Mickey Rooney is the Star of the Month for December at Turner Classic Movies.
I admit Rooney is not someone I especially enjoy, compared to other actors...and yet, he was in countless classic films, many of which are favorites. Indeed, I just ordered a remastered DVD of THE HUMAN COMEDY (1943), which contains perhaps his best performance, from the recent Warner Archive sale; he was nominated for Best Actor for that movie. And I love the ANDY HARDY series...all of which makes me wonder if I don't properly appreciate Mr. Rooney. Rooney's multitalented abilities have been held in high regard by his peers, as described by Robert Osborne.
This month TCM will be showing 70 Mickey Rooney films in five 24-hour marathons. The first day of the series started earlier today, December 2nd. Today's titles focus on Rooney's supporting roles as a young child actor.
Among the movies shown today: HIDE-OUT (1934), a wonderful Robert Montgomery film in which Rooney plays Maureen O'Sullivan's little brother...MANHATTAN MELODRAMA (1934), in which he plays Clark Gable (!) as a boy...the Warner Bros. production of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM (1935), in which he's perfectly cast as Puck...and AH, WILDERNESS! (1935), in which Rooney plays the little brother. When the film was remade as the musical SUMMER HOLIDAY (1948), Rooney moved up to playing the older son. Curiously, SUMMER HOLIDAY is not on this month's schedule, although it was shown on TCM last September.
On December 9th there are interesting titles like A YANK AT ETON (1942) and KILLER MCCOY (1947); the latter, a boxing film, costars Ann Blyth and Brian Donlevy.
Six movies costarring Rooney and Judy Garland are shown on this date, including BABES IN ARMS (1939), which netted Rooney an Oscar nomination as Best Actor.
December 16th 16 ANDY HARDY films will be shown -- in reverse order, starting with ANDY HARDY COMES HOME (1958) and moving backwards in time over two decades to A FAMILY AFFAIR (1937). Aside from Judy Garland and Ann Rutherford, Rooney's leading ladies in the Hardy films included many up-and-coming young MGM actresses such as Esther Williams, Donna Reed, Lana Turner, and Kathryn Grayson.
On December 23rd some of Rooney's best-known films will air, including YOUNG TOM EDISON (1940), NATIONAL VELVET (1944), THE BLACK STALLION (1979), BOYS TOWN (1938), CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS (1937), and the previously mentioned THE HUMAN COMEDY (1943).
Rooney's performance in NATIONAL VELVET is neck and neck with THE HUMAN COMEDY as his best screen role, and he received a Best Supporting Actor nomination for THE BLACK STALLION. All told, Rooney was nominated as Best Actor or Supporting Actor three times; he never won, but did receive Honorary Awards from the Academy in both 1939 and 1983.
The final date in the Rooney festival is December 30th, showcasing films from the '50s, '60s, and '70s. Sadly, the 1954 Paramount film THE BRIDGES AT TOKO-RI isn't on the list. THE STRIP (1951), which has Louis Armstrong in the cast, looks especially interesting. The evening also includes BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S (1961), which contains Rooney's somewhat infamous performance as an Asian man, and the highly regarded REQUIEM FOR A HEAVYWEIGHT (1962).
An impressive career track record, indeed.
For more information on TCM this month, check out the December Schedule and my post TCM in December: Highlights.