March. For us fans of Turner Classic Movies it's the shortest month because February's "31 Days of Oscar" programming eats up the first three days every year.
My father had a good idea. He thinks TCM's celebration should end the same night that the Oscars air live. I like it. You could still have your 31 days, just kick them off mid-January. In Dad's opinion the thrill is gone after all of the annual Oscar madness dies down. I think he's got a point.
Miss Garson is a favorite and I hope to preview her Star of the Month turn in a Garson-specific post tomorrow. If you can't wait I just wrote about her in some detail this past Fall. I also hope to cover a couple of her movie titles during the month. Turner Classic Movies opens their Star of the Month coverage just as they should, with 1939's Goodbye, Mr. Chips at 8 pm EST Monday night, March 4. You won't see Greer Garson for a little while in that one, but you witness the instantaneous emergence of a major star once you finally do!
Besides featuring Greer Garson as their Star of the Month TCM also puts the focus on the work of director Roberto Rossellini every Friday night in March. While Rossellini's output falls slightly outside of what I cover here at Immortal Ephemera that doesn't mean I won't be taking the opportunity to better familiarize myself with his work. I'm also intrigued by the March 13 evening of Lionel Rogosin films--I bought that DVD blind as a gift for my brother-in-law this past Christmas. Hopefully on the 13th I'll find out I did well by him in doing so.
But as usual we leave most of the TCM Prime Time evening coverage to others. If you turn on the channel during the month you'll certainly see promos for everything airing at 8 pm. I prefer to point you to the daytime and overnight items of interest. The focus is especially upon the daylight hours this month, 6 am to 8 pm EST.
And so, here we go ...
TCM in March, Quickie Edition
Most Exciting Day: March 29 Warner Baxter birthday marathon of 9. Bette Davis division--March 15 early bird birthday marathon of 8 + 1 documentary.
Top Pick: March 11 Greer Garson Mrs. Miniver/Random Harvest double feature at 8 pm. Daylight division--The Strawberry Blonde, March 24, 9 am.
Most Wanted: March 12 Albert S. Rogell day. Single pick--Topaze on March 16, 7:30 am.
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 March, Long Version
Early March 4, once Equus (1977) ends and the Oscars are put on the shelf for another year, TCM's annual John Garfield birthday marathon (born 1913) begins with Blackwell's Island (1939) at 6 am. It's the first of six films starring Garfield airing through 4:45 that afternoon.
Dogs all day March 5 with a couple of classics in the afternoon in Courage of Lassie (1946) and Old Yeller (1958). Patting myself on the back for resisting the temptation of calling it a "dog day" or claiming "March 5 is for the dogs." Though I think I just did.
March 6 appears to be the Oscar make-up date for Ann Sheridan's birthday. Sheridan gets the royal treatment with 8 movies airing from 6 am to 8 pm including Torrid Zone (1940) at 9 am and Shine On, Harvest Moon (1944) at 12 noon. I'm going to use the day as an excuse to finally watch Raoul Walsh's Silver River (1948) at 6 pm featuring Sheridan with another favorite, Errol Flynn. TCM may have preempted Sheridan's birthday, but I didn't--in case you missed it, here's my Ann Sheridan post from February 21.
Six movies featuring Charles Bickford begin the day on March 7. I'm excited for this one because after Anna Christie (1930) opens things up at 6 am I don't believe I've seen any of the other five titles: Passion Flower (1930) at 7:45 am with Kay Francis and Kay Johnson; The Sea Bat (1930) includes Boris Karloff in the cast, though it appears to be about fishermen rather than any terrible monster; I've got a star by Panama Flo (1932) at 10:30 am because it features the lovely Helen Twelvetrees; A Wicked Woman (1934) at 12 noon stars Austrian born Mady Christians; Wayne Morris and Claire Trevor star in Valley of the Giants (1938) at 1:15.
It isn't Bickford's birthday, but he was born in January 1 (1891), the same date as Dana Andrews (1909) who stars in the next three films that afternoon on TCM. Another make-up date?
