February 1–February 7


ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT (February 1, 12:45 am): TCM shows this film regularly and we are very lucky that it does. This is the greatest anti-war war movie ever made, and that includes Charles Chaplin's The Great Dictator, which is a brilliant piece of cinema. The message of All Quiet on the Western Front 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 most tragically beautiful you'll ever see in cinema. This timeless and important film comes with my highest recommendation.

CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS (February 6, 6:00 am): This 1937 film had the potential to be a complete disaster. Spencer Tracy, with a Portuguese accent, saves Freddie Bartholomew, a spoiled rich boy who, after being rescued, is stuck on a fishing schooner. The potential obstacles are buying Tracy's accent and hoping Bartholomew gives the performance of his life. Amazingly, both occur in this fantastic film. Tracy won the Oscar for Best Actor, and would win it again the following year for Boys TownCaptains Courageous also features the always-excellent Lionel Barrymore as the ship's captain and solid performances from a cast that includes John Carradine, Melvyn Douglas and a young Mickey Rooney. It's a great coming-of-age film, adapted from English novelist Rudyard Kipling's 1897 book of the same name. The sappy ending doesn't take away from the overall enjoyment of the movie.


THE PUBLIC ENEMY (February 2, 11:45 pm): It’s the picture that catapulted Jimmy Cagney to stardom, a no holds barred look at the life of a criminal from youth to his premature demise, directed in a stark manner by William A. Wellman, King of the Pre-Code directors. Although Warner Bros., the studio that made the film, tries to coat it with a veneer of “social injustice and economic conditions” leading to crime, the picture is violent from start to finish. And it’s such gorgeous violence at that. Cagney is a virtual dervish of bad intentions, knocking off anyone in his way, and even ending a relationship by smacking his dame in the face with a grapefruit. The film was a huge influence on Martin Scorsese when he made Goodfellas, and we can see why, as it’s the first gangster film to use popular music in its soundtrack. This rave is not directed at cinephiles, who have all seen this one, but at those for whom the movie experience is relatively new. Watch it, you’ll love it.

THE 400 BLOWS (February 6, 12:00 pm): Again this is a rave directed at those for whom serious move viewing is a somewhat new experience. Francois Truffaut’s autobiographical film about a young man (Jean-Pierre Leaud), left entirely to his own devices at home by his neglectful parents, who turns to a life of petty crime. The film becomes a tribute to the resilience and spirit of the young man in spite of his clueless parents and equally clueless teachers, all of who are too eager to absolve themselves of him rather than deal with his problems. Much as been said and written about this remarkable film, which was Truffaut’s directorial debut. Don’t let its art house reputation deter you from this most interesting film.

WE DISAGREE ON . . . WINGS (February 1, 10:00 pm)

ED: A. Many cinephiles hate this movie, not so much because it won Best Picture, but for what film didn’t win: Sunrise. Yes, the Academy chose Wings as Best Picture over Sunrise, a film now seen as one the all-time classics of the cinema. But let’s take the historical content out of it and praise it for what it was.Wings is a great example of the blockbuster epic, with special effects that were unmatched in its day. It’s the ultimate Buddy War Film, with Charles “Buddy” Rogers and Richard Arlen as Our Heroes, rivals who bond in training and war, proceeding to sail through the skies of Europe without letting such things like plot get in the way – a fact we really don’t notice until we think it over well after the film ends. Clara Bow, who came on like a house afire thanks to It, is the love object of Rogers, and she’s not bad in this. Gary Cooper also shines, as the sardonic young cadet who comes on the scene and just as quickly disappears in an air battle. The real credit for this film, though, has to go to the director, William A. Wellman. Not only are the airborne fight sequences top notch – and which will still blow viewers away even in these CGI infested times – but he also brings a verve to the quieter scenes, such as the establishing shot of lovers Jack and Sylvia (Jobyna Ralston), who are introduced on a swing in a garden with the camera perched on the swing between them, giving the illusion of the world flying around them. Wellman displays his knack for craftsmanship throughout the film, knowing how to use the camera to capture a person’s face and body and tell us what he or she is thinking or feeling. Any director could simply film a dogfight, but Wellman does with cameras placed in such a way as to capture the human drama that takes place inside the formidable machines of war. That’s way I grade this film as high as I do. It’s not so much the story as it is in how it’s told.

