TCM & Work Wednesday

Empty industrial building in PA. Copyright Jen Baker/Liberty Images; all rights reserved.

Somewhere in Pennsylvania (I genuinely don’t remember where) stands an old industrial building, long abandoned and showing its wear.

Have you ever had a Second Monday? Today is one of mine. As early as 10AM, everything that could go wrong did, from food spilling on the floor and all over the stove (Ben was thrilled), burning myself, my sweater being splattered by something to my causing minor injury to my arm to spilling hot tea all over myself, my desk, and almost my computer. It has been A Day.

Second Mondays are no fun, and I do hope this one stops dogging me. If one more thing goes wrong, I’ll be afraid to make dinner, lest I burn down the house!

Happily, we do have some movies to look forward to. I took a peek at TCM’s schedule for the forthcoming week, and here are the highlights worth watching or DVRing for later, rainy-day or sick-day enjoyment (I prefer comedies for the latter—laughter, after all, makes merry like a medicine!). It must also be noted that I don’t watch all of these—really, being terribly busy like everyone, I watch very few. But a lifetime of watching old movies with my parents and grandparents has given me a pretty good background in them, enough that I feel confident in offering recommendations. I love old movies and thus want to share them with as many people as I can.

Thursday, March 14 is early Westerns all day long (with the exception of the final two before prime time).

  • 6AM An Eastern Westerner ’20   Pampered east coaster Harold Lloyd is sent out west where, it is hoped, his experiences will toughen him up. He ends up battling the KKK! Directed by Hal Roach; also stars Lloyd’s eventual wife, Mildred Davis.
  • 10:30AM Mexican Spitfire Out West ’40    (Lovely) Lupe Velez’s husband simply isn’t giving her the attention she desires, so she pretends to want a divorce in the hopes it’ll spice the relationship up. As you can imagine, though, things don’t necessarily work out the way she’d intended! Also stars Leon Errol and Donald Woods. By the way…The whole “Lupe Velez suffocated in a pool of vomit with her head in the toilet” bit is a complete lie. You’re welcome.
  • 8PM 13 Rue Madeleine ’46   This isn’t the BEST James Cagney movie ever, but it does star James Cagney in a movie about a Nazi double agent discovered in an American spy bureau.
  • 9:45PM The House on 92nd Street ’45    This one sounds intriguing. Based on a true story and filmed on location as a docudrama, the movie is about an FBI agent who infiltrates a ring of Nazi spies who are trying to get at least part of the formula for the atom bomb. Said to be exciting.
  • 4:30AM Dark Journey ’37    Vivien Leigh is one of Stockholm’s dress shop owners…but she’s also a French double agent who falls in love with German Intelligence head Conrad Veidt. Leigh is always a wonder to simply look at—I don’t think many women as delicately beautiful ever walked the earth—and I’m excited about seeing Veidt, a man who loved his country but loved freedom more, in a romantic role.

Friday, Mach 15 is a celebration of actor George Brent’s birthday—featuring movies in which he starred with Bette Davis. The mid- to late-afternoon lineup is really fabulous—Jezebel, Dark Victory, and The Old Maid.

  • 10AM Front Page Woman ’35   This just sounds cute—George and Bette are rival reporters trying to scoop each other. There’s a murder and trial involved, and I an only imagine the lengths director Michael Curtiz has each of them going to in order to top the other! 
  • 11:30AM Jezebel ’38    Famed and popular Southern drama wherein piece-of-work belle Davis drives men to some absurd lengths. She and Brent star alongside Henry Fonda and Donald Crisp.
  • 1:15PM Dark Victory ’39    Though she’s a bit of a loose cannon, doctor George Brent can’t help but fall for heiress Davis—even after learning she suffers from a brain tumor that could well kill her without warning. She dedicates her life to him, and he to finding a cure—a race against time and death. The only real hiccup in this script is Bogey as a bitter stablemaster. Other than that, it’s superb, and Bette’s performance is mahhhvellous. Ronald Reagan, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Henry Travers also star.
  • 3:15PM The Old Maid ’39    This is such, such a good movie, and I’m always amazed that more people have not seen it—it has a great story, great cast, and it’s really something people can connect to emotionally. Based on Edith Wharton’s novel, The Old Maid stars Davis and Miriam Hopkins as rival cousins who continually try to outdo each other. One of them becomes pregnant before her marriage—and her fiance dies in war, leaving adoption of the baby by her cousin the only way to save face and keep the child near. Davis and Hopkins play marvellously off each other. Don’t miss it!

