Friday, April 30, 2021

TCM in May: Highlights

It's time for a close look at the May schedule on Turner Classic Movies!

May is a big month for TCM, with the "virtual" 2021 TCM Classic Film Festival beginning the evening of May 6th and running through the night of May 9th. I have previously provided an overview of the festival here, while a look at festival schedule highlights may be found here.

Before the festival gets underway, the 31 Days of Oscar festival wraps up on May 1st, spilling over into the wee hours of May 2nd. The May schedule begins in earnest on the morning of the 2nd.

The May Star of the Month lineup is not focused on a single person, but instead celebrates "Movie Roberts," starting with Robert Osborne and including Mitchum, Taylor, Montgomery, and many more actors named Robert. Please note there will not be a separate Star of the Month post for May, but some of the many films featuring "Roberts" are mentioned below.

The Star of the Month films will be shown on Mondays. May 3rd, the date the series begins with PRIVATE SCREENINGS: ROBERT OSBORNE (2014), also happens to be the late Robert Osborne's birthday, and some wonderful news was just announced: Starting on that date, a gallery of Osborne's TCM intros will be available online thanks to the American Film Institute.

Noir Alley returns from its Oscar month hiatus the weekend following the virtual festival, with TOUCH OF EVIL (1958) on May 15th and 16th, THE BROTHERS RICO (1957) on the 22nd and 23rd, and ACT OF VIOLENCE (1957) on the 29th and 30th. I really enjoyed THE BROTHERS RICO, starring Richard Conte, and ACT OF VIOLENCE is outstanding.

ACT OF VIOLENCE, with Van Heflin and Robert Ryan playing World War II veterans, is also being shown in conjunction with the annual Memorial Day Weekend military films marathon, which will begin the evening of Friday, May 28th, and run through Memorial Day.

The TCM Spotlight for May is "Order in the Court," a series of 21 courtroom dramas airing on Wednesdays. TCM host Ben Mankiewicz will be joined by his brother Josh to host this series.

A COVID-era "I Miss..." theme on Thursdays will focus on films about things we've been doing without for the past year, such as parties, theater, travel, and concerts.

Below are just a few of the May highlights. Please click on any hyperlinked title in order to read my complete review.

...One of the first films showing on May 2nd is the charming
DEAR HEART (1964), starring Glenn Ford and Geraldine Page. I just caught with this gentle romance for the first time last year and really enjoyed it. Recommended.

...On May 3rd the first film in the "Movie Roberts" series, appropriately enough, features not one, not two, but three actors named Robert: CROSSFIRE (1947), with Mitchum, Ryan, and Young. I just revisited this film last month for the first time in years and was impressed.

...A quintet of Esther Williams films on May 4th includes one of my favorites, DUCHESS OF IDAHO (1950), costarring Van Johnson and John Lund.

...The first night of "Order in the Court" on May 6th includes the little-known but enjoyable CRIMINAL COURT (1946), directed by Robert Wise and starring Tom Conway and Martha O'Driscoll. It runs a quick 63 minutes and is a fun "B" film.

...On May 10th, the first day after the conclusion of the virtual TCM Fest, there's still lots of great viewing ahead, with a day-long birthday tribute to Fred Astaire. Eight films are featured, including the underrated THE SKY'S THE LIMIT (1943), costarring Joan Leslie (at right). The Mercer-Arlen score includes "One for My Baby" and the Oscar-nominated "My Shining Hour."

...The "Robert" films on the evening of May 10th include Robert Preston in THE MUSIC MAN (1962) and Robert Cummings in the delightful PRINCESS O'ROURKE (1943) with Olivia de Havilland.

...A Katharine Hepburn birthday tribute on May 12th includes a film I've enjoyed countless times, STAGE DOOR (1937), costarring Ginger Rogers. The fine supporting cast includes Gail Patrick, Lucille Ball, Ann Miller, and Eve Arden, just for starters.

...I like the way TCM is including some lesser-known films in the "Order in the Court" series. On May 13th the list includes PERFECT STRANGERS (1950), starring Ginger Rogers and Dennis Morgan, a decade after they appeared together in KITTY FOYLE (1940).

...The "I Miss...Travel" films on May 13th include Doris Day's film debut in ROMANCE ON THE HIGH SEAS (1948). Jack Carson costars, directed by Michael Curtiz. The movie also features Cahn and Styne's Oscar-nominated song "It's Magic."

...A two-film tribute to Glenn Ford on the evening of May 15th features GILDA (1946), also starring Rita Hayworth. I saw this in March 2020 as one of the opening night films at the Noir City Film Festival, and it turned out to be one of the last handful of films I saw in a theater that year.

...Ernst Lubitsch's THE MERRY WIDOW (1934), starring Jeanette MacDonald and Maurice Chevalier, is pure joy. It's on May 16th.

...A tribute to Elizabeth Taylor on May 17th includes CYNTHIA (1947). It may only be a so-so film, but I saw it on TV many times growing up and always think of it fondly. Mary Astor and George Murphy play the young Elizabeth's overly protective parents. Jimmy Lydon costars.

...On May 19th take a "Film Noir Road Trip" with a series of travel-related crime films including JEOPARDY (1953), starring Barbara Stanwyck and Barry Sullivan, THE HITCH-HIKER (1953), with Frank Lovejoy, Edmond O'Brien, and William Talman, and GUN CRAZY (1950) starring Peggy Cummins and John Dall. There are a few other interesting titles showing that day so be sure to check out the entire schedule.

...A series of films shown under the heading "Dream State: California in the Movies," includes a favorite of mine, BORN TO KILL (1947), starring Lawrence Tierney and Claire Trevor. Robert Wise directs. The air date is May 21st. The Dream State series ties in with a new book of the same title by Mick LaSalle, author of the classic pre-Code history COMPLICATED WOMEN.

...Margaret O'Brien and Dean Stockwell star in THE SECRET GARDEN (1949), a favorite film based on the classic book by Frances Hodgson Burnett, on May 23rd.

...May 23rd also features a trio of films directed by James Whale, including THE KISS BEFORE THE MIRROR (1933), starring Nancy Carroll, Frank Morgan, and Paul Lukas.

...On May 27th, I'm delighted TCM guest programmer Frank Langella has chosen to lead off the evening with OUR VINES HAVE TENDER GRAPES (1945), which I feel is wonderful MGM Americana. Edward G. Robinson, Margaret O'Brien, and Agnes Moorehead lead a fine cast, directed by Roy Rowland.

...I like the "Uncharted Territory" theme on May 28th, which includes Howard Keel, Jane Greer, and Patricia Medina in DESPERATE SEARCH (1952) and Stewart Granger, Cyd Charisse, and Wendell Corey in THE WILD NORTH (1952).

...The annual Memorial Day marathon begins on the evening of May 28th with John Garfield and Eleanor Parker in PRIDE OF THE MARINES (1945).

...Gary Cooper stars as SERGEANT YORK (1941) on May 31st. I recently saw this film for the first time in years and enjoyed it very much. Joan Leslie and Walter Brennan lead the fine supporting cast.

...The many fine war films airing Memorial Day weekend also include William Wellman's classic BATTLEGROUND (1949), also showing on the 31st. The deep cast includes Van Johnson, John Hodiak, and Ricardo Montalban.

For more on TCM in May 2021, please visit my Quick Preview of TCM in May. The TCM May schedule will go "live" on the TCM site on May 1st.

Happy May movie viewing on TCM!


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