December 1–December 7


GREAT EXPECTATIONS (December 2, 11:30 am): How do you take a 400-page classic book and turn it into a great film? I don't know, but I imagine those working on the 1946 film adaption of Great Expectations, led by the skilled direction of David Lean, who co-wrote the screenplay, worked very hard to accomplish that goal. And what's more incredible is Lean – known for lengthy but excellent movies like Lawrence of ArabiaDoctor Zhivago and The Bridge on the River Kwai – did it in under two hours. The film is blessed with an outstanding cast, including John Mills, Alec Guinness, Martita Hunt, Jean Simmons and Valerie Hobson, and the screenplay is an excellent adaption of Charles Dickens' wonderful book. It's a delightful, entertaining film about a young orphan, Pip, who is taken to London at the expense of a mysterious benefactor who believes him to be a man with "great expectations."

MAN HUNT (December 3, 3:00 am): Expertly directed by Fritz Lang, this is a 1941 film – that takes place in 1939 – about a famous big-game hunter, played by Walter Pidgeon, who comes across Hitler's residence in 1939 and has the Führer in his sights. The gun is empty. He then decides that it's probably a good idea to kill Hitler, but he's caught as he takes another shot. What follows is, as the movie title states, a man hunt in which Pidgeon dodges in and out of danger chased by George Sanders, playing the naughty Nazi role he perfected over the years. Well-acted, well-directed and well-paced, Man Hunt is an outstanding film.


IN WHICH WE SERVE (December 2, 3:30 pm): Written, codirected and scored by costar Noel Coward, this is the magnificent story about the crew on a British fighting ship told via flashback. Unlike many films about World War Two, this one remains fresh and marks the film debuts of Richard Attenborough, Daniel Massey, and the infant Juliet Mills. Codirector David Lean’s first directing credit. The film was so thoroughly effective that the Nazis placed Noel Coward on a special hit list.

HAXAN (December 5, 5:45 am): An amazing, unconventional semi-documentary from Sweden in 1922 about the history of witchcraft based on actual incidents from the records of witch trials, torture during the Inquisition, and demonic possession. Look for writer-director Benjamin Christensen playing none other than Satan. Visually stunning, with genuine scares aplenty.

WE DISAGREE ON ... AN AMERICAN IN PARIS (December 6, 3:30 pm)

ED: A+. During the early ‘50s the Freed Unit at MGM made three classic musicals: Singin’ in the RainThe Band Wagon, and this one. Made when star Gene Kelly was at the top of his creative powers with the studio, it was flawlessly acted by its cast, and directed by Vincente Minnelli. Kelly is Jerry Mulligan, an ex-GI and struggling American artist who stayed in Paris after the war ended. He is “discovered” by a socially connected heiress (Nina Foch) with an interest in more than Jerry’s art. In turn Jerry falls for Lise (Leslie Caron), a young girl already engaged to a cabaret singer. In addition to the two women, Jerry is entertained by Adam Cook (Oscar Levant), a would-be concert pianist. Fans of the musical form know that plot is the last thing they need worry about. It’s the music and the dancing. Both are well represented here, with the Gershwins supplying the music, and Kelly and Caron the dancing. The film is built around a simple idea: Kelly wanted to make a film with a lengthy ballet scene based on Gershwin’s tone poem. Freed and Minnelli took the idea and ran with it, adding plot complications plus some stunning backgrounds that bring to mind the works of the French impressionists. This is definitely a move for the eyes as well as the ear. Levant adds a safety valve of acerbic wit whenever the romantic complications threaten to become leaden. He does this simply by playing Oscar Levant, which he does in every film he’s in. However, his performance here tops all the others. Nina Foch provides a solid support, proving she’s come a long way since her B-ingénue days at Fox, and Leslie Caron, a discovery of Kelly’s, provides the eye candy as well as an underdog to root for along with Kelly. Those who have seen it know what I’m talking about, while to those that haven’t, I recommend this as a definite Must See.

