TCM shows a total of 26 films featuring Olivier throughout April. The schedule opens with the actor’s Shakespearean portrayals on April 3 and covers fifty years of Olivier movies throughout the month with many of his other best remembered classic titles airing on April 17 including Wuthering Heights (1939), Rebecca and Pride and Prejudice (both 1940).
In lieu of an Olivier specific preview on this site I’m going to point you over to Kendra Bean’s all encompassing Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier site, Viv and Larry. You’ll find your answers to anything Olivier related over there.
As usual my TCM preview sticks to the off hours. Most especially the daytime when you may need a little DVR alert to cover you for that Melvyn Douglas or Flora Robson marathon. Yup, each of those happen this month. If you like your stars a bit bigger—and less chatty—TCM has birthday marathons set for Lon Chaney and Charlie Chaplin too.
So let’s get on to it, but first:
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 April, Quickie Edition
Top Pick: I like The Snake Pit (1948) starring Olivia de Havilland and it airs twice this month: The 14th at 3:30 pm and the 29th at 12:30 pm. There’s a good mix of ‘30s titles airing on April 26.
Most Wanted: I haven’t seen Chaney in The Blackbird (1926), nor have I seen Chaplin’s A King in New York (1957). No run of pre-Code or ‘40s B titles calling out to me this month though.
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.
TCM in April, Long Version
April 1 begins with a Lon Chaney birthday marathon (born 1883). TCM airs eight Chaney movies, seven of them silent, plus the 1930 talkie version of The Unholy Three, before capping off daytime Chaney programming with the excellent documentary Lon Chaney: A Thousand Faces (2000) at 6:15 pm. The day opens at 6 am with The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923). Other titles airing throughout this first Monday of the month include He Who Gets Slapped (1924), Tell it to the Marines (1926) and Mr. Wu (1927).
Baseball movies airing on TCM that night because, anywhere outside of the state of Texas where the Rangers and Astros played Sunday night, it’s opening day! Based on this schedule I’ll probably be watching a ballgame. Okay, I do get a kick out of It Happens Every Spring (1949), but it’s a pretty light schedule. Don’t look for any of the better biopics such as those covering Lou Gehrig, Grover Cleveland Alexander or Monty Stratton.
Not spotting an overall theme for Tuesday, April 2, but I’ll always point out when King Kong (1933) airs, as it does at 7:30 am. Later that afternoon we have Gary Cooper in Bright Leaf (1950) at 4:15 pm. It’s no King Kong, but hey, I’ve got a pretty good article about Bright Leaf on the site and recently picked up some still photos I can show off, like this one of Coop with Donald Crisp:
Last year TCM gave over an entire week of evening programming to Star of the Month Doris Day. The movies aired on five consecutive nights in celebration of Day’s 88th birthday, but they left us without a Star of the Month from April 6 on. Hopefully that was a failed experiment. TCM exacts vengeance on Day’s 89th birthday this year in turning over just half of the April 3 daytime to her. The early half. The afternoon features three of Marlon Brando’s best loved titles in celebration of his shared birthday (both born 1924).
On April 4 TCM attempts a five-movie Anthony Perkins birthday celebration (born 1932) without Psycho (1960).
More up my alley is the nine movie Melvyn Douglas birthday (born 1901) schedule for daytime April 5. I’m especially interested in catching Prestige (1932) at 6:30 am and recommend She Married Her Boss (1935) with Claudette Colbert at 10:45. The Vampire Bat (1933), featuring Douglas with Lionel Atwill, Fay Wray and even Dwight Frye, airs that morning as well.
Saturday morning, April 6 sees a continuation of the Perry Mason series, but without Warren William as Ricardo Cortez pops up for his entry, plus the beginning of a run of the Margaret Rutherford Miss Marple movies in place of the now completed Torchy Blane series.
Sunday, April 7 includes a couple of pre-Code titles I’ll be DVRing: New Morals for Old (1932) at 6 am and The Guilty Generation (1931) at 12 noon. Both feature Robert Young in the cast with Myrna Loy his leading lady in the early morning and Constance Cummings starring alongside Young at lunch time.
Monday, April 8 is a mixed schedule with a bit of an outlaw theme most obvious in some of the Westerns airing that day. Titles of interest here include William Powell in Lawyer Man (1933) at 6 am; Humphrey Bogart and Kay Francis in King of the Underworld (1939) at 8:15 am; Edward Arnold and Lionel Barrymore (1941) in The Penalty (1941) at 1:30 pm.
Daytime April 9 stays stuck in the 1960s and ‘70s with a Charlotte Rampling double-feature and three featuring Sandy Dennis including Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966).
April 11 features seven directed by Jean Negulesco including Johnny Belinda (1948) and Titanic (1953).
