Turner is nothing less than diverse in May, what with a month-long tribute to the film career of Donna Reed; a 30-film retrospect examining the presentation of Native Americans on screen; a night of four Billy Wilder comedies, the picks of guest programmer Shirley Jones; Mother's Day features; a two-day Memorial Day weekend devoted to war flicks, and a day for Clint Eastwood.
A genuine Cinema Obscura opens the month when Turner screens the difficult-to-see "Andy Hardy Comes Home" (1 May at 7:30 a.m., est.), a 1958 release directed by no less than producer Howard W. Koch. It brings Andy into middle age with a wife (the pleasing Patricia Breslin), two kids (Gina Gillespie and Teddy Rooney) and the usual go-getter Andy Hardy schemes to make it big.
The quartet of Wilder films - "A Foreign Affair," "Some Like It Hot," "The Fortune Cookie" and "The Major and the Minor" - follows later in the day, starting at 8 p.m. And one of MGM's more creative musicals, "Les Girls," George Cukor's 1957 variation on "Rashomon" of all things, airs at 6 a.m. on 2 May. Gene Kelly stars and Tiana Elg, Kay Kendall and Mitzi Gaynor are the girls, each with a different memory.
One of host Robert Osborne's picks of the month is George Sidney's "The Harvey Girls," a entertaining 1946 MGM pseudo-musical with Judy Garland, John Hodiak, Angela Lansbury and a superb supporting cast. The movie is about the first chain of franchise restaurants created by train pioneer and entrepreneur Fred Harvey, whose amazing, colorful life is vividly documentat in Stephen Fried's new book, “Appetite for America.”
A trio of titles by John Ford provides the apt introduction on 4 May to Turner's exhaustive examination of Native Americans in films, starting at 8 p.m. with the iconic "Stagecoach," followed by his masterwork, "The Searchers," and the lost, sad classic "Cheyenne Autumn."
The first installment of the Donna Reed Appreciation Society kicks off 5 May, with a selection of nine hugely varied films, all reminding us that Reed was one of those actresses - versatile and game - whose promise on screen was interrupted (and ended) by the lure of more steady work in television.
The young Native American actor Adam Beach was praised for his performance as Ira Hamilton Hayes in Clint Eastwood's 3006 film, "Flags of Our Fathers."
However, Beach was preceded in the role by the equally good Tony Curtis in the Delbert Mann film, "The Outsider," released by Universal-International in 1962 and yet another title that has not had an official home-entertainment incarnation in any format whatsoever. But Turner screens it, letterboxed, in the prime time of 8 p.m. on 6 May as part of its on-going Native American series.
Hayes was the Puma Indian who attracted unsolicited attention and brief fame because he was one of the men who helped erect the American flag at Iwo Jima, an event that ultimately unraveled his life. William Bradford Huie and Stewart Stern wrote the solid screenplay for Mann's film, which is a lost little gem that deserves the pleasure of rediscovery.
Following it is Jesse Hibbs' "Walk the Proud Land," a race-relations Western, also from U-I, that was way ahead of its time in terms of its empathy. Audie Murphy, endearing in the role of a federal liaison appointed by the government to help heal relations with the Apaches, stars with Anne Bancroft, seen here in an early role as a young widowed squaw. The film's suggestion of respect for people we don't know or understand is humbling.
Stay up really late - until 3:45 a.m. - and you can catch Burt Reynolds (who is half Italian and half Native American) in Sergio Corbucci's nifty "Navajo Joe" from 1967.
Perhaps in anticipation of the new Ridley Scott-Russell Crowe Robin Hood film, Turner is screening Errol Flynn's "The Adventures of Robin Hood," directed by Michael Curtiz and William Keighley, at 10:30 p.m. on 8 May, followed by Richard Lester's elegant "Robin and Marion," starring Sean Connery and Audrey Hepburn in the title roles and, for good measure, four great character actors - Richard Harris, Denholm Elliott, Nicol Williamson and the much, much missed Robert Shaw as the Sheriff of Nottingham.
Turner has some devilish fun on Mother's Day with some creative counter-programming. Case in point: Mervyn LeRoy's "Gypsy" gets the star spot, screening it at 10 p.m. on 9 May. Rosalind Russell, as the willful mama to end all willful mamas, tries her level best to criticize, demoralize and smother Natalie Wood. Later in the evening - actually at 4 a.m. on 10 May - Kim Stanley matches Roz every step of the way as she tries to do the exact same things to screen daughter Jessica Lange in Graeme Clifford's vivid biopic of Frances Farmer.
Shirley Jones' programming picks on 10 May kick off at 8 p.m. with her Oscar winner, Richard Brooks' "Elmer Gantry," followed by Busby Berkeley's "For Me and My Gal," Charles Vidor's "Love Me or Leave Me" and Mervyn LeRoy's "Randon Harvest."
Early on 12 May - at 5:45 a.m. - you can see Gordon Douglas' film of Richard Jessup's "Chuka" (with a script by Jessup), starring the ever-reliable Rod Taylor, John Mills, Ernest Borgnine, James Whitmore and Luciana Paluzzi
If you love Kathryn Grayson (count me in!), catch her with Van Johnson in Robert Z. Leonard's "Grounds for Marriage" at 1 p.m. on 12 May and with Gene Kelly in George Sidney's "Thousands Cheer" at 4 a.m. on 27 May. Also on 12 May - at 2:30 p.m. - Don Weis' "Just This Once," with the attractive trio of Janet Leigh, Peter Lawford and Richard Anderson.
