Happy Wednesday! In just the past week here, we’ve gone from frigid to windows-open balmy and shall, sadly, be returning to frigid again by Friday (which means no hanging the laundry out in the sunshine and fresh air for me, alas—oh, don’t fret, it’s just linens, towels, and dresses—nothing too personal on the line). I’m hoping to at least get my winter sowing outside by tomorrow afternoon—it’s never too cold to be planning one’s vegetable garden.
Well, shall we take a look at the TCM highlights for the next week?
TCM is dedicating Thursday’s prime time to Lee Marvin, an actor I’ve come to appreciate more and more. Happily, TCM is screening one of Marvin’s very fine, underrated Westerns tonight—do tune in or DVR it if you’re able.
- 10PM Monte Walsh ’70 Yes, it’s extremely unusual to see anything past about 1965 here, but Westerns are often in a class of their own. Moreover, my husband and I watched this last summer and were quite impressed by it all around: the story, the acting, the photography. Lee Marvin plays the title role, that of a cowboy watching the West and its ways disappear into modernity. It is an affecting story of manhood, friendship, love, integrity, and justice. Jeanne Moreau is Walsh’s lady love; Jack Palance is Marvin’s buddy. (FYI: There’s a Tom Selleck remake of “Monte Walsh” that is also good.) This is not a happy movie, but it is a very good story. There’s one heck of a bronc-riding scene, too (oh, the havoc wreaked on town for the sake of training a $5 horse). Don’t let Lee Marvin break horses near your house, okay?
- 12AM The Dirty Dozen ’67 Marvin heads up one heck of a cast in this well-done, if violent, flick about an Army officer secretly training a select group of criminals to destroy a Nazi chateau. This was one of the first movies to really show the effects of violence, and was rather shocking for the time and is still pretty savage to my eyes. Still…it’s just a good movie. Also starring Charles Bronson, Ernest Borgnine, John Cassavetes, Ralph Meeker, Robert Ryan, Telly Savalas, Jim Brown, and a ridiculously young Donald Sutherland.
I’m not quite sure what Friday’s theme is, though I’m excited to see the rousing and very satisfying “Captain Blood” is right there in prime time…immediately after “The Adventures of Robin Hood”!
- 6AM The Jazz Singer ’27 I’ve never seen this—the first talkie. But it is, really, one of those films one ought to see. Al Jolson, May McAvoy star—and Myrna Loy shows up as a chorus girl.
- 9AM Little Caesar ’30 Terrific gangster flick that made the great Edward G. Robinson a big, big star, thanks to his phenomenal, cut-to-the-quick performance as a nobody who becomes the most ruthless, malevolent, and feared crime boss on the streets. He earned every bit of that stardom, too—though, unsurprisingly, Robinson was not particularly fond of these roles as his career continued; it will probably not surprise anyone to learn that Eddie G was a warm, kind, gentle man. Even so, his is one of my favourite gangster flicks.
- 10:30AM The Public Enemy ’31 This, along with of course “Little Caesar”, set the tone for countless gangster movies to follow. Jimmy Cagney, an Irish-American ‘nobody’ tired of poverty , claws and kills as he attempts to reach the top of the organized crime world—leaving no one in his life untouched. Another remarkable gangster movie. Matt Doyle is very good as Cagney’s best friend; Joan Blondell famously has a grapefruit smashed into her face, and Jean Harlow drew quite a bit of attention for playing Cagney’s slumming society world mistress.
- 12PM 42nd Street ’33 Cliches, good songs, beautiful girls, dancing…no, make that Busby Berkeley production numbers. Ruby Keeler, George Brent, Una Merkel, Ginger Rogers, Warner Baxter, Dick Powell, Guy Kibbee star.
- 1:30PM Gold Diggers of 1933 ’33 More with Busby Berkeley, whose work I’m a big fan of, if you can’t tell. Joan Blondell, Ruby Keeler, Dick Powell, Warren William, Ginger Rogers, Sterling Holloway star.
- 6:15PM The Adventures of Robin Hood ’38 Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Basil Rathbone, Claude Rains, Patric Knowles, Alan Hale, Una O’Connor star in the finest film adaptation of this story of the man who took money back from the government and returned it to those from whom it had been stolen. Also: palomino horse Trigger is in this, as the mount of the loveliest Maid Marian of all time.
- 8PM Captain Blood ’35 Errol and Olivia—perhaps one of the best romantic pairings in film—return in another take of derring-do, swashbuckling, stormy, head-butting romance, and even love of country! One of the first films I remember seeing, believe it or not. Basil Rathbone, Lionel Atwill, Guy Kibbee, Donald Meek also star in this delightful film based on Rafael Sabatini’s novel.
- 10:15PM I Am A Fugitive From A Chain Gang ’32 I’ve not seen this, but it sounds quite good. Paul Muni stars as a WWI vet wrongly sentenced to a life of hard labor. An indictment of the justice system at the time—based on a true story. Also stars Glenda Farrell, Helen Vinson, and Preston Foster.
