A Guide to the Rare and Unusual on TCM
By Ed Garea
OLIVIA DE HAVILLAND
We can’t fully discuss de Havilland without discussing her late sister, Joan Fontaine. It was no secret that the sisters were somewhat estranged throughout most of their lives, but the popular story, taken from Fontaine’s autobiography stated that, when Fontaine won the Oscar for Suspicion, beating out her sister, who was nominated for Hold Back the Dawn, she deliberately avoided walking past her sister’s table on her way to the stage for fear of being tripped. But there are photos of that Oscar night showing Olivia happily congratulating her younger sister. However, when Olivia won in 1947 for To Each His Own, Fontaine came over to congratulate her and was rebuffed. Asked to explain the snub, de Havilland’s publicist at the time said: “This goes back for years and years, ever since they were children.”
De Havilland was also responsible for a landmark legal ruling affecting those bound by contracts. After she fulfilled her contract with Warner Bros. In 1943, she was informed that six months had been added to the contract for the times she had been on suspension. The law at the time allowed studios to tack on extra time to an actor’s contract to cover the time the actor was under suspension. De Havilland, on the advice of her lawyer, Martin Gang, took the studio to court, citing an existing California labor law that forbade an employer from enforcing a contract against an employee for longer than seven years. In November 1943, the California Superior Court found in de Havilland’s favor. The studio immediately appealed, but on December 8, 1944, the California Court of Appeals for the Second District also found in de Havilland’s favor. California's resulting "seven-year rule," also known as Labor Code Section 2855, is still known today as the “De Havilland Law.” However, the studio gained a modicum of revenge by circulating a letter to other studios that had the effect of a "virtual blacklisting.” As a result, de Havilland did not work at a film studio for nearly two years.
As to her personal life, while she and Errol Flynn never has a romantic relationship off-screen, de Havilland did engage in romantic relationships with Howard Hughes, James Stewart, and John Huston. On August 26, 1946, she married Navy veteran, journalist, and author of the 1941 novel Delilah, Marcus Goodrich. They has one child, Benjamin Goodrich, born on December 1, 1949. Her marriage to Goodrich was a stormy one and ended in divorce in August 1953.
On April 2, 1955, she married Pierre Galante, author and executive editor of Paris Match. They had met at the Cannes Film Festival in 1953, and after her marriage, de Havilland moved to Paris, where she continues to live today. They had one child, Gisèle Galante, born on July 18, 1956. Although the couple separated in 1962, they continued to live in the same house for six years in order to raise the children. Afterward, Galante moved across the street and the two remained close, even after their divorce became final in 1979. After he was diagnosed with lung cancer, she looked after him until his death in 1998.
Son Benjamin worked as a statistical analyst for Lockheed Missiles and Space Company in Sunnyvale, California, and as an international banking representative for the Texas Commerce Bank in Houston. He died on October 1, 1991, in Paris at the age of 41 of heart disease brought on by treatments for Hodgkin's disease, three weeks before the death of his father.
Daughter Gisele, after studying law at the Université de Droit de Nanterre School of Law, worked as a journalist in France and the United States.
July 22: It’s Olivia in the ‘50s beginning at 8:00 pm with the excellent My Cousin Rachel (1952), followed by The Proud Rebel (1958) at 9:45, and the uneven comedy, The Ambassador's Daughter, with Adolphe Menjou and Myrna Loy, at 11:45.
We then return to the ‘40s at 1:45 am with the first-rate soaper, Hold Back the Dawn (1941) with the script by Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett. Olivia is a shy, spinsterish schoolteacher targeted by gigolo Charles Boyer, who is fleeing the Nazis and sees her as his ticket into the U.S. Following at 4:00 is Olivia in one of her best roles in The Strawberry Blonde (1941) with James Cagney and Rita Hayworth, director Raoul Walsh’s delightful remake of 1933s One Sunday Afternoon, starring Gary Cooper and Fay Wray.
