Monday, October 31, 2016

TCM in November: Highlights

Time for a look at the November schedule on Turner Classic Movies!

Natalie Wood is the November Star of the Month. Wood's films will be shown every Friday evening in November. I'll have a look at the Star of the Month schedule later in the week. (Update: Please visit TCM Star of the Month: Natalie Wood.)

Incidentally, this is a repeat appearance by Wood as Star of the Month; she was previously Star of the Month in 2010. This time around her selection coincides with the publication of a new book, NATALIE WOOD: REFLECTIONS ON A LEGENDARY LIFE by Manoah Bowman. It's described as a "photographic study" which was authorized by Wood's family.

The TCM Spotlight for November, "To Tell the Truth," focuses on a broad spectrum of documentaries, accompanied by a new TCM series narrated by Alec Baldwin. There are a number of interesting titles on the schedule, although as I wrote in my initial November preview, I question a couple of the selections and their scheduling, especially showing a divisive, partisan Michael Moore film on Election Eve.

Here's a roundup of a number of the interesting titles showing this month on Turner Classic Movies! Click any hyperlinked title for the review.

...A day of films directed by Stuart Heisler on November 1st includes the amusing ALONG CAME JONES (1945). It's a cheaply made Western with back projections galore, but stars Gary Cooper, Loretta Young, and Dan Dureya make it a lot of fun.

...One of the documentaries which sounds interesting to me is NIGHT MAIL (1936), about an overnight train delivering mail to Scotland. OLYMPIC CAVALCADE (1948), about the 1948 London Olympics, is another title of interest. And a documentary about the Antarctic, THE SECRET LAND (1948), has a stellar trio of narrators in Robert Taylor, Van Heflin, and Robert Montgomery. Look for these documentaries and more on November 2nd.

...On November 6th Cary Grant stars with Grace Moore in WHEN YOU'RE IN LOVE (1937), a rarely seen Grant film which was shown at this year's TCM Classic Film Festival. Another Moore film, LOVE ME FOREVER (1935), will also be shown on the 6th.

...Must viewing on November 8th: LIVE FROM THE TCM CLASSIC FILM FESTIVAL: NORMAN LLOYD (2016). The special airs on Lloyd's 102nd birthday! Those of us who have been privileged to enjoy Norman Lloyd's appearances at the festival firsthand adore him, and now many more viewers will be able to enjoy his tales of classic Hollywood. The special is followed by an evening of excellent films in which Lloyd appeared, including SABOTEUR (1942), seen at right, THE SOUTHERNER (1945), and THE BLACK BOOK (1949), aka REIGN OF TERROR.

...The documentary lineup on November 9th includes John Ford's DECEMBER 7TH (1943) and THE BATTLE OF MIDWAY (1942); Ford was present at the latter battle.

...There's an eight-film tribute to Joel McCrea on November 11th. The films span three decades, ranging from early titles such as THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME (1932) to RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY (1962).

...An interesting pair David Lean films will be shown back to back on November 12th: BLITHE SPIRIT (1945), a comedy-fantasy, and BRIEF ENCOUNTER (1945), which I saw at this year's TCM Classic Film Festival.

...A day of Howard Hawks films on November 15th includes Bogart and Bacall in TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT (1944), which I recently reviewed. It's a longtime favorite.

...Ann Rutherford is celebrated on November 16th, kicking off with four shorts in which she appeared, including ANNIE LAURIE (1936) with Dennis Morgan and CARNIVAL IN PARIS (1937) with Henry Brandon. The day continues with Andy Hardy and "Whistling" films, as well as one of my favorite "B's," TWO O'CLOCK COURAGE (1945).

...I'm excited about the November 17th TCM premiere of Paramount's rarely seen THE SAINTED SISTERS (1948), starring Veronica Lake and Joan Caulfield. It's part of an evening of films about con women; I've seen the other four films on the schedule, and it's a great lineup. (November 5th Update: Sadly THE SAINTED SISTERS has been removed from the TCM lineup.)

...I love when early Dennis O'Keefe films show up on TCM's schedule. This month TCM is showing POP ALWAYS PAYS (1940), costarring Leon Errol and Walter Catlett. It airs November 18th.

