Just a few days remain of Turner Classic Movies’ annual “31 Days Of Oscar” programming, then we’re back to TCM’s often delightfully thoughtful regular programming. Hope you like Mary Astor in your movies; she had 156 credited appearances as an actress, and I wouldn’t be surprised if more than half of them air this month.
As always, I struggle to only point out one or two movies or programs to check out, but I hope you won’t think less of me when I blow that limit on a semi-regular basis.
7:05 AM Drunk Driving (1939)
7:30 AM Grand Hotel (1932)
9:23 AM La Fiesta De Santa Barbara (1935)
I like the combination of anti-booze short film serving as a chaser for one of epic drunk John Barrymore’s most enduring films. Then a nice little party-documentary two-reeler that features Jim Thorpe and Harpo Marx; now I wish they had teamed up for an actual movie.
7:33 PM Man Without A Country, The (1937)
Lots of shorts today — I assume they’re cramming the Academy Award winners in at the last second of 31 Days Of Oscar from February.
6:30 AM Battle Of Gettysburg, The (1956)
I remember this long-ish short being eerie — if it’s the right one, there are no people in the film but it’s still a person-driven narrative — and very effective.
4:00 PM Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
Because you probably haven’t seen it in too long too.
10:30 PM Captain Blood (1935)
I think the stories of the vicious between-takes shouting matches between director/Hungarian chauvinist Michael Curtiz and Tasmanian man of the world/drunk/actor Errol Flynn are more entertaining than what was actually captured on celluloid, but you can’t go wrong with this collaboration if you have unbuckled swashes. Olivia de Havilland co-stars.
12:45 AM Ruggles of Red Gap (1935)
Not seen, but sounds promising — Leo McCarey directs, “A Western rancher wins a British valet in a poker game,” and Charles Laughton, Mary Boland & Charlie Ruggles star.
4:14 AM How To Sleep (1935)
One of Robert Benchley’s funniest short instructional films, also useful if you’ve forgotten how to sleep.
8:30 AM Broadway Melody Of 1936 (1936)
All these “Fill-In-The-Blank Of 19__” all-star movies blur together in my mind, but anything with Jack Benny in it should be worth 101 minutes of your life at least once.
6:00 AM Dust Be My Destiny (1939)
9:15 AM They Made Me A Criminal (1939)
Today is all John Garfield the first half of the day, all worth a watch if you have time but I liked this non-tandem double feature of prison/chain-gang dramas the most; DUST definitely suffers in comparison to its more iconic 1939 sibling, but seeing them together has to be instructional.
1:15 AM Salt and Pepper (1968)
3:15 AM One More Time (1970)
The other half of the day is devoted to Rat Pack movies, which, like the types of alcohol the Pack favored, is an acquired taste. I’m kinda tickled to see this pair of unheralded Sammy Davis Jr. & Peter Lawford movies presented together; I imagine that, not being the beneficiaries of a Sinatra or even a Dino-level budget/prodco team, these movies live or die on Sammy’s and Peter’s charisma — even though Jerry Lewis directed the latter film.
2:00 PM Hullabaloo (1940)
Today’s recurring motif is radio. I think I’ve seen this exploitation cash-in of the hysteria triggered by the Mercury Theater On The Air’s WAR OF THE WORLDS Halloween broadcast, but I don’t remember anything of the actual movie. That’s probably not a good sign, but it stars Frank Morgan mere months after he played “Professor Marvel/The Great Oz” in WIZARD OF OZ, so how unworthy of a second look could this clunker be?
3:30 PM Look Who’s Laughing (1941)
Edgar Bergen really was a ventriloquist made for radio; it’s somewhat hypnotic to see how terrible he is at keeping his lips still. Someday, I would like to digitally remove Charlie McCarthy [who's great in this movie, btw] from their scenes together and just watch Bergen talk to himself while none of the other characters in the scene seem to notice.
9:45 PM What Do You Think? (1937)
Never seen, but I’m interested to check out this short about ESP from a young Jacques Tourneur.
