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…

This Week on TCM | Dec. 12-18

Christmas is a couple weeks out but there’s some great holiday classics on TCM this week.

Monday, December 12
Today begins with an Edward G. Robinson marathon. I had always thought of Robinson as a bad guy —as in The Little Giant  (10:30 a.m.) — or a representative of law and order—as in A Bullet for Joey (6:15 p.m.), or I am the Law (3:00 p.m.)—but today’s schedule shows he took on a wide variety of roles, particularly during the 1930s.

Tonight is TCM’s celebration of the Bicentennial of Charles Dickens’ birth. While I admit Dickens is not one of my favorite authors, his work pretty much demands to be made into films, and they contain some really good showcases for actors. Alastair Sim as Scrooge and Alec Guinness as Fagin are the ones that stand out to me, I’m sure there are others.

8:00 p.m. A Christmas Carol (1951)
***TCM Party***
Technically Dickens’ bicentennial isn’t until February 7, 2012, but it makes sense to celebrate it now because of A Christmas Carol. I think it is Dickens’ most-read and best-loved work, and the most heartwarming, at least for me.Watch and tweet with #TCMParty.

9:45 p.m. Oliver Twist (1948)
Midnight Nicholas Nickleby (1947)
2:00 a.m. (Tues.) Great Expectations (1946)

Tuesday, December 13
4:00 p.m. B.F.’s Daughter Real-life pals Barbara Stanwyck and Van Heflin play a conservative financier’s daughter and the college professor she marries, despite her father’s strenuous objections. Also known for the debut of Barbara Stanwyck’s glamorous post-war style.

8:00 p.m. The Lemon Drop Kid
***TCM Party***
Bob Hope is the Kid of the title, who takes advantage of Christmas generosity to raise the money he owes a gangster. Based on a story by Damon Runyon and featuring “Silver Bells.” Watch and tweet with #TCMParty.

Wednesday, December 14
10:00 a.m. The Trespasser (1929)
I am interested in this because it stars Gloria Swanson, who made her name in the silents and continued into the talkies. She is best-known today for Sunset Boulevard.

11:45 a.m. The Moon and Sixpence (1942)
This film is based on a novel by W. Somerset Maugham, which was loosely inspired by the life of Paul Gauguin. George Sanders stars as a stockbroker who abandons his job and family to become an artist.

3:00 p.m. A Page of Madness (1926)
A rare Japanese silent film which was declared “the first filmlike film born in Japan.”

William Powell and Kay Francis

Thursday, December 15
TCM concentrates on the late career and dramatic roles of Star of the Month William Powell, beginning at 8:00 p.m. withtonight’s TCM Party, Life with Father (1947), which also stars the brilliant Irene Dunne and a teenaged Elizabeth Taylor. The Powell block continues with The Girl Who Had Everything, where Powell and Taylor again play father and daughter; Mister RobertsPowell’s last film; It’s A Big Country;One Way Passage, which reunites Powell with his Jewel Robbery co-star Kay Francis; The Key (1934); and Road to Singapore (1931).

Friday, December 16
1:00 p.m. In Gay Madrid (1930)
Ramon Navarro is a law student mixed up with at least two different girls.

6:00 p.m. The Wet Parade (1932)
Two families cope with the ill effects of both too much and not enough booze (aka Prohibition). The large cast includes Walter Huston, Myrna Loy and Jimmy Durante.

8:00 p.m. The Bishop’s Wife (1947)
***TCM Party***
Watch another Christmas classic with Cary Grant, Loretta Young and David Niven. Tweet with #TCMParty.

10:00 p.m. Christmas in Connecticut
***TCM Party***
Barbara Stanwyck has been living a lie as the 1940s equivalent of Martha Stewart, a homemaking columnist for a magazine. When her publisher (Sydney Greenstreet) decides she should host a war hero for Christmas, it becomes evident that her stories about an idyllic farm and happy family are just that…stories. Watch and tweet with #TCMParty.