July 27: It’s Olivia in the morning beginning at 6:00 am with the entertaining drama My Love Came Back (1940). Following is the all-star revue Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943) with a rare number featuring Hattie McDaniel and Willie Best in non-stereotyped roles(!). Capping off the morning at 9:45 is the comedy Four’s a Crowd (1938), also with Errol Flynn, Rosalind Russell, and Patric Knowles.
July 29: A program of de Havilland films mainly from the 50’s, 60s and 70s, though the best film of the evening is The Male Animal, with Henry Fonda from 1942, which is airing at 4:00 am. The excellent Libel (1959) with Dirk Bogarde, precedes it at 2:15 am. Also of note this evening is Light in the Piazza from 1962 with Rossano Brazzi and Yvette Mimieux, which is showing at 12:15 am.
July 30: Two minor de Havilland efforts air this morning, with Government Girl (1943) at 6:00 am, followed by Princess O’Rourke (1943) at 7:45 am.
The TCM Spotlight for July, TCM Presents Shane (Plus a Hundred More Great Westerns), continues each Tuesday.
July 19: It’s a morning filled with spaghetti Westerns, including Hate For Hate (1967, 6:15 am), The Stranger Returns (1968, 10:00 am), and The Silent Stranger (1968, noon).
The evening features Clint Eastwood’s spaghetti Westerns for Sergio Leone: A Fistful of Dollars (1964), For a Few Dollars More (1965), and the classic The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1968). The fun starts at 8:00 pm. Following at 2:00 am is the first Western Clint made in Hollywood, Hang ‘Em High, from 1968.
July 24: At 2:00 am, it’s Senegalese director Djibril Diop Mambetty's first feature, and many say his masterpiece, Touki Bouki (1973). In the film, Mory (Magaye Niang) and his student girlfriend Anta (Mareme Niang) long to escape from Dakar for a better life in France. They hatch various schemes to get the money for a ship to Europe, but in the end only one of them is able to make the trip.
OUT OF THE ORDINARY
July 17: At 12:15 am, it’s the original tale of an ordinary girl’s rise to stardom in Hollywood, Souls For Sale, from 1923, starring Eleanor Boardman, Mae Busch, Barbara LaMarr, and Richard Dix. Written and directed by Rupert Hughes for Goldwyn Films.
At 2:00 am comes an up close and personal film from Macedonia about the war which resulted after Yugoslavia broke up into separate countries, Before the Rain (1994). It was the first film from the newly-formed nation to be nominated for a Foreign Language Oscar. The anthology drama shifts between London and the Macedonian countryside; the main thread concerns a war photographer (Rade Serbedzija) who returns home after Yugoslavia has split to find that his homeland has been decimated by war.
July 21: Great Garbo looks appropriately regal and dominates the screen as only Garbo can in Queen Christina (1933), airing at 5:15 pm.
July 22: A morning and afternoon of Pre-Codes, beginning at 9:00 am with Joan Crawford and Robert Montgomery in Untamed (1929). It’s followed at 10:30 by They Learned About Women(1930). At 12:15 comes the sound remake of The Unholy Three from 1930 starring the great Lon Chaney. A British lord pretends to be a gigolo to escape gold diggers in Just a Gigolo (1931), with William Haines and Irene Purcell at 1:30. Robert Montgomery and Walter Huston prove war is hell, especially in a World War I submarine, in Hell Below (1933), at 2:45. Finally, at 4:30 it’s the brilliant Lee Tracy as an ambulance chasing lawyer in The Nuisance (1933).
July 25: At 11 am, chorus girl Marion Davies gets bad advice from her co-workers in The Floradora Girl (1930). At 2 pm, Leslie Howard is appointed guardian of South Seas beauty Conchita Montenegro in Never the Twain Shall Meet (1931). Following at 3:30 pm is Marion Davies in Peg O’ My Heart (1933). At 5:00, it’s Robert Montgomery and Dorothy Jordan in Love in the Rough(1930), followed at 6:30 by Lady With a Past (1932), starring Constance Bennett and Ben Lyon.
