TCM Star of the Month Burt Lancaster is featured in 29 different movies throughout November, every Wednesday night. That Friday night spotlight features a scant 15 movies, but those titles include just about every major Screwball comedy that the 1930s produced. It’s not my favorite genre, but I’ll tell you this: If you want to turn a friend or family member into a fan of “old, black and white movies,” TCM's Friday nights during November present you with one of the best opportunities you’ll ever find. TCM in November also includes a 24-hour Centenary salute to Vivien Leigh on November 5 and an interesting collection of original period documentaries surrounding the 50th Anniversary of the JFK Assassination on November 21.
Featured in TCM's Book Corner throughout November is Christina Rice’s biography of Ann Dvorak. You'll see the new book promoted on the TCM website, on a half page inside of Now Playing and on television in between movies throughout the month. If the promotional effort catches your fancy then you can further whet your appetite by revisiting my recent interview with Christina about Ann Dvorak: Hollywood’s Forgotten Rebel, due out November 4 from University Press of Kentucky.
On to my TCM recommendations for November 2013. Heavy on the ‘30s, as always, though also a bit heavier than usual on the ‘40s and ‘50s titles this month. Maybe someone needs to run a tally on me!
By the way, since I use these monthly previews to link back to several of the earlier articles I've written (and also over to a few friends), I should also point out that if any of the collectibles catch your fancy clicking on those images will usually bring you to a gallery page that shows off the entire set of similar cards or collectibles. More gallery news near the close of this preview.
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. When I recommend something at 12:00 am Saturday it is technically airing just as your calendar flips to Sunday.
October’s Star of the Month Vincent Price is probably still on your TV if you are reading this within a few hours of its arrival, but TCM offers a great Walter Huston pre-Code double feature after that with MGM’s The Beast of the City (1932), featuring a very sexy Jean Harlow dance along with a shockingly violent conclusion, playing at 10 am EST. It’s followed by The Wet Parade (1932), a Prohibition title that tries to have it both ways.
That evening, Friday, November 1 is the first of TCM’s Screwball Comedy Friday nights. This first Friday opens with mostly a collection of the expected titles, except perhaps Stanwyck screwball The Mad Miss Manton (1938) at 3 am. If you’re looking for something to read after It Happened at One Night (1934) plays at 8 pm, then you’re welcome to revisit the article I posted over the summer asking if Clark Gable really did kill the undershirt.
The 8 pm TCM Essential for Saturday, November 2 is John Ford’s How Green Was My Valley (1941). Here’s an appreciation of it that I wrote earlier this year.
The Gig Young (1913-1978) birthday schedule for Monday, November 4 features a goodie that I only saw for the first time this past Summer when Eleanor Parker was TCM’s Star of the Month: The Woman in White (1948) at 12:30 that afternoon. Dark and mysterious with Sydney Greenstreet and Agnes Moorehead also on hand making it even darker and more mysterious.
TCM gives over a full 24 hours of programming to the Vivien Leigh Centennial (1913-1967). The recent Leigh biography by Kendra Bean, longtime member of the blogging community with her fantastic Viv and Larry site, had been TCM's Book Corner selection last month and the positive reviews have been pouring in from many familiar bloggers. TCM plays all of Leigh's key titles that day, Tuesday, November 5.
There’s less fanfare for Joel McCrea’s birthday (1905-1990), but a nice mix of titles including pre-Code creeper The Most Dangerous Game (1932) at 11:15 am; Primrose Path (1940) featuring strong stuff from Ginger Rogers and Marjorie Rambeau at 12:30 pm; and screwball housing shortage classic The More the Merrier (1943) with Jean Arthur and the fantastic Charles Coburn, who won an Oscar in support, at 2:15 pm.
That night is the first evening dedicated to Burt Lancaster as Star of the Month. The festivities open with The Killers (1946), which I mention as an opportunity to point you over to the wonderful film noir hard-copy (and online) newsletter The Dark Pages — The Killers will be featured in the giant double issue at the end of the year, which I’ve been invited back to contribute to again this year. While a huge roster of writers will be covering practically every aspect of this essential noir, from cast and crew down to style and tone, I’ll be taking a look at the source material from Hemingway and how it was transferred to the screen.Not my favorite, but if you’re curious about MGM’s It’s a Big Country (1951) airing at dinner time (6:30 pm) on Thursday, November 7, I did cover it a few years ago HERE.
