Saturday, November 30, 2013

Getting a jump on the season

Well, with only a little more time before we officially hit the month of December, I figured I’d take this opportunity to gloat about the fact that I put more posts up here on the blog in November than any other month since January of this year...which probably makes sense, since it was at the end of that month that I was hired to write and edit for ClassicFlix.  I had time to get a chapter of Riders of Death Valley finished and I can also promise a new Doris Day(s) for Monday as well.  (I think I’ve finally got this “balancing of time” thing licked.)

I’m gambling that in December I’ll be able to keep posting tidbits at least every two days; frequent guest reviewer Philip Schweier has also made some contributions that you’ll see beginning this week, plus I have made some DVD purchases (please don’t everyone be surprised at once) that I hope will result in essays soon.  This week, the Classic Movie Blog Association will host a blogathon entitled Film Passion 101; it will consist of personal essays from participating members on the films that made them ga-ga over movies.  My love affair with the flickers has sort of been told and retold ever since construction began on this little scrap of the blogosphere but I’ll be contributing a piece on The Greatest Monster Movie of Them All, King Kong (1933).

Chris at Family Friendly Reviews will also be hosting a blogathon from December 20-22 that will showcase Christmas movie favorites; and seeing that The Greatest Cable Channel Known to Mankind™ has stockings full of holiday-themed classics on tap it seems only fitting (get it?  Stockings?  Fitting?  Bueller?).  Thrilling Days of Yesteryear has already RSVP’d on this one, and my spotlight will be on one of my favorite Christmas comedies, The Lemon Drop Kid (1951).  (You are definitely encouraged to participate in this one if you so desire; the CMBA ‘thon, however, is a members-only deal.)

In the Look-What-Else-Santa-Is-Bringing-Me Department, this little Jim Dandy…

…is currently on sale at for $39.99, as I discovered to my delight whilst making a humble Christmas purchase for my nephew who’ll be spending his very first Yuletide out in the Pacific Northwest.  (It combines two of his kid passions: trains and Lincoln Logs.)  I can’t swear that the price on the Essential Laurel & Hardy Collection is the lowest it’s ever been but it’s definitely the lowest I’ve seen, and I would have been a fool not to snap one of these up.  (When I told my mother the news she was positively thrilled, it says here.)

No, even the thought of more discs crossing the threshold of Rancho Yesteryear cannot shake my mom’s good mood because my beloved sister Debbie and her husband (and niece Rachel) will be visiting for Christmas, and that’s all a mother could ask for.  (And when mi madre is in the best holiday spirit, she bakes a metric ton of cookies…and that’s all a son could ask for…)

Riders of Death Valley – Chapter 8: Descending Doom

That’s right, cartooners!  We’re back!

OUR STORY SO FAR: Jim and his Riders are trapped in the “Lost Aztec” mine by Wolf and his men, without food, water or horses.

Jim discovers a back entrance, through which he sees and whistles to his horse, and rides for help.

Wolf, Butch and two others give chase and open fire.  Jim slumps in his saddle, and his frightened horse races for the nearby sand dunes and into a blinding sandstorm.

Wolf and his followers watch as Jim is blotted out by the whirling sand and…

Okay, I know it’s been mid-August since I’ve done an installment of Serial Saturdays…but it hasn’t been that long to the point where we’ve forgotten that Wolf (Charles Bickford) had only one follower watching Jim (Dick Foran) being blotted out, and that’s faithful toady Butch (Lon Chaney, Jr.).  Butch is so devoted to the Wolf Man (see what I did a second time?) that I bet if you looked on the underside of his saddle you’d find “Mrs. Butch Reade” written multiple times.

And what of Jim, who’s been left to die in a sandstorm while his useless horse Smoke stands around, waiting for a sugar cube?  Seriously…this nag is as useless as tits on a bull.  (I’ll bet Trigger or Champion would have dragged his ass out of there by now.)

As you can see, though—Jim is okay and he’s walking it off.  (Yeah, rub some sand on it, too, big guy.)  In the meantime, Wolf and Butch have ridden back to join the rest of the Reade gang, who are still exchanging gunfire with Benton’s Death Valley Riders, stationed at the entrance of the Lost Aztec Mine.

DAVIS: Did you get Benton?
WOLF: No…he rode into a sandstorm…I think he’s a goner
DAVIS: Good…without a leader they can’t hold out long…

Davis is, of course, Rance Davis (Monte Blue), second-in-command to the Panamint power broker known as Joseph Kirby (James Blaine), who’s been mostly absent from the past several chapters because Rance is away on assignment and those orphanages in Panamint don’t foreclose themselves, you know.  In the matter of Davis, who’s almost as bad a brown noser as Butch, he seems to believe that the Riders organization will fold like a lawn chair without the guidance of Benton…when the real reason why Jim is the “leader” is because he’s the only one among them who can do long division.

The gunfire continues apace, and there’s a shot of Benton making his way back toward the group riding faithful ol’ Smoke.  At the same time, Trigger (Jack Rockwell), one of Wolf’s henchies, is also stumbling back into the line of fire—he’s been out for a while, owing to a scrap he had with Benton at the back entrance of the mine.  Wolf makes his way over to where another of his goons, Pete Gump (Richard Alexander), has stationed the groggy Trigger out of the line of fire.

