I’m going to put together something separate focusing on Barbara Stanwyck some time before TCM’s first big block of movies featuring her on the 5th, so just a brief mention further down in this more general TCM in December preview.
As always, I prefer to put the focus on the off hours in my TCM preview. The movies airing at 8 pm get pretty good promotion throughout the month, but I don’t want you to miss that gem airing at 8 am.
Note: It may seem like I've been away for a couple of days, but actually I have been scribbling away. First I posted about Wild Bill Hickok Rides (1942) on my Warren William web site only hours before TCM aired the film on Tuesday night. Next, I had the pleasure of creating a "VHS Gems" guest post which went up over at the Rupert Pupkin Speaks site. That one was a bit of a challenge, but I mention the ground rules over there.
TCM in December, Quickie Edition
Most Exciting Day: December 10, Una Merkel's birthday with 10 movies to celebrate.
Top Pick: December 14, Ernst Lubitsch double-feature beginning at 8 pm with Trouble in Paradise (1932) followed at 9:30 by Design for Living (1933). Did I mention that there are some Stanwyck movies on this month too?
Most Wanted: December 29, Smart Blonde (1936) at noon, the first of the Torchy Blane movies starring Glenda Farrell.
Most Exciting Day is self-explanatory. If you want me to recommend a sick day from work, it'll be that day! Top Pick being those I have seen and would push you down on my couch and force you to watch if you even hint that you haven't seen it! Most Wanted being those I have to the best of my knowledge never seen but will be sure to check out this month.
These picks are based upon Turner Classic Movies' US schedule (most also air in Canada). Any times mentioned are all EST because that's what TCM uses inside my Now Playing Guide and that's what I use when I set the clocks here on Long Island. The days are TCM's own slightly screwy time periods, typically beginning at 6 am and working through to the following morning at the same time.
TCM in December, Long Version
Two from 1932, one of my favorite film years, lead off December from inside my Now Playing Guide. Don’t miss Harold Lloyd with the lovely Constance Cummings in Movie Crazy at 6 am EST, followed immediately at 7:45 am by Murders in the Rue Morgue starring Bela Lugosi.
I love Greer Garson, never more so than when she’s teamed with Walter Pidgeon as she is Monday afternoon, December 3, at 3:30 pm in the biopic Madame Curie (1943). That evening is one of TCM's December highlights with a documentary airing about silent child star Baby Peggy followed by one of her feature length films, Captain January (1924), and three shorts.
Tuesday the 4th offers one of those puzzling yet rewarding TCM mystery slates as director William A. Seiter is honored with 7 of his films airing between 6:30 am and 5 pm. Nope, not his birthday. I’ll be looking forward to seeing ‘20s Ziegfeld Follies star Marilyn Miller in one of her few films, Sunny (1930), at 7:30 am. It’s followed by an early Bette Davis title I’ve yet to see, Way Back Home (1931) from RKO at 9 am. A little later is the enjoyable Herbert Marshall-Jean Arthur comedy If You Could Only Cook (1935) at noon Eastern.
Peggy Cummins is fantastic in Gun Crazy (1950) at 12:15 pm on Wednesday the 5th. I’m always intrigued by The Circus Queen Murder (1933), airing at 5 pm EST, but also always let down. Still, Dwight Frye fans will want to catch it.
December 5 is also the first evening of films featuring TCM Star of the Month Barbara Stanwyck. The best part is that TCM’s weekly Stanwyck marathons aren’t just a little piece of each Wednesday night. Every one of them runs straight through til morning and beyond with all but the final grouping of Stanwyck titles continuing through all day Thursday into dinner time! There’s practically 24 hours of Stanwyck beginning at 8 pm each of the first three Wednesdays in December with a paltry 21 hours closing out the December 26-27 marathon.
Stanwyck all night, Stanwyck all day! More details to come on this later.
War films air all day Friday, December 7, the 71st anniversary of the bombing on Pearl Harbor. That evening ushers in the first of TCM’s Ernst Lubitsch marathons and while you’re going to want to catch them all I’ll point to The Smiling Lieutenant (1931) at 10 pm featuring an absolutely delightful Miriam Hopkins trying her best to win Maurice Chevalier’s heart from Claudette Colbert. It's followed by perennial favorite The Shop Around the Corner (1940) at midnight (That's one).
Site favorite Freddie Bartholomew stars in the first half of David Copperfield (1935) Sunday morning, the 9th, at 6 am. Great stuff from W.C. Fields and Roland Young throughout this Dickens classic as well. Later that night the TCM Sunday night silent film is one of the all-time best, King Vidor’s The Crowd (1928) at midnight eastern time.
December 10 is Una Merkel’s birthday and probably the busiest day in December for my DVR. The schedule:
Una Merkel December 10 on TCM
- 6:00 am - Huddle (1932)
- 8:00 am - Beauty for Sale (1933)
- 9:30 am - Clear All Wires (1933)
- 10:00 am - Day of Reckoning (1933)
- 12:15 pm - Whistling in the Dark (1933)
- 1:45 pm - The Women in His Life (1933)
- 3:15 pm - Paris Interlude (1934)
- 4:30 pm - Baby Face Harrington (1935)
- 5:45 pm - We Went to College (1936)
- 7:00 pm - Sweethearts of the U.S.A. (1944)
And double up on that Una alert if you’re also a fan of Madge Evans—she’s in four of those as well!
