I hate the “holiday” being “celebrated” (sometimes I prefer “inflicted”) tomorrow with the fire of a thousand suns. So let’s not discuss it, shall we? Thanks.
- 4:15PM A Star Is Born ’37 Poignant, sometimes painful 1930s Hollywood film about a matinee idol marrying a woman just entering stardom herself. It’s an oft-told tale, but rarely so well done. Adolphe Menjou, Janet Gaynor, May Robson, Fredric March star; screenplay by Dorothy Parker and directed by William Wellman.
- 6:15PM The Prisoner Of Zenda ’37 Superior to all subsequent versions of the story—in part due to its stars: Ronald Colman, Madeleine Carroll, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Aubrey Smith, Raymond Massey, David Niven, and Mary Astor.
- 8PM Gone With The Wind ’39 Oh, come now. We all know. MARVELLOUS costumes. And sets. And while her part may be flinch-inducingly written, Mammy is possibly the most powerful woman in the whole story—she’s the only one other than Ellen able to keep that harridan and Civil War-era Jezebel, Scarlett, under control, and not a person at Tara, Twelve Oaks, or in Atlanta dares tread on her toes.
- 12AM Rebecca ’40 Laurence Olivier, Joan Fontaine, George Sanders, Judith Anderson.
- 2:30AM Spellbound ’45 Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, Michael Chekhov directed by Hitchcock.
- 4:30AM Portrait of Jennie ’48 Starving artist Joseph Cotten falls in love with and is inspired by an enchanting girl named Jennie (Jennifer Jones)—who happens to be a ghost. Silly story, yes, but the cast and artsy-but-not-snobby (beautiful, really) cinematography elevate it into something really lovely. This very romantic mystery with a well-done special effects ending also stars greats Ethel Barrymore and Lillian Gish as well as Felix Bressard, David Wayne, and Albert Sharpe. Produced by David O. Selznick. (BTW, quite a few physicists have come to think time and space are one and the same. Just some fun food for thought.)
- 9:15AM When Ladies Meet ’33 Ann Harding and Myrna Loy meet for a chatty lunch…neither realizing they’re both in love with the same man, each trying to keep him from the other. Robert Montgomery and Frank Morgan also star. One I’ve not seen but would much like to.
- 10:45AM Mutiny on the Bounty ’35 Charles Laughton, Clark Gable, Franchot Tone, Donald Crisp.
- 1PM The Great Ziegefeld ’36 Caught this several years back, and it’s quite entertaining indeed! William Powell plays showman Fiorenz Ziegfeld; Myrna Loy and Luise Rainer also star (the latter won an Oscar for her performance). Frank Morgan, Fanny Brice, Ray Bolger, and Reginald Owen also star in this extravagant biography.
- 6PM Ninotchka ’39 Greta Garbo, Melvyn Douglas, Bela Lugosi, Sig Ruman, Felix Bressart, Alexander Granache and Richard Carle star in one of my favourite comedies—written by the great Billy Wilder.
- 8PM The Champ ’31 King Vidor directs this drama about a battered, aimless prizefighter fighting to retain custody of his son. I’ve not seen it, but I’ve heard much about it; Wallace Beery, the prizefighter, won an Oscar for his role in this film. Jackie Cooper and Irene Rich also star.
- 9:45PM Grand Hotel ’32 One of the finest films ever made; some have tried to remake it, but they’ll never top the original—not the least because of its stars: Garbo, John and Lionel Barrymore, Joan Crawford, Wallace Beery, Lewis Stone, and Jean Hersholt, all living out dramas of their own in a Berlin’s most posh hotel. This is a film everyone, everyone should see. It’s sheer perfection, top to bottom.
- 12AM Mrs. Miniver ’42 Greer Garson, Walter Pidgeon, Dame May Whitty, Theresa Wright, Reginald Owen, Henry Travers.
Saturday, February 17 is a good day’s worth of family films, with the greatest epic of all during prime time at 8. Throw colouring books and crayons and other crafts on the living room floor and settle in for a fun day of teaching your children about good films!
Or your pets. Or your neighbors. I’m not the only one here without kidlets, am I? 😉
- 7AM Lassie Come Home ’43 Though as the “mom” of a collie I’m bound to be a sucker for this one, it’s a tearjerker (I was going to say “of the first order”, but I see others have written the same, so I won’t do so, though it’s very much true) filmed with true heart about something most of us understand: the love between people and our pets. Roddy McDowall, Donald Crisp, Dame May Whitty, Edmund Gwenn, Nigel Bruce, Elsa Lanchester, and Elizabeth Taylor star…alongside, of course, Lassie.
- 8:30AM Cabin In The Sky ’43 I’ve never seen this Vincente Minnelli treat, but maybe this is the day I’ll get to do so! Lena Horne, Ethel Waters, Eddie “Rochester” Anderson, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and His Orchestra, Rex Ingram star.
- 10:15AM On the Town ’49 Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Vera-Ellen, Betty Garrett, Ann Miller, Alice Pearche.
- 12PM An American In Paris ’51 Gene Kelly, Leslie Caron, Oscar Levant, Nina Foch.
- 2PM Singin’ In The Rain ’52 Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, Donald O’Connor, Jean Hagen, Millard Mitchell, Cyd Charisse, Rita Moreno. The BEST movie musical. Ever.
- 4PM Seven Brides For Seven Brothers ’53 Howard Keel, Jane Powell, Jeff Richards, Russ Tamblyn, Tommy Rall, Virginia Gibson, Julie Newmar. Fantastic dance numbers in this one, especially the justly famous barn-raising scene!
