No amount of getting-down-on-hands-and-knees is going to compensate for the recently fallow fields here at Thrilling Days of Yesteryear…but I do want to apologize for not being a little more prolific, something that can be attributed to a great many factors but the chief cause is that the ‘rents and I have been waging war on our new Rancho Yesteryear digs simply because the living environs have started to resemble that famous house in Amityville. The plumbing simply refuses to cooperate: toilets won’t flush—and if they do, they back up into the bathtubs in both lavatories (not a pretty sight, let me tell you)—and the washer in the utility room is also getting into the act by not only overflowing into the tubs but onto my Mom’s nice, clean floor. My advisors tell me that it’s probably a problem with tree roots wreaking havoc with the outside pipes (a conclusion my father came to without my input) and the plumber is supposed to be around today to find out what the cluster-fudge is all about. In the meantime, we are dining on grilled cheese sandwiches and fried mozzarella sticks in an effort to stave off any trips to our newly demonic bathroom(s).
So when I rose and tried to shine yesterday a.m. I was glad to get an e-mail from the ever vigilant Laura of Miscellaneous Musings fame, because she passes onto me the vital info that The Greatest Cable Channel Known to Mankind™ (ka-ching!) has their tentative online schedule for September up. (Well, they did when I wrote this darn thing...the link appears to be broken, but if we clap real hard maybe it will return.) TCM will kick off the back-to-school month (well, it used to be that way—now they get the little j.d.’s back in their cells sometime in mid-August) with a tribute to the works of filmmakers Ismail Merchant and James Ivory every Thursday night in September. My fellow film fanatics and I used to joke that “Merchant-Ivory” was movie shorthand for “I’ll take three Oscars and a side of onion rings” and when you get a gander at the schedule; you certainly won’t be able to deny the prestige and critical kudos enjoyed by many of these films:
Thursday, September 1
The Householder (1963)
The Creation of Woman (1960)
12:15am Bombay Talkie (1970)
02:15am Helen, Queen of the Nautch Girls (1972)
03:00am The Delphi Way (1964)
04:00am Mahatma and the Mad Boy (1974)
Thursday, September 8
The Europeans (1979)
The Bostonians (1984)
12:00am Roseland (1977)
02:00am Quartet (1981)
04:00am Savages (1972)
Thursday, September 15
The Remains of the Day (1993)
Howards End (1992)
01:00am A Room With a View (1985)
03:00am Maurice (1987)
Thursday, September 22
The Ballad of the Sad Café (1991)
The Deceivers (1988)
12:00am The Perfect Murder (1988)
02:00am Street Musicians of Bombay (1994)
Sweet Sounds (1976)
Thursday, September 29
The Sword and the Flute (1959)
Courtesans of Bombay (1983)
12:30am Autobiography of a Princess (1975)
01:45am Jane Austen in Manhattan (1980)
In Ismail’s Custody (1994)
Because I am reluctantly a bit of a lowbrow when it comes to movies I’ll freely confess I’ve only seen a handful of these titles—notably the big guns like Howards End and The Remains of the Day (a friend of mine once asked me what this was about and I told her that it was a love story without any actual love). If I’ve managed to assert some influence over my parents’ viewing habits come fall (which will be difficult, what with TruTV premiering a brand new series of Caught on Video: America’s Funniest Groin Injuries) I might check some of these out, particularly Savages because I like the description in the TCM schedule: “Primitive mud people move into a Long Island estate and transform into social lions.”
