I lean on the daytime features because those are less publicized than prime time programming. They tend to interest me more because they're often lesser known and lesser shown titles. And they can be heavy on the 1930's.
TCM's Star of the Month is Doris Day which has been very well received from what I've seen but personally makes me glad baseball season is here. TCM also gets a bit daring this month in confining its Star of the Month programming to a single week rather than spacing out their star coverage throughout the month. So if you love Doris Day then you might think April 2-April 6 is the best thing TCM has ever done, but if you're like me, well then, at least The Winning Team (1952) is part of the Day-celebration on April 4. Play ball!
TCM's Star of the Month for May is Joel McCrea. That will get some coverage in this space. And just in case you're curious, common sense returns to TCM with the May-McCrea movies airing each Wednesday night throughout the month rather than being condensed into a single week as in April's Day offerings.
Back to April. Could be better, could be worse. A few days I found myself circling. Here they are:
The Kay Francis movies kick off at 6 am with A Notorious Affair (1930); Guilty Hands (1931) at 7:15; Transgression (1931) at 8:30; Jewel Robbery (1932) at 9:45; and finally I Loved A Woman with Kay and Edward G. at 11.
The Edward G. Robinson features then continue with The Man With Two Faces (1934) at 12:45 pm; The Whole Town's Talking (1935) at 2:00; The Last Gangster (1937) at 3:45; The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse (1938) at 5:15; and the baseball movie Big Leaguer (1953) at 6:45.
Monday, April 9 is Ward Bond day celebrating the 1903 birth of the popular character actor with 9 titles ranging from 1935-1940 that appear to have been picked out of a hat:
Black Fury (1935) at 6:30 am; Devil Dogs of the Air (1935) at 8:15; Little Big Shot (1935) at 10:00; Murder in the Fleet (1935) at 11:30; Avenging Waters (1936) at 12:45 pm; The Cattle Thief (1936) at 2:00; The Man Who Lived Twice (1936) at 3:15; Muss 'Em Up (1936) at 4:45; and Santa Fe Trail (1940) at 6:00 pm.
It falls outside this chronological timetable but it's a shame Gentleman Jim (1942) doesn't make the cut. (It's next scheduled to air May 20).
I try to stick mainly to often forgotten daytime hours here, but wanted to mention the fine Hollywood double-feature airing Prime Time Sunday, April 15 with the 1937 A Star Is Born at 8 pm with a title that strongly influenced it, What Price Hollywood? (1932), following at 10 pm.The short directorial career of Harold S. Bucquet included 8 titles in the Dr. Kildare series and 1 from the Dr. Gillespie spin-off. TCM does not air any of those, but does celebrate Bucquet's birthday, Wednesday, April 10 with eight non-series films directed by Bucquet. The schedule:
On Borrowed Time at 6:30 am; We Who Are Young at 8:15; Kathleen (1941) at 9:45; The Penalty (1941) at 11:15; The War Against Mrs. Hadley (1942) at 12:45 pm; The Adventures of Tartu (1943), 104 minute version at 2:15 followed by British 111 minute version Sabotage Agent at 4 pm; the BUcquet schedule closes with Hepburn and Tracy in Without Love (1945) at 6 pm.
British-born Bucquet died after a short illness on February 13, 1946. He was 54.
Monday, April 16 features a morning birthday mini-thon as the Little Tramp is gives over the bulk of the day to, erm, Peter Ustinov, who was also born April 16.
The Chaplins kick off at 6:00 am with Pay Day (1922); The Kid (1921) at 6:30; Chaplin's spotlight on Edna Purviance with A Woman of Paris (1923) at 7:30 am; and City Lights (1931) at 9 am before Ustinov takes over at 10:30 and I find other things to do.