Friday, 14 May is the afternoon that I'll be staying in, what with Turner airing (among others) Alfred Hitchcock's "North by Northwest" at 2:30 p.m., followed by Stanley Kubrick's "Lolita" at 5 p.m.; George Cukor's "It Should Happen to You!" at 9:30 p.m. and, starting at 2 a.m. on 15 May, two alt titles by Robert (A Prince) Downey - "Putney Swope" and "Greaser's Palace."
Burt Lancaster's take on John Cheever - 1968's "The Swimmer" - airs at noon on 15 May. Janice Rule, Diana Muldar and Kim Hunter co-star; Marge Champion and Joan Rivers have roles, and the directors are Frank Perry, who started the troubled project, and Sydney Pollack, who completed it. Later, you can see Lee Remick, who had one of her best roles opposite Jack Lemmon, in Blake Edwards' "Days of Wine and Roses" at 10 p.m., and Doris Day who contrasts nicely with David Niven in Charles Walters' acerbic and sophisticated "Please Don't Eat the Daisies" at midnight - an insightful comedy inspired by the marriage of theater critic Walter Kerr and his wife, writer Jean Kerr.
Another of my Guilty Pleasures pops up on Turner at noon on 16 May - Paul Wendkos' compulsively watchable "Gidget Goes Hawaiian," starring adorable Deborah Walley as Francie Lawrence (aka, the Gidg), James Darren encoring as Moondoggie, delectable Vickie Trickett and - ta-da! - Michael Callan, fresh off of his "West Side Story" stage success (where he was billed as Mickey Calin) and with a new Columbia contract in hand. (Not surprisingly, Callan gets a big dance production number here.) Better yet are the adults in Wendkos' film - Carl Reiner and Jeff Donnell as Gidget's parents, and Peggy Cass and Eddie Foy, Jr. as Trickett's folks.
Two more widely accepted films are also shown on the 16th - Joshua Logan's "Picnic" at 4 p.m. and Yasujiro Ozu's "Tokyo Story" in the wee hour of 2 a.m. (actually the 17th). But I'll stick with the Gidg and also another guilty pleasure - Delmer Daves' "Rome Adventure," starring future spouses Troy Donohue and Suzanne Pleshette, at 10 p.m. on 17 May. The Daves film also stars Rossano Brazzi, who is showcased earlier at 8 p.m. in David Lean's "Summertime," with Katharine Hepburn, and starting at 12:15 a.m., in David Miller's "The Story of Esther Costello," with Joan Crawford and Heather Sears; Guy Green's "The Light in the Piazza," with Olivia DeHavilland and Yvette Mimieux, and Jean Negulesco's "Count Your Belssings," with Deborah Kerr and Maruce Chevalier.
You can get your Jane Russell fix on 18 May, when Turner airs Lloyd Bacon's "The French Line," a musical condemned by the Catholic Chruch's Legion of Decency, at 4 p.m., followed immediately by Richard Sale's "Gentlemen Marry Brunetts," co-starrin Jeanne Crain.
Anthony Quinn has a field day in Carol Reed's 1970 film version of Clair Huffaker's novel "Nobody Loves a Drunken Indian," which a cowardly Warner Bros. retitled ... "Flap." It airs at 4 a.m. on 19 May.
Huffaker wrote the screenplay herself.
"Angel Face." With Jean Simmons and Robert Mitchum. Directted by Otto Preminger. Watch it. At 4 p.m. On 19 May.
Curiosity alert! Leslie Uggams and Shelley Winters star in a 1975 title, "Poor Pretty Eddie," directed by David Worth and actor Chris Robinson ("General Hospital"). It screens at 2:15 a.m. on 22 May. Featured are ace character actors Dub Taylor, Slim Pickins and Ted Cassidy.
The sublime Isabele Adjani made her big splash in Francois Truffaut's "The Story of Adele H.," the story of Victor Hugo's daughter, airing at 2:15 a.m. on 24 May.
The on-going Native American series embraces Victoria Mudd's difficult-to-see "Broken Rainbow," about the government's relocation - and mistreatment - of 10,000 Navajos. Narrated by Martin Sheen and featuring the voices of Buffy Saint-Marie, Burgess Meredith and Laura Nyro, it aris at 1 a.m. on 28 May.
A night of top wartime/P.O.W. films - William A. Wellman's "Battleground," Howard Hawks' "Sergeant York," Billy Wilder's "Stalag 17," John Struges' The Great Escape" and David Lean's "The Bridge on the River Kwai" - is topped by Bryan Forbes' riveting "King Rat," with George Segal, James Fox and Tom Courtenay." It all starts in the afternoon of 28 May and continues late into the night. It's part of the Memorial Day weekend screenings which also includes Alan Parker's excellent "Birdy," starring Matthew Modine and Nicholas Cage, at 1:15 a.m. on 30 May, Wellman's "Darby's Rangers," with James Garner and Jack Warden at 9:30 a.m., J. Lee Thompson's "The Guns of Navarone" at 2:45 p.m., John Wayne and Ray Kellogg's "The Green Berets" at 5:30 p.m., John Ford and Mervyn LeRoy's "Mister Roberts" at 8 p.m. and Blake Edwards "Operation Petticoat" at 10:15 p.m.
The last day of month - 31 May - is devoted entirely to Clint Eastwood, starting with his early role in Arthur Lubin's "The First Traveling Saleslady" at 6 a.m. and ending with Ted Post's "Magnum Force" at 2 a.m. on 1 June.