Monday, April 05, 2010

TCM Star of the Month: Robert Taylor

Turner Classic Movies will begin celebrating Robert Taylor as Star of the Month on Tuesday, April 6th.

54 Taylor films will be shown in 24-hour marathons on April 6th, 13th, 20th, and 27th.

April 6th focuses on Taylor's work from the mid-'30s through 1941. The titles include classics such as MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION (1935) with Irene Dunne, CAMILLE (1936) with Greta Garbo, and WATERLOO BRIDGE (1940) with Vivien Leigh.

Other films shown on the 6th include THE GORGEOUS HUSSY (1936) with Joan Crawford, ESCAPE (1940) with Norma Shearer, FLIGHT COMMAND (1940) with Ruth Hussey, and WHEN LADIES MEET (1941) with Joan Crawford.

April 13th has a nice cross-section of Taylor's career, starting with mid-'30s films such as WEST POINT OF THE AIR (1935) and SMALL TOWN GIRL (1936) and running through 1950.

Notable films shown that evening include Taylor's turn as a villain in JOHNNY EAGER (1942) and two excellent film noir titles, HIGH WALL (1947) and THE BRIBE (1949).

Westerns are also shown on the 13th. I very much enjoyed AMBUSH (1950). Taylor's role in Anthony Mann's DEVIL'S DOORWAY (1950) is considered one of his best performances.

On April 20th several of Taylor's '50s epics will be shown: QUO VADIS (1951), IVANHOE (1952), KNIGHTS OF THE ROUND TABLE (1953), and QUENTIN DURWARD (1955).

Two of my favorite Taylor films air on the 20th: ABOVE AND BEYOND (1952), about the dropping of the atom bomb, and WESTWARD THE WOMEN (1951), a rather unusual, riveting Western. I highly recommend these films. (Update: You can read more about WESTWARD THE WOMEN in a new post at Riding the High Country.)

The Taylor festival concludes on the 27th with several more of Taylor's best films: THREE COMRADES (1938), A YANK AT OXFORD (1938), THE LAST HUNT (1956), and PARTY GIRL (1958).

Also showing that night are THE POWER AND THE PRIZE (1956) and SADDLE THE WIND (1958).

Curiously, one of my favorite Taylor films, ROGUE COP (1954), isn't on the schedule.

Another Taylor film, MURDER IN THE FLEET (1935), will be shown on May 11th.

Those who are unfamiliar with the underrated Taylor's work might want to try to catch a cross-section of some of the best of his diverse filmography, starting with WATERLOO BRIDGE, JOHNNY EAGER, HIGH WALL, DEVIL'S DOORWAY, WESTWARD THE WOMEN, QUO VADIS, ABOVE AND BEYOND, and PARTY GIRL.

Happy viewing!


Blogger becca said...

These look like some good movies. I've recently become a fan of Taylor, and I'm glad for this opportunity to catch some more of his films.

If you're interested in reading, I recently wrote a post about Robert Taylor.

1:39 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks for sharing your post, Amanda. I've become a big fan of Taylor over the last three years or so. As I actually watched his films my preconceptions of him as a handsome actor, but not much more, completely vanished -- what a fine actor, equally at home in lighthearted romantic comedies, on the frontier, walking the shadowy streets of film noir, or swashbuckling in period epics.

I also like that Taylor seems to have been universally liked and admired by his colleagues, as I wrote here.

I hope other fans of classic films will take advantage of this month's movies to become more familiar with Mr. Taylor's career.

Best wishes,

1:47 PM  
Blogger becca said...

I've seen a woefully tiny fraction of Taylor's movies: three - four if you count "I Love Melvin," in which he had a small cameo. I never really took much notice of him till I saw Johnny Eager, but now he's one of my favorite actors.

I think it's a great credit to his talent that he was so good in all of the genres that you mentioned. There have been a lot of good actors who mainly stuck to one type of film, but it's my opinion that the truly great actors are the ones who can hold their own in a wide range of genres.

I liked your review! Now I'm interested to read that book.

It's always nice to hear that an actor you like was well-regarded and liked by those around him, isn't it? It always makes me feel a little more justified when I say that I like an actor.

During March, I wrote a weekly review of a Ginger Rogers movie that TCM aired, and I think that I'm going to do the same this month with Robert Taylor's movies. Maybe that would encourage a few people to watch his films.

5:41 PM  
Blogger panavia999 said...

One of my favorite Robert Taylor movies is "Many Rivers to Cross". It's good fun. I wish they were showing that one too.

5:48 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

MANY RIVERS TO CROSS was a wild one! So many TV stars popped up in the cast, and it was fun to see recycled sets from my favorite movie, SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS.

Best wishes,

8:43 PM  
Blogger VP81955 said...

Robert Taylor is one of those stars who seems to have fallen through the cracks of time, perhaps because while he made a number of excellent films, they tend to be defined by their female stars (Greta garbo in "Camille," Vivien Leigh in "Waterloo Bridge"). In that vein, he was almost the MGM equivalent of Fred MacMurray (almost -- they were both fine actors, but their approaches were substantially different). The more I'm seeing of Taylor, the more I like him.

I should also note that in late 1936, Taylor appeared with Jean Harlow in "Madame Sans-Gene" on "Lux Radio Theater"; it would sadly be Harlow's only Lux appearance. Apparently, the crowds to get into the Hollywood Boulevard theater where Lux was being broadcast were so overwhelming police had to be called. Sure, much of that was due to Harlow, but I'm certain Taylor played a part in it, too.

2:40 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks very much for sharing your thoughts on Robert Taylor. That's an interesting theory. Like you, the more I see Taylor, the more I like him. I particularly admire the work he did from the late '40s on.

That's a great anecdote about the Lux Radio Theater broadcast. I acquired that show, along with many others, on a CD last year, but I haven't heard it yet. I have four other Taylor radio shows. Now if only I had more time to listen...

Best wishes,

2:43 PM  

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