Thursday, February 13, 2014

TCM TiVo Alert for February 15-22

February 15–February 22


ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT (February 15, 8:00 pm): I'm somewhat surprised in nearly two years of doing weekly "Best Bets" that neither of us has recommended All Quiet on the Western Front for two reasons. First, TCM plays it regularly. Second, it's the greatest anti-war war movie ever made. This film's message is as strong today as it was when it was released in 1930. Beautifully filmed and flawlessly directed by Lewis Milestone, it's about a group of German youths who sign up to fight in World War I after being whipped into a frenzy by a teacher. The boys learn firsthand the horrors of war. What's amazing about this film is it's about Germans fighting and killing Allied soldiers and we have sympathy for every one of them. And it pulls no punches showing the senseless deaths of young men in battle. The final scene is one of the saddest you'll ever see in a film. I can't recommend a film more than this one.

IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT (February 20, 9:30 pm): A classic screwball comedy, directed by Frank Capra, about a runaway snobby socialite (Claudette Colbert in my favorite role) and a reporter (Clark Gable) that made both of them stars. It's such a delight to watch with so many cinematic classic scenes. Among the best is Gable failing to thumb a ride for the two followed by Colbert lifting her skirt to show her legs and getting a lift immediately. Another has the two sharing a room, much to the dismay of Colbert. To solve the matter, Gable puts up a line with a blanket separating the two. A funny, fun film that I never tire of seeing.


SHE DONE HIM WRONG (February 15, 6:30 am): Is there anyone who hasn’t seen a Mae West film? This is her best, made at a time before the censors clamped down on the woman who single-handedly saved Paramount Pictures from bankruptcy through her box office power, gained through films such as these. Basically a remake of her stage hit “Diamond Lil,” it features Mae in a Gay ‘90s spoof as a saloon singer who fights off smugglers, an escaped convict, and a Salvation Army worker determined to reform her. Cary Grant, only one year into his long career, is the Salvation Army worker. Also in the cast are supporting stalwarts Noah Beery, David Landau, Owen Moore, Gilbert Roland, Rochelle Hudson, and Tammany Young. But why must they show this wonderful gem at such an ungodly hour?

THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG (February 18, 8:00 am): Yet another wonderful film shown at an inconvenient hour. This one is definitely worth recording, or just taking a mental health day to watch. Jacques Demy directed this unusual musical, in which every line is sung, sort of like the latest incarnation of Les Miserables. But unlike that movie, Umbrellas isn’t nearly as annoying. The singing voices of the actors are wonderfully dubbed. It stars Catherine Deneuve and Nino Castelnuovo as star-crossed lovers separated when he has to go off to fight in Algeria for the French Army. As they pledged their love until their death, the circumstances make for a good test of the pledge. Demy makes what could easily become a maudlin unintentional parody of the Hollywood musical into a bittersweet, poetic slice of romantic life. Though it’s set in the French town of Cherbourg (in Normandy), it has the look of a Hollywood studio musical, thanks to the good townspeople allowing Demy to paint their houses in loud, bright colors. It’s a fragile line for Demy to traipse, but he pulls it off with panache, and stay tuned for the final, moving scene in the snow.

WE DISAGREE ON … GOING MY WAY (February 21, 8:00 pm)

ED: A+. I’m a big Leo McCarey fan, and this film is one of his best. The story of the young, vibrant priest who comes in to revitalize a dour parish and the pastor he wins over in the attempt is a story for all time. The music is wonderful, especially Crosby’s duet with Rise Stevens in “Ave Maria.” And, of course, the scene of Crosby singing “Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Rah” to Barry Sullivan’s Father Fitzgibbon is one of the best-remembered scenes in the movies. Yes, it’s sentimental; yes, it’s corny; but it’s also one of the best pictures ever made.

DAVID: C+. A big winner at the 1945 Academy Awards with seven Oscars, including Best Picture, this film is not nearly that good. I agree with everything Ed wrote in the last sentence of his review except the final part. It's about as square of a picture as you'll ever see. Bing Crosby's character tries to come off cool as the new priest in town, but probably would have been beaten nearly to death in reality by the street gang members he turns into the church's choir. Only in the movies could something like that happen. The film is bland, sentimental and the appeal of Crosby as an actor and singer is lost on me. The church has a mortgage (?!) and the boys have to sell a song to save it from foreclosure. I won't ruin the ending because you know it even if you've never seen this movie. There are some nice moments (I'm not completely heartless) and William Frawley has a small but excellent role as a music executive who buys the rights to a song the boys sing to save the church. Damn, I ruined the ending. 

For the complete list of films on the TCM TiVo Alert, click here.


  1. Thanks for posting upcoming TCM showings for February...I'm choosing THE BARRETTS OF WIMPOLE STREET (MGM, 1934) out of all. I enjoy it every time I see it. Good story, acting, setting. I look forward to seeing it again with new eyes. And, this time I will record it.

  2. You're very welcome. We agree that Barrett of Wimpole Street is an excellent choice.