Picks! Picks! Picks!
Okay, here we go! I’ve gone line by line through this week’s TCM schedule so you don’t have to! I’m kidding of course. There’s always good stuff here that I don’t have room to cover. There’s no shame in deep diving.
In the grand scheme of things, there are a ton of deep cuts airing on the network this week and that’s going to show in my picks. Though, there are still a few essentials; however, many are in the first-time-watch category for me! Hopefully some of you will have your eyes opened as well!
Without further ado, here are the picks for this second week in March!
The Outlaw (1943)
First time watch alert! As someone who spent a lot of time studying ideas of sex and gender in the middle of the twentieth century, I’m ashamed to admit I missed this feature. It’s hard to know quite what to call this one. It feels essential, but perhaps I’ll go with iconic (see the above, oft-reprinted picture of Jane Russell). The film is also remembered as Russell’s break-out role.
There’s a lot written about the quality of this western. It earns a telling 5.5 stars on IMDB and there’s been much reported about the resulting chaos when Howard Hughes decided to step behind the camera. So, this is largely why I’m shying away from calling this one an essential. With all that being said though, I’ve always been interested to finally experience The Outlaw.
The Outlaw is a WatchTCM viewing, airing at 5:00am PST on March 8th.
Red River (1948)
First time watch alert! In my wave of first-time-watches over the last few months, I’ve discovered one thing… I’m shamefully under-watched as it relates to Montgomery Clift. Excuse me while I hang my head in shame… and present a pick, if you’re sitting next to me in this boat.
Red River comes from directors Howard Hawks and Arthur Rosson and features an impressive cast, including: John Wayne, Clift, Joanne Dru, Walter Brennan, Coleen Gray, Harry Carey and Paul Fix. The plot examines the drama and conflict surrounding a cattle drive in the old west.
Red River airs at 2:30pm PST on March 8th.
On Moonlight Bay (1951)
As I wrote a good deal about last week, Doris Day holds court as ‘Star of the Month’ for March. This week I was gleeful to see yet another of Day’s pairings with Gordon MacRae. I expressed my delight with these last week and present the picture above… these movies are adorable.
On Moonlight Bay stars Day and MacRae as a courting couple who are just trying to make things work in the complicated years surrounding World War I. Leon Ames, Rosemary DeCamp, Mary Wickes and Billy Gray co-star. Roy Del Ruth is onboard as director.
On Moonlight Bay airs at 9:00pm PST on March 8th.
First time watch alert. However, I have to say this… Ida Lupino! Ida Lupino! Ida Lupino. Wait. Have I given away my allegiances here? Okay, I digress. This film actually features a top notch cast around Queen Ida, including the equally fierce Olivia de Havilland, Paul Henreid, Sydney Greenstreet and Arthur Kennedy.
The film features Lupino and de Havilland as the equally legendary Brontë sisters in a romantically exaggerated retelling of their early years. Historical inaccuracies aside, I’m very much here for checking out this period piece.
Devotion airs at 8:30am PST on March 9th.
The Male Animal (1942)
I initially left this movie off the picks, but then I decided to first-time-watch it last week. The Male Animal takes place at a midwestern college and follows the resulting hubbub when the school newspaper exposes that an English professor (Henry Fonda) is preparing to use a letter from a noted anarchist in a school lecture. Could he be a leftist? (gasp!)
This movie is far from perfect and spends a lot of time struggling to figure out just what it is. Is it a zany romantic comedy? Is it a politically conscious think piece? I mean, very few actors can give a socially profound monologue like Henry Fonda. The Male Animal tries to do a lot and does struggle. However, what makes this movie is the performances. Fonda and Olivia de Havilland are legends functioning at the top of their powers here and it shows. Meanwhile, fans of Jack Carson and Don DeFore will find much here to love here as well.
The Male Animal airs at 12:30pm PST on March 9th.
Gabriel Over the White House (1933)
First time watch alert! This Depression era political drama stars Walter Huston…. yup, the Huston family patriarch is on the air a lot this week…. Karen Morely, Franchot Tone and Dickie Moore. The plot follows a recently elected president who, after a near-fatal accident, undergoes a drastic metamorphosis as a leader.
