Sunday, January 31, 2016

TCM in February: 31 Days of Oscar Highlights

It doesn't seem possible, but January 2016 has already come to a close! Which means it's time for 31 Days of Oscar on Turner Classic Movies!

This year each Oscar-nominated film shown is linked to the next movie by a cast member, with the very last film of the 31 Days linking back to the first film!

By its nature, the February schedule on TCM is typically short of lesser-known "discoveries," but it's filled with excellent films. It's always a particularly good month for anyone to catch up with previously unseen classics!

Here are a few highlights from this month's packed schedule! Click any hyperlinked title to read the related review.

...On Monday, February 1st, I highly recommend Doris Day and Howard Keel in CALAMITY JANE (1953). It was such a treat to see this colorful, tuneful movie with an appreciative audience at last year's TCM Classic Film Festival!

...THE HUMAN COMEDY (1943), showing on February 2nd, is classic MGM Americana. The Nitrate Diva paid tribute to it in May 2014. The cast includes Mickey Rooney (never better), Van Johnson, Donna Reed, Frank Morgan, Marsha Hunt, James Craig, and Butch Jenkins.

...LITTLE WOMEN (1933) is one of those movies I can't recommend often enough. Katharine Hepburn, Frances Dee, Joan Bennett, and Jean Parker play the March sisters. It airs February 3rd. (It's on my list of "old favorites" to revisit and review here!)

...Another of Katharine Hepburn's best films was STAGE DOOR (1937), showing on February 4th. The amazing cast includes Ginger Rogers, Gail Patrick, Ann Miller, Lucille Ball, and Eve Arden.

...February 5th is one of those days it's very difficult to pick what to recommend! The schedule includes the Technicolor stunners LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN (1945) and HEAVEN CAN WAIT (1943); the latter was directed by Ernst Lubitsch, and his gem THE SMILING LIEUTENANT (1931) is also on the schedule. And so is IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT (1934)..and so is MERRILY WE LIVE (1938). A marathon might be in order!

...Anyone who hasn't yet seen the Rene Clair delight IT HAPPENED TOMORROW (1944), starring Dick Powell and Linda Darnell, should make it a point to catch it in the wee hours on February 7th. It's a delightful comedic fantasy which may have inspired the Kyle Chandler TV series EARLY EDITION.

...TCM is showing two versions of THE LETTER on February 11th, the 1929 version with Jeanne Eagels and the 1940 version with Bette Davis.

...My DVR is set to record Louis Hayward, Joan Bennett, and George Sanders in THE SON OF MONTE CRISTO (1941) early on February 12th.

...Although I tend to worry when many "newer" films are shown on TCM, I do plan to record HOOPER (1978), which I haven't seen since it came out. I recently reviewed a biography of stuntman-actor Jock Mahoney and read that Brian Keith's character, "Jocko," was based on his old friend Mahoney. Mahoney's stepdaughter Sally Field and daughter Princess O'Mahoney both appear in the film. HOOPER is shown on February 13th.

...You simply can't do better than John Ford's STAGECOACH (1939) on February 15th!

...One of the highlights this month is the February 17th TCM premiere of FRENCHMAN'S CREEK (1944), starring Joan Fontaine and Arturo de Cordova. I saw it at UCLA two years ago, as part of a tribute to de Cordova. Incredible Technicolor! (Side note, in March TCM will have an evening of films based on Daphne Du Maurier novels; in addition to FRENCHMAN'S CREEK, Joan's sister Olivia de Havilland stars in MY COUSIN RACHEL. Strangely, they're not also including Joan's REBECCA!)

...HIGHER AND HIGHER (1943), showing on February 18th, is an old favorite I've loved since childhood. It stars a very young Frank Sinatra, and the amazing cast includes Mel Torme, Marcy McGuire, Jack Haley, Barbara Hale, Victor Borge, Michele Morgan, and Dooley Wilson, and watch for Dorothy Malone and Elaine Riley in bit roles. The score includes "A Lovely Way to Spend an Evening" and the Oscar-nominated "I Couldn't Sleep a Wink Last Night." Pure fun.

...Noir bliss on February 19th: Charles McGraw in THE NARROW MARGIN (1952) and Dennis O'Keefe in T-MEN (1947).

...I didn't think the Cinderella film THE SLIPPER AND THE ROSE (1976) was especially good, but it does have a lovely Oscar-nominated song by the Sherman Brothers, "The Slipper and the Rose Waltz." It airs February 21st.

...The night of February 22nd has a run of favorite films, starting with Joel McCrea and Jean Arthur in THE MORE THE MERRIER (1943), then McCrea in Hitchcock's FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT (1940), Fred Astaire and Joan Leslie in THE SKY'S THE LIMIT (1943), and Robert Montgomery and Maureen O'Sullivan in HIDE-OUT (1934). Make a date for another marathon and watch them all!

