Thursday, February 02, 2012

TCM in February: 31 Days of Oscar

Happy Groundhog Day! Yes, it's February already!

I'm a day behind owing to a busy schedule this week, and it's time to check out the offerings in the 31 Days of Oscar Festival which began yesterday on Turner Classic Movies. Since it's Leap Year, the festival ends this year on March 2nd.

The February schedule can be found here, and be sure to check out TCM's special microsite celebrating the month's "travel" theme.

Here's a few of the month's highlights:

...Tomorrow, February 3rd, Virginia Bruce stars with John Barrymore in Universal's THE INVISIBLE WOMAN (1940), one of 27 films making its TCM premiere in February.

...Tomorrow evening, February 3rd, the 20th Century-Fox film THE RAINS CAME (1939) will be shown. Fox's Tyrone Power stars with two actors typically associated with other studios in that era, Myrna Loy (MGM) and George Brent (Warner Bros.). The movie won the Oscar for Best Special Effects.

...The evening of February 4th the focus is Britain in WWII, with Tyrone Power and Betty Grable in A YANK IN THE R.A.F. (1941), Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon in MRS. MINIVER (1942), and Irene Dunne in THE WHITE CLIFFS OF DOVER (1944).

...THE V.I.P.S (1963), showing in the wee hours early on February 6th, has an interesting cast: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Rod Taylor, Louis Jourdan, Maggie Smith, Margaret Rutherford, and Orson Welles.

...Later February 6th I'll be recording the Powell-Pressburger film ONE OF OUR AIRCRAFT IS MISSING (1942), starring Eric Portman (MILLIONS LIKE US). It's about a British bomber shot down behind enemy lines and how the crew was aided by members of the Dutch underground.

...February 7th I'm interested in John Farrow's THE COMMANDOS STRIKE AT DAWN (1942), starring Paul Muni, Anna Lee, and Lillian Gish.

...I'm quite excited that the original STATE FAIR (1933) will be shown on February 8th. This Fox film stars Will Rogers, Janet Gaynor, Lew Ayres, and Norman Foster.

...There are a significant number of 20th Century-Fox films on TCM this month. One is SECOND FIDDLE (1939), a lovely piece of escapism starring Tyrone Power and Sonja Henie, with a score by Irving Berlin. It airs on the 9th.

...John Wayne, Montgomery Clift, Joanne Dru, Walter Brennan, and Coleen Gray star in RED RIVER (1948), also on the 9th. The great supporting cast of this Howard Hawks film includes Harry Carey Sr., Harry Carey Jr., Noah Beery Jr., John Ireland, and Paul Fix.

...The engrossing Douglas Sirk soaper WRITTEN ON THE WIND (1956), with its vivid colors and memorable title sequence, airs later on the 9th. It stars Rock Hudson, Lauren Bacall, Robert Stack, and Oscar winner Dorothy Malone, who turned 87 last Monday.

...Zachary Scott gave a highly regarded performance in Jean Renoir's THE SOUTHERNER (1945), about a poor sharecropping family. Betty Field plays his wife. It will be shown February 10th.

...Another TCM premiere is THE BEST OF EVERYTHING (1959) on February 11th. This story of three secretaries, played by Hope Lange, Suzy Parker, and Diane Baker, sounds as though it might be reminiscent of director Jean Negulesco's THREE COINS IN THE FOUNTAIN (1954).

...Those who've not caught John Ford's THEY WERE EXPENDABLE (1945) on a previous showing have another chance on February 15th. One of the finest WWII films ever made, it stars John Wayne, Donna Reed, and Robert Montgomery, who assisted Ford with directing duties.

...Gene Tierney, George Sanders, Bruce Cabot, Harry Carey and Joseph Calleia star in SUNDOWN (1941), directed by Henry Hathaway, on February 16th.

...An all-star cast stars in Edmund Goulding's THE RAZOR'S EDGE (1946), which is on my list of 10 classics to see this year. It stars Tyrone Power, Gene Tierney, John Payne, Anne Baxter, Herbert Marshall, and Clifton Webb. The air date is February 19th.

...Claudette Colbert, Miriam Hopkins, and Maurice Chevalier star in the Ernst Lubitsch film THE SMILING LIEUTENANT (1931) on February 20th. I've heard good things about this film, and in fact own it on DVD, but it's one film among many I still need to catch up with!

...I'm very fond of the bright, colorful DOWN ARGENTINE WAY (1940), starring Don Ameche and Betty Grable. It features a great dance by the Nicholas Brothers. It's shown February 21st.

...THE MORE THE MERRIER (1943) is one of my very favorite comedies. It stars Joel McCrea, Jean Arthur, and Charles Coburn. Don't miss it on February 22nd!

...George Folsey was Oscar-nominated for his Technicolor cinematography of ALL THE BROTHERS WERE VALIANT (1953), a seafaring tale starring three favorites, Robert Taylor, Ann Blyth, and Stewart Granger. It also has an excellent score by Miklos Rozsa. It will be shown February 23rd.

...I've become a fan of Brian Aherne, who stars with Victor McLaglen and Paul Lukas in CAPTAIN FURY (1938) on February 24th.

...Also showing on the 24th: ARIZONA (1940) with Jean Arthur, William Holden, and Warren William.

...February 27th is one of my favorite days on the schedule. It includes BOOMERANG! (1947), the excellent "procedural" film noir starring Dana Andrews; George Sanders and Vincent Price in THE HOUSE OF THE SEVEN GABLES (1940), a Universal film making its debut on TCM; Rene Clair's I MARRIED A WITCH (1942), which is overdue for a release on DVD; and another Fox premiere, COME TO THE STABLE (1949), the story of nuns struggling to build a hospital, which is charming but not cloying. Loretta Young and Celeste Holm star in COME TO THE STABLE, with a great supporting cast including Elsa Lanchester, Basil Ruysdael, Dorothy Patrick, Hugh Marlowe, Regis Toomey, Dooley Wilson, and Thomas Gomez. It was nominated for seven Oscars.

