Friday, January 27, 2012

But wait…there’s more!

I want to thank everyone who entered Thrilling Days of Yesteryear’s “Burns & Allen Treasury” giveaway, and only wish I had enough of the CD sets to give one to every person who e-mailed an entry (and I would, too, because that’s how I roll).  The winner of the 10-CD set (a $39.98 value) is Ellen E. from Undisclosed Location, North Dakota (Ellen didn’t send me a snail-mail when she entered so I’m guessing at the coordinates) and I will get her prize out as soon as I hear back from her.

To temper the disappointment for those who didn’t win, I’d like to announce another TDOY giveaway—this time, it’s the Radio Spirits release Sergeant Preston of the Yukon: Arctic Odyssey.  An eight CD set containing sixteen broadcasts, this collection is unique in that the episodes included were previously uncirculated and for many listeners, will be the first time they have been available since their original airing.  Paul Sutton stars as the square-jawed, straight-shooting member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police who is assisted by his trusty dog King in rounding up the various miscreants, scofflaws and ne’er-do-wells that ran rampant in the Yukon Territory at a time when gold fever was rampant and so were men slightly-less-than-honest.

Sergeant Preston of the Yukon—also known in its early years as Challenge of the Yukon—was sponsored in its half-hour form by Quaker Puffed Wheat and Puffed Rice (“The breakfast cereal shot from guns!”), and because the Quaker people’s mission to was to sell as much cereal as possible they would often offer up premiums to younger listeners: nifty little prizes that could be obtained by mailing in boxtops and a small amount of coinage (usually a dime or a quarter back in those days).  There’s a story arc in this collection that just does that, offering up five totem pole models to coincide with the events on the show…I’d be curious as to whether or not anyone out there still has these totems as a souvenir.

So you know the drill: if you’re interested in a chance to win this set, just drop me an e-mail at igsjrotr(at)gmail(dot) com before 11:59pm next Friday (February 3) and Saturday morning I will draw a winner from what I’m sure will be a bodaciously large stack of entries.  Just make sure you put “Sergeant Preston Giveaway” in the subject header (I thought about using “Arctic Odyssey Giveaway” but that sounds like something that would wind up in my spam e-mailbox) and if you’d rather wait to see if you’re a winner before including a mailing address, that’s fine and dandy with me.  This 8-CD set, which retails at $31.95, comes as a courtesy of my splendiferous working arrangement with Radio Spirits, for which I am truly grateful…and having listened to these shows, I think you’ll be pleased with the end result.  Thrilling Days of Yesteryear—where the winning tradition continues!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Department of Corrections

Peggy, a loyal member of the TDOY faithful, e-mailed me this morning to inform me that she kept getting her “Burns & Allen Treasury” contest entry bounced and the reason for this is because I left out part of the e-mail address to send the entries to.  It’s igsjrotr(at)gmail(dot)com (I stupidly forgot the “otr” part—irony can be very ironic sometimes), so thanks to her for pointing out the error and good luck to everyone who enters (I’ve also corrected the addy in the original post).

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Fabulous prizes…er, prize!

Things have not been dull here at Rancho Yesteryear, despite the erratic posting schedule—I just finished the notes for a Richard Diamond, Private Detective release that will be coming your way via Radio Spirits in the near future, and am also plugging away on another project that I hope I’ll be able to do a little chest-swelling about soon (I’ve mentioned it to a few of the people in my “inner circle,” aka the people who e-mail me from time to time).  Speaking of busting buttons, my Mom fished an Radio Spirits circular out of the mailbox yesterday and noticed that the company has two new releases out that I had a small hand in: a collection of Our Miss Brooks broadcasts that was as fun to write as it was to listen (and is pictured at your left), and a smaller (but just as pretty) set of The Life of Riley.  Both of these classic radio comedies are among my all-time favorites, so sometimes it’s like being paid to attend a party.

The collection pictured on your right is one I did last year for RS (and I had planned to do this earlier but things kept getting in the way); it’s a 10-disc set of twenty broadcasts featuring the immortal comedy team of George Burns & Gracie Allen, with a few of these shows making their compact disc debut for the first time since their original broadcast.  One of my all-time favorite Burns & Allen shows is on this one, a riotous December 4, 1947 outing with Der Bingle as guest star (I referenced this show in a review I did for the 1933 film College Humor back in April 2011), and the two broadcasts featuring Cary Grant are most enjoyable to listen to as well (Grant was a big George & Gracie fan, and once offered to appear on their show without pay…something that I’m sure went over big with his agent).  Among the Hollywood celebrities you can hear in this collection are Brian Donlevy, Ray Milland, Ann Sheridan, Pat O’Brien, Hedy Lamarr (that’s Hedley!), Loretta Young and Ida Lupino.

I say “you can hear” because, yes, I have a set to give away to some lucky member of the Thrilling Days of Yesteryear faithful.  All you need to do is shoot me an e-mail at igsjrotr(at)gmail(dot)com with “Treasury giveaway” in the subject header by 11:59pm next Thursday (January 26) and if you want to include your snail mail address, that’s fine (that allows me to send it out quicker) but if you’d rather not divulge that info until you’re certain you’re the winner that’s fine and dandy as well.  If you desire, you can even compose something in the e-mail along the lines of “I desperately want to win this set, and if I do not I shall throw myself off from the highest turret.”  I will draw a winner Friday morning the 27th using the old reliable random number generator at and send out the prize with all deliberate speed.  The Burns & Allen Treasury CD set (a $39.98 value) would make a nice addition to your OTR library or a nifty gift to the OTR/classic film fan on your list, and I want to thank Radio Spirits for sending this freebie my way.  Thrilling Days of Yesteryear…where the winning tradition continues!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Go west, young critic

Back in 2009, the Western Writers of America composed a list of what its members felt to be the Top 50 boob tube oaters, splitting the tally into two separate countdowns—one for miniseries, and the other for regular shows.  In fact, I composed a post about that very list that expressed how pleased I was with the choices even though I had a tiny nitpick or two.  (I apologize for leaving out the miniseries list; I focused mainly on the other.)

