Friday, November 12, 2010

Coming distractions: 31 Days of Oscar on TCM

The always resourceful Laura of Miscellaneous Musings fame shot an e-mail arrow my way to let me know that The Greatest Cable Channel Known to Mankind™ (ka-ching!) has their tentative schedule (pronounced shed-yule) up for their annual tribute to that little trophy they give out to people in the movie industry that time of year for making big, important films.  (Sorry about the cynicism…but the Academy Awards ceremony is generally referred to as “Night of Gratuitous Backpatting” around Rancho Yesteryear.)  The February and first three days of March are probably my least favorite times of the year at TCM, mostly because they trot out the usual Oscar-nominated and awarded subjects…so this “coming distractions” post is going to be a bit shorter than usual.  (FYI, 31 Days is one of Pam’s favorites—yin/yang, po-tay-to, po-tah-to.)

TCM does have a few surprises sprinkled throughout the month, however—a handful of movies that they’ve not aired previously (to the best of my knowledge, that is) and I noticed that a few goodies from the Universal, Paramount and 20th Century-Fox libraries have made the cut.  So what I thought I’d do is go through the showings at a glance and recommend certain movies of interest—keeping in mind, of course, that I am notoriously biased and that many of my suggestions should be taken cumo graino salto.

February 1, Tuesday – You’re not going to believe this—but the last time I saw Last Summer (1969) was back when TBS showed old movies.  (“Hand me another piece of KFC, kids, and Grandpa will tell you about when AMC didn’t have 50 million pharmaceutical commercial interruptions and Mad Men”)  It’s on the schedule (2:45am) because actress Cathy Burns nabbed a Best Supporting Actress nom, so I’ll welcome the opportunity to revisit this film.  Other TDOY faves scheduled include Manhattan Melodrama (1934; 9:30am), The Thin Man (1934; 11:15am), Citizen Kane (1941; 1pm), The Great Dictator (1940; 3pm) and A Man for All Seasons (1966; 10pm).

February 2, Wednesday – Beginning at 8pm with Five Easy Pieces (1970), TCM will show four Jack Nicholson features that were either nominated or won Oscars—the others being Terms of Endearment (1983; 10pm), Easy Rider (1969; 12:30am) and The Last Detail (1973; 2:15am).  Earlier in the day there’s one of my favorite Bette Davis flicks (which was just on yesterday, it seems), The Little Foxes (1941)…and in the wee a.m. hours, The Guardsman (1931)—featuring the celebrated theatrical stage duo of Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontaine (I haven’t seen this one, so I’m curious to look at it).

February 3, ThursdayWitness For the Prosecution (1957; 6am), Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? (1966; 8am), All Quiet On the Western Front (1930; 10pm) and The Big House (1930; 12:30am)—the latter featuring Cultureshark fave Wallace Beery.

February 4, FridayDr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1932; 1pm) and The Heiress (1949; 8pm).

February 5, Saturday – Deanna Durbin fans can rejoice because the channel has One Hundred Men and a Girl (1937) scheduled at 3pm.  Foes of TCM’s policy of showcasing recent films can boo and hiss because the channel has the 2001 biopic Ali slotted for 1:30am.  As for myself—well, I’ll watch The Awful Truth (1937) at 4:30pm if I have nothing else on the calendar.

February 6, Sunday – It’s a silent film twofer starting at 8pm with one of the greatest films of silent cinema, Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927)…followed by Wings (1927) at 10pm.  Then TCM dips into the Fox library for a great docu-noir, The House on 92nd Street, (1945), at 12:30am.  And if you happen to be awake around 4:15am, why not check out the finest onscreen hour of George Burns and Gracie Allen, A Damsel in Distress (1937)?

February 7, Monday – I’ve never seen The House of Rothschild (1934; 10am), but because Boris Karloff is in it I’ll have to program the DVD recorder.  The other movie I’d highly recommend is Libeled Lady (1936) at 12 noon…but if you’re one of the rare classic movie fans who likes Greer Garson you can pig out with a festival of her Oscar-worthy films beginning at 8pm with Blossoms in the Dust (1941), followed by Mrs. Miniver (1942; 10pm). Madame Curie (1943; 12:30am). Mrs. Parkington (1944; 2:45am) and The Valley Of Decision (1945; 5am).  (Note: Please do not interpret this to mean that I do not like Greer Garson…I’m pretty ambivalent about her, if you want to know the truth.  It’s just that there’s not a lot of Greer love out there on many of the classic film blogs, something I’ve always been curious as to the reason why.)

February 8, Tuesday – I’ve also not had the privilege of watching The Hanging Tree (1959)…though I am familiar with the theme song sang by Marty Robbins.  I can recommend The Caine Mutiny (1954; 8pm) and The Sin of Madelon Claudet (1931; 2:30am)…the latter being an entertaining little pre-Code weepie.  Foreign film fans take note: TCM will show Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Red (1994) at 4:30 am.