12:00 AM Don Juan (1926)
Oooh, the silent passion. John Barrymore is you-know-who and a very young Mary Astor co-stars.
1:56 AM Starlet Revue (1929)
2:09 AM You Said A Hatful! (1934)
A musical short that is probably Judy Garland’s film debut, then a solid two-reel Charley Chase railroad comedy.
7:45 AM Dinky (1935)
This is probably a clunker, but I love watching Jackie Cooper onscreen — I dunno if you can call what he does acting, it’s so artificial at the same time it rings so true. This is first John Fante story to reach the screen, so I like to think that it was how Charles Bukowski discovered Fante’s work.
1:15 PM Breakdowns of 1941 (1941)
You have 13 minutes to watch a Hollywood blooper reel extracted from 1941′s body of film.
10:30 PM Death Rides a Horse (1969)
12:30 AM Mercenary, The (1970)
2:30 AM Five Man Army, The (1970)
4:30 AM Guns For San Sebastian (1968)
Wow, an entire night of post-spaghetti Westerns; the first three are solid to eh, but I’d make time for GUNS, starring a great Anthony Quinn as a bandit mistaken for a priest by villagers terrified of Injun attack. Anjanette Comer and Charles Bronson co-star.
5:00 PM Count the Hours (1953)
It’s a Don Siegel programmer movie for RKO, so we can barely count one hour, much less two. There’s been a murder on the homestead and Teresa Wright and her husband is arrested for it — but did her husband really do it? Will defense attorney MacDonald Carey get to the bottom of this case before John Craven gets himself kilt by the state? And was Jack Elam ever in a movie where he wasn’t the killer?
8:00 PM Eat Drink Man Woman (1994)
10:15 PM Mostly Martha (2001)
Ang Lee’s EDMW is a bonafide classic, but I’ve not seen this Sandra Nettelbeck cooking/family drama. I like the combination, although this must be a celebrity-chef TCM programmer night.
2:30 AM Women In Love (1969)
Ken Russell & Larry Kramer bring the D.H. Lawrence novel to the screen, with an all-winners cast of Alan Bates, Oliver Reed and other people who aren’t Eleanor Bron eating that fig oh my god rewind it again i want to see it oh
5:00 AM Dinner At Eight (1933)
High society gets laid low, courtesy of George Cukor and the mighty John Barrymore.
7:00 AM Hollywood Without Make-Up (1966)
I always point out these Ken Murray specials, which really are just his home movies of his friends, who just happen to be Hollywood royalty.
8:00 PM Marty (1955)
I don’t think the original teleplay was significantly different from this film version, but somehow the film takes too long to set up our lonely butcher’s world, so it’s more than half over when the romance plot finally kicks in.
3:00 AM Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One (1968)
I love William Greaves, and this is his finest; I understand that it may overtax patience, but provides such a payoff if you can fully buy in to the things [not always the same things] he and the cast and the crew are trying to do.
4:15 AM Who’s That Knocking at My Door (1967)
An extremely young Martin Scorsese wrestles with Catholicism, gets a majority draw on the judges’ scorecards.
5:45 AM Changing (1971)
I imagine this will have a tone and production similar to a Ford factory instructional film, but every time I read its description — “A young family tries to cope with shifting social values in this short film.” — I hear the first four bars of Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth” on a loop.
12:45 AM Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer, The (1947)
Shirley Temple marathon today, feh. I like this Cary Grant & Myrna Loy romcom, possibly because it’s so mercenary in its commercial appeal.
4:15 AM That Hagen Girl (1947)
OK, this one caught my eye: “A small-town teenager thinks a lawyer is her illegitimate dad,” which is pretty ballsy stuff for 1947, but then I see it stars Temple and Ronald Reagan. [!!!???]
10:00 PM Sea Hawk, The (1940)
12:15 AM Sea Wolf, The (1941)
At last, an opportunity to put this recurring confusion in my memory to rest: HAWK is the Curtiz-helmed seafaring swashbucker with Errol Flynn, Brenda Marshall and Claude Rains; WOLF is the Curtiz-helmed seafaring drama with John Garfield, Ida Lupino and Edward G. Robinson. Get it right, brain.