...November 20th is an especially great day on the schedule, with showings of Deanna Durbin in NICE GIRL? (1941) and I'LL BE YOURS (1947), neither of which is available on DVD. I'LL BE YOURS is one of just three Durbin films I've not yet seen or reviewed at this blog. (The others, for the record, are CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY and UP IN CENTRAL PARK, which I own and will be catching up with at some point!). Also on the November 20th schedule is the Thanksgiving film PLYMOUTH ADVENTURE (1952).

...November 21st there's an eight-film birthday tribute to dancer Eleanor Powell, including HONOLULU (1939), which I reviewed earlier this year.

...On November 22nd TCM celebrates the centennial of the National Park Service. The evening includes four Traveltalks shorts filmed at national parks, as well as films shot in national and state parks, including 3 GODFATHERS (1948), reviewed here after I recently saw it at the Lone Pine Film Festival.

...Thanksgiving Day, November 24th, is filled with family films including MR. BLANDINGS BUILDS HIS DREAM HOUSE (1948), MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS (1944), THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER (1941), FATHER OF THE BRIDE (1950), and more.

...The Black Friday lineup on November 25th consists of seven of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers' 10 films together. A great day for taking it easy and enjoying leftovers with TCM!

...There are a number of great movies on TCM Sunday, November 27th, including Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy in ROSE-MARIE (1936), Judy Garland in THE HARVEY GIRLS (1946), Cary Grant and Irene Dunne in MY FAVORITE WIFE (1940), and Bogart and Bacall in THE BIG SLEEP (1946). One of those days where you could happily leave TCM running all day long!

...It's Alfred Hitchcock Day on November 29th, with eight films including the underseen, very enjoyable YOUNG AND INNOCENT (1937). Hitchcock fans who haven't seen it should give it a look, it's a treat, starring Nova Pilbeam and Derrick DeMarney.

...The month comes to an end with a day featuring eight Christmas and winter-themed films on November 30th, including the enjoyable comedy SNOWED UNDER (1936) with George Brent and Genevieve Tobin. Incidentally, be watching for a look at TCM's December lineup of Christmas films here around the end of November!

Please visit TCM's online schedule for the most complete, up-to-date November listings.

Happy Halloween

Here's gorgeous Veronica Lake of I MARRIED A WITCH (1942) to wish everyone a very happy Halloween!

Have a fun time!

Previous Halloween Posts: Barbara Bates (2015), Marsha Hunt (2014), Linda Darnell (2013), and and BEWITCHED cast (2012).

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Tonight's Movie: Castle on the Hudson (1940) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

John Garfield, Ann Sheridan, and Pat O'Brien star in the Warner Bros. prison drama CASTLE ON THE HUDSON (1940), available on DVD from the Warner Archive.

In this remake of 20,000 YEARS IN SING SING (1932), Garfield plays Tommy Gordan, a crook who is somewhat inexplicably loved by gorgeous Kay (Sheridan).

In short order Tommy is hauled off to prison for a whole lotta years. Cocky Tommy believes his attorney Ed (Jerome Cowan) will secure him special treatment, but Ed's attempt to pay off honorable Warden Long (O'Brien) fails.

Rebellious Tommy spends time in solitary confinement but eventually he cleans up his act, to the extent that the warden gives Tommy a day's parole when Kay is critically injured in a car accident.

Unfortunately Tommy learns that his lawyer Ed has been putting the moves on Kay, leading her to jump out of Ed's moving car at a desperate moment. When Ed shows up at Kay's bedside, Tommy and Ed fight, with life-changing consequences for all three.

This is a fast-moving 77 minutes which I enjoyed. It all ends in tears, but the film's breakneck pace and especially the cast make it a good watch.

I did have to wonder about a couple of things, such as whether a woman at death's door due to an accident really be cared for by a nurse at her home, rather than in a hospital? That aspect of the story struck me as odd.

The film also provides no back story to Kay and Tommy's romance, so we're left in the dark as to why a seemingly nice girl would be so accepting of Tommy knowing full well that he's a very bad man. This leaves Sheridan in a bit of a difficult place; she's likeable and sympathetic, but the character, who doubtless could have had her pick of any number of better men, is hard to understand. A good woman who made a bad choice is all we have to go on.