TRIGGER: Benton jumped me…hit me over the head with a gun…
WOLF: Never mind that…

“You’re covered under ACA, stop yer bellyachin’…”

WOLF: …did you find the entrance?
WOLF: Good!  Butch!  (Butch makes his way over to where Wolf and Trigger are stationed)  Any of the rest of them see ya?
WOLF (to Butch): There’s a back entrance…you’ll have to cover it…
BUTCH: Yeah…but we ain’t got enough men!
WOLF: That’s right…

“I knew there was a flaw in my evil scheme somewhere…”

BUTCH: I know how we can do it, though!
WOLF: How?
BUTCH: Blast the other end of that cave!
WOLF: With what?
BUTCH: There’s plenty of powder down there in that wagon

By golly, he’s right!  And of course, since Wolf orders him to go get it, Butch is only too happy to run down to the wagon, snatch the keg and carry it back to where they are…while being shot at by both Benton’s men and his own friends. (Butch…compadre…maybe he’s just not that into you.)

As Butch is completing his little chore, Wolf calls out to Davis…

WOLF (reaching into his vest pocket): I want you to go to Panamint…
(He hands Rance the gold nugget Butch found in Chapter 7.)
DAVIS: But I thought you said…
WOLF (cutting him off): Never mind what you thought…take this gold quartz to Kirby, tell him what’s happened and get these claims filed… (Davis starts to leave) Wait a minute…just remind him, and don’t you forget that I’m in fifty-fifty…
DAVIS: I’ll tell him…

“…on our yacht off Bora Bora!”  Meanwhile, inside the mine, we’re witness to a stimulating intellectual discussion by the two MENSA members of Benton’s Riders: Pancho Lopez (Leo Carrillo) and Borax Bill (Guinn “Big Boy” Williams)…

BORAX: Hey, Pancho…ain’t that Butch sneakin’ down between them rocks?
PANCHO: Yeah… (Drawing his gun) I get that Butcher!

Pancho fires a few rounds and comes close…but close only counts in horseshoes and that powder keg Butch is carrying.  Tombstone (Buck Jones) comes over to tell his friend that “you can’t hit anything with an empty gun,” since Pancho is out of ammo…and Tomb’s attempts to hit Butch fail miserably as well.  Butch makes it back to base camp, and Wolf orders Trigger to show him and Butch where the back mine entrance is located.  As the trio heads toward their destination, Wolf barks orders to henchman Rusty (Ethan Laidlaw): “Keep ‘em busy!  We’re goin’ around the back way!”

Jim has made his way back to the action, and from a distance he watches as Wolf, Butch and Trigger make off with some of the horses Reade had Rusty corral in the last chapter.  Jim has no ammo to speak of, but he’s devised a cunning plan—so cunning…okay, I actually don’t have anything for this because I used up all the “cunning plan” jokes in The Adventures of Sir Galahad.

First, Jim sends Rusty off to Slumberland with the business end of his pistola.  Then, making sure he doesn’t tip Pete and Dirk (Roy Barcroft) off that his six-iron is empty, he orders them to drop their guns and march over to where he’s standing.  Which they do, and Jim has Dirk truss up Pete like a dominatrix in an S&M rodeo.  We then head back to the mine, where Jim’s partner, the lovely Mary Morgan (Jean Brooks) is concerned…

MARY: I hope Jim makes it into Panamint all right…
TOMBSTONE: Oh, so that’s it!
MARY: Oh, Tombstone…
TOMBSTONE (smiling): Oh, he’ll be all right… (Pushing her back with his gun arm) You better keep out of the line of fire…

“And make us some more coffee, huh, sweetcheeks?”  By this time, Jim has Pete and Dirk thoroughly tied up and looking properly embarrassed.  “I wanna thank you boys for corralling my horses,” he gloats, pushing Dirk’s hat down over his face as he takes his leave.  The two hombres are left to their own devices on how to escape being tied up.  (“Stop rubbing up against me, Pete…you know how excited I get!”)

Tombstone and the others watch as Wolf, Butch and Trigger ride off toward the back entrance.  “I wonder what those walleyed sons of misery are up to?” he muses.  (For the record, I call “Walleyed Sons of Misery” as my new band name.)

TOMBSTONE: They haven’t fired a shot in ten minutes…
PANCHO: Maybe they don’t got no more cartooges…
TOMBSTONE: I think you got something there…

“Sounds like broken English.”  Mary then spots Jim riding up on Smoke with horses he filched from Pete and Dirk, and he’s given a hero’s welcome despite not having done anything remotely heroic.  Wolf, Butch and Trigger, in the meantime, have arrived at their destination…but Trigger tells the two men: “We’ll have to make it on foot.”

TOMBSTONE: So, Jim…what happened?
JIM: Plenty…they’re headed for the back entrance of the tunnel…Pancho…you and Smokey stay here with Mary…come on!  We’ve gotta stop ‘em!

At the back exit, Wolf asks Butch for the powder and then tells him to get his fuse ready.  But before the fireworks can begin, sharp-eared Wolf hears Jim, Tombstone, Bill and Tex (Glenn Strange) stomping around to the back entrance.  The three men make their way down the draw a way with designs on ambushing the other four when they emerge.

BUTCH: I wonder how Benton got out of that sandstorm…
WOLF: Listen…when you’ve planted him six feet underground and build a monument over him he’d still get out of it!

