Sunday, December 10, 2017

Tonight's Movie: I'll Be Seeing You (1944) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

Ginger Rogers and Joseph Cotten star in I'LL BE SEEING YOU (1944), recently released by Kino Lorber on Blu-ray and DVD.

For those who don't know this film, it might be the best Christmas film you've never seen. I only discovered it myself a dozen years or so ago, then first reviewed it here in 2009. It's one of those movies which only gets better with repeat viewings, a very special film which was overlooked in the annals of great Christmas movies for far too long. I'm delighted it will receive additional exposure thanks to Kino Lorber.

The story concerns Mary Marshall (Rogers) who meets soldier Zachary Morgan (Cotten) on a train a few days before Christmas. They're instantly attracted to one another, to the point that Zach, who has nowhere special to go for the holiday, gets off at Mary's stop.

Unknown to each other, both Mary and Zach are troubled souls harboring secrets: Mary is on an eight-day "good behavior" furlough from prison, where she's serving a six-year term for manslaughter, and Zach is fighting shell shock.

During the holidays Zach becomes a regular guest at the home of Mary's aunt (Spring Byington) and uncle (Tom Tully), and he gradually opens up to Mary about his psychological issues stemming from his battle experiences. Mary, meanwhile, can't decide whether to tell Zach the truth about her situation; she loves him but is afraid of rejection, as well as that the news that she's soon headed back to prison could impede his recovery.

The unusual plot may sound a bit farfetched, but it's beautifully scripted and performed. (The screenplay was by Marion Parsonnet, based on a play by Charles Martin.) Rogers and Cotten are each excellent -- and did Rogers ever look lovelier than in this film? -- but for me the actors who really shine are Byington and Tully (who habitually says everything is "Fine! Fine!"). They give exquisite performances as Mary's aunt and uncle and seem very "real" as they sing a carol with their plum pudding and joke about getting tipsy on a glass of sherry. There's also a lovely sequence where Tully says grace, the kind of thing you just don't tend to see in movies anymore.

Shirley Temple also does excellent work as Mary's teenage cousin Barbara, who struggles with her feelings about Mary having been in prison. Along the way Barbara learns some important lessons and perhaps will do some maturing thanks to her relationship with Mary.

Though set in WWII, the story seems more timely than ever, addressing issues such as sexual assault by an employer -- it really seems Mary should have gotten off with self-defense -- and what we now term post-traumatic stress syndrome.

Add to all of the above the very special title song by Sammy Fain and Irving Kahal, and it's quite a beautiful 85 minutes. Incidentally, listen for Louanne Hogan singing the title song at the New Year's Eve party. Hogan dubbed Jeanne Crain in multiple films including STATE FAIR (1945).

The film is for the most part a five-person character study, but there are small roles played by John Derek (billed as Dare Harris), Chill Wills, and Kenny Bowers.

I'LL BE SEEING YOU was directed by William Dieterle and, according to IMDb, an uncredited George Cukor. It was filmed in black and white by Tony Gaudio.

The Kino Lorber Blu-ray print is lovely, with excellent sound. Extras include an audio commentary by film historians Kat Ellinger and Samm Deighan, who did a fine job on Kino Lorber's release of LOVE WITH THE PROPER STRANGER (1963), and a five-film Joseph Cotten trailer gallery, including the trailer for this film.

The film and Kino Lorber's Blu-ray release are both very highly recommended.

Thanks to Kino Lorber for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray.

Tonight's Movie: The Kid From Texas (1939) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

Dennis O'Keefe stars as THE KID FROM TEXAS (1939), one of a couple '30s Westerns recently released on DVD by the Warner Archive.

O'Keefe plays William Quincy, a cowboy and aspiring polo player. He heads east aspiring to star on the polo circuit, only to flop and end up in a Wild West show.

He has a crush on wealthy Margo Thomas (Florence Rice), but she doesn't give the brash, loud-mouthed cowboy who tells tall tales the time of day. Does Margo's argumentative nature hide a secret attraction for the goofy fellow? Anyone who doesn't know the answer probably hasn't seen very many movies.