A writer named Roger Catlin over at has put together a list that he calls “TV’s greatest westerns” in one of those slide shows that used to be the specialty of the site’s former TV critic, Matt Zoller Seitz, before he went traipsing off to work for New York Magazine.  I wish Matt nothing but the best, but I also wish he’d reconsider coming back to Salon because despite my tendency to disagree with some of the pieces he put together for them in the past he never came up with anything as mind-boggling asinine as Catlin’s slide show.  Here’s his list of (my emphasis added) TV’s greatest westerns:

 1. Gunsmoke
 2. Deadwood
 3. Lonesome Dove (miniseries)
 4. The Big Valley
 5. McCloud
 6. Firefly
 7. The Wild Wild West
 8. Rawhide
 9. Wanted: Dead or Alive
10. Have Gun – Will Travel

If you haven’t already burst a blood vessel in your brain, you’re probably thinking (as I did) right now—what for the love of Shiloh is Firefly doing on this list?  Firefly was a short-lived science-fiction series that came and went in 2002, the creation of writer-director-producer Joss Whedon, who was also responsible for Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  The show attracted a significant fanboy (and fangirl, judging by some of my Facebook friends) element to live on despite its brief run in the form of a 2005 feature film, Serenity, and a myriad number of comic books, role-playing games, fan fiction, etc.  Catlin writes:

Joss Whedon’s first series after “Buffy” and its spinoffs was this fanciful futuristic space show that he quite explicitly described as a western. That could be seen too in the adventures of the spaceship, led like so many cowboy series, by a pair of soldiers from the recent Civil War (in this case the Unification War,) in which planets banded together to resist the controlling Alliance.

So the show was, in essence, an evocation of Western elements.  Fine and dandy.  But that doesn’t make it a western.  My Facebook compadre Archie Waugh points out that if that is the case, Star Trek would go on this list ahead of Firefly—creator Gene Roddenberry (who cut his teeth writing many an episode for Have Gun – Will Travel) sold that series as “Wagon Train to the stars.”  (Archie also argues that any number of shows—The Rifleman, Kung Fu, Alias Smith and Jones—would be better choices, which I heartily concur.)

The show he lists at #5, McCloud, also contained western elements—cowboy cop, horse, etc.—but it, too, is not a western…it’s a cop show.  I even have a problem with The Wild Wild West ranking so high on this list (and I’m a huge fan of the show) because it’s more of a spy show than western…but at least it takes place in the period in which we generally associate westerns.

Any “greatest TV westerns” list that doesn’t include Bonanza (even though I’m not a fan, it’s still an essential western) or Maverickhe left off Maverick, ferchrissake!—isn’t worth the bandwidth he used to stick this up on the Internets.  I don’t begrudge anyone tallying up such a list, you understand—Catlin puts Wanted: Dead or Alive in his Top 10 and while I think Wanted is a good western I’d hardly call it a great western.  (I think Catlin included it just so he could make a Bon Jovi joke.)  But he would have been a hell of a lot better off if this had been titled “My Favorite TV Westerns.”

At least he got the #1 oater right.  And Brother Edward Copeland can “enter his house justified” that Deadwood is finally getting a little respect.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

“How would you like one ‘cross your lips?”

Forty years ago on this date, NBC premiered Sanford and Son—a sitcom starring legendary nightclub comedian Redd Foxx and stage veteran Demond Wilson as a bickering father-and-son team of junk dealers that became a smash sensation in its first “half-season” despite its “time slot of death” at 8pm on Friday nights (the series ranked #6 in the Nielsens in its freshman start).  The success of the series allowed NBC to establish a beachhead on Fridays, turning the later Chico and the Man into a Top Ten favorite and putting such series as The Rockford Files and Police Woman in the Top 20.

Although Sanford and Son seemed like an unlikely hit at the time, the producers of the program—Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin—had to suspect the show would catch on because of its pedigree: it was an Americanized version of Steptoe and Son, a popular Britcom that had been entertaining U.K. audiences since 1962 (it would be the second success of a British sitcom adaptation for the two men, following Tandem Productions’ All in the Family—known as Till Death Us Do Part across the pond).  I wrote a little tribute to the series that you can read at Edward Copeland on Film…and More, and in revisiting Sanford and Son discovered to my delight that the show still holds up pretty well today.  There are probably more than a few of you who are saying right now “No duh, you big dummy”…but it’s been a while since I’ve seen the series and when I did run across it (I caught it on TVLand once or twice during my hospital stays in March-April 2010, if memory serves) the episode always seemed to be one of the outings from the last two seasons when the show wasn’t quite as good.

I watched a few Sanfords over at in preparation for my Copeland essay, and enjoyed those so much that when I happened to spot the Sanford and Son: The Complete Series box set on sale at for $23.23 I popped that puppy in my shopping cart faster than you can say “I’m comin’ to join ya, Elizabeth!”  (17¢ an episode—it’s a junk man’s dream.)  Had I known that our household would soon be receiving the show as part of our recent acquisition of Antenna TV (which repeats the sitcom at 11pm weeknights) I might have given it a second thought but that’s the great thing about TV-on-DVD—it doesn’t have to conform to any schedule.

Friday, January 13, 2012

It’s a most unusual day

I know today is Friday the 13th, but it’s actually turning out to be one of those days when the Cable Gods are smiling down upon my ‘umble existence here at Rancho Yesteryear.  Let me see if I can explain why in a few short sent…oh, hell—you should probably know by now it’s never going to be a few short sentences…

Last night, I turned on the TV set in my bedroom shortly before eight o’clock because Thursday evenings offer up my boob tube favorites: Parks & Recreation, The Office…and I would have Community on this list except NBC has for the time being assigned it to that frustrating television limbo known as “hiatus” in order to put 30 Rock back on the schedule.  (I also like Up All Night, despite what majorly important TV critics say.)  But the channel I had watched when the set was last on was the digital feed of MSNBC, and I noticed when the set came on that all that was left of the Lean Forward people was a blue screen with a “No Signal” box floating around in all its blue-osity.