So…Jim is a zombie, then.  (That’s going to wreak havoc in his relationship with Mary.)

BUTCH: Yeah…but I ain’t ever seen the man yet that you didn’t get sooner or later…

Ass-kisser.  Wolf spots our heroes coming out of the cave entrance, and orders Trigger and Butch to “let ‘em have it.”  So the monotony of continuous gunfire begins again.

BUTCH: We ain’t got a chance against them down here, Wolf!
WOLF: Oh, yes we have…shoot for the powder keg!

A couple of shots are fired, and Jim spots the keg—so he tells the rest of his bunch to get the hell back inside.  The powder keg is hit, and things blow up real good!

TRIGGER: Well, that blocks this end…
WOLF: Yeah…let’s get back to the horses…

Boy, is he going to be surprised when he gets back to the remuda and not only finds no horses, but Pete and Dirk sharing a cigarette.  Naturally, a loud explosion like that draws the concern of Jim’s gal Mary, who’s sobbing to Pancho as Jim and the rest reach the front of the entrance.  Jim orders Borax to get the wagons loaded up and the team hitched, and then directs Pancho and Tex to fetch the remaining blasting powder.

TOMBSTONE: What’s on your mind?
JIM: To close up the entrance to this mine so we can bring some supplies up here…

What the…?  You’re going to destroy all the work you did in Chapter 6 so that you can…what exactly are you doing again?  Oh, I forgot…they’ve got fifteen chapters to fill.  My bad.

And that’s that.  “Well, that ought to keep it hidden from Wolf and his gang ‘til we get in and file on it,” says Jim smugly.  And with a “let’s went!” our heroes ride onto…

Panamint!  (It’s only a model.)  And before you can say “Panamint City Bank,” Jim and Mary are arranging for the needed capital to mine the beejeebus out of the Lost Aztec, with the blessing of bank president Lafe Hogan (Jack Clifford), whom we haven’t seen since Chapter 2.

HOGAN: So you think you’ll need $20,000 to get the mine going?
JIM: Easily…
HOGAN: I’ll loan you what you need, Jim…but…it’ll have to be a short-term note…
JIM: Oh, that’s all right, Lafe…I know what conditions are…
HOGAN: Maybe things will be better in sixty days…and I can give you an extension…if you need one…
JIM: Thanks, Lafe…I knew we could depend on you…

“I wouldn’t be too sure of that, Jim…I’m probably the world’s worst CEO, if that business in Chapter 2 is any indication.”  The action then shifts to Hank and Madie’s Broadway Social Club—our pet name for the drinking establishment owned by respectable bidnessman Joseph Kirby, who is pacing up and down in his back room office, irritated that his aide-de-camp Davis has gone missing.

KIRBY: I can’t figure out what happened to Davis!
BUTCH: He sure had plenty of time to get here and file on that claim…
KIRBY: By not getting here he’s left everything wide open for Benton

Outside in the saloon, we spot Davis entering through the swinging doors.  He spies Kirby’s lackey Dan Gordon (William Hall) dealing crooked hands at one of the tables, and asks him if Kirby’s in his office.

KIRBY (as Davis enters): What happened, Davis?  What held you up?
DAVIS: I got caught in a desert storm…worst you ever saw!  I thought I’d never get out of it!
KIRBY: Well, that storm cost us the Lost Aztec!
DAVIS: What?!!
KIRBY: Yeah, Benton’s already filed his claim…right now, he’s arranging with Lafe Hogan to finance the operations!

Now, I wouldn’t blame you if at this point in the narrative you’re wondering how the two competing factions—Jim and the Riders & Wolf and his mugs—managed to avoid Operation Desert Storm while Rance blundered right into it.  Writers.  Be.  Lazy.  Oh, and after Kirby’s line there’s a quick cut back to Lafe’s office where the banker is seen handing a draft to Jim and Mary, commenting “Glad to return a favor, Jim.”  (“Seeing as you pulled my fat out of the fire on account of  that bone-headed transaction that nearly cost me my bank!”)

KIRBY (as Gordon enters): Did Benton make a deal?
GORDON: Sure did…he gave that Hogan a quick claim deed as collateral…
DAVIS: Which means if Benton isn’t able to pay up in sixty days that the mine goes to Hogan?
KIRBY: You’re dead wrong, Davis…it means if Hogan isn’t able to pay off on time…the mine belongs to us
BUTCH: Why not let me and Wolf hijack the equipment on the way out to the mine?

“Cause…that’s what we do best, you know…”

KIRBY: No…Benton knows the mining business…we’ll let him put up the mill…sink the shaft…get everything ready for production, then move in…
DAVIS: Well, I hope it works…
BUTCH: Maybe we oughta have a couple of our own men working for Benton…
KIRBY: I already have Buck Hanson and three or four men working for him right now…
BUTCH: Good!

The scene then shifts to…okay, I need to stop right here and register a complaint.  We’re eight chapters in, and even though I have suspended my disbelief on multiple occasions as far as this serial is concerned…explain to me why it takes six friggin’ chapters to find this lost gold mine, and ten seconds to get a first-class mining operation up and running.  (I think my eyes are trapped in the back of my head from rolling them too often.)

Anyway, the Lost Aztec Mine is going great guns, and as an establishing shot shows Jim Benton a-ridin’ up in the distance, Mary is stopped by a man (Ed Payson) whom Kirby has already identified as “Buck Hansen,” and who has also been designated as being on the Kirby payroll.

