Ageless Bogie at 110, still with cigarette in handIn one of its most ambitious programming feats, Turner Classic Movies has scheduled 65 - count 'em - 65 Humphrey Bogart vehicles airing every Wednesday throughout the month in celebration of what would have been his 110th birthday. But, as usual, there's much more - and, as usual, all times are est.
1 Dec. – British director Mike Newell is presented with a night of his own with screenings of “Enchanted April” (1991) at 8 p.m., “Four Weddings and a Funeral” (1994) at 10 p.m. and “Amazing Grace and Chuck” (1987) at midnight 2 Dec., followed by “Dance with a Stranger” (1985) at 2 a.m.
4 Dec. - Robert Stevenson’s seminal dog movie, “Old Yeller” (1958), airs at 6 a.m. and, this time, take note of canine star Spike's viscious fight scenes with a bear at the beginning and a wolf near the end of the film. They look like the real thing and, in those days, before there was any enlightenment about the treatment of animals in films, it probably was. Not surprisingly, Spike receives no screen credit, even though he is the title star. The good old days...
The divine Hepburn modeling all the potential costumes designed by Cecil Beaton for the Ascot Gavotte races sequence in Cukor's
"My Fair Lady"
5 Dec. – Delbert Mann’s “Fitzwilly” (1967), known as "The One with the Fuzz" while in production, stars Dick Van Dyke as the resourceful butler of Edith Evans. It screens at 12 p.m. and repeats on 10 Dec. at 10 p.m., and if you catch either showing, look out for a very young Sam Waterston as a cabbie named Oliver.
Later in the day, at 5 p.m., George Cukor’s “My Fair Lady” (1964) gets what seems to be its monthly run on Turner, but who's complaining? It's great. Almost perfect - except for the souless singing voice that comes out of Audrey Hepburn's mouth. It belongs to Marni Nixon, natch - the bane of '60s film musicals. "Lady" repeats 22 Dec. at 8 p.m., in tandem with "Pygmalion," the George Bernard Shaw play/film that inspired it.
6 Dec. – Charles Vidor’s “Hans Christian Anderson” (1952), scheduled for 10 a.m., offers the playful, pliable Danny Kaye in the title role, a fabulous Frank Loesser score (which matches "My Fair Lady" in terms of breakout hits) and the exquisite ballerina Zizi Jeanmaire, pictured below with Kaye.
11 Dec. – Turner has sscheduled atypical holiday-oriented titles that could be lumped under the title, Oddball Christmas. Primary among them is Frank Tashlin’s delightfully antic “Susan Slept Here” (1954), starring Dick Powell and Debbie Reynolds, that airs at 2 a.m. and repeats 13 Dec. at 2 p.m. and 25 Dec. at 6 p.m.
Less festive but no less enjoyable is this Edmund O’Brien trio: Ida Lupino’s “The Bigamist” (1953), airing at 3:45 p.m., followed by Rudolph Mate’s “D.O.A.” (1950) at 5:15 p.m. and Lupino's “The Hitch-Hiker” (1953) at 6:45 p.m.
On stage, James Goldman's "The Lion in Winter" was actually a comedy in period costumes; on screen, it was strictly a prestige pic and Oscar bait12 Dec. – With Katharine Hepburn and Peter O'Toole starring, Anthony Harvey’s “The Lion in Winter” (1968), based on James Goldman's play, was an Oscar-entitled entertainment. On stage, however, with Rosemary Harris and Robert Preston in the leads, is was something less pretentious - a marital comedy with heavy costumes. It airs at 5:30 p.m.
13 Dec. – Dalton Trumbo’s “Johnny Got His Gun” (1971), an anti-war film at its most naked, shows at 10 p.m. Timothy Bottoms, hot off of "The Last Picture Show," stars.
15 Dec. – Cluadio Guzman’s affecting indie, “The Runaway” (1961), teaming a game Cesar Romero with a kid and a dog, gets an infrequent TV showing at 3:15 p.m.
The playbill for the stage version of Tennessee Williams' "Period of Adjustment," starring James Daly, Barbara Baxley, Robert Webber and Rosemary Murphy in the roles played on film by Anthony Francisa, Jane Fonda, Jim Hutton and Lois Nettleton.18 Dec. – Oddall Christmas continues with a screening of George Roy Hill’s first feature, “Period of Adjustment” (1962), based on the Tennessee Williams play that Hill also helmed on stage. See it at 1:30 a.m. and again on repeat 24 Dec. at 6 p.m. It's something of an unhearalded treat.
For me and me alone, Katharine Hepburn was something of an overrated actress but in George Stevens’ sweet and observant “Alice Adams” (1935), she had her best role and gave one of her greatest performances, living up to her rep. Turner will screen it at 7:30 a.m. Later in the day, David Hugh Jones’ “84 Charing Cross Road” (1986), with Anthony Hopkins and Anne Bancroft, airs at 8 p.m. With that pedigree, this film should be better known.
O'Hara in Frank Borzage's pirate flick, "The Spanish Main"19 Dec. - Frank Borzage’s “The Spanish Main” (1945), at 8 a.m., is the film that years later prevented Maureen O'Hara from nabbing the role for which she was made - as Anna Leonowens in the film of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "The King and I." Richard Rodgers reportedly didn't want a "lady pirate" mucking up his beloved property. Apparently, he had a very good memory and remembered "The Spanish Main." Sad because O'Hara had the right background, looks and temperament for the role and could sing. Instead the role went to Deborah Kerr who was ghost-voiceced by, yes, Marni Nixon.
20 Dec. – Rosalind Russell and James Stewart excel in
“No Time for Comedy” (1940), William Keighley’s film of the S.N. Behrman play, which is on par with Mankiewicz's "All About Eve" in terms of Broadway venom - only less campy. It screens at 1:45 a.m.
