Here we are again, with some highlights and suggestions from the upcoming week of screenings on TCM.
Monday, July 18
A musical from Michael Curtiz, director of Casablanca and The Adventures of Robin Hood (and more than 100 other films in a career starting in 1912 in Hungary and continuing to 1961) – Romance On The High Seas (1948), which is also Doris Day’s feature film debut. Later in the evening, catch Love Affair (1939) starring the marvelous Irene Dunne and directed by Leo McCarey, who later remade his own film as An Affair to Remember with Cary Grant, which featured memorably in Sleepless in Seattle.
Wednesday, July 20
A night of “Literary Romance” featuring film versions of Pride And Prejudice (1940), Madame Bovary (1949) directed by Vincente Minnelli, Anna Karenina (1935) starring Greta Garbo, Little Women (1949)—not the 1933 version directed by George Cukor and starring Katharine Hepburn—and Far From The Madding Crowd (1967). Madame Bovary is the standout film, but anything with Garbo is always going to be high up on my “must see” list.
Thursday, July 21
One of the classics of the silent era, The Son of the Sheik (1926)—Rudolph Valentino’s last film.
Friday, July 22
Friday nights in July are devoted to the “Singing Cowboy.” Tonight has six of them—the first four starring Dick Foran and dating from 1936-37, the last two from the mid-1940s with Monte Hale. All of them come in at about an hour in length, and are prime examples of B movies. As mashups of two of the most popular genres of the 1930s and 40s—musicals and westerns—they are also interesting from an industrial and genre theory perspective.
Saturday, July 23
Or maybe it’s still Friday when it’s 3am. Whatever, the film to see is The Milky Way (1936) starring the great comedian Harold Lloyd, a key source of inspiration to—among others—Jackie Chan. The Milky Way was later remade as The Kid from Brooklyn with Danny Kaye, a film I loved as a child, but which can’t compare to the original. Harold Lloyd films are still not nearly as well known and loved as they should be.
At a more decent hour (10:45am PST), catch Lord of the Flies (1963), Peter Brooks’ superb adaptation of the novel by Nobel Prize-winning author William Golding about a group of British schoolboys who get marooned on a desert island and try to construct a society for themselves, with disturbing results.
And a little later, there’s Fort Apache (1948), the first of John Ford’s “Cavalry Trilogy,” starring John Wayne and Henry Fonda. A superb and also interesting atypical Western. A key work in the John Ford canon, and very enjoyable.
Sunday, July 24
This is the big day for this week, with a host of great films. At 7am, there’s The Canterville Ghost (1944), with Charles Laughton as the titular ghost, a coward condemned to haunt his family castle until he can get someone to redeem his name. Robert Young is a WW2 GI who ends up stationed at the castle, and Margaret O’Brien—best known as Tootie from Meet Me in St. Louis—as Lady Jessica de Canterville, current owner of the castle. I love this movie—simple and charming, and based on a story by Oscar Wilde. That’s followed at 9am by the original Gidget (1959) with Sandra Dee.
Then at 1pm there’s Tony Randall in the smart and hysterical advertising satire Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957). And in the evening there are two films by one of my favorite directors, Howard Hawks. At 5pm is The Thing From Another World (1951), about which I have written before. It’s followed by a lesser-seen Hawks movies, Land of the Pharaohs (1955). It’s a bit goofy (unintentionally) and not entirely typical of Hawks—not fully Hawksian—but still fun and worth a look.
At 11:15pm, catch Akira Kurosawa’s Sanjuro (1962). Toshiro Mifune more or less reprises his role as a scruffy, ill-tempered ronin (masterless samurai) from Yojimbo. But where that earlier movie was dark, this one is light and bright and regularly plays, brilliantly, for laughs. Possibly Kurosawa’s funniest film. Possibly his only funny film, now that I come to think of it.
The day ends (at 1am) with one of the films that marked the end of the traditional Western as a genre, Sam Peckinpah’s Ride The High Country (1962), which is a must-see for anyone with a serious interest in the genre.
The obvious must-see movies of the week are Son of the Sheik with Rudolph Valentino and The Milky Way with Harold Lloyd. Sheikh is important and regularly discussed, a landmark film. Milky Way is not one of the most important Harold Lloyd films, but he’s so great and his films just aren’t shown enough, so don’t miss it.
The other must-sees of the week are Sanjuro and Lord of the Flies, but you are more likely to have seen these two already.