Ten Classic Films for 2015

Round about the blogosphere I came across an interesting list.  It was from Speakeasy and she had gotten the idea from Laura.  The two of them had inspired Ms. Coolsville to come up with a list of her own and all three of them inspired me to write one myself!  The idea is that you make a list of ten classic films that you have not seen but want to, and then make every effort to watch and review/blog them before the end of the year.  So, without further ado here is my list of ten classic films for 2015!

*Remember these are ten films which I haven’t seen yet but am going to make a concerted effort to do so!

YANKEE DOODLE DANDY (1942)

MARTY (1955)

DARK VICTORY (1939)

MILDRED PIERCE (1945)

GOLD DIGGERS OF 1933 (1933)

MADAM SATAN (1930)

THE LIFE AND DEATH OF COLONEL BLIMP (1943)

TOPPER (1937)

NIGHT OF THE HUNTER (1955)

THE RULES OF THE GAME (1939)

January 2015 Highlights on Turner Classic Movies

Taking a page from other bloggers (Speakeasy and ImmortalEmphemera to name two), I am going to try my hand at offering some suggestions and highlights from the January 2015 schedule for Turner Classic Movies!

The Star of the Month for January is Robert Redford and TCM will be showing his films every Tuesday starting at 8PM for the entire month.  Friday Night Spotlight for this month will focus on the films of Neil Simon, showing a total of seventeen films every Friday in January.  On January 12th the daytime spotlight will be on Luise Rainer, the two time Oscar winner who passed away at the end of December.  The spotlight on Ms. Rainer’s films was originally intended to be a birthday celebration but will now be a tribute to the life and career of this phenomenal actress and woman.  Celebrate the birthday of Patricia Neal on January 20th with seven of her films, including A FACE IN THE CROWD.  January 22nd will showcase five films from SAG Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, Debbie Reynolds.  For those looking for a more exotic film experience, January 26th will have five films by Luis Buñuel.  The late and great Sir Richard Attenborough will have his own special night on January 28th with five films.  The guest programmer for January will be American composer Michael Feinstein, choosing four films which include RHAPSODY IN BLUE and CABIN IN THE SKY.


Here are some other themes for January that are of interest:

January 5th – This is a day where I would really like to just stay home and watch TCM all day.  The morning theme will focus on Lew Ayres and the primetime programming will be all about the fabulous Jean Arthur.  My DVR is already prepped!

January 6th – The morning and afternoon are all about Loretta Young!  TCM is celebrating her birthday with a day full of films, including several pre-code corkers including EMPLOYEES ENTRANCE and HEROES FOR SALE.

January 10th – The primetime theme will focus on three films by Fritz Lang, METROPOLIS, MINISTRY OF FEAR, and THE BLUE GARDENIA.  I have never seen METROPOLIS and 2015 is the year I change that!

January 21st – We all love our patron saint of TCM, Mr. Robert Osborne.  The primetime lineup on the 21st will be made up of Robert Osborne’s picks and they seem to be a wide range of films, from A PLACE IN THE SUN to THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK.

January 27th – The morning programming will be a birthday tribute to one, Donna Reed.

January 28th –  A morning and afternoon devoted to forties horror?  Color me intrigued!

January 31st – I am so excited for this primetime lineup, which will be devoted to films starring John Barrymore!  I can’t wait to watch TWENTIETH CENTURY, COUNSELLOR AT LAW, and TOPAZE.


This month The Essentials will be continuing their excellent programming every Saturday with BUS STOP, METROPOLIS, FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT, COAL MINER’S DAUGHTER, and TWENTIETH CENTURY.  TCM Underground will be showing NOTHING LASTS FOREVER, MIAMI CONNECTION, MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE, VIGILANTE, and TWICE UPON A TIME.  Silent Sunday Nights continue with MORAN OF THE LADY LETTY, STOLEN MOMENTS, OLIVER TWIST, OUR HOSPITALITY, and FEU MATHIAS PASCAL.  Finally, TCM Imports will be showing CHILDREN OF PARADISE, KNIFE IN THE WATER, THE WARPED ONES, and THE MAGIC FLUTE.


Now here are some films that I would personally recommend, or that I hope to catch myself this month.  These are suggestions based solely on my opinion, but if you have liked the movies talked about on this blog so far, chances are you will like these too!

January 3rd –  BUS STOP (8 PM ET) This is a film that I haven’t seen but am interested to try.  Having recently seen a documentary about Marilyn Monroe and her time at the Actor’s Studio, this film is noted by many to be one of her best instances of acting.  Having only seen Marilyn Monroe in films such as SOME LIKE IT HOT and HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE, I am excited to see another side of her acting.