This is generally a sign that our cable company, CharredHer Communications, has done a shuffle of their channel line-up and the last time this happened I thought (briefly) that I had lost my fiancée, Me-TV.  So I went ahead and reprogrammed the set, and when I was finished noticed that many of the digital channel versions of some of the stations I watch had vanished…which was a small disappointment.  However, since Me-TV was still intact I didn’t get too worked up about this.

This morning, I started surfing the new channels and came across Seems Like Old Times (1980) on one of them…and since I had nothing else to do at that time, watched a bit of it until the station break.  It was at that time that I was informed I was watching…wait for it

Antenna TV!

(Heavenly chorus)

I know what you’re saying/thinking right now:  “It takes so little to make him happy.”  And you would be right, though I’d be in a much better humor if you removed a little of the sarcasm from that remark.  But the addition of Antenna TV to our Athens environs (courtesy of WATL in Atlanta) can only be a good thing, because now I have access to such TV chestnuts as Bachelor Father, Father Knows Best, Gidget, Hazel, The Flying Nun (touché, Ms. Driscoll!), The Monkees, The Partridge Family, Burns and Allen, Jack Benny and so many more.  With great TV comes great responsibility, however…I’m fearful I may never emerge from my bedroom again.

CharredHer Cable is a completely evil entity (in league with the USPS, by the way) but every now and then they do something worthwhile…and they’ve come a long way from RTV, which we no longer get but that I also no longer miss (CharredHer in Athens doesn’t carry the RTV affiliate in our area, WYGA).  I welcomed Antenna TV on Facebook this morning, and this is the response I received:

Thursday, January 12, 2012

We’re registered at Kohl’s…

On Facebook today, my pretend girlfriend Me-TV rolled out a brand new promo for The Second Greatest Cable Channel Known to Mankind™ (and if Rick Brooks thinks he’s getting a piece of that action, he’s out of his tree):

I was so taken with this that I finally got up the nerve to propose in the Facebook comments.  I didn’t get a definite yes, but the response was encouraging:

(You may have to click to embiggen.)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Let us now praise the carpenter

You may remember reading in an earlier post that one of the gifts I received for Christmas was the DVD collection I’m Dickens…He’s Fenster: Volume 1, a 3-disc set containing the first sixteen episodes of the ABC situation comedy that lasted a solitary season from 1962-63.  Created and produced by Honeymooners/Phil Silvers Show scribe Leonard Stern, who would later have a hand in such later shows as Get Smart, He & She and McMillan and Wife, the series starred John Astin (Dickens) and Marty Ingels (Fenster) as a pair of enthusiastic (if sometimes inept) handymen who were bosom buddies despite their disparate lifestyles: Arch Fenster was a carefree and somewhat irresponsible bachelor, with pal Harry Dickens the more stable (if a bit insecure) married man, lawfully wedded to supportive spouse Kate (Emmaline Henry).

I’ve talked about the show on the blog before, how I was looking forward to the release after having previously enjoyed sampling it through my nefarious bootleg connections.  The Volume 1 set was mailed out to interested parties in the early part of December (provided you purchased the collection directly from the website) in advance of its official April 10th date, and those who jumped on the special deal also got a bonus in an autographed postcard from one of five performers who had appeared on the show (I scored one with Lee Meriwether) in addition to getting a credit when Volume 2 (the final sixteen episodes) is released as a “co-architect.”  I’m sure I don’t have to remind you of my irritation with split-season DVD collections but I find it hard to be angry at this one (“Stay not mad!” as Stacia would say) because of the bodacious extras…including commentaries from creator Stern, cast members Astin, Ingels and Dave “Agent 13” Ketchum and guest stars Meriwether and Yvonne “Batgirl” Craig (Chris Korman, son of Harvey, also offers some insights on an episode his pop had a part in, “The Acting Game”).

Of the episodes of Dickens…Fenster that I’ve watched so far, my favorite is probably “The Joke”…and I consider it my favorite possibly because it would be the episode that I’d show to someone who’d never seen the series.  I talked about the episode in this January 2008 post but a few of the other outings on this collection that I deeply enjoy are “The Double Life of Mel Warshaw” (Harry, Arch and their pals attempt to fix up a dilapidated cabin), “Harry, the Father Image” (which includes a falling-down funny scene that has Astin having to cope with a sudden influx of Ingels’ girlfriends as he tries to keep them from meeting Marty’s fiancée, played by Ellen [McRae] Burstyn) and “Here’s to the Three of Us” (Astin executes similar laughs as he rushes around his house hiding party food, keeping Ingels from learning about a shindig to which he’s not been invited).  “How Not to Succeed in Business” is also a pip; the highlight is a riotous scene where Harry and Arch, striking out on their own and inviting potential clients to dinner, get stuck with a check they cannot pay.

