Fireside Favorites With the Hosts
Saturdays in December and January 1 / 10 Movies
Join us on Saturday evenings in this holiday month including Christmas Day and New Year’s Day as five different TCM hosts snuggle up to introduce and share a couple of the favorite films of each.
Alicia Malone chooses Leave Her to Heaven (1945), a compelling Technicolor noir about a beautiful woman (Gene Tierney) who “loves too much” and allows jealousy to destroy her marriage to a handsome novelist (Cornel Wilde).
Alicia’s second choice is Dance, Girl, Dance (1940), one of the few major Hollywood films of its era to be directed by a woman (Dorothy Arzner). Maureen O’Hara and Lucille Ball star as aspiring young dancers who clash over career choices and a man they both love.
Eddie Muller’s first pick is Lady on a Train (1945), an unusual vehicle for singer Deanna Durbin in that it’s noir mystery rather than a musical. (No surprise from Eddie, since noir is his specialty.)
Durbin plays a young woman who witnesses a murder from a train window but can’t get the police to believe her story. Deanna does get to do some singing including a beautiful rendition of “Silent Night.”
Eddie’s follow-up film is Park Row (1952), a noir drama written, produced, and directed by Samuel Fuller. Gene Evans stars as an enterprising journalist who establishes his own newspaper in competition with the powerful paper from which he has just been fired.
Jacqueline Stewart introduces the original film version of Imitation of Life (1934), based on the tear-jerking Fannie Hurst novel about a woman (Claudette Colbert) whose black friend and housekeeper (Louise Beavers) has a daughter who “passes” for white.
Jacqueline then turns to something more lighthearted: Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933), a pre-Code musical that was designed to give a lift to Depression-era audiences. Busby Berkeley staged the musical numbers, and the sparkling cast includes such names as Dick Powell, Ruby Keeler, Joan Blondell and Ginger Rogers.
Ben Mankiewicz brings us two classics from 1957. The Bridge on the River Kwai is the epic World War II drama that won seven Academy Awards that year including those for Best Picture, Actor (Alec Guinness) and Director (David Lean). Guinness plays an English colonel in a Japanese POW camp who becomes obsessed with building a bridge for the Burma-Siam railway.
Witness for the Prosecution, Ben’s second choice from ’57, is a film version of Agatha Christie’s courtroom drama about a man (Tyrone Power) accused of murder who is defended by a distinguished barrister (Charles Laughton). Marlene Dietrich and Elsa Lanchester also star in a surprise-filled script.
Dave Karger chooses two dramas representing a span of 45 years and a range of powerful emotions. Penny Serenade (1941), directed by George Stevens, casts Oscar nominee Cary Grant and Irene Dunne as a married couple who face a series of traumas including the loss of a child.
Children of a Lesser God (1986), directed by Randa Haines, has Oscar winner Marlee Matlin as a young deaf woman who works as a janitor at a school for the deaf and enters into a relationship with a sympathetic teacher (William Hurt). Piper Laurie and Philip Bosco costar.