I love Dennis O'Keefe and paid tribute to him on his birthday last year, but this early feature film effort is kind of painful at times. O'Keefe had recently graduated from years of bit player work to lead roles with HOLD THAT KISS (1938); here he's stymied by the combination of a bad script and his own unnuanced yokel performance.

Fortunately much better material and performances were in O'Keefe's future, including noir classics such as T-MEN (1947), RAW DEAL (1948), ABANDONED (1949), and WOMAN ON THE RUN (1950), not to mention my personal favorite O'Keefe film, COVER UP (1949), a "cozy" Christmas mystery which he cowrote.

Florence Rice, seen most recently in NAVY BLUE AND GOLD (1937), is likewise usually a very enjoyable leading lady, but she spends much of the film looking down her nose at O'Keefe's character. Neither of their characters is especially appealing here, more's the pity.

The film has a good supporting cast including John Hubbard (billed here as Anthony Allan), Buddy Ebsen, Virginia Dale (HOLIDAY INN), Jessie Ralph, and Jack Carson, but they're working in service of a very weak story. I love MGM "B's" but this one is on the low end quality wise.

THE KID FROM TEXAS was directed by S. Sylvan Simon. It was filmed in black and white by Sidney Wagner. (An interesting aside, according to IMDb some scenes were filmed at Darryl F. Zanuck's polo stables.) The running time is 71 minutes.

The DVD includes the trailer. The print is slightly faded at times but all is all is quite watchable, with good sound.

Coming soon, a review of the new Warner Archive release RENEGADES OF THE WEST (1932), a Western starring Tom Keene.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop or from any online retailers where DVDs and Blu-rays are sold.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Tonight's Movie: Operation Petticoat (1959) - An Olive Signature Blu-ray Review

The classic Cary Grant-Tony Curtis comedy OPERATION PETTICOAT (1959) has just been released as an Olive Signature Blu-ray by Olive Films.

Last year I reviewed a couple other titles from the Olive Signature line, JOHNNY GUITAR (1954) and NIGHT OF THE GRIZZLY (1966). Earlier this year the Signature line went on hiatus; Olive has now resumed Signature releases, which going forward will be released on Blu-ray only, with each release limited to 3500 copies.

Olive Signature's OPERATION PETTICOAT Blu-ray is an extras-laden upgrade of their 2014 release of the movie, which I reviewed roughly 18 months ago. The Blu-ray looks terrific, and when all the new extras are factored in -- more on those below -- the Olive Signature OPERATION PETTICOAT is a "must" for fans of the film.

OPERATION PETTICOAT is fun from start to finish; I couldn't count the number of times I've seen it over the years, and watching it in back-to-back years was a pleasure. It's the rare comedy which runs a full 120 minutes yet seems shorter.

For anyone who might not have seen the film, OPERATION PETTICOAT is a "service comedy" about the crew of the USS SEA TIGER during WWII. As the film begins, the SEA TIGER is damaged by an air attack, but Lt. Commander Matt Sherman (Grant) and supply officer par excellence Lt. Nick Holden (Curtis) manage to get the sub working well enough to head for repairs at a Pacific island.

As the Sea Tiger travels the Pacific, it takes aboard five stranded nurses and later some expectant island women and their children -- not to mention a goat! At one point the sub ends up painted pink, and there's also a memorable adventure involving a pig. Grant's playing of the pig sequence is in my Top 5 funniest movie moments ever.

All in all it's an incredibly funny movie, set against the most serious of backdrops; the film's multiple screenwriters were Oscar-nominated. Grant and Curtis are brilliant, with impeccable comedic timing, and they're ably supported by a top cast including Arthur O'Connell, Virginia Gregg, Dick Sargent, Gavin MacLeod, Dina Merrill, Joan O'Brien, Marion Ross, and more.

OPERATION PETTICOAT was directed by Blake Edwards and filmed by Russell Harlan.