That night I have a personal Kay Francis DVR alert set-up as Kay stars as Florence Nightingale in The White Angel (1936), a title I’ve yet to see. It plays a little after midnight, 12:45 am.
I would have been very disappointed if Friday, November 8th’s “Big Business” daytime theme did not include a Warren William title, but it does, and it’s a strong one: The Match King (1932) is based on the real life match king Ivar Kreuger and was the movie that almost gave Warren a chance to co-star with Greta Garbo. We get Lili Damita instead. The Match King plays at 8:15 am. It’s covered in great detail at my Warren William fansite.
The entire “Big Business” schedule for the 8th is worthwhile with the classic of journalism, The Front Page (1931), playing at 6:30 am, just before Warren William tries to take over the world. Following The Match King is one I’ve yet to watch, Oil for the Lamps of China (1935 - 10 am), but I do own a copy and now that I see what it’s about I’ll likely be watching very soon. It’s followed by a trio of very effective post-War big business titles: The Hucksters (1947) at 12 noon, which tends to get bogged down by the romance, but is otherwise a great period look at the advertising game; Executive Suite (1954) and it’s power struggle, overseen by Barbara Stanwyck, at 2:15 pm; the more somber Patterns (1956) starring Van Heflin at 4:15 pm.
More screwball comedy that night including the expected Cary Grant-Irene Dunne double feature, Powell and Loy in a non-Thin Man title, and my pick for the night, Too Many Husbands (1940) starring Jean Arthur with Fred MacMurray and Melvyn Douglas making for the one too many of the title. The Wesley Ruggles screwball plays often, but not as often as some of the others airing this month.
Warren William returns at 8 pm, Saturday night, November 9 to star in TCM Essential Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933), which is better remembered for Joan Blondell, Aline MacMahon and Ruby Keeler. More WarrenWilliam.com coverage, from a very Warren perspective, HERE.
Lots of 1940s and 50s film noir on daytime Monday, November 11 as TCM celebrates Robert Ryan’s birthday (1909-1973). My favorite on the schedule is Robert Wise’s The Set-Up (1949), a seedy story set around a low and local rung of the boxing world.
Busby Berkeley’s birthday (1895-1976) is bound to be a let-down on Tuesday, November 12 once I tell you none of the movies are from earlier than 1935 and none of them have the words Gold Diggers in the title. Warren William returns for the Busby-bizarre Stage Struck (1936), the movie which served as the final straw on his Warner Brothers contract and thus capping the most successful portion of his movie career. I actually covered that one right here, on Immortal Ephemera, but yes, there’s also more at WarrenWilliam.com.
Several minor pre-Codes play daytime Thursday, November 14 when TCM airs seven movies from director William A. Seiter. Only one of these ring a bell, the enjoyable Rafter Romance (1933), an early, pre-Astaire, Ginger Rogers title at RKO.
That night Robert Osborne selects a favorite of mine as his own 8 pm favorite, My Name Is Julia Ross (1945) from Joseph H. Lewis, director of Gun Crazy (1950). Set your DVR’s later that night for Anthony Mann’s The Tall Target (1951), starring Dick Powell as a detective trying to prevent the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. And for those who wished for more back on Busby-day, The Tall Target is followed by Dames (1934) at 2:30 am and 42nd Street (1933) at 4:15 am.Friday, November 15 opens with a Barbara Stanwyck pre-Code double feature: So Big (1932) at 6 am is followed by Ladies They Talk About (1933) at 7:30 am. Theodora Goes Wild (1936) at 8 that evening opens the latest round of Screwball comedy classics. Twentieth Century (1934) plays directly after and though it’s not a particular favorite I do acknowledge that everybody else seems to absolutely love it. Perhaps this is a good spot to confess that Carole Lombard’s antics spoil My Man Godfrey (1936) for me too? That saves me from mentioning it during next week’s schedule, when Godfrey pops up.
