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Mon Feb 11, 2019, 05:47 PM

TCM Schedule for Saturday, February 16, 2018 -- 31 Days of Oscar - Best Road Comedy

Today's Oscar-adjacent themes -- in the daylight hours, Westerns (from 1931's Cimarron to 1962's How The West Was Won), in prime time, Best Road Comedy (1963's It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (starring every living Hollywood comic actor from the early 1960s!) vs. The Great Race (1965 - with one of the greatest pie fights of all time - right up there with the one from the end of Blazing Saddles (1974)), and in the late night hours, Louis Malle Nominated Film: English vs. French (Atlantic City (1980) vs. Au Revoir Les Enfants (1987) - I have to admit I have never seen any Louis Malle film!). Enjoy!

6:00 AM -- CIMARRON (1931)
A husband and wife fight to survive in the early days of the Oklahoma Territory.
Dir: Wesley Ruggles
Cast: Richard Dix, Irene Dunne, Estelle Taylor
BW-124 mins, CC,

Winner of Oscars for Best Writing, Adaptation -- Howard Estabrook, Best Art Direction -- Max Rée, and Best Picture

Nominee for Oscars for Best Actor in a Leading Role -- Richard Dix, Best Actress in a Leading Role -- Irene Dunne, Best Director -- Wesley Ruggles, and Best Cinematography -- Edward Cronjager

In the decades since it was released, "Cimarron" has been unjustly accused of racial stereotyping. In fact, Edna Ferber's tale is progressive in its frontier spirit, presenting the social problems of the late 1800s (i.e. black slavery, Indian annihilation, the Oklahoma territory being opened up to 'whites'), carrying through to the breaking down of such issues through Cravat's legal and journalistic crusades. The film also champions feminism through Sabra's lifelong ability to maintain Cravat's business for years at a time while he gives way to his wanderlust (she eventually is elected a Member of Congress). The film climaxes with the Cravats' son defiantly marrying a Native American, which causes a divide between his parents, one of whom is liberal, the other conservative.

8:15 AM -- WAY OUT WEST (1937)
A pair of tenderfeet try to get the deed to a gold mine to its rightful owner.
Dir: James W. Horne
Cast: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy, Sharon Lynne
BW-65 mins, CC,

Nominee for an Oscar for Best Music, Score -- Marvin Hatley (head of department) with score by Marvin Hatley

At the end of the song "On the Trail of the Lonesome Pine", Stan Laurel's voice switches to a deep bass and then a high falsetto. These parts were dubbed by two of his co-stars, Chill Wills and Rosina Lawrence. "On the Trail of the Lonesome Pine" was released as a single and charted in the UK towards the end of 1975, record number UP 36026 on United Artists. It reached the number two spot, kept off the top only by Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody".

9:30 AM -- THE WESTERNER (1940)
A drifter accused of horse stealing faces off against the notorious Judge Roy Bean.
Dir: William Wyler
Cast: Gary Cooper, Walter Brennan, Fred Stone
BW-100 mins, CC,

Winner of an Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role -- Walter Brennan

Nominee for Oscars for Best Writing, Original Story -- Stuart N. Lake, and Best Art Direction, Black-and-White -- James Basevi

Gary Cooper never liked the film and said "You can't make a western without a gunfight". He walked off the film and refused to start work on it. It was only after long battles with Goldwyn that he started work on it but always said that he wished he'd never made it.

11:30 AM -- THE OX-BOW INCIDENT (1943)
A loner gets caught up in a posse's drive to find and hang three suspected rustlers.
Dir: William A. Wellman
Cast: Henry Fonda, Dana Andrews, Mary Beth Hughes
BW-76 mins, CC,

Nominee for an Oscar for Best Picture

William A. Wellman had discussed making the film in 1940 with producer Harold Hurley, who had the film rights to the novel, but Hurley had a completely different sort of film in mind--it revolved around Mae West as a saloon hostess! When Hurley left Paramount, he sold the rights to Wellman for $6,500. "I bought the property from Harold Hurley," Wellman later said, "after he had gotten into some sort of beef with the big boys and was relieved of his job . . . then I went to all the producers for whom I had worked and got turned down. [Darryl F. Zanuck] was the only one with the guts to do an out-of-the-ordinary story for the prestige, rather than the dough."

