Thursday, November 04, 2010

TCM Star of the Month: Ava Gardner

The TCM Star of the Month for November is Ava Gardner, one of the great beauties of the classic film era who was also an interesting Oscar-nominated actress.

TCM will be showing 42 Gardner films this month, beginning this evening, November 4th, and continuing on Thursdays through Thanksgiving.

The first film shown will be Gardner's breakthrough role in THE KILLERS (1946), followed by three varied early '50s films: PANDORA AND THE FLYING DUTCHMAN (1951), SHOW BOAT (1951), and KNIGHTS OF THE ROUND TABLE (1951). To date the only film of this group I've seen is SHOW BOAT, in which Gardner excelled as the tragic Julie.

As I noted in my Quick Preview of the month, posted last summer, one of the fun things TCM will be doing is showing a large number of the films in which Gardner had bit parts as she worked her way up the MGM ladder in the early '40s. A significant number of these titles will be shown overnight on the first three Thursdays of the month, after evening screenings some of Gardner's starring roles.

Tonight these "bit part" titles include THIS TIME FOR KEEPS (1942), in which she's a lovely woman eating in her car at a drive-in, and KID GLOVE KILLER (1942), in which she's a carhop. SUNDAY PUNCH (1942), CALLING DR. GILLESPIE (1942), and REUNION IN FRANCE (1942) are a few more of the films being shown with brief glimpses of the young Gardner. I especially look forward to JOE SMITH, AMERICAN (1942), starring Robert Young and Marsha Hunt.

On November 11th the evening starts off with MOGAMBO (1953), for which Gardner was nominated for the Oscar as Best Supporting Actress.

Other films airing that night are THE BAREFOOT CONTESSA (1954) and two movies she made with Stewart Granger, BHOWANI JUNCTION (1956) and THE LITTLE HUT (1957).

Those films will be followed by seven titles in which Gardner had bit roles, including YOUNG IDEAS (1943), Margaret O'Brien's LOST ANGEL (1943), and HITLER'S MADMAN (1943).

November 18th's movies include ON THE BEACH (1959), 55 DAYS AT PEKING (1963), THE HUCKSTERS (1947), THE GREAT SINNER (1949), and EAST SIDE, WEST SIDE (1949). I liked THE HUCKSTERS and found EAST SIDE, WEST SIDE an extremely enjoyable crime soap opera in which Gardner gives a scene-stealing performance.

Movies shown in which she had small parts will include the June Allyson films TWO GIRLS AND A SAILOR (1944) and MUSIC FOR MILLIONS (1944).

Thanksgiving Night, November 25th, Gardner's month will conclude with SEVEN DAYS IN MAY (1964), NIGHT OF THE IGUANA (1964), MY FORBIDDEN PAST (1951), and THE BRIBE (1949). I found both MY FORBIDDEN PAST and THE BRIBE fun viewing; THE BRIBE has a knockout gun battle finale in the midst of a fireworks display.

For more information on Turner Classic Movies in November, please check out my post on the month's highlights.

The complete November schedule is at the Turner Classic Movies website.

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