TCM recently had a double-feature with titles I normally confuse because the names are so similar—Mr. Skeffington and Mrs. Parkington, and hopefully I labeled those genders correctly. They do it again, in a more obvious way, when they play MGM’s Johnny Eager (1941) with Robert Taylor at 8pm on Sunday, November 17, and immediately follow with Fox’s Johnny Apollo (1940), starring Tyrone Power, at 10 pm. Like the October assonances, both Johnnys are also highly recommended!
Is there any better movie to include in a schedule themed “Climbing the Ladder” than Baby Face (1933) starring Barbara Stanwyck? It’s on at 7:30 am, Monday, November 18. Other excellent pre-Code climbs airing that Monday including Joan Crawford in Possessed (1931) with Clark Gable, and the Hollywood set classic What Price Hollywood? (1932) with Constance Bennett and Lowell Sherman at 12:30 pm. If you’d like to double down on your themes and keep your climbs relegated to Hollywood then don’t miss the first movie that morning, King Vidor’s Show People (1928), starring the wonderful Marion Davies at 6 am.
It’s a bit outside my usual range of coverage, but as a history buff I can’t help but to find fascinating TCM’s November 21 Prime Time schedule when they remember the 50th Anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Between 8 pm and 2:15 am TCM plays 5 period documentaries, including four from Robert Drew, which cover JFK’s Presidency from primary through assassination.Daytime Friday, November 22 is probably my highlight for this month as it’s filled by a bunch of 1930s RKO titles I’ve never seen before as TCM celebrates the career of producer Pandro S. Berman. Of those I have seen I recommend One Man’s Journey (1933) at 7:15, a slightly inferior version of the movie later remade as A Man to Remember in 1938. Just because it’s not as good doesn’t mean it’s not good! There’s also a good chance to see Wynne Gibson, who doesn’t pop up enough, that morning in the rarely shown Aggie Appleby, Maker of Men (1933).
Crime takes over TCM beginning at 8 pm on Tuesday, November 26 with the new installment of TCM: A Night at the Movies: Cops and Robbers and the movies keep flowing right through to sundown, November 27. Highlights include The Naked City (1948) at midnight followed by the Cagney classic White Heat (1949) at 2 am. While there are a lot of great 1960s and ‘70s titles showing, other older classics include my own favorite caper film, The Asphalt Jungle (1950) at 9:30 am Wednesday and Gun Crazy (1950), which was mentioned a little earlier, at 2:45 that afternoon. No pre-War, never mind pre-Code, cops and robbers, making me question how complete this Night at the Movies entry is going to be.
Family flicks all Thanksgiving day, November 28. Enjoy the vittles and your company.
The final round of Friday night Screwball comedies features three from Preston Sturges on November 29, though I prefer pointing to Michael Curtiz’ Four’s a Crowd (1938) starring Errol Flynn, Rosalind Russell and Olivia De Havilland as the (slightly) lesser known title playing that night.
November closes with John Ford’s The Searchers (1956) playing at 8 pm as the TCM Essential. It’s followed by Alfred Hitchcock gem The Wrong Man (1956) starring Henry Fonda, a particular favorite of mine that never fails to stir up the paranoia.
Star of the Month for December will be Fred Astaire.
Previews from a growing list of other bloggers can be found at Kristina’s Speakeasy.
The other Gallery news I mentioned up at the top of the page refers to THIS PAGE, a collection of over 300 (326!) different galleries of movie star cards and collectibles. The stars selected were chosen because they have appeared on more of my gallery pages than any others. If the fancy colorful tag cloud doesn't work for you (and it failed me in Internet Explorer) then I've made a text listing linking to each of the 300-plus galleries as well. It's all on THIS PAGE.
I'll be participating in two blogathons during November which means subscribers will be receiving a biography of Hugh Herbert and a look at Lon Chaney, Jr. in Dead Man's Eyes (1944) within the next few weeks. Banners announcing each event follow:
That's all for now. Back soon with something new, sometime between now and Hugh Herbert!