Your Turner Classic Movies watchlist for the upcoming week includes luminescent Eleanor Powell brilliantly tapping through (yet another) Broadway Melody (this time, 1940), classic comedies (Auntie Mame, Born Yesterday, It Happened One Night), cinematic weepies (Steel Magnolias, Mrs. Miniver, Dark Victory, Now, Voyager), thrilling Old Hollywood action (The Adventures of Robin Hood), classics of classics (Casablanca, Gone With the Wind) and, believe it or not. . .EVEN MORE. For full details, read on!
Sunday (July 7, 2019)
8:00am — Broadway Melody of 1940 (1940)
11:30am — It Happened One Night (1934)
1:30pm — Born Yesterday (1950)
5:45pm — Steel Magnolias (1989)
8:00pm — Imitation of Life (1959)
Turner Classic Movies kicks off this new week with a bang: Eleanor Powell and Fred Astaire. Perhaps the two most amazing marquee-name dancers in film. History hasn’t been kind in recalling Powell but she was so highly regarded in her time that Astaire was frightened to work with her. Sensing his intimidation, she broke the ice with a, “Fred? We’re both just two hoofers.” Astaire, used to being the teacher, was now working with someone who needed no instruction. While some may prefer Astaire with Rogers, I’m firmly a Powell fan. Her personality and talent blows everyone else off the screen when she’s on it and “Broadway Melody of 1940” is no exception. (Note: Fans of “The Artist” may note that a certain dance sequence is reminiscent of one in that charming 2011 Oscar winner. Intentional tribute or not? You decide.) Powell had previously made two other “Broadway Melody” films: 1936 and 1938. This film has nothing to do with the other two, though and, despite Powell appearing in the 1936, 1938, and 1940 “Broadway Melody” films, she played a different character each time out.
Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable are paired up in the classic comedy “It Happened One Night”, which saw Gable win his first (and only) Academy Award for his part in this fantastically funny bride-on-the-run story. Following that is a hysterical film from 1950, “Born Yesterday”, in which the stellar Judy Holliday plays a blowsy blond whose gangster boyfriend hires William Holden to teach her some class and culture. Holiday’s win for Best Actress at that year’s Academy Awards, however brilliant it is, remains a sore point for many film lovers, though. The reason? In bestowing Best Actress upon Holiday for “Born Yesterday”, they, in turn, did not give the award to either Anne Baxter or Bette Davis for their roles in “All About Eve” or to Gloria Swanson for her triumphant return to the screen in “Sunset Boulevard.”
1989’s “Steel Magnolias” is one of my least favorite films of all time. But I know some of you love it. So I’m just duly reporting out that TCM will air it at 5:45pm. Job done.
Race in the movies has always been a tricky issue; partly because White Hollywood did (and does) such a bad job in “assuming” how characters of color would feel rather than hiring and asking people of color to give creative input. That short-sightedness is on full display in the dated, soapy, 1950 remake of “Imitation of Life” with Lana Turner assuming the role originated by Claudette Colbert and Juanita Moore the part previously played by Louise Beavers. Well-intentioned and beautifully directed by the king of melodrama, Douglas Sirk, the film is still held in high regard despite some questionable content.
Monday (July 8, 2019)
7:15 am — Nosferatu (1922)
9:30pm — Gilda (1946)
TCM gets the work week off to a spooky start with a day of films tinged with suspense and horror and what better way to wake you up than with the eerie 1922 silent, “Nosferatu”? The rest of the day features a few Bela Lugosi films and a wee bit o’ blood. Glenn Ford and Rita Hayworth turn the tone to romance and crime in 1946’s “Gilda” the classic which finds Ford in a love triangle with an old flame and his casino-owning boss.
