This Week on TCM – Dec. 19-Jan 1

Monday, December 19
Seven movies starring Cary Grant make an awesome block, starting at 6 a.m. with Penny Serenade. I’ll be setting the DVR for Dream Wife at 8:00 a.m., Mr. Lucky at 10:00 a.m., Walk Don’t Run (Grant’s last film) at noon, and Topper at 4 p.m. If you haven’t seen Grant and Joan Fontaine under the direction of Alfred Hitchcock in Suspicion (6:00 p.m.), you really should.

TCM’s celebration of the bicentennial of Charles Dickens’ birth continues at 8 p.m. tonight with A Tale of Two Cities (1958). Scrooge (1970), in which Albert Finney plays the title character, follows at 10:00 p.m.

Tuesday, December 20
9 a.m. Thirteen Women
I’ve never seen this film in which pre-stardom Myrna Loy plays a woman intent on bumping off her boarding-school classmates, one of whom is played by Irene Dunne. Until 7:30 p.m., all of today’s movies feature Dunne, who was equally funny and elegant in screwball comedies like My Favorite Wife (3:30 p.m.) but could also handle serious dramatic roles like Mama in I Remember Mama (5:00 p.m.).

Wednesday, December 21
Films featuring Jane Fonda make up the schedule until 8:00 p.m. tonight. I wish her 1964 film Les felins was among them, but since it’s not, I’m going to check out Spirits of the Dead, which is based on the work of Edgar Allan Poe, at 2:45 p.m., and Private Screenings: Jane Fonda at 7:00 p.m.

Winona Ryder is TCM’s guest host tonight. Beginning at 8:00 p.m., she’ll be introducing four films she’s chosen: The Front, starring Woody Allen as a bookie who serves as a front for blacklisted screenwriters; #TCMParty favorite Ball of Fire, in which Barbara Stanwyck disrupts Gary Cooper’s academic household; Judy Holliday and William Holden in Born Yesterday; and Andy Griffith and Patricia Neal as a singer and the radio exec who makes him a star in A Face in the Crowd.

Thursday, December 22
The Thin Man Marathon
***TCM Party*** & ***Drive-In Mob***
In honor of the December Star of the Month William Powell, TCM is running all six of the films in the Thin Man series tonight beginning at 8:00 p.m. Although the quality of the movies became uneven toward the end of the series, the chemistry between the stars and the colorful cast of characters are always a lot of fun. Watch and tweet with #TCMParty or #DriveinMob.

Friday, December 23
Today’s offerings include re-runs of Susan Slept Here at 2:15 p.m., The Man Who Came to Dinner at 4:00 p.m., and Scrooge(1970) at 6:00 p.m., but I’m more interested in the quirkier-sounding pictures and a couple of classic-era noirs.

9:30 a.m. Cover-Up (1949)
Noir fixture Dennis O’Keefe stars as an insurance investigator who discovers a conspiracy to cover up a murder in this Christmas-set noir-lite, which features William Bendix as the local sheriff who knows more than he’s telling.

8:00 p.m. Backfire (1950)
In one of those pictures that hints at malaise in post-WWII America, a veteran (Gordon McRae) tries to clear his buddy of a murder charge at Christmastime.

I can’t really recommend Lady in the Lake (10:00 p.m.), especially for those who have read the Raymond Chandler novel on which the film is based, but I can’t resist writing about it. For the first and only time, Chandler was tapped to write an adaptation of his own work, but his script was rejected and rewritten. He wanted a screen credit until he read the revision and saw how much had been changed — then he wanted nothing to do with the film. And you can’t blame him. In my opinion, the filmmakers made a mess of the source material. This was Robert Montgomery’s official directorial debut (he helped direct They Were Expendable, but didn’t receive screen credit). He used subjective camera and voiceover to re-create the book’s first-person point of view, while the script inexplicably changed the plot and characters in ways that change the themes and message of the story. Chandler’s work is inherently cinematic —while he might not have been the best person to adapt his own work, he wrote more screenplays than novels — and Lady is crying out for a truer movie version.

midnight Murder My Sweet (aka Farewell My Lovely – 1944)
Chandler’s work fares far better in this adaptation, which stars Dick Powell as Marlowe and Claire Trevor as one of the quintessential femme fatales. Playing a hard-boiled noir anti-hero was the departure for Powell, who was mainly known as a crooner in musicals like the Gold Diggers pictures, and he’s surprisingly effective in the role.

Saturday, December 24
12:30 p.m. It Happened on 5th Avenue
If you missed this still-relevant comedy last Sunday, you can catch it now. TCM is also re-playing Holiday AffairIn the Good Old SummertimeMeet Me in St. LouisMiracle on 34th Street, and The Bishop’s Wife.

Sunday, December 25
Religiously themed movies make up most of today’s schedule.
6:00 a.m. The Green Pastures
7:45 a.m. The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima
9:30 a.m. Ben-Hur (1959)
1:30 p.m. The Greatest Story Ever Told
5:00 p.m. King of Kings (1961)
8:00 p.m. Going My Way

I’m taking a break from writing here for the rest of the month. But I can’t stay completely away from classic movies, so I’ll be attending a few #TCMParties. Hope you can watch and tweet with us.

***TCM Parties***
Tuesday, December 27
8:00 p.m. Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Wednesday, December 28

8:00 p.m. The Paleface (1948)
10:00 p.m. The In-Laws

Thursday, December 29

The William Powell & Myrna Loy Marathon starts at 8:00 p.m. with The Great Ziegfeld.

Friday, December 30

8:00 p.m. Tootsie

Many to thanks everyone who agreed to be interviewed for, commented on, and/or read, my posts. I really appreciate you all taking some of your time to share the classic movie love. See you all back here on Sunday, January 1, 2012.
What do you think of these picks? Did I miss any of your faves? Who of today’s actors could possibly play Philip Marlowe? Let me know your thoughts in the comments…

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