TCM loads up on the usual Christmas movies for December and keeps it family friendly with their choice for Star of the Month, Cary Grant. Each of those groups of movies is made up of tried and true classics. Same old, same old. But practically every title under each of those banners remains solidly entertaining, typically with that timeless appeal that best defines the “classic” in Turner Classic Movies.
TCM features Cary Grant in 42 movies throughout December, beginning each Monday evening at 8 pm Eastern and running into the following Tuesday morning.
For regular viewers, it’s unlikely any of these are going to be new. Robert Osborne has written this essay so often that this time he spends more than half of his Now Playing introductory piece talking about the movies that Cary Grant turned down! Still, I have an impossible time changing the channel when I see Cary Grant because it doesn’t matter how often I’ve seen any of these movies.
Enough already, it’s Cary Grant—I don’t have to sell you. My favorite groups of Cary Grant films come with the December 1 pre-Codes and the December 22 screwball comedies. I’ll leave it at that, with a little more about each date down below.
Themes of Interest:
Multiple offerings of these stars and themes of interest. This seems light, but when you consider that every evening of Cary Grant is a winner, it’s a bit better. Daytime refers to any titles falling between 6:00 am—8:00 pm Eastern, while evening takes care of the rest.
- December 2, daytime: Warren William (more below)
- December 8, daytime: King Vidor
- December 10, daytime: Thomas Mitchell
- December 12, daytime: Edward G. Robinson
- December 26, daytime: Henry Fonda
Reviews and Related:
Linking to movies that I’ve written about, or around, that are playing on TCM in November. All times Eastern. Days begin at 6:00 am and run until the following morning. (For example, Hot Saturday is listed at 2:00 am Monday: That’s late Monday night for us on the East Coast, but as it’s after midnight so it’s technically very early Tuesday morning.)
Monday, December 1, 2:00 am - Hot Saturday (1932). Another mention of this one below in the December 1 section about Cary Grant pre-Codes. You’ll find a biography of the film’s star, Nancy Carroll, HERE.
Tuesday, December 2, 10:15 am - 4:30 pm - I’ve covered four, and soon all five, of the Warren William birthday titles at WarrenWilliam.com. More info with links to each post in the section below.
Friday, December 12, 9:45 am - Smart Money (1931). Robinson AND Cagney. Robinson’s the star, but Cagney gets to do his thing in more limited offerings. Part of TCM’s Edward G. Robinson daytime birthday lineup.
Saturday, December 13, 11:00 pm - Ruggles of Red Gap (1935). Hilarious interactions between Charles Laughton and Charlie Ruggles, plus Laughton making everyone in the movie (and on your couch) sit dead still as he recites the Gettysburg Address. It's the highlight of this movie and a highlight of Laughton’s impressive career.
Sunday, December 14, 6:00 am - The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946). I was surprised to be so impressed by Lana Turner back when I wrote this over five years ago.
Sunday, December 14, 10:15 pm - David Copperfield (1935). I can’t think of another movie that better captures the spirit of the characters from a classic work of fiction. It’s almost like Dickens saw this, then wrote the book. Besides my main Copperfield entry, also see biographies of cast members Elizabeth Allan, Freddie Bartholomew, and the enigmatic Lennox Pawle, who played the ever bizarre Mr. Dick.
Tuesday, December 16, 2:15 pm - The Constant Nymph (1943) - Beautiful movie to look at from director Edmund Goulding with an outstanding performance from Joan Fontaine. Especially in the early scenes on both those counts.
Tuesday, December 16, 6:00 pm - Cass Timberlane (1947). Spencer Tracy and Lana Turner in a so-so adaptation of the Sinclair Lewis novel.
If you generally like my tastes in movies, then I think these are going to be winners for you. Same notes as above, Eastern time, with days beginning at 6 am.
Monday, December 1, 8:00 am - Sadie McKee (1934). Part of a Joan Crawford daytime lineup that is preceded by Grand Hotel (1932) at 6:00 am. In Sadie McKee, Joan is in love with good-for-nothing Gene Raymond but really a better match for snobby but civil Franchot Tone. Tone introduces Crawford to the most interesting man in this movie, alcoholic millionaire Edward Arnold, seemingly her least likely match. Arnold is the highlight of this one, even if his drunk is a little too drunk, he’s a complicated man when sober.
