Well, this is late indeed, but it has been one heck of a day around here! Also, much of the country is in the grip of an Arctic chill. As a Michigander, I don’t like this, but it is January, after all. Shouldn’t we be expecting intense cold? Regardless, this makes it perfect weather to stay inside baking, sewing, and pursuing other it-is-too-cold-to-stay-outside-for-long weather…and, of course, enjoying a few classic movies. Let’s take a look at the week ahead on TCM, shall we?
Thursday is the birthday of recently departed Ernest Borgnine; daytime is stacked up with his films, though no “Marty”.
- 6AM From Here To Eternity ’53 On the very cusp of the United States’ entry into World War II, dramas large and small take place on a Hawaiian US Army base. Terrific performances from the leads, especially Frank Sinatra and Donna Reed, both of whom won Oscars. Burt Lancaster, Deborah Kerr, Ernest Borgnine, Montgomery Clift, George Reeves also star.
- 8:15AM Bad Day At Black Rock ’55 When one-armed veteran Spencer Tracy heads to a tiny town to visit and deliver a medal to the family of the fellow soldier—a man happened to be Japanese—who died saving Tracy’s life during WWII, the town does not react well; he’s stonewalled at nearly every turn, and of course must reach the bottom of this mystery. Very interesting blend of Western and noir, with some superb performances. The town and its residents are awfully weird, but still a terrific movie. Ernest Borgnine, Lee Marvin, Walter Brennan, Robert Ryan, and Anne Francis also star. FWIW: Men seem to really like this one.
- 9:45AM The Catered Affair ’56 Taxi driver Borgnine is married to Bette Davis, who will do whatever it takes to give her daughter a big wedding—even though her daughter isn’t necessarily keen on the idea, they can’t afford it, and it doesn’t necessarily fit in with their lower-class lifestyle. Unsurprisingly, this creates conflict within the family. Gore Vidal script. Davis is quite different than the other roles she’s played—just as she was actually warm and likable in The Man Who Came To Dinner, not the movie star, but someone real. Debbie Reynolds is the daughter; also stars Barry Fitzgerald.
- 2:45PM The Flight of the Phoenix ’65 After the navigator’s drunken stupor results in their plane crashing in the African desert, the surviving passengers must find a way to get the ship back into the air or die. They must also, of course, face the need for water, fend off attackers, and severe mental st Solid drama with some solid performances from the likes of Jimmy Stewart, Borgnine, Richard Attenborough, Peter Finch, and Dan Duryea.
- 8PM Road to Morocco ’42 Classic comedic musical starring Bing Crosby & Bob Hope as two castaways in the Middle East. I’ve never seen this, but apparently it’s one of those films one is supposed to see! Apparently Bing sells Bob to a slave trader, and everyone is enamoured of lovely Dorothy Lamour. Yvonne De Carlo also stars.
- 9:30PM Welcome Stranger ’47 I miss my old small town home dearly, so it is no wonder this comedy about a young doctor making his way in a tiny town—and butting into the territory of the old-time doc—appeals to me. Bing Crosby, Barry Fitzgerald, Joan Caulfield star.
- 8:15AM Night Flight ’33 Shown at the wrong time of day, right? Gripping, worthwhile drama about a night airmail service in South America, one run by a man who doesn’t necessarily care about his pilots. On a rainy, foggy, dangerous night, the men are sent to deliver life-saving serum to a hospital; we switch between the flyers and their women, who must wait at the air service’s home base. John Barrymore, Clark Gable, Myrna Loy, Helen Hayes, Robert Montgomery star.
- 8PM The Tender Trap ’55 Leonard Maltin refers to this as a “time capsule”. Indeed! But it is still kind of fun to watch. Frank Sinatra is an exceedingly successful swinging bachelor—until he runs into a woman whose walls he can’t break down. And men do love rising to a challenge, you know. Celeste Holm, Debbie Reynolds, David Wayne also star in this NYC comedy.
Saturday coming of age PM
- 5:15PM Guys And Dolls ’55 I was quite the songbird before becoming ill, and especially so right around the time the musical based on Damon Runyon’s stories enjoyed a Broadway revival with Nathan Lane and Peter Gallagher (really). I nearly wore out the CD, playing it over and over in the car and singing along—especially since, with the revival, our school couldn’t get the rights to put Guys And Dolls on ourselves! So it’s fun to watch this movie version and compare it to the 90s re-do—plus, yes, as a dame who dresses as if she’s just stepped out of the 1940s herself, this one is right up my alley in nearly every way. Marlon Brando is a gambler chasing after not just wins, but a Salvation Army Sergeant (Jean Simmons); Frank Sinatra aims for showgirl Vivian Blaine. Fabulous sets & costumes—as colourful as the characters themselves—and of COURSE great music. Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz in CinemaScope; you cannot go wrong with this crowd-pleaser.