The final Perry Mason entry, this one starring Donald Woods, airs on the morning of April 13. Later that afternoon TCM shows Johnny Weissmuller’s original outing as Tarzan, the Ape Man (1932).
Some excellent better known classics airing throughout the day Sunday, April 14, including High Sierra (1941), The Lady Vanishes (1938), Carefree (1938), and The Snake Pit (1948). That evening TCM airs a Walter Huston double feature comprised of a couple of other biggies: The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) and Dodsworth (1936).
Women in prison the morning of April 15 with Ladies They Talk About (1933) starring Barbara Stanwyck the highlight. Clint Eastwood spaghetti Westerns in the afternoon warming up to a “Guns of the West” featuring on TCM that evening.
Tuesday, April 16, is the Charlie Chaplin birthday celebration (born 1889). The complete schedule, running 6 am to 8 pm and leaving out documentaries: Tillie’s Punctured Romance (1914); Sunnyside (1919); The Gold Rush (1925); The Circus (1928); Modern Times (1936); The Great Dictator (1940); A King in New York (1957); Limelight (1952).
Six movies featuring Flora Robson air on April 18.
April 19 features movies about juvenile deliquents during the day. It opens with Reefer Madness (1936) before playing many of the expected ‘50s and ‘60s titles.
Saturday, April 20 sees George Sanders take over the former Perry Mason slot with The Gay Falcon (1941). This is the first of four Falcon appearances by Sanders culminated by his handing off the reins to his real-life brother, Tom Conway, in The Falcon’s Brother (1942). That one airs on TCM May 11 as they continue with the series.
That night TCM actually airs Tod Browning’s Freaks (1932) in its prestigious 8 pm Saturday night Essentials space. That seems surprising.
Monday, April 22, features an Eddie Albert birthday marathon (born 1905) during the day. Early titles include On Your Toes (1939); An Angel from Texas (1940); Thieves Fall Out (1941); Bombardier (1943); and then a baseball comedy that I’m bracing myself for, Ladies Day (1943). It features Albert as a character named Wacky Waters--probably too wacky for my tastes. Lupe Velez co-stars as someone called Pepita Zorita.
Shirley Temple turns 85 on April 23 and TCM responds with an eight movie marathon. Unfortunately Shirley was over 18 for six of those movies, what with all of her most famous titles coming out of Twentieth Century-Fox in the 1930s. It’s a shame TCM couldn't gain rights to these for just one day, especially since they’ve recently aired The Littlest Rebel (1935) a couple of times along with a few others. It's not as though Fox Movie Channel is taking advantage of the day--they show no Shirley Temple movies on the 23rd!
Biopics on Wednesday, April 24. The earliest of these is Lust for Life (1956). It’s also, not coincidentally, my favorite of the bunch.
April 25 has some goodies mixed throughout the day including one of the Hildegarde Withers mysteries starring Edna May Oliver, Murder on the Blackboard (1934), at 8:45 am. Gable, Harlow and Loy in Wife vs. Secretary (1936) at 10 am while Fred MacMurray comes home to find Jean Arthur married to Melvyn Douglas in Too Many Husbands (1940) at 1.
I still haven’t watched my recording of The Barbarian (1933) from when it aired last summer during TCM’s Summer Under the Stars, but it shows again Friday morning, April 26 at 9:15 am, just after Marion Davies in Blondie of the Follies (1932). Those are followed by a pair of Jean Harlow titles, Hold Your Man (1933) and The Girl from Missouri (1934), both of which I’m overdue to catch again. Then Ann Harding stars in Biography of a Bachelor Girl (1935), which I mention mainly because I have some very nice still photos on hand to choose from for illustration:
‘50s Sci-Fi on Saturday afternoon, April 27.
William Powell and Myrna Loy on Sunday morning, April 28, in Love Crazy (1941).
Four from director Fred Zinnemann on the morning of his birthday, April 29 (born 1907). Another chance to catch The Snake Pit (1948) after that at 12:30 pm. More ‘50s Sci-Fi that evening.
April limps off with highlights including The Southerner (1945) at 6 am and The Prowler (1951) at 1:45 pm on April 30.
There will be no Star of the Month for May with the focus on movie Tough Guys instead. This includes James Cagney, Edward G. Robinson, Humphrey Bogart, in all of the titles you’d expect. Sounds good, though I prefer a Star of the Month.
For links to other previews of TCM in April have a look at Kristina’s round-up at the Speakeasy. There will probably be a few more excited voices than mine. I find April 2013 one of TCM’s most underwhelming months in memory.
If you’re reading this via email or RSS subscription I’d love for you to pop over to Immortal Ephemera and have a look at the new design of the site. I’m not quite finished building yet, but what you see should be the basic look for awhile at least. Hope you like it!
Back with a new post soon. Til then, enjoy!