Tuesday (July 9, 2019)
2:45pm — Mrs. Miniver (1942)
8:00pm — The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
9:45pm — The War of the Worlds (1953)
1:15am — Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
Mrs. Miniver, the William Wyler 1942 classic–and winner of six Academy Awards–is the daytime bright spot (albeit one about a family dealing with the impacts of WWII), while the primetime schedule continues TCM’s monthlong Tuesday-night sci-Fi celebration, Out of This World. This week, the sci-fi features to watch include four giants (so set those DVRs!): The Day the Earth Stood Still (the 1951 outing, not the awful Keanu Reeves remake), The War of the Worlds (The 1953 version, not that lousy Tom Cruise remake), and Invasion of the Body Snatchers (the 1956 film, not the tense 1979 Donald Pleasance remake or the not-so-hot 2007 Nicole Kidman remake, or the highly-praised 1993 remake). By the way, Invasion of the Body Snatchers features a shot of people running for their lives through my favorite LA neighborhood, Beachwood Canyon.
Wednesday (July 10, 2019)
11:00pm — Queen Christina (1934)
TCM turns its primetime focus to “Dynamic Dames” which–conveniently–is the title of a TCM book being released on this very day. The book, which I’ll be reviewing shortly, is a look at 50 dynamic female characters who have redefined the female experience on film. Tonight’s films include Norma Shearer in The Divorcee, Bette Davis in Ex-Lady and Ingrid Bergman in Gaslight. My recommendation: Greta Garbo in Queen Christina. Garbo and costar John Gilbert illuminate this, arguably Garbo’s best film, as the Swedish Queen in love with a Spanish emmisary (and a Catholic to boot). Even if you’ve never seen this classic before, you’re bound to recognize the final shot, an iconic, defining image of Garbo at her best and most powerful.
Thursday (July 11, 2019)
8:45am — Madame Du Barry (1934)
10:15am — Baby Face (1933)
11:45am — Now, Voyager (1942)
1:45pm — Casablanca (1942)
5:30pm — Auntie Mame (1958)
8:00pm — Tab Hunter: Confidential (2015)
Thursday is “one of those days”–a day when TCM loads so many classics in one day, you wonder why they ever have to resort to showing things like Linda Blair’s “Roller Boogie”. We have Dolores Del Rio playing the titular character in 1934’s “Madame Du Barry” in which the historic screen icon portrays the Parisian courtesan who seduced Louis XV. in 1933’s “Baby Face” Barbra Stanwyck vamps it up as a woman who uses men to climb the ladder–only to redeem herself in the end. 1942’s Bette Davis classic, “Now, Voyager” with Davis as spinster cured of her shyness by a psychiatrist gives her life a makeover, is followed by not just “that classic-of-classics, Casablanca”, but later by “Auntie Mame”, in which Rosalind Russell lives life to the hilt (and beyond) and manages to teach her nephew a few life lessons in the process. Primetime is a tribute to closeted silver screen icon Tab Hunter and kicks off with a documentary in which the now-deceased Hunter discusses his life, in “Tab Hunter: Confidential”.
Friday (July 12, 2019)
8:00pm — Dark Victory (1939)
10:00pm — Gone With the Wind (1939)
The big story for TCM on Friday is their continuing, month-long look at 1939. This week brings us “Dark Victory”, with Bette Davis battling a brain tumor, and “Gone With the Wind”, that classic adaptation of Margaret Mitchell’s Pulitzer Prize-winning 1936 novel about spoiled Scarlett O’Hara struggling to survive the hardships of the Civil War and its aftermath, all while loving another woman’s man whilst being blind to the love of another.
Saturday (July 13, 2019)
12:00pm — The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
Few things in classic cinema are as thrilling as Errol Flynn at his best and there’s not much better Errol Flynn than Flynn as Robin Hood. 1938’s “The Adventures of Robin Hood” sees him paired with frequent co-star, the now-103 year old film legend, Olivia deHavilland, who plays Maid Marian, alongside Claude Rains as Prince John and Basil Rathbone as Sir Guy. If all you know, cinematically, of Robin Hood is the Disney animated feature, give this swashbuckling classic a look. Edge-of-seat thrills and brilliant Technicolor.