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Thu Dec 6, 2012, 04:01 PM

TCM Schedule for Friday, December 7 -- What's On Tonight: Ernst Lubitsch

In honor of Pearl Harbor Day, TCM is featuring a day full of WWII films, primarily in the Pacific theater. In prime time, the focus is on director Ernst Lubitsch, one of the great directors who survived the transition from silents to talkies. One of my favorite Lubitsch quotes -- "Any good movie is filled with secrets. If a director doesn't leave anything unsaid, it's a lousy picture. If a picture's unsaid, it's a lousy picture. If a picture is good, it's mysterious, with things unsaid." Enjoy!

6:00 AM -- Prelude to War (1943)
The rise of the fascists in Germany and Italy and Japan's growing aggression put the world on the brink of war.
BW-52 mins, TV-PG,

Won an Oscar for Best Documentary (U.S. Army Special Services)

This documentary is the first film in Frank Capra's 'Why We Fight' documentary film series. In the year 2000, the United States Library of Congress mandated that this film (and the other six documentaries in the 'Why We Fight' series)were "culturally significant" and selected them for preservation in the National Film Registry.

7:00 AM -- Cry Of Battle (1963)
The son of a wealthy businessman finds himself in the guerrilla movement fighting against the Japanese in World War II.
Dir: Irving Lerner
Cast: Van Heflin, Rita Moreno, James MacArthur
C-99 mins, TV-PG,

This was the movie playing on a double-bill at the Texas Theater when Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested there on 22 November 1963 for the murder of a police officer and assassination of President John F. Kennedy, The other half of the double feature, War Is Hell, was the movie playing during the arrest.

8:45 AM -- They Were Expendable (1945)
A Navy commander fights to prove the battle-worthiness of the PT boat at the start of World War II.
Dir: John Ford
Cast: Robert Montgomery, John Wayne, Donna Reed
BW-135 mins, TV-PG, CC,

Nominated for Oscars for Best Effects, Special Effects -- A. Arnold Gillespie (photographic), Donald Jahraus (photographic), R.A. MacDonald (photographic) and Michael Steinore (sound), and Best Sound, Recording -- Douglas Shearer (M-G-M SSD)

During the shooting of this movie, John Ford had put John Wayne down every chance he got, because Wayne had not enlisted to fight in World War II. Ford commanded a naval photographic unit during the war rising to the rank of captain and thought Wayne a coward for staying behind. After months of heaping insults on Wayne's head, costar Robert Montgomery finally approached the director and told him that if he was putting Wayne down for Montgomery's benefit (Montgomery had served in the war), then he needed to stop immediately. This brought the tough-as-nails director to tears and he stopped abusing Wayne.

11:00 AM -- Task Force (1949)
A naval officer devotes his life to the development of the aircraft carrier.
Dir: Delmer Daves
Cast: Gary Cooper, Jane Wyatt, Wayne Morris
C-117 mins, TV-PG, CC,

Wayne Morris, who portrayed Lt. McKinney, was the only actor in the cast who had actual combat experience as a carrier pilot in WWII . As a fighter pilot, Morris shot down seven enemy planes and contributed to the sinking of five enemy ships. He was awarded four Distinguished Flying Crosses and two Air Medals. He was the only combat "ace" of all the Hollywood actors who went to war.

1:00 PM -- Air Force (1943)
A bomber crew sees World War II action over the Pacific.
Dir: Howard Hawks
Cast: John Ridgely, Gig Young, Arthur Kennedy
BW-124 mins, TV-G, CC,

Won an Oscar for Best Film Editing -- George Amy

Nominated for Oscars for Best Cinematography, Black-and-White -- James Wong Howe, Elmer Dyer and Charles A. Marshall, Best Effects, Special Effects -- Hans F. Koenekamp (photographic), Rex Wimpy (photographic) and Nathan Levinson (sound), and Best Writing, Original Screenplay -- Dudley Nichols

The real "Mary Ann" airplane sadly was lost in the Pacific when it returned to combat duty after the release of the movie.

3:15 PM -- From Here To Eternity (1953)
Enlisted men in Hawaii fight for love and honor on the eve of World War II.
Dir: Fred Zinnemann
Cast: Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Deborah Kerr
BW-118 mins, TV-PG, CC,

Won Oscars for Best Actor in a Supporting Role -- Frank Sinatra, Best Actress in a Supporting Role -- Donna Reed, Best Cinematography, Black-and-White -- Burnett Guffey, Best Director -- Fred Zinnemann, Best Film Editing -- William A. Lyon, Best Sound, Recording -- John P. Livadary (Columbia SSD), Best Writing, Screenplay -- Daniel Taradash, and Best Picture

Nominated for Oscars for Best Actor in a Leading Role -- Montgomery Clift, Best Actor in a Leading Role -- Burt Lancaster, Best Actress in a Leading Role -- Deborah Kerr, Best Costume Design, Black-and-White -- Jean Louis. and Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture -- Morris Stoloff and George Duning

If Columbia head Harry Cohn had gotten his way, the film would have starred Aldo Ray as Prewitt, Edmond O'Brien as Warden, Rita Hayworth as Karen, Julie Harris as Lorene and Eli Wallach as Maggio (in place of Montgomery Clift, Burt Lancaster, Deborah Kerr, Donna Reed, and Frank Sinatra respectively).

