Friday, September 30, 2011

TCM in October: Highlights

It doesn't seem possible that September has already flown by, but indeed it has, and so it's time to take a look at some of the treasures available in October on Turner Classic Movies.

First, though, some important news: it was announced in a press release yesterday that TCM host Robert Osborne returns to the air on December 1st. It will be great to have him back!

TCM has announced that critic Peter Travers and singer Chris Isaak will handle hosting duties from the 3rd through the 16th. There's no word yet on the hosts for the second half of the month.

The October Star of the Month is Buster Keaton, beginning Sunday, October 2nd, and continuing on four more nights through October 30th. Since my knowledge of both Keaton and silent films is very limited, I won't be doing a separate Star of the Month post this month. Needless to say, it's a great month for fans of Buster Keaton and for those who would like to learn more about his career.

TCM will also have a special centennial tribute honoring director Nicholas Ray, beginning on Tuesday, October 4th, and continuing each Tuesday through the end of the month. There are plenty of spooky movies on tap for October, as well as some very interesting tributes to Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Nina Foch, Zachary Scott, and cinematographer John Alton, not to mention an evening focusing on the first films made by four major movie stars when they returned from service in WWII.

Here are just some of the great titles ahead in October:

...Fans of Marsha Hunt -- and who isn't?! -- should be sure to catch the delightful little film THE AFFAIRS OF MARTHA (1942) on October 3rd. When I met Miss Hunt last April I had the opportunity to tell her this was one of my favorites of her films, and she said it was one of her favorites, too.

...On October 3rd, be sure to record THE VANISHING VIRGINIAN (1942), which I thought was an overlooked gem when I recently saw it on a Warner Archive DVD. 19-year-old Kathryn Grayson is delightful in this film which is a series of vignettes about her family's life in 1914. In some ways the storytelling foreshadows the much better known MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS (1944). The movie also features exceptionally fine performances by Frank Morgan and Spring Byington; it was directed by Frank Borzage.

...The first night of the Nicholas Ray tribute, on October 4th, includes BORN TO BE BAD (1950), a highly entertaining film with Joan Fontaine in the title role, ably supported by Robert Ryan, Joan Leslie, Zachary Scott, and Mel Ferrer. A good time watching this one is guaranteed.

...Our dog Chance's name was inspired by John Wayne's character in one of the greatest Westerns ever made, Howard Hawks' RIO BRAVO (1959). Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson, Walter Brennan, Angie Dickinson, Ward Bond, John Russell...what more could a fan of Westerns want? Nothing, absolutely nothing. It's on October 5th.

...There are a lot of great movies on October 6th, including a number of Carole Lombard films in honor of her birthday. One of the relatively unknown movies airing that day is THREE LOVES HAS NANCY (1938). Robert Montgomery and Franchot Tone are very amusing in this comedy.

...Saturday, October 8th, there's a five-film tribute to Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., featuring GUNGA DIN (1939), THE CORSICAN BROTHERS (1941), SINBAD THE SAILOR (1947), LITTLE CAESAR (1930), and THE RISE OF CATHERINE THE GREAT (1934). That's a fantastic lineup! (October 3rd update: According to a discussion thread at TCM, THE CORSICAN BROTHERS has been replaced on the schedule by 1930's FLIGHT COMMANDER, also known as THE DAWN PATROL.)

...October is perfect for a night of spooky Val Lewton movies, airing on October 10th. The films include I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE (1943), starring Frances Dee, and CAT PEOPLE (1942), starring Simone Simon.

...There are more great Nicholas Ray movies on the 11th. Don't miss Robert Ryan and Ida Lupino in ON DANGEROUS GROUND, a film which has begun to receive the recognition it deserves in recent years. Earlier in the day, Ryan and Lupino's other 1952 film, BEWARE, MY LOVELY, will be shown. I was fortunate to see it at the Noir City Film Festival earlier this year.