Turner Classic Movies’ Star of the Month is a longtime TDOY fave—none other than the King of the Rat Bastards himself, Kirk Douglas. Granted, they can’t show every film the man born Issur Danielovitch Demsky appeared in (along the more glaring omissions: Champion, Detective Story and Gunfight at the O.K. Corral) but the channel has definitely given it the old college try with a lineup of 28 films that will unspool every Tuesday night (and in some cases, Wednesday mornings) in the month of September:
Tuesday, September 6
Out of the Past (1947)
I Walk Alone (1948)
A Letter to Three Wives (1949)
Mourning Becomes Electra (1947)
Wednesday, September 7
Along the Great Divide (1951)
07:45am The Juggler (1953)
The Story of Three Loves (1953)
11:30am Act of Love (1953)
Tuesday, September 13
Young Man With a Horn (1950)
Ace in the Hole (1951)
12:00am The Bad and the Beautiful (1952)
02:15am The Big Sky (1952)
04:45am The Indian Fighter (1955)
Wednesday, September 14
06:30am Top Secret Affair (1957)
Tuesday, September 20
Lust for Life (1956)
Paths of Glory (1957)
12:00am Last Train from Gun Hill (1959)
01:45am The Devil’s Disciple (1959) (also showing September 1 at )
Town Without Pity (1961)
05:15am Two Weeks in Another Town (1962)
Wednesday, September 21
07:15am The Hook (1963)
Tuesday, September 27
Lonely are the Brave (1962)
Seven Days in May (1964)
The Way West (1967)
Wednesday, September 28
06:00am The Heroes of Telemark (1965)
Cast a Giant Shadow (1966)
I haven’t seen I Walk Alone—the first onscreen teaming of Kirk and Burt Lancaster—since the halcyon days of AMC and I remember The Hook being a fairly good picture so I might have to check that out again. What say we take a look at the rest of the month, huh, cartooners?
September 1, Thursday – Douglas’ pal Lancaster gets a tribute of his very own to kick off September that includes the following films: The Flame and the Arrow (1950; 6am), Jim Thorpe—All American (1951; 7:30am), Ten Tall Men (1951; 9:30am), South Sea Woman (1953; 11:15am), His Majesty O’Keefe (1954; 1pm), The Kentuckian (1955; 2:45pm) and Trapeze (1956; 4:30pm). Kentuckian is one of two films
held the directorial reins on (the other being 1974’s The Man) and when they show it on Encore Westerns it’s always in the pan-and-scan version. I’d like to think TCM will present it in widescreen, but that just might be the crazy dreamer in me talking. Lancaster
September 2, Friday – The channel sets aside the day to be “hot for teacher” with a nice cinematic tribute to those tireless public servants who are dedicated to furthering the educational aims of young people despite the fact some states feel it necessary to screw them by legislating away their union’s collective bargaining rights. (I won’t mention any names, of course, but one of these states rhymes with “Risconsin.”) Slated for your perusal are To Sir, With Love (1967; 6:30am), A Patch of Blue (1965; 8:30am), Up the Down Staircase (1967; 10:30am), Bright Road (1953; 12:45pm), Blackboard Jungle (1955; 2pm), The Corn is Green (1945; 4pm) and Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939; 6pm).
Come nightfall, Daryl Hannah and Tom Hanks demonstrated in 1984 that life could be better down where it’s wetter…take it from me, er, them. But before Splash, people like William Powell and Jody “Bonehead” McCrea found that a little recreational fishing often led to big catches involving hot babes with fish tails. At , Powell lands lovely Ann Blyth in Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid (1948), followed by McCrea’s angling feat in hauling in Marta “Lost in Space” Kristen in the best of the “Beach Party” sagas, Beach Blanket Bingo (1965; 9:45pm). Two classic British mermaid vehicles, Miranda (1948) and its sequel, Mad About Men (1954), follow at and .
And on TCM Underground, you can watch the 1987 trash classic I Was a Teenage Zombie (1987): “Teenaged vigilantes kill a drug pusher only to have him return as a zombie.” (Boy, if I had a nickel for every time that happened to me and the people I used to run around with…)
September 3, Saturday – I’ll have the DVD recorder set to capture The Finger Points (1931) at (it’s a movie that’s been on my must-see list for a good many years now) and then afterwards I’ll be able to enjoy spending time with the most beloved comedy team of all time, Stan Laurel & Oliver Hardy. Their Oscar-winning short The Music Box (1932) gets an airing on September 3rd, and that’s followed the next week by Towed in a Hole (1932), then Tit for Tat (1935) on 9/17 and The Fixer Uppers (1935) on 9/24.
