Sunday, January 31, 2010

TCM in February: 31 Days of Oscar

I have to admit that February is my least favorite month in the Turner Classic Movies schedule, simply because I am already familiar with so many of the titles shown during the annual 31 Days of Oscar festival.

The Oscar schedule doesn't leave room for some of the lesser-known fare I love to seek out, although I have to say that in 2009 TCM did a particularly good job including more obscure Oscar nominees in their "college" themed series.

This year TCM's schedule was inspired by "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon," with the first movie on the schedule being a Bacon title. Each movie on the schedule is connected to the next by a common performer. Only on TCM would you find back-to-back Connie Gilchrist movies listed in the schedule! She connects the 1949 LITTLE WOMEN with 1942's TORTILLA FLAT.

The film which most intrigues me this month airs on February 4th: Mitchell Leisen's KITTY (1945), starring Ray Milland and Paulette Goddard.

KITTY is one of a number of Paramount films which have turned up on TCM's schedule recently; other examples are last weekend's screening of Olivia DeHavilland's Oscar-winning TO EACH HIS OWN (1946), which I recorded to watch at a future date, and today's showing of Fred and Bing in BLUE SKIES (1946). Another Paramount film, LADY IN THE DARK (1944) with Ginger Rogers and Ray Milland, is due in April.

Jack Benny and Ida Lupino fans may want to check out ARTISTS AND MODELS (1937) on February 24th. The last time TCM aired this film there were technical problems which resulted in a few minutes of the movie not being broadcast.

Jean Simmons admirers who missed last Friday night's tribute have the opportunity to record GREAT EXPECTATIONS (1946), which is airing in the wee hours on February 2nd. Simmons can also be seen in THE ACTRESS (1953) in the early morning hours February 8th and in ELMER GANTRY (1960) on February 27th.

The late James Mitchell can be seen in THE BAND WAGON (1953) on February 11th.

February is packed with fine movies so be sure to check out the schedule. I can only randomly list a few of the excellent films airing this month:

February 4th: Two marvelous military movies with Eleanor Parker as the leading lady, PRIDE OF THE MARINES (1945) and ABOVE AND BEYOND (1952). And don't miss THE UNINVITED (1944). The latter is another Paramount film and one of the best "spooky" movies ever made, with the added plus of the beautiful song "Stella By Starlight."

The 4th might be the best date on the entire schedule as THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD (1938), which I consider one of the greatest movies ever made, airs that evening.

February 5th: GOLD DIGGERS OF 1933 (1933), one of the very best examples of the Busby Berkeley pre-Code musical.

February 6th: A trio of actors named Robert star in the fine CROSSFIRE (1947).

February 7th: Don't miss FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT (1940) if you've never seen it, and you can also catch Hitchcock's other great 1940 film, REBECCA, winner of Best Picture.

February 8th: I thoroughly enjoyed SEVEN DAYS IN MAY (1964) last fall.

February 10th: TONIGHT AND EVERY NIGHT (1945), set during the London Blitz, is one of Rita Hayworth's very best musicals. I saw it three different times in a revival theater in the late '70s or early '80s. It's a crime it's not a better-known film. The movie costars Janet Blair, Lee Bowman, and Marc Platt (SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS).

PICKUP ON SOUTH STREET (1953) is also airing on the 10th. Richard Widmark and Jean Peters at their noirish best.

February 15th: THE SEA WOLF (1941) with a powerhouse trio of leads: Robinson, Lupino, and Garfield.

The little known THE WAR AGAINST MRS. HADLEY (1942) airs February 17th. And don't miss one of the best war movies ever made, THEY WERE EXPENDABLE (1945), directed by John Ford, with a little help from Robert Montgomery.

February 18th: JOHNNY EAGER (1942) is said to be one of Robert Taylor's best films, with an Oscar-winning Best Supporting Actor turn by the always-interesting Van Heflin.

If you've never seen ON THE WATERFRONT (1954), February 21st is the date!

