Thursday, July 5, 2012

Coming distractions: August 2012 on TCM

After getting what’s in store for viewers in July on The Greatest Cable Channel Known to Mankind™ just under the wire a few days ago, I’m glad to get a “breather month” where I don’t have to do as much as the linking work as usual.  August is traditionally TCM’s Summer Under the Stars celebration, where each day, a particular member of the classic movie firmament is toasted with a day-long scheduling of their movies…and while the annual event is quite popular with many vintage film aficionados, I must confess I don’t always embrace its arrival with the openest of arms.  Still, every silver lining has its cloud—at least it’s not “31 Days of Oscar,” which is my real bête noire at Tee Cee Em.  (Same films every year…with very little deviation.)

So while I’m on a confession roll here…I also need to come clean and own up to not paying much attention from year to year which stars have been feted and which have gotten the snub.  I know some good people who can look at the Summer Under the Stars lineup and say: “Oh, this is the first time they’ve honored (insert actor or actress name here).”  (The last time I was really pumped about SUTS was back in 2010, when they offered a doff of the cap to TDOY goddess Thelma Todd, because they ran a bunch of Charley Chase shorts I didn’t have, not to mention the two-reelers the actress made with ZaSu Pitts and Patsy Kelly.)  I might be able to do the same thing, too, had it not been for some brain cell-killing activities I engaged in back in high school and college (of this…I shall say no more).

That having not been said, there will be a few surprises.  August 3, the channel devotes an entire day to Olympic gold medalist-turned-movie Tarzan Johnny Weissmuller…and as you would expect, all twelve of his Tarzan flicks will be shown on that date (starting with the final one he did for R-K-O in 1948, Tarzan and the Mermaids [at 6am], and sort of working backward).  To round out the schedule, the channel offers up three of the Jungle Jim programmers Weissmuller did for Columbia…and since my mother and I both own and have seen all the Tarzans I kind of wish they a) had penciled in more of the Jims, and b) had not stuck them in the hour where insomniacs and night auditors prowl.  (Mom has viewed a few of the Jungle Jim pictures on Antenna TV, and thinks they are positively riotous.)  I have since learned that Tee Cee Em will start running the Jungle Jims in a noontime slot beginning September 1—I hope to have news on that and much more soon.

Turner Classic Movies will turn over the daytime schedule to the films of actor Toshiro Mifune on August 9, and will include a lot of Mifune’s lesser-known features as well as biggies like Rashomon (1950; 7:45am), Seven Samurai (1954; 9:15am), Throne of Blood (1957; 12:45pm) and Yojimbo (1961; 2:45pm).  And at the end of the month (August 31), James Caan gets feted with a day of his movies—some of which might not fall under the official definition of “classic movies” but are definitely worth your time like Slither (1973; 9:30am), Hide in Plain Sight (1980; 10:15pm), Thief (1981; 12mid) and The Rain People (1969; 4am).

So let’s take a quick look at the month, shall we?

Wednesday, August 1 – John Wayne.  This is for the benefit of those who are no longer watching the once-proud AMC, whose schoolgirl crush on both the Duke and Clint Eastwood is starting to take on the proportions of…well, to use one of Eastwood’s films, Play Misty for Me (1971).  True story: AMC runs both The Sons of Katie Elder and El Dorado practically every Saturday, and I know this to be so because my father watches them practically every Saturday.  You have most of the usual suspects (Stagecoach, Red River, The Searchers, Rio Bravo) but they will be showing Tall in the Saddle (1944) at 4:30am, and I haven’t seen that one turn up in the rotation in some time now.

Thursday, August 2 – Myrna Loy also celebrates a natal anniversary on this date, and since I’ve seen a good many of the films on the schedule I think I’ll try and check out some of the early Myrna offerings like The Great Divide (1929; 6am) and The Naughty Flirt (1931; 7:15am) because I’ve always had an affinity for the wicked Loy before she became America’s housewife.

Saturday, August 4 – Marilyn Monroe.

Sunday, August 5 – Claude Rains.  I’ve talked about this on the blog before, but They Won’t Forget (1937; 7:45am) is a movie you really won’t forget, if you haven’t already seen it.  I’ll also let Mom know that both The Wolf Man (1941; 6:45pm) and The Invisible Man (1933; 8pm) are on that evening, and maybe she can dope my father’s drink or something.

