Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Last post in 2013!

I thought it would be appropriate to squeeze in one more post before we wipe the slate clean and start a brand new year in 2014.  If you’re hoping to see a list of what was good about 2013…well, I’m going to have to disappoint you.  I didn’t see enough new or old movies this year to qualify for a Top Ten, and I’d rationalize this by saying I’ll try harder in 2014 but I’d also be fibbing.  Actually, the best Top Ten list I’ve read this year can be found at my good friend Dr. Film’s blog—a ranking of the best film preservation stories in 2013.  (Ben Model’s Accidentally Preserved collection made the list…and I’ll have some additional news and a review of the second volume in that series sometime in 2014.)

The holiday season here at Rancho Yesteryear was one of the best; my youngest sister Debbie spent Christmas with us, accompanied by her husband Craige and daughter Rachel.  There were good eats, much merriment (we had mimosas on Christmas morning—and those of you who know me well know that I am a man who likes his mimosas) and the initiation of niece Rachel into the wonderful world of classic film.  Christmas Eve Eve, I announced my intention to watch Miracle on 34th Street (a yearly tradition, of course) back in my bedroom environs while my sports junkie parents and the rest devoured football and basketball…and I asked Rachel if she would be interested in seeing it.  She told me would very much like to, and though I stressed to her before the feature presentation that this was an older movie, I apparently did not emphasize it forcefully enough because as the opening credits rolled, she cried out: “You didn’t tell me this was in black-and-white!”  But I’m happy to report that this did not deter her from enjoying the movie (she thought the scene where Kris Kringle is able to converse with the little Dutch immigrant girl “adorable”), and in fact, we watched It’s a Wonderful Life together on Christmas Eve.  I think she had seen a portion of it before, because she remembered the scene where the dancers at the high school fall into the swimming pool.  (By the way—it’s not easy explaining to your niece why you’re a sobbing mess after Life concludes.)

She also inquired as to whether I had The Music Man on hand—which I had recorded off The Greatest Cable Channel Known to Mankind™ a few years back, and so I spent most of Christmas Eve morning trying to locate it in my boxes o’discs.  (You won’t believe this, I know—but it was in the very last box I looked in.  It always is.)  We watched Man on Christmas night, and she loved it as well; but there is often a price to pay in schooling younger people in this sort of thing in that you have to occasionally allow yourself to sit down with something they enjoy.  I had bought her the DVD of the 2013 documentary One Direction: This is Us for Christmas, and I agreed to watch it with her on the night after Christmas.  It wasn’t bad—I think the part I enjoyed most was watching Martin Scorsese become a gushing fanboy with his granddaughters in tow—though in all honesty, I’m not the target audience for those kind of movies.  (The doc was directed by Fairmont, WV native Morgan Spurlock…whose Super Size Me documentary was a request by Rach a couple of visits back except her folks vetoed it because it’s unrated.  Rach told me that she finally got to watch it in school, in a version that made a small edit or two due to language.)

I already shared with you on the blog the news of two Christmas gifts I was going to receive: the Naked City: The Complete Series box set and the Laurel & Hardy: The Essential Collection.  These two gifts (what can I say—I have great taste) were supplemented by volumes 1 and 2 of Have Gun – Will Travel: The Sixth and Final Season, courtesy of my BBFF Stacia (what can I say—she has great taste).  In addition, both of my sisters generously sent me some Amazon gift cards…and with this largesse I was able to purchase a Blu-ray burner/player for the computer, so I have now officially made the leap into the 21st century.  (Which is scary…a cellphone might be next.)

I also want to take a moment to thank everyone who sent a Christmas card my way: I received warm holiday wishes from Brandie (and her saucy Laszlo), Laura, Bill “Get away from my outside decorations, you hooligans!” Crider, Toby, Rodney and my old Morgantown pal Kim.  But the winner for this year’s most offbeat card came courtesy of the folks from The Lightning Bug’s Lair (Zachary), Gonna Put Me in the Movies (B. Goode) and Three Makes a Collection (Peggy)—hey, the family that blogs together stays together—which I will share with you here:

“Ron,” in case you don’t recognize him off the bat, is adult film star Ron Jeremy.  Explaining to the ‘rents who Ron was constituted high hilarity (plus they didn’t quite understand why I was rolling around on the floor laughing); I just want to say that I would trade them in for cool parents like Zach’s (Zach confessed on Facebook: “Best family picture ever!”) in a New York minute.  (Okay, I probably wouldn’t.  But don’t think for a moment I’m not envious.)

So what’s in store for Thrilling Days of Yesteryear in 2014?  Well, I have truly been making an honest effort to get more content up on the blog, and I think you’ll have to agree that this month has had the most compared to all the rest of the months in 2013.  I’m working on movie and book reviews, plus the continuation of Serial Saturdays (Riders of Death Valley will be completed soon and I’m interviewing candidates for our next presentation) and (heaven help us all) Doris Day(s).  I hope that my rewarding associations with Radio Spirits and ClassicFlix continue, too.  For everyone who stops by the blog now and then, I want to wish you all a joyous and prosperous New Year’s—now let’s hit the mimosas!  (Oh, the image on the left comes from Pretty Clever Films—who gave me a nice shout-out in April and I just now came across it.  Mea maxima culpa and thanks for the plug!)

Monday, December 30, 2013

Doris Day(s) #13: “The Relatives” (12/31/68, prod. no #8541)

I had a teensy delay with this week’s edition of Doris Day(s)…and here’s the explanation.  Today’s episode, “The Relatives,” was the thirteenth show telecast…yet for some odd reason, it’s presented as the last show on the first season DVD set (something that was driving me nuts because I knew I had already watched it but couldn’t remember where it was).  As to the explanation for this—quien sabe?

