Monday, December 10, 2018

Tonight's Movie: Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) at UCLA

Yesterday afternoon I had a wonderful time seeing one of my favorite movies, MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS (1944), on the big screen at UCLA's Billy Wilder Theater.

The 35mm screening was part of UCLA's brief series Holidays in the Movies.

I had previously seen this favorite film on a big screen eight times, at a variety of revival theaters in the Greater Los Angeles area; as a matter of fact, my very first big-screen viewing of the film was at the now-gone UA Cinema Center-Westwood so it was a bit of a full circle seeing it in Westwood once more, just a handful of blocks away from the original location.

The screening was also something of a "palate cleanser," as the last time I saw it was a disappointingly fuzzy digital projection in the Chinese Theatre at the 2014 TCM Classic Film Festival. It was thus especially marvelous seeing it yesterday in a lovely 35mm print.

As many viewers will already know, this 113-minute film is set in 1903-1904, depicting a year in the lives of the Smith family of St. Louis. For me MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS is rather like THE SOUND OF MUSIC (1965), a film so close to my heart that it's almost difficult to write about. Rather than a more traditional review, I'll share some random thoughts:

*One of the reasons I love this film is there is so much to look at in each and every frame, thanks to the beautiful work of director Vincente Minnelli, cinematographer George Folsey, the art and set decoration team, and costume designer Irene Sharaff. (Check out these fascinating photos of the sets!)

I sometimes think Folsey hasn't received enough recognition for his dazzling Technicolor work; just look at the shots of Judy Garland and Margaret O'Brien during "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." Exquisite. And what about the dissolve through the window as the camera moves from outside the Christmas Eve dance into the room?

*As fantastic as O'Brien is, I continue to believe that Joan Carroll was the movie's unsung "secret weapon." Every one of Carroll's line readings as Agnes is pitch perfect. And it's Carroll who gets to launch the initial singing of "Meet Me in St. Louis" at the start of the film, before O'Brien makes her memorable entrance riding on the ice wagon.

*For that matter, Lucille Bremer is quite perfect as the "old maid" Rose. But then, everyone in the cast is just right, including one-scene actors such as Hugh Marlowe as Col. Darly and Donald Curtis as Dr. Girard. I also really like Henry H. Daniels Jr. as Lon Jr.

*Like so much else about the film, the Hugh Martin-Ralph Blane score couldn't be any better.

*I was particularly struck this time around that the film's darker aspects -- Tootie's obsession with death, and the entire Tootie-Agnes Halloween sequence -- serve in an interesting way as a sort of "vinegar" to help keep the film from being too sweet or the characters too perfect. Which is rather funny considering the film's opening debate about vinegar vs. sugar in the ketchup!

*There are exactly five spots I always cry: The parents (Leon Ames and Mary Astor) singing "You and I" on Halloween; John Truett (Tom Drake) unexpectedly showing up at the dance; Esther (Garland) singing "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"; Mrs. Smith crying after Mr. Smith says they won't move; and Esther saying the movie's final line, "Right here in St. Louis." And yep, I cried in each and every spot yesterday, and then some.

*Thanks to my parents auditing a class MGM director-choreographer Charles Walters taught at USC, I once met one of the chorus girls who's in the party and trolley sequence! I still get a little thrill each time I spot her.

*At this writing there are at least three surviving cast members: Margaret O'Brien, June Lockhart, and Darryl Hickman. I've seen O'Brien and Hickman in person but to my memory have never seen June Lockhart.

Here are a handful of scans of stills from the film which are in my collection. Two of these scans also accompanied my obituary for Joan Carroll almost exactly two years ago:





For fans of the film, these two stills, apparently scenes cut from prior to the party sequence, have always fascinated me:



I wish footage would surface of these scenes, along with the cut Garland number "Boys and Girls Like You and Me."

I'd really like to particularly urge any readers who haven't yet seen this film to be sure to see it, and this is a particularly good time of year to do so. MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS is available on DVD, Blu-ray, and VHS, and there are also rental and purchase digital options.

Before the screening Mary Mallory and Karie Bible signed their terrific book HOLLYWOOD CELEBRATES THE HOLIDAYS: 1920-1970, which I reviewed in 2016.

They also did a lovely job introducing the movie. Karie asked for a show of hands if anyone hadn't seen the film before, and it was wonderful to see that this beautiful print would be the first viewing experience for some people in the audience.

MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS has my very highest possible recommendation.

Saturday, December 08, 2018

Tonight's Movie: A Man Alone (1955) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

Last year I shared the great news that one of my favorite Westerns, A MAN ALONE (1955), would be coming out on Blu-ray and DVD in 2018.

That time has now arrived, with the recent release of a beautiful print of the movie by Kino Lorber. It's described on the Kino Lorber site as a "new HD master from a 4K scan of the original Trucolor negative and positive separations."

As I wrote in my 2014 review of SADDLE TRAMP (1950), that film and A MAN ALONE were two Westerns I discovered and watched repeatedly when growing up. These relatively lesser-known films played a key role, alongside John Ford classics, in cementing my early love for the Western genre.

Although A MAN ALONE was a TV staple when I was a child, I went many years without seeing it. An used VHS tape purchased in 2005 proved to be such a poor print it was almost unwatchable. A much better print surfaced nearly a decade ago on the Encore Westerns Channel; in fact, that film's presence in the listings was a key factor which induced me to subscribe to that cable package. That's how much I love this film, a personal favorite over the decades.

Happily Kino Lorber's new Blu-ray is even better; I've never seen the film look so good! The Blu-ray print does an especially nice job showing off the lamplit scenes filmed by Lionel Lindon.

A MAN ALONE was star Ray Milland's directorial debut, and a number of historians I've read agree that it's also the best of the five feature films he directed. (I recently reviewed his second directing effort, 1956's LISBON, which is also newly available from Kino Lorber.) A MAN ALONE is a well-paced 96-minute film which takes place in three distinct acts, with the first half hour of the film being as close to a silent movie as one could come in 1955.

Milland plays gunslinger Wes Steele, who's stranded in the desert after his horse breaks a leg. He happens upon the scene of a horrific stagecoach massacre, and when he rides one of the stagecoach horses into the nearest town to report it, he's repaid for his help by being forced to shoot the trigger-happy deputy sheriff (Alan Hale Jr.) in self-defense.

The town banker, Stanley (Raymond Burr) -- who is the man actually responsible for the murders, as part of a robbery plot -- accuses Wes of the murders. Escaping the posse during a dust storm, Wes takes refuge in a cellar which happens to be the home of Sheriff Gil Corrigan (Ward Bond). The choice is fortuitous as the house is under quarantine due to the sheriff being ill with yellow fever.

Wes meets the sheriff's charming daughter, Nadine (Mary Murphy), and while she's naturally wary of the stranger who's appeared in her home, they gradually establish a rapport. The middle third of the film is basically a two-person character study as Wes and Nadine get to know one another and reveal much about each of their characters. When Wes misses a chance to escape in the night in order to help the exhausted Nadine tend her sick father, she realizes he's spoken the truth and is not a murderer.

The interplay of Milland and Murphy in this section of the film is quite delightful, as they each size the other up; Nadine is torn between seeing Wes as the rumored killer or the chivalrous man he actually reveals himself to be. There's an age difference between the two actors, but it's somewhat less pronounced on screen than one might assume from the actual numbers, and in the context of discussions Wes and Nadine have, the age difference and mutual attraction both fit and have always worked for me.

The last third of the film finds Milland confronting Stanley and fighting for his life and a future with Nadine. There's a beautifully filmed scene where Wes confronts Stanley late at night in the shadowy church.

The performances are uniformly excellent, including longtime character actor Arthur Space as the doctor. Milland's nonverbal performance in the first third of the film is particularly impressive; I've always been tremendously touched by his reaction when he finds a murdered mother and child at the stagecoach massacre site. Murphy is both sweet and spunky, and Bond is perfect as always as the sheriff.

A MAN ALONE's solid screenplay was written by John Tucker Battle, from a story by Mort Briskin. Filming took place on the Republic lot, with location shooting in Utah and Arizona.

For more on the film, my 2009 review may be found here.

The extras are led by a typically fine commentary by Toby Roan. (Character actress Minerva Urecal created her last name in tribute to her hometown of Eureka, California. Who knew?!) A trailer gallery for five additional Westerns available from Kino Lorber is also included.

Fans of Westerns and Ray Milland should make haste to snap up this release, as should those who simply enjoy exploring good little movies which aren't that well known today. Highly recommended.

Thanks to Kino Lorber for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray.

Tonight's Movie: Man of the People (1937) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

MAN OF THE PEOPLE (1937) is an MGM "B" picture just released on DVD by the Warner Archive.