    Annie Oakley Memorial Plaza, Ohio, USA. Copyright Jen Baker/Liberty Images; all rights reserved.

    “The greatest woman rifle shot the world has ever produced”
    Bronze of Annie Oakley at the Annie Oakley Memorial Plaza in Greenville, Ohio.

  • 5PM In This Our Life ’42    I’ve not seen this, but look forward to it—it stars Bette, George, AND Olivia de Havilland! Davis is a manipulative, bossy husband-stealer…going so far as to take sister Olivia’s husband from her. She also seems fond of ruining people’s lives, and the whole family is neurotic as can be. Sounds like fun! Dennis Morgan, Charles Coburn, Billie Burke, Hattie McDaniel also star; directed by John Huston, who had dad Walter show up in a cameo.

Saturday, March 16

  • 6AM Jewel Robbery ’32    After marrying a tycoon, Kay Francis falls for suave burglar Dick Powell. Described as “Lubitsch-like” (though it is directed by William Dieterle). 
  • 7:30AM Topaze ’33   Yet another that’s new to me, the cast alone has me interested: John Barrymore, Myrna Loy, Albert Conti, and Reginald Mason. A naive and decent schoolteacher is deceived by a wealthy baron, who is simply using him as a moneymaking pawn.
  • 4:30PM The Mask Of Zorro ’40   You know the drill. Tyrone Power, Linda Darnell, Basil Rathbone, Gale Sondergaard.
  • 6:15 Titanic ’53   Ditto. You’ll be amazed (well, maybe not…) to see how much James Cameron lifted from this version starring Barbara Stanwyck, Clifton Webb, Robert Wagner, and Thelma Ritter. You will also be surprised to see that though the set of the ’53 version can’t begin to compare to Cameron’s, this older telling of Titanic‘s story has far more real, honest emotional impact.

Sunday, March 17—Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! And that’s from an ACTUAL O’HARA. You are welcome.

  • 8AM The Fighting 69th ’40    Braggart James Cagney finds himself in an all-Irish unit in WWI, and must overcome the cowardice (that seems to accompany braggadocio roughly 89% of the time) he is really full of. Sentimental, but Cagney is (of course) marvellous and the rest of the parts are well-written, too; some really great battle scenes. Also stars Pat O’Brien, George Brent, Frank McHugh, Dennis MOrgan, John Litel, and George Reeves.
  • 4PM Shake Hands With the Devil ’59    In 1920s Ireland, an American student is drawn into James Cagney’s rebel army. Cagney becomes increasingly violent, and though I’ve not seen this, we can probably all guess at the results. Filmed on location and starring Don Murray, Glynis Johns, Don Murray, and Richard Harris.
  • 9:30PM The Quiet Man ’52    Call me nuts, but this is one of my favourite John Wayne movies, and I say that as someone who loves Westerns. After KOing a man, American boxer Wayne returns to his native Ireland, where he falls for but must fight to gain the hand of stunning Maureen O’Hara—first against her family, then against the lady herself! Filmed in Technicolour, which was a perfect choice—but then, we expect that from director John Ford. Beautiful score, grand humour. Barry Fitzgerald, Victor McLaglen, Ward Bond, Mae Marsh also star. Don’t miss it!
  • 12AM The Prisoner of Zenda ’22    SILENT version of the oft-resurrected tale of a lookalike asked to step in for the missing king of a tiny European country. Stars Ronald Colman, Madeline Carroll, Lewis Stone, Douglas Fairbanks Jr, C. Aubrey Smith, Raymond Massey, David Niven, and Mary Astor.

    John's Modern Cabins door, Route 66, Missouri, USA. Copyright Jen Baker/Liberty Images; all rights reserved.

    Door to one of the abandoned John’s Modern Cabins, Missouri

  • 2AM The Two of Us ’67    I’ve not seen this film starring Michael Simon, Alain Cohen, and Luce Fabiole, but the premise is interesting: an elderly Catholic country couple agrees to hide a Jewish boy, Claude, from the Nazis by taking him in. As it turns out, the husband hates the Jews, whom he blames for the war…but he cannot help but love Claude.

Monday, March 18, we enjoy still more of Greer Garson’s films.