Monday, August 6 – Van Heflin is a huge favorite here at Rancho Yesteryear, and since I’ve only seen the 1952 version of Bret Harte’s The Outcasts of Poker Flat I’ll have to set the alarm for the 1937 treatment.  (Did you known Heflin is in both Battle Cry and Cry of Battle?  What are the odds?)

Tuesday, August 7 – Sidney Poitier.  Is there not a letterboxed version of Something of Value (1957; 12noon) available?  Every time it’s on TCM it’s the pan-and-scan version.

Wednesday, August 8 – Rita Hayworth.

Friday, August 10 – Lionel Barrymore.  I always joke on Lew Ayres’ birthday that his is one of the easiest to program since all you have to do is run a bunch of Dr. Kildare movies.  It’s kind of the same with Lionel, though you do have the option of some of his silent features (and in the end, TCM only has one Kildare flick on the schedule, the first of the M-G-M features, Young Dr. Kildare at 6:30pm).  I am kind of curious about Night Flight (1933) at 10:15, though.

Saturday, August 11 – James Mason.  I guess TCM doesn’t have access to The Verdict (1982) because I don’t know how you could fete Mason without it (one of his best performances, IMO).  They’re not even going to show Odd Man Out (1947)!

Sunday, August 12 – Ginger Rogers.  Meh.

Monday, August 13 – Deborah Kerr.  Most of my favorite Kerr films are in the evening hours: Black Narcissus (1947; 8pm), From Here to Eternity (1953; 12:15am) and The Innocents (1961; 2:30am).

Tuesday, August 14 – James Cagney.  Can’t go wrong with a single film on this list—they’re even going to show his cameo in the Eddie Foy biopic The Seven Little Foys (with Bob Hope) at 4:15am.

Wednesday, August 15 – Lillian Gish.  Definitely a day to mark on my calendar, particularly with films like Broken Blossoms (1919; 6am), Orphans of the Storm (1921; 7:45am), La Boheme (1926; 10:30am) and The Scarlet Letter (1926; 12:15pm) on tap.  Plus they’ve got both Intolerance (1916; 8pm) and The Wind (1928; 11:30am) in prime-time!

Thursday, August 16 – You know…if the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll had never made any movies I don’t know how TV stations would ever celebrate his birthday.  It’s all-day Elvis, and the usual suspects are in the lineup.

Friday, August 17 – Katharine Hepburn.  They’ll run The Madwoman of Chaillot (1969) at 3:45am…that’s a novelty.

Saturday, August 18 – Freddie Bartholomew.  My only real objection to a Bartholomew salute is that a few of these films also feature Mickey Rooney: Little Lord Fauntleroy, The Devil is a Sissy, Captains Courageous, Lord Jeff, A Yank at Eton.  (This is never a good thing.)

Sunday, August 19 – Eva Marie Saint.  The last time I saw one of my favorite Saint pictures, A Hatful of Rain (1957; 11:15pm), on TCM it was pan-and-scan.  But Fox Movie Channel showed the letterboxed version a couple of months after that.  You have been warned.

Monday, August 20 – Anthony Quinn.  The great thing about a Quinn tribute is that The Ox-Bow Incident (1943; 7:15am) is usually guaranteed to be on the schedule.

Tuesday, August 21 – Bobby Osbo fave Kay Francis will be celebrated on this day, and the good thing about that is the channel has scheduled both Guilty Hands (1931; 8pm) and The House on 56th Street (1933; 9:30pm) in prime-time.

Wednesday, August 22 – Jack Lemmon.  Featuring Lemmon’s only western, Cowboy (1958) at 12:15am and a movie that my pal Tom Sutpen once called the worst final film ever helmed by a major director, Buddy Buddy (1981; 4:15am).

Thursday, August 23 – This date marks the centennial birthday of Gene Kelly, and the Classic Movie Blog Association will be hosting a blogathon that same week (August 20-25) to commemorate Kelly’s 100th natal anniversary.  Naturally, many of the films covered will be shown today (though good luck in finding the movie I picked, Christmas Holiday).

Friday, August 24 – Irene Dunne.  The Secret of Madame Blanche (1933; 9:30am) sounds interesting.

Saturday, August 25 – Every time I see a Tyrone Power film on TCM I always check to make sure I’m not tuned into FCM by mistake.  They don’t have Nightmare Alley scheduled, so there’s little point in my checking in (well, they will show Witness for the Prosecution—but it’s on at 2:30am…I could just trot out my DVD) unless you Errol Flynn fans in the audience need a fix with The Sun Also Rises (1957; 11:15am).