1:00 PM -- HOW THE WEST WAS WON (1962)
Three generations of pioneers take part in the forging of the American West.
Dir: John Ford
Cast: Spencer Tracy, Carroll Baker, Lee J. Cobb
C-165 mins, CC, Letterbox Format

Winner of Oscars for Best Writing, Story and Screenplay - Written Directly for the Screen -- James R. Webb, Best Sound -- Franklin Milton (M-G-M SSD), and Best Film Editing -- Harold F. Kress

Nominee for Oscars for Best Cinematography, Color -- William H. Daniels, Milton R. Krasner, Charles Lang and Joseph LaShelle, Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Color -- George W. Davis, William Ferrari, Addison Hehr, Henry Grace, Don Greenwood Jr. and Jack Mills, Best Costume Design, Color -- Walter Plunkett, Best Music, Score - Substantially Original -- Alfred Newman and Ken Darby, and Best Picture

This features three of Hollywood's greatest Western stars, John Wayne, James Stewart and Henry Fonda, appearing together for the first and only time. Peter Bogdanovich was desperate for them to appear in his proposed version of Larry McMurtry's "The Streets of Laredo" in 1973. It fell apart when Wayne turned it down. Bogdanovich said that Wayne claimed it was "too depressing, and then he decides to make The Shootist (1976) about an ageing gunfighter dying of cancer!"

4:00 PM -- BROKEN ARROW (1950)
A former soldier sets out to create peace between white settlers and the Apache.
Dir: Delmer Daves
Cast: James Stewart, Jeff Chandler, Debra Paget
C-93 mins, CC,

Nominee for Oscars for Best Actor in a Supporting Role -- Jeff Chandler, Best Writing, Screenplay -- Albert Maltz (Originally Michael Blankfort had been listed for this nomination. Blankfort fronted for Maltz, who was a blacklisted writer at the time. Following research by the Writers Guild of America West in July 1991, the Academy officially attributed the nomination to Maltz and removed Blankford.), and Best Cinematography, Color -- Ernest Palmer

Chochise and Geronimo were not the only characters to be based on a real person. General Oliver Howard was commander during the Civil War. He lost his right arm during the Battle of Fair Oaks, in 1862. He was known as the Christian General. After the war he was allied with "Radical Republicans" in the Congress, that saw to it that freedmen got the vote. In October of 1872, he negotiated a peace treaty with Cochise. He retired from the Army a Major General in 1894. He died from natural causes 1909 at the age of 78.

Dramatization of the legendary battle between Wyatt Earp and the Clanton Gang.
Dir: John Sturges
Cast: Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Rhonda Fleming
C-123 mins, CC, Letterbox Format

Nominee for Oscars for Best Sound, Recording -- George Dutton (Paramount SSD), and Best Film Editing -- Warren Low

Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster had worked together in I Walk Alone (1947), and often saw each other at various Hollywood functions. But, as Douglas recounted in his autobiography, "The Ragman's Son", they didn't become friends until this movie, which lead to some pretty loose-and-easy moments on the set. For instance, they couldn't focus during a scene in which an unarmed Lancaster is surrounded by several men in a saloon, only to be rescued by Douglas, who steals another man's gun and tosses it to Lancaster. "We go out on the porch", Douglas wrote, "and Burt says to me, 'Thanks, Doc'. I was supposed to say, 'Forget it.' When I came to 'Forget it', the ridiculousness of the scene, our great bravery, our machismo, made us howl. We did the scene over and over. It just made us laugh harder." They were finally laughing so much, an angry John Sturges had to send them home for the day.