DAVID: B-. Gene Kelly is among the two best dancers in the history of cinema with Fred Astaire, of course, being the other. Kelly was more physical and muscular than what most people think of dancers. He was quite charming and how can anyone hate that wonderful smile? During his career in Hollywood, Kelly fancied himself a visionary. An American in Paris is a perfect example. Kelly wanted a lengthy ballet-heavy dance performance that showcased Paris through the works of French impressionist paintings so that's what he did in the final number leading to the conclusion of this film. The concept is admirable, but the implementation is quite frankly boring – and it goes on for 16 minutes. I'm not a fan of musicals though there are some I greatly enjoy including Singin' in the Rain with Kelly (which also at one point spends more than 20 minutes on a daydream/dance that has little to do with that movie's plot). An American in Paris is a good film. Why else would I give it a B-? But it's certainly not a classic. Also, unfortunately it was a leader in Hollywood's move away from film noir toward lighter movies in the 1950s. The plot is basic as are the characters in the movie. Kelly wants to be a great painter, but is offended when a rich socialite takes an artistic and sexual interest in him. Kelly has two buddies: one wants to be a concert pianist and the other a cabaret singer. There's a simplistic love triangle with a happy ending. Leslie Caron, the female lead and the girl Kelly wants, could dance, but was a lousy actress. I've never understood her appeal as she always seemed way too young for her love interests. Her characters never have any depth, which is probably why she was in this film. I don't buy for a second the contention that a musical doesn't need to have a plot, and that we should primarily concern ourselves with the singing and dancing. When the music stops, why should our enjoyment or interest stop with it? The songs are good, the dancing – except the final one – is also entertaining, the scenery is magnificent and, as usual, MGM spared no expense when it came to the color of its big-time productions. It's good, but it's not a movie I'd ever seek out to watch.

Schedule Subject to Change (All Times Eastern)

December 1

6:45 am – KEEPING COMPANY (MGM, 1940): Frank Morgan, Ann Rutherford. A young man's engagement is jeopardized by the return of an old girlfriend. C+

8:15 am – THE FLIRTING WIDOW (WB, 1930): Dorothy Mackaill, Basil Rathbone. A girl creates an imaginary lover to impress her father, but the lie gets in the way of true romance. D+

9:30 am – THE SISTERS (WB, 1938): Bette Davis, Errol Flynn. Three daughters of a small town pharmacist undergo trials and tribulations in their problematic marriages between 1904 and 1908. B-

11:15 am – FOUR DAUGHTERS (WB, 1938): Claude Rains, John Garfield. Garfield made his film debut in this soap opera about a rebellious musician that marries into a happy family of musicians. B

12:45 pm – PRIDE AND PREJUDICE (MGM, 1940): Laurence Olivier, Greer Garson. Jane Austen's comic classic about the five Bennett sisters, all out to nab husbands in 19th-century England. A+

4:45 pm FIDDLER ON THE ROOF (U.A., 1971): Topol, Molly Picon, & Leonard Frye. A Jewish milkman in Pre-revolutionary Russia has plans to marry off his daughters, who have plans of their own. A-

8:00 pm – MA AND PA KETTLE  (Universal, 1949): Marjorie Main, Percy Kilbride. Pa wins a slogan contest, the prize for which is an automated home. C-

9:30 pm – MA AND PA KETTLE GO TO TOWN (Universal, 1950): Marjorie Main, Percy Kilbride. The hillbilly farmers win a contest and take off for New York City. C+

11:00 pm – MA AND PA KETTLE BACK ON THE FARM (Universal, 1951): Marjorie Main, Percy Kilbride. The hillbilly farmers take off in search of uranium. C

12:30 am – MA AND PA KETTLE AT HOME (Universal, 1954): Marjorie Main, Percy Kilbride. The Ozark farmers try to clean up their act to help their son win a college scholarship. B+

2:00 am – FIVE LITTLE PEPPERS AND HOW THEY GREW (Columbia, 1939): Edith Fellows, Clarance Kolb. A case of measles gets a working class family mixed up with a blustering businessman's clan. C+

3:15 am – FIVE LITTLE PEPPERS AT HOME (Columbia, 1940): Edith Fellows, Clarence Kolb. Five siblings enlist a crusty old businessman to help save their mother from bankruptcy. C

4:30 am – OUT WEST WITH THE PEPPERS (Columbia, 1940): Edith Fellows, Tommy Bond. A working class family moves to the West in search of better fortune. C-

5:45 am – FIVE LITTLE PEPPERS IN TROUBLE (Columbia, 1939): Edith Fellows, Tommy Bond. Five siblings face boarding school when their working mother can't hold a job and care for them. D+

December 2

7:00 am – DAVID COPPERFIELD (MGM, 1936): Freddie Bartholomew, Basil Rathbone, & W.C. Fields. Dickens’ classic tale of an orphaned boy’s fight for happiness and the characters he meets. A+