Most of today is spent on alternating episodes of the early TV anthologies THE SCREEN DIRECTORS PLAYHOUSE and then one of the screen directors’ movies, if you’re into that sort of thing.
8:00 AM Screen Directors Playhouse: Meet The Governor (1955)
So strange to think that Leo McCarey lived and worked into the television age. This is a fun, dopey political comedylette, nothing more or less.
10:00 AM Screen Directors Playhouse: Day Is Done (1955)
What I just said, but about Frank Borzage. Rory Calhoun and Bobby Driscoll star in a short drama set during the Korean War.
5:15 AM Hollywood: The Dream Factory (1972)
Nicely made, understandably sanitized TV documentary about the history and ultimate dissolution of MGM Studios. I bet this goes down bitter if you watch it with the deeply flawed but fundamentally righteous 2007 documentary GIRL 27, which presents MGM and its management in a far more “trigger warning”-required light.
10:00 AM Rendezvous (1935)
William Powell is the star today — I’ve not seen this spy movie, but I like the team of Powell and a young Rosalind Russell.
8:00 PM Maltese Falcon, The (1941)
10:00 PM Across The Pacific (1942)
Always fun to see these two back-to-back; after making the Hammett classic, writer/director John Huston reteamed with Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor and Sydney Greenstreet for a thriller about the Japanese trying to attack the Panama Canal. It’s not as good as FALCON, but FALCON isn’t as good as we remember it either.
6:45 AM Man With Two Faces, The (1934)
Archie Mayo, despite the name, deserves a closer look. Even in 1934, it was a classy B movie has featured Edward G. Robinson and Mary Astor.
2:45 PM Fiesta (1947)
Esther Williams secretly replaces her bull-fighting brother Ricardo Montalban so he can become a musician without disappointing their legendary matador father. Mary Astor plays “Señora Morales,” John Carroll plays Esther’s boyfriend “Pepe,” it’s that kind of movie — although so much of it comes off too alien to basic humanity to be particularly offensive regarding Latinos. Lots of fine singing and dancing and Akim Tamiroff in full-blown Technicolor.
4:30 PM Youngblood Hawke (1964)
As a director, Delmer Daves was an acceptable screenwriter, but a plot for a 1964 movie that goes “A novelist exercises a powerful spell over every woman he meets” that stars James Franciscus and Suzanne Pleshette with a runtime of 137 minutes? Why, this film must be a fascinating piece of trash.
8:00 PM Le Mans (1971)
10:00 PM Grand Prix (1966)
A night of car racing movies kicks off with another instructive double feature — Steve McQueen was a car/racing obsessive who labored and labored to make the ultimate racing movie. The funny thing is, he took so long that John Frankenheimer and James Garner skunked him to it. It’s a good comparison, between a guy who’s so into his thing that his film is metaphorically shot from inside his skull and only occasionally translates onto the screen, and then a film on the same subject matter made from the outside seeping in.
10:45 AM Beat The Devil (1953)
It’s a shame that Orson Welles’ rare TV essay PORTRAIT OF GINA can’t be shown as part of today’s Gina Lollobrigida marathon. Anyway, I know the battle lines are drawn, even amongst Huston devotees, regarding this oddball lark about con artists and a uranium mine; I stand firmly on the “need to see it again, please don’t shoot me” side. Humphrey Bogart, Jennifer Jones co-star.
12:15 PM Hotel Paradiso (1966)
One of the better film adaptations of Feydeau’s farces: Mild-mannered Alec Guinness strives to enjoy an affair with neighbor Robert Morley’s wife Gina. Much complication, sex and misunderstanding ensue.
3:45 PM Law, The (1960)
OK, again, any Jules Dassin theft movie is worth two hours. Gina,, Pierre Brasseur and Marcello Mastroianni star.