Sunday, August 26 – Gary Cooper. Yup…Ball of Fire (1941; 8pm) and Man of the West (1958; 10pm), two of my favorite Coop films, are on in prime-time.

Monday, August 27 – Jeanette MacDonald.  Pasadena.

Sunday, August 28 - Ava Gardner.  Some of these films that they schedule for these stars—in Ava’s case, Hitler’s Madman (1943; 6am) and Maisie Goes to Reno (1944; 7:45am)—are little more than glorified cameos.

Monday, August 29 – Ingrid Bergman celebrates a birthday today…but strangely enough, Casablanca (1942) isn’t on the schedule.  Psyche!  It so totally is, at 10pm.  (Like TCM would pass up a chance to show that one.)

Tuesday, August 30 – Finally, we will need to hold Cliff Aliperti’s calls on this day because the day is devoted to Warren William films…but don’t expect me to take any messages, because I’ll be watching goodies like The Mouthpiece (1932; 9:45am), Skyscraper Souls (1932; 11:15am), Employees’ Entrance (1933; 11:45pm) and my favorite of the Lone Wolf franchise, The Lone Wolf Spy Hunt (1939; 2:45am).  Next time on Coming Distractions—a look at TCM in September.  But until then, the Milk Duds are on me.


Hal said...

I don't think BUDDY BUDDY is very good, but I don't think it's anywhere near the worst final film by a great director. A COUNTESS FROM HONG KONG is worse IMO, for example. It isn't on DVD, so this is a definite DVR opportunity.

Kingo Gondo said...

I like the James Caan day, but I'm baffled why The Gambler is not included. That is certainly one of his best performances, and a film that certainly deserves more exposure.

Amanda said...

Warren William finally gets a day! You won't be able to get me away from the tv.

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

I don't think BUDDY BUDDY is very good, but I don't think it's anywhere near the worst final film by a great director. A COUNTESS FROM HONG KONG is worse IMO, for example.

Oh, I'm definitely in your camp on this one, Brother Hal. Tom is kind of an odd duck: he has more regard for Kiss Me, Stupid than Buddy Buddy, and as hard as I've tried to come around to his POV I usually wind up throwing in the towel. But that's why I've always enjoyed reading his criticism...I don't always agree, but I enjoy the ride along the way.

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

I like the James Caan day, but I'm baffled why The Gambler is not included. That is certainly one of his best performances, and a film that certainly deserves more exposure.

I second that emotion. I'm surprised at the lineup of films myself; I was steeling myself for TCM to drag out Dick Tracy again.

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

Warren William finally gets a day!

This made me laugh out loud, probably because it has a Red Buttons-ish tone to it. ("Warren William...never got a dinner!")

Dawn said...

I love/love Summer Under the Stars, it is my favorite time of year on TCM. It is where I can catch up om my favorite stars movies that I may not have seen yet.

Samuel Wilson said...

Any day that brings a lot of Pre-Codes is a good one and the W.William day is definitely the highlight, but -- batten down the hatches! Did you see that they're running Muhammad, Messenger of God on Quinn's day? Damn, people got taken hostage over that picture once upon a time and the terrorists finally did get Moustapha Akkad, whether they were actually targeting him or not. I just wonder how long that schedule will stand if someone makes a fuss.

Lindsey said...

SO excited for Myrna Loy day! I don't work on Thursdays, so I'll definitely be glued to TCM for the entire day. Summer Under the Stars is one of my favorite things about TCM.

Stacia said...

It pains me deeply to say this, but I agree with Sutpen in that Kiss Me, Stupid is better than Buddy Buddy. KMS falls into pathos, which Ray Walston was never particularly good at -- he's as subtle as a bag of hammers -- but there's a deliberate kitsch that I'm very attracted to.

Buddy Buddy was a film I saw on our local PBS channel back in the late 80s or early 90s when they made an effort to show unedited films late nights on Saturday. I was a bit taken aback by the language at the time, which is shocking to those of you who know me as the foul-mouthed libertine I am today. My main beef was that the language felt gratuitous, and the whole film was a cheap rip-off of the dynamics in The Front Page, too, if we're being honest here.

I can't believe it's been two years since the Thelma Todd day. I would have sworn that was last year.

Doc Quatermass said...

Am I the only one that FMC is now FXMC with breaks in the movies. Can't recall if they are commercial messages or just promos for the Fox channels programs or both.