Thursday, June 30, 2016

Cinéma Inhabituel for July 1-15

A Guide to the Rare and Unusual on TCM

By Ed Garea

Olivia de Havilland

The Star of the Month for July is a most deserving one: Olivia de Havilland, who turns 100 years of age on July 1. Born in Tokyo to English parents, her parents divorced when she was just three years old. She moved with her mother and sister, Joan, to Saratoga, California. Bitten by the acting bug while in high school, she starred in the school’s production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Famed theater producer Max Reinhardt saw her in the play and was so impressed he signed her for his stage version and later used her in the film version for Warner Brothers. The studio was also impressed and signed her to a contract and her first film under that contract was Alibi Ike (1935) with Joe E. Brown. Later that year she impressed in Captain Blood with Errol Flynn and a star was born. Her resume is impeccable; her versatility was such that she was equally adept at comedy, drama and romance. Nominated five times for an Oscar, she won twice for Best Actress in To Each His Own (1946) and The Heiress (1949). More on de Havilland in our next installment.

July 1: We begin a nice little run beginning at 9:15 with her Oscar-nominated turn as Melanie Wilkes in Gone With The Wind. Following in order are The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939), and her star-making role in 1935’s Captain Blood.

July 2: Begin at 7:30 as Olivia stars with Frederic March in the great Anthony Adverse (1936) and continue with The Irish In Us (1935) with James Cagney and Pat O’Brien, and Alibi Ike (1935) with Joe E. Brown. 

July 8: Begin with John Huston’s delightfully weird Southern drama In This Our Life (1942) at 8 pm and stick around for the Westerns, They Died With Their Boots On (1941), Santa Fe Trail (1940) and Dodge City (1939), all with co-star Errol Flynn. Finally, she and Flynn turn back the clock to star in The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936), at 4:15 am.

July 9: Three delightful de Havilland comedies begin our morning at 6:15 am. First up is It’s Love I’m After (1937), with Bette Davis and Leslie Howard. At 8 pm, it’s The Great Garrick (1937) with Brian Aherne, who later married Olivia’s sister Joan Fontaine. Finally, there’s the minor and seldom seen comedy Call It a Day (1937).

July 15: Four great de Havilland films and one programmer make up tonight’s schedule. Beginning at 8 pm, it’s the riveting psychotronic classic The Snake Pit (1948), followed by The Heiress (1949), To Each His Own (1946), and 1946’s Devotion with Olivia and Ida Lupino as the Bronte sisters. Finally, Olivia is caught between pilot brothers George Brent and John Payne in 1939’s Wings of the Navy at 4:30 am.


The TCM Spotlight for July is called TCM Presents Shane (Plus a Hundred More Great Westerns).Each Tuesday is totally devoted to Westerns, with the bigger and better known being shown in the evening hours. Since these are not exactly out of the usual, we’ll limit our coverage to the B-variety, which will be shown in the mornings and afternoons.

July 8: It’s a marathon of Randolph Scott Westerns beginning at 6:15 am with Virginia City (1940), co-starring Errol Flynn, Miriam Hopkins and Humphrey Bogart as a Mexican bandit, if you can believe it. Other notable Scott oaters this day include Return of the Badmen (1948) at 10:30 am, The Cariboo Trail (1950) at 3:30 pm, and Budd Boettischer’s classic Ride Lonesome (1959) at 6:30. At 8 pm, it’s Sam Peckinpah’s wonderful Ride the High Country from 1962.


July 10: The brilliant English actress is featured in three films, beginning with the TCM premiere of It Always Rains on Sunday (1947) at 8 pm. From Ealing Studios, it’s an intriguing crime drama set in London’s East End and starring Withers as a harried housewife who is astonished when she discovers her ex-finance (John McCallum), fresh from a prison breakout from Dartmoor, hiding in the shed in her backyard. It’s directed by Robert Hamer, who gave us the wonderful cynical comedy, Kind Hearts and Coronets. I saw this on public television years ago and was captivated. I strongly recommend it.