6:00 PM Come September (1961)
Surprisingly good olds/teens farce, starring Rock Hudson as wealthy playboy who finds himself a paternal figure when his sleazy butler Walter Slezak has turned his Italian villa into a bed & breakfast for some American girls on summer vacation. Gina plays Hudson’s fed-up girlfriend, who’s off to marry some other guy. You can guess how it all turns out. Sandra Dee and Bobby Darin lead the teen side of the cast.
12:00 AM My Dinner With Andre (1981)
How can you not watch/listen to this movie any time it airs???
3:45 AM Baby, The (1973)
Cult-classic psychological horror from workhorse director Ted Post, starring the underrated, somewhat forgotten Anjanette Comer.
5:30 AM Keep Off The Grass (1969)
This social-hygiene short is not about lawncare.
6:30 AM Forever Darling (1956)
Huh, a Lucille Ball & Desi Arnaz movie that’s not THE LONG, LONG TRAILER?
12:00 PM Hail The Conquering Hero (1944)
Always a must-watch. Eddie Bracken lets one fib for his mom consume his life and entire hometown, aided by a squad of real WWII vets who have serious mother-related psychological damage and/or a hometown that they’re in no rush to return to. Preston Sturges writes/directs/produces, and his stock company of peerless character actors really star.
12:00 AM Scar of Shame (1927)
If this wasn’t a silent film, I probably would have zero interest in seeing it: “A composer marries an abused girl to protect her but can’t face his family’s prejudices.”
2:00 AM Without Pity (1948)
Gritty stuff for even postwar America: “A black American GI decides to remain in Italy than return to a racially divided United States and falls in love with an Italian girl.” Now this is one I really want to see; I have a soft spot for black American soldiers finding love on leave in Europe [see also: Van Peebles' STORY OF A THREE DAY PASS].
3:45 AM Children are Watching Us, The (1944)
Wartime melodrama from Vittorio De Sica just before he became The Vittorio De Sica.
7:30 AM Irish In Us, The (1935)
Faith and Begorrah, it must be St. Paddy’s Day already; “Irish” movies all day long today. I have no hopes for this one — “the sons of an Irish family have to choose among police work, prize fighting and love” — beyond the pleasure of seeing James Cagney work with Olivia de Havilland, and that’s enough.
1:45 PM Rising of the Moon, The (1957)
John Ford anthology film about Irish life under British occupation. Stars a late model Tyrone Power.
10:00 PM Seven Ups, The (1973)
Does this film really have the best car chase of Hollywood’s second golden age? Makes sense if so; producer/director Philip D’Antoni produced its most direct competition, The French Connection and Bullitt. Roy Scheider stars.
12:00 AM Monte Walsh (1970)
This is what happens when cinematographers get a chance to direct a Western. Lee Marvin, Jeanne Moreau and Jack Palance star.
2:00 AM Ride The High Country (1962)
3:45 AM Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid (1973)
Randolph Scott and Joel McCrea star in Sam Peckinpah’s first great movie. Then James Coburn, Kris Kristofferson and Bob Dylan star in Sam Peckinpah’s fifth, sixth or seventh great movie, depending on what you think of his pair of Steve McQueen collaborations.
9:00 AM Boy With Green Hair, The (1948)
Joseph Losey’s anti-war fantasy, starring Pat O’Brien, Robert Ryan and Barbara Hale.
5:15 AM Merton Of The Movies (1947)
A brutally long Red Skelton marathon ends with my favorite of his, although it might just be the W.C. Fields-esque backstage plot and my fondness for Virginia O’Brien.
11:15 PM Kennel Murder Case, The (1933)
William Powell takes his turn as Philo Vance in a Michael Curtiz-directed mystery programmer co-staring the endlessly prolific Mary Astor.
12:45 AM Beau Brummel (1924)
A silent John Barrymore and Mary Astor are back, this time with a different dashing man of history.