Monday, December 1, 8:00 pm - 4:00 am - Cary Grant pre-Codes. Grant’s debut in This Is the Night (1932) begins the evening at 8, followed by his pair in support of Mae West, She Done Him Wrong (1933) at 9:30 and I’m No Angel (1933) at 10:45. Cary co-stars with Fredric March and Carole Lombard in WWI-flier flick The Eagle and the Hawk (1933) at 12:30 am, and then vies with real-life pal Randolph Scott for Nancy Carroll in Hot Saturday (1932) at 2 am.
Tuesday, December 2, 6:00 am - The Toast of New York (1937). Actually a continuation of the Cary Grant films from Monday night, but one of my favorites. The aforementioned Edward Arnold actually stars as real-life robber baron Jim Fisk in this tale of wealth sprung from Civil War profiteering that snowballs to the eventual cornering of the gold market. Yes, it plays with time and history, and somehow doesn’t even include Fisk’s partner, Jay Gould, but it’s an engaging representation of a slice of history that should send new fans to the net to seek out the actual details after they get through with it. Also includes a very strong part for character man Donald Meek, who plays a snivelly Uncle Dan’l Drew. I don’t know when, but I will eventually cover this title on the site.
Tuesday, December 2, 10:15 am - 4:30 pm - TCM’s Warren William birthday celebration! I have reviews of four of these five films on WarrenWilliam.com, with the fifth planned to post Tuesday morning. It’s not the best selection of Warren William titles, but it is a good overview (I wish they could have squeezed in one of his detective roles). The Dark Horse (1932) is in or very near the top tier of Warren’s pre-Code hits and Under Eighteen (1932) is strong as well, with playboy Warren showing hints of what's to come in support of Marian Marsh. The Woman from Monte Carlo (1932) is an early drama meant to launch German star Lil Dagover, but Warren actually has a more impressive role in it than the mighty Walter Huston—review pending on this title. Don’t Bet on Blondes (1935) is one of Warren’s best Warner Bros. entries made after enforcement of the Code, and it also provides a strong part for period favorite Claire Dodd and an early appearance by Errol Flynn as one of Claire’s suitors. The day caps off with a late Warren entry, Fear (1946), a loose adaptation of Crime and Punishment from Poverty Row. The final tally on the Warren birthday 5 includes 1 classic (The Dark Horse), 3 very strong titles, and 1 middling selection (The Woman from Monte Carlo).
Wednesday, December 3, 6:00 am - Decoy (1946) - Really makes you wish someone made more with Jean Gillie before her untimely death a couple of years later at age 33. Low budget Monogram release, but classic film noir all the same.
Wednesday, December 3, 9:00 am - Scarface (1932) - The classic starring Paul Muni.
Friday, December 5, 6:30 pm - Laura (1944) - I’ll repeat what I said the last time TCM played this. Watch it/Record it now, because once they’ve played this Twentieth Century Fox film noir classic as often as they’re allowed, you may not see it again for some time.
Saturday, December 6, 4:15 pm - Boys Town (1938) - You know there’s a comeuppance on the horizon for Mickey Rooney’s character, but he’s such a fun hooligan that I’m almost sad to see him reform.
Sunday, December 7, 12:30 pm - The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942) - The more I watch it, the more stagey it feels, but Monty Woolley’s comments still cut just as sharp. Also a great place to see character actor Grant Mitchell, who I wrote about at some length last month. TCM plays it again on December 24.
Pick of the month. Monday, December 8, 2:15 pm - An American Romance (1944). Part of a six-movie King Vidor marathon during the day and, despite the presence of Our Daily Bread (1934 - 11:30 am) and The Fountainhead (1949 - 4:30 pm), An American Romance is my favorite of these selections. Tracks the rise of Brian Donlevy’s European immigrant through America by way of steel.
Tuesday, December 9, 12:30 am - Gentleman Jim (1942). Sure, there are better movies about boxing, but Gentleman Jim is my favorite thanks to the infectious charisma of Errol Flynn in the leading role. As a biopic it’s a fairy tale, but includes some decent boxing scenes, a classic moment from Ward Bond, and a whole lot of fun courtesy Alan Hale, in addition to star Flynn.
Friday, December 12, 7:30 am - 7:30 pm - Edward G. Robinson birthday marathon of 8 movies. Highlights include Edward G. With Alice White in the very early Widow from Chicago (1930) at 7:30 am; Smart Money (1931) with James Cagney at 9:45 am; Dark Hazard (1934) at 1:30 pm. Dark Hazard is one of four movies found in the brand new Forbidden Hollywood, Vol. 8 from Warner Archive, each of which I’ll be reviewing soon.
