TCM continues to impress me with their Star of the Month choices as October features yet another underrated Golden Age film star in Fredric March. Despite his two Oscars, Fredric March doesn't seem an obvious pick at first, but after scrolling through the complete schedule below I'm sure anyone who had any doubts will find him more than worthy. The man's career is fascinating by virtue of its length, variety, and most importantly the talent of March himself.
TCM kicks off their Fredric March celebration with the perfect choice, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the iconic horror film from Paramount which won March the first of his Academy Awards for Best Actor (He tied with Wally Beery this first time around). I've made mention before that March, and not John Barrymore nor Spencer Tracy, was always my Jekyll/Hyde, as his horrific Hyde was the one who made the earliest impression upon me and caused me to grow up grouping March with Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi as fellow icons of horror.
I watched the 1932 version of Jekyll and Hyde again recently and was struck by how over the top some of the content was even for the pre-code era! Sex, terror, blasphemy: I can't believe this film managed to get a 1935 re-release, even with the notorious Miriam Hopkins bedside scene deleted. But beyond this film March is no horror icon, what he is is one of the more underrated and versatile stars of the 1930's and 40's, someone who was huge then, but has somehow somewhat fallen by the wayside today. A great choice for TCM to spotlight!
March returns home from World War II service in The Best Years of Our Lives, airing October 12, the film for which he took home his second Oscar. Talk about 180 degrees from Jekyll and Hyde! The period review from the New York Times calls March magnificent and says that it's "the best acting job he's ever done." The touching scene where March surprises wife Myrna Loy upon his return home is actually the first image that pops into my mind when I think of Fredric March, somehow surpassing those frightful images of Hyde ingrained so much earlier in my life.
Winner of 7 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, there's much more going on in The Best Years of Our Lives than March though, most notably the performance of Harold Russell, winner of an additional Honorary Oscar himself, and a faithful rendering of the often overlooked every day lives of postwar Americans shown through the travails March and especially Russell and an impressive Dana Andrews.
October's schedule also shows off March historically as Mark Twain and Christopher Columbus, in literary classics like Anna Karenina and The Barretts of Wimpole Street. An older March shows up in strong support The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit and Inherit the Wind. The schedule includes another daring pre-code film that you won't want to miss, Design for Living, and a pair of superior comedies in Nothing Sacred opposite Carole Lombard and I Married a Witch with Veronica Lake. Witch was long overdue for an airing, so be sure to catch it a little after midnight, October 5th. Then there's William Wellman's A Star is Born, several genres all rolled into one, which scored another of an eventual 5 Best Actor nominations for March as Norman Maine in what is one of the key roles of his lengthy filmography.
There's actually a good deal missing from the schedule--I'd have loved to have seen more pre-code era films and March as Willy Loman in the little seen 1951 version of Death of a Salesman--but what's here is very good and will certainly accomplish showing off both the talent and versatility of Fredric March.
For a biographical look at Fredric March please see Susan M. Kelly's March profile elsewhere on this site. If you don't follow Sarah's And ... Scene! blog, well first I recommend you do so, but second you've already missed a month-long Fredric March celebration! The best part is that it's all still there waiting for you; Sarah posted about Fredric March 31 times throughout September including reviews, photos, general articles and a helpful timeline. Her site also points to the Fredric March Film Society on Facebook, an active group of March fans over 1,200 strong!
Following the complete October 2010 TCM Star of the Month schedule featuring Fredric March. At the bottom of the page you'll find a gallery of Fredric March collectibles, especially movie cards, showing several additional images which didn't fit inside this article. Enjoy October!
Tuesday, October 5
- 8:00 pm Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1932) starring Fredric March, Miriam Hopkins, Rose Hobart
- 10:00 pm The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit (1956) starring Gregory Peck, Jennifer Jones, Fredric March
- 12:15 am I Married a Witch (1942) starring Fredric March, Veronica Lake, Susan Hayward
- 2:15 am ...Tick ...Tick ...Tick (1970) starring Jim Brown, Fredric March, George Kennedy
- 4:00 am Christopher Columbus (1949) starring Fredric March, Florence Eldridge, Francis L. Sullivan
- 5:45 am Anna Karenina (1935) starring Greta Garbo, Fredric March, Basil Rathbone
- 7:30 am Executive Suite (1954) starring William Holden, June Allyson, Barbara Stanwyck
Tuesday, October 12
- 8:00 pm A Star Is Born (1937) starring Janet Gaynor, Fredric March, Adolphe Menjou
- 10:00 pm The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) starring Fredric March, Dana Andrews, Myrna Loy
- 1:00 am One Foot in Heaven (1941) starring Fredric March, Martha Scott, Beulah Bondi
- 3:00 am Bedtime Story (1942) starring Fredric March, Loretta Young, Robert Benchley
- 4:30 am Make Me a Star (1932) starring Stuart Erwin, Joan Blondell ZaSu Pitts
- 6:00 am Alexander the Great (1956) starring Richard Burton, Fredric March, Danielle Darrieux
Tuesday, October 19
- 8:00 pm Design for Living (1933) starring Fredric March, Miriam Hopkins, Gary Cooper
- 9:45 pm Middle of the Night (1959) starring Fredric March, Kim Novak, Lee Grant
- 12:00 am The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1934) starring Norma Shearer, Fredric March, Charles Laughton
- 2:00 am Susan and God (1940) starring Joan Crawford, Fredric March, Rita Hayworth
- 4:15 am Mary of Scotland (1936) starring Katharine Hepburn, Fredric March, Florence Eldridge
- 6:30 am Nothing Sacred (1937) starring Carole Lombard, Fredric March, Walter Connolly
- 8:00 am It's a Big Country (1951) starring Ethel Barrymore, Van Johnson, Gene Kelly
Tuesday, October 26
- 8:00 pm Inherit the Wind (1960) starring Spencer Tracy, Fredric March, Gene Kelly
- 10:15 pm There Goes My Heart (1938) starring Fredric March, Virginia Bruce, Patsy Kelly
- 12:00 am Seven Days in May (1964) starring Kirk Douglas, Burt Lancaster, Fredric March
- 2:15 am Anthony Adverse (1936) starring Fredric March, Olivia De Havilland, Claude Rains
- 4:45 am The Young Doctors (1961) starring Fredric March, Ben Gazzara, Dick Clark
- 6:30 am The Adventures of Mark Twain (1944) starring Fredric March, Alexis Smith, Donald Crisp