Olive presents some great extras on this disc, starting with a 20-minute featurette editing together separate interviews with cast members MacLeod and Ross. There's a shorter reminiscence of Blake Edwards the man and director, featuring interviews with his daughter, Jennifer Edwards, and actress Lesley Ann Warren (VICTOR/VICTORIA).

Also included are an additional featurette, on Cary Grant; newsreel footage; and a commentary track by Adrian Martin.

 The case includes an attractive booklet with an essay by Chris Fujiwara; unfortunately the print is so small it almost requires a magnifying glass, but Fujiwara's essay is also printed in bigger type as a Blu-ray extra.

Both the movie itself and Olive's Blu-ray release are highly recommended.

Olive Signature has also just released another Cary Grant comedy, FATHER GOOSE (1964), which likewise has plentiful extras. I'll be reviewing that here at a future date.

Thanks to Olive Films for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray.

Friday, December 08, 2017

Coming to DVD and Blu-ray: A Man Alone (1955)

Terrific news this week from Toby at 50 Westerns: Kino Lorber will be releasing A MAN ALONE (1955) on DVD and Blu-ray.

Kino Lorber has released some interesting Republic Pictures films this year, including titles recently reviewed here such as THE MAN WHO DIED TWICE (1958) and DRIFTWOOD (1947), but the news about A MAN ALONE is extra-special for me.

Ray Milland directed and stars in A MAN ALONE, costarring Mary Murphy and Ward Bond.

As I wrote when I reviewed it in 2009, it was a movie which appealed to me from a young age and which I've continued to love in the years since. In 2014 I wrote about it in a piece on Underrated Westerns.

As Toby writes, at one point A MAN ALONE was expected to be an Olive Films release, but that fell through. I didn't have much hope of a release after that, so learning that it's now going to come out via a new 4K remaster from Paramount Pictures made my week!

I'll have more news here about its release in 2018 as it becomes available.

Monday, December 04, 2017

TCM Star of the Month: Lana Turner

The December Star of the Month is Lana Turner.

This is Turner's third time as Star of the Month -- she was previously honored in January 1998 and October 2001 -- but it's been over 16 years since the last time she was honored, so I'd say she was due! No doubt there will be many newer classic film fans who will enjoy becoming more closely acquainted with the actress and her films this month, and for the rest of us it's a welcome deep dive into a career packed with entertaining movies.

45 Turner films will be shown every Tuesday evening, continuing into Wednesday. Click any hyperlinked title below for the corresponding review.

First up, on Tuesday, December 5th, is Turner's notable early role in the Warner Bros. crime film THEY WON'T FORGET (1937). That's followed by a mixture of her early MGM and Warner Bros. films:

LOVE FINDS ANDY HARDY (1938)
DANCING CO-ED (1939)
THESE GLAMOUR GIRLS (1939)
ZIEGFELD GIRL (1941)
HONKY TONK (1941)
DRAMATIC SCHOOL (1938)
THE ADVENTURES OF MARCO POLO (1938)
THE GREAT GARRICK (1938)
RICH MAN, POOR GIRL (1938)
CALLING DR. KILDARE (1939)

My favorites from the above batch are DANCING CO-ED (left, with Richard Carlson) and THESE GLAMOUR GIRLS. They made be MGM's version of a "B" film but they're packed with terrific casts and are highly entertaining. Also of note is ZIEGFELD GIRL, costarring Judy Garland, Hedy Lamarr, and James Stewart, and HONKY TONK, her first film opposite Clark Gable.

There's another terrific group of films on December 12th, starting with the crime classic THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE (1946), opposite John Garfield.