Speaking personally, I’m drawn to this movie as a slightly deeper cut in Franchot Tone’s filmography (which I’m working on completing). At the same though, I’m excited to check out Gabriel Over the White House through a historical lens. It’s a political drama which is often a very timely genre, deeply representative of the era from which they emerge.This is bound to be a fascinating watch, especially for all the Pre-Code fans out there.
Gabriel Over the White House airs at 10:45am PST on March 10th.
The Half Naked Truth (1933)
First time watch alert! Regular readers should be more than familiar with Lupe Velez thanks to our Commander and Chief Kristen Lopez; meanwhile, I’ve been championing the work of Velez’s co-star Lee Tracy since my eyes were opened to him while watching Bombshell. Tracy is one of the unsung legends of Pre-Code cinema who deserves so much more love than he receives. The combination of these dynamic performers in a Pre-Code feature? Possibilities abound!
The film follows Tracy as his usual character– a brash PR man– who turns a “sideshow dancer” (Velez) into a Broadway sensation. Can you get much more “Pre-Code” than that? Gregory La Cava directs the film.
The Half Naked Truth airs at 12:15pm PST on March 10th.
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967)
If I’m anything with you all, I’m open about my cinematic blindspots. This is one of the works I find myself particularly embarrassed about missing and I hope to remedy this when it airs this week.
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner stars Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Sidney Poitier and Katharine Houghton in a drama about the resulting tension when a young woman (Houghton) brings her fiancee (Poitier) home to meet her parents. The feature is one held up as a timely and — and incredibly important one– due to its discussion of race in the late 1960s.
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner airs at 7:15pm PST on March 11th.
The Jazz Singer (1927)
There’s been alot of discussions of the “problematic” and the “complicated” in classic Hollywood this month, and here’s another. The Jazz Singer stars Al Jolson as the son of a Jewish cantor with dreams of becoming a… jazz singer.
The Jazz Singer comes with a lot of baggage and there is so much here to unpack as a historical work. All one has to do is Google performer Al Jolson and his roots in minstrelsy come to the surface. However, this does not change that The Jazz Singer is a tremendously important work in the history of the Hollywood film form. The musical drama is cited as the first film to feature synched sound sequences and as such, pulled the industry kicking and screaming out of the silent era.
The film airs as part of TCM’s series ‘Reframed: Classic Films in the Rearview Mirror’, so the film’s racially problematic elements will be addressed by critics and educators with far better words to use than myself. The film is complicated, a bit dense and might be a challenging watch. However, The Jazz Singer is an incredibly important work in film history which should be seen by students of the medium. Just know what you’re getting into.
The Jazz Singer is a WatchTCM airing for many, showing at 1:45am PST on March 12th.
Hide-Out is a bit of a deeper cut coming in the late Pre-Code era, starring the adorable Maureen O’Sullivan and the equally delightful Robert Montgomery. The impressive cast also includes Edward Arnold and a pre-most-things Mickey Rooney. W.S. Van Dyke, known to most for his work on The Thin Man, directs the feature.
Sometimes you just need a good, fluffy romance and Hide-Out fits the bill in a picks column that is (once again) a little heady. The film follows Montgomery as a wounded racketeer who is nursed back to health by O’Sullivan when he hides in her family’s farm house. You can probably guess where it goes from there. The two leads are utterly adorable and if the plot sounds up your alley, give this one a watch.
Hide-Out is a WatchTCM airing for many, showing at 4:45am PST on March 12th.
Inherit the Wind (1960)
I love a good legal drama. Inherit the Wind features a fierce cast, including Spencer Tracy, Fredric March, Gene Kelly and everyone’s favorite Darren, Dick York (No offense, Dick Sargent fans!) in a movie which chronicles the Scopes Monkey Trial, known as one of the first cases to tackle the teaching of evolution in schools. Legendary jack-of-all-trades Stanley Kramer jumps in to direct.