But leave us draw the curtain back on today’s tableau, which finds Buck Webb (Denver Pyle) helping his hopped-up-on-sugar grandsons Billy (Philip Brown) and Toby Martin (Tod Starke) with their knapsacks.  Three episodes after “The Camping Trip,” the men of the Double Bar W are going on another excursion into the Great Outdoors…sans Buck’s Indian pal, Joe Whitecloud, though handyman Leroy B. Semple Simpson (James Hampton) has been asked along…

LEROY: We better get started if we’re gonna make sure we find us a good campsite…
BUCK: Don’t you feel good?
LEROY: Well…no, sir—why?
BUCK: I never known you to start a day before without a man-sized breakfast in ya…
LEROY: Well, I thought Mrs. Martin and Juanita wouldn’t be up this early…

Because that’s really the only purpose Doris and Juanita (Naomi Stevens) serve on this show—cooking for the menfolk.  And why is it necessary for them to “find” a campsite—they didn’t have that problem in “Camping Trip”…

BUCK: Don’t you think I can whip up breakfast for the four of us?
LEROY: Oh…oh, yes sir!  But…I thought it might be easier if we stopped at a diner along the way…
BUCK: Leroy…if you don’t like my cookin’ just come out and say so…don’t whistle around the bush about it!
LEROY: It’s not that—you cook fine, Mr. Webb!  But I thought we might have us a king-size belly whopper at the Pizza Pagoda…

The “Pizza Pagoda” was mentioned in last week’s episode, “Buck’s Girl,” and apparently is the ne plus ultra of fine cuisine in the sleepy little California town of Cotina.  Before the concept of twenty-four eating establishments took hold across this great land of ours, every town had a joint that was open all night.  (In Savannah, for example, it was a restaurant called The Kettle—which was later torn down and replaced by a Denny’s, the one next to the La Quinta where I once worked.)  The idea of having pizza for breakfast appeals to the young Martin boys, who are no doubt weary of the usual items on the menu: baklava, crème brûlée, etc.

Buck vetoes the idea of chomping down on pizza for the first meal of the day (the man obviously never attended college) and his protests are loud enough to wake the women in the household, who venture sleepily down the back stairs.

DORIS: Well, we just thought we’d come down and say goodbye and see you all off…
BUCK: Well, you’ve got another hour of sleep yet!
JUANITA: Oh, not with you making all that racket
TOBY: Grandpa’s making breakfast this morning!
DORIS: Grandpa’s going to make breakfast?  Isn’t that nice!
BUCK: Well, I was…but since you’re here, I’ll have mine scrambled well…
BILLY: Me, too!
TOBY: Me, too!
LEROY: Well, as long as we’re…I’d like to have mine…
DORIS (firmly): Scrambled

As Doris and Juanita began breakfast preparations because female, Leroy asks the Widow Martin if she’s still planning to “overhaul the house this weekend”:

DORIS: You mean wallpapering and painting?  Yeah, we’re going to overhaul it…
BUCK: I don’t like it…I think the two of you are in over your head…wallpaperin’ and paintin’ is man’s work…
DORIS (interrupting): We want to do it…now…we’re looking forward to it, aren’t we, Juanita?

“Speak for yourself, Chiquita—I was perfectly happy sleeping in this morning.”  Curiously, though the task of wallpapering and painting has been designated as “man’s work” in the Webb household, slaving over a hot stove is strictly for those with ladyparts.  But because Buck has only been chipped out of the ice for a short time, he’s unconvinced that fragile flowers like Doris and Juanita can get the job done.

DORIS: Now, look…we discussed and we agreed…
BUCK: The only we that agreed around here was you and Juanita…now…I said the place could use a little touchin’ up here and there…but what you’ve got in mind is a major project!  You ought to call in Ernie and Ben—they’re professionals…
DORIS: Ben and…oh—are you kidding?  Now that is really silly…we can do it just as good as Ben and Ernie…or better…
BUCK: Thinkin’ you can do somethin’ and doin’ it is two different things now…

Wow, Buck…that’s just…wow  Buck can clearly see he’s on the losing end of this argument (nothing new there), so he tells Doris to stay out of his room because “I like it just the way it is.”

DORIS: Your room?  Your room’s the worst one of all…those walls are so drab and dull…
BUCK: That’s my two favorite colors…drab and dull…so just stay away from them…

While this conversation has been taking place, Doris has been cracking eggs into a blender—a rather novel way to make scrambled eggs, to be sure…but she has to do it this way because otherwise what comedy that happens next could not take place.  Leroy volunteers to make the toast, and in getting the toaster he unplugs Doris’ blender…so when Dodo turns on the blender, naturally nothing happens.  She opens the blender at the same time Leroy re-plugs in the appliance…

…and vee-ola!  An egg shampoo!  “You nincompoop!” hollers Buck, as is his wont.  Leroy stammers out an apology for being such a dumbass, but Doris takes it in stride.  “Well, at least now I know what to paint the kitchen,” she says philosophically.  “Scrambled egg yellow.”  (Oh, Dor…you are a doodle.)

There’s a brief scene of Doris giving her brood kisses goodbye, and issuing the standard parental instructions—behave yourselves, listen to Grandpa and Leroy, yadda yadda yadda.  Leroy is in the driver’s seat, punching various buttons…which is how Buck gets momentarily stuck in the back window as he’s placing a carton of items in with the kids.  (Leroy, you’re incorrigible!)

BUCK (angrily): Do you know what you are, boy?!!
LEROY: Does it start with “n”?
BUCK: You’re a nincompoop!  That’s what you are!  Now don’t touch a thing until I tell you!

“I’m warning you, Dobbs!”  And the menfolk are off to go camping and eat with their hands and all that other rites of passage stuff.  A scene shift finds domestic Juanita hovering over the Hoover as Doris carries in a ladder, paint cans, paint rollers and several rolls of wallpaper so the Great Redecorating Project can commence.

DORIS: I figured we could make up for the time we’re going to need for eating and sleeping…mostly eating…
JUANITA: Oh, you know—just that thought makes me very hungry…very tired…
DORIS: You want to rest?

“I wanted to do that this morning, before you decided to open up the freakin’ kitchen!”  Doris is still not sure what kind of paper she’s going to put on Billy and Toby’s walls—if she’s asking for suggestions, I submit she should just pad the darn things.  She puts two designs up against the window to get Juanita’s opinion, and the housekeeper suggests Doris separate the two patterns so she can get a better feel…

…and that’s when we get the first glimpse of one of this week’s guest stars—“Alan Sues!” as we might exclaim if we were on radio.

Alan is playing the part of Edgar Semple Simpson…but at the time of the airing of this episode, he was just starting to make a name for himself as a regular on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, which would finish the 1968-69 television season as the #1 program in the Nielsen ratings.  Sues portrayed kid show host Uncle Al, the Kiddie’s Pal (“Uncle Al had to take a lot of medicine last night…”) and a fey sportscaster named Big Al, who punctuated his reports with the ringing of a bell (which he called his “tinkle”).  Though he never publicly disclosed his homosexuality, Alan’s campy Laugh-In characters—as well as his later portrayal of Peter Pan in some memorable 70s commercials for the peanut butter brand—were at that time one of the few instances when audiences saw a fearless gay man on TV (outside of game-show panelists Paul Lynde, Charles Nelson Reilly, etc.).  Sues also appeared in the classic Twilight Zone episode “The Masks” (where at age 38 he plays the world’s oldest college student) and his film roles include the Doris Day-James Garner romp Move Over, Darling (1963) and The Americanization of Emily (1964).

