Is your passion for all things “Oscar” satiated yet? We’re already more than a week into April and we’re only into the “I’s”! While last week brought very musical heavy picks, this week looks to be more evenly distributed. There’s a smattering of genres hitting the screen and there’s representation from almost era of Academy Awards history. There might just be something here for everyone.
Without further ado, here are the picks!
It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963)
Like The Great Race last week, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad Mad World is one of the essentials of comedy which is always worth a watch. The Stanley Kramer gem features a cast of comedy icons… if you can think of a comedian from the era, chances are they are in this movie: Milton Berle, Buddy Hackett, Mickey Rooney, Sid Caesar, Dick Shawn, Phil Silvers and Edie Adams to name just a few.
The story follows the action after a group of motorists come across an accident site and learn from the dying victim (Jimmy Durante) that he knows there is treasure buried nearby under a “Big W”. This sets up a zany race to not only figure out what the “W” is, but of course, get there first.
Above all else, the draw of It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World is undoubtedly this cast. This is a big, flashy comedy and each of these legends are functioning on all cylinders. If you’re a fan of comedy during in the middle of the twentieth century, don’t miss this movie.
It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World airs at 2:15pm PST on April 12th.
Kiss Me Kate (1953)
This list has some really embarrassing first time watches and here’s the the first one. (This is one which I really can’t defend… I love Bobby Van).
Kiss Me Kate is one of those legendary musicals. You know the type… they all came out of MGM in the middle of the 1950s. The cast is ‘MGM in the mid-fifties’ good: Ann Miller, Kathryn Grayson, Howard Keel, Tommy Rall, Bobby Van and Bob Fosse (how’s about that group of dancers in there!)
The movie can be best described as a musical version of The Taming of the Shrew, following a pair of divorced performers who… end up performing in a musical version of the above the Shakespeare play. How’s that for meta?
Kiss Me Kate is a WatchTCM airing for many at 1:15am PST on April 14th.
The Last Picture Show (1971)
First time watch alert! If you’ve been following me on Letterboxd, you might have seen me slowly ticking off movies in my embarrassing Peter Bogdanavich blind spot. (Paper Moon… check out that little movie if you haven’t seen it!).
I digress. The Last Picture Show leaps off the page at me, probably thanks to a cast which can only be described as dynamic. There’s some truly good people in this one, coming right at the beginning of their legendary careers. You’ll know a number of these names: Jeff Bridges, Cybill Shepherd, Cloris Leachman, Ellen Burstyn, and Eileen Brennan. Peter Bogdanovich directs the film.
Deep diving into this movie, it looks to tick all my boxes. The story is described as a character exploration examining a group of teenagers coming of age in a small Texas town in the early 1950s. Combine the interesting sounding Larry McMurtry script with Bogdanovich’s direction and this talented cast, I’m interested to check this one out.
The Last Picture Show airs at 8:45pm PST on April 14th.
Libeled Lady (1936)
Libeled Lady is a film which grew on me each time I watched it. The first time? It didn’t particularly thrill me. However, with each passing viewing, I grew to appreciate it just a little bit more.
The movie features a dynamic cast, including: William Powell, Myrna Loy, Spencer Tracy and Jean Harlow. The story follows a newspaper editor (Tracy) who decides to fight a libel lawsuit from an heiress (Loy) with fire. She can’t claim libel (after supposedly breaking up a marriage) if she’s actually spotted with another woman’s husband… can she?
The movie is a fun pairing and a must see, particularly for fans of Powell and Loy. The film is also a good one for Harlow, who shines in a largely rare opportunity for physical comedy.
Libeled Lady airs at 5:00pm PST on April 15th.
The Maltese Falcon (1941)
In the almost twenty years that film noir was a popular sub-genre in Hollywood, few would argue that The Maltese Falcon is not only only one of the first, but also one of the best.
The iconic John Huston work follows the iconic detective Same Spade (Humphrey Bogart) as he finds himself entangled with a complicated collection of characters following the death of his partner. The movie features a colorful supporting cast, including: Mary Astor, Peter Lorre, Sydney Greenstreet and Elisha Cook Jr.
If you’re a fan of noir and haven’t added this essential to your list, or even if you’re aching for a rewatch, why not slide it in this week? It’s the perfect time.
The Maltese Falcon airs at 3:00pm PST on April 16th.
The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
I’m embarrassed to admit this one… but… first time watch alert! The Manchurian Candidate is a story society hasn’t tired of (some might remember the 2004 remake starring Denzel Washington). This time out, we’re looking at the classic 1962 version starring Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey, Janet Leigh, Angela Lansbury and Henry Silva. The film comes from legendary director John Frankenheimer.
The Manchurian Candidate is one of those political dramas which always feel eerily timely. The names and the various nationalities might change, but ultimately the story of prisoners of war, international intrigue and political assassinations are always the same game.