At 9:45, Withers appears in the great episodic psychotronic classic, Dead of Night, from 1945. And rounding out the evening at 11:15 pm is On Approval (1944) with Bea Lillie and Withers as two widows courted by two impoverished British aristocrats (Clive Brook and Ronald Culver). It’s mannered, malicious, and totally hilarious, with the leads playing off each other beautifully.


July 5: An excellent morning beginning with The Great Train Robbery from 1903 at 6:15 am. Following, in order, is Cecil DeMille’s silent classic, The Squaw Man (1914), and The Vanishing American from 1925 (8 am).

At 10 am, it’s Richard Dix and Irene Dunne in the original Cimarron (1930), followed by DeMille’s 1931 sound remake of The Squaw Man with Warner Baxter and Lupe Velez.

July 13: Joan Crawford and Johnny Mack Brown star in Montana Moon (1930) at 6:00 am.


As always, there’s a good selection of psychotronic films. 

July 3: At 2 pm, it’s Elvis in a dual role in Kissin’ Cousins (1964). The evening brings a Stanley Kubrick psychotronic double-feature, beginning at 11:15 pm with 2001: A Space Odyssey, followed at 2:00 am by Malcolm McDowell in 1971’s A Clockwork Orange.

July 9: At 2:15 am, stuntman Robert Forster tries to solve the murder of his brother in Stunts (1977). It’s followed at 3:45 am by Linda Blair in the ridiculous Roller Boogie (1979). She falls in love with a guy whose dream is to make rollerskating an Olympic sport and for him to win a gold medal.

July 13: Singing cowboys are the theme of the day, with Tex Ritter making his debut as a singing cowboy in Song of the Gringo (1936) at 7:45 am. He’s followed at 9 am by Warners’ singing cowboy, Dick Foran, in Song of the Saddle (1936), and at 10 am by Herbert Jeffrey in The Bronze Buckeroo, from 1939. At 11 am, it’s Monogram’s answer to Gene Autry and Roy Rogers, Jimmy Wakely, in Cowboy Cavalier (1948), with Cannonball Taylor. Penny Singleton teams with Ann Miller, Glenn Ford, and Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys in Columbia’s Go West, Young Lady (1941) at 12:15 pm.

Gene Autry sings while Ken Maynard and his trusty horse, Tarzan, provide the action in the 1934 oater In Old Santa Fe (1:30 pm). At 2:45 pm, Autry returns with sidekick Smiley Burnette in Boots and Saddles (1937). When Autry left Republic in a salary dispute (he later returned) the studio plugged in Roy Rogers and his trusty steed, Trigger, to fill the gap. They can be seen in two vehicles, beginning with Home in Oklahoma (1946) at 4 pm, and Springtime in the Sierras (1947) at 5:15 pm. Finally, Columbia’s Charles Start stars at 6:45 pm in Cowboy Canteen, from 1944.

July 14: It’s a morning and afternoon of beach films, beginning with a lame comedy, The Catalina Caper (1967) at 7:00 am. Try the MST 3000 version instead, at least Crow, Joel and Tom Servo are funny, even if the film isn’t. 

At 8:30, Deborah Walley and Tommy Kirk star in It’s a Bikini World. Co-written and directed by Roger Corman protege Stephanie Rothman, it was filmed in 1965, but not released until 1967 by Transamerica Films as The Girl in Daddy’s Bikini. American-International picked it up and released it under it’s current title.

At 10:15, college coeds Dolores Hart, Yvette Mimieux, Paula Prentiss, and Connie Francis go looking for love during spring break in Fort Lauderdale in the 1960 hit, Where The Boys Are. It’s followed at noon by Sandra Dee and Dames Darren in the original beach blast, Gidget (1959).

The rest of the afternoon is devoted to that first couple of beach movies, Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello. At 2 pm comes Muscle Beach Party (1963), followed at 4 pm by Beach Blanket Bingo (1965), and How to Stuff a Wild Bikini (1965) at 6 pm.

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