Here we are! It’s March. If you’ve scrolled through this piece already, you’ve undoubtedly seen that this week is a beast. And that is meant purely in a good way. There’s a heck of a lot here. There’s plenty of essentials, but at the same time, there are just as many first time watches to enjoy. Even more surprising, there are a lot I wasn’t able to mention here. However, I’ll do my best to outline the trends at the bottom!
Without further ado, here are my picks for this first week in March!
A Matter of Life and Death (1947)
First time watch alert! I spoke about the joy that is The Red Shoes in last week’s picks and we’re getting another Powell and Pressburger gem this week. Granted, the directors are a bit of a blindspot for me (a fact which I’m working on remedying). However, each time this movie played on TCM in the past, the word-of mouth has been in a word, glowing. Heck, in every clip I’ve seen, the movie practically glows itself.
A Matter of Life and Death is a fantasy following Niven as an aviator who narrowly escapes death after being forced from his plane during a bombing run. However, when the authorities in the celestial realm realize their mistake, he must argue for his own life.
A Matter of Life and Death airs during a mini-marathon of David Niven’s work on March 1st at 11:45am PST.
Romance on the High Seas (1948)
Doris Day is the ‘Star of the Month’ for March, so fans of the musical legend should prepare to settle in for plenty of delightful goodness all month long. Romance on the High Seas is a first time watch alert for me.
The film is described as a comedy looking at misunderstandings and romantic entanglements surrounding a nightclub singer on a Caribbean cruise.
Romance on the High Seas airs the first night of Doris Day’s ‘Star of the Month’ celebration, March 1st at 5:00pm PST.
Tea for Two (1950)
I’m always there for a Doris Day and Gordon MacRae musical. I’ve seen all the nostalgic goodness, from By the Light of the Silvery Moon to On Moonlight Bay. Coming in 1950, Tea for Two is the duo’s first pairing. Have I mentioned this one co-stars Gene Nelson?!? (I see some ears out there perking up).
The plot follows Day as a wealthy socialite who must say no to everything as part of a bet. If she comes out on top, she can make her Broadway dreams come true. Have I mentioned her name is Nanette? (No No Nanette? Get it?).
Tea for Two airs March 1st at 8:45pm PST.
Blondie of the Follies (1932)
First time watch alert! This movie jumped off the page at me thanks to its Marion Davies, Pre-Code goodness. I’ve already mentioned the blindspots in these areas which I’m working to remedy, so I’m always keeping my eyes open to spread the good word. This one has the added joy of Robert Montgomery (who’s always a good decision) as well as Billie Dove.
Blondie of the Follies plot description eschews 1930s goodness. It follows two showgirls (Davies and Dove) competing for the same man. I don’t know about you, but I’m a sucker for these movies.
Blondie of the Follies airs March 2nd at 6:00am PST.
Easter Parade (1948)
Musical fans take note. If you haven’t seen this one, it is by far and away an essential of the genre. Easter Parade is a joyful movie combining the legendary talents of Fred Astaire and Judy Garland. Yes, the music numbers are just as delightful as they should be. I first watched this years upon years ago and I can still sing all the songs.
Easter Parade follows a vaudevillian (Astaire) who’s left listless after his partner (Ann Miller) breaks up their act (and his heart). In an attempt to strike out on his own, he teams up with a new singer (Garland) who propels their act to new levels. The supporting cast is equally stellar here with Ann Miller, Peter Lawford and Jules Munshin backing up the two phenomenal leads.
Easter Parade airs as part of TCM’s ‘Growing Up on Screen’ series, March 2nd at 6:30 PST.
One More Tomorrow (1946)
First time watch alert! Okay, I’m not going to lie. I had my eyes opened to Dennis Morgan this holiday season after finally wiping Christmas in Connecticut off my “To Be Watched” list. As a result, my attention was immediately drawn to this Dennis Morgan deep cut.
The movie co-stars Anne Sheridan, Jack Carson, Alexis Smith and Jane Wyman. The plot is described as a romance between a playboy and a photographer who build a relationship, despite the struggles posed by their drastically different lifestyles. It sounds really cute.
One More Tomorrow airs March 3rd at 11:45am PST.
Sweet Smell of Success (1957)
I have been waiting to get this movie into my picks! I mean, if you haven’t watched Sweet Smell of Success after I first hyped it during “Noirvember”…. why did you wait? Now’s your chance! If you’re a fan of noir, you won’t be sorry.
Sweet Smell of Success stars Burt Lancaster, Tony Curtis, Susan Harrison and Martin Milner. The plot dives the into seedy New York City nightclub scene and follows a controlling gossip columnist (Lancaster) who uses and exploits everyone around him, namely his sister (Harrison) and an ambitious press agent (Curtis).
Sweet Smell of Success airs March 3rd at 5:00pm PST.
Murder, My Sweet (1944)
There’s a noir “two-fer” hitting this week! Be there or be square. Murder, My Sweet is another entry in the movement that deserves all of the love, thanks to a pitch perfect performance from Dick Powell. If he’s only ever been “The tenor from the Busby Berkeley movies” to you, make sure you check this one out.
Powell stars as iconic literary detective Phillip Marlowe. The private eye finds himself drawn into a dark, seedy and decidedly complicated series of events as he attempts to help a mobster locate his missing girlfriend. Claire Trevor, Anne Shirley, Otto Kruger and Mike Mazurki co-star in the classic noir.