Of special interest to OTR fans is an episode “Party, Party, Who’s Got the Party?” which was penned by Ray Singer and Dick Chevillat, the two men who wrote the wonderful Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show.  The episode begins with some hilarious physical comedy in a restaurant as Astin’s Harry is explaining the plot of Big Deal on Madonna Street to Ingels’ Fenster and Ketchum’s Warshaw…but Harry keeps getting interrupted as a result of his being seated too close to the door to the kitchen, much to the amusement of another co-worker, Bob Mulligan (played the great Henry Beckman).  Harry’s irritation can clearly be detected in this exchange with his pal Arch:

ARCH: Saturday night…I think I’m due at somebody’s house for dinner…
HARRY: You’re always due at somebody’s house for dinner…
ARCH: Well, what’s that supposed to mean?
HARRY: Just what I said…
ARCH: You’re mad at Mulligan and that door and you’re takin’ it out on me…I’m no moocher!  If I’m not due for dinner, I don’t go…
HARRY: If you’re not due for dinner you don’t eat
ARCH: Oh yeah?
HARRY: Yeah!
MEL: Hey, you guys…if I wanted to hear a fight, I’d eat at home

Harry explains to Arch that he has social obligations to meet—that he should repay the people who’ve had him over to dine over the years, so Arch decides to throw a big “roof raiser” and invite everyone to whom he’s duty-bound, including Harry and wife Kate since they’ve had him over the most times.  (Also since he’s throwing the shindig at their house.)  In making the menu arrangements, Arch has to prune his list of guests to accommodate the caterer he’s hiring…and when he insists on inviting co-worker Mulligan, Harry puts his foot down—if the obnoxious Mulligan is going to be in attendance, no party.  Arch compensates for this by asking Mulligan if the party can be hosted at his house, and Harry parries by planning a gala for the same night; he even has the inspiration to invite their boss, Myron Bannister (the hilariously deadpan Frank DeVol), to insure everyone that works with them comes.  But Arch gets to Bannister first, and so Harry and Kate spend their Saturday night alone in pajamas playing gin until Arch comes by to plead with his friend to reconsider coming.  After some initial reluctance, Harry agrees and while Kate is getting dressed Arch introduces Harry to his date…Mulligan’s cousin.

ARLENE: You know, I’m awfully glad you’re coming to my cousin’s party…
HARRY: Well, I’m…I’m happy to count Bob Mulligan among my closest, at work and at play…
ARLENE: Oh, he’s very fond of you, too…
ARLENE: Yes, he’s always talking about you…the fun you two used to have together…playing cards, hunting, bowling…
HARRY (interrupting): Excuse me…he told you about the hunting trip?
ARLENE (laughing): Funniest story I ever heard…you and that moose…I know it by heart; he tells it every time he comes to Cleveland
(A look of terror can be seen on Harry’s face as Arch tries to warn his date off the subject…)
HARRY: They know about me and the moose in Cleveland?
ARLENE: Oh, yes!  And say…I meant to ask you something, Mr. Dickens…that time in the woods when you…
ARCH (interrupting): Arlene, I think we’d better go… (Rising off the couch) Harry, I’ll meet you at the party…
HARRY: Now wait a minute!  I want to hear this…what was your question, Arlene?
ARLENE: When you were swimming in that lake…and you hung your pants and shirt on what you thought was a branch of a tree (Arch buries his face in his hands as Arlene laughs)…did you really have to chase that moose three miles up a mountain just to get your clothes back?

Harry becomes furious once again, and changes his mind about going to the party (Arch: “There’ll be one empty place…”  Harry: “Invite the moose!”) just as Kate emerges from the bedroom, dressed and ready to go.  The Dickenses resume their gin game, and Arch soon returns—this time with Mulligan, who apologizes for being an asshat and laughing at Harry’s various predicaments, promising to be the picture of sobriety.  So Harry agrees to let bygones be bygones and while Kate returns to the bedroom to resume gussying up, Harry demonstrates to Arch and Mulligan how he puts on a tight cummerbund.   The article of clothing goes sailing out the window once Harry exhales and Mulligan is helpless with laughter.  That’s what leads to the camel being buried in a straw stack, only this time Arch insists he’s not returning to the party because he, too, has been insulted by the way Mulligan has treated his friend.  As a wrap-up, Harry dreads explaining to Kate that they are definitely not going to the party but she’s one step ahead of them…removing her wrap, she reveals underneath that she’s still in her housecoat.

The Dickens…Fenster set closes out with the hysterically funny “The Godfathers,” in which co-worker Mel is about to become a father…for the eleventh time…and Harry and Arch agree to baby-sit for his brood while his wife is delivering.  There’s some first-rate slapstick and sight gags in this one, my favorite has our heroes gathering up milk bottles for the milkman and the two of them go back and forth carrying multiple containers, culminating with Harry’s dragging of a milk urn to the door.  (Arch takes out a pad of paper and pencil to leave the man a note: “Please leave one cow.”)  Astin does some uproarious physical comedy in this outing, including falling over not just one but two skates and getting trapped in a converted bed.  I like how even though Astin’s character was considered the more sensible of the two he carries most of the slapstick…but I’ve also developed a new appreciation for his acting talent (he’s always been a favorite since my macabre childhood days staring at The Addams Family) because I get the impression that despite their exemplary chemistry he and Ingels never really got along on the show (and yet the only way you’d know this is by listening to Ingels’s audio commentary on “Harry, the Father Image”).

Among the bonuses on this set include a moving tribute to creator Stern, who left this world for a better one in mid-project…I’m hoping that the creative minds behind Volume 2 have something similar planned for Stern’s collaborator Mel Tolkin, who served as story editor and co-wrote many of the episodes (also working alongside the great Don Hinkley).  There’s also an amusing Ivory Soap commercial featuring Astin, Ingels and Henry as their characters, mot to mention a promo (which unfortunately doesn’t have the same video quality of the Ivory ad, but you do what you can with the tools you have) announcing the show’s premiere on ABC.  But above and beyond all that, there are sixteen half-hours of a show that was sadly canceled before its time; a marvelous blend of physical and verbal comedy that thankfully will see its second volume released soon.  Here’s a short preview of an episode I have not seen (it sounds hilarious—I like how Emmaline’s closing line in this clip reminds me of that current McDonald’s commercial), “Table Tennis, Anyone?”:

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Coming distractions: March 2012 on TCM

Kowabunga, cartooners!  Bet you’re surprised at how quickly TDOY’s regular feature highlighting the goodies to come on The Greatest Cable Channel Known to Mankind™ is up and running this month.  The lion’s share (rowrrr…) of the credit goes to the indispensable Laura at Miscellaneous Musings, who located the tentative March schedule and whose Internets sleuthing skills have placed her in serious contention for a Saturday morning cartoon series in which she solves mysteries accompanied by a semi-talking dog (“Rut roh, Raura!”).  Okay, I may be making that up but after TCM’s “31 Days of Oscar” in February (and the first few days in March) fans will no doubt be anxious to get back to viewing choices of the “variety is the spice of life” nature…and the channel doesn’t disappoint this month, to be certain.

