Thursday, October 01, 2015

TCM in October: Highlights

It's time for a look at the October schedule on Turner Classic Movies!

David Niven is the October Star of the Month. Over three dozen Niven films will be shown on Monday evenings and Tuesday mornings. This month, with a busy weekend at UCLA ahead, I'll be folding a look at the Star of the Month titles into this post.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays TCM will be celebrating Trailblazing Women. Illeana Douglas will be hosting with a series of guests. The majority of the films being shown in that series fall outside my main areas of interest, as I discussed in July, so I'll leave it to others to cover that aspect of the schedule; I do want to note that October 6th will include films directed by pioneering women directors Dorothy Arzner and Ida Lupino. A special microsite with complete details on the series is here.

October, of course, also features plenty of scary movies, including a Halloween-themed evening of Treasures from the Disney Vault on October 28th.

Here's a look at just a few of the interesting titles airing on TCM this month. Click any hyperlinked title to read the corresponding film review.

...A day of Bob Hope films on October 2nd includes BACHELOR IN PARADISE (1961), worth watching for its candy-colored set and costume designs. Other Hope films airing that day include A GLOBAL AFFAIR (1964), which I reviewed this summer.

...An evening of films with a "wind" theme on October 3rd includes Joan Bennett and Fredric March in TRADE WINDS (1938), which is entertaining but must have set the all-time record for scenes filmed in front of back projections! Ralph Bellamy and Ann Sothern costar.

...Appropriately for October, "Silent Sunday Evening" includes Lon Chaney in THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1925) on October 4th.

...There are several good movies featuring Star of the Month David Niven on October 5th, including RAFFLES (1939), BACHELOR MOTHER (1939), and THE PRISONER OF ZENDA (1937). All are terrific films, with BACHELOR MOTHER, costarring Ginger Rogers, being an all-time favorite romantic comedy.

...I like Ginger Rogers and Frances Dee in FINISHING SCHOOL (1934), released at the very end of the pre-Code era. It's on October 6th. Bruce Cabot costars.

...There's a wonderful day of eight June Allyson films on October 7th, including THE SECRET HEART (1946) with Claudette Colbert and three films with Peter Lawford, TWO SISTERS FROM BOSTON (1946), GOOD NEWS (1947), and LITTLE WOMEN (1949).

...Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler star in COLLEEN (1936) on October 8th. Joan Blondell costars.

...I love train movies, and there's an entire day of them on October 9th, including Glenn Ford in TERROR ON A TRAIN (1953) and Dick Powell in THE TALL TARGET (1951).

...This summer I reviewed the Blu-ray release of Joan Leslie, Dennis Morgan, and an all-star cast in THANK YOUR LUCKY STARS (1943). It airs on TCM on October 10th.

...NEPTUNE'S DAUGHTER (1949), one of my favorite Esther Williams films, will be shown October 11th. Ricardo Montalban and Betty Garrett costar.

...It's another evening of David Niven films on October 12th: including Powell & Pressburger's A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH (1946), the holiday classic THE BISHOP'S WIFE (1947), the romantic drama ENCHANTMENT (1948), the WWII films THE FIRST OF THE FEW (1942) and THE WAY AHEAD (1944), and the frankly disappointing romantic comedy A KISS IN THE DARK (1949), the latter costarring Jane Wyman.

...I'm not very interested in many of the "newer" films airing on TCM this month, but I did enjoy Amy Irving in CROSSING DELANCEY (1988), about a career woman whose grandmother hires a matchmaker to set her up with a prospective suitor. Not a perfect film, but worthwhile. It's on October 13th.

...Robert Osborne's Picks on October 14th including a pair of wonderful films starring Gene Tierney, LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN (1945) and THE GHOST AND MRS. MUIR (1947). The latter film is especially appropriate viewing for October!

...You can't beat the cast in EAST SIDE, WEST SIDE (1949), a romantic melodrama turned crime drama: Barbara Stanwyck, James Mason, Ava Gardner, Van Heflin, Cyd Charisse, William Conrad, and Nancy Davis (Reagan). It's a wonderfully entertaining movie being shown on October 15th.

...Angela Lansbury's 90th birthday will be celebrated on TCM on October 16th, with seven films plus an episode of SCREEN DIRECTORS PLAYHOUSE. Films include NATIONAL VELVET (1944), THE HOODLUM SAINT (1946), and A LAWLESS STREET (1955).

...The Tim Holt film WESTERN HERITAGE (1948), which is not yet available on DVD from the Warner Archive, will be shown on October 17th. Nan Leslie and Richard "Chito" Martin costar.

...An evening of "Lost and Found" silents on October 18th includes Fatty Arbuckle in THE ROUND-UP (1920), which was the first Western filmed in Lone Pine, California. I may be seeing it at the Lone Pine Film Festival the preceding weekend.

...On October 19th Star of the Month David Niven is featured in AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS (1956), THE MOON IS BLUE (1953), and THE TOAST OF NEW ORLEANS (1950), to name just a few titles.

...The theme on October 22nd is "Let's Go to Scotland," including BRIGADOON (1954), the Lassie film HILLS OF HOME (1948), and THE GREEN YEARS (1946) with Dean Stockwell.