February 9, Wednesday – The foreign films continue at 6:30 am with Woman in the Dunes (1964), and that’s followed by La Battaglia di Algieri (1967; 8:45am) and one of my all-time favorites, Z (1969; 11am).  Actually, it’s a day crammed with TDOY favorites: Ball Of Fire (1941; 1:30pm), A Foreign Affair (1948; 3:30pm), The Fortune Cookie (1966; 5:30pm), What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962; 12mid) and Robin and the 7 Hoods (1964; 5am).  Now, a question for the audience—is this the first time TCM will be showing Come Back, Little Sheba (1952; 8pm)?  (I’ve seen it on AMC before but I’m not sure about TCM.)

February 11, Friday – The last time I caught Cat Ballou (1965; 2:45am) on TCM I still enjoyed it, with “shouters” Stubby Kaye and Nat “King” Cole remaining my favorite parts of the film.  The channel has the execrable Forrest Gump (1994) scheduled for 10pm.  (I will not be watching.)

February 12, Saturday – 1939 is often referred to as the greatest year of the movies, and TCM (who did a month tribute to ’39 a good while ago) will deliver the goods with all ten Best Picture nominees for that year starting at 8:15am with Dark Victory (1939).  Of Mice and Men (1939; 10am), Ninotchka (1939; 12noon), Wuthering Heights (1939; 2pm), Stagecoach (1939; 4pm), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939; 5:45pm), The Wizard Of Oz (1939; 8pm), Gone With the Wind (1939; 10pm), Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939; 2am) and Love Affair (1939; 4am) are the films that follow.

February 13, Sunday – TCM continues to plunder treasures from the Fox Movie Channel with the scheduling of Coney Island (1943; 4pm), Mother Wore Tights (1947; 6pm)…and the one that I’m still rubbing my eyes in disbelief, Miracle On 34th Street (1947; 8pm).  Later, I will try to blot out the memory of watching Heaven Can Wait (1978) last year by sitting down in front of the superior original, Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941), at 12:30am.

February 14, Monday – The channel has the 1943 George Stevens-directed comedy The More the Merrier scheduled at 10am, a film that won Savannah, GA native Charles Coburn an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.  But as I have always maintained, Stevens’ earlier The Talk of the Town (1942) is the better movie—it was nominated for 7 Oscars and didn’t win bupkis.  Judge for yourself—Town follows Merrier at 12 noon.

Later that evening, a Bogie twofer—my favorite classic movie of all time, Casablanca (1942; 10pm), and Humphrey Bogart’s best performance onscreen in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) following at 12 midnight.

February 15, Tuesday – Beginning at 4:30pm, you can watch three really outstanding movies—Radio Days (1987), Hannah and Her Sisters (1986; 6pm) and My Man Godfrey (1936; 8pm).

February 16, Wednesday – Some time back, I mentioned how I stupidly convinced myself not to record The Ruling Class (1972) during August’s Summer Under the Stars because I thought I already owned a copy…not cognizant of the fact that I had planned to snag a copy in March but was laid-up in hospital.  What I’m trying to say in my typically long-winded fashion is that I’ll get the opportunity to grab it again when TCM shows it at 4:15am, as part of a Peter O’Toole festival that begins at 8 pm with the wonderful My Favorite Year (1982).  Lawrence of Arabia (1962; 10pm), The Stunt Man (1980; 2am) and Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1969; 2/17 at 7am) round out the offerings.

February 17, Thursday – TCM will show Street Angel (1928) at 2 pm…which I have not seen; the movie is one of the famed teaming of Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell (“star of 7th Heaven,” as the old running gag on Jack Benny’s radio show went).

I know some folks aren’t particularly pleased that TCM occasionally trots out films of more recent vintage (not that I’m implying they don’t have a strong argument; that’s what preceded the downfall of AMC) but because I don’t have the financial wherewithal to purchase DVDs like I once did I’ll be able to grab copies of American Beauty (1999; 2:15am) and Do the Right Thing (1989; 4:15am) and sleep the sleep of the just.

February 18, Friday – Lots of Yesteryear favorites scheduled in the morning and afternoon: The Naked City (1948; 6:30am), Dead End (1937; 8:15am), Angels With Dirty Faces (1938; 10am), On the Town (1949; 11:45am) and The Producers (1968; 5pm).  (I sense a Big Apple theme here.)  But come the evening hours, the channel will salute screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky with four must-see films: The Hospital (1971; 8pm), Marty (1955; 10pm), Network (1976; 12mid) and The Goddess (1958; 2:15am).  (I could tell you how I managed to miss taping this last movie the last time it was on but I have a tendency to start crying in the middle of the story, so I won’t.)

February 19, Saturday - Bad Day At Black Rock (1955; 6:15am) and Blow-Up (1966; 4:15am).  Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2003) is scheduled at 10pm, but like Stacia’s “no Star Wars” policy I have not watched any of the LOTR trilogy nor do I plan to do so.

February 20, SundayIn Cold Blood (1967; 12:45pm), The Third Man (1949; 3:15pm) and Born Yesterday (1950; 8pm).