...The plot of BLUES IN THE NIGHT (1941) might be a bit murky, but what a title song! It's hard to believe it didn't win Best Song, until you check out the competition, which included "Chattanooga Choo-Choo" and "Boogie-Woogie Bugle Boy," not to mention the lovely "Baby Mine" from Disney's DUMBO (1941). It's shown on February 24th. Stars include Priscilla Lane, Lloyd Nolan, Richard Whorf, and Jack Carson. (Update: BLUES IN THE NIGHT is Caftan Woman's "One for February" pick!)

...THE LONGEST DAY (1962) is one of the best WWII films ever made, with its all-star cast successfully creating "real" characters. Unforgettable performances by Robert Mitchum, John Wayne, Jeffrey Hunter, Richard Todd, and more. It's on February 25th.

...I really enjoy THE YOUNG IN HEART (1938), which will be shown on February 26th. It's a delightful romantic comedy with a stellar cast including Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Paulette Goddard, Janet Gaynor, Richard Carlson, and Roland Young. And get an eyeful of the Flying Wombat!

...Leap Day titles include Cary Grant, Jean Arthur, and an amazing cast in Howard Hawks' ONLY ANGELS HAVE WINGS (1939).

...The sci-fi classic THEM! will be shown on March 1st. James Whitmore, James Arness, and Joan Weldon star, with a great supporting cast, not to mention terrific L.A. location shooting.

...The final day of the festival, on March 2nd, includes the colorful Jane Powell-Farley Granger musical SMALL TOWN GIRL (1953). This is the one with Bobby Van's "human pogo stick" dance!

For more on TCM in February, please visit the special 31 Days of Oscar microsite or the complete schedule.

Additionally, TCM's 31 Days of Oscar promo reel is on YouTube.


Blogger barrylane said...

Man In The Iron Mask follows the Monte Cristo film. Perfect timing, because later in the month, unless I am mistaken, Bear Manor Media will be releasing the new biography by Mary Ann Anderson -- Louis Hayward Beyond The Iron Mask. I have been in the loop on this and it seems that a lot of hard work and intelligence have gone into the book's creation.

11:22 AM  
Blogger Caftan Woman said...

It looks like this year's 31 Days of Oscar is a dandy with a couple of marathon days and "noir bliss". Lots of stuff to be on the lookout for, and we'll both be singing "My mamma done tol' me..."

1:10 PM  
Blogger Stephen Reginald said...

I still have wonderful memories of "Calamity Jane" at the TCMFF last year. It was the highlight of the festival for me. Always wanted to see "Frenchman's Creek." Another Mitchell Liesen film not available on DVD!? 31 Days of Oscar will be a treat!

4:57 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks for that very interesting information, Barrylane! I did a search and came up with a Lupino book by Anderson but not yet one on Hayward -- I'll be watching fo rit.

Caftan Woman, it would be fun to share a marathon with you one day!

Stephen, like you I have such great memories of sharing our enjoyment of CALAMITY JANE. Definitely one of my very favorite experiences last year.

Hope you enjoy FRENCHMAN'S CREEK! (PS If you'd like to buy it, it's now available from the Universal Vault line.)

Best wishes,

9:37 PM  
Blogger Jocelyn said...

Can't wait to see STAGE DOOR! That will be new to me. I'm with you on THE YOUNG IN HEART (of course I have a soft spot for DF Jr) but this film is a gem!

6:45 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Jocelyn, I hope you love STAGE DOOR as much as I do! What a great cast, and the dialogue is terrific!

Delighted to know you also enjoy THE YOUNG IN HEART. I'm with you on D.F. Jr.!

Best wishes,

9:06 PM  
Blogger barrylane said...

Thanks for the interest, Laura.

7:36 AM  
Blogger Blake Lucas said...

Though I wouldn't usually be curious, what you said about "Blues in the Night" and other nominated songs for that year got me interested to look it up and I see the winner (which you didn't mention) was "The Last Time I Saw Paris." That's a wonderful song too, though wouldn't say it was better than "Blues in the Night."

I have to say that I really love the delirious melodrama of "Blues in the Night"--especially as crystallized in those montages by Don Siegel that are pretty wild. But I like everything about the movie--the cast is interesting, the story offbeat, and the atmosphere and rhythm so compelling in that Warner Bros. way.

2:01 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Blake,

I'm glad you added that postscript about "The Last Time I Saw Paris," I overlooked mentioning that! Those were the days, when Best Song nominees were really Best Songs. :)

BLUES IN THE NIGHT is a pretty crazy movie -- your description of "delirious melodrama" is great -- but I like it too, enough that I bought the DVD a few year ago. Haven't seen it in a long time, I should go back to it soon. Definitely a very "Warner Bros." movie!

Best wishes,

7:46 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older