HANSEN: How about that money I asked you for?
MARY: Mr. Hansen, I’m responsible for the payroll and I can’t advance you any more money…
HANSEN: Well, I need it, and I need it now
MARY: Well, I’m sorry, but… (She looks off to her right and sees Jim riding up) Here comes Mr. Benton…you talk to him about it…

Mary then walks over to greet her partner and main squeeze.

JIM (as he ties up Smoke): Hiya, partner…
MARY: It’s about time you got back…
JIM: How things been?
MARY: Not so good, Jim… (She nods in the direction of Hansen) Hansen had another fight with the foreman…

“Unfortunately for Buck, it was George Foreman.  He was unconscious for three days…”

JIM: Ah, that’s too bad…he’s a good worker when he wants to be…
MARY: Yes…but he causes an awful lot of trouble…
JIM: Well, don’t worry about him…I’ll take care of it…
MARY: Did you get the payroll?
JIM: Yes, sir!  Right here in these saddlebags!
MARY: Oh…swell, Jim!  That means you made a deal on the ore!
JIM: Yes, on delivery in Panamint…
MARY: Then we’ll be able to meet that note when it’s due?
JIM: That’s right!

Oh, if only it could be due by the next chapter and put us out of our misery.  The scene shifts to Tombstone, who’s riding a shaft elevator up to the surface…he’s carrying a block of wood with him and chipping at its surface with his knife.  He spots Jim talking to Mary and walks over to where they're standing while the sinister Hansen watches from behind a tent flap.

JIM: You betcha! (He pats the saddlebag)
TOMBSTONE: Perfectly satisfied, huh?
JIM: Yeah!
TOMBSTONE: Well, get worried

“How would you like to comb some of this rotten timber out of your hair?” he asks his pal, showing him the piece of wood.  Tombstone located it half a mile down the shaft, so Jim hands the saddlebag to Mary and tells her he’ll meet up with her at the office later.  The two men then make tracks for the elevator, with Jim stopping to tell a man identified as “Charlie” to let the ‘vator down easy so that they can have a good look at the cribbing.

As Jim and Tombstone disappear into the hole in the earth, we spot “Trouble” Hansen observing from his tent, and he emerges from his hiding place to make his way over to where Charlie is lowering his bosses on the elevator.

JIM: You know, Tomb…I can’t figure out how the cribbing in this shaft could be rotten so soon…it was just put in…are you sure?
TOMBSTONE: I’d hate to drop the weight of an egg on it…

Well, the rotten timbers in the cribbing essentially act as a metaphor (here’s where the serious film criticism comes in) for the fact that the operation has been infiltrated by the no-goodnik Hansen, who hits Charlie with a sap…allowing him to pull the lever and send our heroes to their descending doom!

I love the little miniatures of Jim and Tombstone as they hit bottom, by the way.  Suck it, CGI!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Coming distractions: December 2013 on TCM

Well, now that I’ve had my fill of turkey and 'taters with gravy and the attention of the majority of the blog readership has been diverted to football, I thought I’d take this extended holiday to look at what’s in store for us in the month of December on The Greatest Cable Channel Known to Mankind™.  TCM’s Star of the Month will have you wanting to lace up your tap shoes and of course, a slew of holiday-themed movies are on tap (again with the shoes!) for those of you who jonesing to see Christmas in Connecticut (1945) for the umpteenth time.  Also, too: a festival of films saluting “The Hollywood Costume” will take center stage (with even more tap shoes!) on Friday nights.

On select Sundays in December, beginning at 10am, TCM will demonstrate the “reason for the season” with movies dealing with Christmas and family themes.  There’ll be other nights set aside for tidings of great joy, natch…but I will warn you that one night in particular (December 23) features three holiday vehicles featuring She Who Must Not Be Named.  But we’ll discuss this after the kids are safely in bed—here’s what you have to look forward to…

December 8, Sunday
10:00am Fitzwilly (1967—also December 23 @ 6pm)
12:00pm It Happened on 5th Avenue (1947—also December 16 @ 2:15am, December 24 @ 6pm)
02:00pm Scrooge (1970—also December 19 @ 8pm, December 23 @ 4pm)
04:00pm The Yearling (1946)
06:15pm Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948)
08:00pm Susan Slept Here (1954—also December 24 @ 7:30am)
10:00pm Bundle of Joy (1956—also December 17 @ 3:15am)
12:00am The King of Kings (1927)

December 15, Sunday
10:00am A Christmas Carol (1938—also December 19 @ 1am, December 24 @1:15pm)
11:15am A Night at the Movies: Merry Christmas! (2011—also December 23 @ 12:15am)
12:15pm Holiday Affair (1949—also December 17 @ 8pm, December 24 @4:15pm)
02:00pm The Bishop’s Wife (1947—also December 24 @ 1:15am)
04:00pm Bringing Up Baby (1938)
06:00pm The Thin Man (1934)
08:00pm The Man Who Came to Dinner (1941—also December 24 @ 11:15am)
10:00pm The Lemon Drop Kid (1951)

