Some notes about what’s showing over the next two weeks on Turner Classic Movies. I’ll be attending the New York Comic Con next week and on vacation after that, so it’s a combined report. And as a result of my plans, I’m not looking for a lot to watch.
If you want a summary of the channel, the best of the best, tune in Monday, April 14. The best musical, Singin’ in the Rain, starts the day at 6 AM, followed by the best Hitchcock, North by Northwest, and then the best noir, The Maltese Falcon. The day continues with Casablanca, The Philadelphia Story, and Citizen Kane.
If you haven’t seen all of these movies, you can’t call yourself a film fan — but don’t be shy, sample them all! I don’t know what prompted this smorgasbord, but isn’t it wonderful?
Tuesday then swaps the theme to odd music movies, starting with Don’t Knock the Rock (1956) at 7:45 AM. If you’ve ever wondered what DJ Alan Freed or pioneer Bill Haley looked like (hint: disappointing), this is your chance to see them lip-synching. The day continues with quite a diverse mix: more rock, the Twist, Latin music, calypso, and trad jazz. (That last one, It’s Trad, Dad!, illustrates that the titles are often the best things about these quickie trend pictures.)
I’m disappointed. My program guide says that TCM was going to show The Legend of Billie Jean (1985), starring Helen Slater and Christian Slater, on Saturday, 4/19 at 3:45 AM, but my TiVo says it’s changed to something called Delinquent Daughters from 1944.
I love Billie Jean for capturing teenage rebellion in an appropriately mid-80s way. Just like in the 20s, she becomes her own person when she cuts her hair short, although instead of showing her knees, she puts on some tight outfit made of completely artificial fabric.
Kissin’ Cousins (Sunday, 4/20, 6:00 AM ET, 1964) — Elvis does Li’l Abner, with a story about a military officer who happens to have a lookalike cousin (only blond) who happens to live in the hills on land the Army needs. Yvonne Craig (Batgirl) is one of the mountain gals named, of all things, Azalea Tatum. Pure cheese.
Easy Living (Tuesday, 4/22, 8:00 PM ET, 1937) — Three excellent but lesser-known screwball comedies air tonight, coincidentally the same day as they all come out on DVD. Easy Living, starring Jean Arthur and Ray Milland, starts the night with the story of how a fur (thrown from an apartment) landing on a secretary changes her life.
Midnight (Tuesday, 4/22, 9:45 PM ET, 1939) — Next comes the story of how an unemployed showgirl (Claudette Colbert) pretends to be a foreign countess in a twist on the Cinderella story. Both of these deal with class distinctions and the nature of illusion. People believe what they want to believe, and mistaken assumptions underlie sparkling comedy.
The Major and the Minor (Tuesday, 4/22, 11:30 PM ET, 1942) — But this one’s my favorite. It’s just so demented, that a 30-something woman, tired of being hit on in the city, can be mistaken for an innocent 12-year-old in order to get discount train fare. And then Ray Milland can’t figure out why he so enjoys spending time with her. It’s hilarious!