Some notes about what’s showing this upcoming week on Turner Classic Movies:
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Without Love (Saturday, 8/18, 4:15 PM ET) — An early Hepburn/Tracy film with an interesting premise. During World War II, a widow with a big house and intellectual curiosity proposes a marriage of convenience to an inventor who needs space for his experiments. As they work together to help the war effort, they fall into a different kind of love than usually seen in the movies. It’s sweet.
That’s followed by their much better-known pairing from four years later:
Adam’s Rib (Saturday, 8/18, 6:15 PM ET) — Judy Holliday shoots at her husband (the ever-creepy Tom Ewell) when she catches him with a floozy in lingerie (Jean Hagen, better known as the screetchy voiced Lina Lamont in Singin’ in the Rain). Married lawyers Hepburn and Tracy wind up on opposite sides of the case. He’s a DA, prosecuting her for attempted murder because the law is the law. She’s the defense attorney, advancing the argument that a man who shot at a straying wife and her gigolo would get off scott-free, so why not the same for a woman defending her marriage? Unfortunately, their own marriage risks becoming a victim as well, as they’re nearly torn apart by their philosophical differences.
The Women (Monday, 8/20, 9:15 AM ET) — The all-female classic, about how a woman handles her straying husband and the advice she gets from friends and rivals. My, what a week for iffy double standards about marriage! They’re great movies, both of them, with outstanding performances by fascinating stars, but both promote the idea that it’s the woman’s job to keep the marriage together, giving in even to the extent of ignoring or forgiving infidelity, because that’s just how men are, and without him you’d be lonely and heartbroken.
Stage Door (Wednesday, 8/22, 8:00 AM ET) — This should be a nice tonic, the story of women working on their careers as actresses. Not all of them succeed, of course, and some seem to be in it to snag a man, but with so many characters, there’s a diversity of types and futures to be seen. Katharine Hepburn, again, gets shown up by Ginger Rogers, plus there’s Lucille Ball and Ann Miller and the always tartly delicious Eve Arden.
Ann Miller day provides an excuse to run several classic musicals that evening, including On the Town, Easter Parade, and Kiss Me Kate.
Dark Victory (Friday, 8/24, 11:15 AM ET) — A classic tearjerker, in which socialite Bette Davis goes blind nobly from a brain tumor. Apparently, Ronald Reagan is also in it, since this is his day, but I don’t remember him at all. I do remember Humphrey Bogart in a small part as an Irish (!) stablemaster (and one of Remington Steele’s five passport identities, Michael O’Leary).
Reagan made more of an impression in One for the Book, in which he’s a soldier on leave who winds up staying in an unmarried woman’s apartment for the weekend! Shock! Dismay! How racy! Not really, but they do fall in love, of course, to make it all ok. He’s stodgy and wooden, but it works for the character. I like the scene where she makes up her daybed for him, tucking in sheets, and putting cigarettes and an ashtray by the pillow. Because a good 40s hostess encourages her guests to sleep in bed, apparently.