...I'm very partial to Doris Day and Gordon MacRae in ON MOONLIGHT BAY (1951), a charming musical set early in the 20th century. It has a feel somewhat akin to movies like CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN (1950), THE VANISHING VIRGINIAN (1942), or MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS (1944). (It even has Leon Ames from ST. LOUIS as the father!) ON MOONLIGHT BAY is showing on the 18th. Although it's not airing that evening, there's a sequel, BY THE LIGHT OF THE SILVERY MOON (1953).

...A tribute to the great cinematographer John Alton will feature six films on October 19th, including Ricardo Montalban in BORDER INCIDENT (1949) and Robert Cummings in Anthony Mann's highly regarded "French Revolution noir" THE BLACK BOOK (1949), also known as REIGN OF TERROR. Incidentally, AN AMERICAN IN PARIS (1951), for which Alton won the Oscar, is airing three days later as part of a tribute to actress Nina Foch.

...On October 20th there are a half dozen films featuring Zachary Scott. The evening kicks off with a movie I'm very excited to see for the first time, THE MASK OF DIMITRIOS (1944), costarring Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre. The titles that night also include what many consider to be one of Scott's best films, Jean Renoir's THE SOUTHERNER (1945). I especially enjoyed COLT .45 (1950), in which Scott's wild-eyed performance as a deranged murderer was said to perhaps have been influenced by his distraught state when his wife left him for John Steinbeck.

...October 22nd there's another of the month's six-film tributes, this time to Nina Foch, who passed on in 2008. The evening starts with AN AMERICAN IN PARIS (1951); it includes EXECUTIVE SUITE (1954), for which Foch received a nomination as Best Supporting Actress, and the terrific little Gothic noir MY NAME IS JULIA ROSS (1945).

...The early hours on October 26th are a lot of fun -- a whole bunch of hour-long movies starring the likes of Jane Wyman, Ann Sheridan, and Ronald Reagan.

...I love the theme on Wednesday evening, October 26th, "Actors Home from WWII." The four films shown that evening were the films made by four major movie stars when they returned from their service in WWII. The lineup starts with a TCM premiere, Tyrone Power in THE RAZOR'S EDGE (1946). Next is the film which had the tag line "Gable's Back and Garson's Got Him," ADVENTURE (1945). That's followed by Robert Montgomery starring with John Wayne in John Ford's THEY WERE EXPENDABLE (1945), a film on which Montgomery also did uncredited directing work assisting John Ford. The evening concludes with Robert Taylor's first postwar film, the mystery UNDERCURRENT (1946), costarring Katharine Hepburn and Robert Mitchum.

...I'm curious about COUNT THE HOURS (1953), part of a tribute to Teresa Wright on the 27th. It reunites Wright with Macdonald Carey, her costar in Hitchcock's SHADOW OF A DOUBT (1943) a decade earlier.

...I had a grand time watching THE TWO MRS. CARROLLS (1947) at the Noir City Festival. Humphrey Bogart plays a crazed wife killer, with Barbara Stanwyck his possible next victim and Alexis Smith waiting in line behind her. It's on the 29th.

...And on Halloween Weekend there isn't a better film to watch than THE UNINVITED (1944), a charming, moody "spooky house" movie with Ray Milland, Gail Russell, Ruth Hussey, and the unforgettable melody "Stella By Starlight." It's on the 30th...and in fact, you can also catch it earlier in the month, on the 10th.

Please review the complete schedule for information on all the other great movies being shown on TCM in October. Happy Autumn viewing!


Blogger Kristina said...

wow, OCT! I don't know where to begin, so many of my favorite actors and movies actually like EVERYone featured & listed, and lots of new (to me) stuff to look forward to. We share RIO BRAVO as an all time fave, Laura! I can watch that movie over & over. Eager for the Fairbanks Jr. too.

4:29 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

I agree, Kristina, so much great stuff! Glad to know you are a RIO BRAVO fan too. :) :)

Best wishes,

11:51 AM  
Blogger SimpleGifts said...

Thanks, Laura, for all the October screening tips. After our great visit last summer to the Lone Pine Film Museum and the Alabama Hills, you can bet we have our DVR set to record GUNGA DIN. What fun to watch and know that we were there "on location" -- ! Jane

2:20 PM  
Blogger KC said...

I'm glad to hear Osborne is on his way back!

6:52 PM  

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