Saturday, July 02, 2011

TCM in July: Highlights

It's July, my favorite month of the year, and there's a terrific month ahead on the schedule at Turner Classic Movies.

I missed posting this in time for July 1st due to a very heavy work schedule this past week, but happily I'm now on my summer vacation for the next 10 days, with lots of movie and blogging time ahead! Like many people these days, we have decided to "staycation" this year, but although I'll very much miss the Sierras -- where gas is currently $5 a gallon -- I'm looking forward to lots of movies, including seeing Robert Mitchum on the big screen in the noir Westerns PURSUED (1947) and BLOOD ON THE MOON (1948)!

Singing Cowboys are the special Star of the Month theme for July; I'll be including some of those titles, shown on Friday evenings, in this post rather than a separate Star of the Month post for July. There's also a very interesting series this month titled "Arab Images on Film."

...VIVA LAS VEGAS (1964) is my favorite Elvis film seen to date, perfect summer vacation weekend fun. It airs tomorrow, July 3rd. He and Ann-Margret have a great poolside duet, "The Lady Loves Me," and don't miss Ann-Margret's intricately staged "My Rival," which was shot in one uninterrupted take!

...The Independence Day entertainment includes Cary Grant in THE HOWARDS OF VIRGINIA (1940), a film which is only so-so but is quite interesting for Cary Grant fans, as he plays a man who is rather difficult to like at times. Martha Scott and Richard Carlson costar. Later in the day, Robert Stack is JOHN PAUL JONES (1958), although unfortunately it looks like TCM is continuing to show this in pan and scan. I wasn't very impressed with THE SCARLET COAT (1955) last weekend, but interested viewers can check it out for themselves on the 4th.

...July 5th, in a nice post Independence Day touch, there's an excellent lineup of British films, including Rex Harrison and Wendy Hiller in MAJOR BARBARA (1941), Ann Todd, Claude Rains, and Trevor Howard in David Lean's THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS (1949), Todd in Lean's MADELEINE (1950), and Charles Laughton and John Mills in HOBSON'S CHOICE (1954).

...Later on the 5th, the Arab Images series kicks off with silent films, including THE THIEF OF BAGDAD (1924) starring Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and THE SHEIK (1921) starring Rudolph Valentino.

...It's nice sharing my birthdate with Janet Leigh. TCM's annual July 6th tribute to Leigh includes IF WINTER COMES (1947) with Walter Pidgeon and THAT FORSYTE WOMAN (1949) with Errol Flynn, Robert Young, and Greer Garson, plus four more titles. In fact, I could happily watch the entire day's lineup, which includes favorites like Betty Grable in SPRINGTIME IN THE ROCKIES (1942) and Rita Hayworth in COVER GIRL (1944), plus Robert Siodmak's chiller THE SPIRAL STAIRCASE (1945), starring Dorothy McGuire and George Brent.

...The second night of Singing Cowboys, on July 8th, is devoted to Gene Autry, with five titles made between 1936 and 1952 on the calendar. His leading ladies are Irene Manning, June Storey, Mary Lee, and Gail Davis. I'm old enough to remember walking past Autry's big ol' car in his parking space when I was a child attending games played by his California Angels.

...July 9th is one of the titles I'm most interested in this month: SPLIT SECOND (1953), a thriller about hostages in a ghost town where a nuclear bomb test is due to take place. It stars Stephen (Horace) McNally and Alexis Smith. It was the first film directed by Dick Powell.

...There's a great morning of pre-Codes and mid-'30s films on July 11th, including NIGHT COURT (1932) with Anita Page, THE MAYOR OF HELL (1933) with James Cagney and Madge Evans, and THE BIG SHAKEDOWN (1934) with Bette Davis and Ricardo Cortez. Be sure to check out STRAIGHT IS THE WAY (1934), an unusual little movie in which Franchot Tone plays a young hood trying to reform after five years in prison.

...Fans of WUTHERING HEIGHTS (1939) can see its lead actors in a very different film, the romantic comedy THE DIVORCE OF LADY X (1938) on July 13th. This film is worth seeing not just for Olivier and Oberon, but for its very unusual-looking Technicolor palette.