There’s a pair of Boston Blackie’s with Chester Morris airing back to back beginning at 10 on Tuesday morning the 11th.
There are some big titles airing throughout the day on Friday, December 14 including Victor McLaglen’s Oscar turn in The Informer (1935) at 6:30 am; Robert Donat with Rosalind Russell in The Citadel (1938) at 10 am; Citizen Kane (1941) at 1:45 pm; and Bette Davis with Oscar winner Paul Lukas in Watch on the Rhine (1943) at 3:45 pm.
At 8 pm that same night TCM runs my most anticipated double feature of the month with Trouble in Paradise (1932) and Design for Living (1933) back to back. I touched upon both of these titles in my recent Miriam Hopkins birthday post.
TCM always seems to put on something good Sunday mornings at 6 am. On December 16 it’s Jack Benny with Ann Sheridan in George Washington Slept Here (1942), a title I recently chose as one of my “VHS Gems” in a guest post at Rupert Pupkin Speaks. That one is followed by a little taste of Christmas with It Happened on 5th Avenue (1947) at 8 am and Lubitch’s The Shop Around the Corner (1940) at 10 (That's two). Later that night is my favorite version of A Christmas Carol (1951) at 9:30 pm and starring Alastair Sim as Scrooge.
It’s Myrna Loy and William Powell all day Tuesday, December 18 beginning with The Thin Man (1934) at 6:30 am with four of the five sequels spread throughout the day (only final entry Song of the Thin Man  is missing) plus I Love You Again (1940) at 11:45 am and Love Crazy (1941) at 3:15 pm. This randomly timed marathon closes with the 1991 Myrna Loy documentary So Nice to Come Home To at 6:45 that afternoon.
TCM airs twelve hours of Robert Mitchum movies during daytime on Wednesday the 19th. The day starts strong with Undercurrent (1946) at 6 am and Where Danger Lives (1950) at 8:30 am. TCM keeps the 19th dark with the focus on Barbara Stanwyck’s film noir titles that same evening.
I’m interested in the early Lubitsch films on Friday night, but to be honest there’s not much else jumping out at me over this weekend. Then the Christmas-themed movies kick off at 5:30 am on Christmas Eve (Monday the 24th) and I wouldn’t be surprised to find myself planted in front of TCM with scissors and tape for a good portion of the day.
Starting at that time here’s what TCM has lined up all day on the 24th through to Christmas Day at 8 pm:
TCM Christmas Eve-Christmas Day Schedule
- 5:30 am - Beyond Tomorrow (1940)
- 7:00 am - Meet John Doe (1941)
- 9:15 am - Susan Slept Here (1954)
- 11:00 am - In the Good Old Summertime (1949)
- 1:00 pm - The Bishop’s Wife (1947)
- 3:00 pm - Holiday Affair (1949)
- 4:30 pm - Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
- 6:30 pm - Babes in Toyland (1934)
- 8:00 pm - The Shop Around the Corner (1940 ... and that's three!)
- 10:00 pm - Come to the Stable (1949)
- 12:00 am - Auntie Mame (1958)
- 2:30 am - The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942)
- 4:30 am - And So They Were Married (1936)
- 5:45 am - Boys Town (1938)
- 7:30 am - Going My Way (1944)
- 9:45 am - The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima (1952)
- 11:30 am - The Nun’s Story (1959)
- 2:15 pm - The Song of Bernadette (1943)
- 5:00 pm - King of Kings (1961)
And then at 8pm Christmas night TCM airs a run of six of the Hardy Family movies starring Mickey Rooney as Andy Hardy with Lewis Stone as the Judge, Fay Holden as Mrs. Hardy, Cecilia Parker as big sister Marian and Ann Rutherford as Polly Benedict. I have a separate, possibly too ambitious, Hardy themed post planned to hit the site before the 25th. But while TCM is only showing 6 of the Hardy films my master plan includes all 16. Only time will tell if I can beat the clock on this one!
On December 28 we spend all day with another famed series as TCM celebrates the birth date of Lew Ayres with a 9 movie Dr. Kildare marathon running from 6:15 am through 8 pm.
Tucked into the middle of TCM’s Saturday, December 29 is Smart Blonde (1936) at noon eastern. This is the first of the Torchy Blane movies starring (mostly) Glenda Farrell and as far as I can tell the first of what will be weekly airings of Torchy Blane series entries by TCM throughout January and (hopefully) into February. The TCM schedule isn't available beyond January 26 at the moment, but they’re right on target with the fifth entry, Torchy Blane in Panama (actually starring Lola Lane) airing that day. Hopefully TCM continues the run and airs all nine Torchy entries because Glenda Farrell is a favorite and I don’t think I’ve caught these before.
I thought TCM usually aired a Marx Brothers marathon on New Year's Eve, but they choose a different route this year with a nine movie Abbott and Costello marathon airing from 6:30 am until 8 pm.
I’ll be back sometime soon to put the focus on December’s TCM Star of the Month, Barbara Stanwyck.
For January TCM's Star of the Month will be Loretta Young. They've really been on quite an impressive run for fans of the 1930s and '40s recently! I might not even complain too much once we get to the February's Oscar themed schedule.