NOVEMBER ON TCM
As the calendar wends its way toward the Holidays, TCM presents a November full of classics, both known and yet to be discovered.
The Star of the Month is Glenda Farrell, one of Warner Brother's wise-cracking dames whose best known role is just that in Frank Capra's Lady for a Day which was remade by Capra three decades later as A Pocketful of Miracles (too bad TCM doesn't run them together). I once heard Capra told the story that Frank Sinatra was supposed to star in Miracles, but bowed out at the last minute, so he was forced to hire Glenn Ford (a star at the time) and as a result of hiring Ford, he had to agree to Hope Lang (Ford's girlfriend) playing Queenie Martin, the role played by Farrell in Lady (where her character was called Missouri Martin).
Here are our daily picks for November on TCM:
2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY - If you haven't seen it, see it. Stanley Kubrick's spot-on vision of the future. Almost 50 years later and this movie looks as fresh as the day it was released.
HOME BEFORE DARK - Jean Simmons is one of the finest actresses of her time and this movie shows all her talents, with a rare appearance by Dan O'Herlihy and a surprising solid performance by Rhonda Fleming.
RED RIVER - Howard Hawkes' bovine masterpiece with iconic performances by John Wayne, Montgomery Clift and Walter Brennan. A young John Ireland steals every scene he is in.
THE SUBJECT WAS ROSES - Frank Gilroy's Pulitzer Prize-winning play comes to the screen a little worse for the transition, but worth it to see Patricia Neal at her peak.
LITTLE CAESAR - You've heard about it and its famous last line - Is this the end of Ricco? - now see why all the fuss was made - it's a great picture.
CASABLANCA - I put this on the list because there are some out there who have never actually sat down and watched this classic - one surly, myopic critic called it the best bad movie ever made.
TARAS BULBA - There was a time when this is what passed for a blockbuster movie in the waning days of studio Hollywood (1962). A Star-spangled (Yul Brynner and Tony Curtis) bomb. But a few good moments.
SALOME - Every once in a blue moon, you should force yourself to watch a silent movie. This one is about as crazy a movie as you will ever see.
WATERLOO BRIDGE - Some movies give tearjerkers a bad name and some show that even a tear-jerker in the right hands (Mervyn LeRoy) with the right cast (Vivien Leigh and Robert Taylor) can be a fine movie.
THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI - For those who have never seen this, you are in for a treat. And please don't think this is 'just an adventure or war movie.' It is a classic, in part, because the most sympathetic character in the movie is the enemy - Japanese Colonel Saito played by Sessue Hayakawa.
BREAKING AWAY - This movie is about as far away from Kwai as a movie can get - it's about a mid-western kid's yearning to be a great cyclist.
JOHNNY EAGER - Robert Taylor as a gangster who falls for the DA's daughter - better than it sounds.
MARTY - In the Hollywood of the 1950s, this movie stuck out like a brown suit in a wedding party. Take a look at how a low-budget look at low middle-class living won the Oscar amidst a swirl of Tecnicolor extravaganzas.
WUTHERING HEIGHTS - With Laurence Olivier wooing and losing then winning and losing Merle Oberon in the wilds of Bronte-land, filmed by Gregg Toland for William Wyler, Luca Brasi would shed a tear.
JOURNEY TO ITALY - Rossellini directs Ingrid Bergman and George Sanders in a tale of a marriage on the Italian rocks.
THE BLUE ANGEL - This is the movie that made Marlene Dietrich a star. She plays a vixen who ensnares a much older teacher played by Emil Jannings. Before Muni, Tracey, Brando, there was Jannings.
GANDHI - Ben Kingsley is one of the world's greatest actors and this is the movie that put him on the map.
AMERICA, AMERICA - Elia Kazan makes a movie about how an immigrant finds a way to get to America.
THREE ON A MATCH - In the early 1930s, Hollywood was free to make the kind of movie that told a realistic story in a daring and inventive way - before the self-imposed Code destroyed any chance of doing that for 40 years. This is an example of the Hollywood that could have been.
BROADWAY DANNY ROSE - a small-time agent can't let go of his stable of losers, until one day, one of his misfits suddenly fits. Mia Farrow's best performance.
THE GREAT MCGINTY - Preston Sturges is not a household name, but he is the Mark Twain of movies. His tale of a homeless man who fights his way to the Governor's office is priceless and the funniest movie ever made about politics in the USA. Akim Tamiroff should have won an Oscar.
MR. BLANDINGS BUILDS HIS DREAM HOUSE - If you ever doubted that Cary Grant is one of the greatest actors ever, watch this comedy about building a house.
GUNGA DIN - A close friend of mine saw this when it was released and he was just a child. That friend always talked about it in reverential tones. You will too.
THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY - Michael Crichton's greatest movie from his own novel. This movie is one helluva ride.
SOME LIKE IT HOT - Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon in drag. Marilyn Monroe at her best (all those directors and actors who claim that she was a pain in the neck, well, they should be so lucky as to find another pain in the neck like her to be in their movie). Billy Wilder making a movie only he could have concocted.
LADY FOR A DAY - A take on Pygmalion, directed by Frank Capra, written by Robert Riskin from a Damon Runyon short story, this is one of the best pre-code movies.
THE LAST PICTURE SHOW - My brother, Robert, claims that the 1970s was the best decade for movies. That's a period. This movie proves his point. Peter Bogdanovich poured all he knew about making movies into this look at a Texas small town about to be buried in its past. Yet, because of all the great movies of the 70s, this one sometimes gets lost in the shuffle.
THE OUTLAW - When Howard Hughes produced this 24-carat piece of schlock, he used all of his many skills, especially in PR, to make it a hit. Jane Russell was never bigger. Take a look at a piece of history.
12 ANGRY MEN - Used in law schools to teach how NOT to try a case - it's a pretty poor lawyer who leaves it up to an enterprising juror to save his client from the electric chair. But, Henry Fonda does that amidst the finest supporting cast ever put on film.
JIMMY THE GENT - Another pre-code movie that has a wealth of pizazz - including one of the few movies with Jimmy Cagney and Bette Davis. Now that's super-pizazz.