February 22nd: Back-to-back Robert Montgomery films, THE DIVORCEE (1930) and NIGHT MUST FALL (1937). Montgomery received one of his two Best Actor nominations for the latter film.

February 25th: THERE GOES MY HEART (1938), with Fredric March and Virginia Bruce, isn't a classic, but it tickled my funnybone.

February 27th: STAGE DOOR (1937), starring Katharine Hepburn, Ginger Rogers, and a terrific cast including Ann Miller, Eve Arden, and Lucille Ball, is one of the very best comedies of the '30s.

March 2nd: My favorite movie, SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS (1954), airs this date.

March 3rd: I have a real soft spot for OPERATION PETTICOAT (1959), starring Cary Grant.

Click the title of this post for TCM's special 31 Days of Oscar "micro site."

Happy viewing!


Blogger Tom said...

Oh, "Seven Brides" is your favorite? Good choice!

4:58 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Yes, with MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS and THE SOUND OF MUSIC close behind. :)

What's your favorite film? It would be fun if others posted their choices here.

Best wishes,

5:15 PM  
Blogger Tom said...

My favorite is "It's a Wonderful Life", followed by "Some Like It Hot".

6:19 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Good #1 choice, Tom!

Would you believe I haven't seen SOME LIKE IT HOT yet? (So many movies, so little time, etc.!)

Thanks for posting your favorites!

Best wishes,

6:22 PM  
Blogger Tom said...

No, I can't believe it. Really!

7:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

These roundups of yours are wonderful, Laura. I hope you will continue them throughout the TCM year.

To join the "name your favorite movie" game (I think you may know my answer already): THE VOICE OF THE TURTLE, aka ONE FOR THE BOOK (1947). And there are many others close behind!

One game I like to fiddle at over a month of movie watching is to choose 27 "favorite" movies of the month: one for each letter of the alphabet, according to what I've seen and enjoyed most during that time period. For example, "T" stands for TWO ALONE (1934) this January.

I never have come across a classic movie whose title begins with "X," though... I've been employing a "numerical" slot instead: 7th HEAVEN, 42nd STREET, etc.

Like you, I'm looking forward to KITTY in February with eager anticipation. Perhaps that will be my "K"...


9:07 PM  
Blogger A said...

I usually hate when February comes around because TCM usually shows newer Oscar winners and of course the biggies. Seems like most of the time I take the month off. Thanks for highlighting some gems. Maybe I won't have to go without my beloved TCM for 31 days.

9:11 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thank you, Carrie! And I'm glad you contributed your favorite film title. :) It's sure a good one!

Have you seen A MILLIONAIRE FOR CHRISTY (1951)? I just read about it and it sounds like more Eleanor Parker fun, costarring Fred MacMurray and Richard Carlson.

I recorded TWO ALONE last month, as well as another Jean Parker her. I'm so glad to hear you liked it -- I'm looking forward to seeing it for the first time.

We'll have to compare notes on KITTY, which I hope to see soon after it airs.

Best wishes,

9:13 PM  
Blogger Tom said...

I never heard of any of these movies!

You guys are real geeks.

9:33 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

And proud of it, Tom! LOL. :)

Best wishes,

9:37 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Amanda, I'm absolutely delighted if I can help you find some unseen gems amidst the Oscar month. Isn't it funny that so many of us don't enjoy this month that much? Having seen previews of the March and April schedules at the TCM message boards, I can promise you those months will be worth waiting through February. :) In the meantime, I hope you'll enjoy some of the films I've spotlighted here!

Best wishes,

9:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello again, Laura!

No, I've never seen A MILLIONAIRE FOR CHRISTY, though I long to get my hands on it. Eleanor, Fred and Richard in a comedy: it does sound wonderful!

Was HAVE A HEART the other Jean Parker you recorded? Or did I miss one? RASPUTIN AND THE EMPRESS did slip by me this month...

I recorded TWO ALONE for Tom Brown and much as for lovely Jean Parker. Tom is my favorite actor, and he and Jean are so fresh and sincere in their roles, and in the romance they enact on screen. Theirs was a beautiful film.

