Thursday, March 31, 2011

TCM in April: Highlights

It's time to take a look at April on Turner Classic Movies -- a month that is better known as Ray Milland Month to his many fans.

That's right, Ray Milland is Star of the Month, and I'll be writing more about that in the next few days.

Fortunately, after being down for a couple of weeks, TCM seems to have fixed most of their broken links. Schedule links are still iffy, but the link for the complete April schedule seems to be in working order.

Here we go!

...Jane Powell and Debbie Reynolds share an April 1st birthday, and TCM will devote most of Friday to celebrating. I especially recommend one of their costarring films, TWO WEEKS WITH LOVE (1950), airing early on the 1st. That's the one where Debbie introduced "Aba Daba Honeymoon."

...The pick of the day on Saturday the 2nd is ON DANGEROUS GROUND (1952), a superb film noir with Robert Ryan, Ida Lupino, Ward Bond, a Bernard Herrmann score, and gorgeous black and white photography of snowy scenes. Don't miss it. It also airs very early on April 29th.

...Fans of Robert Taylor, Joan Crawford, Greer Garson, and/or Herbert Marshall should enjoy WHEN LADIES MEET (1941) on April 4th. I found it a lot of fun when I saw it a couple years ago.

...Tuesday, April 5th, is a great day -- it's my oldest son's 19th birthday, and TCM will be celebrating 110 years since the birth of Melvyn Douglas. A whopping 10 Douglas films will be shown; I'll be recording several titles which are new to me. Douglas titles being shown which I've previously reviewed include SHE MARRIED HER BOSS (1935) with Claudette Colbert, AND SO THEY WERE MARRIED (1936) with Mary Astor, THEODORA GOES WILD (1936) with Irene Dunne, and the very enjoyable yet relatively unknown GOOD GIRLS GO TO PARIS (1939) with Joan Blondell. Rev up the DVR for this day!

...April 7th the birthday boy is James Garner, who just announced he'll publish his autobiography this fall. The six Garner films shown that day include the first of three films he made with Julie Andrews, THE AMERICANIZATION OF EMILY (1964) -- which coincidentally also stars Melvyn Douglas -- and BOYS' NIGHT OUT (1962), reviewed here earlier this month. Andrews, incidentally, will be writing the introduction to Garner's book.

...April 8th is one of those obscure little films I love recording from TCM: BRIDAL SUITE (1939), starring Robert Young and Annabella.

...April 10th will be a change from the schedule published in the Now Playing guide, a 24-hour tribute in honor of Elizabeth Taylor. Details were posted here last week. Ironically, one of the films originally scheduled for the 10th was STRANGERS ON A TRAIN (1951), starring Farley Granger, who passed away just days after Taylor. Hopefully TCM will arrange for a Granger tribute soon.

...Those of us who love Dennis Morgan's megawatt smile can enjoy him in CATTLE TOWN (1952) on Monday, April 11th, and then move on to Randolph Scott in THUNDER OVER THE PLAINS (1953).

...STAGE DOOR (1937) is one of my favorite films of the '30s. What a cast! Ginger Rogers (at her wisecracking best), Katharine Hepburn, Eve Arden, Lucille Ball, and Ann Miller. It's the start of a 9-film birthday tribute to Ann Miller on April 12th which ranges from her earliest work at RKO to one of her best films at MGM, KISS ME KATE (1953).

...Shirley Temple's birthday is later in April, but TCM is celebrating early, on April 13th. The six films shown that day will be LITTLE MISS MARKER (1934), THE POOR LITTLE RICH GIRL (1936), HEIDI (1937), THE LITTLE PRINCESS (1939), KATHLEEN (1941), and SINCE YOU WENT AWAY (1944), which had a great impact on me when I saw it for the first time last Thanksgiving.

...WALKING ON AIR (1936), showing on April 15th, is one of those fun discoveries that makes TCM so special. It's a 70-minute comedy starring Ann Sothern and some fabulous Art Deco sets. That film is followed by a very interesting lineup of pre-Codes and other obscure films, such as RENO (1939) with Gail Patrick and Anita Louise.

...Powell and Pressburger's THE TALES OF HOFFMAN (1951), starring Moira Shearer, will be on April 17th.

...On the 18th is another especially interesting daytime lineup which includes John Garfield and Priscilla Lane in DUST BE MY DESTINY (1939), plus two other Garfield films.

...Franchot Tone, Madge Evans, and Joseph Calleia in EXCLUSIVE STORY (1936) is on my calendar to record on April 19th.

...An evening of films set in China includes Frank Borzage's CHINA DOLL (1958), starring Victor Mature. It airs on the 21st.

...On April 23rd I'll be recording PAINTING THE CLOUDS WITH SUNSHINE, a musical with Dennis Morgan, Virginia Mayo, and Gene Nelson. The cast also includes Virginia Gibson, who was in last night's film, GOODBYE MY FANCY (1951); she later danced in SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS (1954).

...On April 26th one of the most interesting films looks to be THE GAY SISTERS (1942), with Barbara Stanwyck, George Brent, and Geraldine Fitzgerald. Also worthwhile that day: AND ONE WAS BEAUTIFUL (1941), starring Laraine Day and Bob Cummings.

...I recommended THE ROMANCE OF ROSY RIDGE (1947) last March and mention it again this year. It's a lovely piece of post-Civil War Americana featuring a sweet performance by Janet Leigh in her film debut. It will be shown on the 27th.

...One of my favorite days on the schedule is "Royal Romance," scheduled to take place April 29th, the same day as the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton. The five films scheduled are ROYAL WEDDING (1951), which takes place at the time of the wedding of William's grandmother, the present Queen; the classic ROMAN HOLIDAY (1951); THE GLASS SLIPPER (1955), a Cinderella story with Leslie Caron; THE SWAN (1956), which found Grace Kelly playing a princess shortly before she became one in real life; and Norma Shearer in THE STUDENT PRINCE IN OLD HEIDELBERG (1927).

As always, this barely touches all the great things in store on TCM next month. Happy viewing!

Update: TCM Star of the Month: Ray Milland.


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