Curse of the Demon (1957) gifs

With a ton of alternate titles and a couple different versions (U.S. and U.K.), this film based on the short story “Casting the Runes” by M.R. James is both genuinely creepy and a fitting part of Turner Classic Movies’ tribute to Peggy Cummins, who passed away on December 29, 2017 at the age of 92. If you haven’t seen it, or even if you have, you ought to, plus it’s the TCM Party tonight at 9:45 p.m. Eastern with guest host Jim Phoel aka @DraconicVerses.

It’s got some really gorgeous black-and-white cinematography by Edward Scaife (who also shot The Third Man) under the direction of dollar-from-a-dime maestro Jacques Tourneur (Out of the Past, Cat People, I Walked with a Zombie). I made some apparently oversized gifs from it (too big for tumblr) and I’m parking ’em here. More gifs after the jump…

curse of the demon plane

Continue reading “Curse of the Demon (1957) gifs”

So…I’m going to be on TCM next Saturday 11/29

It doesn’t even really seem real, but just about a week from now, if you tune in to Turner Classic Movies (TCM), you’ll see me chatting with Ben Mankiewicz about the Bob Hope Christmas classic, The Lemon Drop Kid. I’m one of four TCM fans introducing favorite films on the afternoon/evening of Saturday, November 29. I am lucky enough to know the other three, Aurora Bugallo, Joel Williams, and Miguel Rodriguez, who are all friends I met first online via the live tweet I co-founded and organize, TCM Party, and then offline at the TCM Film Festival.

Apt descriptor of both the professional quality mic TCM sent, and, let’s be real, myself

The intros were all recorded in August via Skype, which I think is a cool use of technology. Mine took place at Cinema Detroit, the indie theater I co-own with my husband, Tim. While my programming there is mostly contemporary and decidedly indie, we have shown classics like The Lady from Shanghai, A Hard Day’s Night, and a whole mess of noir for Noir Detroit (during CD’s first full month, November 2013). I definitely think my experiences bringing people and movies together online influenced us to try to do the same offline with Cinema Detroit.

TCM site screen cap, shamelessly stolen from Joel Williams
TCM site screen cap, shamelessly stolen from Joel Williams

So here is the schedule for Fan Favorites on Saturday, November 29 (all times Eastern):

12:30 p.m. Meet Me in St. Louis – Aurora
2:30 p.m. The Lemon Drop Kid – Me
4:15 p.m. The Thing From Another World – Miguel
6:00 p.m. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid – Joel

Poster - Lemon Drop Kid, The (1951)_09

In case anyone is curious why the The Lemon Drop Kid…TCM producer Courtney O’Brien asked me to submit a list of 10 mostly family-oriented, somewhat holiday-related, classic movies that I would want to introduce. As it is extremely difficult to limit oneself to 10 films, I actually sent more than 10. This was the list I sent, there’s no particular order:

Christmas in Connecticut
It Happened on 5th Avenue
The Lemon Drop Kid
Remember the Night
Holiday Affair
Stand-In (1937)
Show People
The Rains Came
The Lady Vanishes
The 39 Steps
Rio Bravo
Angel and the Badman

There is nothing on here I don’t really love, but I’m glad they went with Lemon Drop Kid. It has a special place in my heart, because Christmas is a tough time for me. My mother passed away a few days after Thanksgiving in 2002 and during the holiday season, I often need a laugh, which this film provides. It does have some sentimental moments, but it’s mostly Hope one-liners, sight gags, and Runyon-esque characters and situations. Damon Runyon wrote the story it’s based on…think Guys and Dolls, Little Miss Marker…like that.

I cannot say enough good things about the people at TCM, who made the whole process easy for me, a total novice. Noralil, Courtney, Mardy and Ben…thanks for your patience and understanding.

So I hope you will tune in on Saturday afternoon, November 29, and check it out. And in the meantime…what would be on your list of 10?


Dear Turner Broadcasting… #DontTouchTCM #TCMParty @TCM

Yesterday, Will at Cinematically Insane posted about layoffs at Turner Broadcasting. Around ten percent of the workforce across the corporation’s channels will be cut, including at CNN, TNT, TBS, Cartoon Network…and my beloved Turner Classic Movies (TCM). TCM is basically the only channel I watch on a regular basis and certainly the only one to which I’ve devoted hours and hours of time for more than three years now.

