Wednesday, March 02, 2016

TCM in March: Highlights

March 2nd was the final day of 31 Days of Oscar on Turner Classic Movies, so now it's time for a close look at the rest of the March schedule!

The programming in March in simply fantastic. For starters, Merle Oberon is the Star of the Month. Two dozen Oberon films will be shown spread over four Friday evenings. I'll have more on that aspect of the schedule here a bit later in the week. (Update: Please visit TCM Star of the Month: Merle Oberon.)

March also features another evening of Treasures From the Disney Vault and a St. Patrick's Day lineup, while a Thursday Spotlight series, Condemned, focuses on movies which were objected to by the Catholic Legion of Decency. For additional information on the Condemned series, please visit TCM's special microsite, where viewers can download the schedule, and check out Will McKinley's in-depth post at Cinematically Insane.

Below are a few of this month's highlights; click on any hyperlinked title for the related review.

...The initial night in the "Condemned" series on March 3rd includes classic pre-Codes such as BABY FACE (1933) and WILD BOYS OF THE ROAD (1933). BLACK NARCISSCUS (1947), the Powell-Pressburger film about nuns in the Himalayas, also made the evening's list.

...A birthday tribute to John Garfield on March 4th includes NOBODY LIVES FOREVER (1946) which I enjoyed at the Noir City Film Festival a few years ago. It's the story of a con artist who falls for a widow he plans to fleece. Geraldine Fitzgerald and Walter Brennan costar, directed by Jean Negulesco.

...Anyone who wants to know why Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy were beloved by so many filmgoers should watch NEW MOON (1940) on March 6th. I recently watched it again and was reminded that that film is pure joy, with wonderful humor and songs including "Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise" and "Lover Come Back to Me."

...The theme on March 7th is "Let's Go to Hawaii"! And yes, it includes HAWAII (1966), as well as musicals like Deanna Durbin in IT'S A DATE (1940), Esther Williams in ON AN ISLAND WITH YOU (1948), and Eleanor Powell in HONOLULU (1939). I'm quite fond of the lesser-known John Wayne film BIG JIM MCLAIN (1952), with James Arness and charming Nancy Olson in support. It's a bit clunky at times, but I really enjoy it; it seems at times like a precursor to HAWAII FIVE-0.

...Robert Osborne's picks on March 8th include back-to-back airings of films based on novels by Daphne DuMaurier, each starring one of Hollywood's famed Oscar-winning sisters, Joan Fontaine and Olivia de Havilland. Joan stars in FRENCHMAN'S CREEK (1944) while Olivia stars in MY COUSIN RACHEL (1952). As a side note, FRENCHMAN'S CREEK aired on TCM last month and sadly the print that was made available for screening was a pale shadow of the "Technicolor marvel" I saw in 35mm at UCLA two years ago. It is to be hoped that Universal will remedy that for the future.

...March 9th is Treasures From the Disney Vault night! The evening has a nautical theme, including the cartoons THE WHALERS (1938), SEA SCOUTS (1939), and MERBABIES (1938), plus 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA (1954), LT. ROBIN CRUSOE, R.N. (1955), and more. Leonard Maltin returns as host. This is a splendid series; long may it continue!

...Just a couple of days after the screening of FRENCHMAN'S CREEK (1944), TCM shows another classic Joan Fontaine film from 1944, JANE EYRE (1944). JANE EYRE costars Orson Welles, Margaret O'Brien, Elizabeth Taylor, and Peggy Ann Garner. It airs March 11th.

...I was recently impressed by MY PAL, WOLF (1944) when I had the opportunity to review the new Warner Archive DVD. This lovely family film, starring talented young Sharyn Moffett, airs on TCM Saturday morning, March 12th.

...TCM's day of "Jungle Movies" on March 14th includes everything from BOMBA AND THE JUNGLE GIRL (1952) to THE JUNGLE BOOK (1942) to...BLACKBOARD JUNGLE (1955) and THE ASPHALT JUNGLE (1950). That's some creative programming!

...George Brent's birthday celebration on March 15th would be a great excuse to call in sick, with great favorites such as THE PURCHASE PRICE (1932), MY REPUTATION (1946), and EXPERIMENT PERILOUS (1944), plus a few more. The man made so many good films!

...On March 16th there's an eight-film tribute to director Louis King, featuring interesting "B" titles such as ROAD GANG (1936) with Donald Woods, SONG OF THE SADDLE (1936) with Dick Foran, DRAEGERMAN COURAGE (1937) with Barton MacLane and Jean Muir, and SPECIAL INVESTIGATOR (1936) with Richard Dix.

...It wouldn't be St. Patrick's Day without a lineup of Irish-themed movies on TCM! This year the titles are THE IRISH IN US (1935), IRENE (1940), THREE CHEERS FOR THE IRISH (1940), THE DAUGHTER OF ROSIE O'GRADY (1950), YOUNG CASSIDY (1969), and FINIAN'S RAINBOW (1968).

...Ward Bond, Frances Dee, and the excellent child actress Donna Corcoran star in GYPSY COLT (1954) on Friday, March 18th.

...Anyone who hasn't yet caught the delightful sci-fi classic THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS (1953) has the chance on March 19th. Lee Van Cleef trying to shoot the monster dinosaur -- from atop a flaming roller coaster! -- is pure movie magic.

...TCM celebrates directors Nick Grinde and William Clemens on March 21st; even better, three of the films star lovely Jean Muir. Muir appears in Grinde's FUGITIVE IN THE SKY (1937) and WHITE BONDAGE (1937) as well as in ONCE A DOCTOR (1937) for director Clemens.

...March 23rd's primetime theme is "From Comics to Film." There's a terrific lineup of feature films and serials, including BATMAN (1943), SUPERMAN (1948), BUCK ROGERS (1939), and DICK TRACY (1937). Among other things, it's a great chance to show the superhero fans in the family how it all began on film.

...The Harold Lloyd classic SAFETY LAST! (1923) will be shown on March 26th.

...Easter Sunday films include THE KING OF KINGS (1927), Bing Crosby in GOING MY WAY (1944), and, of course, Fred Astaire and Judy Garland in EASTER PARADE (1948).

...PENTHOUSE (1933) is a pre-Code gem starring Warner Baxter and Myrna Loy; several of the people who worked on the film seem to have been warming up for THE THIN MAN (1934). It's part of a day of Warner Baxter films on March 29th.

...On March 31st TCM is showing the wonderfully entertaining SONG OF RUSSIA (1944), starring Robert Taylor and Susan Peters. The movie is wonderful and crazy all at the same time (sweet young Peters giving children lessons on making Molotov cocktails?!). As I wrote a few years ago, "I watched this film suspended somewhere between horrified disbelief and immense enjoyment." I've been hoping for a release from the Warner Archive!

...Late on the 31st are two very different, very entertaining films set in Paris, LOVE IN THE AFTERNOON (1957), a May-December romance with Gary Cooper and Audrey Hepburn, and RIFIFI (1955), Jules Dassin's superb film about a jewelry heist.

For more information on TCM in March, please visit the online schedule. Happy viewing!


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