8:00 PM -- IT'S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD (1963)
A group of greedy clowns tears up the countryside in search of buried treasure.
Dir: Stanley Kramer
Cast: Spencer Tracy, Milton Berle, Sid Caesar
C-159 mins, CC, Letterbox Format

Winner of an Oscar for Best Effects, Sound Effects -- Walter Elliott

Nominee for Oscars for Best Cinematography, Color -- Ernest Laszlo, Best Sound -- Gordon Sawyer (Samuel Goldwyn SSD), Best Film Editing -- Frederic Knudtson, Robert C. Jones and Gene Fowler Jr., Best Music, Original Song -- Ernest Gold (music) and Mack David (lyrics) for the song "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World", and Best Music, Score - Substantially Original -- Ernest Gold

The cast was in awe of Spencer Tracy and spent much of their time between scenes keeping him amused. Mickey Rooney and Buddy Hackett delighted him with off-color take-offs on Boys Town (1938), in which Rooney had co-starred with Tracy. Jonathan Winters would improvise entire movies while impersonating Tracy and Katharine Hepburn.

11:00 PM -- THE GREAT RACE (1965)
A bumbling villain plots to win an early 20th-century auto race.
Dir: Blake Edwards
Cast: Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis, Natalie Wood
C-160 mins, CC, Letterbox Format

Winner of an Oscar for Best Effects, Sound Effects -- Treg Brown

Nominee for Oscars for Best Cinematography, Color -- Russell Harlan, Best Sound -- George Groves (Warner Bros. SSD), Best Film Editing -- Ralph E. Winters, and Best Music, Original Song -- Henry Mancini (music) and Johnny Mercer (lyrics) for the song "The Sweetheart Tree"

The pie fight scene lasts four minutes and was shot in five days. It is the longest pie fight sequence in movie history. At first, the cast had fun filming the pie fight scene, but eventually the process grew wearisome and dangerous. Natalie Wood choked briefly on a pie which hit her open mouth. Jack Lemmon got knocked out a few times: "a pie hitting you in the face feels like a ton of cement". At the end of shooting the fight, when Blake Edwards called "Cut!" he was barraged with several hundred pies that members of the cast had hidden, waiting for the moment.

2:00 AM -- ATLANTIC CITY (1980)
An aging gangster's love for a gambling house waitress puts him in the middle of a heist gone bad.
Dir: Louis Malle
Cast: Burt Lancaster, Susan Sarandon, Kate Reid
C-104 mins, CC, Letterbox Format

Nominee for Oscars for Best Actor in a Leading Role -- Burt Lancaster, Best Actress in a Leading Role -- Susan Sarandon, Best Director -- Louis Malle, Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen -- John Guare, and Best Picture

Henry Fonda, James Mason, Laurence Olivier, James Stewart and Robert Mitchum were all considered to play the lead role of Lou. Fonda was rejected due to ill-health and its associated insurance risk. Reportedly, when the producers saw that Mitchum had had a face-lift recently, they lost interest. Mitchum had said to them: "I just had my face lifted, and I only play under 45 now.". Director Louis Malle once commented on Burt Lancaster's reaction to the lead role: "Burt had read the screenplay and the first thing that he said was, 'A part like that, especially at my age, happens every ten years, if you're lucky.' He knew it was a great part and I really appreciated that he understood that right away.".

A French boarding school harbors Jewish children during the Nazi occupation.
Dir: Louis Malle
Cast: Gaspard Manesse, Raphael Fejto, Francine Racette
C-105 mins,

Nominee for Oscars for Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen -- Louis Malle, and Best Foreign Language Film -- France

The film is based on events in the childhood of the director, Louis Malle, who at age 11 was attending a Roman Catholic boarding school near Fontainebleau. One day, he witnessed a Gestapo raid in which three Jewish students and a Jewish teacher were rounded up and deported to Auschwitz. The school's headmaster, Père Jacques, was arrested for harboring them and sent to the concentration camp at Mauthausen. He died shortly after the camp was liberated by the U.S. Army, having refused to leave until the last French prisoner was repatriated. Forty years later Yad Vashem, Israel's official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust, granted Père Jacques the title of Righteous Among the Nations.

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