Saturday, November 30, 2013

TCM in December: Highlights

Happy December, and welcome to what is always one of my favorite months of the year on Turner Classic Movies.

This year the December Star of the Month is Fred Astaire; over two dozen Astaire films will be shown each Wednesday evening in December. I'll be focusing on the lineup of his movies in a separate post in the near future. (Update: Please visit TCM Star of the Month: Fred Astaire.)

As always, I'll also be devoting a separate post to the many wonderful Christmas movies airing on TCM in December. (Update: Please visit TCM in December: Christmas Movies.)

Here's a look at just a few of the many other highlights from TCM's December schedule!

...There are a number of good movies on December 1st to finish out the long holiday weekend. I always get a kick out of James Garner and Doris Day in THE THRILL OF IT ALL (1963), which would be worth watching if only for the priceless swimming pool scene.

...The other day I happened to mention THE BIG STEAL (1949), a very enjoyable Mexican chase film starring Robert Mitchum and Jane Greer, with a nice role for Ramon Navarro. It's on December 2nd.

...A night of gangster films on December 3rd includes THE ROARING TWENTIES (1939). The movie stars Cagney and Bogart, but I especially appreciate that the supporting cast includes Priscilla Lane and Jeffrey Lynn, two favorites who also appeared in the FOUR DAUGHTERS series for Warner Bros.

...There's a nine-film marathon of pirate movies on December 4th. I recall THE PRINCESS AND THE PIRATE (1944), starring Bob Hope and Virginia Mayo, as colorful fun and look forward to seeing it for the first time in years.

...This month's Friday Night Spotlight series focuses on costume design. The series kicks off December 6th with a pair of films designed by one of my favorites, Travis Banton. I can't recommend Claudette Colbert in the mind-blowing DeMille epic CLEOPATRA (1934) highly enough. This is a must-see for classic film fans, especially the barge sequence, which must have been stunning to watch in the depths of the Great Depression.

...Pearl Harbor Day is commemorated with several WWII films, including the multi Oscar winner FROM HERE TO ETERNITY (1953).

...It's Margaret Hamilton Day on December 9th, and she has a very good role in the Robert Montgomery-Helen Hayes marital drama ANOTHER LANGUAGE (1933). Hamilton recreates her stage role in an interesting though frustrating story about a mama's boy (Montgomery) who continually places the needs of his nasty mother (Louise Closser Hale) over his bride (Hayes).

...A couple of years ago I had the chance to see MANHATTAN MELODRAMA (1934) as part of a presentation on the career of Myrna Loy at the Egyptian Theatre. It's an absorbing drama with Clark Gable and William Powell as childhood friends who part ways as adults, with one becoming a career criminal and the other a district attorney. You certainly can't beat the three lead actors! It airs December 10th.

...The theme is football on December 11th, and I highly recommend director Jacques Tourneur's EASY LIVING (1949). EASY LIVING -- not to be confused with the Jean Arthur comedy -- is an excellent drama about a pro football player facing the fact it's time for him to leave the game. The superb cast includes Victor Mature, Sonny Tufts, Lizabeth Scott, Lucille Ball, Lloyd Nolan, Richard Erdman, Jack Paar, Paul Stewart, Jeff Donnell, and Jim Backus. It's a film which deserves to be better known.

...Frank Sinatra's birthday on December 12th includes THE TENDER TRAP (1955), which has one of the best movie openings of all time.

...I've never seen THE GOLDEN MASK (1954) but I like the leads, Van Heflin and Wanda Hendrix. It's on December 13th.

...Randolph Scott and Barbara Hale star in the Western SEVENTH CAVALRY (1956) on Saturday, December 14th. Can't think of a better way to spend part of a Saturday than with Randolph Scott!

...Musicals by Betty Comden and Adolph Green air on Wednesday, December 18th. The terrific lineup includes favorites such as GOOD NEWS (1947) and THE BAND WAGON (1953).

...December 19th is a day of Westerns, and I especially recommend one of my favorite films seen this year, WICHITA (1955) stars Joel McCrea as Wyatt Earp; it was directed by Jacques Tourneur. Watch for Peter Graves in a fun role.

...Irene Dunne was born December 20, 1898, and TCM celebrates the multi-talented Dunne on the 20th with nine films. Titles such as SHOW BOAT (1936), THE AWFUL TRUTH (1937), and LOVE AFFAIR (1939) display Dunne's talent for singing, comedy, and drama.

...What better way to move on from Christmas films than with the classic "train noir" THE NARROW MARGIN (1952) on December 26th? They just don't come any better than this film with Charles McGraw and Marie Windsor.

...There's more noir on the 27th with Robert Mitchum and Jane Greer in OUT OF THE PAST (1947), partly filmed in one of my favorite places, Bridgeport, California.

...I just bought the Twilight Time Blu-ray of LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN (1945), which can also be caught on Saturday night, December 28th. This "Technicolor noir" is a visual stunner -- you won't soon forget Gene Tierney's green eyes.

...December 30th pays tribute to Russ Tamblyn, who I've been fortunate to see in person a couple times this year. Titles include my favorite film, SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS (1954), plus THE FASTEST GUN ALIVE (1956) with Glenn Ford and Jeanne Crain.

...On the 30th there's also a tribute to several actors who passed on this year, including one of my all-time favorite stars, the incomparable Deanna Durbin. One of her best films, IT STARTED WITH EVE (1941), will be shown.  Charles Laughton and Bob Cummings costar in this quite wonderful, very funny movie.

The complete December schedule is on the TCM website.

Happy December viewing!


Blogger Unknown said...

Hello from Imperial, MO!I just discovered your wonderful blog!!! One of my favorite movies "The Thrill of it All" is one I can watch over and over.I recently discovered the APP for TCM and enjoyed watching this classic film last night. Can't wait to follow your blog. Jaci from MO.

10:38 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks for your nice note, Jaci, and welcome! I hope you'll enjoy the site and talking movies with other like-minded classic film fans. :)

Best wishes,

7:08 PM  

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