It’s April and you know what that means? The TCM Classic Film Festival! Honestly, the ten movies here will just help me mark time before I’m winging my way back down to Los Angeles for the festival. Sorry to all those who won’t be there. Hopefully these titles will help you cushion the blow.
**Times listed as Eastern. TCM can and does change the schedule at their discretion.**
I almost had this 1951 Ida Lupino-directed film on the list last month, but ended up using something else. Hard, Fast and Beautiful sounds like a soapy melodrama – think Bad and the Beautiful (1952) – and, as far as I know, it is. Claire Trevor stars as a mother trying to push her daughter into becoming a tennis star. So Gypsy (1962) with match points? I’ve only watched Trevor in noirs and Lupino’s work takes intriguing stories and turns them into true women’s films – and by that I mean films about women without everyone reaching for hankies. Hard, Fast and Beautiful airs April 7th at 3:45pm.
April’s unintentional theme is “WTF” because quite a few titles made it through sheer weirdness. The Second Face (1950) stars Ella Raines as a “homely” woman given a new face after being in a car accident. Considering she’s Ella Raines, I’m expecting a Hollywood definition of “homely.” I’ve only watched Raines in Phantom Lady (1944) where she was beautiful, if not an amazing actress. Regardless, this sounds like a premise showing the 1950s fear of plastic surgery wrapped up in melodrama. Get up early to watch The Second Face on April 8th at 7am.
A transition as big, if not more monumental, than the move from silents to talkies was the shift from the 1960s into the ’70s. The collapse of the studio system, civil unrest, and changing social mores saw many a member of Old Hollywood drop in and tune out with limited success. All I needed to see was the name Lana Turner and the word “LSD” to realize I needed to watch The Big Cube (1969). Turner plays a “former actress” – would you expect Turner in another profession? – whose life is ruined by the demon drug, LSD. It also stars George Chakiris who really tried a little bit of everything after West Side Story (1961). The Big Cube is the late night movie at 3am on April 15th.
The Best of the Barrymores is this month’s TCM Spotlight and I don’t necessarily know if I’ve watched anything starring Ethel Barrymore (although her name is spoken of enough). Kind Lady (1951) tells the story of a con artist and his gang who hold an old lady hostage. Safe to assume the old lady is Ms. Barrymore? The premise sounds engaging and it’s got Angela Lansbury, two great reasons to watch a movie! Kind Lady starts at 1:30am on April 19th.
Well-regarded for his look at the realities of British life in the 1960s, Tony Richardson’s a director I’ve heard of but can’t recall actually taking in any of his films. A Taste of Honey (1962) sounds like the beginning of Madonna’s “Papa Don’t Preach” in that it follows a pregnant British teenager deserted by her family, who finds help with her gay best friend. TCM Guest Programmer Gloria Steinem recommends it, so that means I have to watch. A Taste of Honey airs April 19th at 8pm.
The Freshman (1925) was the greatest discovery I made during my inaugural Fridays With… series. Silent star Harold Lloyd didn’t make many movies after the silent era passed, but he made an exception for The Sin of Harold Diddlebock, a quasi-continuation of his character from The Freshman, directed by Preston Sturges no less. A meta-tale of Harold’s life post-college, the concept sounds fun, if because I’m assuming the character is no longer the cocky boy he once was. You can see The Sin of Harold Diddlebock on April 20th at 4:30pm.
Based on my newest project – cryptic, isn’t it? – I’m in a very Jane Russell mood. A follow-up to Anita Loos’ Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), Gentlemen Marry Brunettes (1955) sees Russell and Jeanne Crain star as two sisters trying to avoid romance. Okay, so where the original saw Russell more than content with a husband, we’re starting at zero again? You can’t really go wrong with Russell, especially if she’s revisiting her character of Dorothy from Blondes. Find out why Gentlemen Marry Brunettes on April 21st at 9am.
April 22nd goes blonde crazy with a series of films with tow-headed titles. Smart Blonde (1936) – why does that feel like an insult, and I’m not even blonde! – sees Glenda Farrell in the first of nine films as girl reporter, Torchy Blane. I’ve referred to past Farrell roles as Torchy-esque, but I’ve yet to actually consume one. Based on a cursory glance of the series the movies follow similar trajectories of Torchy finding various mysteries to solve, but I’m always up for Farrell wisecracks. Smart Blonde kicks off the day at 7am on April 22nd.
If you read my review of Nicholas and Alexandra (1971) my affinity for the story of the Romonovs is well-known. Another foray into the Best of the Barrymores is Rasputin and The Empress (1932), telling the story of mad monk, Rasputin (Lionel Barrymore) and his bizarre relationship with the Empress Alexandra. This sees all three Barrymores starring with Ethel making her talking debut. Meet Rasputin and the Empress on April 25th at 8pm.
We close out the month with a movie that sounds like a 1960’s take on Pygmalion. Lord Love a Duck (1966) has a teen attempt to turn a “bubbly blonde into a social success.” Starring Tuesday Weld and Roddy McDowall, I’ve heard this is incredibly weird, especially Weld’s performance. See Tuesday (Wed) on Tuesday, April 26th at 11:30pm.
The TCM Trio
Director Blake Edwards gets the TCM treatment on Thursday, April 8th. Things kick off with Julie Andrews and William Holden learning the true art of the word in S.O.B. (1981) AT 12:15am. Then, Julie Andrews and James Garner fall in love in Victor Victoria (1982) at 2:30am. And Audrey Hepburn can’t stop having Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) at 5am.
A freelance film critic whose work fuels the Rotten Tomatoes meter. I've been published on The Hollywood Reporter, Remezcla, and The Daily Beast. I've been featured in the L.A. Times. I currently run two podcasts, Citizen Dame and Ticklish Business.