Well, this will be more truncated than I expected, as the weekend (when I usually begin this post) was non-stop busy-ness, commencing with the front suspension on our Dodge Magnum blowing up during Hubby’s homebound commute Friday evening! So much for the towing vehicle; no more Dodge for us. Oi.
- 7:45AM Dead Ringer ’64 Why TCM insists upon screening suspensers so early (yes, yes, we’re all DVRing these, not watching as they air unless we’re laid up with the flu, but it seems so wrong!), I don’t know, but this promises to be, well, a humdinger. Bette Davis stars as woman who murders her wealthy twin in order to take her place. I’ve no doubt that this ends up not working out well in the end. Peter Lawford, Jean Hagen (Singin’ In The Rain), and Karl Malden also star; directed by Bette’s famous Now, Voyager costar Paul Henreid.
- 11:30AM A Stolen Life ’46 Another picture in which Bette is one of two twin sisters. I saw this one a year or so ago, and it’s not mind-blowingly fantastic, but decent entertainment nevertheless. That it stars Bette Davis and Glenn Ford helps a great deal. My biggest issue with it is that it’s a bit unbelievable: when one sister dies, the other takes her place, posing as the dead sister so she might be with the man both women love. He, of course, doesn’t realize his wife is dead and that he’s now living with his sister. Of course, right? This sort of picture was popular in these days; I seem to recall at least one starring Joan Crawford, too, but then this is a sort of timeless tale, isn’t it? (The twins switching places, not one of a set of twins deciding to go for the other’s spouse. The latter I hope doesn’t happen so often.)
- 6AM The Squaw Man ’31 I’m only tagging this one because it stars the much-maligned Lupe Velez…and because of director Ceil B. DeMille. That said, the story does sound rather Pocohontas-and-John-Smith-even-though-they-never-ACTUALLY-had-a-romance-ish interesting: after she saves his life, an Indian maiden has the child of a British aristocrat. How such a man ends up in the West, much less ends up with Velez, I’ve no idea, but no doubt we’ll find out. That said, be warned that it doesn’t really get going until about midway through.
- 9:30AM 42nd Street ’33 I don’t need to tell you. Do I?
- 7:30AM Bride of Frankenstein ’35 Oh yes. Scare the kids into getting their Saturday chores done! Threaten them with the Frankensteins!
- 5:15PM The Great Race ’65 Caught this while sewing something up last fall, and this reunion of Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis—this time with Natalie Wood—is fairly entertaining, especially if you like either of the male leads.
- 8PM The Lady Eve ’41 Card-shark con artist Barbara Stanwyck tangles with wealthy head-in-the-clouds scientist Henry Fonda on a cruise in this treat of a Preston Sturges comedy. I like it more every time I see it. Charles Coburn also stars.
- 9:45PM I Love You Again ’40 William Powell and Myrna Loy are paired up again in this comedy, wherein the former is trying to halt the divorce his wife wants while rediscovering his former con artist ways. Yes, there’s a theme tonight!
- 11:30PM Mr. Lucky ’43 Cary Grant, owner of a gambling ship, sets out to fleece society dame Laraine Day, but falls for something other than her dough.
Sunday, March 31 is Easter! Appropriately, TCM is showing Christ-related films today and they must know it’s my birthday as well, because one of my Top Ten is first on the schedule.
- 7:30AM Ben-Hur ’59 I KNOW I don’t need to tell you. One of the best films, and certainly the best epic film, of all time.
TCM will screen The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965) at 2:30PM; Stevens’ telling of the story of Jesus is vast, but like others, I’m not sure it’s got heart, five Oscars or no. Even so, it’s visually a treat. There are a bazillion stars in this—perhaps that is what is taking away from the important thing: the story of Christ.
- 6PM Easter Parade ’48 Fred Astaire, Judy Garland, Peter Lawford.
- 8PM The Robe ’53 The centurion who presided over the crucifixion of Jesus finds himself intrigued about this Man he’d ensured was dead, and seeks Him out. Richard Burton, Jean Simmons (who is, for some reason, beginning to grate on me…), Victor Mature. I’ve not seen this in a while, to be honest. First movie shot in CinemaScope; the costumes are something else!
- 12:15AM The King of Kings ’27 DeMille’s silent telling of Jesus Christ’s life, reverently filmed; Christ’s Resurrection is filmed in two-colour Technicolor. This version is considered much superior to the later, dopey 1961 “Jesus was a teenage idol” talkie version starring Jeffrey Hunter, thus I ignore the former (airing earlier Easter Day) and suggest this instead. Stars H.B. Warner, Dorothy Cumming, Ernest Torrence.
Monday, April 1 April Fools’ Day always makes me quite happy that I now work at home. TCM daytime is nearly all silents, about the ‘fools’…or, rather, those we consider fools. So often, those our culture holds in contempt are the finest souls among us.