January 4th – CHARADE (8 PM ET) Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, and Walter Matheau with guns, car chases, spies, and money.  This is a fun ride and definitely worth checking out!  The scene with Cary Grant in the shower alone makes the film worthwhile (it’s not what you think it is).  MORAN OF THE LADY LETTY (12 AM ET) Not a film that I have seen, but definitely one that intrigues me.  The description of a young Rudolph Valentino fighting to save a young woman from the smugglers who have kidnapped them grabbed my interest and I will be setting my DVR.

January 5th – HOLIDAY (3 PM ET) Amidst the Lew Ayres celebration is this gem.  This is a terrific movie that pairs Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn, as a free-thinking rebel with a snobby fiancé, and her independent sister.  Lew Ayres appears as Hepburn’s brother whose sadness and frustration with his empty life manifest in drinking.  This is a movie with a soul and a point of view…and it is directed by George Cukor!  MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN (8 PM ET) No, this isn’t the Adam Sandler film.  This is the original Frank Capra movie starring Gary Cooper and Jean Arthur.  A tale of a small town poet dealing with newfound wealth and big city corruption, a great story and worth seeing.  MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON (2:15 AM ET) Whenever I watch this film I feel a great sense of civic pride.  Another Frank Capra film, this one showcases Jimmy Stewart as a small town Senate replacement who takes on corruption with Jean Arthur.

January 6th – EMPLOYEES ENTRANCE (3:30 PM ET) Warren William is the boss of a department store who will do whatever it takes to get what he wants, especially from Loretta Young.  Pre-code goodness abounds!  HEROES FOR SALE (5 PM ET) This is a film I have previously recapped and it is one that I highly recommend.  Watch it for Loretta Young but stay for Richard Barthlemess, Aline MacMahone, and the great story directed by William Wellman.

January 9th – I’LL BE SEEING YOU (9 AM ET) I loved this film when I watched it during the holiday season.  It is a too little known gem and one that I strongly urge you to see.  Starring Joseph Cotten and Ginger Rogers, this is one of the first films to deal with the subject of PTSD among WWII veterans.  It is a truly wonderful film and if you missed it during December, here is your chance to catch it again!

January 10th – FOR THE DEFENSE (6 AM ET) Another pre-code film, this one stars William Powell as an attorney specializing in helping underworld criminals get out of jail.  When his girlfriend drunkenly kills a man while out driving, he is faced with a moral dilemma because another man steps forward to take the blame.  A different role for William Powell and a great film.

January 11th – THE MALTESE FALCON (12 PM ET) Humphrey Bogart in one of his most iconic roles.  Directed by John Huston, co-starring Sydney Greenstreet and Mary Astor, this is a classic that needs to be seen!  Bogart will always be Sam Spade to me.

January 13th – IT’S A WONDERFUL WORLD (2:15 PM ET) A film from W.S. Van Dyke and Ben Hecht, starring Jimmy Stewart as a PI framed for murder who escapes from prison and Claudette Colbert as a runaway poetess who is helping him to clear his name.  I watched this years ago after buying it from the Warner Archive and really enjoyed it.  I’m excited to be able to catch this unique screwball comedy again!

January 21st – FEMALE (10:15 AM ET) Ruth Chatterton stars as a woman executive of a car company who uses men the way other men use women.  George Brent stars as a young executive who challenges her life view.  Another great pre-code movie!

January 22nd – TROUBLE IN PARADISE (6:45 AM ET) Ernst Lubitsch directs Miriam Hopkins, Kay Francis, and Herbert Marshall in this film about two thieves who find themselves in a love triangle with their intended victim.  Interestingly enough, this film is being shown on the very day that I am writing a blog entry about it for the Miriam Hopkins Blogathon!  Stay tuned!

January 29th – HAUNTED HONEYMOON (12:15PM ET) Robert Montgomery is British detective Sir Peter Wimsey, who finds his wedding celebration cut short after a man is found murdered in his honeymoon cottage.  Call that a mood killer or what!  I had heard of the Dorothy L Sayers literary character of Sir Peter Wimsey, and I love Robert Montgomery, so I am excited to see how he translates to the silver screen.

These are just some of the great offerings coming this month from TCM!  If there are any other films you think I should recommend in January let me know in the comments!

Classics with Criterion: IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT (1934)

My husband is starting to enjoy classic films.  As I write this he is sitting next to me laughing along to A NIGHT AT THE OPERA, his first time watching the Marx Brothers.  The other night I decided to show him IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT for two reasons.  First, I wanted to watch my new Criterion Edition of the film.  Second, I wanted to test my theory that a truly great classic film can be enjoyed by anyone (even if that person doesn’t think they like classic films).  A good story is a good story and a great movie is a great movie.  And if any film is both a good story and a great movie it is certainly IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT.