To those who don’t have the classic movie addiction, it may seem crazy that a TV channel showing old movies can make friendships, get people through unemployment and illness, and generally become a way of life. But it can and it does…and that’s why any possible changes make TCM fans a little nervous and a lot protective.

So what are we going to do? How about write a letter to the CEO of Turner Broadcasting, asking him to leave TCM alone, so that it can continue to be the soul-nurturing entity that it is? If you feel the same way about “the channel,” I urge you to do the same.

Yes, write (or copy-paste the letter below, make it look nice and print it), put it in an envelope, put a stamp on it, and mail it. We want this to look like the letters being delivered to the courthouse in Miracle on 34th Street.

We are being advised to direct letters to:
John Martin, CEO
Turner Broadcasting
One Time Warner Center
New York, NY 10019-8016

Please also post to your blog or Facebook if you have one, using the tag #DontTouchTCM

Here is Elise Crane Derby’s letter, I can’t say it any better, and we have her permission to copy it:

To Whom It May Concern,

As a long-time TCM viewer, I am extremely concerned about the recently reported layoffs. TCM has an unheard-of audience of loyal viewers, with the possible exception of PBS. Similarly TCM’s programming is both entertaining and educational, to the point they won a Peabody award last year. Also like PBS, TCM is good for the whole family. Finally, like PBS, it fills a need in television that is not filled elsewhere and must be protected.

Host Ben Mankiewicz has stated that TCM has a fan base like no other. It’s not just one show we love it is the entire channel. What makes us this loyal is the commercial free films, the educational documentaries, the beautiful memorials and mini bio short, the intros telling us about the films,their social media interactions, and the amazing face to face events, including Road To Hollywood, the film festival and the cruise. All of these are executed so masterfully.

I beg you not to remove one of these talented people who have created classic film programming, documentaries, and events that keep these films alive. TCM’s level of excellence promotes, not only film education but film preservation. It is everyone one of TCM’s employees who have earned its viewers fierce loyalty and created a channel that is unparalleled.

Thank you for your consideration,

Elise Crane Derby
Proud TCM devotee

Cary Grant writing a letter

This post is shamelessly inspired by the work of Elise at The LA Rambler and Aurora at Once Upon A Screen.

TCM Party presents NOIRVEMBER with Warner Archive Instant

In our classic movie corner of the world, the eleventh month of the year is not dedicated to family gatherings or special sales. Here we celebrate crime-laden streets, shadowy figures, and suspicious cops. This is Noirvember.

Micheline Cheirel and Dick Powell in CORNERED (1945)
Micheline Cheirel and Dick Powell in CORNERED (1945)

In celebration of all things noir, TCM Party is joining Warner Archive Instant for a series of tweet-a-longs in November. We’ve chosen favorite films noir from the Warner Archive Instant offerings.

Using the hashtags #TCMparty and #Noirvember, we will gather to watch and tweet along as follows (all times are Eastern):

Sunday, November 3 at noon – Guest host Aurora [@CitizenScreen] has chosen Fritz Lang’s CLASH BY NIGHT (1952) starring Barbara Stanwyck, Robert Ryan, Paul Douglas and Marilyn Monroe.

Experiment Perilous-lowres

Tuesday, November 12 at 8 p.m.@TCMparty host Paula has chosen Jacques Tourneur’s EXPERIMENT PERILOUS (1944) starring Hedy Lamarr, George Brent and Paul Lukas.

Saturday, November 16, time TBD – Special guest host Karen [@TheDarkPages] has chosen Vincent Sherman’s THE DAMNED DON’T CRY (1950) starring Joan Crawford, David Brian, Steve Cochran and Kent Smith.

@TCMParty host Trevor has chosen three noirs:
Thursday, November 21 @ 8 p.m. – Jack Bernhard’s DECOY (1946) starring Jean Gillie, Edward Norris and Robert Armstrong.
Sunday, November 24 @ noon – Richard Fleischer’s ARMORED CAR ROBBERY (1950) starring Charles McGraw, Adele Jergens and William Talman.
Thursday, November 28 @ 8 p.m. – Edward Dmytryk’s CORNERED (1945) starring Dick Powell, Walter Slezak and Micheline Cheirel.

We hope everyone will want to participate, as it’s sure to be a fun, informative time. If you already subscribe to Warner Archive Instant, you’re all set. If you don’t, you can sign up for a free two-week trial here.

