Wednesday, September 05, 2012

TCM Star of the Month: Lauren Bacall

Turner Classic Movies will celebrate Lauren Bacall as the September Star of the Month beginning this evening, September 5th.

TCM will show 16 Bacall films on Wednesday evenings this month, as well as a couple of documentaries, BACALL ON BOGART (1988) and PRIVATE SCREENINGS: LAUREN BACALl (2005).

The series kicks off tonight celebrating Bacall's partnership with her husband, Humphrey Bogart, beginning with her very first film, TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT (1944). TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT is probably my favorite of their films together, with the classic mystery THE BIG SLEEP (1946) running a close second.

DARK PASSAGE (1947) and especially KEY LARGO (1948) are also very worthwhile.

Three films will be shown on September 12th: CONFIDENTIAL AGENT (19450 with Charles Boyer, YOUNG MAN WITH A HORN (1950) with Kirk Douglas and Doris Day, and BRIGHT LEAF (1950) with Gary Cooper and Patricia Neal. I haven't seen any of these titles and they all sound interesting, for the casts alone!

On September 19th the lineup is HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE (1953) with Marilyn Monroe and Betty Grable, THE COBWEB (1955) with Richard Widmark, BLOOD ALLEY (1955) with John Wayne, WRITTEN ON THE WIND (1956) with Rock Hudson, and DESIGNING WOMAN (1957) with Gregory Peck.

WRITTEN ON THE WIND is probably my favorite Bacall film airing this month. It's a delicious Douglas Sirk soap filmed in striking Technicolor. Robert Stack and Oscar winner Dorothy Malone costar with Bacall and Hudson. It's a very memorable film which is well worth checking out.

It's been a few years since I last saw HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE or DESIGNING WOMAN, but I remember the former film as being fun and the latter movie as somewhat disappointing, given that it was directed by Vincente Minnelli. That said, I don't remember DESIGNING WOMAN well so it would be a good title to give a fresh look.

The final Bacall night, on September 26th, features THE GIFT OF LOVE (1958) with Robert Stack, SEX AND THE SINGLE GIRL (1964) with Natalie Wood, Tony Curtis, and Henry Fonda, HARPER (1966) with Paul Newman and Janet Leigh, and MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS (1974), which features an all-star cast.

For more on TCM in September, please visit my post TCM in September: Highlights or review the complete online schedule.


Blogger Melissa Clark said...

"Designing Woman" is only so-so, in my opinion, but it's worth watching because the costumes by Helen Rose are so wonderful! Lauren Bacall wears the most elegant clothes in her role as a fashion designer. :)


2:59 PM  
Blogger Dave Enkosky said...

I don't if Written on the Wind is my favorite of these but it's close. Maybe between that Key Largo and The Big Sleep.

5:16 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks for the feedback, MC and Dave!

I love Helen Rose's work, MC, I'm glad you reminded me she did the costumes on DESIGNING WOMAN. That's a good reason right there to take another look.

Best wishes,

8:43 PM  
Blogger Blake Lucas said...

Helen Rose also provided the story idea (sports writer marries fashion designer) for DESIGNING WOMAN. Guess I'll have to take up for it a little, at least to encourage another look. I admit I'm ardent for Vincente Minnelli, and maybe more so than most, but let's face it, isn't there inspiration, sometimes a great deal, in even his most minor movies? And this isn't--not one of his greatest either, it's somewhere in the middle for me; it's a funny, imaginative and stylish film. Bacall's co-star Gregory Peck used to say he wished he'd been given more comedies like this one instead of all the stolid hero roles he had (though later acknowledged he'd actually had a considerable range of characters and couldn't complain). Anyway, for those who like Tracy/Hepburn movies, this especially recalls WOMAN OF THE YEAR and that's good but I have to say this is better.

Laura, I agree with you about WRITTEN ON THE WIND--it's my favorite of all these too, a masterpiece. But as someone who has actually watched and enjoyed my share of soap opera--daytime drama, which is the real thing, as well as nighttime soaps like DALLAS--may I gently suggest that "soap" is not the right word for this or other Sirk films. He himself rightly considered these movies Melodramas, meaning the word in the classic and formal sense, and they are best appreciated that way. Melodrama is a genre, just like musicals, comedies, Westerns, et al., and much more of one than the often imprecise "film noir" that gets casually attached to so many films, and WRITTEN ON THE WIND almost defines the word.

Laura, I hope your recovery from surgery is going well and that you are better each day.

12:14 AM  
Blogger Blake Lucas said...

Hmm, looking back I see that THE COBWEB is also one of the Bacall films showing this month.

Just to tie together the two I previously commented on, this excellent and fascinating movie is another one directed by Vincente Minnelli only it's not a comedy but a...melodrama, and another key 50s one though I wouldn't place it quite on a level of WRITTEN ON THE WIND. Great cast includes not only Widmark and Bacall but Gloria Grahame, Charles Boyer, Lillian Gish, John Kerr, Susan Strasberg and (for me his best role almost to the extent that he steals the show even though it's not a big part) Oscar Levant.

12:21 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Blake, as always, your comments are so appreciated! If I ever knew that Helen Rose had created the story for DESIGNING WOMAN, that certainly slipped through the memory banks; how interesting! The Helen Rose contributions and your comments have definitely caused me to put this on my reminder list of films to re-watch.

Like you, I'm a big Minnelli fan, and I've yet to see THE COBWEB. In fact, reviewing his filmography, I've seen every single Minnelli musical except I DOOD IT (better put that one on my list to fill in soon!); my Minnelli gaps are in the area of dramas such as THE COBWEB and SOME CAME RUNNING. I love Richard Widmark so COBWEB sounds very interesting.

Liked your thoughts on the melodrama genre, too! This discussion is causing me to want to dip into my shelf of the Sirk Criterion releases and watch those again, too! I'm never going to run out of great stuff to watch, that's for sure! :)

Best wishes,

8:01 AM  

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