Murder, My Sweet airs March 3rd at 7:00pm PST.
The Tunnel of Love (1958)
‘Star of the Month’ Doris Day pops into the schedule again, just outside of her normal day of the week. This time out, Day partners with the delightful Richard Widmark and the slightly more… complicated…. Gig Young in a romantic comedy. The film, at its most basic level, follows the comedic exploits of a couple trying to adopt a baby while dealing with various entanglements and misunderstandings along the way.
Regular readers will know, I am a bit biased when it comes to Richard Widmark… he’ll make the picks as often as I’m able. It’s been a while since I’ve revisited this one, but you can’t go wrong with either of these performers. Did I mention it is directed by Gene Kelly?
The Tunnel of Love airs March 4th at 8:15am PST.
I feel like I’ve been writing about this one a lot lately…. and here’s another blurb. I came clean last week that Rope is one of my Top 5 Favorite Alfred Hitchcock Movies. The film does have a bit of a “love it or hate it” reputation among classic movie fans due to its highly experimental nature. However, for fans of ‘The Master of Suspense’, this is essential viewing.
Rope stars Jimmy Stewart, Farley Granger and John Dall. In a plot loosely based on the Leopold and Loeb murder case, the movie follows two young men who kill one of their classmates and attempt to keep the body hidden during a dinner party. Rope is best known as Hitchcock’s cinematic experiment. The legendary director constructed the movie with long takes, only cutting when the film reel demanded it. As a result, the film is left with a very suspenseful, but highly theatrical feel.
Rope airs March 4th at 11:00pm PST.
The Big House (1930)
The Big House is one of those essential, deep cuts. While the film isn’t the most widely known outside of film history circles; chances are, it will feel familiar. The movie is one of the earliest examples of “prison movies” and we see its influence still felt in Hollywood today.
The Big House features an absolutely dynamic cast, led by Robert Montgomery, Chester Morris and Wallace Beery. The crew behind the scenes is just as impressive, with a script from the iconic Frances Marion. George W. Hill directs.
The Big House is a WatchTCM airing for most, airing at 3:00am PST on March 5th.
Ladies They Talk About (1933)
First time watch alert! This Pre-Code drama airs during an all-day (and fascinating) marathon of prison movies. This is one I hadn’t heard of until I started researching this piece.
Ladies They Talk About stars Barbara Stanwyck as a woman who is sent to prison after her supposed lover exposes her involvement in a bank robbery. However, in jail, she becomes a “cell block boss”.
What drew me to this movie is the presence of Barbara Stanwyck in this peak era, Pre-Code film. Throughout her career, she personified such a sense of strength and spirit that dropping her into a prison film sounds fascinating to watch.
Ladies They Talk About airs Friday March 5th at 12:30pm PST.
Brute Force (1947)
Okay, last prison movie pick, I promise. Recurring readers know my fondness for director Jules Dassin. This prison, film noir is in all honesty, one of the best in his all too short career.
Brute Force airs March 5th at 3:15pm PST.
Girl Shy (1924)
In the age old question of Buster Keaton vs. Charlie Chaplin, I’ve always picked Harold Lloyd… then Keaton of course. The man was a genius. It feels very rare to see Harold Lloyd on TCM, so this is definitely worthy of a call-out.
Girl Shy follows Lloyd as a shy young man who writes a how-to-book about women. Along the way, in traditional Lloyd fashion, there are plenty of fun, amazingly crafted action sequences and delightful romantic entanglements.
Fans of silent films, more particularly silent comedy, should check out some of the comedian’s work. Throughout his career, Harold Lloyd is defined not only by his extreme physicality, but his characterization. Lloyd was truly likable and it shines through in each and every one of his films.
Girl Shy airs on March 7th at 9:10pm PST.
A few bullet points:
- Birthday boy David Niven receives a daytime mini-marathon Monday March 1st, before the network transitions into the first night of Doris Day’s ‘Star of the Month’ celebration.
- TCM begins its ‘Growing Up on Screen’ series Tuesday March 2nd with a tribute to Judy Garland.
- Dennis Morgan fans should swing by on Wednesday March 3rd for a daytime celebration of the actor.
- Thursday is the first day of the network’s series ‘Reframed: Classic Films in the Rearview Mirror’ which turns a spotlight on complicated works like The Jazz Singer and Gone with the Wind.
- Friday March 5th has the network featuring an all day, prison movie marathon before transitioning into a night of Hitchcock movies.
Okay, take a breath. That was a lot. I absolutely love the forethought that has gone into programming this week. Not only does TCM manage to celebrate performers (like Dennis Morgan) who don’t always get the love they deserve, but with series like ‘Reframed: Classic Films in the Rearview Mirror’, the network really serves to be the champion classic film needs. There are plenty of movies which are “problematic” or “complicated” when viewed though a contemporary lens. However, these works can’t be shoved to the side or ignored. This is a part of history that needs to be discussed and I applaud the TCM programming team for taking such a step.
Happy viewing everyone!
Podcaster, film historian, and general lover of all things classic film and television. Studying the contributions of women behind the camera in classic television.
You can find me on Twitter @kpierce624!