Either way, you need only be on Twitter at the scheduled time, use the correct hashtags, and wait for the host to signal, “START THE MOVIE,”  to enjoy online Noirvember.

We’re thrilled to be presenting these Warner Bros. film noirs as part of the excitement of #TCMparty, and hope this is the first of many collaborations between our enthusiastic film-loving community and the studio with deep dark noir roots.

Note that these Noirvember tweet-a-longs are in addition to the regular #TCMparty events, which follow along to scheduled programming on TCM (dates listed below). Please visit the TCM Party tumblr for more info.

Wednesday, November 6 @ 8 p.m. THE KILLERS (1946)
Wednesday, November 13 @ 8 p.m. GUNFIGHT AT THE O.K. CORRAL (1957)
Tuesday, November 19 @ 8 p.m. THE MALTESE FALCON (1941)
Wednesday, November 27 @ 8 p.m. FIELD OF DREAMS (1989)

Watching movies with Aunt Mary

Anybody who has either read this blog for a while or attended a TCM Party knows that I have been watching old movies since I was a young child.

During the summer when my mom was working, I would be at my grandparents’ house, watching the local afternoon movie showcase, Bill Kennedy At The Movies, hosted by the titular raconteur/retired actor. For those who grew up outside of the metro Detroit area and/or were born after 1986 or so, picture a slightly-unkempt, more rambling, hammier Dean Martin. At least that’s how it seemed at the time.

Slinging both fascinating anecdotes — particularly about the films in which he’d had a role — and barbs that mostly went over my head, Kennedy owned those hours after noon and before the 6 o’clock news. He showed pretty much anything old. The Best Years of Our Lives is one that I particularly remember. I can remember just bawling during it, without even really knowing why.

In those days, respectable Italian girls lived with their parents or their husbands, certainly not by themselves or with other girls. Not in my mother’s family. Thus if I was allowed to stay for the evening, I got to see my mother’s oldest sister, Mary Rose Romano, when she arrived home from work. Born the same day as Elizabeth Taylor, February 27, 1932, Aunt Mary seemed just as glamorous and self-possessed. Unlike my parents, she worked in a bank downtown, and wore suits to the office; also scarves, cute shoes, and amazing jewelry. (Also unlike my parents, she liked to take me shopping for clothes.) Though (I now know) she was probably really tired, we’d always talk about whatever I’d watched, because she knew all about Old Hollywood — the movies, how they were made, the actors and actresses. No one has had more of an influence on my film taste than Aunt Mary.

Me and my aunt, c. 1977

I believe her favorite movie was Gone With The Wind. Back in the day, before cable, really the only way to see it in one piece was on network TV in the evening. Even broken up with ads, it was powerful stuff. She told me all about the burning of Atlanta being filmed first, Clark Gable’s dentures, the long process of casting Scarlett, and how Leslie Howard was a spy and died in The War. This was the first time I was conscious of a film being a purposeful creation, the result of a collaborative effort by many people. Since then, I’ve learned more about the time period portrayed in the film, and I have a fair amount of ambivalence about it, but to this day, if I’m home, I can’t pass it up.

Fast forward 20 years or so. My mother died of cancer in 2002, and afterwards my husband and I began to visit my aunt (now in her 70s) and my grandmother (in her late 80s) every Sunday. The routine almost never varied: lunch at around noon, then movies on TCM until 4 or 5 p.m., accompanied by their inevitable dialogue, which I affectionately call “Who’s Dead?”

— “Jesus, everyone in this movie is dead.”
— “Yeah, there’s so-and-so. He’s dead.”
— “There’s so-and-so. She’s been dead forever.”

I think it may be an Italian thing.

These Sunday afternoons were when I realized how much I had absorbed from her as a kid. She loved the classics and had great respect for both their craft and their magic, but at the same time, she could be irreverent. In other words, she would have fit right in at a TCM Party. Among these random recollections, imagine the quotes from Mary are tweets and you’ll get the picture (may contain spoilers):