February 21, Monday – TCM is going to show Two Arabian Knights (1927; 2:45am), which won Lewis Milestone an Oscar for "Best Direction, Comedy Picture."  I did a mini-review of this movie back in November 2008, so that should give you an idea of how long it’s been since TCM got around to repeating it.

February 22, TuesdayA Day At The Races (1937; 11:15am), The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941; 3:45pm) and The Defiant Ones (1958; 8pm). Thelma & Louise (1991) gets a showing at 1am, at which time I will still be sleeping the sleep of the just.

February 23, WednesdaySahara (1943; 2pm) and All the King's Men (1949; 8pm).  TCM will show Federico Fellini’s Amacord (1973) at 3:30am, which will be followed by the next-day showings of 8 ½ (1963) and La Strada (1954) at 6 am and 8:30 am, respectively.

February 24, ThursdayThe Lavender Hill Mob (1951) at 10:30am.

February 25, FridaySuspicion (1941; 7am), On The Waterfront (1954; 8pm), From Here To Eternity (1953; 10pm) and Bonnie and Clyde (1967; 2:30am).  Bus Stop (1956), a Fox Movie Channel property, is showing at 6 pm—I have this mental picture of a big honkin’ film vault being guarded by an elderly night watchman who's fast asleep (Slappy!) and Bobby Osbo and Ben Mankiewicz breaking into it and carrying out cans of film, laughing and high-fiving one another all the way.

February 26, SaturdayThe Letter (1940; 1:45pm) and The Maltese Falcon (1941; 3:30pm).  TCM will show The Silence of the Lambs (1991) at 12:30am, so you could pretty much say I’m hitting the sleep of the just’s snooze button.

February 27, SundayI Want To Live! (1958; 12:45pm), Mildred Pierce (1945; 8pm) and Annie Hall (1977; 10pm).

February 28, Monday – Ray Milland won his Best Actor Oscar for 1945’s The Lost Weekend (1945; 10pm) because…well, let’s face it—Hollywood loves a drunk (Van Heflin won a Best Supporting Actor statuette four years earlier, and there have been others before and since).  TCM therefore ushers in an “Alcoholics Anonymous” Oscar tribute with a schedule that also includes Arthur (1981; 8pm), Days of Wine and Roses (1962; 12mid), Under the Volcano (1984; 2am) and The Dresser (1983; 4am).

March 1, TuesdayAll About Eve (1950) at 10 pm.  Earlier in the day, TCM will show both the 1937 (10:30am) and 1954 (12:30pm) versions of A Star is Born and the 1950 (3:30pm) and 1990 (5:30pm) versions of Cyrano de Bergerac.

March 2, WednesdayYankee Doodle Dandy (1942) at 6:45 am.

March 3, ThursdayNorth by Northwest (1959) at 12:30pm.

And of course, TCM will fill in the gaps with the same-old Oscar-nominated and Oscar-winning shorts…so make it a magical movie month in February!

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Laura said...

Glad to be of help! :) Enjoyed your roundup.

Personally, I love Greer Garson, and she's one of my husband's all-time favorite actresses. I suspect some of the disdain for Miss Garson may be wrapped up in a negative attitude I perceive from some quarters towards MGM in general; family friendly, glossy, etc., films with noble characters like Garson's Mrs. Miniver and Madame Curie are not so in favor at the moment, as the popularity of harder-edged genres like film noir and pre-Codes soars. This isn't true of all film fans, of course...

MGM movies are what made me a classic film fan. :)

Best wishes,

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

I suspect some of the disdain for Miss Garson may be wrapped up in a negative attitude I perceive from some quarters towards MGM in general; family friendly, glossy, etc., films with noble characters like Garson's Mrs. Miniver and Madame Curie are not so in favor at the moment

I think you've hit the nail on the head there--I mean, I don't go stampeding towards the TV set when a Garson film comes on but I'm not filled with loathing and disgust, either. There's a similar attitude toward Deborah Kerr...though to be honest, I'd probably pick a Deb flick over Greer if asked--particularly if it were something like I See a Dark Stranger or Black Narcissus.

Stacia said...

Thanks to your post, I'll be picking up "House on 92nd", "The Goddess", and "Talk of the Town".

I wanna say "Come Back Little Sheba" was on way back in the mid 1990s, but it might have been on TBS or TNT. I'd join you in reminiscing about those days over KFC, but I recently discovered our only KFC closed. Not surprising, since they never had anything except day-old chicken legs.

Pfft to your unacceptable "Heaven Can Wait" slander! Charles Grodin films are never bad! This is, like, a law or something.

Edward Copeland said...

I'd be curious to see Lunt in The Guardsman because he's my favorite Oscar loser of all time. There were three nominees for best actors. Wallace Beery and Fredric March tied for the win and Alfred Lunt was the odd man out. That must have sucked. It'd have been different if he was one of three people who lost, but when two out of three win but not you...