Above all, Inherit the Wind is an important watch for these performances alone. In particular, Tracy and March are both legends, functioning at the top of their powers. In their hands, the rather restrained courtroom drama is utterly dynamic. At the same time, you have Gene Kelly and Dick York venturing as far away from their usual “types” as they could get. The first time I watched it, it opened my eyes, particularly to Dick York as an actor… who had always been just “Darren number 1”.
Inherit the Wind airs at 1:00pm PST on March 13th.
The Night Holds Terror (1955)
Noir Alley Alert! Heck, first time watch alert to boot. This is one I just learned about researching this piece; however, I would be shirking my duty if I didn’t call attention to this work, which airs twice this week as a part of Noir Alley.
The Night Holds Terror comes in the gritty, low-budget era of film noir that was the mid-1950s. These works were darker, harder and just more… noir. This movie fits into this era perfectly with a cast that includes John Cassavetes and a pre-Ben Casey, Vince Edwards. The plot follows two escaped convicts who take over a suburban home… this can’t end well.
The Night Holds Terror airs at 9:00pm PST as part of Noir Alley on March 13th.
Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)
I never give up a chance to talk about Arsenic and Old Lace. Just check out my write-up on my Top Five Favorite Cary Grant Movies. I’ll give you a hint… this is number one. It is a deeper cut in the popular actor’s filmography and I personally believe it doesn’t get the love it deserves.
Arsenic and Old Lace stars Cary Grant as Mortimer, a drama critic who, after bringing his wife (Priscilla Lane) home after their quickie marriage, learns his lovable maiden aunts have been killing the men renting their spare room and burying the bodies in the cellar. It’s more sympathetic than it sounds… trust me. So, take that confusion and add the return of his criminal brother (Raymond Massey) and there’s a lot of surprising slapstick to behold. The legendary Frank Capra steps in to direct Arsenic and Old Lace.
Arsenic and Old Lace airs at 8:45am PST on March 14th.
Trouble in Paradise (1932)
Okay, this is a recently rectified first time watch, and I know there’s alot of you out there who are judging your girl for waiting so long… but oh my goodness! If you haven’t taken the plunge to watch Trouble in Paradise, do it. Do it this week.
Trouble in Paradise features Miriam Hopkins and Herbert Marshall as two con artists who join forces in order to advantage of a wealthy woman (Kay Francis). However, they don’t anticipate things getting a lot more…complicated. Ernst Lubitsch directs the film.
This film. This film. Where to start. Even if you were to just watch it for Hopkins and Marshall, the movie is worth it. The performances that these two bring… I don’t think I’ve ever seen flirtatious thieving… they make the movie. However, even casting that aside, Kay Francis is a marvel; while Lubitsch brings a solid glamor to the direction. There’s a lot to watch here, and even more to love.
Trouble in Paradise airs at 5:00pm PST on March 14th.
Here’s a snapshot of the week as I see it:
- Monday March 8th finds the network spotlighting westerns with a daytime marathon before transitioning to the second week of Doris Day’s ‘Star of the Month’ celebration.
- Tuesday March 9th sees TCM celebrating the work of Olivia de Havilland during a daytime marathon before the focus turns to Dean Stockwell for their ‘Growing Up on Screen’ series.
- Pre-Code films are in the daytime spotlight on Wednesday March 10th.
- Thursday March 11th sees the network spotlighting biographical movies during the day before transitioning to the second week of the network’s ‘Reframed: Classic Films in the Rearview Mirror’ series.
- The daytime marathon on Friday March 12th pays tribute to movies about farming and ranching before transitioning to a night of studio essentials.
- Sunday March 14th sees a combined daytime marathon highlighting ‘jewel robbery’ movies. There’s also a little Kay Francis mini-marathon dropped in here too!
Well, that’s it for now! If you’re still reading, I thank you! All in all, this is a schedule more geared to the deep-cuts and first-time-watches. As mentioned there are a few “essentials” sprinkled in, but they feel far more spaced out than they have been recently. What movies are you excited for this week?