DORIS: There’s a man outside!
JUANITA: What man?
DORIS: Look for yourself!

Dor pulls the wallpapers apart again…only to see a different face in character great Robert Easton.  Easton’s wizardry with dialects earned him the nickname of “the Henry Higgins of Hollywood”; in the years before his death in 2011 he worked as a dialect coach on such films as Scarface (1983), Good Will Hunting (1997) and The Last King of Scotland (2006)…and he demonstrated his versatility in both the 1961 film Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and a memorable Get Smart two-parter, “The Little Black Book” (he played Maestro, a German agent).  Most of the time, however, Bob was the go-to guy for hillbillies: among his most unforgettable portrayals were the brother of Gunsmoke’s Chester Goode in the episode “Magnus,” and a hilarious bit in the Abbott & Costello vehicle Comin ‘Round the Mountain (1951)—in which his character of Luke McCoy (not to be confused with Dick Crenna on The Real McCoys) continually (and proudly) claims: “I’m tetched…I got kicked in the head by a mule!”  (I don’t think a day has gone by at Rancho Yesteryear when my father hasn’t referenced that line—and he despises Bud & Lou’s movies with every fiber of his reality show-loving being.)  Easton did a lot of old-time radio work; he had roles on The Harold Peary Show and Meet Millie, but is best known as Lester Nelson, neighbor to Fibber McGee & Molly when their show shifted to a five-day-a-week quarter-hour format in 1953.  (Bob was also a one-time “Quiz Kid”!)

JUANITA: Do you know him?
DORIS: I didn’t know the first one!
JUANITA: What first one?!!

Well, let’s not keep the ladies in suspense any longer—it’s time to explain their presence on the show.  (And no offense to Alan Sues…but Easton kind of walks away with this episode as Albert Semple Simpson—seriously, he’s the saving grace.)

EDGAR: Howdy!  I hope I didn’t give you a start at the window…
DORIS: Well, you did a little…
EDGAR: Oh, I’m sorry…my name is Edgar Simpson—and this here is my brother Albert…
(Edgar reaches out the front door to pull Albert in)
ALBERT: Hi!  (Chuckles goofily)

Both Doris and Juanita are a little flummoxed that the two men know who they are—which Edgar is able to explain by relating that he’s received many a letter from Cousin Leroy, who does a pretty good job describing people in his dispatches to home.  Edgar and Albert are kin to Leroy, as is this man who’s introduced as an afterthought…

…Cousin Herman—played by character great Dennis Fimple.  You know Dennis as Grandpa Hugo in the Rob Zombie-directed opus, House of 1000 Corpses (2003)…and those of us a bit older have seen him as Kyle Murtry, a member of the Hole in the Wall Gang that appeared occasionally on Alias Smith and Jones.  We’ve already made Dennis’ acquaintance in a past installment of Twisted Television—he was the mechanic that Gomer Pyle briefly mistook for Cousin Goober in the Gomer Pyle, USMC episode “Gomer Goes Home.”  

EDGAR (to Herman): This is Mrs. Martin…one of Cousin Leroy’s bosses
HERMAN: But you just seen me meet her, Edgar…
EDGAR: Just put out your hand and do it proper!
(Herman vigorously shakes Doris’ hand)
EDGAR: Say, Mrs. Martin…you can’t tell us where Cousin Leroy is, can you?
DORIS: Oh…you know, he’s going to be so disappointed…he just left early this morning with my father and my two sons on a weekend camping trip…
ALBERT (drawling): That’s too bad…
EDGAR: Well, I guess we might as well be goin’ on…when you see Cousin Leroy, would you tell him we’ll come back sometime?

Now…you and I know that if these guys depart there’ll be no episode this week (don’t think I can’t hear you cheering out there) so Doris reminds them that she has a maid who’ll make coffee…and she also asks if they might want to “freshen up a bit.”  (Day kind of gulps this last part, which is pretty funny.)  She’ll even throw in a few stacks of buttermilk pancakes!

ALBERT: Oh…well, that’s mighty hospitable of you, ma’am!  We’d be honored!  (Another goofy laugh)
EDGAR (hitting him in the shoulder): There you go again, Albert!  Stepping out of line!  I’m the oldest one—I get to make the decisions!  (After a pause) That’s mighty hospitable of you, ma’am—we’d be honored…

The three cousins devour the batch of pancakes and are most grateful to Juanita for the grub—Edgar tells her he’d like to have the recipe, and a puzzled Juanita is told by Albert: “He does all our cookin’.”  As Edgar and the group head back to the living room, he hits Doris in the ass with the kitchen door (she bent down to pick up one of the paint brushes) but she waves it off.

ALBERT: We’d sure like to repay you for your kindness…
DORIS: Albert, it’s okay…
HERMAN: We could chop you up a cord of wood in no time!
DORIS: Herman, I really don’t need any wood!  In fact, there just isn’t anything you can do around here…just being Leroy’s cousins is enough for me…
EDGAR: Well, this room sure looks like it needs some help…
DORIS: Well…we’re just going to do a little spring cleaning…you know, a little wallpapering here, a little painting…not much…
EDGAR: Albert!  Herman!  You heard her…time’s a wastin’!
ALBERT: I’ll start vacuumin’ in here!
DORIS: Oh, Albert…
EDGAR: And I’ll paint the kitchen!
DORIS: Oh, listen…I appreciate this…but…
HERMAN (snapping his fingers): I seen some rugs out on the porch that I can clean for ya…
HERMAN: I got it, got it, got it…

Albert heads to the vacuum cleaner…and in true sitcom fashion, he puts the silly thing in reverse, spewing dust and dirt everywhere (“Isn’t it supposed to suck the dirt in—not suck it out?”).  Doris looks helplessly at Juanita and remarks: “We’re being repaid for our kindness.”

Because this episode relies a lot on slapstick and physical humor, this write-up is going to be a bit shorter than our usual Dodo presentations.  Back from commercial break, Juanita is in a state because “that crazy Edgar is going to paint the kitchen red!”  Doris doesn’t understand how this can be so (“I only bought off-white”) until her housekeeper informs her that he’s added a few cans of tomato soup to the mix.  Doris races into the kitchen to head off the impending disaster.