December 22, Sunday
10:00am On Moonlight Bay (1951)
12:00pm Period of Adjustment (1962)
02:00pm Christmas in Connecticut (1945—also December 24 @ 8pm)
04:00pm Now, Voyager (1942)
06:00pm Gigi (1958)
08:00pm The Shop Around the Corner (1940—also December 24 @ 2:30am)
10:00pm In the Good Old Summertime (1949—also December 23 @ 6am)
12:00am Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1925)

On the first two Monday nights of December, the channel will ring down the curtain with parts 14 and 15 of the documentary The Story of Film: An Odyssey.  I didn’t get an opportunity to see any of this event because parents, but if what I’ve read on Facebook is any indication (an acquaintance of mine described it: “[T]he emperor is now strutting around completely naked, and Mark Cousins is praising his wardrobe”) I probably didn’t miss much.  But hey—Tee Cee Em’s paid the rent on the lodge hall, and so here’s what you’ll see if you turn to the channel on December 2 and 9:

December 2, Monday
08:00pm The Hudsucker Proxy (1994)
10:00pm Gladiator (2000)
12:45am The Story of Film: An Odyssey – The 1990s: The First Days of Digital – Reality Losing Its Realness in America and Australia (2011)
02:00am The Piano (1993)
04:15am Reservoir Dogs (1992)

December 9, Monday
08:00pm To Be and To Have (2002)
10:00pm Russian Ark (2002)
12:00am Climates (2006)
02:00am The Story of Film: An Odyssey – 2000 Onwards: Film Moves Full Circle – and the Future of Movies (2011)
03:15am Memories of Murder (2003)

Wednesday nights in December, TCM’s Star of the Month is Frederick Austerlitz…better known to movie mavens as the one and only Fred Astaire.  If your kids have ever asked you who that guy in the Dirt Devil commercials was, now would be an excellent time to introduce them to one of the silver screen’s premier singers, actors …and of course, dancers—for as Gene Kelly once observed, “the history of dance on film begins with Astaire.”  Twenty-five films spotlighting Fred’s work will be offered up, including first-rate movies like Top Hat (1935) and The Band Wagon (1953)…and who knows, I might get the opportunity to see some of the heralded musicals he made with Ginger Rogers.  (Sure I will…once my parents are settled in their assisted living facility.)  Here’s what’s in store for Astaire aficionados:

December 4, Wednesday
08:00pm Flying Down To Rio (1933)
09:45pm Carson on TCM: Fred Astaire (1979)
10:00pm The Gay Divorcee (1934)
12:00am Roberta (1935)
02:00am Follow the Fleet (1936)
04:00am The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (1939)
05:45am Second Chorus (1940)

December 5, Thursday
07:15am The Sky’s the Limit (1943)

December 11, Wednesday          
08:00pm You'll Never Get Rich (1941)
09:45pm You Were Never Lovelier (1942)           
11:30pm The Band Wagon (1953—also December 18 @ 1:15pm)
01:30am Silk Stockings (1957)    
03:45am Three Little Words (1950)
05:30am The Belle of New York (1952)

December 12, Thursday
07:00am Yolanda and the Thief (1945)
09:00am Ziegfeld Follies (1946)

December 18, Wednesday
08:00pm Broadway Melody of 1940 (1940)
10:00pm Easter Parade (1948)
12:00am Royal Wedding (1951)
02:00am A Damsel in Distress (1937)
03:45am Finian’s Rainbow (1968)

December 25, Wednesday
08:00pm Top Hat (1935)
10:00pm Swing Time (1936)
12:00am Shall We Dance (1937)
02:00am Carefree (1938)
03:30am The Barkleys of Broadway (1949—also December 18 @ 7:45am)

In the “Friday Night Spotlight” in December, Academy Award-nominated designer Deborah Nadoolman Landis will host a slew of movies on the topic of “The Hollywood Costume.”  Landis, who has written such tomes as Dressed: A Century of Hollywood Costume Design (2007) and Hollywood Sketchbook: A Century of Costume Illustration (2012), will spotlight the work of legendary silver screen costumers (and their creations) such as Travis Banton, Orry-Kelly, Adrian, Jean Louis and Edith Head.  Here’s what’s on tap in this twenty film lineup:

December 6, Friday
08:00pm Blonde Venus (1932)
10:00pm Cleopatra (1934)
12:00am Casablanca (1942)
02:00am Auntie Mame (1958—also December 21 @ 8pm)
04:30am The Women (1939)

December 13, Friday
08:00pm Funny Girl (1968)
10:45pm Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
01:00am Chinatown (1974)
03:15am Carnal Knowledge (1971)
05:00am Adam’s Rib (1949)

December 20, Friday
08:00pm Send Me No Flowers (1964)
10:00pm The Big Heat (1953—also December 3 @ 12:00mid)
11:45pm Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
02:00am The Stepford Wives (1975)
04:15am Sullivan’s Travels (1941—also December 12 @ 10:15pm)

December 27, Friday
08:00pm The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)
09:45pm Out of the Past (1947)
11:30pm Silkwood (1983)
02:00am Klute (1971)
04:15am The Bad and the Beautiful (1952)

I know, I know…it’s not enough.  It’s never enough!  Fret ye not, my TDOY faithful: here are more highlights coming your way in the month ahead:

December 1, Sunday – The primetime hours of the channel are devoted to two movies with the subject of L.A. crime: one of which is a particular favorite here in the House of Yesteryear, the 1967 cult classic Point Blank (at 8pm) and that’s followed by The Crooked Way at 10.  (I have Way on DVD-R around here somewhere but have never watched it…do I dare tempt fate by searching through The Big Box o’Discs?)  Then, the 1927 melodrama Captain Salvation is the movie slated for this edition of Silent Sunday Nights.

