Wednesday, January 02, 2013

TCM Star of the Month: Loretta Young

Actress Loretta Young was born January 6, 1913, and this month Turner Classic Movies honors Young's centennial by featuring her as the Star of the Month.

Young is one of my favorite actresses, whom I wrote about at some length in a birthday tribute last year.

TCM's January schedule will feature 38 Young films spread over five Wednesday evenings, beginning tonight, January 2nd.

The 10 films which begin tonight and play on into Thursday morning include some very interesting titles from the early years of Loretta's career, starting with the silent Lon Chaney film LAUGH, CLOWN, LAUGH (1928). PLATINUM BLONDE (1931) and LIFE BEGINS (1932) are among the pre-Codes shown, but of the titles I've seen, my pick of the night is TAXI! (1932), in which the young, glamorous Loretta plays James Cagney's girlfriend.

The lineup is even better on January 9th, starting with one of the more notorious pre-Code titles, EMPLOYEES' ENTRANCE (1933), which stars Warren William as Loretta's completely amoral employer. Titles previously reviewed here airing on the 9th include BORN TO BE BAD (1934), PLAY-GIRL (1932), and THEY CALL IT SIN (1932), which I especially enjoyed.

For my money the two must-sees on the 9th are MIDNIGHT MARY (1933), directed by William Wellman, which is possibly my favorite Loretta film of all time, and SHE HAD TO SAY YES (1933), simply because it's so completely outrageous in its attitudes toward women. As one reviewer at IMDb wrote of SHE HAD TO SAY YES, "Having seen lots of pre-Code films over the years, I have to say this was the first time I held my hand over my mouth and gasped." SHE HAD TO SAY YES really has to be seen to be believed. And circling back to MIDNIGHT MARY, it's simply a remarkable performance by the young actress, costarring with Franchot Tone and Ricardo Cortez. Don't miss it.

On January 16th the lineup ranges from more pre-Codes, including THE LIFE OF JIMMY DOLAN (1933) opposite Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and A MAN'S CASTLE (1933) with Spencer Tracy, to a pair of her films from 1938, SUEZ and KENTUCKY. Young's frequent costar Tyrone Power also appeared in SUEZ, while KENTUCKY was one of three films for which Walter Brennan won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar in the course of his career. Richard Greene also stars.

There are some charming comedies scheduled on January 23rd, starting with THE DOCTOR TAKES A WIFE (1940) opposite Ray Milland, BEDTIME STORY (1941) with Fredric March, and WIFE, HUSBAND AND FRIEND (1939) costarring Warner Baxter.

On this particular evening a film I especially enjoy is the spooky comedy A NIGHT TO REMEMBER (1943), which costars Brian Aherne.

The lineup wraps up with another pair of pre-Codes including WEEK-END MARRIAGE (1932). Loretta's leading man, Norman Foster, would later marry her sister, Sally Blane, and in 1948 he directed Loretta in the fine Western RACHEL AND THE STRANGER (1948), which is one of the films scheduled for January 30th.

Also playing on the 30th: the delightful THE FARMER'S DAUGHTER (1947), which netted Loretta her Academy Award as Best Actress; the nailbiting suspense film THE STRANGER (1946) opposite Orson Welles and Edward G. Robinson; the very cute comedy ALONG CAME JONES (1945), in which she and costars Gary Cooper and Dan Duryea overcome some really bad back projections with their charming performances; KEY TO THE CITY (1950) costarring Clark Gable, the father of her secret daughter, Judy; the excellent "housewife noir" CAUSE FOR ALARM! (1951), with Barry Sullivan as her dastardly husband; and finally THE UNGUARDED HOUR (1936), a good crime drama costarring Franchot Tone.

Unfortunately there are numerous titles from Loretta's career at 20th Century-Fox which aren't part of the festival, including RAMONA (1936), THREE BLIND MICE (1938), THE STORY OF ALEXANDER GRAHAM BELL (1939), and four of her films with Tyrone Power. Also missing are her '40s films for Universal and Paramount, such as THE LADY FROM CHEYENNE (1941), CHINA (1943), LADIES COURAGEOUS (1944), and AND NOW TOMORROW (1944). However, given that films from those studios are expensive for TCM to license, the channel has worked around these limitations to round up many titles which are a good representation of Young's prolific career. I'm especially glad that TCM has made the effort to celebrate Young's centennial, as she is so greatly deserving of the honor.

There's more on Loretta as Star of the Month, along with some great photos, in Cliff's post at Immortal Ephemera.

For more information regarding what's airing on TCM this month, please visit TCM in January: Highlights.


Blogger Melissa Clark said...

Thanks for this, Laura. I'd been trying to decide what Loretta Young films to set my DVR to record, and this gives me some good ideas. :-)

Happy New Year!

7:15 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi MC,

Thanks so much for reading, hope you find some good Loretta movies to record this month. Be sure to check out MIDNIGHT MARY if you haven't seen it before. :) Loretta's character there is so different from the types of roles she would play in later years in her career, it's really interesting to see the "pre-Code Loretta."

Best wishes,

11:17 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

Hey Laura - have you had the chance to go over to UCLA's library and watch Loretta in 'The White Parade'? It's standard Loretta fare, but it's a BP nominee and UCLA is the only place it can be seen. Also, I just purchased a boot of her in 'The Men in Her Life,' but I haven't had the chance to look at it yet — I have high hopes. Thanks for the heads up on the juicy pre-codes, I'm setting the DVR!

10:14 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Mark!

I haven't done that, it sounds wonderful! I wonder if it's a title UCLA will ever show in their theater. If I ever started exploring their library it would probably be hard to get me back out of there, LOL!

I have a copy a friend sent me of AND NOW TOMORROW which I might watch this weekend in honor of Loretta's centennial. Haven't seen THE MEN IN HER LIFE yet.

I love that the early years of Loretta's career have been so much more accessible the last few years!

Best wishes,

10:15 AM  

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