DORIS: Well, I really don’t want to hold up your trip because…you know, I know that you have a whole trip planned…
EDGAR: Oh nonsense, ma’am!  I wasn’t really wanting to go anyway…
DORIS: Oh…really?
EDGAR: No!  We were just going over to see cousin Jesse Higgins ‘cause Mama wanted us to…I really didn’t want to go…
DORIS: Leroy mentioned a cousin Jesse Higgins…
EDGAR: Well, then you know what kind of people they are!
DORIS: Well, no…he didn’t say much…
EDGAR: Well, ma’am…I’m not one to gossip…but that whole family’s really crude…as a matter of fact, I know cousin Jesse only shaves three times a week
DORIS: Well, a lot of men don’t like to shave, you know…
EDGAR: Cousin Jesse’s a woman

An obvious joke, yes…but I like the way Sues sells it.  Doris is able to talk Edgar out of painting the kitchen red even though he’s not particularly wild about her choice (white), so while he heads out for a new can of paint Dor watches Herman out in the backyard, beating rugs.  She sees her electric blanket on the “to be beaten” pile and runs out to explain that he can skip that particular one.

Back in the kitchen, Juanita asks Edgar if he’s received Doris’ instructions that the kitchen is to be painted white.  He answers in the affirmative, but explains that it’s a pity he has to throw out all that red paint.  As he talks to Juanita, he shakes the paint brush outside the window…

…hi-jinks!  Edgar tells Doris he’ll go get something to take off those spots, and the hapless Doris—after briefly conversing with Juanita that there’s nothing she can do about the Family Simpson without hurting their feelings—heads upstairs to rid herself of her “measles” when she’s stopped by Albert, who’s finishing his living room vacuuming…

ALBERT: Are you feelin’ okay, Mrs. Martin?  You sure look like you’re comin’ down with somethin’…
DORIS: Oh, I’m fine, Albert…
ALBERT: But them spots on your face…
DORIS: Albert…when I’m happy, my freckles change color

Albert wants to know what else he can do once the living room is finished…and though Doris tells him everything is jake he offers to go upstairs and help her with her project…so she suggests he go outside and chop some firewood.

Doris heads up to the boys’ room, where she hopes to be able to put up the wallpaper in peace.  She slaps a little glue on the back of the paper, and then goes over to the wall to apply the paper.  But she’s right behind the door to the room, and any student of sitcoms will tell you…

…that’s just asking for trouble.  Cousin Edgar—helpful Cousin Edgar—brought up some turpentine to clean the spots off her face.  “Well, that’s the darndest thing,” he declares, pulling the wallpaper off Doris.  “That stuff works better than turpentine do!”

Doris Day or Lucille Ball?  It’s hard to tell, isn’t it?

The rugs are finished, the kitchen is finished (“It’s okay…if you like off-white…”) and the firewood is chopped and stacked.  Doris had to go into town for more wallpaper (“She used a whole roll takin’ the spots off her face!”), so rather than wait until she returns to find out if there’s anything else she wants done, the Simpson clan decide to take the initiative and paint the living room.

ALBERT: What color do you figger we ought to paint it?
HERMAN: Green!  Like the bus depot over t’Higgins Point!
ALBERT: No…I like orange…like the lobby of the Bijou Theater back home…

“I can’t believe you’re my brothers!” screeches Edgar.  “Orange!  Green!  You don’t have no taste at all!”  He explains to his brothers that this is not a depot or a theater but a house—and I can’t do it justice, but the way Easton deadpans “Yes…this is a house” literally sent me to the floor laughing.

HERMAN: What color are you hankerin’ for, Edgar?
EDGAR: Lavender!

Yeah, that’s not a tell.

HERMAN: That might be nice, Albert!
ALBERT: I ain’t so sure…
EDGAR (upset): No one’s askin’ you to be sure!  I’m the one with the color sense!
ALBERT: Just ‘cause you got one blue eye and one green eye…that don’t mean you got color sense

“You ain’t got one single drop of couth!” Edgar informs his brother, and Albert leaves the house to go sit in the truck by himself.

HERMAN: You shouldn’t have said that, Edgar…about the couth
EDGAR: Well, he’s just an old poop…

You watch your phraseology!

HERMAN: But you know what’s gonna happen now…and if Ma finds out…she’s gonna be awful mad!  Remember the whuppin’ you got last time?

Sues’ reaction to this is hysterical, and so are his efforts to get Easton’s character out of the truck by simultaneously threatening and pleading.  Finally, he gives up.  “You have more couth…than anybody in Chautau County,” he admits.

Albert agrees to come out of the truck, and Sues scores another comic bulls-eye by plaintively asking him: “You ain’t gonna tell Ma, are ya?”  But even though Albert has left the confines of the Simpson lorry, he’s still insistent that the Martin living room be bathed in orange paint, setting Edgar off again…and Albert back to the truck.

After a short scene where Edgar finally gives in and agrees to paint the room orange, there is a dissolve to Doris bidding the Simpson clan a fond fare-thee-well…

DORIS: …and I’ll be sure and tell Leroy you were here…
EDGAR: Sorry to have missed him, ma’am…but was mighty glad to help you!
ALBERT: I just wished we could’ve stayed longer and done more
DORIS: Oh…listen…
HERMAN: Things worked out real well, didn’t they, ma’am?
DORIS: Real well…

Doris is, of course, just being polite…because once company is down the road, she collapses on a bench in the front yard.

JUANITA: Come on, Doris…you can’t just sit there…you’ve got to come in and face it…
DORIS: Do I have to?
JUANITA: You got a better idea?
DORIS: Uh-uh…
JUANITA: Come on—we haven’t got much time…they’re going to be here in a little while and there’s so much to do!
DORIS: Okay, Juanita…okay, I’ll be there…
JUANITA: Oh, boy—it’s a lucky thing your dad locked his room…
DORIS: He should have locked this house!

The implication here is that the Simpsons Three did paint the living room to look like a Howard Johnson’s…but alas, there wasn’t enough money in the budget to convey this and a potentially hilarious gag falls flat.  So let’s get to the ending on this, and believe me—there’s not much of one.

Buck and the boys return home to see the house in fine shape; the boys run up to their room to check out the new wallpaper, and Buck is dumbfounded.  “I didn’t think you and Juanita had it in you,” he beams.  “This is real professional—Ernie and Ben couldn’t have done it this good…”

Well, you should have seen that coming a mile away.  Ernie and Ben emerge from the kitchen, apologizing to Doris that they weren’t able to finish everything at one time.  The guy on the left playing Ben, actor Bard Stevens, didn’t do anything too noteworthy (though he will return for two additional Doris outings) but the guy on the right (Ernie) is Pat Cranshaw (billed here as J.P. Cranshaw), who you’ll recognize as Joseph “Blue” Pulaski from Old School (2003—“You’re my boy, Blue!”).  Cranshaw also had recurring roles on Alice (as Andy) and After MASH (as Bob Scannell), and will also turn up in later Doris Day episodes.

As for the coda…Doris and Buck have settled in for the evening; she’s doing some mending and he asks about getting some coffee.  She stabs herself with a needle, and makes a statement that she’s accident-prone.