Early 1950s crime and noir fill the daytime Friday, March 8 with highlights including Alfred Hitchcock's Stage Fright (1950) at 7:30 am and Charles McGraw and Marie Windsor in The Narrow Margin (1952) at 11:15 am. If you don't have Volume 4 of Warner's Film Noir boxes I highly recommend DVRing Tension (1950) in between those two at 9:30 am. Cyd Charisse is very memorable in that one along with stars Richard Basehart and Audrey Totter.
March 9 is TCM's first Saturday after "31 Days of Oscar" which means some of our favorite B-series are back. While the run of Torchy Blane titles continues at noon with Glenda Farrell in Torchy Gets Her Man (1938), I'm much more excited to send out the alert that the first of the Perry Mason movies, The Case of the Howling Dog (1934), starring Warren William airs just before at 10:30.
If you're only familiar with Raymond Burr as Perry Mason you'll want to give these 1930s Warner Brothers movies a try. There were six of them and it looks like TCM will be airing each, one Saturday morning at a time, through April 13. The Perry Mason films vary though more in tone than quality with this first one a bit more serious than the few that follow. You'll find detailed coverage of the first few at my separate Warren William website.
Silent Sundays also return that same weekend with Lon Chaney in The Ace of Hearts (1921) at 12:30 am March 10 (technically March 11 for those in the Eastern time zone like me).
Monday, March 11 offers two titles that I want to DVR, so perhaps they'd be of interest to you as well. I've been on a Josef von Sternberg kick lately so I want to capture The Shaghai Gesture (1941) with Walter Huston and Gene Tierney at 6 am. I've tried The Horn Blows at Midnight (1945) before, but given up a few minutes in. I really do enjoy Jack Benny so I want to give it another shot. Plus friends have told me good things.
It's also worth noting that March 11 features the strongest Greer Garson line-up with Mrs. Miniver (1942) and Random Harvest (1942) beginning the evening at 8 and 10:30 pm. I'll save it for my Garson post though because I could keep rattling off titles airing straight through til Tuesday morning.
Actually, I will mention The Valley of Decision (1945) pairing Garson with Gregory Peck because it airs that next morning, March 12, at 7:30 am and so I can link back to the article I wrote about it some time ago.March 12 then develops into Albert S. Rogell day, which given all the RKO (and Columbia) B-titles gives me a Lew Landers sort of feel (Laura at Laura's Miscellaneous Musings has been covering a ton of Landers' titles lately). The only one I've seen for sure is the early Ginger Rogers title Suicide Fleet (1931), which opens things up at 9:30 am. Then my DVR lights up all day for: Sweepstakes (1931) with Eddie Quillan, who I've really come to enjoy, at 11 am; Air Hostess (1933) with Evalyn Knapp and James Murray (of The Crowd) at 12:30 pm; Ralph Bellamy and Fay Wray in Below the Sea (1933) looks to highlight this schedule for me at 1:45 pm; Bellamy again in Air Hawks (1935) at 3:15 pm; Atlantic Adventure (1935) at 4:30 pm has an intriguing cast with Nancy Carroll, Harry Langdon, Lloyd Nolan and Dwight Frye in what I'd imagine is a small role; Grand Jury (1936) with Fred Stone wraps up Rogell day at 5:45 pm.
March 13 features movies based on work by Tennessee Williams.
"West" features in the title of all ten movies playing in the daytime Thursday, March 14. I'll look forward to my first Lupe Velez Mexican Spitfire title that day at 10:30 am (Will covered the entire Mexican Spitfire series in great detail at his site, Cinematically Insane) and I'll also use this schedule as an excuse to point back to my Out West with the Hardys (1938) post. That one follows Mexican Spitfire Out West at 12 noon. And yes, my Hardy family series will eventually continue.
If you're looking to celebrate Bette Davis' birthday on April 5 (1908), well then you better record the eight movies (plus one documentary) that TCM is airing daytime Friday, March 15*. Bette gets trumped by Melvyn Douglas (born 1901) this coming April 5. A good selection of Davis titles airing on the 15th including Bette in early support in The Rich Are Always With Us (1932) at 6 am and William Wellman's So Big (1932) at 7:15 am. Big time classics later that day include her Oscar winning performance in Jezebel (1938) at 11:30 am and Dark Victory (1939) at 1:15 pm.