Joseph Calleia plays Jack Moreno, a recent law school graduate struggling to make a living as an attorney in the poor New York neighborhood where he grew up. It's soon made clear to Moreno that unless he plays ball with the corrupt local political boss, William Grady (Thomas Mitchell), Moreno's career will go nowhere.

Moreno doggedly attempts to remain his own man, but when his clients keep getting sent to jail despite his best efforts at representation, he gives in and goes to work defending Grady's men. He later becomes Assistant District Attorney and is told by Grady he'll be named District Attorney, but when the time comes Grady backtracks on his promise.

Moreno tries to run for the DA position without Grady's support and loses, but the Governor (Selmer Jackson) puts Moreno to work going after some swindlers who own a machine they claim can find gold. Moreno's problem now is not the mob but his angry girlfriend Abbey (Florence Rice), a socialite whose mother (Catherine Doucet) is involved in the scheme. Abbey walks out on Moreno, but he's had his fill of being a political machine "yes" man and is determined to act with integrity pursuing crime going forward, even at the cost of the woman he loves.

The movie is moderately interesting; it's on the quiet side yet has enough in it, in terms of story and lead actors, to sustain viewer interest. The film is particularly interesting for the opportunity to see character actor (and frequent villain) Calleia as a heroic lead. Mitchell is always worth seeing, and I was glad to check off having watched another film starring the lovely and charming Rice.

The plot sort of jerks around from here to there, and it could have been better written; it also wouldn't have hurt to shave the 81-minute running time just a bit. For instance, there's a subplot with a neighborhood woman (Jane Barton) who has unrequited love for Jack which goes nowhere.

Despite my criticisms, overall I found the film worth checking out. I'm always glad when the Warner Archive makes such relatively obscure films available for home viewing.

Ted Healy is his usual annoying self as Grady's fixer who becomes a Moreno loyalist. The cast also includes Jonathan Hale, Donald Briggs, Edward J. Nugent, and Robert Emmett Keane.

MAN OF THE PEOPLE was directed by Edwin L. Marin and filmed in black and white by Charles Clarke.

The Warner Archive DVD print is quite good. The disc includes the trailer.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop or from any online retailers where DVDs and Blu-rays are sold.

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

TCM Star of the Month: Dick Powell

Actor-singer-director Dick Powell is the December Star of the Month on Turner Classic Movies.

39 Powell films will be shown on Thursdays, beginning during the daytime hours, continuing into prime time and overnight.

Powell is a particular favorite of mine -- my 2011 tribute to him may be found here -- so over the years I've reviewed a significant number of his movies. Below is the complete lineup; click any hyperlinked title for the related review.

Times may be found on TCM's online schedule.

December 6th

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM (1935)
THE KING'S VACATION (1933)
COLLEGE COACH (1933)
BLESSED EVENT (1932)
42ND STREET (1933)
FOOTLIGHT PARADE (1933)
GOLD DIGGERS OF 1933 (1933)
GOLD DIGGERS OF 1935 (1935)
GOLD DIGGERS OF 1937 (1936)

December 13th

HAPPINESS AHEAD (1934)
TWENTY MILLION SWEETHEARTS (1934)
PAGE MISS GLORY (1935)
HEARTS DIVIDED (1936)
SHIPMATES FOREVER (1935)
FLIRTATION WALK (1934)
COLLEEN (1936)
DAMES (1934)
STAGE STRUCK (1936)
BROADWAY GONDOLIER (1935)

December 20th

HARD TO GET (1938)
HOLLYWOOD HOTEL (1937)
CHRISTMAS IN JULY (1940)
YOU NEVER CAN TELL (1951)
THE SINGING MARINE (1937)
COWBOY FROM BROOKLYN (1938)
VARSITY SHOW (1937)
GOING PLACES (1938)
NAUGHTY BUT NICE (1939)

December 27th

SUSAN SLEPT HERE (1934) (also on December 23rd)
THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL (1952)
MEET THE PEOPLE (1944)
IT HAPPENED TOMORROW (1944)
THE REFORMER AND THE REDHEAD (1950)
MURDER, MY SWEET (1944)
PITFALL (1948)
CORNERED (1945)
THE TALL TARGET (1951)
STATION WEST (1948)
RIGHT CROSS (1950)

This is a wonderful, comprehensive list, although a few favorites are missing: JOHNNY O'CLOCK (1947), MRS. MIKE (1949), and CRY DANGER (1951). All three are well worth seeking out, though MRS. MIKE is sadly quite difficult to find.