DORIS: I really am, I’m accident-prone…you know, that happens to a lot of people…
BUCK: You’re not accident-prone…
DORIS: Oh yes, I am…
BUCK: No, just people like Leroy and his cousins make people think they are…
DORIS: Well, what are you supposed to do when you’re around Leroy—run out of the room?

Not a bad idea, come to think of it.

BUCK: Just be on your guard and…stand perfectly still…

And so Doris takes Buck’s advice when Leroy enters the living room—Doris waits until Leroy stops prattling on about hearing from his cousins, and then she asks him to take care of a ladder in the kitchen.  Leroy goes back into the kitchen to take the ladder to the basement…and while he’s doing that, Buck asks again about that coffee—but Doris is staying put until she’s sure Leroy is in the basement.

“I’m not afraid of him—I’ll get it myself,” declares Buck.  Wait for it…

After being hit in the nose with the door, Buck then calls Leroy a nincompoop for the third time in this episode as he chases him into the kitchen, prompting Doris to give out with a girlish laugh and me to breathe a sigh of relief that we’re done for the week.

Next time on Doris Day(s)…well, anytime a show like this features a guest star it might signal that there’ll be a few laughs to be had.  But even an old pro like Strother Martin can’t help The Doris Day Show…and in “Love a Duck,” he’ll learn that what we have here is a failure to anticipate.  Until that time—toodle-oo!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Coming distractions: January 2014 on TCM

Once again, I’m kind of cutting it close to the wire with regards to Thrilling Days of Yesteryear’s regular feature of things to come on The Greatest Cable Channel Known to Mankind™.  The reasons for this are kind of complicated, but in all honesty I have been giving serious consideration to retiring “Coming Distractions” only because I don’t seem to have the time to devote to Tee Cee Em’s monthly offerings like I once did.  (I also don’t get the opportunity to sit down with the channel as much as I would like…something that will probably continue as long as there are Law & Order: SVU marathons and innumerable airings of Pawn Stars/American Pickers.  Why can’t any of these bozos say something offensive and get themselves suspended?)

But for now, I figured that I could do at least one more month since February will be a 31 Days of Oscar presentation and I can usually skate through that…but more importantly, “the biggest mother of them all” will be TCM’s Star of the Month in the first month of the new year—none other than Joan Crawford herownself.  Sixty-two of Crawford’s movies are on tap for this one, which will take place Thursday nights starting at 8pm and pretty much running for 24 hours each time (save the last day of the month)…so if there are any gaps in your La Joan collection, this would be an opportune time to fire up the TiVo.  Take a look at what’s in store:

January 2, Thursday
08:00pm The Unknown (1927)
09:00pm Our Dancing Daughters (1928)
10:30pm Our Modern Maidens (1929)
12:00am Our Blushing Brides (1930)
01:45am Lady of the Night (1924)
03:00am The Boob (1926)
04:15am Spring Fever (1927)
05:45am Across to Singapore (1928)

January 3, Friday            
07:15am West Point (1928)
09:00am The Hollywood Revue (1929)
11:00am Untamed (1929)
12:30pm Montana Moon (1930)
02:00pm Paid (1930)
03:30pm Dance, Fools, Dance (1931)
05:00pm Laughing Sinners (1931)
06:15pm Possessed (1931)

January 9, Thursday
08:00pm Grand Hotel (1932)
10:00pm Rain (1932)
11:45pm Dancing Lady (1933)
01:30am Forsaking All Others (1934)
03:00am This Modern Age (1931)
04:30am Today We Live (1933)

January 10, Friday          
06:30am Chained (1934)
08:00am Sadie McKee (1934)
09:45am I Live My Life (1935)
11:30am No More Ladies (1935)
01:00pm The Gorgeous Hussy (1936)
03:00pm Love On the Run (1936)
04:30pm The Bride Wore Red (1937)
06:15pm The Last of Mrs. Cheyney (1937)

January 16, Thursday
08:00pm The Women (1939)
10:30pm When Ladies Meet (1941)
12:30am A Woman's Face (1941)
02:30am They All Kissed the Bride (1942)
04:15am Mannequin (1937)

January 17, Friday          
06:00am The Shining Hour (1938)
07:30am The Ice Follies of 1939 (1939)
09:15am Strange Cargo (1940)
11:15am Susan and God (1940)
01:30pm Reunion in France (1942)
03:30pm Above Suspicion (1943)
05:15pm Hollywood Canteen (1944)

January 23, Thursday
08:00pm Mildred Pierce (1945)
10:00pm Humoresque (1946)
12:15am Flamingo Road (1949)
02:00am The Damned Don't Cry (1950)
03:45am Possessed (1947)
05:45am It's a Great Feeling (1949)

January 24, Friday          
07:15am Harriet Craig (1950)
09:00am Goodbye, My Fancy (1951)
11:00am This Woman Is Dangerous (1952)
12:45pm Torch Song (1953)
02:30pm Queen Bee (1955)
04:15pm Autumn Leaves (1956)
06:15pm The Story of Esther Costello (1957)

January 30, Thursday
08:00pm The Best of Everything (1959)
10:15pm What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)
12:45am Della (1964)
02:00am Trog (1970)
03:45am The Karate Killers (1967)
05:30am The Caretakers (1963)

January 31, Friday          
07:30am Berserk! (1967)

Friday nights on TCM, the focus will be on Science in the Movies.  (Science!)  This piece on the TCM website will give you a little more information on the Friday Night Spotlight theme; but it promises, as the press release trumpets: “a lineup of movies that delve into issues of scientific discovery, exploration and alteration, with some side trips into science fiction.”

January 3, Friday
08:00pm Madame Curie (1943)
10:15pm A Beautiful Mind (2001)
12:45am For All Mankind (1989)
02:15am Countdown (1968)
04:15am Marooned (1969)

January 10, Friday
08:00pm Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
09:30pm Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941)
11:30pm The Thing From Another World (1951; also January 4 @6:30pm)
01:15am Forbidden Planet (1956)
03:00am Solaris (1972)

January 17, Friday          
08:00pm The Spirit of St. Louis (1957)
10:30pm Gallant Journey (1946)
12:00am Silkwood (1983)
02:15am The Beginning or the End (1947)
04:15am These Are the Damned (1962)

January 24, Friday
08:00pm Edison, the Man (1940)
10:00pm The Magic Box (1951)
12:00am It Happens Every Spring (1949)
01:45am The Man in the White Suit (1951)
03:15am Bye Bye Birdie (1963)

January 31, Friday          
08:00pm First Men in the Moon (1964)
10:00pm The Time Machine (1960)
12:00am The Story of Louis Pasteur (1936)
01:45am Dr. Ehrlich's Magic Bullet (1940)
03:45am Charly (1968)

So much for the E-ticket items on the channel’s schedule—let’s take a look at some other delights that will be set before us in the month of January:

January 1, Wednesday – The primetime theme is “Lost Worlds”—and in keeping with this premise, TCM will show the 1960 movie version of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famed novel at 10:15pm.  (I prefer the 1925 version, which is kind of a King Kong blueprint…but it really won’t matter much in the long run because I probably won’t see either of them.)  Before World, it’s the underrated sci-fi classic Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959) at 8pm, and then following World you’ll have TDOY fave The Valley of Gwangi (1969; 12mid), She (1965; 2am) and The Lost Continent (1968; 4am).