The Star of the Month will be Karl Malden, the Oscar-winning thespian who was familiar to me (before I became obsessed with classic movies) from his hit TV crime drama The Streets of San Francisco (1972-77) and his tireless shilling of American Express Travelers Checks (“Don’t leave home without them…”).  Malden has been a longtime favorite here at TDOY, and with every Wednesday in March, the man born Mladen Sekulovich will be feted via a 25-film tribute (including his solo foray behind the camera, 1957’s Time Limit) that shapes up as follows:

Wednesday – March 7
08:00pm Ruby Gentry (1952)
09:30pm Parrish (1961)
12:00am Baby Doll (1956)
02:00am Dead Ringer (1964)
04:00am Murderer’s Row (1966)

Thursday – March 8
06:00am The Sellout (1952)

Wednesday – March 14
10:15pm On the Waterfront (1954)
12:15pm Time Limit (1957)
02:00am Hotel (1967)
04:15am Billion Dollar Brain (1967)

Thursday – March 15
06:15am Come Fly With Me (1963)

Wednesday – March 21
08:00pm Nevada Smith (1966)
10:15pm The Hanging Tree (1959)
12:15am How the West Was Won (1962)
03:15am All Fall Down (1962)
05:15am Meteor (1979)

Thursday – March 22
07:15am Boomerang! (1947)

Wednesday – March 28
08:00pm Gypsy (1962)
10:30pm The Cincinnati Kid (1965)
12:30am I Confess (1953)
02:30am Take the High Ground! (1953)
04:15am Bombers B-52 (1957)

Thursday – March 29
06:15am Hot Millions (1968)

Also on tap for the month is a festival that TCM is titling the “British New Wave,” a fertile period of filmmaking from the late 1950s to early 1970s when disaffected working class British youth were often the focus of feature films (movies often referred to as “kitchen sink dramas”) and were quite popular with UK moviegoers; theatre patrons being rewarded with outstanding works from the likes of Tony Richardson, John Schlesinger, Richard Lester and many, many more.  I’ve been fortunate to catch many of the movies scheduled in other venues (chiefly on Flix On Demand) but there are one or two of these I haven’t seen, so I’m jazzed about the 20-film tribute:

Monday – March 5
08:00pm Room at the Top (1959)
10:15pm Look Back in Anger (1959)
12:00am The Entertainer (1960)
03:45am Victim (1961)

Monday – March 12
08:00pm A Kind of Loving (1962)
10:00pm The L-Shaped Room (1962)
02:15am A Taste of Honey (1961)
04:00am Girl with Green Eyes (1964)

Monday – March 19
08:00pm This Sporting Life (1963)
10:30pm Billy Liar (1963)
12:15am Tom Jones (1963)
04:30am Only Two Can Play (1962)

Monday – March 26
08:00pm Kes (1969)
10:00pm Darling (1965)
12:15am The Pumpkin Eater (1964)
04:00am Petulia (1968)

The last time Victim was on TCM, I foolishly assumed (silly ol’ me) that the running time indicated on their website was the correct one…and as such, lost about the last ten minutes of the movie when I recorded it.  So I’m glad to see that it’s making the rounds on the channel again.  And now for a rundown on what else you can expect to see in the month of March…keeping in mind, of course, that all times are EST and are subject to change.

March 3, Saturday – Every Saturday morning in March, the channel has scheduled cinematic fun with Moe, Larry and Curly Joe—the Three Stooges.  Their 1959 feature film debut, Have Rocket – Will Travel kicks off the month (at 9:15am) and that’s followed on March 10 by my favorite of the Stooge features, The Three Stooges Meet Hercules (1962; also 9:15am).  The boys get a day off on March 17 (due to the scheduling of some St. Paddy’s Day movies) but resume the following week with The Three Stooges Go Around the World in a Daze (1963; 9am) and conclude on March 31 with their last feature for Columbia, The Outlaws is Coming (1965; 9am).

I guess the third and last of the Gerald Mohr Lone Wolf movies, The Lone Wolf in London (1947), isn’t available for broadcast because TCM finishes up its showing of the adventures of Michael Lanyard with the 1949 effort starring Ron Randell, The Lone Wolf and His Lady (10:45am).  The following week, the channel dips into the Columbia film library with the first of one of my favorites in their many film series, Meet Boston Blackie (1941; 10:45am).  Yes, after the March 17 break Chester Morris, Richard Lane and George E. “Runt” Stone will return on the 24th with Confessions of Boston Blackie (1941; 10:45am) and then it’s Alias Boston Blackie (1942; 10:30am) to close out March.  (I’m thinking I may have to drag out my collection of these entertaining little B-mysteries and maybe do some write-ups on them on the day before they’re shown on TCM.)

Meanwhile, back in the jungle…our tropical forest compadre Bomba will bring his Monogram/Allied Artists series to a close with The Golden Idol (1954) on the 3rd, with Killer Leopard (1954) following on the tenth and Lord of the Jungle (1955) on the 24th.  (I wonder if Johnny Weissmuller knows about this usurpation of his throne?)  The channel will round out the jungle antics on the 31st with 1933’s Tarzan the Fearless (with Buster Crabbe); all four of these movies will be shown at high noon.