Garfield's role is fairly typical of his work at Warner Bros. in this era, as a brash, rather obnoxious man ultimately capable of reaching deeper and finding a better person hiding inside, though he doesn't want to admit it. He carries off his final scenes in a believable and compelling manner.

This was also a fairly standard type of role for O'Brien, but he does it so well, portraying a man just as tough as Mickey who is also understanding and compassionate. He brings a certain innate gravitas to a part such as this which probably saves pages of character development for his part; if only they'd used those script pages for Sheridan, though!

Cowan is always fun, and he's quite good here as a bad man, especially bemoaning his poor luck that Kay survived the fall from his car. Yikes!

Burgess Meredith has a large supporting role as an inmate who plans a breakout to be with his pregnant wife (Margot Stevenson). There are welcome familiar faces scattered throughout the film, including John Litel as a priest, John Ridgely as a jailhouse cop, Henry O'Neill as the district attorney, and Grant Mitchell as the prison doctor.

The large cast also includes Guinness "Big Boy" Williams, Barbara Pepper, Eddie Acuff, Frank Faylen, William Hopper, Frank Puglia, and more.

CASTLE ON THE HUDSON was directed by Anatole Litvak. It was shot in black and white by Arthur Edeson.

The DVD print is excellent. There are no extras.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Tonight's Movie: Code of the Secret Service (1939) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

Ronald Reagan stars as Secret Service agent Brass Bancroft in CODE OF THE SECRET SERVICE (1939).

It's part of the four-film Brass Bancroft of the Secret Service Mysteries Collection, available from the Warner Archive.

Of course, it's rather fun to find Reagan playing a member of the Secret Service, given the direction life would later take him. In this case he's a gung-ho agent who is all too happy to be recalled from vacation to help another agent (John Gallaudet) crack a counterfeiting case.

Brass is aided by a happy-go-lucky agent played by Eddie Foy Jr., channeling Allen Jenkins.

Late in the film Brass meets and is aided by Elaine (Rosella Towne); they even briefly emulate the hero and heroine handcuffed together while she thinks he's a crook, straight out of THE 39 STEPS (1935).

CODE OF THE SECRET SERVICE is a fun and fast-paced 58 minutes. It entertains thanks mainly to Reagan's breezy charm and a story which never stops moving.

Rosella Towne, who has an all-too-brief appearance as Reagan's leading lady, passed on in 2014, age 96. I wrote briefly about her memorial service in a January 2015 link roundup.

The supporting cast includes Moroni Olsen, Edgar Edwards, Jack Mower, George Regas, Chris-Pin Martin, and Frank Puglia. Look for Maris Wrixon (HIGHWAY 13) as a secretary early in the film.

CODE OF THE SECRET SERVICE was directed by Noel M. Smith and filmed in black and white by Ted D. McCord.

The Brass Bancroft set consists of a pair of two-film discs. There were no extras on the disc containing this film, which was a good print. I'll be reviewing the other films in this set at a future date.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD collection. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Quick Preview of TCM in January

The January Turner Classic Movies schedule is now available!

TCM will be honoring the centennial of the birth of Oscar-winning actress Jane Wyman with a Star of the Month tribute.

Wyman was born in Missouri on January 5, 1917. The tribute will begin on her birthday and continue every Thursday in January.

Over three dozen Wyman films will be shown, a nice assortment including her early work for Warner Bros., her move into more serious dramas starting in the mid '40s, and a variety of '50s titles including Sirk classics and introducing an Oscar-winning song with Bing Crosby in HERE COMES THE GROOM (1951).

January highlights also include New Year's Day with Alfred Hitchcock; a weekly series on prison films; an evening of films from the SAINT series; and tributes to John Steinbeck, Ray Milland, Loretta Young, Errol Flynn, Cary Grant, James Mason, Joan Leslie, Tim Holt, Rossano Brazzi, and Dana Andrews. (I'm wondering if Andrews' 20th Century-Fox film FALLEN ANGEL, seen at right, is a TCM premiere?)

I'll have more on the January schedule around the last week of December.

