I have to admit that February is my least favorite month in the Turner Classic Movies schedule, simply because I am already familiar with so many of the titles shown during the annual 31 Days of Oscar festival.
The Oscar schedule doesn't leave room for some of the lesser-known fare I love to seek out, although I have to say that in 2009 TCM did a particularly good job including more obscure Oscar nominees in their "college" themed series.
This year TCM's schedule was inspired by "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon," with the first movie on the schedule being a Bacon title. Each movie on the schedule is connected to the next by a common performer. Only on TCM would you find back-to-back Connie Gilchrist movies listed in the schedule! She connects the 1949 LITTLE WOMEN with 1942's TORTILLA FLAT.
The film which most intrigues me this month airs on February 4th: Mitchell Leisen's KITTY (1945), starring Ray Milland and Paulette Goddard.
KITTY is one of a number of Paramount films which have turned up on TCM's schedule recently; other examples are last weekend's screening of Olivia DeHavilland's Oscar-winning TO EACH HIS OWN (1946), which I recorded to watch at a future date, and today's showing of Fred and Bing in BLUE SKIES (1946). Another Paramount film, LADY IN THE DARK (1944) with Ginger Rogers and Ray Milland, is due in April.
Jack Benny and Ida Lupino fans may want to check out ARTISTS AND MODELS (1937) on February 24th. The last time TCM aired this film there were technical problems which resulted in a few minutes of the movie not being broadcast.
Jean Simmons admirers who missed last Friday night's tribute have the opportunity to record GREAT EXPECTATIONS (1946), which is airing in the wee hours on February 2nd. Simmons can also be seen in THE ACTRESS (1953) in the early morning hours February 8th and in ELMER GANTRY (1960) on February 27th.
The late James Mitchell can be seen in THE BAND WAGON (1953) on February 11th.
February is packed with fine movies so be sure to check out the schedule. I can only randomly list a few of the excellent films airing this month:
February 4th: Two marvelous military movies with Eleanor Parker as the leading lady, PRIDE OF THE MARINES (1945) and ABOVE AND BEYOND (1952). And don't miss THE UNINVITED (1944). The latter is another Paramount film and one of the best "spooky" movies ever made, with the added plus of the beautiful song "Stella By Starlight."
The 4th might be the best date on the entire schedule as THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD (1938), which I consider one of the greatest movies ever made, airs that evening.
February 5th: GOLD DIGGERS OF 1933 (1933), one of the very best examples of the Busby Berkeley pre-Code musical.
February 6th: A trio of actors named Robert star in the fine CROSSFIRE (1947).
February 7th: Don't miss FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT (1940) if you've never seen it, and you can also catch Hitchcock's other great 1940 film, REBECCA, winner of Best Picture.
February 8th: I thoroughly enjoyed SEVEN DAYS IN MAY (1964) last fall.
February 10th: TONIGHT AND EVERY NIGHT (1945), set during the London Blitz, is one of Rita Hayworth's very best musicals. I saw it three different times in a revival theater in the late '70s or early '80s. It's a crime it's not a better-known film. The movie costars Janet Blair, Lee Bowman, and Marc Platt (SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS).
PICKUP ON SOUTH STREET (1953) is also airing on the 10th. Richard Widmark and Jean Peters at their noirish best.
February 15th: THE SEA WOLF (1941) with a powerhouse trio of leads: Robinson, Lupino, and Garfield.
The little known THE WAR AGAINST MRS. HADLEY (1942) airs February 17th. And don't miss one of the best war movies ever made, THEY WERE EXPENDABLE (1945), directed by John Ford, with a little help from Robert Montgomery.
February 18th: JOHNNY EAGER (1942) is said to be one of Robert Taylor's best films, with an Oscar-winning Best Supporting Actor turn by the always-interesting Van Heflin.
If you've never seen ON THE WATERFRONT (1954), February 21st is the date!
February 22nd: Back-to-back Robert Montgomery films, THE DIVORCEE (1930) and NIGHT MUST FALL (1937). Montgomery received one of his two Best Actor nominations for the latter film.
February 25th: THERE GOES MY HEART (1938), with Fredric March and Virginia Bruce, isn't a classic, but it tickled my funnybone.
February 27th: STAGE DOOR (1937), starring Katharine Hepburn, Ginger Rogers, and a terrific cast including Ann Miller, Eve Arden, and Lucille Ball, is one of the very best comedies of the '30s.
March 2nd: My favorite movie, SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS (1954), airs this date.
March 3rd: I have a real soft spot for OPERATION PETTICOAT (1959), starring Cary Grant.
Click the title of this post for TCM's special 31 Days of Oscar "micro site."