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Wed Jan 30, 2013, 11:48 PM

TCM Schedule for Thursday, January 24, 2013 -- What's On Tonight -- Lee Marvin

We're celebrating a pair of birthdays today. First up is Mario Lanza, born Alfred Arnold Cocozza on January 31, 1921, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. From IMDB -- "Mario Lanza's life, sadly, has all the markings of an epic Shakespearean tragedy. The story is truly incredible: a wild, incendiary Philadelphia kid who can sing better than Caruso, sets out to become the greatest dramatic opera singer who ever lived, is detoured by Louis B. Mayer and vixen Hollywood, is remade into a fiercely handsome box office champ with 50 inch chest, his own national radio show, 1951 TIME Magazine cover idol, and king of the pop record world.

"Fired by MGM during production of The Student Prince (1954) in 1952 after the German director Curtis Bernhardt assailed him over the "excess" passion of one song in his stunning recording of the soundtrack, his career began a downturn that would never be reversed. Lanza never fully recovered from the emotional catastrophe of The Student Prince (1954) fiasco and losing his MGM contract, and declined slowly in a pattern of near-alcoholism, food-binging, huge weight gains and losses, and professional tempestuousness. Fed up with not being able to get film roles - save Serenade (1956) for Warners in 1956 - and a savage press, Lanza quit Hollywood and moved his family to ancestral Italy to rebuild his life and career. He made two mediocre European-produced films, enjoyed generally successful concert performances, and then died of an alleged heart attack on October 7, 1959, only seven years after The Student Prince (1954) nightmare at the terribly young age of 38, leaving behind four children and his shattered wife, who died five months later of a drug overdose after returning to Hollywood."

Next is the beautiful, and beautifully talented, Jean Simmons, born Jean Merilyn Simmons on January 31, 1929, in Crouch Hill, London, England. And in prime time, TCM is featuring films starring Lee Marvin, including his Oscar-winning role in the twin roles of legendary gunfighter Kid Shelleen and hired killer Tim Strawn. Enjoy!

7:15 AM -- The Toast Of New Orleans (1950)
A New Orleans fisherman fights snobbery to become an opera star.
Dir: Norman Taurog
Cast: Kathryn Grayson, Mario Lanza, David Niven
C-97 mins, TV-G, CC,

Nominated for an Oscar for Best Music, Original Song -- Nicholas Brodszky (music) and Sammy Cahn (lyrics) for the song "Be My Love"

Although they had previously appeared together in That Midnight Kiss, Kathryn Grayson and Mario Lanza did not get along while making this film. While shooting the love duet scene from "Madame Butterfly," Grayson recalled that Lanza kept trying to French kiss her, which was made even more unpleasant by the fact that he kept eating garlic before shooting. To counter this, Grayson had costume designer Helen Rose sew pieces of brass inside her glove. Each time Lanza attempted to French kiss her, Grayson would smack him in the face with her brass-loaded glove. One of these smacks was included in the movie.

9:00 AM -- Because You're Mine (1952)
After being drafted, an opera star falls for his sergeant's sister.
Dir: Alexander Hall
Cast: Mario Lanza, Doretta Morrow, James Whitmore
C-103 mins, TV-PG, CC,

Nominated for an Oscar for Best Music, Original Song -- Nicholas Brodszky (music) and Sammy Cahn (lyrics) for the song "Because You're Mine"

The older woman who asks for Renaldo's autograph is played by Mario Lanza's real-life mother; the unspeaking man with her is Mario's father.

10:45 AM -- Serenade (1956)
A rising opera star is torn between his wealthy benefactor and a poor innocent.
Dir: Anthony Mann
Cast: Mario Lanza, Joan Fontaine, Sarita Montiel
C-122 mins, TV-G, CC,

Remade in Turkey in 1959 as The Broken Disk.

1:00 PM -- Home Before Dark (1958)
A woman struggles to adjust to her unhappy marriage after time in a mental institution.
Dir: Mervyn LeRoy
Cast: Jean Simmons, Dan O'Herlihy, Rhonda Fleming
BW-137 mins, TV-PG, CC, Letterbox Format

The harsh winter in Marblehead, Massachusetts proved to be a problem when filming scenes outdoors. Equipment had to be de-iced quite often, and actress Rhonda Fleming took frequent breaks, complaining that her tongue was freezing.

