You should know what Wednesday means by now—I share some of my most recently-released photos with you (if it isn’t in the shop and you’re interested, just drop me a line!) to prettify our look at TCM’s schedule for the coming week. I’m loving this December on TCM, too—Barbara Stanwyck is Star Of The Month, and every Friday is being dedicated to the work of director Ernst Lubitsch…to say nothing of the Christmas-themed movies popping up!
Thursday, December 13 is yet another day full of Stanwyck flicks. A couple of highlights—though I’ve not seen any of these, I’ve seen some of the others on today’s schedule.
- 10AM Breakfast for Two ’37 Heiress Stanwyck decides she wants skirt-chasing Herbert Marshall…But he needs a (manners) makeover first in this screwball comedy.
- 11:15AM The Mad Miss Manton ’38 This sounds a little bit more like it’s in line with last week’s The G-String Murders: mystery and suspense with a healthy dose of screwball thrown in. Stanwyck is a dingbat socialite who gets all of her friends wrapped up in a murder investigation. It’s another Stanwyck-Henry Fonda pairing, for what that’s worth.
- 2PM The Secret Bride ’35 While trying to convict the governor for bribery, State AG Warren William marries the guv’s daughter (Stanwyck, of course).
- 8PM Les Miserables ’35 TCM will be airing three film versions of Hugo’s classic tonight, but the first is the one I’m most interested in, primarily because of the cast—Fredric March, Charles Laughton, and Cedric Hardwicke.
Friday, December 14 is top-heavy with a lineup of very serious films. Happily, it wraps up with more Ernst Lubitsch films, as part of TCM’s monthlong look at the work of the King of Romance. I love Lubitsch despite seeing mostly only his later work, so I’m very excited to see TCM shining the spotlight on him: it means they have to show his earlier films!
- 6:30AM The Informer ’35 During the Irish Rebellion of 1922, borderline alcoholic Victor McLaglen informs on his best friend for cash, then takes off for the US in this film directed by the great John Ford. McLaglen won
an Oscar for his performance in this film, and Ford for direction, while Max Steiner picked one up for his score! Heather Angel, Preston Foster, Una O’Connor, Wallace Ford also star.
- 8AM The Life of Emile Zola ’37 Biography of the journalist who risked his career in order to shed light on the case of a Jewish army officer exiled for treason. This, too, won a handful of Oscars—including Best Picture (but also for the screenplay and for Joseph Schildkraut’s role as supporting actor). Paul Muni, Donald Crisp, and Gale Soondergard also stars.
- 12PM Wuthering Heights ’39 Merle Oberon, Laurence Olivier, David Niven, Flora Robson, Donald Crisp, and Geraldine Fitzgerald star in the story we all know. But that knowledge doesn’t make this, the best of the film versions, any less enjoyable to watch. (Well, maybe not enjoyable, but it’s very good!)
- 1:45PM Citizen Kane ’41 Considered by some the best film ever made, I’m not entirely on board with that—but it did really change film, and considering Orson Welles was but 25 when he whipped this one up—well, to my mind, that’s the most impressive bit of this film by far. But there are some superb performances, great photography, and it’s fascinating to watch all these years later. In addition to Orson Welles, this multiple-Oscar winner also stars Joseph Cotten, Agnes Moorehead, and Ruth Warrick. If you’ve never seen it, Kane really is worth watching. Just sit back and try to enjoy the ride.
- 8PM Trouble In Paradise ’32 Lubitsch must have loved Miriam Hopkins, as he used her in film after film after film! At any rate, in this comedy, she’s one of two jewel thieves who end up falling for each other (Herbert Marshall is the other bandit)—only to have the romance hit the rocks when he starts flirting with the pair’s next victim. Kay Francis, Charlie Ruggles also star.
- 9:30PM Design For Living ’33 An adaptation of Noel Coward’s comedy about American best friends, an artist and playwright, who head to Paris and, of course, fall in love with the same lovely lady (Miriam Hopkins). Fredric March and Gary Cooper are the buddies—what a primo cast!
- 11:15PM One Hour WIth You ’32 A happy marriage is threatened by the appearance of a flirtatious hussy in this musical starring Maurice Chevalier, Jeanette MacDonald, Genevieve Tobin, and Charlie Ruggles.
- 12:45AM The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg ’27 The story that has been told a million times, this silent film based on Romberg’s operetta has Ramon Navarro playing the prince who falls for a sweet barmaid, played by the lovely Norma Shearer. Jean Hersholt also stars.
Saturday, December 15 looks thin on the ground, but I’m sure you have a bunch of DVDs to pop in by this point. 😉
- 8:45AM Impact ’49 Yet another wife-and-lover-plot-to-KO-her-husband tale, but things go…well, awry. Well-done and well written, too! Brian Donlevy is the very nice husband who deserves a better woman. Ella Raines, Charles Coburn, Anna May Wong also star.
- 10PM The Star ’52 Aging Oscar winner Bette Davis, broke and in trouble with her career over, must find a new life while letting her past go and dealing with her obnoxious family. Very compelling film—one said to have been written about Joan Crawford, Bette’s rival. Even so, she gives a spectacular and sympathetic performance. Natalie Woods plays her daughter.
- 6AM George Washington Slept Here ’42 This is a *cute* movie—and it’s even better if you’ve ever done work on or renovated your home. Ann Sheridan falls in love with a beyond dilapidated country home without telling her city-loving husband (Jack Benny). The couple begin fixing the place up, dealing with a nasty neighbor, oddball foreman, and everything you can imagine, and then some…which you understand if you’ve fixed up a house. Charles Coburn is the rich uncle they plan to hit up for a loan; Percy Kilbride, Hattie McDaniel, William Tracy, and Lee Patrick also star. Though not glamourous as she—THE glamour girl—usually was, Sheridan is perfectly gorgeous in this funny flick. It’s a little predictable, I suppose, but that hardly harms the fun factor. And the opening screencards, done in a colonial-style embroidery…be still, my heart! What I would not do for screenshots of all of them!