5:30 PM -- Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970)
The Japanese take advantage of American blunders to launch a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.
Dir: Richard Fleischer
Cast: Martin Balsam, So Yamamura, Jason Robards Jr.
C-149 mins, TV-PG, CC, Letterbox Format

Won an Oscar for Best Effects, Special Visual Effects -- A.D. Flowers and L.B. Abbott

Nominated for Oscars for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration -- Jack Martin Smith, Yoshir˘ Muraki, Richard Day, Taiz˘ Kawashima, Walter M. Scott, Norman Rockett and Carl Biddiscombe, Best Cinematography -- Charles F. Wheeler, Osamu Furuya, Shinsaku Himeda and Masamichi Satoh, Best Film Editing -- James E. Newcom, Pembroke J. Herring and Shinya Inoue, and Best Sound -- Murray Spivack and Herman Lewis

The P-40 crashing in the flight line was an unplanned accident - it was a life-sized mockup powered by a gasoline engine turning the propeller and steered by using the wheel brakes, just like real airplanes, but was specifically designed not to fly. The aircraft shown was loaded with explosives which were to be detonated by radio control at a specific point down the runway. Stunt actors were strategically located and rehearsed in which way to run. However shortly after the plane began taxiing down the runway it did begin to lift off the ground and turn to the left. The left turn would have taken it into a group of other mockups which had also been wired with explosives, but weren't scheduled to be destroyed until later. The explosives in the first P-40 were detonated on the spot in order to keep it from destroying the other planes, so the explosion occurred in a location the stunt men weren't prepared for. When it looks like they were running for their lives, they really were. This special effect was filmed with multiple camera so that it could be reused in other shots in the film, as were all the major special effects.


8:00 PM -- The Loves of Pharaoh (1922)
An Ethiopian king offers his daughter to a powerful Pharaoh to secure peace between the two countries.
Dir: Ernst Lubitsch
Cast: Emil Jannings, Harry Liedtke, Dagny Servaes
BW-100 mins, TV-PG,

Peculiar alterations were made to the original German version in the Russian, Italian and US release versions: The Russian version shows the Pharaoh as a tyrannical ruler; harsh and despotic. The Italian version, on the other hand, emphasizes the love-stricken, vulnerable Pharaoh. He eventually looses his power as a result of his love for the beautiful slave girl. Presumably, this portrayal was not acceptable in Russia at the time and the film was edited accordingly. In the US release version the film ends with Ramphis's rise to power and the happy union between him and Theonis. The return of the Pharaoh and the subsequent tragedy is omitted in favor of a happy ending to satisfy the expectations of the US audiences.

10:00 PM -- The Smiling Lieutenant (1931)
A misfired flirtation lands a young lieutenant married to a princess instead of the one he loves.
Dir: Ernst Lubitsch
Cast: Maurice Chevalier, Claudette Colbert, Miriam Hopkins
BW-89 mins, TV-G, CC,

Nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture

Long considered lost until a print was discovered in Denmark in the 1990s.

12:00 AM -- The Shop Around The Corner (1940)
Feuding co-workers don't realize they're secret romantic pen pals.
Dir: Ernst Lubitsch
Cast: Margaret Sullavan, James Stewart, Frank Morgan
BW-99 mins, TV-G, CC,

While directing this movie, Ernst Lubitsch drew upon his extensive experiences working in his father's Berlin shop as a young lad. At the film's January 25, 1940 premiere at Radio City Music Hall, Lubitsch remarked, "I have known just such a little shop in Budapest...The feeling between the boss and those who work for him is pretty much the same the world over, it seems to me. Everyone is afraid of losing his job and everyone knows how little human worries can affect his job. If the boss has a touch of dyspepsia, better be careful not to step on his toes; when things have gone well with him, the whole staff reflects his good humor.

2:00 AM -- Below The Belt (1980)
A waitress aims for the big time when she takes up pro wrestling.
Dir: Robert Fowler
Cast: Regina Baff, John C. Becher, Mildred Burke
C-95 mins, TV-MA, Letterbox Format

Filmed in 1974, not released until 1980.

3:45 AM -- ...All The Marbles (1981)
A two-bit promoter tries to take a women's wrestling team to the top.
Dir: Adell Aldrich
Cast: Peter Falk, Vicki Frederick, Laurene Landon
C-113 mins, TV-MA, Letterbox Format

Legendary female wrestler Mildred Burke taught actresses Vicki Frederick and Laurene Landon how to wrestle for their roles in the movie.

5:45 AM -- The Shy Guy (1952)
A new student must overcome his shyness by studying the most popular kids at high school in order to fit in.
Dir: Ted Peshak
Cast: Dick York, Franklyn Ferguson, Arthur Young
BW-14 mins, TV-PG,

Dick York's first film. He's best remembered by most of us as the first Darren Stephens, husband of the beautiful Elizabeth Montgomery, in Bewitched (1964-1969)

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Reply TCM Schedule for Friday, December 7 -- What's On Tonight: Ernst Lubitsch (Original post)
Staph Dec 2012 OP
CBHagman Dec 2012 #1

Response to Staph (Original post)

Fri Dec 7, 2012, 12:21 AM

1. A true Lubitsch rarity, a classic, and a recovered romance.

We all know The Shop Around the Corner, and if you don't, the holiday season is a fine time to start.

The Smiling Lieutenant I've only seen because the Library of Congress's film preservation unit held a screening.

And I'd never even heard of The Loves of Pharaoh.

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