Midnight The Shop Around The Corner (1940)
If you’ve ever watched You’ve Got Mail, you owe it to yourself to check out the original Christmas classic with Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan as the feuding co-workers who don’t know they’re in love with each other. Also playing on Sunday, December 18 at 10:00 a.m.

Saturday, December 17
The absolute must-sees for today are the block of movies featuring Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn: Bringing Up Baby (8:00 p.m.), The Philadelphia Story (10:00 p.m.), Holiday(midnight), and Sylvia Scarlett (2:00 a.m. Sunday).

Sunday, December 18
12:00 p.m. A Night at the Movies: Merry Christmas!
This TCM original features clips and interviews with some of the stars and filmmakers involved in all-time favorite holiday classics.

8:00 p.m. It Happened on Fifth Avenue (1947)
***TCM Party***
A couple of homeless men occupy a spacious New York City mansion while the family are wintering in a warmer climate…what happens when the daughter returns unannounced?Watch and tweet with #TCMParty.

OK TCM fans, what are you watching this week? What is your favorite Christmas classic? Let me know in the comments…

This Week on TCM — Nov. 21-27

This Week on TCM spotlights a highly subjective selection of the week’s essential or undiscovered films on the Turner Classic Movies channel to help plan viewing or DVR scheduling. All times are EST.

Monday, November 21
6:00 a.m. Hollywood Without Makeup
I love behind-the-scenes stuff like this 1966 feature made up of home movies by actor Ken Murray.

10:00 a.m. Jeopardy
Not a game show…Barbara Stanwyck plays a woman trying to save her husband from certain death.

TCM’s Battle of the Blondes continues tonight with Janet Leigh in My Sister Eileen (8:00 p.m.) and Houdini and Brigitte Bardot in And God Created Woman (12:00 a.m.) and A Very Private Affair (1:45 a.m. Tues.), plus two bonus blondes, Jean Arthur and Marlene Dietrich, in A Foreign Affair (3:45 a.m. Tues.).

This Week on TCM — November 14-20

This Week on TCM spotlights a highly subjective selection of the week’s essential or undiscovered films on the Turner Classic Movies channel to help plan viewing or DVR scheduling. All times are EST.

Monday, November 14
6:30 a.m. Pandora’s Box
To quote the Criterion Collection: “One of the masters of early German cinema, G. W. Pabst had an innate talent for discovering actresses (including Greta Garbo). And perhaps none of his female stars shone brighter than Kansas native and onetime Ziegfeld girl Louise Brooks, whose legendary persona was defined by Pabst’s lurid, controversial melodrama Pandora’s Box. Sensationally modern, the film follows the downward spiral of the fiery, brash, yet innocent showgirl Lulu, whose sexual vivacity has a devastating effect on everyone she comes in contact with. Daring and stylish, Pandora’s Box is one of silent cinema’s great masterworks and a testament to Brooks’s dazzling individuality.”

1:15 p.m. You Can’t Run Away From It
A remake of It Happened One Night starring Jack Lemmon and June Allyson.

3:00 p.m. The Glass Key
Film noir with Alan Ladd as a gangster who falls for the head honcho’s girl (Veronica Lake).

8:00 p.m. The Blue Angel (1930)
A singer (Marlene Dietrich) enchants a professor (Emil Jannings) and heartbreak ensues. This film is representative of both Weimar Germany and the productive partnership between director Josef von Sternberg and his muse/star Dietrich. Watch and tweet along with #TCMParty.

Tuesday, November 15
10:00 a.m. The Story of Mankind
Humanity hangs in the balance as Satan takes on mankind’s soul. With Ronald Colman, Vincent Price, Groucho Marx, and #TCMParty fave Franklin Pangborn; directed by Irwin Allen (The Poseidon Adventure, The Towering Inferno).

8:00 p.m. AFI’s Master Class: The Art of Collaboration
Tonight’s episode of this new TCM original features inside info from director Steven Spielberg and composer John Williams, who’ve been working together for almost 40 years, from Jaws (1974) to Munich (2005).