2:15 AM Show Of Shows (1929)
Oooh, a revue of most of Warner Brothers’ biggest silent-era stars, but now singing and talking and in two-strip Technicolor for almost the entire show. Yowza! John Barrymore does Richard III, much crooning and gamboling and brief appearances by super-young Mary Astor, Loretta Young, Rin Tin Tin and Myrna Loy
4:30 AM Two Arabian Knights (1927)
There are probably several reasons why this Lewis Milestone-directed WWI romance isn’t nearly as well known as his ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT, but hey, there’s Mary Astor again.
3:30 PM Some of the Greatest (1955)
In case you missed the airing of the silent DON JUAN earlier, or you don’t have the patience to watch it, here’s a short film of just John Barrymore’s best bits from it. This is a weird idea for a short film, if you ask me.
5:45 PM Legend Of Lylah Clare, The (1968)
I know I’ve seen this, but don’t recall anything about except thinking that it’s probably a good thing that Robert Aldrich isn’t as good at using Kim Novak as his guilt/sex/power fetish as Hitchcock was. I’m not on the new “VERTIGO is the best American movie ever” bandwagon, but CLARE was no competition for it, even in that curiously popular “man remakes Novak to replace a woman he lost” sub-genre. Peter Finch and Ernest Borgnine co-star.
4:15 AM Master Of The World (1961)
“A mad genius tries to bomb the world into peace,” starring Vincent Price and young-ish Charles Bronson? Sold.
10:45 PM Gold Rush, The (1925)
Dunno which version this is, the original or Chaplin’s soundified revision, but both are great. Yukon Ho!
12:15 AM Loved One, The (1965)
What a gloriously black comedy, the kind that can offend without wallowing in vulgarity. Tony Richardson directs Terry Southern & Christopher Isherwood’s adaptation of the Evelyn Waugh novel with Robert Morse fronting a cast of killer comedians and character actors.
4:45 AM Adventures of Robin Hood, The (1938)
Because Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Basil Rathbone and Technicolor.
11:30 PM I Love You, Alice B. Toklas (1968)
I like that I can just post this link to explain why this one is on my always-watch list.
2:00 AM Zardoz (1974)
I took one look at Sean Connery’s costume and wrote this future-dystopian movie off, but I hear from not-stupid people that it’s worth a viewing. You tell me.
3:45 AM Green Slime, The (1969)
Wow, here’s one I never thought I’d see on American TV, much less TCM: Journeyman director Kinji Fukasaku directs Batman co-creator Bill Finger’s screenplay about a fungus that turns a space station’s staff into monsters. This is the first of two theatrical credits Finger earned as a screenwriter, and the only one released during his lifetime. It’s as cheesy as a third-string kaiju TV show and a “poverty row” American-style sci-fi quickie; it’s no coincidence that this was the film skewered in MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000′s pilot.
5:15 AM Perversion For Profit (1965)
1965 was a little late in getting the warning out, but FYI: There is filth flooding our proud Christian nation via our newsstands. Hide your wife and count your daughters!
8:00 PM Indiscreet (1958)
10:00 PM Notorious (1946)
A Stanley Donen movie I’ve not seen?! I really haven’t unless it’s amnesia-inducingly mediocre: Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman star, and that I would definitely remember. It’s followed by that pair’s best movie together, even though Claude Rains steals most of his scenes.
12:00 AM Girl Shy (1924)
Harold Lloyd writes about what he doesn’t really know: WIMMIN.
2:00 AM Fists in the Pocket (1965)
4:00 AM Il Posto (1961)
A two-fer of rarely-seen-on-TV Italian New Wave dramas: First, Marco Bellocchio’s second feature film — not one to save to watch after Thanksgiving dinner with your family — then Ermanno Olmi’s heartbreaking masterpiece.
9:45 PM Kiss Them For Me (1957)
Another late ’50s Donen & Grant movie I don’t remember; did I have another stroke and you guys just didn’t tell me? Fuckaduck, it co-stars Jayne Mansfield??? What.