  • Psycho: “That sound [the stabbing in the shower] is somebody knifing a melon. Nobody could believe Janet Leigh got killed off. It just didn’t happen. That Hitchcock was a weirdo.”
  • Now, Voyager: We watched this together so many times that it’s almost painful to watch now. My aunt looked a bit like Miss Davis, and had her crisp enunciation, and I always got the impression from her comments that she could relate to Charlotte Vale, but I can’t know for sure.
  • Any Joan Crawford movie: “Watch out…she packs a wallop.”
  • Any appearance by Adolphe Menjou or Ray Milland: “He’s such a sleaze.”
  • Jeremiah Johnson: Robert Redford was a fave of ours, particularly in The Sting and this downer of a 1970s beard-tastic Western. When the widow freaks out on Jeremiah and forces him to take her son along with him, I remember asking, “What is she going to do? How is she going to get food out there by herself?” Mary shrugged. “She’ll go over to craft services, they’ll find her something.”
  • Victor/Victoria: “Has this guy [James Garner as King Marchand] ever really looked at Julie Andrews?”
  • On The Waterfront: This is the last film we ever watched together, a couple of weeks before Tim and I saw it at the TCM Film Festival with an introduction by Eva Marie Saint. I so wish my aunt could have gone with us. To Terry Malloy [Marlon Brando]: “She’s not interested in you, you dumb lug.” To Edie Doyle [Saint]: “He’s no good. Go back to school and study.”
  • The Pink Panther: [Gales of laughter] “What an idiot. He’s so stupid. He’s so silly.”
  • Sunset Blvd.: Norma Desmond: “They had to have the ears of the whole world too. So they opened their big mouths and out came talk. Talk! TALK!” Aunt Mary: “Thank God. Who wants to read a movie?”
  • Two Mules for Sister Sarah: “She’s a pretty lousy nun.”
Watching "the channel." April 2013
Watching “the channel,” April 2013

My Aunt Mary passed away on September 27, 2013. Our family and everyone who knew her will remember her unqualified generosity, her style, and her sense of humor, but I also have her love of the movies, and because of that, she is still with me.

Paths of Glory – The Insanity of World War I

Brief historical background on the heartbreaking PATHS OF GLORY:

Alchemist's Blend

Libraries of books have been written about World War I. Historians still debate why the murder of Archduke Ferdinand and his wife Sophie resulted in a global war between countries that didn’t have any interests in the Balkans. They argue over why the generals of Great Britain, France, and Germany made the same mistakes over and over again between 1914 and 1918. Others argues that, actually, the generals didn’t perform that badly at all given the circumstances of the time.

There is no way to answer these questions in a simple blog post. Rather, I want to briefly describe how Stanley Kubrick’sPaths of Glory (1957) portrays The Great War, and to answer the question asked of every movie that portrays historical events, is it accurate? I’ll be honest. I’ve loved this movie since I first saw it in graduate school (while my main focus was medieval Europe, my secondary…

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Completely Unscientific Favorite Stanwyck Movie Poll Results

In honor of Barbara Stanwyck‘s 106th birthday on July 16, I asked TCM Party people their favorite Stanwyck movie. I personally feel that she was good to excellent in every movie she did, but everyone has one that stands out more than others. Actually not one. Usually many. As I quickly realized, it’s a tough choice to make. I also realized afterwards I had enough votes on my hands for a totally unscientific poll. Since I didn’t really specify a number of films, I counted each mention via Twitter and Facebook of a movie’s title as a vote for that movie. Yeah, yeah, I know…it’s completely unscientific!

And now…to the results…

5th place — Sorry, Wrong Number (1948)

Stanwyck gets an earful of details of a murder...her own?
Stanwyck gets an earful of details of a murder…her own?

Stanwyck plays a bedridden invalid whose shady husband (Burt Lancaster) may or may not be trying to kill her. Plenty of flashbacks and suspense galore.

4th place – tie
Baby Face (1933), Stella Dallas (1937), Ball of Fire (1941)

Tied for 4th place (in chronological order) BABY FACE, STELLA DALLAS, BALL OF FIRE
Tied for 4th place (in chronological order) BABY FACE, STELLA DALLAS, BALL OF FIRE

I’m not gonna summarize these…if you haven’t seen them, go watch them now.

3rd place – The Lady Eve (1941)

Charles Coburn and Stanwyck work their magic on Henry Fonda under William Demarest's watchful eye  in THE LADY EVE
Charles Coburn and Stanwyck work their magic on Henry Fonda under William Demarest’s watchful eye in THE LADY EVE

Stanwyck, playing a con woman, sets her sights on “Hopsy” (Henry Fonda), the beer heir who can’t stand beer. Hopsy falls in love with her right away, but complications ensue when she realizes she loves him back.