More MGM goodness follows that evening:

THE THREE MUSKETEERS (1948)
JOHNNY EAGER (1942)
DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE (1941)
GREEN DOLPHIN STREET (1947)
WE WHO ARE YOUNG (1940)
SOMEWHERE I'LL FIND YOU (1942)
TWO GIRLS ON BROADWAY (1940)
THE YOUNGEST PROFESSION (1943)
KEEP YOUR POWDER DRY (1945)
SLIGHTLY DANGEROUS (1943)

Turner is especially good playing an "accidental" bride of sorts in the costume drama GREEN DOLPHIN STREET, an engrossing film which includes a terrific disaster sequence. (She's seen at left with Richard Hart.) I also especially like the WWII drama KEEP YOUR POWDER DRY, in which she plays a wealthy woman who joins the WACs and tangles with military brat Laraine Day, with Susan Peters playing peacemaker. It's a good example of the well-crafted films MGM turned out so regularly throughout the '40s.

A mixture of '40s and '50s melodramas will be shown on December 19th, including a trio of her best-known films, PEYTON PLACE (1957), IMITATION OF LIFE (1959), and THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL (1952).

Many more MGM films are showing on the 19th:

LATIN LOVERS (1953)
A LIFE OF HER OWN (1950)
MARRIAGE IS A PRIVATE AFFAIR (1944)
WEEK-END AT THE WALDORF (1945)
CASS TIMBERLANE (1947)
HOMECOMING (1948)
THE MERRY WIDOW (1952)
BETRAYED (1954)

December 19th might be my favorite Turner lineup of the series. LATIN LOVERS, costarring Ricardo Montalban and John Lund, is just plain fun, filmed in gorgeous Technicolor, and she's outstanding in the underrated WWII drama HOMECOMING, opposite Clark Gable.

She's also especially good opposite Spencer Tracy in the May-December romance CASS TIMBERLANE. And I suspect she was never more beuatiful onscreen than in MARRIAGE IS A PRIVATE AFFAIR!

The series concludes December 26th with Turner films from the '50s, '60s, and even one from the mid '70s:

MADAME X (1966)
PORTRAIT IN BLACK (1960)
BACHELOR IN PARADISE (1961)
BY LOVE POSSESSED (1961)
THE BIG CUBE (1969)
MR. IMPERIUM (1951)
THE SEA CHASE (1955)
THE PRODIGAL (1955)
LOVE HAS MANY FACES (1965)
DIANE (1956)
BITTERSWEET LOVE (1976)

BACHELOR IN PARADISE with Bob Hope is notable for its eye-catching early '60s visuals and should be seen for that reason alone!

I always enjoy Turner's films and hope she'll acquire new fans this month! For those who enjoy her I recommend the gorgeous coffee table book LANA: THE MEMORIES, THE MYTHS, THE MOVIES by her daughter Cheryl Crane with Cindy De La Hoz. It features beautifully reproduced photos from Turner's personal collection, many of which I'd never previously seen. Highly recommended.

For more on TCM in December 2017, please visit TCM in December: Highlights, TCM in December: Christmas Movies, and the complete online schedule.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Tonight's Movie: She Had to Say Yes (1933) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

Loretta Young stars in the pre-Code melodrama SHE HAD TO SAY YES (1933), recently released on DVD by the Warner Archive.

For my money SHE HAD TO SAY YES is one of the "pre-Code-iest" films out there -- and given current events, this look at women being mistreated in the workplace couldn't be more timely, over eight decades after its release.

Loretta Young plays Florence, a stenographer caught between two creeps. Florence's fiance Tommy (Regis Toomey), an executive at Florence's office, initially seems like a good guy but turns out to be a villain, two-timing Florence, while Danny (Lyle Talbot) initially seems like the villain, only to turn into a nice guy...and then swing back and forth a couple more times. He may be a marginally better person than Tommy, but the idea that Florence must choose between this pair is depressing.

The craziest part of the fast-moving 65-minute plot comes when Tommy decides that out-of-town buyers are unhappy with the brash types of girls who usually "entertain" them, so the company will ask their "nice" but attractive stenographers to entertain the men instead.

Tommy initially refuses to let Florence go out with a buyer, then turns on a dime and manipulates her into doing just that, going out with Danny. Rather than being appreciative of Florence's loyal cooperation, Tommy then resents Florence doing what he asked and questions her virtue.