In the meantime, Christopher Lee continues as the October Star of the Month, with Natalie Wood on deck for November and Myrna Loy in December.

Update: For more on TCM in January 2017, please visit TCM in January: Highlights and TCM Star of the Month: Jane Wyman.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Tonight's Movie: Trail of the Vigilantes (1940) at the Lone Pine Film Festival

One of the films I most enjoyed at this year's Lone Pine Film Festival was TRAIL OF THE VIGILANTES (1940), starring Franchot Tone.

Franchot Tone in a Western?! Yes, and he's absolutely delightful.

The movie plays somewhat like a precursor of the James Garner comedy classic SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL SHERIFF! (1969), with Tone starring as a cagey Eastern marshal. Sometimes he's able to outwit his enemies, who are surprised by his audacity, and when in turn they sometimes get the best of him, he goes along with it with laconic humor.

Tim Mason (Tone), aka "Kansas," is sent to a wild and woolly Western town after the murder of a newspaperman. Working undercover, Kansas is hired by rancher John Thornton (Charles Trowbridge) -- whose young daughter Barbara (Peggy Moran) immediately likes what she sees and is determined to land her man, not taking no for an answer.

Kansas learns that local ranchers who aren't paying the local "Cattleman's Association" are having their cattle stolen; in reality, the association is a shakedown racket run by Dawson (Warren William, always a wonderful bad guy).

Kansas realizes that Dawson and his men plan to make off with the Cattleman's Association funds and takes the box first, then is arrested for theft. Will Kansas be able to make the case against Dawson?

Kansas initially battles and is tormented by Swanee (Broderick Crawford) and Meadows (Andy Devine), but they end up being his pals, along with the crazy Bolo (Mischa Auer).

Peggy Moran also adds to the humor, with her "never say die" pursuit of Kansas. Moran, born October 23, 1918, retired from the screen in 1943, after marrying director Henry Koster, a happy union which lasted until Koster's death in 1988. Moran herself passed on following a 2002 car accident.

This movie is a great deal of fun, and I'm surprised it isn't better known today. (The fact that it's a hard-to-see Universal Pictures film may account for some of that.) According to IMDb, director Allan Dwan was responsible for having the original screenplay rewritten as a Western spoof. The film was written by Harold Shumate.

In addition to having a sense of humor, the film also has some nice action, including good "classic Hollywood" stunt work as Crawford chases William across the town rooftops in one of the final scenes.

The supporting cast includes Samuel S. Hinds, George Chandler, Ray Teal, Porter Hall, and Paul Fix.

The movie was shot by Milton Krasner and Joseph Valentine.

TRAIL OF THE VIGILANTES is is not available on DVD, and it should be. At the present moment it's available on YouTube, but it could disappear at any time. I was fortunate to see it in Lone Pine, where some of the exteriors were filmed.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Tonight's Movie: The Wild North (1952) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

THE WILD NORTH (1952) is a colorful, engaging MGM adventure film, available on DVD from the Warner Archive.

Stewart Granger plays Jules Vincent, a trapper who returns to town from hunting in the "the wild North" and in short order acquires an adorable kitten and meets a gorgeous Indian singer (Cyd Charisse, dubbed by Ruth Martin).

Against his better judgment, Jules allows Mike Brody (Howard Petrie) to accompany himself and the Indian girl (whose name is never given!) on a canoe trip. Jules and Mike had brawled over the girl the night before, but Jules accepts Mike's apology. In a brief sequence, Mike is last seen paddling the canoe, looking at Jules and the girl with evil intent; next thing you know, the couple arrive at Jules's cabin, minus Mike and looking very nervous. We learn that Jules had shot Mike in self-defense, intending to wing his shoulder to fend him off, but the canoe pitched and Mike was killed.

Jules doesn't trust a jury of city folk and decides to disappear back into the north country for a while, after asking the girl to wait for him. Meanwhile the death is discovered and a Mountie, Constable Pedley (Wendell Corey), is assigned to bring Jules back for trial. But it's a brutal winter, and once Pedley locates Jules it's going to take everything both men have, working together, to stay alive.

