December is a very important month for fans of Turner Classic Movies, as Robert Osborne returns to the channel on December 1st! It will be wonderful to welcome Mr. Osborne back after his time off.
It's a great month on TCM for many other reasons, including a new documentary on Christmas movies premiering December 6th, the TCM debut on Christmas Eve of Jeanne Crain in the classic MARGIE (1946), and the incomparable William Powell as Star of the Month on Thursday evenings.
I plan to post more information on both the Star of the Month and TCM's great lineup of Christmas movies in the near future. Here are just a few of the other interesting titles coming to TCM in December:
...On Friday, December 2nd, there's a fabulous lineup of Warren William pre-Codes, including BEAUTY AND THE BOSS (1932) and SKYSCRAPER SOULS (1932).
...Saturday morning, December 3rd, TCM will be showing John Farrow's FIVE CAME BACK (1939), a "B" movie which represents a triumph of filmmaking over budget. I saw this creepy film, about survivors of a jungle plane crash, as part of an RKO Festival at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art when I was a teenager. I've never forgotten the experience. It has a great cast including Lucille Ball, Chester Morris, Wendy Barrie, Sir C. Aubrey Smith, Allen Jenkins, John Carradine, Joseph Calleia, Kent Taylor, Patric Knowles, and Elisabeth Risdon. Those were the days, when a 75-minute programmer could feature a cast of that caliber! Dalton Trumbo was one of the contributors to the screenplay.
...As a Stewart Granger fan, I especially enjoyed GUN GLORY (1957), a solid Western showing on the night of December 3rd. It costars Rhonda Fleming and Chill Wills. It's being shown as part of a five-film prime time tribute to Fleming which also includes OUT OF THE PAST (1947) and WHILE THE CITY SLEEPS (1956).
...On December 4th THE SEVEN LITTLE FOYS (1955) has its TCM premiere. I saw this Bob Hope film many times while I was growing up, but haven't watched it in years. James Cagney has a cameo as George M. Cohan, and the film plays back to back with Cagney's Cohan film YANKEE DOODLE DANDY (1942).
...The film noir ANGEL FACE (1952), starring Robert Mitchum, Jean Simmons, Herbert Marshall, and Mona Freeman, will play on the 5th. This is a good-looking film I've yet to catch up with.
...The rarely shown MGM musical EVERYTHING I HAVE IS YOURS (1952) will play on December 6th. It stars Marge and Gower Champion. I've had the soundtrack on LP since I was young but I've never had the chance to see it; my DVR is set! It plays back to back with an episode of SCREEN DIRECTORS PLAYHOUSE directed by Gower Champion.
...TCM marks Pearl Harbor Day with a primetime lineup of World War II films, including FROM HERE TO ETERNITY (1953) and THEY WERE EXPENDABLE (1945).
...I was extremely impressed by SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS (1957) when I recently saw it. James Wong Howe's black and white cinematography is stunning. December 8th is a great opportunity to catch this film. It stars Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis, with excellent supporting performances by Susan Harrison and Martin Milner.
...TCM will celebrate the centennial of Broderick Crawford's birth on December 9th, showing three Crawford films, including his Oscar-winning performance in ALL THE KING'S MEN (1949).
...THUNDER ROCK (1942) sounds interesting: Michael Redgrave and James Mason in a spooky lighthouse movie directed by Roy Boulting. Lilli Palmer and Finlay Currie are also in the cast. It's shown in the wee hours early on December 12th.
...I'm an Audrey Totter fan, so I'll be recording A BULLET FOR JOEY (1955) on December 12th. It costars Edwards G. Robinson and George Raft.