9:15 am – A TALE OF TWO CITIES (MGM, 1935): Ronald Colman, Elizabeth Allan. Two men are in love with the same woman during the French Revolution in this adaptation of Charles Dickens’ novel. A+

11:30 am – GREAT EXPECTATIONS (J. Arthur Rank, 1946): John Mills, Valerie Hobson. A young orphan finds that a mysterious benefactor financed his education in this adaptation of Dickens novel. A

1:30 pm – OLIVER TWIST (J. Arthur Rank, 1948): Robert Newton, Alec Guinness. The famed orphan gets caught up in Fagin's criminal band while searching for familial love. A+

3:30 pm IN WHICH WE SERVE (British Lion, 1942): Noel Coward, John Mills. Noel Coward scripted and stars in this story of the British destroyer HMS Torrin, as told in flashbacks by survivors as they cling to a raft. A+

5:30 pm MADELEINE (GFD, 1950): Ann Todd, Leslie Banks. Based on the true story of Madeleine Smith, a young Glasgow woman from a wealthy family who stood trial in 1857 for the murder of her lover. B+

8:00 pm – FRANK SINATRA -- A MAN AND HIS MUSIC (NBC, 1965): Sinatra sings a selection of his popular songs.

9:00 pm – GUYS AND DOLLS (MGM, 1955): Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra, & Jean Simmons. A big city gambler wagers that he can seduce a Salvation Army girl. B-

11:45 am – PAL JOEY (Columbia, 1957): Frank Sinatra, Kim Novak, & Rita Hayworth. A womanizing singer romances a wealthy widow but he’s really in love with someone else. B

1:45 am – CAN-CAN (Fox, 1960): Frank Sinatra, Shirley MacLaine. An ambitious judge tries to stop the “forbidden dance” at a nightclub despite the protests of its owner. C+

December 3

6:15 am – DOUBLE DYNAMITE (RKO, 1951): Jane Russell, Groucho Marx, & Frank Sinatra. A bank teller reaps the rewards of saving a gangster's life, but can't reveal where he got the money. C

7:45 am – A HOLE IN THE HEAD (UA, 1959): Frank Sinatra, Edward G. Robinson. A single father's bohemian lifestyle could cost him custody of his son. C

10:00 am – ASSAULT ON A QUEEN (Paramount, 1966): Frank Sinatra, Virna Lisi, & Tony Franciosca. Mercenaries salvage a sunken submarine to rob the Queen Mary at sea. C

12:00 pm – DIRTY DINGUS MAGEE (MGM, 1970): Frank Sinatra, George Kennedy. A two-bit outlaw's attempts to strike it rich put him in conflict with a bungling sheriff. B-

1:45 pm – THANK YOUR LUCKY STARS (WB, 1943): All-Star revue highlighted by Bette Davis singing, “They’re Either Too Young or Too Old.” Bogie is his tough self and is totally pushed around by S.Z. Sakall. C

4:00 pm – MR. LUCKY (RKO, 1943): Cary Grant, Laraine Day. A gambling ship owner tries to fleece a beautiful society woman, but ends up falling in love. Featured in Band of BrothersA-

8:00 pm – LURED (UA, 1947): George Sanders, Lucille Ball, Charles Coburn, & Boris Karloff. A woman helps the police catch the man who murdered her best friend. B+

10:00 pm – THE GAY FALCON (RKO, 1942): George Sanders, Anne Hunter. A society sleuth tries to break up an insurance scam. C+

11:15 am – THE MOON AND SIXPENCE (U.A., 1942): George Sanders, Herbert Marshall. Loosely inspired by the life of Gauguin, a man abandons his middle-class life to start painting. A-

1:00 am – THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY (MGM, 1945): Hurd Hatfield, George Sanders The best adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s novel about a man who doesn’t age, but a portrait of him kept in his attic does. A+

3:00 am – MAN HUNT (20th Fox, 1941): Walter Pidgeon, George Sanders. A big game hunter, caught by the Nazis as he has Hitler in his sights, escapes back to England but the Nazis are following. Fritz Lang directed. A

4:45 am THE SAINT STRIKES BACK (RKO, 1939): George Sanders, Wendy Barrie. Simon Templar helps a disgraced policeman’s daughter bring those who framed her father to justice. C+

December 4

7:45 am – THE LAST CHALLENGE (MGM, 1967): Glenn Ford, Angie Dickenson, & Chad Everett. A young gun plans to make his name by shooting it out with the town marshal. C