Monday, December 15, 2:45 am - 2:45 am - Only Angels Have Wings (1939) - Action, drama, and romance in one of Cary Grant’s best acting performances of his career. With Jean Arthur, Rita Hayworth, Thomas Mitchell, and a heartbreaking Richard Barthelmess, in his best role in years and the last important part of his career.
Thursday, December 18, 8:00 am - Nazi Agent (1942). Jules Dassin WWII homefront scares with Conrad Veidt in dual roles as a meek immigrant bookseller and his dastardly Nazi brother.
Thursday, December 18, 8:00 pm - 2:15 am - Four versions of A Christmas Carol beginning with the 1938 version starring Reginald Owen at 8 pm; the classic musical Scrooge (1970) with Albert Finney at 9:15 pm; the lesser seen 1935 British made Scrooge with Seymour Hicks in the title role; and the more modern telling, A Carol for Another Christmas (1964), starring a very bitter Sterling Hayden, with several guest stars, at 12:45 am.
Saturday, December 20, 8:00 pm - The Thin Man (1934). A good place to mention that my Edward Ellis biography will be one of many entries inside The Thin Man anthology planned for December publication by mastermind and editor Danny Reid of Pre-Code.com. Available in paperback, this book includes entries by several popular classic movie bloggers, including a few previously published authors. The artwork Danny has commissioned for the cover is snazzy as hell and looking at the early proofs I can say he’s done a great job of piecing together an ultimate guide to the entire Thin Man series. Reviews, biographies, and other critical pieces line the contents - I’ll link to the Amazon page HERE as soon as it’s available for sale.
Sunday, December 21, 8;15 am - Mr. Skeffington (1944). I love an epic saga that covers long bouts of characters’ lives surrounded by large swaths of history. Bette Davis and Claude Rains get to age in this one, and you know Bette loves to plaster on the make-up as the years roll by!
Monday, December 22, 8:00 pm - 7:00 am - Cary Grant classics, 1937-1940. Screwball heaven! Cary and Roz Russell in His Girl Friday (1940) at 8:00 pm, followed by a double shot of Grant and Irene Dunne in The Awful Truth (1937) at 9:45 and My Favorite Wife (1940) at 11:30, two of my favorite screwball comedies in a genre that I must admit often leaves me wondering what all the hub-bub is about. These are followed by Cary & Kate in Bringing Up Baby (1938) at 11:15 am, The Philadelphia Story (1940) at 3:15 am, and, my favorite of this bunch, Holiday (1938) at 5:15 am, then Sylvia Scarlett (1936) at 7 am. Up next are a couple of Cary Grant’s heavier dramas from the period, Penny Serenade (1941) with Irene Dunne at 8:45 am and In Name Only (1939) with Carole Lombard and Kay Francis at 11 am, two strong and underrated entries.
Thursday, December 25, 9:30 am - Bachelor Mother (1939). Delightful performance from Ginger Rogers opposite David Niven with Charles Coburn doing as he usually does and adding a whole lot to an already strong movie.
Thursday, December 25, 6:00 pm - Love Finds Andy Hardy (1938). The Hardy Christmas entry finds Mickey Rooney’s Andy Hardy juggling Ann Rutherford and Lana Turner, while Judy Garland makes her first of three appearances as Betsy Booth, a youngster with a crush on Andy herself. The best known title of the series.
Sunday, December 28, 7:45 am - Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939). I don’t think this has aired in awhile. It’s Robert Donat’s best and Robert Donat appeared in a lot of good stuff. Sentimental, sure, but it works. Breakthrough title for Greer Garson in a strong supporting role that lasts fewer minutes than you’d expect.
Monday, December 29, 6:00 am - Five Came Back (1939) - Chester Morris pilots a plane that crashes in the South American jungle. Kent Taylor is the co-pilot with a group of passengers that includes C. Aubrey Smith and Elisabeth Risdon, John Carradine, Joseph Calleia, Lucille Ball, Wendy Barrie, and, my favorite, Allen Jenkins. Clashing personalities though several characters wind up having more in common than they expect. Directed by John Farrow.
Tuesday, December 30, 2:15 pm - King Kong (1933). Just watched it for Thanksgiving, as I do every year, and it’s remains every bit as awesome as it did when I was a kid.
Be sure to check out Speakeasy’s round-up of December previews from other classic movie bloggers found HERE.
Star of the Month for January is Robert Redford. Let’s just hope they feature plenty of oldies the rest of the month.
Wishing you a Merry Christmas and the happiest of holiday seasons to those of other faiths as well!