3:30 PM -- Divorce, American Style (1967)
A bored couple drifts toward divorce, only to discover how hard the single life is.
Dir: Bud Yorkin
Cast: Dick Van Dyke, Debbie Reynolds, Jason Robards Jr.
C-109 mins, TV-PG, CC, Letterbox Format

Nominated for an Oscar for Best Writing, Story and Screenplay - Written Directly for the Screen -- Robert Kaufman (story) and Norman Lear (screenplay)

Early in the movie they mention that they're paying their maid $250/month and that their house cost $49,000. Inflation adjust equivalents in 2010 are $1614.14/month for the maid and $316,372.14 for the house.

5:30 PM -- The Actress (1953)
True story of Ruth Gordon's early struggles on the road to stage stardom.
Dir: George Cukor
Cast: Spencer Tracy, Jean Simmons, Teresa Wright
BW-91 mins, TV-G, CC,

Film debut of Anthony Perkins.

7:30 PM -- MGM Parade Show #9 (1955)
Ann Sothern performs in a clip from "Lady Be Good"; Marlon Brando introduces a clip from "Guys and Dolls." Hosted by George Murphy.
BW-26 mins, TV-G,


8:00 PM -- Cat Ballou (1965)
A prim schoolteacher turns outlaw queen when the railroad steals her land.
Dir: Elliot Silverstein
Cast: Jane Fonda, Lee Marvin, Michael Callan
C-96 mins, TV-PG, CC, Letterbox Format

Won an Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role -- Lee Marvin

Nominated for Oscars for Best Film Editing -- Charles Nelson, Best Music, Original Song -- Jerry Livingston (music) and Mack David (lyrics) for the song "The Ballad of Cat Ballou", Best Music, Scoring of Music, Adaptation or Treatment -- Frank De Vol, and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium -- Walter Newman and Frank Pierson

The film's horse trainer told Elliot Silverstein that the scene where a horse leans against a wall with its front legs crossed could not be shot because horses don't cross their legs, then that it might be possible if he had a couple of days. Silverstein invoked his rank as director and gave him an hour. The trainer plied the horse with sugar cubes while repeatedly pushing its leg into position, and they were able to get the shot.

At his acceptance of the Oscar, Lee Marvin opened by saying, "Half of this probably belongs to a horse out in the Valley somewhere".

10:00 PM -- Monte Walsh (1970)
An aging cowboy faces changes in the West with the rise of civilization.
Dir: William A. Fraker
Cast: Lee Marvin, Jeanne Moreau, Jack Palance
C-99 mins, TV-14, CC, Letterbox Format

This is one of only a few occasions where Jack Palance is not cast as a villain.

12:00 AM -- The Dirty Dozen (1967)
A renegade officer trains a group of misfits for a crucial mission behind enemy lines.
Dir: Robert Aldrich
Cast: Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, Charles Bronson
C-150 mins, TV-PG, CC, Letterbox Format

Won an Oscar for Best Effects, Sound Effects -- John Poyner

Nominated for Oscars for Best Actor in a Supporting Role -- John Cassavetes, Best Film Editing -- Michael Luciano, and Best Sound -- (M-G-M SSD).

The scene where one of the dozen pretends to be a general inspecting Robert Ryan's troops was initially written for Clint Walker's character. However, Walker was uncomfortable with this scene, so Robert Aldrich decided to use Donald Sutherland instead. The scene was directly responsible for Sutherland being cast in MASH, which made him an international star.

2:45 AM -- Point Blank (1967)
A gangster plots an elaborate revenge on the wife and partner who did him dirty.
Dir: John Boorman
Cast: Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson, Keenan Wynn
C-92 mins, TV-14, CC, Letterbox Format

Lee Marvin faked the recoil from the .44 Magnum when he shoots in Lynne's bed. These were in fact blanks, but afterward when shooting in Alcatraz they tried with real bullets and there was no recoil at all. Marvin said to director John Boorman, "Fiction overtakes reality".

4:45 AM -- Gangster Story (1959)
An ambitious gangster and his chief rival team for a daring heist.
Dir: Walter Matthau
Cast: Walter Matthau, Carol Grace, Bruce McFarlan
BW-68 mins, TV-PG,

Carol Grace, the female lead in this film, was Walter Matthau's wife; they had only recently been married when this film was shot (they remained married until his death in 2000). She was the former wife of writer William Saroyan.

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