DAVID: B-. I wholeheartedly agree with Ed's assessment of the aerial sequences, particularly the dogfights, of Wings. To this day, they are impressive, exciting and can leave a viewer on the edge of his/her seat. The problem with this film is nearly everything shot on the ground. That part of the film is largely directionless with a minimal plot. To be perfectly honest, the ground scenes are really boring. To make matters worse, the version shown is 144 minutes long so viewers are watching a lot of dull acting with a very dull storyline. The notable exception is the powerful trench cave-in scene that shows hundreds of dead soldiers. There is no doubt this 1927 epic is groundbreaking and the aerial scenes are breathtaking at times. I recommend anyone who hasn't seen the film to view it. But you also have to realize you're going to get some bad with the good. The main characters, played by Charles "Buddy" Rogers and Richard Arlen, spend far too much time vying for the affection of Jobyna Ralston, who loves Arlen. Clara Bow, "The It Girl," is somewhat wasted in this film as literally the girl next door to Rogers. Kudos to director William A. Wellman for working in a gratuitous scene of a scantily-clad Bow. I would rate this film higher if attention was paid to developing a compelling story, it was 30 minutes shorter and the awful attempts at comic relief from El Brendel were left on the cutting-room floor.

Schedule Subject to Change (All Times Eastern)

It’s TCM’s annual “31 Days of Oscar” month, where Oscar nominated films in every category are shown. This month, TCM mixes it up with films from different studios highlighted.

February 1

6:00 am – THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA (WB, 1958): Spencer Tracy, Felipe Pazos, Jr. A Cuban fisherman believes his long dry spell will end when he catches a legendary fish. B+

7:30 am – THE JUNGLE BOOK (U.A., 1942): Sabu, Joseph Calleia. A boy raised by wolves tries to adapt to civilized life. Based on the stories of Rudyard Kipling. A-

9:30 am – THE FOUR FEATHERS (London Film, 1939): John Clements, Ralph Richardson. A disgraced officer risks his life to help his childhood friends in battle. A-

11:45 am – THE WIND AND THE LION (U.A., 1975): Sean Connery, Candice Bergen. An Arab chieftain causes an international incident when he kidnaps an American widow Bergen and her children. C+

8:00 pm – AND THE OSCAR GOES TO . . . (Turner, 2014): Robert Osborne. This original documentary gives a behind-the-scenes look at the Academy Awards and Oscar-winning films through the eyes of Hollywood insiders. A+

10:00 pm – WINGS (Paramount, 1927): Clara Bow, Charles “Buddy” Rogers, & Richard Arlen. Wellman directed with this story about two WWI fighter aces in love with the same woman. Silent. Ratings: See above.

12:45 am – ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT (Universal, 1930): Lew Ayres, Louis Wolheim. A young German soldier is slowly disillusioned in the trenches on the front during World War I. A++

3:00 am – CIMMARON (RKO, 1931): Richard Dix, Irene Dunne. Dix and Dunne star in the story of a couple struggling to survive in the early days of the Oklahoma Territory. B

5:15 am – THE BROADWAY MELODY (MGM, 1929) Anita Page, Bessie Love. An early musical about how love breaks up a sister vaudeville act. C

February 2

7:15 am – CAMILLE (MGM, 1936): Greta Garbo, Robert Taylor. This overwrought soaper has Garbo as a kept woman who is dying and Taylor as her young admirer. C+

9:15 am  – RANDOM HARVEST (MGM, 1942): Ronald Colman, Greer Garson. An amnesiac vet falls for a music hall star only to suffer an accident restoring his original memories but erasing his post-War life. B+

1:45 pm – THE GREAT LIE (WB, 1941): Bette Davis, Mary Astor. Believing her newlywed husband to be dead, a woman (Davis) discovers that the rival for his affections (Astor) is pregnant with his baby. B-

3:45 pm – MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION (Universal, 1954): Jane Wyman, Rock Hudson. A playboy becomes a doctor to right to the wrong he did to a sightless widow. B-

8:00 pm – LITTLE WOMEN (RKO, 1933): Katharine Hepburn, Joan Bennett. The four March sisters fight to keep their family together and find love while their father is off fighting the Civil War. B-

10:00 pm – 42nd STREET (WB, 1933): Warner Baxter, Ruby Keeler. This first and best of the Warners Pre-Code musicals is rife with homosexual innuendo and implied fornication. B+

11:45 pm – THE PUBLIC ENEMY (WB, 1930):  James Cagney, Jean Harlow. William Wellman directed this electrifying rise and fall of a hoodlum as played by James Cagney. A+

1:30 am – GRAND HOTEL (MGM, 1932): Greta Garbo, John and Lionel Barrymore. Guests at a posh Berlin hotel struggle through scandal and heartache. A