Following Stan and Ollie all this month at will be several movies featuring the sleuthing creation of author S.S. Van Dine, Philo Vance. Basil Rathbone starts the ball rolling on the 3rd with his take on Philo in 1930’s The Bishop Murder Case and the following week William Powell gets his chance in the film considered to be the best of the Vance outings, The Kennel Murder Case (1933). On September 17th, it’s Warren William’s turn as he stars in The Dragon Murder Case (1934) and the series wraps up with The Casino Murder Case (1935) starring Paul Lukas as Vance on the 27th,
To get a rest from all that detecting, TCM invites cliffhanger fans to pick up where they left off last month with Chapters 4 (“Unmasked”) and 5 (“Sky Pirates”) of the classic chapter play Zorro Rides Again (1937), starring the poor man’s Clark Gable, John Carroll, as Johnston McCulley’s famous literary creation. The Zorro installments air at 11 and , and as for the rest of the month:
9/10: Chapters 6 (“The Fatal Shot”) and 7 (“Burning Embers”)
9/17: Chapters 8 (“Plunge of Peril”) and 9 (“Tunnel of Terror”)
9/24: Chapters 10 (“Trapped”) and 11 (“Right of Way”)
And wrapping up their “Saturday matinee” at noon TCM continues with the adventures of the Lord of the Apes hizzownself, Tarzan—it’s the beginning of the Gordon Scott years, with Tarzan’s Hidden Jungle (1955) on the 3rd and Tarzan and the Lost Safari (1957; 9/10), Tarzan and the Trappers (1958; 9/17) and Tarzan’s Fight for Life (1958; 9/24). The Saturday TCM Tarzan flicks have become “must-see” viewing for my Mom but I’m curious to see if she’ll make it this far because she’s a fierce Weissmuller partisan.
On TCM Essentials, Bobby Osbo and co-host Alec Baldwin will start gushing about the Billy Wilder-directed classic Sunset Blvd. (1950) at 8pm, a movie that will kick-start an evening of movies featuring my TDOY cohort Pam’s favorite thesps, William “Hubba Hubba” Holden. Force of Arms (1951) follows Sunset at , and after that Young and Willing (1943; 12mid), Picnic (1955; ) and Wild Rovers (1971; ). (The last film has been shown quite a few times on Encore Westerns but again, sadly sans the widescreen [letterboxing] format.)
September 4, Sunday – During my years of exile in
I had a co-worker who sometimes brought her children to work…and one of them was a little girl who never spoke a word, she just grunted all the time—prompting me to joke that the kid had been raised by wolves. The “raised by wolves” reference has resurfaced here at Rancho Yesteryear, only my mother uses it to describe people with very little manners or couth. Suffice it to say, I gave out with a hearty guffaw when I saw that TCM has scheduled François Truffaut’s The Wild Child (1970) at , followed by The Jungle Book (1942) at 4….two films that tackle the very subject of lupine parenting. Morgantown, WV
September 5, Monday – In case you might have missed it the first hundred times it was on, the channel will repeat their 7-part documentary Moguls & Movie Stars: A History of Hollywood today beginning at . I’m guessing today is some sort of film festival theme for TCM because they’ve got an eclectic lineup of movies that include Fat City (1972; 6am), the L&H short Below Zero (1930; 8am), Wanda (1970; 8pm), The Plumber (1979; 10pm), The Breaking Point (1950; 11:30pm), Election (1999; 1:30am) and 8 ½ (1963; 3:30am). They’re even repeating The Films of Georges Méliès at .
September 6, Tuesday – A day of fantasy and science-fiction films kicks off with Boris Karloff’s The Walking Dead (1936) at 6am, followed by I Married a Witch (1942; 7:15am), The Thing from Another World (1951; 8:45am), The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953, 10:15am), Them! (1954; ), Forbidden Planet (1956; ), The Black Scorpion (1957; ), Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1958; ) and The Blob (1958; ). (The amount of foodstuffs generated by these “popcorn movies” would reach to the moon and back three times, according to scientific data I conveniently made up.)
The Ladykillers (1955; 6:30am), tom thumb (1958; 8:15am), The Mouse That Roared (1959; 10am), I’m All Right Jack (1959; 11:30am), The Millionairess (1961; 1:30pm), Lolita (1962; 3pm) and The Bobo (1967; 5:45pm). (Okay, that last one is a bit of a stinker but it could be worse—it could be The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu.)