Note: Good eye, Laura--it's also George Brent's birthday (1899) on March 15--he's in all of these as well!
Perry and Torchy are back on Saturday the 16th, but even earlier than morning don't miss the outrageous pre-Code classic Jewel Robbery (1932) with William Powell and Kay Francis at 6 am. Topaze (1933) follows at 7:30 am. I don't believe this one, starring John Barrymore and Myrna Loy, has ever made it to DVD and I've been waiting a few years for TCM to air it ever since I eBayed my VHS copy.
Sunday, March 17 is filled with TCM's annual St. Patrick's Day celebration. Cagney and O'Brien are in The Fighting 69th (1940) at 8 am and, of course, John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara star in John Ford's The Quiet Man (1952) at 9:30 pm.
TCM celebrates the birthday of Edward Everett Horton (1886) on Monday, March 18, with nine movies airing between 6:30 am and 8 pm. Success at Any Price (1934) with Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and Genevieve Tobin at 12:15 pm is my most anticipated of the EEH titles. Other pre-Codes airing that morning: Wide Open (1930) at 6:30 am; newspaperman classic The Front Page (1931) at 7:45 am; Lonely Wives (1931), which oddly enough I just watched this past week, at 9:30 am; and the pre-Code jaw dropper Smarty (1934) at 11 am. Starring Warren William, Joan Blondell, Horton and personal fave, Claire Dodd. There's a good chance this one will find a way to insult you.
Daytime March 19 features an eclectic group of nine titles, all released in 1940. George Brent stars in The Man Who Talked Too Much, the first of two remakes of the 1931 Warren William breakout title The Mouthpiece, at 11:15 am; Ann Sheridan stars with Humphrey Bogart featured in the oddball Warner Brothers musical/comedy/crime story It All Came True at 12:45 pm; more Ann Sheridan, and Bogie too, in the classic They Drive By Night starring George Raft with Ida Lupino at 3:30 pm (another one I just watched this week); if you want a little more Bette Davis to go with your March 15 recordings then you can grab another of her Oscar nominated roles at 6:15 with The Letter.
Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) is on at 11 that night. Always worth a mention.
Bands and bandleaders are the focus of the eight titles airing daytime March 20 with The Eddy Duchin Story (1956) starring Tyrone Power at 1:45 my top recommendation of the bunch. I'm intrigued by Melody for Two (1937) at 6 am with a cast including Patricia Ellis, Marie Wilson and Wini Shaw, plus what appears to be 11-year-old Donald O'Connor's film debut with two of his brothers. RKO's Syncopation (1942) captures my attention too with a cast including several favorites: Adolphe Menjou, Jackie Cooper, Bonita Granville and George Bancroft--my von Sternberg kick has led to a Bancroft kick.
Thursday, March 21 TCM celebrates the birthday of W.S. "Woody" Van Dyke (born 1889) with a group of eight movies he directed, no doubt in record time, airing between 6 am and 7:30 pm. The highlight is probably Manhattan Melodrama (1934) starring Clark Gable, William Powell and Myrna Loy at 12:45 pm though I want to point you to Night Court (1932) at 7:30 am for your DVR. Another one filled with favorites: Phillips Holmes, Walter Huston, Anita Page, Lewis Stone, Mary Carlisle, John Miljan, Jean Hersholt, Noel Francis--with a cast like that I'm tempted to say everyone working in '32 is a favorite of mine!
Another birthday marathon on March 22 when TCM airs seven titles featuring Karl Malden (born 1912).
Saturday the 23rd, yep, Perry and Torchy are back, but TCM also gives us a Joan Crawford double feature in the early morning hours with Paid (1930) at 6 am followed by a leftover Woody Van Dyke title, Forsaking All Others (1934) at 7:30. Besides Crawford that Van Dyke title also stars Clark Gable and Robert Montgomery.