Wednesday, November 16
8:00 p.m. Nothing Sacred
In this classic screwball comedy, a journalist (Frederic March) convinces a small-town gal (Carole Lombard) to pretend that she is dying of a deadly disorder…how long can they keep up the act? Lombard wasn’t known as Queen of the Screwball Comedy for nothing. Watch and tweet along with #TCMParty.

12:45 a.m. (Tues.) I’m No Angel
There’s never been a more appropriate title for a movie. Mae West attempts to crash polite society and runs into Cary Grant (in his second picture with West).

Thursday, November 17
1:45 p.m. Rich and Strange (1932)
This was the great director’s third sound film and it is apparently a satire/rom-com.

1:15 a.m. (Fri.) Ship of Fools (1965)
In the early 1930s, a ship’s various passengers (Vivien Leigh, Simone Signoret, Jose Ferrer, Lee Marvin) cope with each other and the rise of Nazism.

Friday, November 18
8:00 p.m. Chase a Crooked Shadow
Today’s featured actor Richard Todd deceives an heiress (Anne Baxter) into thinking her dead brother is still alive.

2:00 a.m. (Sat.) Equinox (1970)
3:30 a.m. Curse of the Demon (1958)
Two demon-themed pictures. I’m not sure about Equinox but Curse of the Demon is a really interesting movie about a skeptical professor (Dana Andrews) investigating an avowed Satanist (Niall McGinnis). Directed by Jacques Tourneur (Out of the Past, Cat People) and scripted by Charles Bennett (The 39 Steps, Foreign Correspondent).

Saturday, November 19
TCM is celebrating a bunch of 50th anniversaries tonight, beginning with Splendor in the Grass ***TCM PARTY*** at 8:00 p.m. and continuing with The Children’s Hour (10:15 p.m.); One, Two, Three (12:15 a.m. Sunday); The Misfits (2:15 a.m.); and Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (4:30 a.m.).

Sunday, November 20
7:30 a.m. Fire Over England
I probably recommend this every time it’s on the schedule, but the acting of Lawrence Olivier, Vivien Leigh and Flora Robson, and the soapy reality-challenged plot never disappoint.

2:15 a.m. (Mon.) Stolen Kisses
I’ve never seen François Truffaut’s Oscar-nominated film about a struggling guy (the director’s frequent alter ego Jean-Pierre Léaud) who gets out of the army and can’t find a job. But Truffaut did direct The 400 Blows and The Last Metro, so I figure it’s worth setting the DVR for.

So TCM fans…did I miss any of your picks? What will you be watching this week?

This Week on TCM – November 7-13

Monday, November 7 — Battle of the Blondes

Veronica Lake
8:00 p.m. This Gun for Hire & 9:30 p.m. The Blue Dahlia
Lake and her frequent co-star Alan Ladd had quite the chemistry going and these two films are among the best of both of their careers. In both, Ladd plays a man on the run and Lake his ally against betrayal, bad guys and/or the cops.

Lana Turner
11:15 p.m. The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)
Turner is at her most seductive and mercurial as a woman who conspires with her lover (John Garfield) to murder her husband. Though this movie is considered by many to be a film noir, I think the photography is too bright and low-contrast for it to really be considered a true noir. That doesn’t make it any less entertaining though.

This Week on TCM — Oct. 31-Nov. 6

This Week on TCM spotlights a highly subjective selection of the week’s essential or undiscovered films on the Turner Classic Movies channel to help plan viewing or DVR scheduling. All times are EST.

Monday, October 31 — Halloween Classic Horror
TCM is featuring horror films all day, here are just a few…

10:15 a.m. Dracula, Prince of Darkness
In Hammer’s sequel to Dracula (aka Horror of Dracula), a series of incidents leads four travelers to the Count’s castle, where they unwittingly resurrect him. Followed by another Dracula picture at noon, both feature Christopher Lee as Dracula.