July 28: A morning of Pre-Code Joe E. Brown films opens at 6:30 am with Eleven Men and a Girl (1930) and ends at 5:00 with You Said a Mouthful (1932)
PIONEERS OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN CINEMA
TCM is devoting the evenings of July 24 and July 31 to films made by African-Americans from 1915 through the ‘40s, when movies made by African-Americans were independent affairs and released to segregated theaters. That these films were made was remarkable; that they survived to this day is miraculous.
July 24: The evening begins at 8:00 pm with Oscar Micheaux’s Birthright (1938) following the travails of a Harvard-educated man who attempts to found a school for African-Americans down South. At 9:30, it’s the silent Ten Nights in a Barroom from 1926, followed at 10:45 by a compilation of home movies by the Rev. S.S. Jones documenting life in Oklahoma from 1924-26. At 11:10, it’s the documentary short We Work Again made by the WPA in 1937 showing their efforts to find jobs for African-Americans during the Great Depression. At 11:30, it’s Micheaux again, with Veiled Aristocrats (1932), about a light-skinned lawyer who forces his sister to pass for white. And Micheaux closes out the evening at 12:30 am with his silent classic Within Our Gates from 1920.
July 31: At 8 pm comes a double feature from director Spencer Williams, starting with Blood of Jesus (1941), followed by Dirty Gertie From Harlem U.S.A. (1946). At 10:30 it’s a couple of shorts: Heaven-bound Traveler (1932) and Verdict Not Guilty (1933). At 11:00 comes a short directed by one of the giants of American Literature: Zora Neale Hurston. It’s titled Commandment Keeper Church, Beaufort, South Carolina, May 1940 and is a recording of religious services in a South Carolina Gullah community. At 11:30 a couple of pre-1920 shorts: Mercy, the Mummy Mumbled (1918) and Two Knights of Vaudeville (1915). At midnight, a composer marries an abused girl to protect her but can't face his family's prejudices in 1927’s The Silent Scar from director Frank Perugini. Rounding out the evening is the South Seas adventure Regeneration (1923).
PSYCHOTRONICA AND THE B HIVE
As always, there’s a good selection in both the psychotronic and the B-category.
July 16: Rod Taylor takes on the Morlocks in H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine, at 4:00 pm.
A triple feature, beginning at 2:00 am of three great zero-budget exploitation classics: Reefer Madness (1936), the legendary Dwain Esper’s Marihuana (1936), and The Cocaine Fiends (1935).
July 21: At 8:00 pm it’s the original The Taking of Pelham One, Two, Three (1974) with Walter Matthau, Robert Shaw and Martin Balsam heading a great cast. At 2:30 it’s Richard Roundtree in the classic Shaft (1971).
July 23: The heavy-handed cautionary tale about nuclear war, The World, The Flesh, and The Devil (1959) airs at noon, followed by the Stanley Kubrick’s classic Dr. Strangelove (1964), with a virtuoso performance by Peter Sellers in three roles, at 1:45.
The late evening presents a double feature of The Street Fighter (1974) at 2:15 am followed by Return of the Street Fighter at 4:00.
July 26: Laurel and Hardy open things up at 7:15 am with the classic Way Out West (1937), followed by The Bowery Boys at 8:30 in Bowery Buckeroos.
July 29: A Nancy Reagan double-header begins at 3:30 pm with the excellent Donovan’s Brain (1953), also starring Lew Ayres and Gene Evans, followed by Nancy starring with husband Ronnie in 1957’s Hellcats of the Navy. Michael Weldon describes the love scenes between Nancy and Ronnie as “chilling.”
July 30: The final five episodes of the Ace Drummond serial air beginning at 9:30 am. You know what that means – no one’s watching.
Later in the afternoon at 5:45 it’s the sci-fi classic Logan’s Run (1975).
July 31: It’s Patti McCormack as The Bad Seed (1956) at 10 am, and the Beatles in A Hard Day’s Night (1964) at 6:15.