Come nightfall, TCM Essentials’ scheduling of Some Like it Hot (1959) at 8pm ushers in what the channel is calling “Bands on the Run”…though some of these musical aggregations in the films to follow aren’t really running, at least not in the Paul McCartney & Wings sense.  Be that as it may, I’m sure my pal B. Goode at Gonna Put Me in the Movies will be settling in with these musically-themed films: The Glenn Miller Story (1955) at 10:15pm, followed by Rock Around the Clock (1956, 12:15am), This is Spinal Tap (1984; 2am), Hollywood Barn Dance (1947; 3:30am—starring Ernest Tubb!) and Elvis’ Girl Happy (1965) at 5am.

March 4, Sunday – My boon blogging buddy Stacia will no doubt be thrilled to learn that TCM’s Silent Sunday Nights will triumphantly return from Oscar slumber in March with a showing of Greta Garbo’s The Temptress (1926) but cult movie fans might want to get some Z’s during Garbo to wake up in time for a showing of La jetée (1962) at 4am.  This is followed by the 1969 film adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s The Illustrated Man (1969) at 4:30am…and I could tell you it’s as good as the book but that would be a teensy fib on my part.

March 6, Tuesday – TCM pays tribute to one of the silver screen’s most beloved character thespians by filling the daytime hours with films featuring Guy Kibbee (in honor of his 130th natal anniversary—wowzers!).  Several of the films scheduled have been on my “want list” for quite a while: Laughing Sinners (1931; 7:30am), Side Show (1931; 8:45am), Fireman, Save My Child (1932; 10am), The Strange Love of Molly Louvain (1932; 11:15am), Girl Missing (1933; 12:30pm), Havana Widows (1933; 1:45pm), The Silk Express (1933; 3pm), Big Hearted Herbert (1934; 4:15pm), Harold Teen (1934; 5:30pm) and Merry Wives of Reno (1934; 6:45pm).

Now, when evening shadows fall it’s another story: the channel will salute TDOY goddess Jean Arthur, and one of the movies scheduled in that tribute is The Public Menace (1935; 12mid)…which a lot of people were looking forward to seeing the last time the Tee Cee Em people planned to show it until it was yanked like a vaudevillian into the stage wings.  History is Made at Night (1937); a movie I’ve wanted to see for some time now is also scheduled at press time (10:15pm) so we will see what happens.  If push comes to shove, I shall just have to console myself with The Talk of the Town (1942; 8pm), The More the Merrier (1943; 1:30am) and Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936; 3:30am) (though I will pout a little).

March 7, Wednesday – One of my favorite films to be sent up on Mystery Science Theater 3000 is the delightfully goofy Mamie van Doren romp Untamed Youth (1957), which gets an airing at 6am.  It won’t be as entertaining without Joel and the bots, though…I wonder what Scott of World O’Crap will be doing at that hour…?

March 8, Thursday – News flash!  Reports of individuals being croaked by members of the female persuasion start to file into the TCM newsroom beginning at 8pm with Arsenic and Old Lace (1944), followed by one of my personal film favorites, the 1968 cult classic Pretty Poison at 10:15pm.  The mayhem continues throughout the evening with Madeleine (1950; 12mid), What Ever Happened to Aunt Alice? (1969; 2am) and The Nanny (1965; 4am).  (Seriously…would you hire Bette Davis as a governess?  I would imagine you’d get tired of watching her enter the playroom and emoting “What a dump!” after a time.)

March 9, Friday – TCM’s scheduling at 6am of the very first visit with the Hardy clan, A Family Affair (1937), ushers in a fistful of films focusing on siblings: The Sisters (1938; 7:15am), The Gay Sisters (1942; 9am), Two Girls and a Sailor (1944; 11am), Meet Me in St. Louis (1944; 1:15pm), Twice Blessed (1945; 3:15pm), Wallflower (1948; 4:45pm) and Two Weeks with Love (1950; 6:15pm).

In TCM’s evening hours, French actor Yves Montand is in the spotlight with a three-film homage: Goodbye Again (1961; 8pm), Let’s Make Love (1960; 10:15pm) and Tout va bien (1972; 12:30am).  And on TCM Underground, the old joke “How much would you charge to haunt a house?” is ignored when The Legend of Hell House (1973) and 13 Ghosts (1960) get a showing at 2:15 and 4am, respectively.

March 10, Saturday – Before you settle in with today’s 3 Stooges-Boston Blackie-Bomba triple feature, the channel will show The Breaking Point (1950) at 7:30am…a must-see movie, I’m telling you.

The Razor’s Edge (1946) is the feature on TCM Essentials later in the evening, and its presence kicks off a night-long hat doffer to beloved character actor Clifton Webb: For Heaven’s Sake (1950; 10:45pm), Mister Scoutmaster (1953; 12:30am), Sitting Pretty (1948; 3:15am—spring forward, fall back) and Boy on a Dolphin (1957; 3:45am).  (I cannot emphasize enough the debt TDOY owes to Webb because without him Peabody’s Improbable History would have had to look elsewhere for its titular character’s inspiration.)

March 11, Sunday – The channel provides the necessary “oomph” into its lineup by spotlighting an Ann Sheridan double feature: I Was a Male War Bride (1949; 8pm) and George Washington Slept Here (1942; 10pm).  In the case of Bride and the previously mentioned Clifton Webb films, it’s refreshing to see so many 20th Century-Fox films turning up on TCM in a commercial-free format (yes, that’s my FXM slam for this post).

March 12, Monday – Poor “Wild Bill” Wellman.  He never gets a proper birthday shout-out, owing to the fact that he was a Leap Year baby and in the years when TCM could be programming his films they’re in full-swing with 31 Days of Oscar.  So he’ll just have to make do today with schedulings of Frisco Jenny (1932; 7:30am), The Purchase Price (1932; 8:45am), Central Airport (1933; 10am), A Star is Born (1937; 11:15am), The Ox-Bow Incident (1943; 1:15pm), Story of G.I. Joe (1945; 2:45pm), Gallant Journey (1946; 4:45pm) and Lafayette Escadrille (1958; 6:15pm).

