I love it, TCM is sticking with a major Golden Age Star of the Month for the second month in a row, this time around 54 films over four nights covering 97 hours* of air time (*that’s including all the promos in between films). I say nights, well, don’t try to pull an all-nighter for any of these, as all but one of the nights of Robert Taylor films cover 24 hours or more of broadcasting!
I plan to learn a lot about Taylor this month. I made the mistake of thinking Taylor was just a pretty boy, a beautiful man that MGM stuck opposite their top leading ladies to give women someone to ooh and ahh over. Then I saw Johnny Eager (1941). And then Party Girl (1958). Since I don’t delve very deeply beneath the top layer of Westerns or war movies, the darker side of Taylor had largely eluded me until I’d bumped into that pair of crime films. Now I want more and the timing is perfect. Of course there will be plenty that I skip or maybe hold my nose over, as that perception I carried was certainly cultivated by MGM, especially in Robert Taylor’s early years, but there’s also plenty I’ve heavily circled or starred in my Now Playing Guide that I’m crossing my fingers my cranky DVR has the power to handle!
By coincidence in late February I was reading Ginger Rogers’ autobiography when the calendar flipped and to my surprise Ginger Rogers was March’s Star of the Month. Well, I was a bit more calculated this time, what with my Now Playing subscription having renewed and young Bob Taylor staring up at me from a stack of mail in late March, so I made my overdue purchase of friend Linda Alexander’s Taylor biography, Reluctant Witness: Robert Taylor, Hollywood, and Communism. Unlike Ginger, whose autobiography I put down not so much thinking less of her, but with the realization that she was not someone I would have personally liked, Alexander’s presentation of Taylor has left me with a man who’s far from perfect, but whose fallacies as transmitted through Alexander render him more human and thus more likable. Perhaps I need to take a look at Ginger Rogers through a more impartial lens than her own words to gain a better appreciation of her, but in the case of Robert Taylor I find it hard to believe I’d think any less of him had he been left with the time or inclination to pick up the pen himself.
I’ve got about 50 pages of Reluctant Witness to go as I type this: Bob’s settling down to the most domestic portion of his life with Ursula Thiess, age and heavy smoking are beginning to catch up with him and it’s not going to end well (ah biographies, never a happy ending, is there?). After I finish up I plan to have a little more coverage of Reluctant Witness: Robert Taylor, Hollywood and Communism here on Immortal Ephemera, but as for now I’ll leave off by giving it my full recommendation and explaining that if the title leaves you wary, ignore it: politics were a large part of Robert Taylor’s life, however Reluctant Witness is a complete biography of Taylor. Yes, there is coverage of Taylor and HUAC, but it is not the overwhelming focus of Reluctant Witness. It is a true biography and a very good read.
FLASH: Interview with Reluctant Witness author Linda Alexander just published on Immortal Ephemera. Don't miss it!
Following you’ll find TCM’s complete April Star of the Month schedule. Hoping you enjoy the pictures on this page and the films to come. My greatest hope when digging into a Star of the Month is that I walk away with one or two new favorites. April looks promising.
Check for availability: Robert Taylor in my eBay Store
Note: Many of the movie cards shown below will take you to a more complete Photo ID Guide focusing on the specific collectible pictured. For those which I haven’t created guides for yet hovering over the image should tell you exactly what it is.
April TCM Star of the Month Robert Taylor Schedule
*All times EST
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
- 6:30 pm A Wicked Woman (1934) starring Mady Christians, Charles Bickford, Robert Taylor
- 8:00 pm Magnificent Obsession (1935) starring Irene Dunne, Robert Taylor, Charles Butterworth
- 10:00 pm Camille (1936) starring Greta Garbo, Robert Taylor, Lionel Barrymore
- 12:00 am Waterloo Bridge (1940) starring Vivien Leigh, Robert Taylor, Lucile Watson
- 2:00 am Billy the Kid (1941) starring Robert Taylor, Brian Donlevy, Ian Hunter
- 3:45 am When Ladies Meet (1941) starring Joan Crawford, Robert Taylor, Greer Garson
- 5:45 am Flight Command (1940) starring Robert Taylor, Ruth Hussey, Walter Pidgeon
- 7:45 am Escape (1940) starring Norma Shearer, Robert Taylor, Conrad Veidt
- 9:30 am Stand Up and Fight (1939) starring Wallace Beery, Robert Taylor, Florence Rice
- 11:15 am Remember? (1939) starring Robert Taylor, Greer Garson, Lew Ayres
- 12:45 am Lucky Night (1939) starring Myrna Loy, Robert Taylor, Henry O'Neill
- 2:15 pm Lady of the Tropics (1939) starring Robert Taylor, Hedy Lamarr, Joseph Schildkraut
- 4:00 pm Broadway Melody of 1938 (1937) starring Eleanor Powell, George Murphy, Robert Taylor
- 6:00 pm The Gorgeous Hussy (1936) starring Joan Crawford, Robert Taylor, Lionel Barrymore
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
- 6:30 pm His Brother's Wife (1936) starring Robert Taylor, Barbara Stanwyck, Joseph Calleia
