This Week on TCM
March 21, 2008

Some notes about what’s showing this week on Turner Classic Movies.

Happy Easter! On Sunday, March 23, you get noble priests, preachers, and nuns, followed by this holiday musical:

Easter Parade cover
Easter Parade
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Easter Parade (Sunday, 3/23, 1:00 PM ET, 1948) — Fred Astaire’s partner Ann Miller runs out on him for a more desirable catch, so he finds Judy Garland and trains her. Irving Berlin wrote the songs, including the classic title song. Astaire does a solo number in a toy store called “Drum Crazy” based on percussion that’s amusing, too.

That’s followed by two movies about the life of Christ. First, the “hippie musical” Godspell (Victor Garber, the Alias dad, as Jesus!), then the more traditional King of Kings.

Then, that evening, it’s Joan Crawford’s birthday! She’s known best today as a caricature (thank you, Faye Dunaway, and what happened to YOUR career?), but her performances, especially the early ones, are quite powerful. Watch the documentary at 8 PM ET to find out more about her career highlights. Whatever you think of the woman’s life, she was most definitely a Movie Star.

Mildred Pierce cover
Mildred Pierce
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Mildred Pierce (Sunday, 3/23, 9:30 PM ET, 1945) — This one won her the Oscar. It’s one of the most famous women’s pictures, about a housewife who becomes a businesswoman to give her daughter everything she never had. The daughter’s spoiled and abuses her mother’s love. Based on a novel by James M. Cain, which is most obvious during the twists of the resolution. It’s not modern, but worth watching for its blend of noir and soap opera.

They’re also airing Torch Song (which I best remember from its Carol Burnett Show parody, and today is embarrassing due to a blackface number), an early silent film that shows her beginnings playing socialites, the multi-star Grand Hotel (in which she’s a stenographer with a taste for the companionship of rich men), and Dancing Lady (did you know that she was Fred Astaire’s first on-screen dance partner?).

The Women cover
The Women
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The Women (Monday, 3/24, 10:00 AM ET, 1939) — The more women there are in a movie, the more diversity of roles you see, because they quit representing their gender and start being personalities. Norma Shearer is the formerly happy wife whose husband is fooling around with Joan Crawford, as a shopgirl who wants a better life. Rosalind Russell is the catty “friend” who tells tales, Paulette Goddard is the happy-go-lucky showgirl marrying for love, and there are other memorable women as well: the young girl who’s trying to cope with a much worse standard of living because her new husband earns much less than her daddy, the cosmopolitan Countess who takes divorce in stride, the forever-single authoress.

The Harvey Girls cover
The Harvey Girls
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While the performances are superb, the message… not so much. There’s not a man in sight, and the movie still manages to be about them.

The Harvey Girls (Tuesday, 3/25, 3:15 AM ET, 1946) — Ah, the glorious days of big-budget movie-making. Judy Garland leads a squad of waitresses that “battle saloon girls to win the West for domesticity.” Basically, her girls, working under morals clauses for restaurants opening along the railroad, represent right and order, and they face off against a bunch of whorehouse prostitutes dance-hall hostesses who are used to being the only girls in town. Angela Lansbury is the head hooker, and Roy Bolger also appears. All in a glorious Technicolor musical.

3 Responses  
odessa steps magazine writes:  

sometime around noon today (3/21), there was a movie starring Myrna Loy and a bunch of famous boxers like Max Bar and Jack Dempsey.

Didn’t get a chance to watch it, but just seeing the credits made me chuckle.

Scott Anderson writes:  

The Women? Judy Garland? Mildred Pierce? Wait a minute … have I accidentally stumbled onto a gay site? What does it mean that all those great films are cherished by gay men? Do women love these films like so many gay men do?

Funny thing, I was in a gay bar on Easter, and we watched Godspell (blasphemy!)on TMC and when the credits started rolling, I yelled in shock, “Victor Garber!?!” Last time I’d seen Godspell, it was before Alias, Titanic, Eli Stone, etc. I guess Mr. Garber is back in the prophet business with Eli Stone, eh?

odessa steps magazine writes:  

I had forgotten about Garber’s role in the movie until I saw that trailer on TCM (which seemed like 5 minutes long and gave away the whole movie) a few days ago.

it’s funny that Jesus wearing a pseudo-Superman t-shirt. I guess the analogy goes both ways.


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