March 13, Tuesday – Ah, the hotel bidness…I did love it so.  TCM seems to share my sarcastic sentiment, because they’ve filled up the daytime hours with the feature films Honeymoon Hotel (1964; 6am), A Night at the Ritz (1935; 7:30am), Hollywood Hotel (1937; 8:45am), Week-End at the Waldorf (1945; 10:45am), Hotel Reserve (1944; 1pm), Love in the Afternoon (1957; 2:30pm), Palm Springs Weekend (1963; 4:45pm) and A Place for Lovers (1969; 6:30pm).

Check-out time must be 8pm, because that’s when TCM major domo Robert Osborne pulls out his projector to show four of his personal picks (I’ve seen them all, and I commend Bobby Osbo on his good taste): Ladies in Retirement (1941; 8pm), 20,000 Years in Sing Sing (1932; 10pm), I See a Dark Stranger (1946; 11:30pm) and The Lodger (1944; 1:30am).

March 14, Wednesday – Two-time Academy Award winner Michael Caine will celebrate his 79th natal anniversary on this date, so the channel will do his birthday up right with Carve Her Name with Pride (1958; 8am), The Key (1958; 10:15am), The Two-Headed Spy (1958; 12:30pm), The Wrong Box (1966; 2:15pm), Get Carter (1971; 4:15pm) and Pulp (1972; 6:15pm).  (Not that I would warn you away from anything Caine has done movie-wise but I should caution you that his participation in the first three films comprising today’s line-up is miniscule at best.)

March 15, Thursday – TCM being TCM, it should come as no surprise that they would pay tribute to famed acting doormat George Brent on his 113th natal anniversary with The Golden Arrow (1936; 1:45pm), Racket Busters (1938; 3pm), Secrets of an Actress (1938; 4:15pm) and The Great Lie (1941; 5:30am).  As for those of us not taken with George, the channel has a trio of Randolph Scott movies in the morning beginning at 8:15 with Virginia City (1940) and followed by Fighting Man of the Plains (1949; 10:15am) and longtime TDOY fave Ride the High Country (1962) at high noon.

This isn’t an entirely new occurrence around Rancho Yesteryear, but I have a habit of sometimes missing the ends of movies I record because I apparently cannot do simple math.  Therefore, I will get an opportunity to record John Ford’s Flesh (1932) again—an entertaining feature with a surprisingly good performance from Wallace Beery—when it airs at 4am as part of TCM’s tribute to “John Ford in the 30s.”  Drums Along the Mohawk (1939) kicks off the evening at 8pm, followed by The Whole Town’s Talking (1935; 10pm), Mary of Scotland (1936; 11:45pm) and Stagecoach (1939; 2am).

March 16, Friday – Comedian Jerry Lewis will turn 86 on this day, and TCM will do what it can to recognize that fact with an anemic lineup of At War With the Army (1950) at 10am followed by Hook, Line and Sinker (1968; 12noon), Don’t Raise the Bridge, Lower the River (1967; 2pm), The Big Mouth (1967; 4pm) and Three on a Couch (1966; 6pm).  (Okay, the first one isn’t so bad but that’s because it’s when he was still teamed with Dean Martin.)

After the Lewis tribute, the channel gives a three-film lecture on Greek mythology beginning with my favorite Ray Harryhausen film, Jason and the Argonauts (1963) at 8pm, followed by Clash of the Titans (1981) at 10 and Helen of Troy (1956) at 12:15pm.  (The 1967 cult fromage films She Freak and Berserk will be shown afterward on TCM Underground but I’m reasonably sure they have no basis in Greek legends.)

March 17, SaturdayErin go bragh!  TCM celebrates the wearing of the green with The Key (1934) at 6am, followed by My Wild Irish Rose (1947; 7:15am), The Daughter of Rosie O’Grady (1950; 9am), The Irish in Us (1935; 10:45am), Shake Hands with the Devil (1959; 12:15pm), The Rising of the Moon (1957; 2:15pm), The Last Hurrah (1958; 3:45pm) and Young Cassidy (1965; 6pm).  (I am so glad I’m out of the night auditing business, by the way…and St. Patrick’s Day in Savannah is the main reason for my non-regret.)

TCM Essentials’ 8pm scheduling of Alice Adams (1935) is the channel’s cue to pay tribute to films based on the works of Booth Tarkington; Orson Welles’ masterpiece The Magnificent Ambersons (1942) follows Alice at 10 and then it’s Presenting Lily Mars (1943; 11:45pm), Penrod and Sam (1937; 1:45am), Little Orvie (1940; 3am) and Father’s Son (1941; 4:30am).

March 19, Monday – Before instituting a lineup of films dealing with the medical profession, TCM is going to show in the wee a.m. hours two “sleeper” films worthy of your attention—I’ve seen one of them, God’s Gift to Women (1931; 6:15am), and it’s a curio for Louise Brooks fans (her part, to borrow a famous Jim Backus quip, “is shorter than the wine list on an airplane”) but the one I haven’t is Men Must Fight (1933), which airs before Lulu at 5 (it gets a nice thumbs-up in Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide so I’m curious to check it out).

But as “for duty and humanity”—Men in White (1934; 7:30am), The Murder of Dr. Harrigan (1936; 9am), The Doctor Takes a Wife (1940; 10:15am), Dangerously They Live (1941; 11:45am), Three Men in White (1944; 1:15pm), The Doctor and the Girl (1949; 2:45pm), The Girl in White (1952; 4:30pm) and The Doctor’s Dilemma (1958; 6:15pm) are all featured today.