Later, after Florence helps Danny land a contract with Luther Haines (Hugh Herbert), Danny then questions whether she's a "nice" girl as well! Poor Florence can't win for losing. It's almost impossible to keep up with the men's hypocrisy, although that's also part of what makes the movie so fascinating.

As I wrote when I first saw the film in 2010, the movie "will make the women in the audience want to smack every man in the cast." Now more than ever!

The women in the film, with Florence front and center, are manipulated, physically assaulted, unappreciated, criticized and have their integrity questioned by men who then turn around behind their backs and carry on with other women. It's a highly entertaining film, but you'll watch it with your jaw dropped to the floor and your head spinning. And needless to say, watching it in the current news environment gave the story particular resonance.

This film was codirected by Busby Berkeley and George Amy; it was Berkeley's first directing credit. The movie was filmed in black and white by Arthur Todd.

The print was generally good although there was one scene with some odd black lines on the screen. There are no extras on the disc.

Loretta Young fans may be interested to know that along with SHE HAD TO SAY YES, the Warner Archive has released another Young pre-Code, BIG BUSINESS GIRL (1931). I reviewed BIG BUSINESS GIRL earlier this year on the Warner Archive Instant streaming service.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop or from any online retailers where DVDs and Blu-rays are sold.

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Tonight's Movie: Driftwood (1947) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

Natalie Wood leads an excellent cast in the unusual drama DRIFTWOOD (1947), a Republic Pictures film just released on Blu-ray and DVD by Kino Lorber.

DRIFTWOOD was directed by Allan Dwan from an original screenplay by the husband-wife writing team of Richard Sale and Mary Loos, who was the niece of screenwriter Anita Loos. The movie was filmed in black and white by the great John Alton.

Wood plays Jenny, an orphan found sleeping along a desert road by Dr. Steve Webster (Dean Jagger). Jenny was raised in a ghost town by her great-grandfather (H.B. Warner), a preacher, and while she knows the Bible well, civilization is more than a bit of a mystery to her.

Steve takes Jenny into the home he shares with the town pharamacist (Walter Brennan), who helps Steve with medical experiments. Before long Jenny's unbridled honesty wreaks a bit of havoc with Steve's girlfriend Susan (Ruth Warrick) and her aunt Matilda (Charlotte Greenwood).

Steve is working on a cure for a spotted tick fever, and little does he know that the collie dog he found with Jenny holds a key to his work. It seems the dog, destined to play an important role in the creation of a serum, had been on his way to a scientific institute when the plane carrying him crashed in the desert.

The terrified Jenny had witnessed the crash but is unable to speak about it coherently; alone after her great-grandfather's death, she believed that the burning plane she saw hurtling through the night sky was the devil himself. Eventually the dog's identity is realized at a key moment.

The opening of the film is especially odd, as in short order Wood's little girl suffers the loss of her great-grandfather and then sees the crash, in an almost mystical sequence. Jenny's life turns for the better once she's found by the doctor.

Much of the film is an appealing portrait of small-town life, with James Bell as the caring sheriff, Francis Ford as his long-term jail "guest," and Hobart Cavanaugh terrific as the justice of the peace who also sells dry goods.

Margaret Hamilton is the soda shop clerk who teaches Jenny the mysteries of eating an ice cream soda, while Jerome Cowan is the smarmy mayor with a nightmare of a young son (Teddy Infuhr). Alan Napier is a scientist, Ray Teal a farmer, and look for Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer as a messenger. Carol Coombs, one of the Bailey children from IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946), plays one of the minister's (James Kirkwood) grandchildren.

The film is suffused with religious discussion and practice in a way which is surprising only because it's so rare now to see depictions on film of people living out their faith. In the most beautiful moment, the minister and his grandchildren fall to their knees and recite the Lord's Prayer as part of praying for a very sick child.

Although I wasn't sure what to make of the film at the outset, I ended up quite enjoying it, thanks to the cast and the polished filmmakers who keep the movie rolling along in an entertaining way.

