Some notes about what’s showing this week on Turner Classic Movies. They’re living up to their name, with a number of true classics being shown.
Holiday (Sunday, 12/30, 10:15 AM ET) — My favorite Grant/Hepburn movie. She’s a heiress who finds her family’s love of following others’ expectations tiresome. He’s her sister’s fiancé, which makes things difficult as they become friends. Together, they’re wonderfully playful and fun to watch.
If you prefer one of their more popular teamings, though…
Bringing Up Baby (Monday, 12/31, Noon ET) — Calculatedly screwball, with a pet leopard, a dinosaur skeleton, and Hepburn chasing Grant’s scientist. I think it feels like trying too hard to me, which is why I prefer the more down-to-earth approach of the earlier film. (Which is funny, that anything with heiresses is considered down-to-earth.)
Monday night, it’s an Astaire/Rogers film fest, with six films, including some of their best. It starts at 8 PM ET with The Gay Divorcee, followed by Shall We Dance, Top Hat, Swing Time, Carefree, and Follow the Fleet. What better for New Year’s Eve than glamorous dancing and champagne musicals? Safer than being out with the crazies, too.
If you can only watch one, I recommend Swing Time (if the music is most important) or Top Hat (for a more reasonable plot). And then there’s Shall We Dance, which has Gershwin songs, but Astaire is playing a ballet dancer… oh, heck, watch more than one!
For New Year’s Day, there’s another great musical marathon, with That’s Dancing! followed by the three That’s Entertainment! compilations. They collect the best musical numbers from the best in the business, MGM. Plus, the first one has a heart-breaking tour of the grand old studio backlot sets, just before they were torn down and the land sold for condos.
That evening, the channel’s theme is “The Future Sucks” (no, really, that’s what they called it), with movies ranging from The Terminator to Rollerball. The next day, we get 30s and 40s horror movies, including one, Scared to Death, narrated by a corpse. I mention these only to show how diverse TCM has become.