...I love that TCM has a day of Genevieve Tobin films on the 23rd! Titles include THE GAY DIPLOMAT (1931), EASY TO LOVE (1934), and BROADWAY HOSTESS (1935). I especially enjoyed the "country house" comedies THE GOOSE AND THE GANDER (1935) and SNOWED UNDER (1936).

...When I first saw RIDE LONESOME (1959) three years ago, it quickly jumped on to my list of favorite films. I believe I've seen it twice more since then, and it's pretty unusual for me to watch a film quite that frequently! This superb Randolph Scott Western airs October 24th. Pernell Roberts is so good you'll be sorry he ever set foot on the Ponderosa.

...The two Westerns in which Jeff Chandler played Cochise are being shown in primetime on Sunday evening, October 25th: BROKEN ARROW (1950) and THE BATTLE AT APACHE PASS (1952).

...David Niven films made from 1960 onward on featured on October 26th, starting with a good comedy costarring Doris Day, PLEASE DON'T EAT THE DAISIES (1960). GUNS OF DARKNESS (1962) and MURDER BY DEATH (1976) are among the 10 films on the schedule.

...There's a Halloween theme for the latest evening of Treasures From the Disney Vault on October 28th, which features THE ADVENTURES OF ICHABOD AND MR. TOAD (1949), ESCAPE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN (1976), and several other cartoons and feature-length films, including the classic cartoons THREE LITTLE PIGS (1933) and THE OLD MILL (1937).

...Jane Wyman, Richard Todd, Michael Wilding, and Marlene Dietrich star in the lesser-known but enjoyable Hitchcock film STAGE FRIGHT (1950) on October 29th.

...Val Lewton's CAT PEOPLE (1942), directed by Jacques Tourneur, is my kinda spooky. Simone Simon, Tom Conway, Kent Smith, and Jane Randolph star. Lewton and Tourneur's THE LEOPARD MAN (1943), starring Dennis O'Keefe and Jean Brooks, is also very good. Both movies are shown October 30th.

For complete details on TCM in October, please visit the online schedule.


Blogger Blake Lucas said...

For an Ida Lupino directed movie, they chose OUTRAGE (1951). A sensitive, beautiful drama (about rape and its aftermath so this is no mean feat!) that touches sublimity in the realization of its climactic outdoor dance scene. Just at the beginning of her career, Mala Powers was given the starring role and is superb under Lupino's guiding hand. (Equally effective, Sally Forrest is more often the heroine in those Lupino films). As I enjoyed some personal friendship with Mala in her later years, I kind of like to single her out in this.

Honestly, since the rule for this seems mostly to give each woman director one film, the very talented and less talented alike, my feeling is that this is more of some kind of feminist statement than an artistic one. For the record, Ida Lupino directed six films for her company The Filmmakers (though on the first NOT WANTED she is not credited) and they are all superb--I really wish sometime TCM would show all six in sequence and folks would see she was as great a director as she was an actress.

I personally consider David Niven's best performance to be in BONJOUR, TRISTESSE--a great Otto Preminger melodrama in which Deborah Kerr and Jean Seberg also shine. This is on October 19. Niven of course won an oscar for SEPARATE TABLES, released the same year (1958), and he's good in that too but it's a much more obvious and easy role (the same my be said of Kerr who is also in it)--the pathos beneath the charm in BONJOUR, TRISTESSE cuts so deep at the end with Niven that's it's palpable and is really a lesson in how an actor can take a well-worn persona and deepen it to stunning effect with years of experience. And I must say I like Niven very much too in 55 DAYS AT PEKING (1963), which is better than its reputation and is deeply imprinted by director Nicholas Ray (his last mainstream movie and a project he had nurtured) even though he fell ill and it was finished by others.

Unlike Laura (if I'm remembering this right), I have a deep fondness for ICHABOD AND MR. TOAD, which goes back to my early years of moviegoing as a boy, a time when I saw so many Disney films. I especially love THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS as adapted in this, as Toad is captured in all his manic (well, manic depressive) glory (voiced by Eric Blore).

1:29 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Blake, thanks so much for taking the time to leave such detailed comments, I always enjoy them and I know my readers appreciate them as well!

I recorded OUTRAGE the last time it was on TCM and hope to see it before too long. I enjoy Mala Powers (yet another actress I first knew from MAVERICK, where she did a Roger Moore episode); knowing that she was a friend of yours makes it extra-special. NOT WANTED is another I hope to see. I greatly admire Lupino and am very sorry I was unable to go see THE BIGAMIST tonight due to illness.

I saw SEPARATE TABLES many years ago, and it made an impression. I haven't yet seen the other two Niven films you mentioned and appreciate the recommendations. I recorded 55 DAYS AT PEKING to VHS from TCM quite a while back -- yet another I haven't caught up with.

Your memory is half right on ICHABOD AND MR. TOAD -- while I didn't care that much for the MR. TOAD section, I really enjoy the ICABOD story. I had childhood memories of seeing that part of the movie, though I wasn't familiar with MR. TOAD until I watched the Blu-ray a year ago, and I enjoyed revisiting it!

Best wishes,

7:46 PM  

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