I believe Tom and Jean made another film together in the 1940s or late '30s. Something about Annapolis? Have you seen it? Or heard of it?


10:48 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Carrie! We'll have to find MILLIONAIRE FOR CHRISTY. :)

Yes, HAVE A HEART is the title -- couldn't think of it earlier. RASPUTIN AND THE EMPRESS would have tied in nicely with SCARLET DAWN, which I watched tonight. I'll have to watch for RASPUTIN in the future. My younger daughter is in the midst of studying the Russian Revolution and has been watching various versions of the ANASTASIA story. :)

I think you must be looking for HELLO, ANNAPOLIS (1942). I'd love to see it; the title reminds me of a fun James Ellison-Marsha Hunt-Van Heflin movie, ANNAPOLIS SALUTE (1937).

So nice to hear from you -- please stay in touch! :)

11:07 PM  
Blogger jau said...

Laura, this summary is fantastic! Like you and the others, I usually dread Oscar Month on TCM because of all the time awasting when movies I want to see could be shown. But I guess this year will be tolerable - or better. Thanks SO much!!!

My favorite movie? Very hard to pick just one, as they say. "Marnie" is certainly up there as is "The Man Who Knew Too Much" (both Laughton and Stewart versions). But there are so many!

7:10 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

You're very welcome, Anne!

I loved MARNIE -- especially Sean Connery. :)

To date I've put off seeing THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH -- the child in peril angle is hard for me. But I'm going to have to try one or both sometime...I'm glad to know how much you like them!

Best wishes,

8:43 AM  
Blogger panavia999 said...

I wouldn't worry about "The Man who Knew too Much" with the child in peril angle. The kid is the MacGuffin in the plot.

Feb 2: "One Way Passage" 1932. Kay Francis & William Powell. The tragic shipboard romance and star crossed lovers tale that set the standard for the heroine with a fatal disease and a condemned man. It was remade as "Til We Meet Again" with Merle Oberon and George Brent in 1940. The remake is quite good, but the original is well - Kay Francis! This film was parodied on the Carol Burnett show. The doctor described the leading lady's disease as "the movie disease": an illness where, except for occasional sinking spells, the sufferer is all right until the very end and then dies in a few minutes without mussing the makeup.

Feb 3 - "The Thief of Bagdad". 1940. When I was a kid, I could not understand why the princess preferred Ahmad (John Justin) over Jafar (Conrad Veidt). I would have taken Jafar any day. My mother thought I was crazy. My preference for Jafar has not changed.

I agree that this February is pretty good compared to prior years. Usually "31 Days of Oscar" is my month to catch up on all those movies I recorded at 2AM in the morning.

5:17 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks for the feedback on THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH. That definitely makes it sound less threatening. In the past I have thought of poor Doris Day separated from her child, and the child in terror, and the mom in me just can't take it (grin). I'll try to think of the child as something more MacGuffin-ish when I see it!

I've really got to see both versions of ONE WAY PASSAGE! And I've never seen THIEF OF BAGDAD, either. Thanks for adding your viewing suggestions!

Like you, I always tell myself that in February I'll catch up on my recordings and unwatched DVDs!

Best wishes,

5:26 PM  
Blogger panavia999 said...

What *really* annoys me about the Doris Day version of the MWKTM is that her doctor husband gives her a shot of tranquilizers to stave off hysterics - BEFORE he tells her the kid has been kidnapped. Hitchcock preferred his remake but I prefer the original.
You have to see Thief of Bagdad! It's one of the all time greats! Also stars June Duprez, one of the most beautiful women ever on film, plus a fantastic music score by Miklos Rosza.

5:52 PM  
Blogger Dana said...

Oh, poop, I put this comment under the wrong post. Regarding Jean Simmons: my dad is 76 years old ad told me that his very first crush was on Miss Simmons!

9:46 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I love that, Dana. I wonder what films he saw where she caught his eye?

Best wishes,

10:36 AM  

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