...July 14th I'm really looking forward to SHIPMATES (1931), one of an increasingly small number of Robert Montgomery films I haven't yet recorded. His costar is Dorothy Jordan, who had teamed with Montgomery the previous year in LOVE IN THE ROUGH (1930). SHIPMATES is followed by three more Montgomery films: ANOTHER LANGUAGE (1933), THREE LOVES HAS NANCY (1938), and THE LAST OF MRS. CHEYNEY (1937).

...Later on the 14th, there's a very good-looking run of early Robert Young titles: THE RIGHT TO ROMANCE (1933) with Ann Harding, CALM YOURSELF (1935) with Madge Evans, THE BRIDE WALKS OUT (1936) with Barbara Stanwyck, THE LONGEST NIGHT (1936) with Florence Rice, and THE BRIDE WORE RED (1937) with Joan Crawford and Franchot Tone.

...On July 15th I'm excited to be able to pick up a Loretta Young pre-Code I've never seen, GRAND SLAM (1933), costarring Paul Lukas and Frank McHugh. It's something about a hat-check girl's skill with cards and a wealthy bridge champion.

...The Singing Cowboys featured on July 15th are Tex Ritter and Jimmy Wakely.

...In April I got a kick out of A GIRL, A GUY, AND A GOB (1941), a comedy starring Lucille Ball, George Murphy, and Edmond O'Brien. It's shown again on July 17th.

...July 18th the theme is "TCM Sets Sail," with titles including Doris Day in ROMANCE ON THE HIGH SEAS (1948), Jane Powell (1948) in LUXURY LINER, and Charles Boyer and Irene Dunne in the classic shipboard romance LOVE AFFAIR (1939).

...The rarely shown AN IDEAL HUSBAND (1947), starring Paulette Goddard, Glynis Johns, and Michael Wilding, airs on July 21st. I had to hunt this one down on a Region 2 DVD, so those who like the actors or Oscar Wilde should be sure to catch it.

...On the 22nd, the evening's Singing Cowboys are Dick Foran and Monte Hale. Hale, incidentally, was one of the founders of the Autry museum in Los Angeles.

...Having seen DeMille's THE CRUSADES (1935) earlier this year, I'm curious about KING RICHARD AND THE CRUSADERS (1954), with Rex Harrison, Virginia Mayo, and George Sanders -- that's an interesting cast combination. Harrison and Sanders previously appeared together in the classic fantasy THE GHOST AND MRS. MUIR (1947). It's on the 26th.

...Dorothy Patrick, the leading lady of the recently seen FOLLOW ME QUIETLY (1949), appeared in nearly 60 films, including the charming COME TO THE STABLE (1949). One of her earliest films was a nice little MGM movie called BOYS' RANCH (1946), also starring James Craig and Jackie "Butch" Jenkins. It will be shown July 29th.

...The last night of Singing Cowboys, on July 29th, features Rex Allen (later known as a Disney narrator), Herb Jeffries, and Ken Maynard. Jeffries, who is still alive at age 97, was unusual for the era in that he was a black singing cowboy; the films shown will be TWO-GUN MAN FROM HARLEM (1938) and HARLEM RIDES THE RANGE (1939).

...As a fan of MGM '30s actress Florence Rice, on July 30th I'm looking forward to recording the 56-minute PANIC ON THE AIR (1936), starring Rice and Lew Ayres.

...The month draws to a close on the 31st with fun comedies including Ginger Rogers and William Powell in STAR OF MIDNIGHT (1935) and Jack Benny and Ann Sheridan in GEORGE WASHINGTON SLEPT HERE (1942).

...There's also a three-film tribute to Dorothy Lamour on the 31st: ROAD TO UTOPIA (1946), RAINBOW ISLAND (1944), and SLIGHTLY FRENCH (1949). The latter film sounds quite interesting, as it also stars Don Ameche and Janis Carter, and it was directed by Douglas Sirk.

This is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg as far as interesting titles showing on TCM in July. Be sure to check out the complete schedule at the TCM website.


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