I hadn't seen this film in a good decade or more, and I very much enjoyed revisiting it tonight. Granger is at his charming best as the cagey trapper. Over the years stories from costars have surfaced which were less than flattering about the actor, but on screen, he's simply wonderful, with great charisma; the quick progression of his romance with Charisse, much of it conveyed with unspoken understanding, is quite believable and touching.

I love Granger's MGM work of the '50s, which included the superb adventure film KING SOLOMON'S MINES (1950), the swashbuckling classics SCARAMOUCHE (1952) and THE PRISONER OF ZENDA (1952), and the underrated Western GUN GLORY (1957), to name a few.

Charisse, always a favorite of mine, is lovely and dignified as the Indian woman who makes a home for Jules in his absence. The ongoing story thread about the kitten which she cares for while awaiting his return is a very nice, meaningful touch which makes the film a bit different; the final shot with the cat and Pedley is marvelous.

Corey is excellent as the Mountie. One of the best scenes in the film is when he arrives at Jules's winter cabin to arrest him, then calmly sits down to drink coffee and play checkers, with a break to empty the ammunition from Jules's guns. The mutual respect of two smart men facing multiple problems makes the film quite interesting.

There is some gorgeous location filming which was apparently mostly in Idaho and Wyoming, rather than Canada. There are some soundstage and process shots mixed in but for the most part the movie has a "fresh air" look and feel which adds to its appeal. Robert Surtees filmed the movie in Anscocolor, which looks better here than in some other MGM films of the era.

THE WILD NORTH was directed by Andrew Marton, who had codirected Granger in the previously mentioned KING SOLOMON'S MINES (1950); he later worked with him on GREEN FIRE (1954), a film I wish had been better.

The script of this 97-minute film was by Frank Fenton, loosely based on a true story. The supporting cast includes J.M. Kerrigan, Morgan Farley, Ray Teal, and Houseley Stevenson.

The Warner Archive print is excellent. The disc includes a trailer.

Additional Warner Archive reviews coming soon include some interesting Blu-ray releases, including the great ON DANGEROUS GROUND (1951), Traveltalks Vol. 2, Jeanette MacDonald's last film, and more Monogram Westerns.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Tonight's Movie: A Yank at Oxford (1938) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

Robert Taylor stars as A YANK AT OXFORD (1938), available from the Warner Archive.

A YANK AT OXFORD is one of a number of Taylor films released by the Warner Archive this year. I've previously reviewed Taylor in this year's Archive releases REMEMBER? (1939), SONG OF RUSSIA (1944), and VALLEY OF THE KINGS (1954).

A YANK AT OXFORD was one of a handful of films made by MGM British Studios before the war brought the studio's productions there to an end. Other MGM British films included HAUNTED HONEYMOON (1940), yet another of this year's Warner Archive releases.

Taylor stars as Lee Sheridan, an American college star athlete who receives a scholarship to Oxford. Lee is a nice enough fellow, but he's also a little full of himself, and he comes off to his new British classmates as the cliched "Ugly American."

The rough treatment of the British students wears some of the rough edges off Lee, and he's also mellowed as he courts charming Molly Beaumont (Maureen O'Sullivan). Unfortunately Molly's brother Paul (Griffith Jones of MIRANDA) is Lee's arch-enemy, but Lee gradually makes friends with the other students (including a young Robert Coote).

Paul, meanwhile, is spending time with a flirtatious married bookstore clerk (Vivien Leigh) and risks being "sent down" (expelled) if he's caught.

A YANK AT OXFORD is a good exemplar of the typical quality of MGM productions of the era. Despite the fact that a dozen people worked on the story and screenplay, including Frank "Spig" Wead, Sidney Gilliat (THE LADY VANISHES), and even F. Scott Fitzgerald, too many cooks didn't spoil the broth, but instead produced an entertaining film which maintains viewer interest for its 102 minutes.

The movie may be a tad predictable, at least from the vantage point of 2016, but it goes down very smoothly thanks to good production values and a strong cast. One can't help feeling a bit wistful watching the film, knowing that the cozy, tradition-laden England depicted in the film would soon be fighting for its survival.

Lionel Barrymore plays Lee's father, who's perhaps just a little too proud of his boy. This was one of the last roles Barrymore played in which he walks; he would successfully continue acting for many years from a wheelchair, including the long-running Dr. Kildare and Dr. Gillespie films, all of which have been reviewed here.

