’ve not seen before that sound interesting. Happy viewing! And since I can’t let our boys have all the fun, here’s Lucy, our little princess.

Our tortie, Lucy, hangs out on the dropcloth. The dropcloth I needed at the time (of course).

“All shall love me and despair. Or bring me feather toys.”

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