January 2, Thursday – Several days on the channel’s schedule feature a fistful of pre-Code films…and this is one of them.  It’s The Ship from Shanghai (1929) at 6:30am, followed by Call of the Flesh (1930; 7:45am), The Great Meadow (1931; 9:30am), Sporting Blood (1931; 11am), New Morals for Old (1932; 12:30pm), Washington Masquerade (1932; 2pm), Day Of Reckoning (1933; 3:30pm), The Secret of Madame Blanche (1933; 4:45pm) and Stage Mother (1933; 6:15pm).

January 4, Saturday – TCM finishes up MGM’s Maisie series with the final film starring Ann Sothern as the brassy showgirl with the heart of gold; it’s Undercover Maisie (1947) at 10:30am.  The following Saturdays in January—at the same time of 10:30am—the channel starts with the popular Hildegarde Withers series, and it’s fortunate that those three Saturdays will highlight the best entries with Edna May Oliver and James Gleason: Penguin Pool Murder (January 11), Murder on the Blackboard (January 18) and Murder on a Honeymoon (January 25).

The primetime schedule kicks off with the first edition of TCM Essentials for the new year; Uncle Bobby Osbo and his faithful Indian companion Drew Barrymore introduce The Bad and the Beautiful (1952) at 8pm.  Design for Scandal (1941) follows at 10:15pm and then That Forsyte Woman (1949) at midnight, continuing the evening’s Walter Pidgeon theme.

January 5, SundayHow to Marry a Millionaire (1953; 8pm) and Moon Over Miami (1941; 10pm) comprise the primetime lineup…and if you’re a Betty Grable fan, that’s good news for you.  I, on the other hand, will be looking forward to TCM’s Silent Sunday Nights for the next two weeks when the spotlight will be on the comedic output of the great Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle.  January 5 at midnight, the following shorts will be shown: The Knockout (1914), A Flirt’s Mistake (1914), Fatty Joins the Force (1913), Leading Lizzie Astray (1914), Fatty and Mabel’s Simple Life (1915), Fatty’s Chance Acquaintance (1915) and Fatty and Mabel at the San Diego Exposition (1915).

The following week (January 12) it’s Fatty’s New Role (1915), Mabel and Fatty’s Wash Day (1915), Mabel and Fatty’s Married Life (1915), Fatty’s Faithful Fido (1915), Fatty’s Plucky Pup (1915) and Fatty’s Tintype Tangle (1915).

January 6, Monday – The daylight hours feature a number of first-rate films noir…and though it’s getting to be an annoying habit, I will remind you that The Reckless Moment (1949) is on the schedule again at 4:30pm; you should see it if you haven’t done so (I may plan a pop quiz later). 

No, the real emphasis on the schedule will be TCM’s oracle, Robert Osborne; it’s a night of his “picks,” which will comprise The Third Man (1949; 9:30pm), Libeled Lady (1936; 1am), Love Letters (1945; 3am) and The Band Wagon (1953; 5am).  But also on the schedule are two editions of Private Screenings (at 8pm and an 11:30pm encore)…and according to the schedule, the person in that spotlight will be (drum roll) Robert Osborne!  What I’m dying to know is…does he interview himself or does someone else step into the interviewer’s shoes?  Okay, I’m just kidding; I know the answer to that one—former TCM Essentials toothache Alec Baldwin will do the honors.  (I just hope he doesn’t call Osborne a “toxic little queen”—‘cause I think Bob could clean his clock.)  And this thing is ninety minutes long…but I suppose that makes sense, because you have to factor in additional time for Baldwin’s ego.

January 7, Tuesday – Here’s something a little more interesting that it being all about Osborne; TCM will commemorate the 90th anniversary of Columbia Pictures with a 24-hour salute to some of the studio’s best films.  (It’s not listed on the schedule now but the tentative lineup originally had Charley Chase’s classic 1940 two-reel comedy The Heckler scheduled for 9am—sad to see it yanked.)

07:00am Lady for a Day (1933)
08:45am It Happened One Night (1934)
10:30am The Whole Town's Talking (1935)
12:15pm His Girl Friday (1940)
02:00pm Cover Girl (1944)
04:00pm Gilda (1946)
06:00pm From Here to Eternity (1953)
08:00pm On the Waterfront (1954)
10:00pm The Way We Were (1973)
12:15am Gandhi (1982)
03:45am The Remains of the Day (1993)

January 8, Wednesday – Yes, it’s that time of year again…when we break out the decorations and the tree to celebrate the birthday of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.  No one is more pleased than I to see that my favorite Elvis Presley guilty pleasure, Tickle Me (1965), is on the schedule at 12:45pm.  (Hey—an Elvis movie written by Bowery Boys scribes Ed Bernds and Elwood Ullman, plus a climax later ripped off by the Scooby Doo people…tell me what’s not to like?)  The other “King” flicks are Stay Away, Joe (1968; 6am), Live a Little, Love a Little (1968; 7:45am), Double Trouble (1967; 9:15am), Spinout (1966; 11am), Girl Happy (1965; 2:30pm), Kissin’ Cousins (1964; 4:15pm) and It Happened at the World's Fair (1963; 6pm).  (Nice to see they gravitated toward El’s “I-made-these-for-the-money” oeuvre this year.)

Come primetime—a salute to “the poor man’s John Garfield” as an evening of films starring Dane Clark unfurls with Gunman in the Streets (1950) at 8pm.  That’s followed by Embraceable You (1947; 9:45pm), That Way with Women (1947; 11:15pm), Outlaw’s Son (1957; 1am), Whiplash (1948; 2:45am) and Backfire (1950; 4:30am)—this last one I just recently acquired after receiving a replacement Film Noir Classics: Volume 5 set that someone decided to help themselves to during Christmas (by surgically removing it from its envelope with a x-acto knife).