21 Dec. - Jane Fonda gets the spotlight today, with back-to-back screenings of Robert Stevens’ “In the Cool of the Day” (1963) at 2:30 p.m., Peter Tewksbury’s “Sunday in New York” (1963) at 4 p.m. and Gene Saks’ “Barefoot in the Park” (1967), at 6 p.m.
Chaim Topol! As Tevye!22 Dec. - Norman Jewison’s “Fiddler on the Roof” (1971) is a great film musical, beautifully done in just about every area. But it needs to be singled out for its casting of Chaim Topol in the lead role, for retaining the haunting dream (and very comic) sequence and for never, ever, downplaying Judaism. Right off, Jewison plays hommage to Hebrew religious symbols and artifacts during the film's rousing opening number, "Tradition!," as the Star of David and assorted menorahs flash on the screen with urgent, breathtaking speed. Everything that follows is just as memorable. "Fiddler on the Roof" airs at 10 a.m.
Original films and their remakes take over most of the remainder of the day, with one slight sidestep: George Cukor’s “The Women” (1939) airs today at 7:45 a.m., while its remake, David Miller’s “The Opposite Sex,” (1956) doesn't show up until 4 p.m. on 28 Dec. Cukor’s “My Fair Lady” (1964) shows at 8 p.m., followed by the original, Anthony Asquith and Leslie Howard’s “Pygmalion” (1938) at 11 p.m.; Rouben Mamoulian’s “Silk Stockings” (1957) at 1 a.,m., followed by Ernst Lubitsch’s original, “Ninotchka” (1939) at 3 a.m.
Errol Flynn - hear him sing (!) in “Thank Your Lucky Stars”23 Dec. - David Butler’s “Thank Your Lucky Stars” (1943), at 7 a.m., is worth a glance only to catch Erroll Flynn in a cameo crooning something called "That's What You Jolly Well Get."
24 Dec. – Norman Taurog’s charming “Bundle of Joy” (1956), the Debbie and Eddie vehicle, is on hand at 11:45 a.m. And later there's Frank Capra’s “Pocketful of Miracles” (1961) at 3:30 p.. repeating 29 Dec. at 1:45 a.m. Glenn Ford is the affable star, but one has to wonder how the role of Dave the Dude managed to escape Sinatra.
Bette Davis and cronies in Capra's "Pocketful of Miracles," his remake of "Lady for a Day"25 Dec. - More originals and remakes: Robert Z. Leonard’s “In the Good Old Summertime” (1949) at 3 a.m., followed by the Lubitsch original, “The Shop Aaround the Corner” (1940) at 5 a.m.; George Cukor’s “Little Women” (1933) at 7 a.m. and its remake, Mervyn LeRoy’s “Little Women” (1949), later in the day, at 2 :15 p.m.
Turner's ambition, sprawling two-day Sherlock Holmes marathon, bleeding into 26 Dec., will be capped by James Hill’s nifty, little-seen “A Study in Terror” (1965), at 4 a.m. The excellent John Neville stars.
Two Jacks, a Judy and a Kim in Mark Robson's sophisticated "Phffft!"27 Dec. – Ray Milland’s surprisingly engrossing “Panic in the Year Zero” (1962), starring Milland and the indispensible Jean Hagen, shows at midnight.
Comedy hits hightlight most of the day. Charles Walter’s “The Tender Trap” (1955), at noon, stars Sinatra, a treat as always, but his best bud is the estimable David Wayne, the original Ensign Pulver on stage. This film was made the same year that Jack Lemmon scored as Pulver in the John Ford-Mervyn LeRoy film version. Speaking of Lemmon, he has a double-bill today, with Mark Robson’s quite contemporary “Phffft!” (1954) airing at 2 p.m., followed by Gene Saks’ “The Odd Couple” (1968) at 4 p.m.
Russell and Carson, a match made in heaven, in Michael Curtiz's "Roughly Speaking"28 Dec. – Michael Curtiz’ “Roughly Speaking” (1945), at 6 a.m., starring Rosaline Russell in another strong performance, also contains my favorite Jack Carson performance. Based on a novel by Louise Randall Pierson, this film was way ahead of its time in its observations of an independent-minded woman (Russell, natch) trying to cope and excel in a man's world and the husband (Carson) who elects to back her up and support her even though he doesn't fully endorse - or even understand - her views.
P.S. Vincente Minnelli’s "Designing Woman” (1957), with Peck and Bacall, always makes for terrifc viewing. It airs at 8 a.m.
29 Dec. - Another original and remake: Capra’s “Lady for a Day” (1933) at midnight, followed by that repeat of “Pocketful of Miracles” (1961) at 1:45 a.m.)
Nancy Kwan kicks up dust in theHenry Koster’s “Flower Drum Song” (1961), a recent addition to the National Film Registry after years of neglect, screens at 5:45 p.m. It is arguably Rodgers and Hammerstein's best musical and certainly the team's jazziest. Stay up and catch John Hughes’ “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” (1986) at 10 p.m.
"Grant Avenue" number in Koster's "Flower Drum Song"
30 Dec. - Richard Brooks’ “Battle Circus” (1953), with the unusal casting of June Allyson and Bogart, airs at 2:15 p.m.
You-know-who ... Say no more
31 Dec. – Hitch. All day, starting at 7 a.m., followed by a “Thin Man” marathon. What a way to end the year! Celebrate!
Note in Passing: Check out the typically wonderful Turner Remembers tribute to the film personalties who passed during the year. Just go to the TCM Media Room and click on "TCM Remembers 2009" under "Now Playing - Today on TCM.Com."