Also not in the lineup are any films directed by Powell, including SPLIT SECOND (1953) and THE ENEMY BELOW (1957).

Among the movies being shown I almost have too many favorites to name. From his musicals era, the 1933 trio of GOLD DIGGERS OF 1933, FOOTLIGHT PARADE, and 42ND STREET can't be beat; I love his noir-tinged crime films set in the 1800s, THE TALL TARGET and STATION WEST; and among his comedies, the fantasies IT HAPPENED TOMORROW and YOU NEVER CAN TELL are especially delightful. (My review of YOU NEVER CAN TELL recounts that his directing career actually began with uncredited work on that film.)

This will be a great tribute on TCM, and I encourage my readers to check out as many of these films as possible for a marvelous overview of Powell's career.

For more on TCM in December 2018, please visit TCM in December: Highlights, TCM in December: Christmas Movies, and Quick Preview of TCM in December.

Saturday, December 01, 2018

Tonight's Movie: Little Women (1994) at UCLA

I had a really lovely afternoon today at UCLA's Billy Wilder Theater.

The four-film series Holidays in the Movies began today with a screening of a 4K digital restoration of the 1994 version of LITTLE WOMEN.

Louisa May Alcott's LITTLE WOMEN has been one of my favorite books since I was eight or so, and I have enjoyed multiple film versions many times over the years. My favorite has always been the 1933 RKO version with Katharine Hepburn as Jo, and I also very much like MGM's colorful 1949 version with June Allyson. A 1978 TV version with Greer Garson as Aunt March is another one I've enjoyed multiple times.

I saw the 1994 movie in a theater when it was first released, then again on DVD in the earliest days of this blog, back in 2005. I've always enjoyed this version, yet at the same time felt a certain reticence about it, due to the liberties it takes with the book, condensing situations (i.e., Beth receiving her piano from Mr. Laurence after her illness) and also having a somewhat "revisionist" feel, both in terms of feminism and a subtle emphasis on transcendentalism rather than Christianity.

That said, seeing the film today felt like a wonderful rediscovery. My hesitations still stand, yet at the same time this is a film of surpassing beauty; if one accepts the filmmakers' vision separate and apart from the book, it couldn't be more perfect. Simply put, the film wrecked me, in the best possible way. I don't know when I've last cried like that at a movie! It was truly wonderful.

I'm sure most readers are at least somewhat familiar with the story, about Meg (Trini Alvarado), Jo (Winona Ryder), Beth (Claire Danes), and Amy (Kirsten Dunst, later Samantha Mathis) March growing up in Concord, Massachusetts during the Civil War. Although they live in straitened circumstances with their father (Matthew Walker) away at war, they are rich in imagination and in their love for one another.

The girls are guided by their mother (Susan Sarandon), who emphasizes the development of their characters, and they put up with crochety Aunt March (Mary Wickes). Their best friend is the wealthy boy next door, Laurie (Christian Bale). In time, Laurie's tutor John Brooke (Eric Stolz) falls in love with Meg, and Jo will meet an impoverished German professor (Gabriel Byrne).

The movie at times is almost more a series of vignettes, touching briefly on various well-remembered scenes from the book, sometimes choosing to emphasize different moments than the prior film versions.

The performances are note-perfect, particularly Sarandon as Marmee, who could come off terribly preachy yet doesn't hit a false note. I love little gestures she makes such as the way she shakes her head as she and Jo talk about Jo not staying up too late. Her Marmee is the most fully realized mother of any of the versions, as interesting as her daughters rather than fading into the background. (That unfortunately is left, as always, to Walker as Reverend March, a character always relegated to the shadows; he's almost more important as an unseen story device, when he's wounded during the war, than when he's actually present.)

One of the greatest things about the film is its sense of place and mood. As I wrote back in 2005, this is really the only film version which conveys what it must have actually been like living in an uninsulated house during the winter in 1800s Massachusetts. The candlelight scenes are beautiful while also realistically conveying just how dim it could be with only that for light. (I also couldn't help thinking of fire danger, especially with several kittens running around!) Having had the good fortune to visit Orchard House, I love how much of the interior was copied by the set designer.