September 9, Friday – Beginning at 8pm, TCM makes room for Danny…Danny Thomas, that is, with a three-film tribute of I’ll See You in My Dreams (1951), The Jazz Singer (1953; 10pm) and Big City (1948; 12mid)…but before all that, they’re going to show Looking for Love (1964) at 6:30pm…a movie that boasts the distinction of featuring one of the few times Tonight Show legend Johnny Carson appeared in a feature film. It is so bad—how bad is it?—it is so bad, Carson got the same amount of mileage joking about it as Jack Benny did with The Horn Blows at Midnight (1945).
Later on TCM Underground, Beat Street (1984) at 2am…followed by Breakin’ (1984) at . (Why they don’t let Robert Osborne do intros for these movies I’ll never know—I’d give a week’s pay to hear him say “Shabba-Doo.”)
September 12, Monday – A tribute to Marilyn Monroe kicks off at with a movie that I’ve not had the pleasure of seeing since AMC…well, you know how this works by now. It’s Don’t Bother to Knock (1952), and if you’re aware of a better film in which MM plays a psychotic babysitter, drop me an e-mail. Following Knock is Niagara (1953) at , then The Prince and the Showgirl (1957; ), The Misfits (1961; ) and Clash by Night (1952; ).
September 14, Wednesday – About a month or so back my BBFF Stacia sent me a nice little DVD-R haul of some rare film titles, one of them being the 1933 pre-Code classic The Story of Temple Drake, starring
’s own Miriam Hopkins in an adaptation of William Faulkner’s Sanctuary. It’s a pretty difficult film to track down, which leads me to believe that TCM might do a last minute switcheroo (don’t even get me started on the fact that they yanked The Dark at the Top of the Stairs yesterday) but it was also shown at the channel’s first classic film festival about a year ago so this may be legit…and if you don’t have a great friend like Stacia, you might want to grab a copy. It’s followed by one of my favorite Savannah, GA performances in another movie that’s not readily accessible—1951’s The Mating Season at . Hopkins
At , a 1951 film called The Hoodlum is on the schedule…and seeing that legendary
Hollywood mug Lawrence Tierney is the star just made me giggle a bit. This is followed by The Hoodlum Priest (1961), an interesting little docudrama starring TDOY fave Don Murray as real-life crusading padre Charles Dismas Clark (I saw this one a few years ago and it’s definitely worth a look-see.)
September 15, Thursday – Happy birthday to the one of the funniest men who ever walked the planet—Robert Benchley! The fun starts at 6am with Piccadilly Jim (1936), followed by Three Girls About Town (1941; 7:45am), You’ll Never Get Rich (1941; 9:15am), The Sky’s the Limit (1943; 10:45am), Janie (1944; 12:30pm), Snafu (1945; 2:15pm), Road to Utopia (1946; 3:45pm) and his cinematic swan song, Janie Gets Married (1946; 5:30pm).
September 16, Friday – Whoops…we’ll need to send out for another birthday cake because Betty Joan Perske will (knock wood) celebrate her 87th natal anniversary on this day…of course, we know her better as Lauren Bacall and she’ll be showcased in Dark Passage (1947; 6:45am), Key Largo (1948; 8:45am), Bright Leaf (1950; 10:30am), The Cobweb (1955; 12:30pm), Sex and the Single Girl (1964; 2:45pm) and Harper (1966; 4:45pm). There’ll also be a repeat of her 2005 appearance with Bobby Osbo on Private Screenings at .
Come nightfall, TCM will present a quartet of films featuring a British institution that was perfecting the art of the double entendre long before Grace Brothers Department Store opened its doors—it’s the “Carry On” gang in Carry On Sergeant (1958) at 8pm, followed by Carry On Nurse (1959; 9:30pm), Carry On Teacher (1959; 11pm) and ‘Carry On Constable’ (1960; 12:30am). The humor in these movies is as subtle as a sledgehammer to the thumb but when you get an opportunity to watch such
comedy greats as Kenneth Connor, Kenneth Williams (I’ll watch anything he’s in), Shirley Eaton, Charles Hawtrey, Hattie Jacques and Sid James you find you don’t mind much. UK
September 17, Saturday – This is the morning that Warren William does his Philo Vance thing in The Dragon Murder Case but before that TCM’s showing the classic Employees’ Entrance (1933) at 6am—a film that I keep meaning to get a copy of for the dusty Thrilling Days of Yesteryear archives and wind up being stymied at every turn.
