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Thu Apr 29, 2021, 09:05 PM

TCM Schedule for Saturday, May 1, 2021 -- TCM Spotlight: Oscars From A to Z

It's the last day of Oscars A to Z. TCM starts us off with Bette Davis in an unusually mild role in Watch on the Rhine, and finishing up with Z (1969). How else do you finish up the alphabet?!? Enjoy!

7:15 AM -- Watch on the Rhine (1943)
1h 54m | Drama | TV-PG
Nazi agents pursue a German freedom-fighter and his family to Washington.
Director: Herman Shumlin
Cast: Bette Davis, Paul Lukas, Geraldine Fitzgerald

Winner of an Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role -- Paul Lukas

Nominee for Oscars for Best Actress in a Supporting Role -- Lucile Watson, Best Writing, Screenplay -- Dashiell Hammett, and Best Picture

This adaptation of Lillian Hellman's play was written by her longtime companion, Dashiell Hammett. Hellman was unable to write the adaptation herself as she was contracted to work on the screenplay for The North Star (1943). She recommended that Hammett be given the assignment as he was very familiar with the material. (Hammett also needed the money.)

9:15 AM -- Waterloo Bridge (1940)
1h 43m | Drama | TV-PG
A ballerina turns to prostitution when her fiance is reportedly killed during World War I.
Director: Mervyn Leroy
Cast: Vivien Leigh, Robert Taylor, Lucile Watson

Nominee for Oscars for Best Cinematography, Black-and-White -- Joseph Ruttenberg, and Best Music, Original Score -- Herbert Stothart

Of all the classic Hollywood films ever made, this somewhat obscure title happens to be one of the most popular in China, especially among college students. There are even audio guides for students to practice their English by reciting dialogue from this film. The reason for why this particular film has become so endeared among the Chinese is anyone's guess. One possibility is that the popularity of Gone with the Wind (1939) in China led many to seek other movies starring Vivien Leigh.

11:15 AM -- Weary River (1929)
1h 29m | Musical | TV-G
A jailed criminal's life turns around when he fronts the prison band.
Director: Frank Lloyd
Cast: Richard Barthelmess, Betty Compson, Louis Natheaux

Nominee for an Oscar for Best Director -- Frank Lloyd (No official nominees had been announced this year.)

The film is part silent, with intertitles, and part sound, which was important to feature the main character's talent as a singer, although the title song Weary River was nevertheless dubbed by a professional singer. One scene near the end features an orchestra playing on-screen on set that is a radio studio, while traditional silent movie sound is substituted for real sound. Then the scene technology audibly changes to sound recorded on film, with the same orchestra appearing to play for real (possibly dubbed) as the main character begins to sing (although he is listed as dubbed) in a radio performance that prompts his sweetheart to call the radio studio. The scene is an unusual mix of technologies during a period of transition from silents to sound.

1:00 PM -- What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)
2h 12m | Drama | TV-PG
A crazed, aging star torments her sister in a decaying Hollywood mansion.
Director: Robert Aldrich
Cast: Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Victor Buono

Winner of an Oscar for Best Costume Design, Black-and-White -- Norma Koch

Nominee for Oscars for Best Actress in a Leading Role -- Bette Davis, Best Actor in a Supporting Role -- Victor Buono, Best Cinematography, Black-and-White -- Ernest Haller, and Best Sound -- Joseph D. Kelly (Seven Arts-Warner Bros. Glen Glenn Sound Department)

These roles, Jane and Blanche, were very quintessentially Bette and Joan. Bette was once again playing the sharp tongued, bitchy little whippersnapper; as she had already in movies like All About Eve. And Joan was playing the noble, long suffering martyr character; just as she had in Mildred Pierce. It was sadist vs masochist again; they were perfectly matched.

3:30 PM -- The White Cliffs of Dover (1944)
2h 6m | Romance | TV-PG
An American woman with a British husband fights to keep her family together through two world wars.
Director: Clarence Brown
Cast: Irene Dunne, Alan Marshal, Roddy McDowall

Nominee for an Oscar for Best Cinematography, Black-and-White -- George J. Folsey

Irene Dunne reads a telegram from her Anglophobe father to a group of English people. Her father begs her not to marry an Englishman she is in love with and tells her "You're a Yankee through and through! Think of Paul Revere! Think of the Old North steeple! Remember the Alabama!" The viewer may become confused at this point. "Remember the Alabama"? Shouldn't it be "Remember the Alamo"? However, since the context of the telegram is anti-British any mention of the Alamo would be irrelevant. What Irene Dunne's father is apparently taking about is the C.S.S. Alabama, one of several Confederate warships that were built in British shipyards over United States protest during the Civil War. These ships attacked U.S. shipping in the Atlantic Ocean. Since Irene Dunne arrives in England in April of 1914 and married just before August 4, 1914 when Great Britain declared war on Germany, the telegram was probably sent close to the 50th anniversary of the sinking of the Alabama by the U.S.S. Kearsarge on June 19, 1864 in the English Channel. The United States sued Great Britain in 1869 over the building of the Confederate warships and was awarded $15.5 million.