Walter Kingsford, who played Dr. Carew in the Kildare films, plays the kindly college dean who obtains Lee's scholarship, while Edmund Gwenn is Lee's dean at Oxford. Also in the cast are Claude Gillingwater, Tully Marshall, Peter Croft, and C.V. France. Future star Dennis O'Keefe is said to be in the racetrack scene, and another future star, Richard Todd, is listed as an extra.

Taylor and O'Sullivan were both 25 when this was filmed, and they are believable as college students, with an appealing chemistry. They also worked together in THE CROWD ROARS (1938).

Just a couple of years after this film, Taylor would reunite with supporting actress Leigh in WATERLOO BRIDGE (1940), one of his personal favorite career films. There are glimpses of Scarlett O'Hara in Leigh's bookstore vixen, yet her performance does not hint at the power and depth she would bring to her role in GONE WITH THE WIND (1939) the following year.

A YANK AT OXFORD was directed by Jack Conway and filmed in black and white by Harold Rosson.

A YANK AT OXFORD is a good-looking print. The DVD includes the trailer.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Tonight's Movie: RED 2 (2013)

Last summer I enjoyed an action movie marathon which included RED (2010), about a group of one-time spies forced out of retirement.

RED 2 (2013) is more of the same, and in fact I might have found it even funnier than the original.

Former CIA spy Frank (Bruce Willis) and his girlfriend Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker) are living a quiet life in suburbia when Frank's wacky former colleague Marvin (John Malkovich) shows up at their local Costco. The trio don't make it out of the parking lot before their lives are turned upside down once more, and before you know it they're traipsing all over Europe, with one or two hit men -- or women -- on their heels.

British killer Victoria (Helen Mirren) is one of those asked to bump off Frank and Sarah, but being Frank's pal she gives him fair notice. Han Cho Bai (Byung-hun Lee) is also after Frank, adding an interesting new character to the mix.

And speaking of new characters, Frank's old flame Katja (Catherine Zeta-Jones) is around, trying to make Sarah jealous, and Brian Cox returns as Victoria's Soviet spy beau Ivan. Anthony Hopkins, Tim Piggott-Smith, and effectively creepy Neal McDonough are also in the cast.

The plot could have been tightened up, as its 116 minutes go on a little long, but for the most part it's quite enjoyable and entertaining. The interplay between Willis, Parker, and Malkovich is especially good, as Frank tries to keep Sarah away from the action but the giddy, willing Sarah is all too happy to learn the spy trade from the wild and crazy Marvin. Her reaction when Frank presents her with a gun near movie's end is delightful.

Everyone on screen seems to be having a good time, and this viewer did as well.

RED 2 was directed by Dean Parisot and filmed by Enrique Chediak. The score was by Alain Silvestri.

Parental Advisory: RED 2 is rated PG-13 for action including "frenetic gunplay" (really?) and some language. It's about what you'd expect, not for the little ones but at the same time it's strictly non-bloody cartoon violence.

RED 2 is available on DVD, Blu-ray, and via Amazon Instant Video.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Quick Preview of TCM in December

The online preview of TCM's December schedule came out relatively late this year, but it's now available!

Myrna Loy is the December Star of the Month, voted in by the members of TCM's Backlot fan club, who chose between Myrna and Bette Davis.

This is the popular Loy's third time as Star of the Month. She was previously the Star of the Month in 1995 and 2004.

Loy's films will be shown every Friday, leading up to a 24-hour Myrna Loy-William Powell marathon on December 23rd.

As always, there are many wonderful Christmas movies showing in December!

"Robert Osborne's Picks" on Christmas Eve frequently include a film from 20th Century-Fox amidst the Christmas titles -- a treat as Fox films cost more for TCM to license. This year his Fox pick is THE DOLLY SISTERS (1945), starring Betty Grable, June Haver, and John Payne.

The only sad note in that regard is Mr. Osborne's continuing absence from the network. It would be a lovely surprise if he turned up to host the Christmas Eve films.