...Another TCM premiere is BLOCKADE (1938), airing February 28th and starring Henry Fonda and Madeleine Carroll.

...One of my favorite films of the '80s is THE RIGHT STUFF (1983), the terrific film about the early days of the U.S. space program, with a great cast including Dennis Quaid, Scott Glenn, Ed Harris, and Sam Shepard. Mary Jo Deschanel, who plays Annie Glenn, is the mother of Emily (BONES) and Zooey (NEW GIRL); Mary Jo's husband Caleb Deschanel was Oscar-nominated for his RIGHT STUFF cinematography. It's on the festival's closing night, March 2nd.

There are definitely a number of nice premieres this month, though I miss the "B" movies and smaller discoveries which make TCM so special. Those who share my feeling that February is the least interesting month on the TCM schedule will enjoy the conversation on this topic at Immortal Ephemera.

For more tips on what to watch on TCM this month, visit Shadows and Satin, where Karen recommends THE GUARDSMAN (1931), airing on February 21st, and Caftan Woman, who recommends John Ford's THE LONG VOYAGE HOME (1940) on February 7th.

Happy viewing!


Blogger Blake Lucas said...

You don't want to miss THE SOUTHERNER, Laura--no one should miss that gem.

And will have to add that THE BEST OF EVERYTHING is reminiscent of THREE COINS IN THE FOUNTAIN in that "three girls" formula that Negulesco used a number of times but is the finest of those films. A masterful melodrama and for me the best film of this director, with wonderful performances as the girls by Hope Lange, Diane Baker, and Suzy Parker and unforgettable music by Alfred Newman.

Of films discussed here earlier that have played on TCM I find myself hoping you did not forget THE EXILE after your gracious words about Douglas Fairbanks Jr.--they showed a beautiful restoration of this and hope it will be more widely seen. It seems it does have a lot of ardent admirers of those who do know it.

8:15 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks for the feedback, Blake! THE SOUTHERNER sounds great, especially as I'm a fan of Zachary Scott.

Thanks for the endorsement of THE BEST OF EVERYTHING, it sounds like my kind of movie, especially as I've enjoyed many Negulesco films. Thanks also for your mention of the three girls -- I've corrected my description and swapped Suzy Parker's name for Martha Hyer's. Thanks!

I did record THE EXILE, thank you! I noticed when I recorded it that they even showed an alternate ending on TCM, which impressed me. I look forward to it! There are so many movies I'd love to watch "next," always hard to choose!

Best wishes,

10:05 PM  
Blogger Blake Lucas said...

Yes, I mentioned THE SOUTHERNER because it came up before in context of Zachary Scott. For once you'll get to see him as an unambiguous good guy, a family man and quietly heroic. Needless to say, Scott is just as good as in his bad guy roles.

I hadn't noticed you had put in Hyer's name for Parker. She does have a significant role in the film but is not one of the three girls--Lange, Baker and Parker play roommates and their stories parallel throughout. I'll be interested to see what you say about this if you decide to write about it after seeing it.

Those who watch THE EXILE should definitely stick around for that alternate ending, which was the way Ophuls wanted it. The ending is not changed is substance of what happenes in the story and he did shoot what is there in the released version, so it is satisfying as it is. But that original (now alternate) ending is even better.

11:46 AM  
Blogger Crocheted Lace said...

The Right Stuff : In the early 80's I worked at a local hotel. They were filming bits of "The Right Stuff" in the ocean. The film crew stayed at the hotel. One day, one of the head honchos on the shoot came in with a short skinny man in tight jeans and said to two of us at the desk: "I want to introduce you to So-and-So." The name didn't ring any bells and I certainly don't remember it. We politeley said "How do you do." There was a long pause. I said, "Can I do anything for you?" They said no thanks and moved on. We said to each other, "What was that about? I think we were supposed to be impressed."
Eventually I saw the movie and the scenes filmed in our local ocean and thought maybe they introduced one of the stars to us, trying to brighten our shabby small town lives and we didn't even know who he was! Then as now, I only knew actors from before 1960.

3:24 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Your descriptions of all three films are very appealing, Blake! Love the description of Scott's character in THE SOUTHERNER. He didn't get to play nice guys very often and it's always a pleasure when he does.

Crocheted Lace, thanks very much for sharing that fun anecdote about THE RIGHT STUFF!

Best wishes,

3:29 PM  
Blogger Citizen Screen said...


Great recap of the TCM month to come. Too many notables to discuss in detail. But I am curious (and excited) as to why there will be so many premieres this month. Are these from the 20th Century Fox library? Seems a high number for one month. Or perhaps is not unusual and I haven't paid attention before.

Thanks - look forward to all your posts!


9:27 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Aurora! There are definitely a lot of premieres -- some are from 20th Century-Fox and also Universal and United Artists.

There seem to be more Fox films than usual in the weeks to come -- I wonder if there's any connection with the changes at Fox Movie Channel, including a cutback in the classic titles shown there.

Thank you so much for the positive feedback, it means a lot to know you are enjoying the blog!

Best wishes,

9:57 PM  
Blogger Browniesmoke said...

We just watched "The More the Merrier" last night, which we taped on your recommendation. From the first moments, we had the odd sensation that we've seen it before. After more than half the movie progressed, we realized it is an almost identical remake (or rather, "premake,' in the order that we watched them!) of "Walk Don't Run." It was really an odd sensation. We did enjoy both very much!

4:16 AM  

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