On TCM Essentials, it’s another go-round with the world’s most evil daughter in the 1945 classic Mildred Pierce—and following this, the channel will showcase other films in actress Ann Blyth’s catalog: Kismet (1955; 10pm), All the Brothers Were Valiant (1953; 12mid), Our Very Own (1950; 2am) and Rose Marie (1954; 4am).
The Power and the Glory (1933), a neglected classic that some consider a blueprint for the later and better-known Citizen Kane (1941). Apparently TCM subscribes to this theory, too, because they’ve scheduled Kane at and Glory afterward at .
TCM’s Silent Sunday Nights will then offer a repeat of the restored version of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1926) at , followed by the documentary that shows how they restored this masterpiece at . That runs about an hour, and then another early look at science-fiction gets a showing at with Things to Come (1936).
September 19, Monday – Gotta dance…gotta dance! An evening salute to the terpsichorean art of ballet gets underway with the newly-discovered Dr. Coppelius (1966; aka The Mysterious House of Dr. C) at , followed by the cult favorite The Red Shoes (1948) at . Gene Kelly’s Invitation to the Dance (1956) is up at 12:15am, and for those of you who snicker when I mention on the blog what a malevolent force moppet actress Margaret O’Brien can be I ask you to look no further that this description for The Unfinished Dance (1947; 2am): “A young dance student accidentally cripples a teacher she doesn't like.” (She’s evil…evil!!!) Ballerina (1937) finishes out the proceedings at .
Quo Vadis (1951; ) in the lineup (her part is shorter than the wine list on an airplane) you’ll get full Sophia coverage at with her Academy Award-winning turn in Two Women (1960). That’s followed by Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (1963; ), Lady L (1965; ), Operation Crossbow (1965; ) and Ghosts – Italian Style (1967; ).
September 21, Wednesday – Back in the days of silents and early talkies, the man responsible for keeping Columbia Studios in “corned beef and cabbage” was two-fisted he-man Jack Holt, and TCM pays tribute to him with a lineup of films that starts at 9am with The Smart Set (1928) and then continues with Flight (1929; 10:30am), Behind the Mask (1932; 12:30pm), Black Moon (1934; 1:45pm), I’ll Fix It (1934; 3pm), Whirlpool (1934; 4:15pm). The Great Plane Robbery (1940; ) and Northwest Rangers (1942; ). I caught Moon the last time it was on TCM but since I’ll Fix It and Whirlpool were also directed by Roy William Neill I will definitely have to check those out.
When evening shadows fall, we’ll all be exhorting the star of such films as Rebel Without a Cause (1955) to come back to the five and dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean. A documentary on the actor, James Dean: Forever Young (2005) kicks off the proceedings at , followed by East of Eden (1955) at . Then Cause at , and Giant (1956) finishes out the evening at 2am.
September 22, Thursday – The one Margaret O’Brien movie that doesn’t make me retch is on this morning at , Our Vines Have Tender Grapes (1945). And that’s because her co-star, the thoroughly revolting Jackie “Butch” Jenkins, earns most of my enmity. (Hey, it’s also got Edward G. Robinson, Agnes Moorehead, Frances “Nyoka” Gifford, Elizabeth Russell, Louis Jean Heydt and Charles Middleton, too—so that makes up for a lot.)
September 23, Friday – The actor who was the topic of discussion on Monday with the commemoration of Man Hunt’s 70th anniversary celebrates a birthday today…none other than Walter Pidgeon. One of Pidgeon’s turns as “Nick Carter, Master Detective” is scheduled—1940s Phantom Raiders (12:15pm), directed by TDOY fave Jacques Tourneur—otherwise it’s Journal of a Crime (1934) at 6am, followed by Too Hot to Handle (1938; 7:15am), Society Lawyer (1939; 9:15am), Stronger Than Desire (1939; 10:45am), The Miniver Story (1950; 1:30pm), Soldiers Three (1951; 3:30pm) and Scandal at Scourie (1953; 5:15pm).