...There's an outstanding birthday tribute to Van Heflin on December 13th, the only mystery being the exclusion of his Oscar-winning performance in JOHNNY EAGER (1941). No matter, as it's a great day which includes the enjoyable "B" mystery GRAND CENTRAL MURDER (1942), the biopic TENNESSEE JOHNSON (1942) with Ruth Hussey, the highly entertaining costume soaper GREEN DOLPHIN STREET (1947) with Lana Turner and Donna Reed, and EAST SIDE, WEST SIDE (1949), with an all-star cast including Barbara Stanwyck, James Mason, Ava Gardner, and Cyd Charisse. I paid tribute to Heflin on the centennial of his birth on December 13, 2010.
...A Tribute to the George Eastman House Film Archive on the 14th will include Jeanette MacDonald in THE LOTTERY BRIDE (1930), Charles Laughton, Maureen O'Sullivan, and Ray Milland in PAYMENT DEFERRED (1932), THE WORLD MOVES ON (1934) with Franchot Tone and Madeleine Carroll, and Ava Gardner and James Mason in PANDORA AND THE FLYING DUTCHMAN (1951).
...On the 16th there are some great-looking pre-Codes, including YOU CAN'T BUY EVERYTHING (1934) with Jean Parker, HELL DIVERS (1932) with Clark Gable, THE WET PARADE (1932) with Myrna Loy, and LOVE IN THE ROUGH (1930) with Robert Montgomery.
...The fabulous Irene Dunne receives an eight-film birthday tribute on December 20th. There will be several pre-Codes shown, followed by the classic Cary Grant comedy MY FAVORITE WIFE (1940) and her role as a Norwegian immigrant in the warm I REMEMBER MAMA (1948).
...The Howard Hawks comedy BALL OF FIRE (1941), starring Barbara Stanwyck and Gary Cooper, airs on December 21st. This is one of four titles left on my personal list of "unseen classics" which I hope to catch in 2011. The titles I've seen so far this year are listed in my review of THE LADY EVE (1941), which also starred Stanwyck.
...Hitchcock's STRANGERS ON A TRAIN (1951), which I recently enjoyed for the first time, will air on December 22nd. It stars Farley Granger, Ruth Roman, and Robert Walker. Highly recommended. It's part of a Ruth Roman tribute which also includes YOUNG MAN WITH IDEAS (1952) costarring Glenn Ford and LIGHTNING STRIKES TWICE (1951) with Richard Todd.
...December 23rd I'm looking forward to COVER-UP (1949), a film noir I've never seen with Dennis O'Keefe, Barbara Britton, and William Bendix.
...MARGIE (1946) isn't a Christmas film, but it has a nostalgic glow -- including a memorable ice skating scene -- which makes it perfect Christmastime viewing. This story of an awkward teenager (Jeanne Crain) blossoming in the 1920s is classic Americana. It's been hard to find for years, so what a thrill to see it premiering on TCM as one of "Robert Osborne's Picks" on Christmas Eve, alongside some classic Christmas titles. If I could only record one movie in December, it would be MARGIE.
...On December 28th TCM will honor several actors who passed away this year, including Jane Russell (THE PALEFACE), Elizabeth Taylor (CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF), and Anne Francis (BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK).
...The 30th features films from the National Film Registry, including TROUBLE IN PARADISE (1932), THE SEARCHERS (1956), and OKLAHOMA! (1955). OKLAHOMA! is one of a handful of mid-'50s films -- another is SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS (1954) -- which exists in two versions which are noticeably different. It was filmed in both CinemaScope and Todd-AO; the lighting and line readings vary considerably in some scenes, and I've found it fascinating to compare. The TCM guide doesn't indicate which version will be shown.
D.O.A. (1950), PANIC IN THE STREETS (1950), and ICE STATION ZEBRA (1968).
I'll be back soon with more on TCM in December, and you can also consult the complete schedule, which will hopefully show up here on December 1st. (It must be said that TCM has not always made it easy to find advance schedules this year!)
Happy December viewing, and welcome back, Robert Osborne!
Update: TCM Star of the Month: William Powell.
Update: TCM in December: Christmas Movies.