At 2am, TCM Imports will show Robert Bresson’s classic Diary of a Country Priest (1951)…and in fact, the remaining Sunday schedulings of Imports will also highlight Bresson’s work; on December 8 it’s Le Proces de Jeanne d'Arc (1962; 2:45am), then Pickpocket (1959—December 15; 2am), Au Hasard, Balthazar (1966—December 22; 2:15am) and Mouchette (1967; 2am) rounding out the month on the 29th.

December 3, Tuesday – TCM will engage in a little cross promotion—plugging the premiere of Mob City, a mini-series that will commence on its sister station TNT on December 4—by devoting the day to mob and gangsters movies.  Call in sick and settle in for Mob-a-Palooza: Black Hand (1950; 6am), King of the Underworld (1939; 8am), The Doorway to Hell (1930; 9:30am), Public Hero No. 1 (1935; 11am), The Last Gangster (1937; 12:30pm), Bullets Or Ballots (1936; 2pm), Brother Orchid (1940; 3:30pm), Little Caesar (1930; 5pm), The Public Enemy (1931; 6:30pm), White Heat (1949; 8pm), The Roaring Twenties (1939; 10pm), The Big Heat (1953; 12mid), Key Largo (1948; 2am) and The Petrified Forest (1936; 4am).

December 4, Wednesday – Arrrrh…Jim lad!  Stow the mizzen mast and batten down the…okay, I think I did that joke already this year.  It’s a day spent pirating on the high seas with the feature films Raiders of the Seven Seas (1953; 6am), Captain Kidd (1945; 7:30am), The Golden Hawk (1952; 9am), Last of the Buccaneers (1950; 10:30am), The Boy and the Pirates (1960; 12pm), Abbott & Costello Meet Captain Kidd (1952; 1:30pm), The Crimson Pirate (1952; 2:45pm), The Pirate (1948; 4:30pm) and The Princess and the Pirate (1944; 6:15pm).

December 5, Thursday – Director Otto Preminger was born on this date in 1906, and while some folks will be upset that the channel won’t be scheduling Skidoo (1969), there’s plenty of Preminger during the daylight hours to satisfy that itch.  (Wiiiild!)  Angel Face (1953) kicks off the tribute at 9am, followed by The Man with the Golden Arm (1955; 10:45am), Anatomy of a Murder (1959; 12:45pm), Advise & Consent (1962; 3:30pm) and Bunny Lake is Missing (1965; 6pm).

Come primetime, films dealing with fighting prejudice grab the spotlight.  At 8pm, it’s The Defiant Ones (1958), and that’s followed by A Raisin in the Sun (1961; 9:45pm), In the Heat of the Night (1967; 12mid), Glory (1989; 2am) and Intruder in the Dust (1949; 4:15am).

December 7, Saturday – TCM continues to spotlight films from MGM’s Maisie franchise at 10:30am; this month, it’s Maisie Gets Her Man (1942; December 7) then Swing Shift Maisie (1943; December 14), Maisie Goes to Reno (1944; December 21) and Up Goes Maisie (1946; December 28).  (For a TDOY examination of some of the Maisie vehicles, check out this post from January 2009.)

In the evening hours, it’s another edition of TCM’s Drewssentials Essentials with Robert Osborne and the Drewmeister; they’re going to sit down and watch Key Largo (1948—with Bobby Osbo probably forgetting they showed this four days earlier) at 8pm, and then will continue the “keys” theme with Reap the Wild Wind (1942; 10pm) and Flipper (1963) at 12:15am.  TCM Underground then follows with an LSD double feature: TDOY guilty pleasure Blue Sunshine (1976) at 2am and The Big Cube (1969) at 4.

December 9, Monday – In October, I was putting together some birthday shout-outs for the Facebook ClassicFlix page and I decided to do one for Josephine Hutchinson, born on October 12.  The picture I used was a still from Mountain Justice (1937), a movie I’ve not seen but am curious to do so particularly since TCM has it scheduled at 8:45am.  (My father usually has his nose buried in the AJC about that time, so this might be doable if I can remember to mark it on the calendar.)

December 10, Tuesday – Twitter-obsessed comedian Patton Oswalt (who has done many things in his career but for some reason the first venue that comes to my mind is The King of Queens) will be the guest programmer this evening.  I’ve seen the first two films he’s scheduled, Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949; 8pm) and 3:10 to Yuma (1957; 10pm)…but the remaining two are ciphers to me (they’re of fairly recent vintage, which might explain why): The Wind Journeys (2009; 11:45pm) and Aaltra (2004; 2am).  TCM’s schedule originally had the cult classic Withnail and I (1987) scheduled afterward at 3:45am but they’ve since called an audible and are going with Road to Bali (1952).  (Umm…yeah.)

December 11, Wednesday – For those of you who can’t get their fill of football on the weekends, TCM will offer up some on Hump Day.  Okay, they’re technically movies on the subject of the gridiron, but fans will no doubt get a (drop) kick out of Huddle (1932; 6:45am), College Coach (1933; 8:30am), Gridiron Flash (1935; 10am), The Big Game (1936; 11:15am), Over the Goal (1937; 12:30pm), The Cowboy Quarterback (1939; 1:45pm), Knute Rockne—All American (1940; 2:45pm), Easy Living (1949; 4:30pm) and Trouble Along the Way (1953; 6pm).