Sunday the 24th features a Prime Time double-feature I wanted to mention with Young Tom Edison (1940) starring Mickey Rooney at 8 pm followed by Spencer Tracy in Edison, The Man (1940) at 10. Tracy makes a brief promotional appearance at the end of the first movie leaving no doubt that the second one is coming soon. For once, it's actually coming up next!
Red heads appear to be the theme throughout the day on Monday, March 25 with two very different titles recommended with near equal enthusiasm: Jean Harlow in Red-Headed Woman (1932) at 6 am and James Cagney with Olivia De Havilland, Rita Hayworth and Jack Carson in The Strawberry Blonde (1941) at 9 am. That's a good morning! Lucille Ball, Maureen O'Hara and even Red Buttons make appearances later in the day.
March 26 marks the date Sterling Hayden was born (in 1916), so we've got a marathon of nine titles running from The Asphalt Jungle (1950) at 6 am up until the recently rediscovered A Carol for Another Christmas (1964) at 6:30 pm. My second favorite (after The Asphalt Jungle) that day is the offbeat Western Terror in a Texas Town (1958), which I'd say more about but I'm overdue for a rewatch because I find myself not wanting to unintentionally spoil any elements for you here.
Powell and Pressburger throughout the day Wednesday, March 27. I'm even more intrigued by the early Michael Powell film Something Always Happens (1934) after reading one enthusiastic IMDb review after another. Better known titles from The Archers that day include A Canterbury Tale (1944) at 10:30 am and I Know Where I'm Going! (1945) at 12:45 pm.
Thursday, March 28 hosts an interesting double-feature in the afternoon with twin sisters Lee and Lyn Wilde appearing in Twice Blessed (1945) with Preston Foster and Gail Patrick at 1:30 pm followed by Andy Hardy's Blonde Trouble with Mickey Rooney and company, plus Bonita Granville, at 3 pm. The twins--who interestingly enough do not share a birthday (they were born on either side of midnight as October 9 rolled into the 10th)--are both still with us, each having turned 90 last October. Twice Blessed is new to me, but they're a treat in the Andy Hardy movie so I'm happy for another chance to see them.
I'm certainly going to have to find a good way to celebrate the birthday of Warner Baxter (born 1889) alongside TCM come March 29. Probably a new review. Maybe something different. We'll see. Baxter titles that I've written about already that air on the 29th are Penthouse (1933) at 11:15 am; Adam Had Four Sons (1941) following at 1:00 pm; the original Crime Doctor (1943) next at 2:30 which is followed by two additional series entries. Baxter's final film, State Penitentiary (1950) closes out the celebration at 6:15 pm. Other titles airing earlier that day are The Squaw Man (1931) at 6 am, The Robin Hood of El Dorado (1936) at 8 am and the classic musical 42nd Street (1933) at 9:30 am.
Saturday the 30th, you guessed it: Perry and Torchy. But we say good-bye to Warren William as he takes his series bow in fourth entry The Case of the Velvet Claws (1936) while Torchy Blane makes her final appearance in any form, usually Glenda Farrell but this time Jane Wyman, in final series entry Torchy Plays With Dynamite (1939).
The Bride of Frankenstein (1935) plays earlier that morning at 7:30 am and is followed by Godzilla, King of the Monsters (1956) at 9 am. If I'm up it'll feel like a weekend morning, circa 1980. At least I won't have to play with the antenna. Yup, my first hand-me-down TV was a tiny black-and-white set with an antenna on top that I'd have to twist around. In 1980. And I'd bet money either WOR or WPIX played this exact double-feature one morning.
March 31 is Easter Sunday and TCM obliges in the usual way with titles such as Ben-Hur (1959) at 7:30 am; King of Kings (1961) at 11:30 am; Easter Parade (1948) at 6 pm; and more right on through to Cecil B. DeMille's 1927 The King of Kings just after midnight for Silent Sunday.
You'll find a round-up of all of the TCM March 2013 round-ups over at the Speakeasy. Click over for several other perspectives of classic film on TV for March 2013.
TCM's Star of the Month for April 2013 will be Laurence Olivier.
I'll be back to you tomorrow with a Greer Garson Star of the Month preview.