There’s a David Lean marathon during the day; I prefer his shorter, smaller movies to the epics, but your mileage may vary, offer void in Utah, no purchase necessary.
8:00 PM Carson on TCM: Dudley Moore (5/18/79) (2013)
Generally I’m down on these just-the-interview [and sometimes not even the whole interview] clips from the Tonight Show — I would love to watch the entire show, and these damn 10-minute chunks don’t even DVR correctly most of the time — but a visit from 1979 Dudley Moore is sure to entertain.
7:00 AM West of Zanzibar (1928)
The hook for today’s marathon is Africa, leading off with a typically bananas thriller from Tod Browning and Lon Chaney Sr., co-starring Lionel Barrymore and Mary Nolan.
4:00 PM Act Of Violence (1948)
Robert Ryan is in town, looking to take a pound of flesh from P.O.W.-camp stoolie Van Heflin for rolling over on him. Janet Leigh and Mary Astor co-star.
8:00 PM Bus Stop (1956)
A night of Don Murray movies, really? I’m curious to see this Joshua Logan drama again; it’s supposed to be one of Marilyn Monroe’s better acting jobs, and Murray make quite an impression in his first time in front of the cameras.
6:45 AM Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920)
The silent John Barrymore version.
10:45 AM Sherlock Holmes (1922)
The silent John Barrymore & Roland Young version.
6:45 AM Godzilla, King of the Monsters! (1956)
The dubbed Raymond Burr version.
10:00 PM Shock Corridor (1963)
Samuel Fuller goes into the nuthouse, kitschy social commentary and balls-out melodrama ensue.
2:00 AM Free Radicals: A History of Experimental Film (2010)
3:30 AM Diagonal Symphony (1919)
3:36 AM Meshes of the Afternoon (1944)
3:50 AM Orchard Street (1955)
4:03 AM Little Stabs at Happiness (1963)
4:18 AM Cassis (1966)
4:24 AM Notes on the Circus (1966)
4:37 AM Rhythmus 21 (1921)
4:41 AM Ghosts Before Breakfast (1928)
4:48 AM Science Friction (1959)
4:58 AM Symmetricks (1972)
Nice overview of the history of experimental film, followed by 90 minutes of experimental short films. Don’t like one? Skip to the next film. See if I care.
5:15 AM Gang Boy (1959)
5:15 AM Good Eating Habits (1951)
Damn, I love social-hygiene shorts: “A police officer tries to prevent a gang war by bringing the rival groups together over dinner” then one about the importance of eating your food correctly.
10:15 AM Million Dollar Mermaid (1952)
Dumb movie, but oh that Technicolor.
12:15 PM Lady From Shanghai, The (1948)
Smart movie, but oh those sped-up fight scenes.
4:00 PM Topkapi (1964)
Never seen, but a heist movie from Jules Dassin is a safe bet, especially with both Peter Ustinov and Maximilian Schell in the cast.
12:00 AM First Auto, The (1927)
I love Silent Sundays on TCM, especially when they air something that does not sound like it will be a classic movie: “A horse-loving father clashes with his auto-loving son at the turn of the century.”
2:00 AM Bicycle Thief, The (1948)
Classic import, although I’m surprised to see them use the old title for this De Sica masterpiece. Didn’t we all sign off on it being titled THE BICYCLE THIEVES now?
10:00 AM Deadly Companions, The (1961)
Very early Sam Peckinpah post-Civil War drama, not on par with his later work but interesting to see flashes of future him peeking through every now and then. Maureen O’Hara and Brian Keith star.
3:45 PM For a Few Dollars More (1965)
In case you haven’t seen it lately. Sergio Leone directs, Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef star
6:00 PM High Plains Drifter (1973)
Eastwood is a funny case, where I think I’m not that big an enthusiast for his body of work as a director but then I realize how many of his auteurist movies I like. This is his best Western for my two hours, although you can argue that it’s more of a ghost story.
Oh good grief, it’s almost April and that means soon it will be International Record Your Pet Reacting To 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY Day 2014! Everybody get ready!