9:30 am – A TIME FOR KILLING (Columbia, 1967): Inger Stevens, Glenn Ford. Confederate soldiers keep the war's ending a secret so they can escape to Mexico. C

11:00 am – THE ROUNDERS (MGM, 1965): Glenn Ford, Henry Fonda. Two ne'er-do-well cowpokes look for sex and easy money in the modern West. B-

12:30 pm – CIMMARON (MGM, 1960): Glenn Ford, Maria Schell, & Anne Baxter. A pioneer couple plays a major role in the settling of Oklahoma. C+

6:15 pm – THE FASTEST GUN ALIVE (MGM, 1956): Glenn Ford, Jeanne Crain Ex-gunman Ford and wife Crain must constantly move from town to town lest his identity be discovered. B-

8:00 pm – IT HAPPENED ON 5TH AVENUE (Monogram, 1947): Don DeFore, Charlie Ruggles, & Ann Harding. Two homeless man move into a mansion as the owners are wintering down South. C+

10:15 pm – MEET JOHN DOE (Columbia, 1941): Gary Cooper, Barbara Stanwyck. A reporter’s fraudulent story makes a tramp into a national political hero and a pawn of big business. A-

12:30 am – PERIOD OF ADJUSTMENT (MGM, 1962): Tony Franciosa, Jane Fonda. A newlywed couple’s honeymoon is disrupted by their friends’ marital problems. B

December 5

6:45 am – A FAMILY AFFAIR (MGM, 1936): Lionel Barrymore, Mickey Rooney. The first Hardy Family film finds Judge Hardy running for re-election while dealing with family problems. B

9:15 am – DICK TRACY VS. CUEBALL (RKO, 1946): Morgan Conway, Anne Gwynne, & Dick Wessel. Tracy has to use girlfriend Tess Trueheart to lure notorious criminal Cueball (Wessel) out of hiding. C+

10:30 am – MR. HEX (Monogram, 1954): The Bowery Boys, Ian Keith. A hypnotist (Keith) turns Sach into a championship boxer. Directed by One Shot Beaudine. C-

12:00 pm – THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT! (MGM, 1974): An all-star cast introduces clips from MGM’s greatest musicals. A+

4:00 pm – THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD (WB, 1938): Errol Flynn, Claude Rains, Olivia DeHavilland, & Basil Rathbone. Errol Flynn as Robin Hood battles Prince John and Sir Guy of Gisbourne. A+

6:00 pm – THE COURAGE OF LASSIE (MGM, 1946): Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Morgan. A young girl tries to rehabilitate the famous collie after his return from combat service in World War II. B-

8:00 pm – SUNSET BOULEVARD (Paramount, 1950): William Holden, Gloria Swanson, & Erich Von Stroheim. Billy Wilder’s classic about a gigolo and a deranged silent star. A++

10:00 pm – SUSAN SLEPT HERE (RKO, 1954): Dick Powell, Debbie Reynolds. A Hollywood screenwriter takes in a young woman who proves to be much more than he can handle. B-

12:00 am – IN A LONELY PLACE (Columbia, 1950): Humphrey Bogart, Gloria Grahame. Bogie is a top form as a loony screenwriter suspected of murder. B+

2:00 am – SHOCK (Film Ventures Int’l, 1977): Daria Nicolodi, John Steiner. A couple is terrorized in their new house haunted by the vengeful ghost of the woman's former husband who possesses her young son. C+

3:45 am – HAXAN (Svensk Filmindustrie, 1922): Maran Pedersen, Clara Pontoppidan. A documentary about witchcraft from illustrated slideshow to dramatized events of alleged real-life events. Silent. B

December 6

6:00 am – MRS. MINIVER (MGM, 1942): Greer Garson, Walter Pidgeon. A British family struggles to survive the first days of World War II. C+

8:30 am – A CHRISTMAS CAROL (MGM, 1938): Reginald Owen, Gene Lockhart. MGM’s version of the Dickens story and highly recommended. Look for June Lockhart as one of the children. A-

12:00 pm – HOLIDAY AFFAIR (RKO, 1949): Robert Mitchum, Janet Leigh, & Wendell Corey. A young widow finds herself having to choose between her stodgy boyfriend and a poor clerk she had fired. B

1:45 pm – SUN VALLEY SERENADE (Fox, 1941): Sonja Henie, John Payne. A Norwegian war orphan adopted by a pianist as a publicity stunt turns out to be a beautiful young woman. B+

3:30 pm – AN AMERICAN IN PARIS (MGM, 1951): Gene Kelly, Leslie Caron, Oscar Levant, & Nina Foch. An American artist (Kelly) loves Caron, but loyalty to his patron, Foch, almost ruins it all. Ratings: See above.