March 20, Tuesday – TCM’s “Guest Programmer,” Village Voice cartoonist and author Jules Feiffer, will have a chinwag with Bobby Osbo while the two of them unspool Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933; 8pm), My Man Godfrey (1936; 10pm), They Drive by Night (1940; 11:45pm) and This Gun for Hire (1942; 1:30am).  (You just know Big Hollywood’s John Nolte is working himself up into a righteous froth about now.)

March 21, Wednesday – Less than a year after her death, the channel will remind us of the loss we suffered from the passing of silver screen icon Elizabeth Taylor with a film tribute that starts with Cynthia (1947) at 6:15am and continues with Conspirator (1949; 8am), Love is Better than Ever (1952; 9:30am), Rhapsody (1954; 11am), BUtterfield 8 (1960; 1pm), The Sandpiper (1965; 3pm) and The Comedians (1967; 5pm).

March 22, Thursday – TCM kicks off a “monster mash” beginning at 9:15am with the monarch of all radioactive beasties, Godzilla, King of the Monsters! (1956). The “Thunder Lizard’s” loyal subjects then follow: The Magnetic Monster (1953; 10:45am), The Giant Behemoth (1959; 12:15pm), X: the Unknown (1956; 1:45pm), The H-Man (1958; 3:15pm), Die, Monster, Die! (1965; 4:45pm) and Them! (1954; 6:15pm).

The channel’s evening hours will be dedicated to what it’s calling “Later Rosalind Russell”…and to be honest, I’m not quite sure what constitutes the “later” part because 1949’s Tell it to the Judge is scheduled among these vehicles (at 5am).  Kicking things off at 8pm is Roz’s wacky nun romp Where Angels Go…Trouble Follows! (1966).  It’s followed by A Majority of One (1961; 10pm), Five Finger Exercise (1962; 1am) and the actress’ last theatrical film, Mrs. Pollifax—Spy (1971; 3am).

March 23, Friday – It’s Bronte-mania!  The channel offers up a three-film salute to the famous literary sibs with Emily’s Wuthering Heights (1939) at 8pm followed by Charlotte’s Jane Eyre (1943) at 10.  Then at 12 midnight, see the absotively, posilutely true story…well, okay, they take a lot of literary license with it but it’s still a kicky movie to watch—Devotion (1946), with Ida Lupino (Em) and Olivia de Havilland (Char).

March 25, Sunday – The channel pays tribute to one of my favorite filmmakers, to whom my pal Edward Copeland penned a nice homage last year on his centennial birthday.  You can sample two of director Jules Dassin’s film classics with Night and the City (1950) at 8pm and Brute Force (1947) at 10pm.

My DVD recorder can hold about 4 hours and 20 minutes of programming in LP mode—anything less than that gets a 2-star rating in terms of video quality, according to the manual.  So that will sort of make my wanting a copy of Abel Gance’s La roue (1923) when it’s shown on Silent Sunday Nights a bit of a logistical setback since I don’t think I can stay awake for the entire presentation.  (Update: Just got an e-mail that mentions its availability on Fandor…maybe I won’t have to hook myself up to a Mountain Dew IV drip after all.)

March 26, Monday – Happy birthday, Sterling Hayden!  We’ll grab some cake and ice cream—“Ice cream, Mandrake?  Children’s ice cream?—and settle in for some of his work with The Asphalt Jungle (1950; 6:15am), The Star (1952; 8:15am), So Big (1953; 10am), Arrow in the Dust (1954; 11:45am), Suddenly (1954; 1:15pm), Zero Hour! (1957; 2:45pm), Terror in a Texas Town (1958; 4:15pm) and of course, Dr, Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964; 5:45pm).

March 27, Tuesday – The evening hours of TCM are turned over to movies featuring TDOY idol Robert Mitchum…and the first film in the line-up is one of my favorites of Big Bad Bob’s, the 1962 noir thriller Cape Fear.  That’s followed by River of No Return (1954; 10pm), The Night of the Hunter (1955; 12mid), Rampage (1963; 2pm) and finally Going Home (1971; 4am)—a dandy little sleeper of a film that also stars Brenda Vaccaro and Jan-Michael Vincent.

March 28, Wednesday – We’ll set up a card table over here for the younger folk so they can celebrate child star Freddie Bartholomew’s birthday with a lineup featuring David Copperfield (1935; 6am), The Devil is a Sissy (1936; 8:15am) and Little Lord Fauntleroy (1936; 10am).  Then when they head out to the backyard to play, the rest of us adults will treat ourselves to an open bar as we honor Kate Gabrielle fave Dirk Bogarde’s natal anniversary with The Spanish Gardner (1956; 12noon), Libel (1959; 2pm), The Password is Courage (1962; 4pm) and Damn the Defiant! (1962; 6pm).  (I’m just concerned about the little tykes driving us home.)

March 29, Thursday – Here’s the lineup: Scott of the Antarctic (1948) at 8pm, followed by Ice Station Zebra (1968; 10pm), Dirigible (1931; 12:45am), The Viking (1931; 2:30am), With Byrd at the South Pole (1930; 3:45am) and The Thing from Another World (1951; 5:15am).  TCM is calling this “Polar Opposites.”  (And you thought my jokes were bad.)

March 30, Friday – The channel schedules a Billy Wilder twofer, The Seven Year Itch (1955; 8pm) and The Lost Weekend (1945; 10pm), to accommodate a repeat of the 2006 documentary Billy Wilder Speaks at midnight…but the big draw on this date is that TCM Underground is going to repeat Heavy Metal (1981) again at 3:45am for those of us who missed it the last time it was on.

March 31, Saturday – Finally, TCM Essentials is showing one of those silent films that’s a must-see for any serious filmgoer’s education in Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927)…and that ushers in a mini-festival the channel dubs “The Lady is a Vamp” (well, they’re getting better) with Hallelujah! (1929) at 10pm, followed by Born to Kill (1947; 12mid), Human Desire (1954; 1:45am) and Ah, Wilderness! (1935) closing out the month at 3:30am.