Come evening, the channel takes us on a treasure hunt with a series of films that offer as their main premise the very search for treasure…King Solomon’s Mines (1950) starts the proceedings at , followed by Boy on a Dolphin (1957) at and Legend of the Lost (1957) at . (These last two films feature Sophia Loren as the leading lady…and if she’s at your side why the heck is it necessary to hunt for treasure?)
September 25, Sunday – Now don’t be sad…’cause two out of three ain’t bad. No, it’s not Meat Loaf again…TCM has the 1941 version of Fannie Hurst‘s classic novel Back Street (with Margaret Sullavan) scheduled at 8pm and the 1961 version (with Susan Hayward) following at 9:45. But as for the 1932 version with Irene Dunne—well, I’m sure some disreputable nostalgia blog could point you to a “rootpeg” copy somewhere…
September 26, Monday – Happy birthday to one of the best character actors in the history of film—Edmund Gwenn celebrates what would have been his 134th natal anniversary today. Nice lineup of Gwenn vehicles, too: The Bishop Misbehaves (1935; 6am), Sylvia Scarlett (1935; 7:30am), Anthony Adverse (1936; 9:15am), Parnell (1937; 11:45am), The Earl of Chicago (1939; 1:45pm), A Yank at Eaton (1942; 3:15pm), She Went to the Races (1945; 5pm) and It’s a Dog’s Life (1955; 6:30pm).
Then TCM reschedules a previous tribute to films set in the Orient (I know a celebrity death interrupted this in April, I just don’t remember whose) with The Painted Veil (1934) at and China Sky (1945) at . That’s followed by The Inn of the Sixth Happiness (1958; 11pm), Shanghai Express (1932; 2am), China Doll (1958; ) and West of Shanghai (1937; ).
September 27, Tuesday – Beginning at 6:30am, TCM goes “stateside” with California Mail (1936), followed by Arizona (1940; 7:30am), The Oklahoma Kid (1939; 9:45am), Masterson of Kansas (1954; 11:15am), Montana (1950; 12:30pm), Texas (1941; 2pm), Colorado Territory (1949; 4pm) and North to Alaska (1960; 5:45pm). (Yes, they do get worse the closer I get to the end of the month.)
September 28, Wednesday – TCM has the 1943 Charles Boyer-Joan Fontaine drama The Constant Nymph scheduled at …or as we used to call the class pickup, “the constant nympho.” (Did I exaggerate?) I haven’t seen this one on the schedule in a long time but on the other hand I don’t know if you could call it a rarity or not. What I am interested in is the fact that the channel has scheduled some of the comic travelogue shorts made by the great Will Rogers in 1927 when the Pathé folks paid for the humorist’s European vacation. Scheduled are Winging Around Europe with Will Rogers (1927; ) and Exploring England with Will Rogers (1927; 5am), with Roaming the Emerald Isle with Will Rogers (1927; 7am) and With Will Rogers in Dublin (1927; ) scheduled the next day.
September 29, Thursday – I’ve been curious to see …One Third of a Nation… (1939) for a good many years now (one of the few times the late Sidney Lumet acted in front of the cameras) and with this description—“After rescuing a boy from a tenement fire, a wealthy young man learns he owns the run-down building”—I’m done, sold, Bob’s your uncle (it airs at 7:15am, in between the last two Will Rogers shorts). Heat Lightning (1934) comes on at , so if I missed grabbing it in July I’ll get a second opportunity.
September 30, Friday – And finally, we close out the month with a tip-of-the-hat to birthday celebrant Deborah Kerr…and what’s great about this day is that not only is Black Narcissus (1947) scheduled (10am) but another one of my favorite vehicles with Deb, the sublimely spooky The Innocents (1961) at 1:45pm. Rounding out the lineup are Count Your Blessings (1959; 6am), If Winter Comes (1947; 8am), The End of the Affair (1955; ), The Journey (1959; ) and The Sundowners (1960; ).