- 10AM The Shop Around The Corner ’40 This was on last week and it’s on again. Watching Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan spar with each other never gets old.
- 4PM Light In The Piazza ’62 I’m pretty sure this one aired over the summer, and it has rolled around again. Olivia de Havilland takes her beautiful, guileless daughter to Italy, hoping to marry the girl off to a kind, loving Italian man—because the father wants to lock the girl, who has a developmental disability, up in a home so the couple can “live their life”. Yes, it sounds horrid, but the father doesn’t show up, and this is a very touching, well-done film. Yvette Mimieux is the daughter, and George Hamilton might just be the knight in shining armor. Rossano Brazzi also stars. A wonderfully lovely film.
- 6PM Born Free ’66 Oh, we all know what this is about. Watching a cute little lion cub grow up doesn’t get old, though.
- 9:30PM A Christmas Carol ’51 Alastair Sim plays the famously stingy and awful Mr. Scrooge in this film retelling of Dickens’ Christmas tale.
- 6AM Black Narcissus ’47 The Himalayas and their people seem to be actively working against a group of English nuns trying to found a convent there. I can only describe it as “intense”, particularly as one of the nuns begins to go mad. The story aside, though, the film itself is lush and ravishing; some consider it the most beautiful colour films (Technicolor) ever made, and it’s definitely up there on the list so far as I’m concerned. Deborah Kerr is marvellous as the Mother Superior; Flora Robson, WWII veteran Sabu, a very young Jean Simmons, David Farrar also star.
- 2:15PM Singin’ In The Rain ’52 Another film of which we all know the plot, but again—it doesn’t get old (moreso than for “Born Free“, too, as far as I’m concerned)! Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, Debbie Reynolds, Jean Hagen, and Millard Mitchell star, with a guest appearance by Cyd Charisse.
- 8PM Destination Tokyo ’43 I’ve not seen this in ages, but seem to recall enjoying it. A US submarine enters enemy waters during WWII. Cary Grant, John Garfield, and Alan Hale star. The film ended up being so well done that the US Navy used it as a training tool!
- 10:30PM Battleground ’49 This is probably in the second, second-and-a-half echelon of movies dealing with World War II, if only because some of the characters seem a bit hollow. Even so, it’s well done and well worth watching; once you get sucked into this film about Americans in France during the Battle of the Bulge, it’s awfully hard to turn away! Good cast, too: Van Johnson, Ricardo Montalban (rich Corinthian leather, anyone?), James Arness, John Hodiak, George Murphy, James Whitmore.
If the lineup on Tuesday, December 18 doesn’t leave you giddy with delight, or at the very least please you, I’m not sure what can be done to help you. It’s Thin Man movies nearly all day! Wit! Style! Mystery! Great cars!
- 6:30AM The Thin Man ’34
- 8AM After The Thin Man ’36
- 10AM Another Thin Man ’39
- 11:45AM I Love You Again ’40 After being struck with amnesia, respectable pillar of the community William Powell goes back to his old life as a con man—while in the midst of divorce proceedings with his wife (Myrna Loy), who he doesn’t really want to divorce at all. Very funny movie!
- 1:30PM Shadow Of The Thin Man ’41
- 5PM The Thin Man Goes Home ’45
- 10PM Meet Me In St. Louis ’44 A beloved Christmas classic that could well have been too maudlin or sloppily portrayed the concerns of a family about to move from St. Louis to another big city at the turn of the century. It’s neither maudlin or sloppy—there’s nothing but charm and sincerity from beginning to end. And the music! Directed by Vincente Minnelli; starring Judy Garland, Margaret O’Brien, Mary Astor, Tom Drake, Lucille Bremer, and one of my very favourite character actresses, Marjorie Main.
On Wednesday, December 19 TCM offers us a good Western before still more Stanwyck fun begins—tonight’s Stanwyck theme seems to be noir, and she was deliciously good in noir films.
- 4:45PM River of No Return ’54 Leonard Maltin is right when he says the dialogue isn’t great, but the scenery—backdrop for a painfully beautiful Marilyn Monroe, playing a saloon entertainer—is to die for. When Robert Mitchum rescues Marilyn and farmer Rory Calhoun, he finds himself left horseless and abandoned, having to protect himself, Marilyn, and his little boy against antagonistic Indians. It has been too long since I’ve seen this.
- 8PM Double Indemnity ’44 First-rate thriller with a script by none other than Raymond Chandler: Deceit, murder, and seduction weave a web that threatens to trap those who’ve woven it. Great dialogue and performances from stars Stanwyck, Fred MacMurray, and Edward G. Robinson. Do NOT miss this—it’s truly one of America’s greatest movies. All these years later, Billy Wilder’s Double Indemnity still packs a wallop.
- 10PM The Strange Love Of Martha Ivers ’46 After marrying a weak man (Kirk Douglas) she doesn’t really love, Stanwyck’s heiress tries desperately to win back the man she has always loved (played by Van Heflin). Unfortunately, a decades-old crime could well keep her stuck just where she is.
- 12AM Sorry, Wrong Number ’48 Wealthy, difficult invalid Stanwyck accidentally overhears a murder plot on the phone—and she’s the intended. She was nominated for an Oscar here. Burt Lancaster, Ann Richards also star.
- 5AM Witness To Murder ’54 No one will believe Stanwyck when she actually sees her neighbor—ex-Nazi George Sanders—murder a woman…but Sanders does, which isn’t necessarily good for her health. Gary Merrill (All About Eve) also stars.