December 12, Thursday – Sinatra!  Yes, the Chairman of the Board was born on this date in 1915, and TCM will do it “his way” with a few of his contributions to cinema beginning with Guys and Dolls (1955) at 11am, then The Tender Trap (1955; 1:30pm), It Happened in Brooklyn (1947; 3:30pm) and Some Came Running (1958; 5:30pm).

Then come nightfall, the evening’s theme is “Directors in Films”—but not the kind of movies in which famous filmmakers are allowed to flex their thespic muscles…rather, features that have directors as characters.  Cinema Paradiso (1990) starts things off at 8pm, and that’s followed by Sullivan's Travels (1941; 10:15pm), Two Weeks in Another Town (1962; 12mid), What Price Hollywood? (1932; 2am) and Alex in Wonderland (1970; 3:45am).

December 13, Friday – One of TDOY’s favorite actors, Van Heflin, was born on this date in 1910.  So come by Rancho Yesteryear for cake and ice cream and we’ll wrest the TV away from the ‘rents to watch Annapolis Salute (1937; 6:30am), Saturday’s Heroes (1937; 7:45am), Santa Fe Trail (1940; 9am), Grand Central Murder (1942; 11am), Tennessee Johnson (1942; 12:30pm), Presenting Lily Mars (1943; 2:30pm), Possessed (1947; 4:30pm) and The Golden Mask (1954; 6:30pm).

December 14, SaturdayThe Palm Beach Story (1942; 8pm) is the evening’s TCM Essentials feature, and with Tomorrow is Forever (1946) and Midnight (1939) following at 9:45pm and 11:45pm respectively, it doesn’t take elementary mathematics to determine that it’s all about Claudette Colbert.  On TCM Underground, the cult classic Incubus (1965) makes the rounds at 3:30am; the movie features none other than the Shat himself but the description of the flick should have already snared you in its Esperanto web: “An evil spirit plots to snare the soul of a courageous and good man.”  (Okay, then!)

December 15, Sunday – The ‘rents celebrate fifty-one years of wedded bliss today.  Oh, and on TCM’s Silent Sunday NightsThe Unholy Three (1925; 12mid), with Lon Chaney and “the ever popular Mae Busch!”

December 16, Monday – With The Story of Film put to bed for the time being, the channel brings on holiday films for the next two Mondays…the movie that kicks off the evening’s festivities at 8pm (and the theme “The Christmas Spirit”) is a Tee Cee Em premiere in O. Henry’s Full House (1952).  (I will watch this for the Fred Allen-Oscar Levant segment, “The Ransom of Red Chief.”)  Meet John Doe (1941) follows at 10pm, and then it’s Good Sam (1948; 12:15am), It Happened on 5th Avenue (1947; 2:15am) and Mr. Soft Touch (1949; 4:15am).

December 17, Tuesday – Brush up your Shakespeare in the daylight hours with a festival of films feting the immortal Bard:  A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935; 7am), Romeo and Juliet (1936; 9:15am), Hamlet (1969; 11:30am), Othello (1965; 1:30pm) and The Taming of the Shrew (1967; 4:30pm).

The highbrow stuff ends at 8pm, when it’s time for “Holiday Romance.”  Holiday Affair (1949) starts off things at 8pm, then it’s TDOY fave Remember the Night (1940; 9:45pm), The Holiday (2006; 11:30pm—another TCM premiere), Bachelor Mother (1939; 1:45am) and Bundle of Joy (1956; 3:15am).

December 18, Wednesday – Before TCM gets their Star of the Month thing going in the primetime hours, they set aside daytime for two other famous names from the world of musicals: Betty Comden and Adolph Green.  (This practically ensures my mother will not go near TCM today.)  It’s Good News (1947) at 6am, then The Barkleys of Broadway (1949; 7:45am), On the Town (1949; 9:45am), Singin’ in the Rain (1952; 11:30am), The Band Wagon (1953; 1:15pm), It’s Always Fair Weather (1955; 3:15pm) and Bells are Ringing (1960; 5pm).

December 19, Thursday – Some good Western action on tap today—3:10 to Yuma (1957) gets another go-round, plus a pair of Anthony Mann-directed oaters, The Far Country (1955; 12:15pm)
and The Naked Spur (1953; 2pm).  You’ll also see John Ford’s Wagon Master (1950; 3:45pm) and Howard Hawks’ Red River (1948; 5:30pm); the day is rounded out with the underrated Sam Peckinpah feature Major Dundee (1965; 6:15am) and Wichita (1955; 10:30am), a Joel McCrea horse opera directed by TDOY fave Jacques Tourneur.

When evening shadows fall, there’ll be five—count ‘em, five—different productions of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, including a 1935 version (Scrooge, at 11:30pm) that’s a channel premiere.  To be brutally honest, the only one you ever really need to watch is the 1951 Alastair Sim version at 10pm—but if you believe that variety is the spice of life check out the 1970 musical Scrooge (at 8pm), the 1938 MGM version (1am) and a 1964 TV movie, A Carol for Another Christmas, as things wind down at 2:15am.