The complete schedule: Brown stars in Fireman, Save My Child (1932) at 6:15 am; Elmer the Great (1933) at 7:30 am; and the movie which hooked me on Joe E. Brown, Alibi Ike (1935) at 8:45 am. That one also features teen-aged Olivia De Havilland! The classic The Pride of the Yankees (1942) starring Gary Cooper as Lou Gehrig airs at 10 am, followed by the atrocious portrayal of the Bambino, Babe Ruth by William Bendix in The Babe Ruth Story (1948) at 12:15. (Watch that one for the unintentional laughs, if you can stand it!). Take Me Out to the Ball Game (1949) airs at 2:15; The Jackie Robinson Story (1950) starring Jackie Robinson at 4; Angels in the Outfield (1951) at 5:30.Then I'll skip the beach movies that evening and watch the Yanks instead. Hopefully they're not off that night because I'd probably suffer through an Astros game just to miss the beach movies.
Watch for Alibi Ike and Babe Ruth finding themselves in the same arm sling in a scene The Babe Ruth Story remakes from Alibi Ike. William Frawley, another big baseball fan, figures in the scene in both movies!
The morning of Friday, April 20 features a block of four with Jimmy Durante: The Cuban Love Song (1931) at 9:15 am; Broadway to Hollywood (1933) at 11; Meet the Baron (1933) gives a taste of the Durante-Jack Pearl teaming at 12:30 pm; Strictly Dynamite (1934) with Lupe Velez caps the Durante run at 1:45.
Two 1941 favorites air early Sunday, April 22 with Clark Gable and Lana Turner in Honky Tonk at 6:15 am followed by James Cagney with Olivia De Havilland, Rita Hayworth and Jack Carson in The Strawberry Blonde at 8:15 am.
Monday, April 23 kicks off with a run of Laurel and Hardy silent shorts between 6 am and 10 am: Do Detectives Think? (1927); Putting Pants on Phillips (1927); You're Darn Tootin' (1928); Two Tars (1928); Habeas Corpus (1928); Big Business (1929); Double Whoopee (1929); and Angora Love (1929).
After the Laurel and Hardy shorts the afternoon is filled with movies 1934-1941, though if there's a greater binding theme I can't find it. The best I can come up with is character actor double features as Henry Stephenson figures in both Stingaree (1934) at 10 am and One More River (1934) after that at 11:30. Then Franklin Pangborn is in both It Happened in Hollywood (1937) at 1:15 and Living on Love (1937) at 2:30 pm; Then Edward Ellis links A Man to Remember (1938) at 3:45 pm with Three Sons at 5:15 and Steel Against the Sky (1941) at 6:30.It Happened in Hollywood looks especially interesting and never having seen it I've circled it heaviest and added a few stars around the entry in my own April Now Playing Guide.
Saturday mornings continue to see Chester Morris as Boston Blackie in the 10:45 am timeslot with Boston Blackie Goes to Hollywood (1942) airing April 7; The Chance of a Lifetime (1943) April 14; After Midnight with Boston Blackie (1943) April 21; and One Mysterious Night (1944) April 28.
TCM April 2012 Decade Tally
I've done this a couple of times dating back to January 1, so why not keep it going. After suspecting my favorite film decade (and after reading above that shouldn't be too tough to guess) was getting shortchanged, I turned to the back of my Now Playing Guide and tallied off the films by the given release date, grouping them by decade. The list is limited to movies (no documentaries for example) and if it airs twice it's counted twice. Here's the April tally:
101 - 1960's
100 - 1950's
84 - 1940's
74 - 1930's
18 - 1920's
17 - 1970's
4 - 1980's
3 - 1910's
2 - 1990's
Thanks to those Chaplin and Laurel & Hardy days the 1920's enjoy a bit of a push in April and begin to approach the 80's. Certainly the 80's far outstrips the 20's in running time or hours of programming allotted, but at least the 20's make a gain through our imperfect count! The 60's gain a little ground back on the 40's, which had leapfrogged it last month and the 1910's tie up the 1990's.
Joel McCrea in May, can't wait!