January 9, Thursday – A couple of oddities that might be of interest to comedy fans like myself: at 7:45am, the channel will show Everything’s Rosie (1931)—a romantic romp that stars Robert Woolsey of the Wheeler & Woolsey team sans his partner.  (I’ve not seen this one; Internets legend F. Gwynplaine “I’ve seen them all!” MacIntyre jibes that it’s a little too close to W.C. Fields’ Poppy but I will try to keep an open mind.)  At 4:45pm, the Ritz Brothers (the bête noir of author James Neibaur, whose book on the Elvis films will be released in April) star in The Gorilla (1939)—a guilty pleasure of mine because any movie with Patsy Kelly, Lionel Atwill and Bela Lugosi cannot be completely terrible.  (Besides, Jim admits to being a fan of Brown and Carney…’nuff said.)

January 11, Saturday – If by some chance you missed It Happened One Night (1934) on Tuesday (perhaps you were at work?) you can catch it again at 8pm on The Essentials as Osbo and Drewbo feature it along with Lady for a Day (1933; 12:15am), which was also in the Columbia 90th anniversary spotlight.  In between the two films is Arsenic and Old Lace (1944) (a Frank Capra tribute, as you’ve no doubt guessed by now) at 10pm—a film that has quite a great deal of love among classic film fans despite the fact that the chief asset of the stage play is not in the movie.  (Boris Karloff, as you’ve no doubt guessed by now.)

Originally when Laura at Miscellaneous Musings sent me the addy to the channel’s tentative schedule many moons ago, I was really pumped because I saw where the 1976 cult classic Massacre at Central High was going to be featured on TCM Underground.  Well, that apparently was yanked and was substituted with the Blaxploitation classics Black Caesar (1972) and Hell Up in Harlem (1973)…and now they’ve called another audible and settled on The Flesh Merchant (1956; 2am—a.k.a. The Wild and the Wicked), Chained for Life (1951; 3am) and Child Bride (1938; 4:15am).  (Suffice it to say, I’m bummed.)

January 12, Sunday – In the primetime spotlight: the two films that won Ingrid Bergman two Best Actress Oscar statuettes—Anastasia (1956) at 8pm, followed by Gaslight (1944) at 10.  And after the Arbuckle shorts on Silent Sunday Nights, a pair of foreign film classics in Cleo from 5 to 7 (1962; 2am) and My Life to Live (1962; 3:45am).

January 13, Monday/January 14, Tuesday – On January 18, SAG-AFTRA will present their fiftieth Lifetime Achievement Award to the incomparable Rita Moreno, and to commemorate the occasion TCM will feature an evening of Rita’s movies on Tuesday: Popi (1969; 8pm), Marlowe (1969; 10pm), Cry of Battle (1963; 12mid) and Carnal Knowledge (1971; 2am).  On the preceding Monday night, past Lifetime Achievement Award winners get their due when the following movies unfurl: Strike Me Pink (1936; 8pm—Eddie Cantor), Guys and Dolls (1955; 10pm—Frank Sinatra), Sunrise at Campobello (1960; 12:45am—Ralph Bellamy), Battleground (1949; 3:15am—Ricardo Montalban) and Baby Doll (1956; 5:30am—Karl Malden).

January 15, Wednesday – I’m really dreading this day because the former child star referred to as She Who Must Not Be Named on the blog (I dare not speak her name for fear of summoning forth a powerful demon) turns 77.  It’s not so much her movies that chill my marrow; I can avoid the lineup of Little Women (1949; 6:15am), Glory (1956; 10:15am), Bad Bascomb (1946; 12noon), Music for Millions (1944; 2pm), The Canterville Ghost (1944; 4pm) and Our Vines Have Tender Grapes (1945; 6pm) that day.  But I’ll probably have to write something nice about her for the ClassicFlix Facebook/Twitter posts, and I will demand hazard pay.

In the evening hours, the theme is The Long Arm of the Law—with my favorite Jean Arthur film, The Talk of the Town (1942) getting things started at 8pm, then The Paper Chase (1973; 10:15pm), Philadelphia (1993; 12:15am), 12 Angry Men (1957; 2:30am) and State’s Attorney (1932; 4:15am)

January 16, Thursday – The original salute to “Women of the West” featured my favorite Joan Crawford film, Johnny Guitar (1954)…but that also got yanked from the schedule (boo hiss) and now it’s Annie Get Your Gun (1950) at 6am, followed by Blood on the Moon (1948; 8am), Gypsy Colt (1954; 9:30am), Wine, Women and Horses (1937; 10:45am), The Story of Seabiscuit (1949; 12noon), Pride of the Bluegrass (1939; 1:45pm), Annie Oakley (1935; 3pm), Montana Belle (1952; 4:30pm) and Westward the Women (1951; 6pm).

January 18, Saturday – It promises to be a big night for my BBFF Stacia, because Tallulah Bankhead is in the primetime spotlight with a TCM Essentials scheduling of Lifeboat (1944) at 8pm and Faithless (1932) following at 10.  But the real fun starts with the delightfully demented Die! Die! My Darling! (1965) at 11:30pm; I saw this movie when I was a lot younger and I have a feeling it might have done a lot to warp me at that impressionable age.

The all-time Stacia fave Skidoo (1969) is in the lead-off slot on TCM Underground at 2am, and coupled with that is The Big Cube (1969; 3:45am), which earned quite a few rave reviews on Facebook recently…if one defines “rave” as “What the…front yard?”  I kind of like the concept of a small subversive corner of Turner Classic Movies…I only wish they’d follow through with that Central High thing.

January 19, Sunday – Towards the end of her film career, Rosalind Russell needed to put groceries on the table and so she agreed to play a Mother Superior in two films that will be shown in primetime as part of the channel’s “Creatures of Habit” tribute.  (I swear that joke is not mine.)  It’s Roz and Hayley Mills in The Trouble with Angels (1966) at 8pm, then Stella Stevens takes over as the bane of Roz’s existence in Where Angels Go…Trouble Follows! (1968) at 10.  (Okay, Binnie Barnes is also in both of them—not necessarily a bad thing.)  On the bright side, TCM will show the Wim Wenders-directed classic Wings of Desire (1987) at 2am.

January 20, Monday – To commemorate the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, the channel schedules a daylong festival of films spotlighting African-American actors and directors: The Joe Louis Story (1953; 6am), The Jackie Robinson Story (1950; 7:30am), The Learning Tree (1969; 9am), Intruder in the Dust (1949; 11am), Sergeant Rutledge (1960; 12:30pm), Duel at Diablo (1966; 2:30pm), Lilies of the Field (1963; 4:15pm) and In the Heat of the Night (1967; 6pm).  Come nightfall, the cinematic oeuvre of singer-activist Harry Belafonte is on display with Bright Road (1953; 8pm), The World, the Flesh, and the Devil (1959; 9:15pm), Buck and the Preacher (1972; 11pm), Odds Against Tomorrow (1959; 1am) and The Angel Levine (1970; 3am).