- 6AM The Hunchback of Notre Dame ’23 Still-marvellous Lon Chaney version of Hugo’s famed tale. Patsy Ruth Miller stars as Esmerelda and Ernest Torrence as Clopin; Norman Kerry is Phoebus.
- 8AM He Who Gets Slapped ’24 Clowns unnerve me, but this clown, played by Chaney, is a scientist forced to abandon his career and his wife, becoming a clown in order to hide from his shame. In the circus, he falls in love with the bareback rider—played by a young Norma Shearer early in her career.
- 10:45AM The Blackbird ’26 Chaney runs a charity by day, posing as a crippled man…and a London crime syndicate at night. Great start, hm? Of course, he is also in love with the same beautiful girl as his rival, and the men engage in a battle of wits for her hand. There’s a bit of a supernatural twist, though, to remind us that justice never truly sleeps. Renée Adorée, Doris Lloyd, and Owen Moore also star.
- 12:15PM Tell It To The Marines ’26 Drill sergeant Chaney is tough but good-hearted, even doing what he can to help recruit William Haines in the corps. At least until the men fall for the same lovely lady! (I know quite a few Marines, God bless them all, and can’t imagine having to choose between two. I think my head would explode.) Rare sans-makeup Chaney!
- 3:15PM Mr. Wu ’27 The premise here is interesting, though I’ve no doubt the makeup will be really offensive. *sigh* Chaney plays the titular Mr. Wu (and Mr. Wu’s grandfather), who loses his mind—and acts upon this, citing tradition— when his daughter falls in love with an Englishman. Anna May Wong, Louise Dresser, Renée Adorée, and Ralph Forbes also star.
April, of course, is when we really start to ache for spring (particularly if we live in northern climes!)—and the minds of many turn to baseball. Accordingly, TCM fills the prime-time schedule with films about the boys of summer.
- 8PM It Happens Every Spring ’49 Slightly reminiscent of The Absent-Minded Professor, here chemistry prof Ray Milland invents a baseball that cannot be hit. As you can imagine, he decides that teaching is no longer the career path for him, and heads for the baseball diamond. Sounds very entertaining! Jean Peters, Paul Douglas, Ed Begley, Debra Paget also star.
- 9:30PM Angels In The Outfield ’51 Cute flick about what happens when the managers of the Pittsburgh Pirates tries to mend his ways in exchange for a better record. Paul Douglas, Keenan Wynn, Janet Leigh star—and there are plenty of baseball-related cameos.
- 6AM White Shadows in the South Seas ’28 I’ve not seen this, but it is MGM’s first sound film and it apparently has beautiful photography as well. Monte Blue, Raquel Torres, and Robert Anderson star in the movie, which is about an alcoholic doctor who flees to Tahiti and falls in love with a beautiful native.
- 7:30AM King Kong ’33 The only one worth seeing. Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong, Bruce Cabot. Beautifully filmed in black and white (of course)! The trailer I’m posting is a fan trailer, made with and inspired by music & cues from the ’05 remake. And again, this, the original, is the only version worth seeing. You’re welcome.
- 6:15PM The Naked Spur ’53 After being captured by a bounty hunter, a recently-caught outlaw (Robert Ryan) starts playing psychological tricks on his captor (Jimmy Stewart). Borderline suspenser! Janet Leigh, Ralph Meeker, Millard Mitchell also star in this classic western.
- 8PM Strangers On A Train ’51 You know I’m a very big fan of this underrated Hitchcock film, and I’m glad to see it in prime time. This is a guest programmer choice, so we can hope for some good insights from Robert Osborne and guest Reggie Miller! Robert Walker, Farley Granger, Ruth Roman star. Hang on to your sofa for the wrap-up!
- 2:15AM Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner ’67 The daughter of Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn brings home her fiance…a black doctor (Sidney Poitier) in this family drama. Interesting character study, and Poitier is wonderful.
- 8:45AM On Moonlight Bay ’51 Tagging this because it stars Doris Day and Mary Wickes! The musical circles around a tomboy’s love for the fella next door. Gordon MacRae also stars. Sequel By the Light of the Silvery Moon screens right after, at 10:30.
- 12:15PM Calamity Jane ’53 Doris Day stars as the rollicking frontierswoman in this Wild West musical. Howard Keel as Wild Bill Hickock starts to find Jane more and more alluring as she puts forth a good effort to become more ladylike.
- 3:30PM On The Waterfront ’54 Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Lee Cobb, Eva Marie Saint star in this story about one young man taking on the union boss keeping dock workers in chains.
- 5:30PM Guys And Dolls ’55 I don’t need to explain.
Wednesday night TCM begins its run of films from April Star Of The Month Laurence Olivier. It’s all Shakespeare this evening, and I’m just going to recommend every film, starting at 8PM EST with Henry V (1944). It’s followed by 1948’s Hamlet (10:30), Richard III (1:15), and Othello (4AM—Maggie Smith stars in this one as well). TCM has them chronologically arranged, so we get a nice perspective of this great actor’s work.
Enjoy the week!