December 20, Friday – Happy 115th birthday wishes to Irene Dunne, an incredible actress who, sadly, never won an Oscar despite being nominated five times.  (I feel like Red Buttons: “She never got a dinner!”)  No Other Woman (1933) kicks off a natal anniversary tribute at 6am, followed by Ann Vickers (1933; 7am), The Age of Innocence (1934; 8:30am), Sweet Adeline (1935; 10am), Show Boat (1936; 11:30am), The Awful Truth (1937; 1:30pm), Joy of Living (1938; 3:15pm), Love Affair (1939; 5pm) and My Favorite Wife (1940; 6:30pm).

December 21, Saturday – “Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death!”  Yes, it’s Auntie Mame (1958) in the spotlight on TCM’s The Essentials, followed by two other “family ties” flicks in Christmas Eve (1947; 10:30pm) and All Mine to Give (1957; 12:15am).  TCM Underground goes with the cult classic The Executioner (1978—a.k.a. Massacre Mafia Style) at 2am, followed by John Cassavetes’ Husbands (1970) at 3:30.

And now for the channel’s Christmas Eve/Christmas lineup:

December 23, Monday
06:00am All Mine to Give (1957)
08:00am Little Women (1933)
10:00am Love Finds Andy Hardy (1938)
12:00pm In the Good Old Summertime (1949)
02:00pm 3 Godfathers (1948)
04:00pm Scrooge (1970)
06:00pm Fitzwilly (1967)
08:00pm Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
10:00pm The Bells of St. Mary's (1945)
12:15am A Night at the Movies: Merry Christmas! (2011)
02:15am Little Women (1949)
04:30am Tenth Avenue Angel (1948)

December 24, Tuesday
06:00am Beyond Tomorrow (1940)
07:30am Susan Slept Here (1954)
09:15am Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
11:15am The Man Who Came to Dinner (1941)
01:15pm A Christmas Carol (1938)
02:30pm The Shop Around the Corner (1940)
04:15pm Holiday Affair (1949)
06:00pm It Happened on 5th Avenue (1947)
08:00pm Christmas in Connecticut (1945)
10:00pm Sun Valley Serenade (1941)
11:45pm I'll Be Seeing You (1944)
01:15am The Bishop’s Wife (1947)
03:15am Holiday (1938)
05:30am The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima (1952)

December 25, Wednesday
07:30am The Big Fisherman (1959)
10:30am Ben-Hur (1959)
02:30pm The Robe (1953)
05:00pm King of Kings (1961)

December 26. Thursday – The primetime lineup features movies with characters who live in fantasy worlds…and the first movie at 8pm, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947), has nothing to do whatsoever with the fact that the 2013 remake (with Ben Stiller—really, Ben…you need to leave these movies alone) was released the day previous.  So you just stop being your cynical selves, ‘cause it’s Christmas, damn it.  After Mitty, it’s Billy Liar (1963; 10pm), Pennies from Heaven (1981; 12mid), Juliet of the Spirits (1965; 2am) and The Projectionist (1971; 4:30am).

December 28, Saturday – TCM’s Essentials runs Gaslight (1944) at 8pm, ushering in a film theme that the channel is calling “Spellbinders.”  How Suspicion (1941; 10pm) and Leave Her to Heaven (1945; 12mid) fit into this equation is your homework assignment for next time.

December 30, Monday – Russ Tamblyn turns seventy-nine today!  Cake and ice cream for everyone as we celebrate Russ’ natal anniversary with Take the High Ground! (1953; 6am), Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954; 8am), The Fastest Gun Alive (1956; 10am), The Young Guns (1956; 11:30am), Don't Go Near the Water (1957; 1pm), tom thumb (1958; 2:45pm), Follow the Boys (1963; 4:30pm) and Son of a Gunfighter (1966; 6:15pm).

In the evening hours, the channel has a nice lineup of movies to commemorate those stars whose passings we observed in 2013.  The tributes are as follows:  It Started with Eve (1941; 8pm—Deanna Durbin), Bikini Beach (1964; 9:45pm—Annette Funicello), The Cheap Detective (1978; 11:30pm—Eileen Brennan), The Loved One (1965; 1:15am—Jonathan Winters), Five Easy Pieces (1970; 3:30am—Karen Black), East of Eden (1955; 5:15am—Julie Harris) and Tea and Sympathy (1956; 7:15am—John Kerr).

December 31, Tuesday – And finally…to ring in the New Year, the channel gets its Dance Party going with some rock ‘n’ roll-themed films in the daylight hours: Go, Johnny, Go! (1959; 9:30am), Let’s Rock (1958; 10:45am), It’s Trad, Dad! (1961; 12:15pm), Rock Around the Clock (1956; 1:45pm), Twist Around the Clock (1961; 3:15pm), Jailhouse Rock (1957; 4:45pm) and Viva Las Vegas (1964; 6:30pm).

Nightfall…and the tempo slows down a bit (I imagine Uncle Bobby Osbo is worn out from all that frugging).  At 8pm, it’s That's Entertainment! (1974)…and the rest of the evening plays out with all of the MGM musicals tribute movies, That's Entertainment! II (1976; 10:30pm), That's Entertainment! III (1994; 12:45am), That's Dancing! (1985; 3am) and Musicals Great Musicals: The Arthur Freed Unit at MGM (1996; 5am).