2nd place – Christmas in Connecticut (1945)

Christmas in Connecticut (1945)-low
Fake it ’til you make it…Stanwyck and Dennis Morgan in CHRISTMAS IN CONNECTICUT

I was surprised how highly this placed, but I really shouldn’t be. Stanwyck plays a homemaking columnist who lives in an apartment, can’t cook, isn’t married, and doesn’t have any kids. Her friend, chef Felix (S.Z. “Cuddles” Sakall), provides all the recipes and she fakes the rest. The arrangement hits some hilarious snags when her editor (Sydney Greenstreet) wants a war hero (Dennis Morgan) to stay at her non-existent farm (she totally made it up) for the holidays.

1st place – Double Indemnity (1944)

Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray are in a ton of trouble in DOUBLE INDEMNITY
Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray are totally inconspicuous in DOUBLE INDEMNITY

No surprise here. Fine direction from Billy Wilder, stunning cinematography by John F. Seitz, and excellent performances from a perfect cast add up to possibly the best film noir — and one of the best films — ever made.

I know, I missed your favorite…mine didn’t get even one vote! (Hint: check out the feature image for this post.) So give me a piece of your mind in the comments. PS: if you like classic movies, and you watch them on Turner Classic Movies, you might want to join us for one of our live #TCMParty tweetalongs. For deets, follow @TCM_Party or get more info here.

TCMFF: Robert Osborne

On the day before the Turner Classic Movies Classic Film Festival [TCMFF] officially started, the bloggers (and probably some traditional media too) gathered in the Blossom Room of the Roosevelt Hotel, aka Club TCM. I barely kept it together when Robert Osborne strolled in. I confess I’m a little in awe of him.

Photo by me.

[Osborne, on the other hand, is unflappable. On Sunday, confronted with boos and hisses at Grauman’s (he was talking about new owner TCL’s imminent IMAX conversion), he responded, “Don’t throw anything. Well, if you do, throw a Porsche.” As Porsche was a sponsor at the Festival, Osborne got to drive one all weekend and had just told us he really enjoyed it. Maybe you had to be there.]

Many others have covered this media call so I will relay what I thought was most interesting:

He didn’t know when he took the hosting job with TCM that he would be helping people to heal from illness or get through unemployment, or running a film course. I and many others can attest that he does both.
Osborne wasn’t very enthused about the TCM Cruise in the beginning but “it’s so much fun now.” The people on the cruises sort themselves out by favorite star: “You go into a room, ‘OK now the Bogart people are going to be here at 5 o’clock, the Cagneys are going to be in Studio B at 4:30, the Stanwyck people…’ ”

Poster - Libeled Lady_lowresOn the studio system & the Production Code: “For a long time, the studio system got so smacked down, and even people who were around at the time and had complained about it realize now that it was a great system…it worked very well. I also think that some of the best movies were great because there was a censorship thing….I don’t think the screen’s been improved by the fact that you can do or say anything you want onscreen that you want to say, because it’s now I think in the hands of people that don’t have any taste, and don’t know where the line should be….The [1946] Postman Always Rings Twice is much sexier than the one that was made [in 1981]. They’re doing it right on the kitchen table, and it’s not nearly so interesting. There were certainly bad things about the studio system and bad things about censorship, but there were good things that came out of it. I don’t think there’s anything like wit on film anymore. You see movies from the ’30s and ’40s, like Woman of the Year or Libeled Lady — they didn’t hammer you over the head with the comedy, there were no bodily fluid jokes like we have today. Having a cap on some of that stuff so that people had to sneak around it made it a little more clever.”
He’s philosophical about the Grauman’s conversion, possibly because he’s co-owner of the only movie theatre in Port Townsend, Washington State. They recently upgraded to digital projection. “[Digital] is going to put a lot of small-town theatres out of business. So I’m for anything that’s going to restore theatres or make them more relevant. It’s very sad, because people love to go to the movies, and it’s going to be cut out for a lot of people….we did raise the money in Port Townsend, but only because of the kind of town it is.”
Cher was super-professional during her filming for April’s Friday Night Spotlights. Osborne quipped, “No diva at all. It was a little disappointing actually.” They are both Tauruses, though Cher is on the cusp. I’m just saying.