The Manchurian Candidate brings alot to love for fans of classic Hollywood. I suppose first and foremost, one has to hype the presence of Frank Sinatra. ‘The Chairman of the Board’ did some fantastic work between 1955 and this film, but The Manchurian Candidate is definitely considered one of his most memorable roles. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the legend that is Angela Lansbury. It is her performance which secured one of the Oscar nominations for this movie and her portrayal is fierce and formidable.
The Manchurian Candidate airs at 9:30pm PST on April 16th.
Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
I’ve talked about this movie before and with Meet Me in St. Louis, the good things write themselves. This musical has a legendary reputation and every bit of it is deserved.
Meet Me in St. Louis stars Judy Garland, Tom Drake, Margaret O’Brian, Leon Ames and Mary Astor (who keeps appearing on this list!). Vincente Minnelli directs the movie. The story follows the Smith family in 1904. While the group is head over heels with excitement about the arrival of the World’s Fair, they learn that patriarch Lon (Ames) is planning to move the family to New York City. Why would they want to leave their favorite city?
Every frame of Meet Me in St. Louis is a nostalgic love letter to days gone by. It is bright, idealistic, candy-colored and delightful. Wether you’re a fan of musicals, Judy Garland, or even little Margaret O’Brien, this one is most certainly worth a watch.
Meet Me in St. Louis airs at 5:30am PST on April 17th.
The Miracle Worker (1962)
This is another film which yes, I’ve watched, but it’s been a long, long time. So long in fact, that I should probably call this one a first time watch.
Perhaps you’re like me… I know a lot of people in the general ‘Millenial’ age range who watched this one on a loop with substitute teachers in English classes. Maybe it’s time for a rewatch so we can celebrate these powerful performances.
The Miracle Worker is based on a Broadway play of the same name and tells the (oft-retold) story of tutor Anne Sullivan’s (Anne Bancroft) work with a young Helen Keller (Patty Duke). It is in truth the performances which are the standout in this film. It’s a powerful, emotional, tear-jerker of a movie and I can’t wait to watch it.
The Miracle Worker airs at 5:00pm PST on April 17th.
Mister Roberts (1955)
I’ve spoken of my love for Mister Roberts on the site before, so this should come as no surprise for regular readers. The World War II dramedy features a brilliant cast, including: Henry Fonda, William Powell, James Cagney and Jack Lemmon. The story follows the crew of a supply ship in the Pacific, more specifically the trials of a well-liked officer (Fonda) desperate to break free and actually see some fighting.
The strength of this cast speaks for itself, but there is truly something special about the performances in this film. Each of these men bring a humorous, but at the same time. human chemistry to this challenging setting and the result is beautiful to watch. If you haven’t caught this movie yet, make sure to make time for it this week.
Mister Roberts airs at 7:00pm PST on April 17th.
My Favorite Wife (1940)
It took me far too long to find my way to the joyous pairing of Cary Grant and Irene Dunne and I’m here to make sure that you all don’t make the same mistake. Are you hearing me out there? You won’t be sorry.
My Favorite Wife stars Grant and Dunne opposite Randolph Scott and Gail Patrick. The story follows a man (Grant) who is anxious to move on with his life after declaring his wife (Dunne) legally dead after she goes missing following a shipwreck years before. However, just when he’s ready to marry his fiancee (Patrick), his wife returns from the dead, toting the good-looking, rugged man she was shipwrecked with (Scott) in toe.
It turns out, Grant and Dunne’s chemistry is magical. However, Grant and Scott are equally delightful when they’re on-screen together. My Favorite Wife captures some fun, but equally complex relationships between these different people and it couldn’t work better. Director Garson Kanin brings his flair for dialogue to a cast of this caliber and the result is one for the books.
My Favorite Wife airs at 8:00am PST on April 18th.
To be honest, it has been far too long since I checked out this legendary work of 1970s cinema, so I might as well call this a first-time-watch as well. Network is an all-star affair with a cast made up of name like: Faye Dunaway, William Holden, Robert Duvall, Peter Finch and Ned Beatty. Sidney Lumet directs the film from a script by the legendary Paddy Chayefsky.
Network follows the daily goings on surrounding a news network who– in the quest for the almighty ratings share– exploits a fragile former anchor (Finch) who’s (all together now!) “Mad as h*ll and not going to take it anymore!”.
Network is one of those films which feels most at home in the 1970s. Everything here is grimy and gritty enough that the gloss of the studio system is barely a memory. However, the story is one which is almost spookily, timely even today. Sure it works as a cultural snapshot of this very specific decade, but it feels just as accurate looking at the movie through a contemporary perspective.
Network airs at 7:15pm PST on April 18th.
As I mentioned above, we’re just barely half way through the alphabet and we still have two weeks of Academy Awards content left. Who else is excited?
What movies are you looking forward to this week! Shout them out in the comments.
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Podcaster at Hollywood and Wine, historian and filmmaker studying contributions of women in Classic TV. Film critic for Geek Girl Authority. Classic film lover for Ticklish Business.
You can find me on Twitter @kpierce624!