The film also captures that curious (to a Southern Californian, at least) dim light one finds in New England on a winter day. One of the things I remember about my visits to the area is how the light sometimes just looks a little different up there during the daytime, a little more gray, and photographer Geoffrey Simpson nails it.

LITTLE WOMEN runs 115 minutes. It was written by Robin Swicord and directed by Gillian Armstrong. The perfect score, one of the best in recent decades in my estimation, is by Thomas Newman.

LITTLE WOMEN is available on DVD, Blu-ray, and VHS. It can also be rented for streaming at Amazon.

The trailer is here.

The movie was introduced by Jeremy Arnold (seen at right), who signed his new book CHRISTMAS IN THE MOVIES before the screening. He shared that this film is one of his favorites in the book. I was fascinated to learn that Katharine Hepburn had been offered the role of Aunt March, but turned it down, feeling she could never compete with the job Edna May Oliver had done in 1933.

It's also rather delightful that, as Jeremy pointed out, Mary Wickes is known for two classic Christmas movies, THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER (1942) and WHITE CHRISTMAS (1954); this was her last feature film, and it has a pair of beautiful Christmas sequences.

Jeremy is introducing Christmas films with Ben Mankiewicz on Turner Classic Movies this weekend. Later in the month, LITTLE WOMEN (1994) will have its TCM premiere on December 16th, taking its place in the network's Christmas movie lineup alongside the 1933 and 1949 versions.

To close, a few more scenes from the film:







And a classic publicity shot:


Highly recommended.

TCM in December: Highlights

Somehow we've already arrived at the very last month of the year! It's time for a look at the Turner Classic Movies schedule for December.

Dick Powell will be the December Star of the Month. Over three dozen Powell films will be shown on Thursdays, starting December 6th. I'll have a complete rundown on the Powell tribute in a separate post a few days from now, including review links for a majority of the films. (Update: Please visit TCM Star of the Month: Dick Powell.)

December will see the return of Treasures From the Disney Vault on December 19th. Leonard Maltin hosts THE ABSENT MINDED PROFESSOR (1961) and several other films and cartoons. Additional info is below.

December's Noir Alley titles: Pat O'Brien and Claire Trevor in CRACK-UP (1946) on December 1st and 2nd, Lizabeth Scott and Dan Duryea in TOO LATE FOR TEARS (1949) on the 8th and 9th, George Murphy and Nancy Davis (Reagan) in TALK ABOUT A STRANGER (1952) December 15th and 16th, Ida Lupino and Robert Ryan in BEWARE, MY LOVELY (1952) on December 22nd and 23rd, and Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray in DOUBLE INDEMNITY (1944) on the 29th and 30th. The four films I've seen are all worthwhile, but I'm especially partial to the deliriously entertaining TOO LATE FOR TEARS, which I've seen several times. Don DeFore, Kristine Miller, and Arthur Kennedy are wonderful supporting Scott and Duryea.

As always, TCM is showing Christmas movies throughout the month. Full details may be found in my post TCM in December: Christmas Movies.

Here's a look at a handful of other wonderful titles on this month's schedule. Click on any hyperlinked title to read my review.

...African adventures on December 3rd include the wonderful KING SOLOMON'S MINES (1950), with Stewart Granger, Deborah Kerr, and Richard Carlson -- plus George Montgomery's WATUSI (1959), which liberally lifted footage from KING SOLOMON'S MINES. I'm not sure I've ever seen a film borrow so much footage from another; they even cast two men and a woman in the leads so they could use long shots of Granger, Kerr, and Carlson. WATUSI is something of a curiosity fans of KING SOLOMON'S MINES might enjoy checking out for that reason alone.

...A seven-film tribute to Doris Day on December 4th kicks off with the very enjoyable MY DREAM IS YOURS (1949), costarring Jack Carson. Doris sings the title song and "I'll String Along with You." Plus there's an appearance by Bugs Bunny!

...The TCM Highlights calendar describes the December 5th theme as "Just the Facts, "Ma'am." The lineup of crime films includes A DANGEROUS PROFESSION (1949) with George Raft, Pat O'Brien, and Ella Raines, MYSTERY STREET (1950) with Ricardo Montalban and Bruce Bennett, and CRIME WAVE (1954). The latter is one of my very favorites in the genre, starring Sterling Hayden and Gene Nelson;

...Pearl Harbor Day, December 7th, features some WWII films including THIRTY SECONDS OVER TOKYO (1944), with Spencer Tracy, Van Johnson, and quite a cast.

