Saturday, October 31, 2009

Coming distractions: February 2010 on TCM

Nobody is perhaps more surprised than I am to learn that Turner Classic Movies already has their tentative February 2010 schedule up and judging by the offerings, it looks as if we’ve walked into their annual Thirty-One Days of Oscar fete because I see they’re going to be showcasing many of the “big guns.” The Oscar festival on TCM is usually a fallow time for me because I’ve usually recorded most of the movies I’m passionate about—but there are a few scattered goodies here and there, including “premieres” and movies I’ve either never seen or haven’t seen recently on The Greatest Cable Channel Known to Mankind™:

February 3, Wednesday – TCM continues digging into the 20th Century-Fox vault with Elia Kazan’s Oscar-nominated (and controversial for its time) Pinky (1949; 8pm), starring Jeanne Crain as a black woman who passes for white. (I’ll wait for the snickering to subside.) It’s hopelessly outdated now (along with Kazan’s Gentleman's Agreement [1947]) but since I’ll still watch Agreement for the performances by John Garfield and Celeste Holm I’ll catch this one for the appearances by the two Ethels (Barrymore and Waters), and Nina Mae McKinney. (This reminds me—I’ve yet to crack open my Warner Archive copy of Lost Boundaries [1949].)

February 4, Thursday (which also happens to be Ivan Sr.’s birthday) – One of the most beloved horror films is scheduled for 8:00pm, the classic The Uninvited (1944) starring Ray Milland and Ruth Hussey. This is one of the films that is coming soon to Warner’s Universal Collection on DVD (here’s the poop from the good people at The Shelf), but I’ll bet I’m not alone in wishing they could have scheduled it this month in keeping with the Halloween theme. (My Facebook pal Rupert did a nice write-up on this classic back in May at his Classic Movie Digest blog that is certainly worth your time.) After this, TCM’s got another rarely-seen Universal/Ray Milland chestnut scheduled in Kitty (1945, 10p), a period costume drama directed by the underrated Mitchell Leisen and starring Paulette Goddard in the title role. (The last time I saw this one—honest to my grandma—was on AMC, so that should tell you how long that’s been.)

February 8, Monday – I’ve never seen The Seventh Cross (1944), and though I believe it’s going to be shown earlier on TCM than this particular date I’ve gone ahead and penciled it in. One of the best political conspiracy thrillers is scheduled afterward— Seven Days in May (1964, 6p)—and this review by Laura at her Miscellaneous Musings should get you pumped to see it…if you haven’t already. At 8pm, TCM will run Julia (1977), starring Vanessa Redgrave, Jane Fonda, Meryl Streep and Jason Robards. Robards and Redgrave won Best Supporting Oscars for their fine performances and Alvin Sargent’s screenplay also nabbed a little gold statuette.

February 10, Wednesday – You’ll be able to see why I hold the late Richard Widmark in such high regard when TCM runs a double feature (starting at 8pm) of two of his best film noirs: Kiss of Death (1947) and Pickup on South Street (1953).
February 12, Friday – I took a film class in college many moons ago, and one of the movies shown by the instructor was The Pumpkin Eater (1964, 6p), director Jack Clayton’s follow-up to his critically-acclaimed The Innocents (1961). It’s a probing tale of a troubled marriage starring Anne Bancroft and Peter Finch, and while I wasn’t impressed with it the first time I saw it curiosity has prompted me to want to get a second glance.

February 15, Monday – The Sea Wolf (1941) at 11:45am. Edward G. Robinson, John Garfield and Ida Lupino. I shall say no more. Oh, and there’s a splendiferous Olivia de Havilland double feature on later that evening (beginning at 8pm): The Snake Pit (1948) and The Heiress (1949).
February 23, Friday – The first time TCM ran Artists & Models (1937; 4:30pm), technical difficulties wiped out the video portion of the presentation for about the first 15-20 minutes though the soundtrack remained intact. They said they would schedule an encore, and…well, better late than never, I suppose.
February 25, Sunday (my mom's birthday!) – The only feature film produced with the beloved kids from Our Gang will be shown at 12:45pm, General Spanky (1936). I’ve seen it once before and unless you’re a Little Rascals stalwart you might want to avoid it. Stick with the classic noir The Killers (1946) with Burt Lancaster, Ava Gardner, Edmond O’Brien, Charles McGraw and William Conrad (“They eat the dinner. They all come here and eat the big dinner.”), showing later that evening at 8pm instead.

February 26, Monday – This one’s for Stacia: TCM will run the 1966 cult classic directed by John Frankenheimer, Seconds, at 3:00am (early Tuesday morning). This one-of-a-kind film has been discontinued on DVD, so have your DVRs and TiVos at the ready.
February 27, Tuesday – There has been much discussion over whether or not TCM should run recent movies on their schedule and while their scheduling of L.A. Confidential on January 5th next year (2:15am) is a good argument why they should, the scheduling of Titanic (1997; known around Castle Yesteryear as “Gigantic”) on this date at 10:15pm is an equally good counterargument. Which just goes to prove that things get complicated when you get past eighteen.
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Rupert said...

Thanks for the shout out re: my post on THE UNINVITED. It is a great film and I hope anyone whose interested will catch it on TCM. I also did a short write-up on KITTY with Paulette Goddard that you mentioned. You are exactly right that Leisen in underrated. He did some really fine work at Paramount. (Both these films in my collection were recorded back in the day off AMC). Thanks for posting this upcoming schedule.

panavia999 said...

TCM absolutely should not run new movies. Those are available everywhere else. That's how AMC started their decline. To me, a new movie is anything after 1970, but I'm willing to concede that I'm overboard in that area.
If they run new movies, that's the night I will watch the backlog of TCM movies I recorded at 2AM, or crack open one my Republic Serials. Harumph!
The Uninvited is one of the scariest movies ever- a nice adaptation of the book, which is REALLY scary.

Stacia said...

Yaaayyy "Seconds"! I bought the DVD just as it became discontinued (still paid $30 for it, too much of course) but will mention it on SBBN, thanks!

TCM has been mildly disappointing me for a while now because of the repetition of the same movies over and over. Sometimes a movie will be shown twice within 2-3 days. Now, combine THAT with showing new movies you can get on DVD any old time and they really are reducing the time spent on lesser-known films. It's not that I didn't expect TCM to eventually go more commercial, and I fully suspect we'll see commercials between movies within the next 2 years, but I can't help but miss the old days.

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

Since I had TCM only briefly "back in the day" (I guesstimate it was between 1998 and 2000) I only have fond memories of its glory days so my disappointment is probably even milder. I would be, however, distressed if TCM did start running commercials before and after movies because I told a friend of mine once that it could happen and he defiantly said "Never!" (If I were to be proved right...well, the world would just end up making a lot less sense.)