  • 7:45AM The Front Page ’31    Early version of His Girl Friday, starring Adolphe Menjou, Pat O’Brien, Mary Brian, Edward Everett Horton.
  • 9:45PM Julia Misbehaves ’48   The plot sounds so wackadoodle, it should be JAMMED with laughs! When her daughter marries, showgirl Greer Garson returns to staid hubby Walter Pidgeon so she might take part in the joy. Hijinks ensue, including some involving Cesar Romero as an acrobat. Liz Taylor plays the daughter; also stars Nigel Bruce.
  •  11:30PM That Forsyte Woman ’49    BBC’s The Forsyte Saga was based upon this, wherein a miserably married woman falls for her niece’s fiance (which reminds me of Anna Karenina a bit—you?). Mostly it sounds like it’s pretty to look at. Errol Flynn, Walter Pidgeon, Robert Young, Janet Leigh also star.
  • 5:15AM Julius Caesar ’53    Adaptation of Shakespeare’s play about the assassination of Caesar…and what follows. Greer Garson, Marlon Brando, James Mason, John Gielgud, Louis Calhern, Deborah Kerr.

Tuesday, March 19:

  • 8:45AM Stranger on the Third Floor ’40    Even though a murder’s conviction was secured by a reporter’s testimony, a newspaperman isn’t so sure the jury came to the right conclusion. Peter Lorre, John McGuire.
  • 3:30 They Drive By Night ’40    Humphrey Bogart and George Raft are siblings and the owners of a successful truck driving company when they find Ida Lupino has framed them for murder. Terrific flick! Ann Sheridan, Gale Page, Alan Hale also star.
  • 6:15PM The Letter ’40    Very famous Bette Davis vehicle, in which she claims to have killed a man in self-defense, but things don’t add up… and then, enter blackmailer. Beautiful photography and fine performances. Herbert Marshall also stars.
  • 8PM The Best Years Of Our Lives ’46    You  know how dearly I love this marvellous film. Enjoy.
  • 11PM Yankee Doodle Dandy ’42    It’s hard to find anybody who doesn’t enjoy this lively, fun, toe-tapping biopic of George M. Cohan. Though the unsavoury bits of his life are glossed over, it doesn’t mean this is anything to miss! James Cagney is fantastic as Cohan;  Walter Huston terrific as Cohan’s father. Joan Leslie, Irene Manning, Jeanne Cagney also star.
  • 1:15AM On The Waterfront ’54   Often hailed as one of Kazan’s best films, I have to confess I’ve always had a hard time getting into this one. Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Lee Cobb, Rod Steiger, Eva Marie Saint, Leif Erickson.

    Bennett's Home and Auto Supply, Weston WV, USA. Copyright Jen Baker/Liberty Images; all rights reserved.

    Great vintage Firestone neon in Weston, WV. Rainy or no, I had to catch this one!

  • 3:15AM Call Northside 777 ’48    Gripping movie about a reporter convinced that a convicted murderer is innocent, so he goes to great lengths in order to prove it. Really good crime/investigative journalism film starring Jimmy Stewart, Richard Conte, and Lee Cobb.

Wednesday, March 20. You should, if you were hung over after celebrating St. Paddy (aka over-imbibing on Amateur Night), be okay now. Sadly, I’m willing to bet many of us are still suffering from the effects of DST.

TCM today is musicals nearly all the way through, and I’m not particularly fond of many of them. They’re not awful, and are surely heads and shoulders above most of what you’ll find in your local cinema today, but…Eh. Young Man With a Horn (’50) is on at 11:45AM; The Gene Krupa Story ’59 screens at 4. The highlight of the day seems to be 1956’s Forbidden Planet—sci-fi-ified Shakespeare (The Tempest) and fun for all! Starring Walter Pidgeon, Leslie Nielsen, and Anne Francis and originally filmed in CinemaScope, Forbidden Planet is probably still among the best sci-fi films.

And that’s the week ahead on TCM. Enjoy, and I hope I’ve helped you find a few new things to DVR.

One thought on “TCM & Work Wednesday

  1. I’ve never seen Mondays Julius Caesar and Wednesdays ‘Call Northside 777’, I adore anything with Jimmy Stewart…ready set go! Thanks Jen. I just watched Titanic ’53 with Clifton Webb and Robert Wagner maybe three weeks back. I’d seen it years ago, but it was fun to watch again. Never tire of that story. Have a great week.

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