On board his yacht in the waters of Florida, millionaire Alexander Andrews (Walter Connolly) is trying to persuade his daughter Ellie (Claudette Colbert) to eat.  She is pitching a fit, shouting at crew members, throwing things, and refusing all food that is sent to her cabin.  The cause of her displeasure is her own father who, after discovering her hasty marriage to playboy aviator King Westley (Jameson Thomas), has “kidnapped” her and taken her away on his yacht.  He hopes that time apart from her new husband, a man whom he considers to be a fortune hunter, will give Ellie time to reconsider her actions.  If that doesn’t work the annulment he has in the works should do the trick.  Disgusted with her father’s continual attempts to control her life, Ellie bursts from the room and runs out onto the deck.  Climbing over the rail she swan dives into the water and quickly swims off.  Her father’s men hurry after her but cannot catch up to her, and she swims out of sight.  Andrews sends word to his personal detectives to be on the lookout for Ellie, to keep an eye on all modes of transport going to New York (and back to King Westley).

In a Miami bus station an old woman buys a ticket for the night bus to New York.  Two of Andrews’ detectives are watching nearby but this elderly woman doesn’t attract their interest.  As she steps away from the counter the woman crosses the floor and hands her ticket to Ellie, who has been hiding nearby.  Slipping past the detectives, Ellie boards the bus where she finds herself sitting next to a slightly drunk and newly fired newspaper man named Peter Warne (Clark Gable).  The two take an instant dislike to each other, Ellie being offended by Peter’s rough way of speaking to and dealing with her, and Peter finding Ellie a spoiled brat.  However, at the next stop on the route Ellie’s bag is stolen while she smokes a cigarette and Peter takes off after the thief.  Unable to catch him, Peter returns empty-handed to Ellie who reveals that all her money is now gone and she has only four dollars left.  Peter suggests that she wire her father for more money or report the theft to the bus driver, but she refuses raising his suspicions.  His theory of Ellie’s true identity is confirmed when she leaves the bus at the morning rest stop, assuming that the driver will hold the bus to wait for her.  Ellie returns to the station twenty minutes late to discover that the bus has left her behind and the next bus to New York won’t leave until eight o’clock that evening.  But Ellie is not alone as she soon discovers that Peter has also stayed behind.  He hands her a newspaper with her photograph on the front page.  Ellie offers to pay him once she gets back to New York, to give him any amount of money to keep her secret.  Peter is offended that Ellie thinks that she can just buy people off when he was willing to help her if she would have just asked.  The two argue and then part ways until boarding the bus to New York that evening.

Onboard the bus Ellie finds herself sitting next to one Mr. Shapely, who is more than slightly interested in Ellie.  Believe you me, Mr. Shapely would love to have Ellie as his something on the side and isn’t shy about letting her know.  Ellie tries to get him to leave her alone but he persists until Peter stands up and requests to change seats with Mr. Shapley.  When asked why Peter replies that he would like to sit next to his wife, much to Mr. Shapely and Ellie’s surprise.  Ellie tries to thank Peter but he dismisses her saying that the other man’s voice was getting on his nerves.  The bus continues on for a time but soon is stopped by a washed out bridge.  Peter manages to secure lodging for himself and for Ellie, sharing a cabin at a nearby lodge.  Because money is tight and room fees are high, Peter has them sharing one cabin and posing as a married couple.  Ellie enters the cabin reluctantly as Peter readies the beds.  She wonders why he is going through so much trouble to help her get back to New York.  Peter tells her that all he wants in return for helping her are the exclusive rights to her story, which he hopes will get him his job back. If she does not go along with his plan then he will call her father and reveal her location.  She reluctantly agrees and Peter returns to his bedtime preparations.  He strings a rope between the beds and hangs a blanket, calling it “The Walls of Jericho”.