3:30 am – DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE (Paramount, 1932): Frederic March, Miriam Hopkins. March is Jekyll/Hyde and Hopkins is Ivy in the first sound attempt at filming Stevenson’s classic. B+

February 3

9:00 am – SUZY (MGM, 1936): Jean Harlow, Franchot Tone, & Cary Grant. French flier Grant discovers his wife’s husband is still alive in this hollow soaper.C

11:00 am – THE FALLEN SPARROW (RKO, 1943): John Garfield, Maureen O’Hara. Garfield is a Spanish Civil War veteran carrying a priceless keepsake. The Nazis want it. B

12:45 pm – ICE STATION ZEBRA (Columbia, 1968): Rock Hudson, Ernest Borgnine. There’s a spy aboard Hudson’s nuclear sub as he searches for a downed satellite. C

3:15 pm – FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT (UA, 1940): Joel McCrea, Laraine Day. On the eve of World War II a young American reporter tries to expose enemy agents in London. A+

5:30 pm – NORTH BY NORTHWEST (MGM, 1959): Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint. Cary Grant is an advertising man mistaken for a government agent by spies, triggering a cross-country chase. A+

8:00 pm – 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+

10:15 pm – MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY (MGM, 1935): Clark Gable, Charles Laughton. This is the classic, and still the best, version of the H.M.S. Bounty story. Required viewing. A+

12:45 am – THE THIN MAN (MGM, 1934): William Powell, Myrna Loy. Powell and Loy as filmdom’s most celebrated couple: Nick and Nora Charles. A+

2:30 am – TOP HAT (RKO, 1935): Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers. Quintessential with a great Irving Berlin score highlighted by Fred and Ginger’s dancing to “Cheek to Cheek” It’s one for the ages. A+

4:30 am – THE LOST PATROL (RKO, 1934): Victor McLaglen, Wallace Ford, & Boris Karloff. A British army troop fights off Arab snipers while holed up in an oasis. B

February 4

11:00 am – GRAND PRIX (MGM, 1966): James Garner, Eva Marie Saint, & Yves Montand. A story about the heralded road race and the dangers its drivers face. B

2:00 pm – SOMEBODY UP THERE LIKES ME (MGM, 1956): Paul Newman, Pier Angeli, & Steve McQueen. Newman shines in the story of boxer Rocky Graziano. A-

4:00 pm – THE PRIDE OF THE YANKEES (RKO, 1943): Gary Cooper, Teresa Wright. Cooper stars in this biopic about the career of the Yankee great. A

6:15 pm – PAT AND MIKE (MGM, 1952): Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn. George Cukor directed this story of a budding romance between a female athlete and her manager. B-

8:00 pm – SWING TIME (RKO, 1936): Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers. Astaire and Rogers sing and dance to the music of Jerome Kern in this nearly flawless film. A+

10:00 pm – THE AWFUL TRUTH (Columbia, 1937): Cary Grant, Irene Dunne. A divorcing couple can’t help but sabotage each other’s new romances in this fine screwball comedy. A

12:00 am – GRAND ILLUSION (Rialto, 1937): Jean Gabin, Pierre Fresnay, & Erich Von Strohein. French POWs fight to escape German captors during World War I. A++

2:00 am – THE LIFE OF EMILE ZOLA (WB, 1938): Paul Muni, Joseph Shildkraut, & Gale Sondergaard. Muni is the great French writer Emile Zola, who braved the mobs defending Captain Dreyfuss. A+

4:15 am – LAST OF THE MOHICANS (UA, 1936): Randolph Scott, Binnie Barnes, & Bruce Cabot. A frontier scout rescues the daughters of a British colonial commander from renegades. A

February 5

6:00 am – MANHATTAN MELODRAMA (MGM, 1934): Clark Gable, William Powell. Boyhood friends end up on opposite sides of the law. The film Dillinger went to see on his last night alive. A-

8:00 am – STAR WITNESS (WB, 1931): Walter Huston, Frances Starr. William Wellman directed opus about a family threatened by gangsters when they witness a murder. B+

9:30 am – LITTLE CAESAR (WB, 1930): Edward G. Robinson, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.  Robinson is mesmerizing as a small-time hood who rises to the top of the rackets and falls dramatically. A+

11:00 am – SMART MONEY (WB, 1931): Edward G. Robinson, James Cagney. A small town barber parlays his talent for poker into becoming a gambling czar in the only pairing of Eddie G. and Cagney. B

12:30 pm – ‘G’ MEN (WB, 1935): James Cagney, Margaret Lindsay, Ann Dvorak, & Robert Armstrong. A mob protégé joins the FBI when a friend is gunned down. A

