Turner Classic Movies is starting off the year in fine style, with Fred MacMurray honored as the January Star of the Month.
Over 30 MacMurray films will be screened on Wednesday evenings, beginning January 6th. I'll have a close-up on the MacMurray schedule posted here next week. (Update: Please visit TCM Star of the Month: Fred MacMurray.)
This month's TCM Spotlight focuses on production designer William Cameron Menzies, with films every Thursday evening. There's a new book on Menzies by James Curtis, who previously authored a well-received biography of Spencer Tracy.
Here are just a few of the terrific things on TCM's January schedule! Click any hyperlinked title for my review.
M (1951), in which police and shadowy underworld figures work toward a common goal, finding a child killer (David Wayne). The film has a terrific cast including Howard Da Silva, Steve Brodie, Martin Gabel, Raymond Burr, and Norman Lloyd, and it also makes outstanding use of the famed Bradbury Building in Los Angeles.
...Robert Taylor, Maureen O'Sullivan, and Vivien Leigh star in A YANK AT OXFORD (1938) on January 3rd.
...I enjoyed CRIME BY NIGHT (1944), a "B" mystery starring Jerome Cowan and Jane Wyman, with Faye Emerson and Eleanor Parker in supporting roles. It's part of a day-long birthday tribute to Wyman on January 4th, one day before her actual January 5th birthdate.
THE FALLEN SPARROW (1943), which I saw at this year's Noir City Film Festival. The film boasts a trio of terrific leading ladies: Maureen O'Hara, Martha O'Driscoll, and Patricia Morison, seen with Garfield at the left.
...The January 5th schedule is devoted to films about scientists and doctors. The lineup includes two films I've reviewed in the last few months, SISTER KENNY (1946), starring Rosalind Russell, and THE GIRL IN WHITE (1952) with June Allyson.
...A tribute to Lew Ayres on January 6th includes a title that sounds fun, PANIC ON THE AIR (1936) with Florence Rice. The day includes some other fun titles including RICH MAN, POOR GIRL (1938) and THESE GLAMOUR GIRLS (1939).
...The first night of films featuring the work of William Cameron Menzies includes BULLDOG DRUMMOND (1929), ALICE IN WONDERLAND (1933), and SADIE THOMPSON (1928). The series starts January 7th.
...Actress Joan Leslie didn't receive a special TCM tribute when she passed on last October, so I'm delighted to see TCM honor her with a three-film primetime tribute this month. The featured films on January 9th are YANKEE DOODLE DANDY (1942) with James Cagney, THE HARD WAY (1943) with Ida Lupino, and THE SKY'S THE LIMIT (1943) with Fred Astaire.
...The birthday of Rod Taylor will be celebrated on January 11th. Seven films are on the schedule, including my favorite of the day, the most enjoyable romantic comedy SUNDAY IN NEW YORK (1963).
...The 80th anniversary of the Museum of Modern Art Film Archive is celebrated on January 12, 2016. The films shown were all restored by MOMA; the titles include DON'T BET ON WOMEN (1931) with Jeanette MacDonald, NEVER FEAR (1949), directed by Ida Lupino, and THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD (1938). DON'T BET ON WOMEN was a hit at the 2015 TCM Classic Film Festival, but I didn't get a chance to see it there so I really look forward to it.
...I could happily spend the entire day watching TCM on January 13th, featuring a 10-film birthday tribute to Kay Francis. I've seen a number of the titles, of which my favorite is MARY STEVENS, M.D. (1933), costarring Lyle Talbot, Glenda Farrell, and Thelma Todd. Great soapy pre-Code fun.
...The second night spotlighting the work of production designer William Cameron Menzies is on January 14th. Movies to be shown that night include THINGS TO COME (1936), OUR TOWN (1940), NOTHING SACRED (1937), and GONE WITH THE WIND (1939).
ClassicFlix; Bette Davis in THE LETTER (1940); Marsha Hunt in A LETTER FOR EVIE (1946); CAUSE FOR ALARM! (1951), a "housewife thriller" starring Loretta Young; and LOVE LETTERS (1945) with Joseph Cotten and Jennifer Jones.
...A great primetime tribute to Claire Trevor on the 15th includes excellent films such as STAGECOACH (1939), MURDER, MY SWEET (1944), and RAW DEAL (1948).
...Robert Osborne's Picks on January 19th include SPRINGTIME IN THE ROCKIES (1942), a delightful Betty Grable film I briefly reviewed back in 2006. John Payne, Cesar Romero, Harry James, and Carmen Miranda costar.
...Another "watch all day" theme on January 20th: "Myrna Loy in the '40s." The lineup features a pair of comedies with William Powell, another with Melvyn Douglas, THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES (1946), and two winners teamed with Cary Grant, THE BACHELOR AND THE BOBBY-SOXER (1947) and MR. BLANDINGS BUILDS HIS DREAM HOUSE (1948). The latter film also teamed her again with Melvyn Douglas.
...Preston Foster and Ann Dvorak star in WE WHO ARE ABOUT TO DIE (1936) on January 21st. I'm interested based on the leads alone! It's part of a lineup of films featuring character actor J. Carrol Naish.
...The third evening of William Cameron Menzies films, the evening of the 21st, has a diverse lineup including Hitchcock's FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT (1940), THE PRIDE OF THE YANKEES (1942), KINGS ROW (1942), THE THIEF OF BAGDAD (1940), and THE YOUNG IN HEART (1938).
...Character actor Charles Coburn is celebrated in the evening lineup on January 23rd, with titles including THE MORE THE MERRIER (1943) and GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES (1953).
...I'm fond of WESTBOUND (1959), an entertaining Randolph Scott Western directed by Budd Boetticher. It's on the 26th.
...I just realized today that TCM is showing Joan Fontaine in IVY (1947) on January 28th. Fontaine is chilling as a sweet-looking murderess. When I saw the movie at the 2014 Noir City Festival I described her character as "a casually homicidal, narcissistic woman." Fontaine could really do it all. It's an unsettling film but definitely worth a look.
DESIRABLE (1934) with George Brent and Verree Teasdale.
...Ella Raines is marvelous in PHANTOM LADY (1944), a thriller airing on the 31st.
...The month winds up on the 31st with a two-film primetime tribute to Ray Milland featuring THE MAJOR AND THE MINOR (1942) and THE LOST WEEKEND (1945).
There are many more great titles airing on TCM in January! For complete listings, please visit the schedule available at the TCM website.
Happy New Year!