January 21, Tuesday – Arthur Ripley’s critically acclaimed Voice in the Wind (1944; a.k.a. Strange Music) gets an airing at 11:15am today, and I’m really going to have to catch this rarity.  It will brace me for this evening’s guest programmer—who is none other than “Judge” Judy Sheindlin.  (That noise?  Oh, it’s just the sound of my eyes rolling back in my head.  Honestly, I can see why they ran that Ultimate Fan Contest—they’ve run out of people to host.)  Her Honor has chosen The Goodbye Girl (1977; 8pm), Elmer Gantry (1960; 10pm) and The Good Earth (1937; 12:30am) as the movies she will run…while I, on the other hand, will elect to turn the TV off at 8 in a defiant blow for good taste.

January 22, Wednesday – The woman whom I knew growing up as Josephine the Plumber in the Comet TV commercials will be in the primetime spotlight this evening—she’s Jane Withers, the popular child star in the 1930s and 1940s who could drink Shirley Temple’s milkshake any day of the week.  (I’ll just wait for Page’s response in the comments.)  Jane and Shirl appear in Bright Eyes (1934), the movie that kicks off the festivities at 8pm, and then it’s all Jane in Paddy O'Day (1935; 9:30pm), High School (1940; 11pm), The North Star (1943; 12:30am) and Giant (1956; 2:30am—I always forget she’s in this movie!).

January 23, ThursdayA Soldier’s Plaything (1930) is on today at 12:15pm—it’s the first talking feature to star silent comedy great Harry Langdon (also available from the Warner Archive), and while I am curious to check it out a number of my Facebook film friends were not effusive in their praise for the movie…and these people are Langdon fans.  More details as this story breaks.

January 25, Saturday – I don’t have to tell you how much of a kick mi madre has been getting out of seeing “the fish movie”—a.k.a. Jaws (1975) on the channel of late; she’ll get to see it again when it’s featured on The Essentials as part of a “70’s Thrills” theme that begins at 8pm.  Following Jaws is a movie that scared the snot out of me when I first saw it (and I’m glad it was on cable, where I had access to a change of underwear), Alien (1979; 10:15pm)…and then another HBO goodie (I lost count how many times I watched this one…and to this day I’ll defend George Segal’s performance as outclassing the final product), Rollercoaster (1977) at 12:15am.  The evening concludes with a TCM Underground “infant” double feature: The Baby (1973) at 2:30am, then Spider Baby (1964) at 4:30.  (Yowsah!)

January 26, Sunday – The primetime schedule features a “Ford and Fonda” double feature in Young Mr. Lincoln (1939) at 8pm and Drums Along the Mohawk (1939) at 10.  (Check out this splendid essay on Drums from Aubyn Eli, a.k.a. The Girl with the White Parasol at ClassicFlix when you get a chance.)  On Silent Sunday Nights, one of Harold Lloyd’s most popular film comedies begins at midnight: Speedy (1928).

January 27, Monday – You’ve heard me mention radio’s Lum & Abner (Chester Lauck and Norris Goff) on the blog on occasion—the channel is going to show two of the feature films that the comic duo did for independent movie producer Jack Votion today, beginning with The Bashful Bachelor (1942) at 6am.  I really enjoy this one of the two being offered; Lauck and Goff contributed the story, and it features a grand performance from TDOY fave ZaSu Pitts and bulls-eye comic relief from Grady Sutton as Cedric Weehunt.  (And the actress who plays “Agatha Abernathy” is none other than Marni Nixon!)  Two Weeks to Live (1943) will run at 10:30am and while it has a funny moment or two I wouldn’t compare it to the charming Bachelor.  (Franklin Pangborn has a funny contribution, and you’ll spot favorites like Charles Middleton and Tim Ryan, too.)

January 28, Tuesday – The director credited with “The Lubitsch Touch” celebrates what would have been his 121st birthday today…and the great thing about the Ernst Lubitsch tribute is that they’ll feature two of his silent films in the daytime hours: The Loves of Pharaoh (1922) at 6:45am and The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg (1927) at 8:30.  After that, it’s The Merry Widow (1934; 10:30am), Ninotchka (1939; 12:15pm), The Shop Around the Corner (1940; 2:15pm), That Uncertain Feeling (1941; 4pm) and my all-time favorite, To Be or Not to Be (1942; 5:30pm).

Come nightfall, actor Michael Caine “gets a dinner” with an evening devoted to some of his movies: Gambit (1966; 8pm), Get Carter (1971; 10pm), Pulp (1972; 12mid), X, Y & Zee (1972; 2am) and The Wrong Box (1966; 4am).

January 29, Wednesday – In a preview of what you’ll see on Oscar night…oh, wait—they don’t hand out these awards at the Oscars anymore, do they?  Well, Angela Lansbury, Steve Martin and Piero Tosi all received Honorary Awards at the 5th Annual Governor Awards this past November 16th…and for unexplained reasons, the channel is just now getting around to handing out some recognition in their primetime lineup this evening.  Lansbury, of course, plays the silver screen’s most diabolical mom in The Manchurian Candidate (1962), which will air at 8pm…and a second Lansbury vehicle from her MGM days, The Harvey Girls (1946), follows at 10:15pm.  A pair of Steve Martin films, Pennies from Heaven (1981; 12:15am) and Father of the Bride (1991; 2:15am) follow, and the evening is wrapped up with I Compagni (1964; 4:15am) and La Notti Bianche (1957; 6:30am), two movies featuring the costume design of Piero Tosi.  (As for Angelina Jolie—the winner of the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award…well, TCM’s audience may not be ready for a showing of Lookin’ to Get Out.)

January 30, Thursday – We’ll close out the month by spotlighting two sets of goodies airing in the daytime hours; first, a slew of films featuring S.S. Van Dine’s famed literary sleuth Philo Vance (sadly, 1939’s The Gracie Allen Murder Case is not among them)—The Bishop Murder Case (1930; 8:15am), The Kennel Murder Case (1933; 9:45am), The Dragon Murder Case (1934; 11am), The Casino Murder Case (1935; 12:15pm), The Garden Murder Case (1936; 1:45pm) and Calling Philo Vance (1939; 3pm).  And for those of you who “love a mystery,” the three Columbia programmers based on Carlton E. Morse’s legendary radio show are scheduled: I Love a Mystery (1945; 4:15pm), The Devil's Mask (1946; 5:30pm) and The Unknown (1946; 6:45pm).