- 8PM Ben-Hur ’59 Charlton Heston, Jack Hawkins, Haya Harareet, Martha Scott, Stephen Boyd, Cathy O’Donnell, great chariot race—all directed by William Wyler. This is probably my favourite epic—even above The Ten Commandments. Magnificently scored, too. The scene where Christ gives the dying Judah Ben-Hur a drink of water—and the Roman thinks better of interfering—never fails to leave me in tears. One of the most impactful films you will ever see…if you let it.
- 12AM North By Northwest ’59 Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, James Mason…directed by Hitchcock. Delicious mix of humour, danger, and intrigue.
- 2:30AM Bad Day At Black Rock ’55 Spencer Tracy, Walter Brennan, Robert Ryan, Anne Francis, Ernest Borgnine.
- 5:30AM The Naked Spur ’53 Jimmy Stewart, bounty hunter, is determined to turn in outlaw Robert Ryan to capture the reward. Also stars Janet Leigh, Ralph Meeker, and Millard Mitchell—the photography is very sharp, too.
Sunday, February 17 offers quite a few gems, the most recently discovered of which for me is A Patch Of Blue.
- 9:15AM Quo Vadis ’51 Robert Taylor, Deborah Kerr, Peter Ustinov. Good drama about a Roman soldier who falls for a beautiful Christian woman as Nero doubles down on his persecution of those following the faith.
- 2:15PM Father Of The Bride ’50 Spencer Tracy, Joan Bennett, Elizabeth Taylor, Billie Burke.
- 4PM Cat On A Hot Tin Roof ’58 Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman, Burl Ives, Jack Carson, and a whole passel o’ little No-Neck Monsters.
- 11:30PM A Patch Of Blue ’65 Sidney Poitier, Shelley Winters, and Elizabeth Hartman star in this story about a young black man who befriends a blind white girl whose mother sees her as a drag on her unrestrained, selfish lifestyle. Caught this last month, and it really hit hard; a beautiful movie that really touched me. I hate to spoil its beauty by saying to much, so please don’t miss it.
Monday, February 18 does offer The Unsinkable Molly Brown at 9:30AM, but despite my love for Debbie Reynolds, sometimes I have a hard time with the Titanic lifeboat scene. Yes, I allow that one little bit to keep me from watching sometimes—but it is a very good movie. Debbie, as always, sparkles away like a handful of diamonds!
- 6PM The Time Machine ’60 This sci-fi horror classic starring Rod Taylor, Alan Young, and the lovely Yvette Mimieux is just that: a classic! The book still tops any film version, but let’s all be honest: this is just plain fun to watch.
Daytime Tuesday, February 19 is just a bunch of movies from the 70s and 80s that hold no appeal for me, but if you’re hoping to find a couple Oscar nominees from this era, do take a peek at the schedule. Primetime, however, offers a few goodies for our enjoyment. The very first Oscar Best Picture winner, Wings (1927), is on at 9:30, but I’ve seen it and agree that it is much too long a film to support its tissue-paper thin plot. Watch if you like, for the historicity if nothing else, but don’t say you weren’t warned!
- 8PM The Racket ’28 Early silent gangster movie that could probably be pulled from Chicago’s contemporary headlines: corrupt and powerful pols, vicious gangsters, and one determined policeman bent on justice. Said to be exciting and gripping from beginning to end. Don’t ever write off a silent film; sit back and enjoy it. These actors had to work to get their point across with actual acting. 😉 Stars Thomas Meighan, Marie Provost, Louis Wolheim, George Stone.
- 2AM The Smiling Lieutenant ’31 Young French lieutenant Maurice Chevalier’s flirting, directed at Claudette Colbert, is mistaken as being meant for the rather frumpy, dull princess (Miriam Hopkins) of Flausenthurm—to whom he ends up married, much to his, and everyone else’s, chagrin. A heavily-decorated cake that’s quite cute—especially when the leading ladies sing the very catchy original song “Jazz Up Your Lingerie”. You’ll be singing it for the next three days, but not mind a bit!
Finally, we reach Wednesday, February 20, which is an overall fine mix of comedy and drama.
- 8:30AM That Uncertain Feeling ’41 Anything directed by Ernst Lubitsch, master of romantic comedies, and starring Eve Arden and Melvyn Douglas is, to me, worth a look, whether or not I’ve heard of it (in this case, I’ve not). After seeing a shrink, a formerly happy woman begins to have doubts about her husband. Burgess Meredith is the couple’s wild pianist neighbor. Also stars Merle Oberon and Alan Mowbray.
The mid-afternoon is absorbed by John Ford’s star-studded epic How The West Was Won (1962), which begins at 2:30PM EST. I’m going to, of course, recommend you watch this film, but just prior to it, at 12:15, there’s a (lengthy) docu-pageant-showcase, This Is Cinerama (1952), which is all about the remarkable widescreen process of Cinerama. A precursor to today’s IMAX, the Cinerama showed films on an enormous, curving screen; the film was vibrantly coloured, and a seven-channel soundtrack accompanied it. The size alone of the screen required that films shown on it were filmed using three carefully-arranged cameras. Believe it or not, in 1954, This Is Cinerama was one of the highest-grossing films of all time!
How The West Was Won is probably the most well-known film created using Cinerama, thus TCM has placed it well. Also, Cinerama explains the lines you’ll occasionally see running down the screen during How The West Was Won; the cinematographers were quite good at hiding where the ‘seams’ came together, but once in a while, there wasn’t much they could do! At any rate, This Is Cinerama is well worth seeing, though the process was only used for eight feature films. It’s just…well…neat. 😉
So that’s the week—I hope you find something you like!