The 31 Days of Oscar Festival on Turner Classic Movies draws to a close today, and the March schedule begins in earnest on Thursday, March 4th. TCM has a wonderful Star of the Month lined up for March, the one and only Ginger Rogers.
TCM will show 43 Rogers films, beginning on March 10th and concluding on April 1st.
The series kicks off with all 10 Astaire and Rogers films being shown on Wednesday, March 10th.
For those who have already seen the very best of Astaire and Rogers' work, such as TOP HAT (1935) and SWING TIME (1936), I particularly recommend CAREFREE (1938). CAREFREE melds an Astaire-Rogers musical with late '30s screwball comedy, complete with Ralph Bellamy as the hapless second male lead. Ginger is hilarious. This is one of Fred and Ginger's relatively lesser-known films, but it's in my personal top three along with the aforementioned titles.
On March 17th the focus is on Ginger's Warner Bros. musicals and pre-Code films.
Titles shown on the 17th include 42ND STREET (1933), GOLD DIGGERS OF 1933 (1933), RAFTER ROMANCE (1933), and CARNIVAL BOAT (1932).
On this evening I particularly recommend FINISHING SCHOOL (1934), a highly entertaining pre-Code which features Ginger as the sassy roommate of a girl (Frances Dee) who finds herself in Trouble after a romantic interlude with a young intern (Bruce Cabot). Ginger to the rescue! It's 73 minutes of highly entertaining soap opera. (A side note for parents, the heroine's problem is conveyed so subtly that younger viewers will most likely have no idea what's going on.)
March 24th is an absolutely terrific evening featuring many of Ginger's best comedies.
The evening kicks off with VIVACIOUS LADY (1938), costarring James Stewart.
Other titles shown that evening are TWENTY MILLION SWEETHEARTS (1934) costarring Dick Powell, HAVING WONDERFUL TIME (1938) with Douglas Fairbanks Jr., 5TH AVE GIRL (1939), IN PERSON (1935) with George Brent, and STAR OF MIDNIGHT (1935), a comedic mystery also starring William Powell. Of these titles I especially liked 5TH AVE GIRL and STAR OF MIDNIGHT, but I confess a fondness for HAVING WONDERFUL TIME as well, even though it's not really all that good a movie. I simply enjoy watching Rogers, Fairbanks, Ann Miller, Eve Arden, Red Skelton, and more being silly at summer camp.
Two of Ginger's best-ever movies are screened on the 24th: BACHELOR MOTHER (1939) and STAGE DOOR (1937). BACHELOR MOTHER'S New Year's Eve sequence, in which Ginger speaks "Swedish," is one of the funniest things she ever did. And she was never better than she was as the wisecracking actress in STAGE DOOR, which has a tremendous cast including Katharine Hepburn, Eve Arden, Ann Miller, Gail Patrick, and Lucille Ball.
The 24th concludes with PERFECT STRANGERS (1950) costarring Dennis Morgan. I bought this on sale from the Warner Archive a couple months ago but haven't watched it yet. I've never seen it, but it looks interesting.
The final batch of Rogers films begins on March 31st and runs overnight and on to April 1st. This evening is a mixture of all types of films, including Ginger's Oscar-winning role as KITTY FOYLE (1940).
The movies this evening include THE MAJOR AND THE MINOR (1942), which is a must-see. Other titles include PRIMROSE PATH (1940) with Joel McCrea, ONCE UPON A HONEYMOON (1942) with Cary Grant, TENDER COMRADE (1943) with Robert Ryan, IT HAD TO BE YOU (1947) with Cornel Wilde, and the all-star WEEK-END AT THE WALDORF (1945) with Walter Pidgeon, Lana Turner, and Van Johnson.
I'm especially looking forward to recording LUCKY PARTNERS (1940), a film costarring Ronald Colman which I've never seen. Clint Eastwood is in the supporting cast of THE FIRST TRAVELING SALESLADY (1956), another Rogers title which is new to me.
A concluding note: at one point Paramount's LADY IN THE DARK (1944), starring Rogers and Ray Milland, showed up on the TCM schedule for April 28th. That title now appears to have been removed from the lineup, but the Paramount film replacing it is very exciting: Mitchell Leisen's ARISE, MY LOVE (1940) starring Ray Milland and Claudette Colbert. I've wanted to see that movie for years. Hopefully LADY IN THE DARK will be shown later in the year.
It's going to be a great month on TCM, and April will be just as terrific, featuring Robert Taylor as the Star of the Month.
I'll be focusing on more of TCM's March highlights in a future post. (Update: Here it is!)