Fun side note, the back-projected mountains during a car ride look like the Mount Whitney area outside Lone Pine, California.

The Blu-ray print was excellent. Let's hope Kino Lorber keeps releasing Republic obscurities such as this film and THE MAN WHO DIED TWICE (1958). It's been a treat to get to know these titles, all the more so in exellent prints.

Extras include trailers for additional Kino November releases, SINCE YOU WENT AWAY (1944) and I'LL BE SEEING YOU (1944), which will both be reviewed here in the near future, and a commentary track by Jeremy Arnold. I haven't had a chance to listen to the commentary yet but I've enjoyed other tracks by Arnold, including on RIDE LONESOME (1959).

Thanks to Kino Lorber for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray.

Friday, December 01, 2017

TCM in December: Highlights

It hardly seems possible, but December is here, and it's time for a look at this month's Turner Classic Movies schedule!

Lana Turner is the December Star of the Month. Over 40 Turner films will be shown spread over Tuesday evenings, running into Wednesday. I'll have a look at the Turner films posted here prior to Tuesday. (Update: Please visit TCM Star of the Month: Lana Turner.)

December highlights include Treasures From the Disney Vault on December 20th (more on that below) and the TCM Spotlight focusing on the Great American Songbook every Thursday, hosted by Michael Feinstein.

This month's Noir Alley titles are PUSHOVER (1954) on December 3rd, THE BREAKING POINT (1950) on December 10th, and THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE (1946) on December 17th. The Garfield films may be better known but I really like PUSHOVER, with crooked cop Fred MacMurray, good cop Phil Carey, femme fatale Kim Novak, and plucky nurse Dorothy Malone. Noir Alley goes on hiatus for Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve but returns January 7th!

As always, December features a great lineup of Christmas movies. I have a complete rundown of every Christmas film showing this month in TCM in December: Christmas Movies.

Here's a look at a few of the other great titles on this month's schedule. Click on any hyperlinked title to read the corresponding review.

...Before starring in the Christmas classic THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER (1940), James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan starred in another film with "shop" in the title, THE SHOPWORN ANGEL (1938), costarring Walter Pidgeon. It's being shown December 3rd.

...TCM honors producer Alan Ladd Jr. on December 6th with a showing of IT'S ALWAYS ABOUT THE STORY: CONVERSATIONS WITH ALAN LADD JR. (2016). That will be followed by two of the best films Ladd produced, CHARIOTS OF FIRE (1981) and THE RIGHT STUFF (1983). I consider the latter film, which includes the late Sam Shepard's iconic performance as test pilot Chuck Yeager, to be one of the truly great films of the last few decades.

...The Great American Songbook series kicks off December 7th with MGM's Rodgers and Hart biopic WORDS AND MUSIC (1948). Other titles airing that evening are I'LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS (1951), FOR ME AND MY GAL (1942), and HOLLYWOOD HOTEL (1937).

...James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan turn up in another film, the highly regarded THE MORTAL STORM (1940), on December 8th. It's part of a lineup of WWII dramas.

...Actress Anne Shirley, who as a child actress had previously been known as Dawn O'Day, took her stage name from her film ANNE OF GREEN GABLES (1934), which is shown on December 10th.

...The classic Warner Bros. production of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM (1935) will be shown on December 11th. If I remember my Hollywood lore correctly, Hal Mohr's shimmering cinematography is the only write-in candidate to ever win an Oscar. The all-star cast includes Olivia de Havilland, Dick Powell, James Cagney, Anita Louise, and Mickey Rooney.

...A December 12th birthday tribute to Edward G. Robinson includes the interesting film BLACKMAIL (939), which I reviewed last year. Ruth Hussey costars as Robinson's loyal wife.

...More musicals from the Great American Songbook on December 14th: GIRL CRAZY (1943), ALEXANDER'S RAGTIME BAND (1938), HIGH SOCIETY (1956), and THREE LITTLE WORDS (1950). That's entertainment!