Osborne interviews Ann Blyth on Saturday, April 27.
Osborne interviews Ann Blyth on Saturday, April 27. Photo courtesy of TCM.

He was looking forward to Funny Girl, The Razor’s Edge, Cluny Brown, and Desert Song at TCMFF; and particularly to talking to Ann Blyth: “You can’t believe she’s in her 80s, and she’s so nice. I want to talk to her about how, when she was so effective as a mean daughter [Vida in Mildred Pierce], that you hated so much, why that never affected her career, and why she was never cast in a part like that again. She was able to not be typecast and that amazes me.”
The “bosses at TCM” were surprised that younger people get into the channel [!!!] but Osborne wasn’t because they stop him on the street. He believes they will pass their love for classic movies on to their children, as so often their families did for them, and “hopefully it will go on forever, and hopefully you will all go on forever.” The feeling is mutual, Mr. Osborne.

I’ll have more from TCMFF soon.

Happy birthday, #TCMParty!

Some of you may know that I run #TCMParty, a live tweet of movies shown on TCM, but you may not know that today, September 3, 2012, is the one year anniversary of the first-ever TCM Party.

TCMP-feat-imgWhile I wasn’t present on that occasion, I did start tweeting along soon afterwards, on September 11, 2011. The film was Casablanca. I remember my first ever #TCMParty tweet was something like, “Bring out the private stock,” or words to that effect.

#TCMParty was actually the brainchild of Kathleen Callaway, aka @hockmangirl. A group of her friends on Twitter were tweeting along to classic movies, so she figured, why not use a hashtag so everyone could see everyone else’s tweets. She began “hosting,” i.e. picking a specific movie from the TCM schedule, promoting the date and time it would be on to get as many people together as possible, and tweeting information about it during the air time.

I started hosting TCM Parties sometime in October, and soon after decided we needed a separate Twitter account, so we wouldn’t blow up our followers’ feeds while we were feverishly tweeting about a movie some of them might not care about at all. If you’ve ever wondered why there’s an underscore in @TCM_Party, it’s because @tcmparty was taken. We also started a Facebook page and a tumblr, which are still going strong.

I guess it was destiny…I have this poster in my office at work
I guess it was destiny…I have this poster in my office at work

In March 2012, Kathleen decided to concentrate on her handcrafts and animal rescue work. My nickname for her is “Wonder Woman” for all the stuff she gets done. I had persuaded silent film connoisseur Trevor Jost, aka @tpjost, to guest host Sunrise (1927), and he offered to help with TCM Party on the regular. I am glad that he did, because I have a huge gap in my knowledge of both silents and most films made before “the magic year” 1939. (Actually…if you look carefully enough…there’s tweets and Examiner movie columns around in which I declare my dislike of silent films. What can I say…at least I have the courage to admit publicly that I was wrong.)

From CASABLANCA to TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT, Humphrey Bogart is a recurring TCM Party theme
From CASABLANCA to TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT, Humphrey Bogart is a recurring TCM Party theme

TCMP has less to do with Trevor and I than it does with everybody who shows up and tweets. In the year that people have been gathering around #TCMParty, we’ve trended nationally a few times and brought countless new fans to TCM and classic films. By “we,” I mean all the TCM Party people. I’ve learned so much from everyone and had a ton of fun along the way. I hope it will continue to make more people aware of how really great most classic films are. (I’d be shirking my duties if I didn’t mention that our next #TCMParty is Wednesday, September 5 at 8 p.m. Eastern, To Have and Have Not, starring TCM’s Star of the Month, Lauren Bacall. Make sure to follow @TCM_Party for further updates.)

I’d like to thank everyone who has “attended” our virtual shindigs, helped get the word out, and/or guest-hosted over the past year.

So…what’s your favorite #TCMParty memory?


TCM Week – July 16-22

TCM has some really intriguing stuff scheduled for this week. Crank up the DVR and let’s go…as usual, all times are Eastern.

Cary Grant, Victor McLaglen and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. in GUNGA DIN

Monday, July 16
TCM’s Classic Adventure series continues with a full 24 hours of rip-roaring action. Must-sees include The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936) with Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland at 2:00 Eastern; Gunga Din (1939) starring Cary Grant, Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Victor McLaglen at 4:00 p.m.; and The Thief of Baghdad (1924) with Douglas Fairbanks and Anna May Wong at 3:45 a.m. Tuesday.