The next morning the two prepare to leave for New York, taking in a quick breakfast complete with lessons in doughnut dunking etiquette, when they hear people approaching the cabin.  Ellie recognizes the voices as those of two of her father’s detectives.  Realizing they are about to be caught, Peter and Ellie spring into action now behaving like a married couple having an argument.  Caught off guard by the yelling and crying in the cabin the two detectives leave quickly before taking a closer look at the bride.  Unbeknownst to them Andrews has offered a $10,000 reward in exchange for information regarding his daughter.  A new picture is published in the newspapers, along with the reward offer, and it is this picture that catches the eye of one Mr. Shapley.  Back onboard Peter and Ellie continue on their bus ride, the trip becoming more pleasant as musicians take out their instruments to play “The Young Man on the Flying Trapeze”.  Other passengers join in, taking a verse here and there, and even Peter and Ellie find themselves singing along.  Everyone gets caught up in the song, including the driver who lets go of the wheel to applaud the song.  The bus swerves off the road and promptly gets stuck in the mud.  A young boy cries out to his mother, who has fainted, and while Ellie tends to his mother tells Peter of how neither one has eaten since boarding the bus as they spent all their money on the tickets.  Peter guilty looks at his money and is about to put it back into his pocket when Ellie returns, and after comforting the boy hands him the money to buy food with.  Now penniless, Peter and Ellie must be careful while traveling.  While the driver tries to figure out their next move, Mr. Shapley approaches Peter and asks to speak with him about Ellie Andrews.  Peter quickly leads him away from the bus where Mr. Shapley offers to keep his mouth shut in exchange for half of the $10,000 reward.  Peter pretends that he is part of a gang who have kidnapped Ellie for a large ransom and threatens Mr. Shapley in order to keep him quiet.  Thoroughly convinced, Mr. Shapley takes off running into the woods (and he might be running still) while Peter hurries back to the bus to retrieve Ellie.  Worried that Mr. Shapley might still go to the police or that someone else might recognize Ellie, Peter believes that it is better to continue on foot.  The two are forced to spend the night in a field, sleeping in haystacks.  As the night passes Peter’s mood darkens, but Ellie has begun to see Peter in a new light and as the night deepens her eyes stay locked on his sleeping form nearby.

After walking for the better part of the day, Ellie asks when the hitching part of “hitch hiking” starts.  Peter extolls the virtues of proper technique when thumbing a ride and takes his place at the side of the road.  But after several cars drive past him, Ellie asks for a chance to try her luck.  Not even using her thumb, Ellie flags down a car and soon the two of them are passengers of a jovial man who seems to have a knack for putting anything into song.  Peter is in a sour mood, but this soon turns to anger when the man driving them attempts to abandon them and take off with their belongings.  Peter chases after him leaving Ellie behind, only to return sometime later driving the very car that had left them.  It seems their roadside savior was in fact a car thief, making a living by picking up hitch-hikers and then taking off with their belongings.  Ellie tends to Peter who is slightly battered from his fight with the man, which ended with Peter tying him to a tree.  Meanwhile in New York, Andrews has resigned himself to Ellie’s marriage in order to get her to return.  Westley publishes an appeal to Ellie in the newspapers, telling her that all is forgiven, which she sees but hides from Peter.  The pair is now just three hours away from New York but Ellie insists that they spend one more night at a lodge.  That night across the walls of Jericho, Peter tells Ellie about his dreams in life which include moving far from the bustle of the modern world, to a simple life on an island in the Pacific he once saw.  He hopes to one day find a girl who would go with him to that sort of life.  But suddenly Peter stops talking because the walls have been breached, and Ellie is standing in front of him.  She confesses her love for him and pleads with him to take her away with him, to take her to his island.

This is the original romantic comedy and it is just SO good!  I hadn’t seen it for a few years and it is even better than what I remembered.  My husband said that this was a “sweet movie” and it is. It is also astonishingly well done. It is a simple story but it is just done so well that it becomes something greater. I loved every moment of this film and could not imagine anyone other than Claudette Colbert or Clark Gable being in it.  The Criterion Edition looks gorgeous, and I can’t wait to dig into the extra features that are included on the disc.

It is so surprising that at the time it was made really no one in the industry, aside from Frank Capra, liked the film or thought it would do well.  Claudette Colbert apparently hated making the film, and once it was complete told a friend that she had just finished making “the worst picture”.  Clark Gable came to set on the first day saying “Let’s get this over with”.  But this would go on to sweep all the major categories at the Oscars in 1935, the first time that had ever happened, and would also grow in popularity and respect as the years went on.  According to Frank Capra, it was not until the film started to make its way out to the theaters in smaller towns in rural America that the box office returns began to increase.  It was the people in local towns and small movie theaters who helped make this film a success, going to see the film and then taking their friends and family to see it as well.  And it is fitting that it is those people who had such an impact on the outcome of IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT, because it is those people who Frank Capra seemed to have in mind when he made it.  Whenever I watch a Frank Capra film I always feel a common thread running through them, this feeling that people can and should be decent, hard-working, honest and true.  I always have a sense of wanting to be something better and more honorable after watching a Frank Capra film, and this is no different.  Though perhaps not as lofty as MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON or MEET JOHN DOE, this film shows us that we can be kind to each other and that there is nothing so satisfying as dunking a doughnut or riding piggyback, if they are done honestly and without airs.