...Speaking of the Great American Songbook, one of my favorite lesser-known MGM musicals is LOVELY TO LOOK AT (1952), a remake of ROBERTA (1935). It has a great cast including Howard Keel, Kathryn Grayson, Ann Miller, and Red Skelton, a lilting Jerome Kern score, and fantastic dancing by Marge and Gower Champion. It's being shown December 16th.

...CAREFREE (1938) is one of my very favorite Fred and Ginger movies. Perhaps it's more screwball comedy than musical, but wonderful all the same. Catch it on December 17th.

...A Rex Harrison tribute on December 18th includes a pair of his best-known roles, as DOCTOR DOOLITTLE (1967) and in MY FAIR LADY (1967), plus BLITHE SPIRIT (1945) and ANNA AND THE KING OF SIAM (1946).

...It's George Sanders Day on December 19th, with a number of good movies showing. I really enjoyed RAGE IN HEAVEN (1941), with Sanders and Robert Montgomery cast against type as hero (Sanders) and villain (Montgomery). Ingrid Bergman costars.

...This month's Treasures from the Disney Vault lineup, airing on December 20th, is particularly good, including two relatively little-seen films, THE STORY OF ROBIN HOOD AND HIS MERRIE MEN (1952), starring Richard Todd, and TOBY TYLER (1960) starring Kevin Corcoran. Hopefully ROBIN HOOD being shown means there is hope that TCM will show the other two films in Todd's "Disney Trilogy" in the future, THE SWORD AND THE ROSE (1953) and ROB ROY: THE HIGHLAND ROGUE (1953).

...On December 21st the Great American Songbook series features SWING TIME (1936), 42ND STREET (1933), YANKEE DOODLE DANDY (1942), and DEEP IN MY HEART (1954).

...December is really a great month for musicals! Several more air on December 22nd, including the Esther Williams favorite DUCHESS OF IDAHO (1950), Fred Astaire and Jane Powell in ROYAL WEDDING (1950), and Leslie Caron in LILI (1953) to name just a few. ROYAL WEDDING is very appropriate as it was set during the wedding of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, who just celebrated their 70th anniversary!

...Another lovely musical is BY THE LIGHT OF THE SILVERY MOON (1953), showing on December 23rd. This Doris Day-Gordon MacRae film is a sequel to ON MOONLIGHT BAY (1951), which is part of the Christmas movie lineup on December 15th.

...Because nothing says Christmas joy like Alfred Hitchcock (???), you can watch 24 hours of films from the Master of Suspense beginning Christmas Night. The marathon kicks off with Jimmy Stewart in REAR WINDOW (1954), costarring Grace Kelly, Thelma Ritter, Wendell Corey, and Raymond Burr.

...The Great American Songbook series ends on December 28th with THE DOLLY SISTERS (1945), ANNIE GET YOUR GUN (1950), ON THE TOWN (1949), and THE BAND WAGON (1953). You just don't get any better than THE BAND WAGON, which I highly recommend. Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse star.

...On December 29th there's an In Memoriam tribute to actors who passed away in the past year and did not receive individual TCM tributes. The honorees and films include JULES AND JIM (1962) in memory of Jeanne Moreau, APOLLO 13 (1995) in honor of Bill Paxton, THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE (1967) in tribute to Mary Tyler Moore, and KELLY'S HEROES (1970) to honor Don Rickles.

...The next morning, on the 30th, additional In Memoriam titles include GOLD OF THE SEVEN SAINTS (1961) with the late Roger Moore, the animated film THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH (1970) in memory of voice actress June Foray, and THE WINDOW (1949) for Barbara Hale.

...A primetime December 30th tribute to Frank Sinatra includes one of my favorite Sinatra films, THE TENDER TRAP (1955). The good feelings it engenders make the film seem perfect for this time of year. It also happens to air just a couple days over a year since we lost the film's leading lady, Debbie Reynolds.

For more on TCM in December, please visit the online schedule.

Additionally, here's TCM's December promo video montage as well as a nice Christmas movie video.

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