...December 10th features a birthday tribute to Una Merkel, a favorite of many classic film fans. The day's films include THEY CALL IT SIN (1932) with Loretta Young and George Brent, MAN WANTED (1932) with Kay Francis, and the MGM "B" nursing melodrama FOUR GIRLS IN WHITE (1939), costarring Ann Rutherford and Florence Rice. A good time guaranteed!

...The evening of December 11th there's a salute to the National Film Registry, showing five films preserved in the program. Titles include John Ford's wonderful STAGECOACH (1939) and the key Joan Crawford title MILDRED PIERCE (1945).

...A birthday tribute to Van Heflin on December 13th includes the superb ACT OF VIOLENCE (1949) which I just saw for the first time this year. Robert Ryan, Janet Leigh, and Mary Astor costar.

...The TCM Spotlight this busy viewing month is "Songs on Screen," featuring well-known songs which originated in films. Many of the films featured are from the '60s and '70s, but December 14th includes THE BLACKBOARD JUNGLE (1954), which opens with "Rock Around the Clock."

...A birthday tribute to director George Stevens on the 18th includes one of the very best -- maybe the best? -- Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers musicals, SWING TIME (1936).

...Divorce may be a sad topic but there are some wonderful films centering on that theme during the day on the 19th, including the fun WOMAN AGAINST WOMAN (1938) with Herbert Marshall, Virginia Bruce, and Mary Astor, and the superbly done melodrama IN NAME ONLY (1939) with Cary Grant, Carole Lombard, and Kay Francis.

...On December 19th Leonard Maltin hosts Fred MacMurray and Nancy Olson in THE ABSENT MINDED PROFESSOR and its sequel SON OF FLUBBER (1963). Also showing are some of Disney's live-action films from my childhood: THE WORLD'S GREATEST ATHLETE (1973), THE STRONGEST MAN IN THE WORLD (1975), and GUS (1976). I have fond memories of my grandfather taking me to see THE WORLD'S GREATEST ATHLETE along with several other Disney films over the years. (Incidentally, I'm wondering how Disney starting its own streaming service a year from now will impact the Treasures From the Disney Vault deal with TCM, if at all...I hope these wonderful evenings will continue!)

...Winter Solstice is celebrated on December 21st with a fantastic lineup of wintry films, including ON DANGEROUS GROUND (1951) with Robert Ryan and Ida Lupino and the comedy SNOWED UNDER (1936) with George Brent and Genevieve Tobin. Other titles include Bette Davis and Jim Davis in WINTER MEETING (1948), which might be described as an interesting failure of sorts, and Joan Crawford and Jimmy Stewart in THE ICE FOLLIES OF 1939 (1939). I find some of TCM's theming this month particularly fun!

...Boxing Day, December 26th, features seven Cary Grant films, including MR. BLANDINGS BUILDS HIS DREAM HOUSE (1948) with Myrna Loy and Melvyn Douglas and TOPPER (1937) with Constance Bennett. There's a pair of Hitchcock films as well!

...TCM pays tribute to the late Burt Reynolds on the evening of December 26th, with a six-film lineup including SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT (1977) and HOOPER (1978).

...The daytime hours on the 28th feature a lineup of films with "Broadway" in the title, including TWO GIRLS ON BROADWAY (1940) with Lana Turner and Joan Blondell.

...Later on the 28th, the "Songs on Screen" Spotlight features a favorite Esther Williams film, NEPTUNE'S DAUGHTER (1949). Williams, Ricardo Montalban, Red Skelton, and Betty Garrett introduced the Oscar-winning "Baby, It's Cold Outside." (Apparently the song has fallen from grace in some quarters but I personally refuse to take every last thing so seriously...and in the context of the film it's delightful, especially Garrett's comedic reprise.)

...The absolutely delightful comedy THE YOUNG IN HEART (1938) airs on December 29th. Janet Gaynor, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., and Paulette Goddard lead a wonderful cast. Plus the "Flying Wombat," a gorgeous car I was fortunate to see at the National Automobile Museum in Reno, Nevada.

...Join all four TCM hosts on New Year's Eve for an evening of MGM musical highlights starting with THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT! (1974).

Here's a short TCM promo video for December.

For more on TCM in December, please visit the online schedule along with my posts Quick Preview of TCM in December and TCM in December: Christmas Movies.

Merry Christmas and Happy New 2019!

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