Earlier in the month the wonderful Fox film I'D CLIMB THE HIGHEST MOUNTAIN (1951) is on the schedule. It's warm Americana well suited for December.

Also on tap for December is the latest edition of Treasures From the Disney Vault, including PERRI (1957), OLD YELLER (1957), THE LITTLEST OUTLAW (1955), and THE UGLY DACHSHUND (1966).

There's a 'round-the-clock marathon of shorts on December 5th, and the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor Day will be marked with a selection of WWII films.

Also of note is a screening of PLEASURE CRUISE (1933), a pre-Code which was popular in "Theater 4" at the TCM Classic Film Festival. I didn't get a chance to see it then so I'm looking forward to checking it out.

December tributes include Alice White, Dick Purcell, George Brent, Irene Dunne, Ruth Roman, Elvis Presley, Roland Young, and Sydney Greenstreet.

New Year's Eve will be spent with the THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT! (1974) series.

I'll have more detailed information on the December schedule, including my annual post on Christmas movies airing in December, sometime after Thanksgiving.

In the meantime, Christopher Lee continues as the October Star of the Month, with Natalie Wood on deck for November.

Update: For more on TCM in December 2016, please visit TCM in December: Highlights, TCM Star of the Month: Myrna Loy, and TCM in December: Christmas Movies.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Disneyland: Mickey's Halloween Party

It was a "Very Disney Weekend" here! We spent Friday at Disneyland, including Mickey's Halloween Party, and on Sunday we were at Disney California Adventure to compete in the MouseAdventure puzzle game/scavenger hunt .

This was our first time attending the Halloween Party, which requires a separate "hard ticket" from our annual passes.  The party includes trick or treating, a parade, and fireworks. It was a fun way to celebrate our oldest daughter's birthday!

We spent most of the day at the park, leading up to a "pre-party" in Toontown which kicked off at 6:00, followed by the parkwide party running from 7:00 to midnight.

At the pre-party we visited three "treat trails." Each trail contained several carts filled with various kinds of candy, and at each cart several pieces of candy were put in our treat bags.

Trick or treating at Minnie Mouse's house in Toontown:

There was trick or treating all over the park, plus annual passholders had a special trick or treating station in the Opera House where large cloth trick-or-treat bags were given out, much bigger and more durable than the small paper sacks distributed at check-in. There was no limit to the number of treat stations guests could visit. By the end of the evening it added up to a lot of candy. Let's just say I won't need to go shopping for Halloween trick-or-treaters this year!

We enjoyed singing by the "Cadaver Dans" and having free photos taken with various Disney characters. There was a spooky mist covering the Rivers of America, where the Cadaver Dans performed on a raft:

My favorite part of the evening was a brand-new feature of the party, the pre-parade ride of the Headless Horseman from THE ADVENTURES OF ICHABOD AND MR. TOAD (1949) down Main Street. It was very effective!

I'm not a particular fan of villains or horror-type entertainment -- in fact, I stopped going on the Haunted Mansion ride at least 20 years ago! -- but I enjoyed the Frightfully Fun Parade.

I especially enjoyed the choreography for the dancers which accompanied the Haunted Mansion float. Besides the dancers representing the ride's ballroom scene, there were grave diggers who dragged their shovels along the asphalt street, making sparks, which was certainly a unique parade feature.

This was our first chance to see the Halloween Screams fireworks since 2009, when it was still part of the regular park entertainment. It's a wonderful show!

All in all, it was a most enjoyable evening.

We've played in MouseAdventure for a number of years now, as is evident from the game pins on my lanyard; it's not a complete set, either!

We did pretty well Sunday, coming in 31st out of around 133 teams -- although it wasn't as impressive as our 13th place ranking last spring! We're looking forward to playing again next year.

On top of all the fun, we walked 16 miles at the parks this weekend -- that's a win/win!

Previous Halloween Time Posts and Photos: September 29, 2006, September 30, 2006, October 21, 2006, September 28, 2007, October 12, 2007, October 17, 2008, October 9, 2009, October 15, 2010, the 2011 Annual Passholder Private Party (October 17, 2011); October 21, 2012, September 13, 2013, October 18, 2013, September 12, 2014, September 18, 2015, September 20, 2016, and September 23, 2016.

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