- 4AM Jezebel ’38 If you missed it last time it was on, it’s back. Bette Davis is superb as a Southern belle whose tempestuous, headstrong nature drives her true love away and may well even have inspired murder. When true danger approaches, she must choose between humility or bitter selfishness.
- 5:54AM Sergeant York ’41 Gary Cooper plays the real-life WWI draftee who becomes a real hero, but only after fighting a deep struggle within. Very well-done, and if it doesn’t leave you with a warm glow, I’m not sure we can help you.
On Saturday, TCM begins its annual 30 Days Of Oscar with a vengeance. I’m not sure how to handle this for the blog, because so many of the movies are so fantastically good. I think that for the big famous ones, you’ll get the airtime and name…really, I suspect it is all you need. See, back in the Golden Age, movies and actors won Oscars because they were GOOD, not because they had made a Social or Political Point or Mock Someone We Don’t Like or because a given ‘star’ Let Themselves Go For The Part. Ahhhh, those were the days!
Also, I’m really going to try and be choosy here (*readers laugh hysterically*), so to make sure you don’t miss something you’d love to see, be sure to check the schedule at TCM.com. Alternatively, just let your DVR run the whole month long. Usually that works too.
- 8:15AM King’s Row ’42 Poignant film with two good themes woven throughout. In one, Robert Cummings’ youthful experiences with mental illness and town scandals inspire him to become a psychiatrist. In the other, his best friend Ronald Reagan—in his best and most gut-wrenching movie performance—falls in love with the beautiful Ann Sheridan, only to risk losing her after a horrible accident leaves him without his legs. In the pre-WWI Midwest, that was no small thing. Excellent movie overall; very well photographed, and also features a lovely score by Erich Wolfgang Korngold. Charles Coburn, Claude Rains, Judith Anderson, Maria Ouspenskaya, Betty Field also star.
- 3:15PM Key Largo ’48 Bogart, Bacall, Lionel Barrymore, Edward G. Robinson, Claire Trevor. IMO, one of the very best Bogey & Bacall movies.
- 5PM White Heat ’49 Another fantastic (truly) gangster movie starring the great Jimmy Cagney as a psychopathic momma’s boy who also happens to be a criminal (you’re surprised, yes?). Stunning performance by Cagney and one heck of a finale. Virginia Mayo, Edmond O’Brien also star.
- 8PM Casablanca ’42 Bogey, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Heinreid, Claude Raines, Conrad Veidt, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, Dooley Wilson. Nearly perfect film that absolutely could NOT be made as effectively today, because Hollywood doesn’t have the class or the chops to pull it off.
- 10PM The Maltese Falcon ’41 Bogey, Mary Astor, Sydney Greenstreet (in his terrific debut!), Peter Lorre, Ward Bond.
- 12AM Mildred Pierce ’45 Joan Crawford, Jack Carson, Eve Arden, Butterfly McQueen, Ann Blyth, directed by Michael Curtiz.
- 2AM Watch On The Rhine ’43 Bette Davis and her freedom-fighter husband, played by Paul Lukas, flee Germany to the US, where they are chased and harassed by Nazi agents. Geraldine Fitzgerald and Beulah Bondi also star.
- 4AM The Treasure of the Sierra Madre ’48 Bogey, Walter Huston, Tim Holt.
Sunday, February 3: I won’t say this is a BAD day, but it’s thin on the ground so far as what I like.
- 3PM Mister Roberts ’55 Great actors playing great characters in this set-at-sea WWII comedy: Henry Fonda as an ambitious officer wishing he were on the front lines; James Cagney is the hard-headed captain; William Powell as the ship’s doctor (his last film, too); Jack Lemmon as an ensign. Ward Bond, Harry Carey, Jr., and Nick Adams also star.
- 5:30PM Auntie Mame ’58 I’ve never seen this in its entirety—just bizarre, impossible-to-understand-out-of-context bits and pieces. I DO know that Ros Russell’s performance in this is legendary.
Tuesday, Feb 5 has just one of interest (to me, anyhow).
- 3PM Camelot ’67 Richard Harris (NOT singing about a cake left out in the rain), Vanessa Redgrave, Franco Nero.
I shall christen Wednesday, February 6 as “the day of uncomfortable films”. Not all of them, but daytime especially…oi.
- 1PM What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? ’62 Bette vs. Joan, in the flesh, on the screen.
- 12:30AM Bride of Frankenstein ’35 Something ridiculous! Whew. Thing is, it’s supposed to be better than the original. Boris Karloff, Colin Clive, Valerie Hobson, Una O’Connor star. Why its inclusion into 30 Days of Oscar? It was nominated for “Best Sound”. So if you’re ever ambushed by Alex Trebek, you’ve no excuse for being caught off-guard!