2:00 pm – BONNIE AND CLYDE (WB, 1967): Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway. Arthur Penn directed this highly stylized biopic of the murderous duo. A-

5:45 pm – ROBIN AND THE 7 HOODS (WB, 1964):  Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, & Sammy Davis, Jr. Rat Pack comedy with the boys as Chicago hoods that come to the aid of an orphanage. C-

8:00 pm – THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD (WB, 1938): Errol Flynn, Claude Rains, Olivia de Havilland, & Basil Rathbone. Errol Flynn as Robin Hood battles Prince John and Sir Guy of Gisbourne. A+

12:00 am – YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU (Columbia, 1938): James Stewart, Jean Arthur. Capra’s adaptation of the Kaufman-Hart play about a man from a staid family engaged to a woman from an eccentric family. B+

2:15 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

4:00 am – BOYS TOWN (MGM, 1938): Spencer Tracy, Mickey Rooney. The story of Father Flanagan and his fight to found Boys Town, a refuge for orphaned boys. B+

February 6

6:00 am – CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS (MGM, 1937): Lionel Barrymore, Freddie Bartholomew, & Spencer Tracy. A spoiled rich boy lost at sea is rescued by a fishing boat and learns about life. A-

10:15 am – MY LIFE AS A DOG (Svensk, 1987): Anton Glanzelius, Anki Liden. A young boy’s life changes the summer he moves in with relatives while his sick mother tries to recover. A

12:00 pm – THE 400 BLOWS (Janus Films, 1959): Jean-Pierre Leaud, Albert Remy. Truffaut’s classic about a 12-year old boy whose family problems lead him to a life of crime. A+

8:00 pm – WUTHERING HEIGHTS (Goldwyn, 1939): Merle Oberon, Laurence Olivier. Oberon is a young noblewoman with a lifelong attraction to stable boy Olivier, who later makes himself a wealthy man. A+

10:00 pm – GONE WITH THE WIND (MGM, 1939): Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Olivia de Havilland, & Leslie Howard. This classic version of Margaret Mitchell’s bestseller was the biggest grossing movie for decades. A

2:00 am – THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK (U.A., 1939): Louis Heyward, Joan Bennett. James Whale’s version of the famous tale wherein the Three Musketeers rescue the king’s unjustly imprisoned brother. B+

4:00 am – 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+

February 7

6:00 am – HOW THE WEST WAS WON (MGM, 1962): Henry Fonda, James Stewart, & Gregory Peck. An all-star cast highlights this film about three generations of pioneers settling the West. A

9:00 am – THE NAKED SPUR (MGM, 1953): James Stewart, Robert Ryan, & Janet Leigh. Anthony Mann directed this tense drama about good guy Stewart taking bad guy Ryan back to civilization. A

1:00 pm – SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON (RKO, 1949): John Wayne, Joanne Dru. An aging Calvary officer tries to prevent an Indian war days before his retirement. A

3:00 pm – CHEYENNE AUTUMN (WB, 1964): Richard Widmark, Carroll Baker, & Karl Malden. Reluctant Calvary Captain Widmark must track a band of nomadic Cheyennes. Directed by John Ford. B

5:45 pm – THE PROFESSIONALS (Columbia, 1966): Burt Lancaster, Lee Marvin. A corrupt rancher hires four mercenaries to rescue his wife from kidnappers.B-

8:00 pm – THE PHILADELPHIA STORY (MGM, 1940): Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, & James Stewart. Society lady Hepburn finds herself being wooed by ex-husband Grant and tabloid reporter Stewart. A-

10:00 pm – HERE COMES MR. JORDAN (Columbia, 1941): Robert Montgomery, Claude Rains. A prizefighter who died before his time is reincarnated as a tycoon with a murderous wife. A+

11:45 pm – CITIZEN KANE (RKO, 1941): Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, & Everett Sloane. The story of newspaper mogul Charles Foster Kane and what made him tick. A++

2:00 am – MRS. MINIVER (MGM, 1942): Greer Garson, Walter Pidgeon. Garson is a British housewife and Pidgeon her husband in the ultimate morale picture about a British family during the London Blitz. C+

4:15 am – THE GREAT DICTATOR (UA, 1940): Charles Chaplin, Paulette Goddard. Chaplin is both a dictator and a Jewish barber that bears a striking resemblance to the dictator. A+

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  1. Village of the damned sounds like an interesting story

    1. It's definitely worth your time to watch it. It's a great film.