3:15 p.m. Frankenstein Created Woman
One of Hammer’s takes on the Frankenstein story. Peter Cushing as Frankenstein transplants a convicted murderer’s soul into the body of a disfigured woman. He cures the woman’s deformity and she begins to act on the soul’s agenda. One of the films Martin Scorsese picked for a National Film Theatre season of his favorites.

8:00 p.m. Village of the Damned (1960)
Everyone in a British village blacks out momentarily but all seems normal when they wake up. A couple of months later it becomes apparent that all the women of childbearing age are pregnant. When the children are born, they are all towheaded, grow like weeds, and have a telepathic bond with each other. It becomes apparent they also have no emotions or scruples. A truly disturbing movie. Watch and tweet with hashtag #TCMParty.

12:15 a.m. (Tues.) The Innocents (1961)
A Victorian-era governess (Deborah Kerr) thinks her charges may be possessed by demons or ghosts. Commenter Roger Ryan wrote last week on my Top 5 Classic Horror post that this film has been “slavishly imitated recently by films like The Others….it never fails to unsettle me. Kubrick borrowed some ideas from this Jack Clayton film when he made The Shining.”

Tuesday, November 1
There’s a whole bunch of films noir scheduled for today. Of course I highly recommend Out of the Past (9:00 a.m.) and The Big Sleep (6:00 p.m.). And Fritz Lang’s Scarlet Street (2:15 p.m.) is an interesting example of the genre. But I’ve never seen “tautly directed B-movie gem” Tension (4:00 p.m.), in which “(a) man who had planned to murder his wife’s lover becomes the prime suspect when somebody beats him to it.”

Wednesday, November 2
8:30 a.m. The Flame and the Arrow
Jacques Tourneur (Out of the Past, Cat People) directed this account of Roman rebels, led by Burt Lancaster, fighting barbarian invaders.

5:30 p.m. Seven Days in May
This political thriller from Manchurian Candidate director John Frankenheimer stars Lancaster as a military officer who discovers his superiors are planning a coup d’etat against the President of the United States.

Thursday, November 3
10:45 a.m. Storm Center (1956)
I’m looking forward to seeing Miss Bette Davis as a librarian fighting censorship and McCarthyism in a small Kansas town in this still-relevant film, made when memories of the House on Un-American Activities Committee were still fresh. Rarely shown.

Friday, November 4
6:00 p.m. A Big Hand for the Little Lady
A pioneer woman (Joanne Woodward) learns how to play poker in a hurry when her husband (Henry Fonda) has a heart attack and can’t stay in a high-stakes game in which he’s managed to lose all their money.

8:00 p.m. The Invisible Man (1933)
Claude Rains portrays a scientist whose experiments with invisibility are successful. But the stuff he takes to become invisible drives him to insanity and murder. Directed by James Whale, who also helmed the 1931 versions of Waterloo Bridge and Frankenstein. Watch and tweet with hashtag #TCMParty.

9:30 p.m. Gold Diggers of 1935
Part of TCM’s block of films starring Gloria Stuart, this one is considered by many to be the finest of Busby Berkeley’s film and was reportedly Berkeley’s own favorite. His staging of “Lullaby of Broadway” is a stunning example of his choreographical storytelling technique.

Saturday, November 5
1:45 p.m. The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959)
Another Hammer Films classic, with Peter Cushing (as Sherlock Holmes) and Christopher Lee (as Sir Henry Baskerville).

Sunday, November 6
8:00 a.m. The Divorce of Lady X
Merle Oberon, usually known for her dramatic roles in movies like The Scarlet Pimpernel and Wuthering Heights, shows her comedic abilities as a woman who dupes a lawyer (Laurence Olivier) into thinking she’s the soon-to-be ex of his client.

2:00 a.m. (Mon.) The Two of Us
During World War II, an older Catholic French couple agree to take in a mischievous Jewish boy. The anti-Semitic husband develops a strong and complicated affection for the child. Based on director Claude Berri’s own childhood.

What will you be watching this week on TCM and why? Did I miss any of your favorite movies? Let me know in the comments.