This “TCM Ten” item was written for Classic Movie Monthly #6, but the short month is going to keep me from making that new issue of the eBook available until early March (cover peek if you care to see what will be inside issue #6).
Basically, these are my recommendations of ten 1930s releases playing on TCM this month, plus a capsule review of one of the ten. More info below that review.
For March 2017
Star of the Month for March on Turner Classic Movies is Richard Burton. While Burton’s work is of a later era than covered in this space, March is otherwise loaded with daytime tributes and marathons that help fill this month’s “TCM Ten.”
A reminder of “TCM Ten” details and structure:
This feature recommends ten movies of the 1930s playing on TCM (US) this coming month. These aren’t necessarily the best ten, the obvious ten, or ten universal classics, but rather ten I’ve enjoyed that may not play very often, that deserve better recognition, or that are just too awesome to overlook.
It turns out to be an expanded “TCM Ten” this month, because I couldn’t help but name several of the titles playing on March 30, which offers a daytime schedule of movies directed by Archie Mayo. I did restrain myself from doing likewise on March 6, which features a daytime Guy Kibbee birthday celebration.
The listings refer to TCM’s US schedule and all quoted times are Eastern. All dates and times are as TCM lists them—for example, Little Caesar plays at 5:30 am ET on March 21, but if you’re on the East Coast, you’ll more than likely think of this as early in the morning of March 22. This is because TCM begins its days at 6:00 am ET. Slightly less extreme is Vivacious Lady, the only other title that could cause any such confusion, which plays overnight from the first into the second of March.
Here are my TCM ten, ordered by when they play, for March 2017:
1 - Vivacious Lady (1938), March 1 at 4:30 am.
2 - Maisie (1939), March 4 at 10:30 am.
3 - Don’t Bet on Blondes (1935), March 6 at 7:00 am.
4 - Bureau of Missing Persons (1933), March 10 at 7:45 am.
5 - The Little Minister (1934), March 13 at 7:30 am.
6 - The Informer (1935), March 17 at 6:15 pm.
7 - Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife (1938), March 19 at 10:00 pm.
8 - Little Caesar (1930), March 21, 5:30 am.
9 - Arsène Lupin (1932), March 25, 10:15 pm.
10 - Archie Mayo daytime schedule, March 30, 6:00 am - 8:00 pm - Ten films directed by Archie Mayo, most especially Illicit (1931, 6:00 am); Two Against the World (1932, 8:45 am); Under Eighteen (1931, 10:00 am); The Mayor of Hell (1933, 12:45 pm); Gambling Lady (1934, 3:45 pm); and Bordertown (1935, 5:00 pm)
Don’t Miss … Under Eighteen (1931)
Crowded city streets abound with characters affected by class and gender differences in this late-1931 Warner Bros. release that can be reminiscent of Elmer Rice’s Street Scene. A deep cast is led by eighteen-year-old Marian Marsh with Regis Toomey as her boyfriend, a grocery delivery truck driver. The film opens with a happy wedding scene between Marsh’s sister, played by Anita Page, and a poolroom hustler played by Norman Foster. A few years pass and irresponsible Foster has gambled away his pool hall, forcing him and the now acid-tongued Page to move back home to Marsh and mother (Emma Dunn). The Marsh character had expected to find her own happiness with Toomey, but becomes disillusioned with marriage because of what her sister has suffered (including a black eye). Marsh has morphed into head of this family after father’s (J. Farrell MacDonald) death, so she’s the one who tries to raise two hundred dollars Page must have to pay the divorce lawyer (Clarence Wilson) and escape worthless Foster. Marsh’s Margie is a seamstress and emergency model at a high-tone fashion outlet, and not without connections. She’s heard many of the staff models brag about their sugar daddy boyfriends, but none of them can manage a two hundred dollar loan; her boss (Paul Porcasi) is sympathetic, but all that money to solve her sister’s problems? No way. Cast-off boyfriend Toomey had saved eight hundred bucks towards their future together, but when Margie is honest about why she needs money, he turns on her, unwilling to contribute to what he perceives as her own moral breakdown. That leaves one potential savior, a man from another world, filthy rich Raymond Harding (Warren William), who became enamored of Margie at the shop when she modeled for one of his girlfriends (Claire Dodd). Margie visits Harding during a pool party at his luxurious penthouse apartment. Two hundred dollars doesn’t mean a thing to him, but is Harding willing to give Margie the money without the expected strings attached? Early Warren William role casts him as a charming and likable playboy with more than a touch of the wolfishness he’ll soon be known for. Strong performance in a limited role from Anita Page. Good work from Regis Toomey as well. But Under Eighteen is all about Marian Marsh, who’s capable enough in the lead. Warner Bros., 80 minutes.
“TCM Ten” has been a regular Classic Movie Monthly feature since the second issue, and the text (and image) above had been my final copy for the coming issue #6. The only difference here is the addition of links to some of my past articles.
Issue #6 is coming, and coming soon, but I’d rather delay it a few days and create an early bird “TCM Ten” for April than rush the new article that I’m working on to complete the issue. I’ll either just link to this March “TCM Ten” from inside issue #6, or include it as bonus material alongside April.
At any rate, as “TCM Ten” is the only timely entry in each Classic Movie Monthly eBook, I thought I’d just post it on the site instead. Who knows, maybe it will help interest you in past and future editions of the monthly eBook. To that end, I may make this a regular monthly post on the site. We’ll see.
I’ll be back in a few days with a review of Lou Sabini’s new book, Sex in the Cinema: The Pre-Code Years (1929-1934) (Quick verdict: Buy it!). After that Classic Movie Monthly #6 should be available, and I’ll be posting the intro page, as usual.
If you’d like a little extra reading, it was recently my turn to be interviewed about classic movies and blogging by the group I belong to, the Classic Movie Blog Association (CMBA). CMBA posts two such member profiles each month, so poke around the site some—maybe you'll find some new bloggers to follow. It’s an honor to be a member of such an esteemed group, and these bi-monthly interviews happen to be my favorite feature of the organization! I hope you enjoy my take on “what makes a film ‘classic,’” among other topics!