- 8:00 pm High Wall (1947) starring Robert Taylor, Herbert Marshall, Audrey Totter
- 9:45 pm Stand By For Action (1942) starring Robert Taylor, Charles Laughton, Brian Donlevy
- 11:45 pm Johnny Eager (1942) starring Robert Taylor, Lana Turner, Van Heflin
- 1:45 am Her Cardboard Lover (1942) starring Norma Shearer, Robert Taylor, George Sanders
- 3:30 am Song of Russia (1943) starring Robert Taylor, Susan Peters, John Hodiak
- 5:30 am Undercurrent (1946) starring Katharine Hepburn, Robert Taylor, Robert Mitchum
- 7:30 am Ambush (1949) starring Robert Taylor, John Hodiak, Arlene Dahl
- 9:00 am The Bribe (1949) starring Robert Taylor, Ava Gardner, Charles Laughton
- 10:45 am Conspirator (1949) starring Robert Taylor, Elizabeth Taylor, Harold Warrender
- 12:15 pm Devil's Doorway (1950) starring Robert Taylor, Louis Calhern, Paula Raymond
- 1:45 pm West Point of the Air (1935) starring Wallace Beery, Robert Young, Maureen O'Sullivan
- 3:15 pm Times Square Lady (1935) starring Robert Taylor, Virginia Bruce, Isabel Jewell
- 4:30 pm Society Doctor (1935) starring Chester Morris, Virginia Bruce, Robert Taylor
- 6:00 pm Small Town Girl (1936) starring Janet Gaynor, Robert Taylor, James Stewart
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
- 6:00 pm Personal Property (1937) starring Jean Harlow, Robert Taylor, Reginald Owen
- 8:00 pm Quo Vadis (1951) starring Robert Taylor, Deborah Kerr, Peter Ustinov
- 11:00 pm Ivanhoe (1952) starring Robert Taylor, Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Fontaine
- 1:00 am Knights of the Round Table (1953) starring Robert Taylor, Ava Gardner, Mel Ferrer
- 3:00 am All the Brothers Were Valiant (1953) starring Robert Taylor, Stewart Granger, Ann Blyth
- 4:45 am Quentin Durward (1955) starring Robert Taylor, Kay Kendall, Robert Morley
- 6:30 am Valley of the Kings (1954) starring Robert Taylor, Eleanor Parker, Kurt Kasznar
- 8:00 am Ride, Vaquero! (1953) starring Robert Taylor, Ava Gardner, Howard Keel
- 9:45 am Above and Beyond (1952) starring Robert Taylor, Eleanor Parker, James Whitmore
- 12:00 pm Westward the Women (1951) starring Robert Taylor, Denise Darcel, John McIntire
- 2:00 pm Broadway Melody of 1936 (1935) starring Jack Benny, Robert Taylor, Eleanor Powell
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
- 6:15 pm Three Comrades (1938) starring Margaret Sullavan, Robert Taylor, Robert Young
- 8:00 pm Savage Pampas (1967) starring Robert Taylor, Ron Randell, Ty Hardin
- 10:00 pm Killers of Kilimanjaro (1959) starring Robert Taylor, Anthony Newley, Anne Aubrey
- 11:45 pm The Last Hunt (1956) starring Robert Taylor, Stewart Granger, Lloyd Nolan
- 1:30 am The Law and Jake Wade (1958) starring Robert Taylor, Richard Widmark, Patricia Owens
- 3:00 am The Power and the Prize (1956) starring Robert Taylor, Elisabeth Mueller, Mary Astor
- 4:45 am Tip on a Dead Jockey (1957) starring Robert Taylor, Dorothy Malone, Jack Lord
- 6:30 am Party Girl (1958) starring Robert Taylor, Cyd Charisse, Lee J. Cobb
- 8:15 am Saddle the Wind (1958) starring Robert Taylor, John Cassavetes, Julie London
- 9:45 am House of the Seven Hawks (1959) starring Robert Taylor, Nicole Maurey, Linda Christian
- 11:30 am Cattle King (1963) starring Robert Taylor, Joan Caulfield, Robert Loggia
- 1:15 pm Hondo and the Apaches (1967) starring Robert Taylor, Michael Rennie, John Smith
- 2:45 pm The Crowd Roars (1938) starring Robert Taylor, Frank Morgan, Edward Arnold
- 4:30 pm A Yank at Oxford (1938) starring Robert Taylor, Maureen O'Sullivan, Vivien Leigh
Check for availability: Robert Taylor in my eBay Store
I confess all the Taylor movies I’m taping this month are more for the other people in the film: Greta Garbo, Irene Dunne, Vivian Leigh, Herbert Marshall…And yet, I really enjoyed him in Camille. I need to give him more of a chance. This was a brilliant idea Cliff. Good job.
Cliff Aliperti says
I edited it out of the post but what I’ll be looking for is more with Taylor as badass. Those two I mentioned certainly elevated him out of pretty boy status.
Thanks, I did the same for Ginger Rogers last month and it was pretty consistently my most popular post throughout the month. Donna Reed may be tough in May, don’t have a tremendous amount of images on file for her, but as long as I can come up with 4 or 5 it should be a go. The further we get from the Golden Age, the tougher it is for me, but then again that reflects my own tastes as well.
Linda J. Alexander says
Thank you, Cliff, for a great post. You definitely did Taylor justice. It’s great when someone looks at these actors with a fresh eye … & sees that which hadn’t been seen before. Taylor was quite good in those–as you call it–badass roles … personally, my favorite of all his personas. In real life, he had a rather cynical personality & a bit of a sarcastic sense of humor, & such roles gave him an outlet to let loose.
Cliff Aliperti says
Thanks, Linda. Actually I enjoyed his real-life personality quite a bit as you presented him. Could definitely imagine bending an elbow with him!
By the way, if you’ve read this far I’ve since published an interview with Linda J. Alexander about her Taylor book, Reluctant Witness on another part of the site. Check it out!