Tuesday, July 17
Today kicks off with a couple of silents, The Sheik (1921) starring Rudolph Valentino, and Our Modern Maidens (1929) with soon-to-be newlyweds Joan Crawford and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. The latter is the first of a block of eight ’20s and ’30s films directed by Jack Conway. Conway began as an actor in D. W. Griffiths’ Westerns and moved into directing, first at Universal, then at MGM, where he proved to be adept and prolific. He worked cost-effectively in all genres, bringing pictures in on time and within budget, a capability that endeared him to studio honchos Irving Thalberg and Louis B. Mayer. He is probably best known for A Tale of Two Cities (1935), starring Ronald Colman and Elizabeth Allan, and one of my all-time favorites, Libeled Lady (1936). Enjoy his work until George Cukor takes over at 8:00 p.m. tonight.

Star of the Month: Leslie Howard
I am a huge fan of Leslie Howard, but even I have to admit he was horribly miscast in Romeo and Juliet (1936), scheduled for 8:00 p.m. Though the film is gorgeous, Howard, in his forties, and his Juliet, Norma Shearer, in her mid-thirties, are both too old to portray a teenaged couple caught up in their first love. (Shakespearean scholars estimate that a real Romeo would have been 16 or 17 years of age and it’s directly mentioned in the text that Juliet has just turned 13.) But the rest of Howard’s films tonight — A Free Soul and Smilin’ Through, both also with Shearer, and Outward Bound (Howard’s Hollywood debut) and Captured! both with Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. — look pretty interesting.

Wednesday, July 18
Tonight’s block of early Francis Ford Coppola work includes You’re A Big Boy Now at 8:00 p.m., The Rain People at 10:00 p.m., Dementia 13 at 12:00 a.m. Thursday, and Finian’s Rainbow at 1:30 a.m. I wouldn’t recommend Finian’s but I’m keeping an open mind about the rest.

Thursday, July 19
Apparently today’s films have a theme: jail. Whether it’s women behind bars (Caged, House of Women (1962)), escape (House of Numbers) or riot (Inside the Walls of Folsom Prison), TCM has every kind of filmic incarceration one could want during the daytime hours. I’ll be sure to record Ladies They Talk About, which stars Barbara Stanwyck as a gangster’s moll sent up for her role in a bank robbery.

At 8:00 p.m., TCM is featuring The Science of Movie Making, a block co-hosted by sound designer Ben Burtt and visual effects supervisor Craig Barron, both Oscar-winners in their fields, who have chosen films that have inspired them.

Friday, July 20
Stanwyck Pre-codes
Presumably in honor of Ms. Stanwyck’s 105th birthday (July 16), TCM has scheduled four films she made before enforcement of Hollywood’s Motion Picture Production Code (aka Hays Code) began in 1934. The pre-codes include Shopworn (1932), Ten Cents A Dance (1931), Illicit (1931) and Forbidden (1932). Look for us on Twitter…watch and tweet along with #TCMParty.

Saturday, July 21
To Have and Have Not (1944)
In Martinique during World War II, a fishing-boat captain (Humphrey Bogart) gets mixed up with the French Resistance and a beautiful saloon singer (Lauren Bacall). This was Bacall’s first film and she was such a natural that screenwriter William Faulkner started adding to her part. The critics said it had “much more character than story” and that it was “confusing and klutzy, the ending is weak, and the secondary characters are poor substitutes for Casablanca‘s (1942) memorable cast of heroes and villains” but I think it’s great. Look for us on Twitter…watch and tweet along with #TCMParty. Guest hosted by @joelrwilliams1.

Sunday, July 22
If you haven’t seen Christmas in July (1940) at 10:30 a.m., Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) at 2:00 p.m., or The Great Escape (1963) at 8:00 p.m., definitely tune in for those. There’s a silent at 12:30 a.m. Monday, The Mating Call, and at 2:00 a.m. there’s The Leopard (Il gattopardo – 1963), starring Burt Lancaster and Alain Delon. Set in the early 1860s during the turmoil that preceded Italy’s unification, the film follows the slow fall of aristocratic Prince Fabrizio (Lancaster) and the parallel rise of upstart Tancredi (Delon). This film has lavish detail, gorgeously shot, and is unfortunately dubbed (you can’t have everything). It’s also a very poignant film, infused with a sense of nostalgia for a lost time and the inevitability of one generation letting another take over.