5:30 pm – THE QUIET MAN (Republic, 1952): John Wayne, Victor McLaglen, & Maureen O’Hara. Irish ex-boxer Wayne returns to Ireland and searches for a proper wife. B

8:00 pm – THE TWELVE CHAIRS (UMC, 1970): Ron Moody, Frank Langella & Dom DeLuise. A fallen aristocrat, a priest, and a con man team up to search for jewels that are hidden inside of twelve dining chairs. B-

10:00 pm – IT’S IN THE BAG (UA, 1945): Fred Allen, Jack Benny. The heir to a fortune hidden in five chairs unwittingly sells them. B+

12:30 am – BARDLEYS THE MAGNIFICENT (MGM, 1926): John Gilbert, Eleanor Boardman. Notorious womanizer Gilbert ironically falls for a woman he has bet he can trick into marriage. Silent. C+

2:00 am – MORNING FOR THE OSONE FAMILY (Shochiku Co., 1946): Haruko Sugimura, Toshinosuke Nagao. A liberal-minded Japanese family is torn apart by the war. B-

3:30 am – TWENTY-FOUR EYES (Shochiku Co., 1954): Hideko Takamine, Yumeji Tsukioka. With World War II approaching, a teacher tries to imbue her pupils with a positive view of the world and their place in it. A-

December 7

6:15 am – CRY OF BATTLE (Allied Artists, 1963): Van Heflin, Rita Moreno. The son of a wealthy businessman finds himself in the guerrilla movement fighting against the Japanese in World War II. C-

8:00 am – THREE CAME HOME (Fox, 1950): Claudette Colbert, Patric Knowles, & Sessue Hayakawa. Imprisoned by the Japanese as a POW in World War II, a woman fights for survival. A+

9:45 am – TASK FORCE (WB, 1949): Gary Cooper, Jane Wyatt.  It’s a well-made but rather pedestrian story of the development of the aircraft carrier as seen through the eyes Naval officer Cooper. C

11:45 am – THEY WERE EXPENDABLE (MGM, 1945): Robert Montgomery, John Wayne. A Navy commander fights to prove the seaworthiness of PT boats at the start of World War Two. A-

2:00 pm – AIR FORCE (WB, 1943): John Garfield, Harry Carey. An Air Force bomber and crew arrive in Pearl Harbor after the Japanese attack and are sent to Manila to help with defending the Philippines. A

4:15 pm – PRELUDE TO WAR (U.S. War Dept, 1943): The rise of the fascists in Germany and Italy and Japan's growing aggression put the world on the brink of war. Documentary. A

5:15 pm – WAR COMES TO AMERICA (U.S. War Dept., 1945): International events bring the U.S. closer to entering World War II on the eve of Pearl Harbor. Documentary. A

6:30 pm – DECEMBER 7TH (U.S. War Dept., 1943): Walter Huston, Dana Andrews. This docudrama about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was co-directed by Gregg Toland and John Ford. B+

8:00 pm – THE WORLD OF HENRY ORIENT (UA, 1964): Peter Sellers, Paula Prentiss, & Merrie Spaeth. Two poor little rich girls dog the steps of a womanizing pianist. B

10:00 pm – WHERE ANGELS GO – TROUBLE FOLLOWS (Columbia, 1968): Rosalind Russell, Stella Stevens. A young progressive nun causes headaches for her Mother Superior. B+

11:45 pm – HEAVENLY CREATURES (Miramax, 1994): Melanie Lynskey, Kate Winslet. An extraordinary friendship between two adolescent girls culminates in the murder of one of their mothers. A+

1:45 am – THREE ON A MATCH (WB, 1932): Joan Blondell, Bette Davis, & Ann Dvorak. One of the best Pre-Code dramas as three childhood friends go their different ways and later meet up as adults. A+

5:00 am – CRY ‘HAVOC’ (MGM, 1944): Margaret Sullavan, Ann Sothern, & Joan Blondell. A group of war nurses fights to survive the siege of Bataan. A-

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1 comment:

  1. Once again... My main source for "recording" TCM classics! Thanks guys!