6:00 PM -- White Heat (1949)
1h 54m | Drama | TV-PG
A government agent infiltrates a gang run by a mother-fixated psychotic.
Director: Raoul Walsh
Cast: James Cagney, Virginia Mayo, Edmond O'Brien

Nominee for an Oscar for Best Writing, Motion Picture Story -- Virginia Kellogg

Edmond O'Brien was rather in awe of James Cagney. He found out how generous an actor and gentle a person Cagney could be. In a close-up the two were playing together, O'Brien felt Cagney standing with increasing pressure on the top of O'Brien's right foot, forcing the younger actor to move in that direction. O'Brien realized if he had not done so, he would have been out of frame and Cagney would have had the scene to himself. When the cameras were rolling, Cagney would look like "an angry tiger," but as soon as Raoul Walsh yelled cut, the star would quietly go up to O'Brien with a poem he had written and ask him in a whisper, "Would you mind telling me what you think of this?" When it came time to return to work, Cagney would plead, "Please, don't tell anyone about it."


8:00 PM -- The Wizard of Oz (1939)
1h 41m | Adventure | TV-G
A Kansas farm girl dreams herself into a magical land where she must fight a wicked witch to escape.
Director: Victor Fleming
Cast: Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger

Winner of Oscars for Best Music, Original Song -- Harold Arlen (music) and E.Y. Harburg (lyrics) for the song "Over the Rainbow", and Best Music, Original Score -- Herbert Stothart

Nominee for Oscars for Best Art Direction -- Cedric Gibbons and William A. Horning, Best Effects, Special Effects -- A. Arnold Gillespie (photographic) and Douglas Shearer (sound), and Best Picture

There are two times in the film that Judy Garland is not on camera as Dorothy. It is her stand-in, Bobbie Koshay, filling in. The first time Koshay is Dorothy is when Dorothy pulls open the door just before she realizes she isn't in Kansas anymore. Koshay backs up off camera and Garland is back on camera seconds later. The other time Koshay is Dorothy is in the haunted forest. She performed the stunt when Dorothy is lifted into the air by the winged monkeys and brought to the witch. Part of that set piece is performed by Koshay, and then part of it is actually a doll they constructed to look like Garland; and you can clearly see that from the mechanical way her legs are kicking in the shot.

10:00 PM -- Wuthering Heights (1939)
1h 43m | Romance | TV-PG
A married noblewoman fights her lifelong attraction to a charismatic gypsy.
Director: William Wyler
Cast: Merle Oberon, Laurence Olivier, David Niven

Winner of an Oscar for Best Cinematography, Black-and-White -- Gregg Toland

Nominee for Oscars for Best Actor in a Leading Role -- Laurence Olivier, Best Actress in a Supporting Role -- Geraldine Fitzgerald, Best Director -- William Wyler, Best Writing, Screenplay -- Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, Best Art Direction -- James Basevi, Best Music, Original Score -- Alfred Newman, and Best Picture

Though the book takes place in the late 18th Century, Samuel Goldwyn felt that the fashions of the 1840s looked better so he changed the time period to 1841. The story makes that clear when they begin the film by saying the story took place "a hundred years ago" which would put it around 1839.

12:00 AM -- The Year of Living Dangerously (1982)
1h 55m | Romance | TV-14
An Australian reporter and photographer get more than they'd bargained for during an Indonesian revolution.
Director: Peter Weir
Cast: Mel Gibson, Sigourney Weaver, Linda Hunt

Winner of an Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role -- Linda Hunt

Filming was originally intended to take place in Jakarta. However, permission to shoot in Indonesia was denied, so the majority of the movie was filmed in the Philippines, in and around Manila. Note the presence of vehicles, such as the black Chevrolet, with left hand drive. Indonesians generally operate right hand drive.

2:15 AM -- The Yearling (1946)
2h 14m | Drama | TV-G
A Florida boy's pet deer threatens the family farm.
Director: Clarence Brown
Cast: Gregory Peck, Jane Wyman, Claude Jarman Jr.

Winner of Oscars for Best Cinematography, Color -- Charles Rosher, Leonard Smith and Arthur E. Arling, and Best Art Direction-Interior Decoration, Color -- Cedric Gibbons, Paul Groesse and Edwin B. Willis

Nominee for Oscars for Best Actor in a Leading Role -- Gregory Peck, Best Actress in a Leading Role -- Jane Wyman, Best Director -- Clarence Brown, Best Film Editing -- Harold F. Kress, and Best Picture

Claude Jarman Jr. was chosen from over 19,000 boys to play Jody. The factor which won him the role was his long hair. Jarman had been busy with school work and hadn't had a haircut in several months, which made producer Sidney Franklin think that he looked the part of a Florida farm boy.

4:30 AM -- Z (1969)
2h 5m | Drama | TV-14
A political assassination uncovers a hotbed of corruption.
Director: Costa-Gavras
Cast: Yves Montand, Jean-louis Trintignant, Jacques Perrin

Winner of Oscars for Best Film Editing -- Franšoise Bonnot, and Best Foreign Language Film -- Algeria

Nominee for Oscars for Best Director -- Costa-Gavras, Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium -- Jorge Sempr˙n and Costa-Gavras, and Best Picture

The meaning of "Z" : At the very end of the movie, a message tells us "Also the military regime banned (...) the letter "Z" which means "He is alive" in ancient Greek."

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