- 8PM Captains Courageous ’37 Spoiled, obnoxious, grating little rich boy Freddie Bartholomew finds himself having to shape up in a hurry after being rescued at sea by a fishing ship. Lionel Barrymore is the skipper, but it is fisherman Spencer Tracy who teaches Bartholomew some manners—and encourages him to grow up and be a man, not a whiner. Fantastic movie that just can’t be beat. Melvyn Douglas, Mickey Rooney also star.
- 11:45PM Moonfleet ’55 *STEWART GRANGER ALERT* It is fairly well-known that for some inexplicable reason, I find Granger mildly ridiculous and am therefore reduced to giggling at him whenever he’s on the screen. Poor man! He stars in this as a buccaneer—oh, the unintentionally comic possibilities! George Sanders is in this as well, though, so we should have a little gravitas—unless Sanders, too, finds Granger hopelessly goofy. Then we’re all lost.
- 2PM His Girl Friday ’40 Newspaper editor Cary Grant spars with and does his best to keep ex-wife Rosalind Russell—who also happens to be his top reporter—from remarrying and leaving. Ralph Bellamy, perpetual Hollywood momma’s boy, is her intended, and can’t quite understand her drive to get the scoop when a murder takes place. This one only gets more madcap as it continues!
- 8PM The 39 Steps ’35 Hitchcock directs Robert Donat (Goodbye, Mr. Chips), Madeleine Carroll, and Peggy Ashcroft in a mystery dosed with an unusual amount of comedy for the master of suspense’s films. Donat, accused of murder, finds himself fleeing across Scotland trying to redeem himself while handcuffed to the lovely Carroll; she, of course, very much thinks he IS a killer. Very fine dialogue.
- 9:30PM The Lady Vanishes ’38 Another mystery with ample amounts of comic relief from Hitchcock; it has been a while since I’ve seen it. When an elderly lady disappears from the train both women were riding, the younger one takes action that results in an International Incident (something I’ve not yet managed to do myself, darn it!). Margaret Lockwood, Michael Redgrave, Dame May Whitty, and Cecil Parker star.
- 11:15PM Sabotage ’36 It’s not enough that the wife is miserable in her marriage; she learns he’s an enemy spy. Also, despite this being 1936, the plot revolves around a terrorist blowing up a London bus. Sylvia Sidney, Oscar Homolka star in another 1930s Hitchcock film. By the way—the TCM article is full of spoilers, so don’t read it unless you like having surprises ruined.
- 8PM The Mask of Zorro ’40 Tyrone Power in the role of the masked man versus Basil Rathbone as his devilish adversary. With casting like this, you cannot lose. Linda Darnell and Gale Sondergaard also star.
- 12AM Cyrano De Bergerac ’50 Though in love with the lady himself, wit and poet De Bergerac helps another man win her over—based on the play by Edmond Rostand. Jose Ferrer won an Oscar for his performance as the titular character; also stars Mala Powers & William Prince.
- 9:45AM The Seven Year Itch ’55 Famous scene of Marilyn’s chiffon skirt catching the breeze from the subway aside, this is an enjoyable comedy from the talented Billy Wilder. Having sent his wife to vacation in the country, stuck-in-the-city Tom Ewell finds himself twitterpated over his pulchritudinous and voluptuous upstairs neighbor. There were battles with censors over this one, and it’s not the black comedy it was written as, but still fun to watch. Evelyn Keyes also stars.
- 11:45AM The Young Stranger ’57 Haven’t seen it, but this story about a troubled teenage delinquent and his father, who tends to ignore the young man, is supposed to be quite good. James Macrthur, James Daly, Kim Hunter star in this film directed by John Frankenheimer.
- 9:45AM The Stranger ’46 Schoolteacher Loretta Young begins to wonder if her fiance (Orson Welles) is not what he seems—and is in fact an escaped Nazi war criminal. Edward G. Robinson stars, too, as an FBI agent.
- 1AM Along Came Jones ’45 Gary Cooper produced this Western comedy in which he also stars as a man mistaken for an outlaw. Loretta Young and Dan Duryea also star in what looks like a fun spoof of the genre.
- 4:30AM Cause For Alarm ’51 Loretta Young desperately tries to thwart her mentally unbalanced husband’s attempt to frame her for murder.