5 Golden Age Movie Picks for Your Holiday Week

The_Thin_Man_Publicity_Photo_1936Lieutenant Guild: You got a pistol permit?
Nick Charles: No.
Lieutenant Guild: Ever heard of the Sullivan Act?
Nora Charles: Oh, that’s all right, we’re married.

From The Thin ManMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1934

Feeling that Old Holiday Schmaltz…

Yep, it’s that time. Time to get out the hankies. (And, for once, I’m not talking about  election hankies.) I’m talking about Holiday Hankies, the big, thick, absorbent kind we need in mucho grande supply for all the schmaltzy holiday classic movies we’ll be indulging in while we’re decking our halls with boughs of holly this week. (Yay!)

This year, between NBC and Turner Classic Movies, the options are plentiful. It was no easy task to pick only five, but this annual chore is finally done. This year’s picks are Capra-heavy with some time-tested favorites returning as well as two lesser-known holiday films in case you’re in the mood for something new.

Happy viewing!

Which movies or TV shows get you revved for the holidays?

5 Golden Age Movie Picks for Your Holiday Week

CLASSIC MOVIEHoliday Movie Schmaltz Rating Guide

1 Hanky =  Heartwarming
2 Hankies – Misty Eyes
3 Hankies – Oh, man…!
4 Hankies – Don’t schedule anything for the rest of the day.

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#5   Tenth Avenue Angel (1948) Drama. TCM.  Depression era New York City. A bright little girl’s faith in miracles is tested after she learns that her family has lied to her. Margaret O’Brien, Angela Lansbury.

When? Saturday, December 24, 6:45 a.m. Eastern

angela-lansburyWhy? Nine year old Juvenile Academy Award winner Margaret O’Brien carries the day in this heart-tugger about a precocious little girl outgrowing her childhood beliefs in the impoverished Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of the 1930s.  O’Brien is supported by an able adult cast, not the least of which is a stunning young Angela Lansbury as her Aunt Susan and Rhys Williams as “Blind Mac,” the kindly owner of the neighborhood newsstand.

Holiday Movie Schmaltz Rating  = 3 hankies

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janet-leigh-holiday-affair-movie-trailer

Holiday Affair

# 4     Holiday Affair (1949) Light Romance.  TCM.  A widowed single mother is torn between the security offered by a responsible business man and shaking up the status quo when she meets a footloose romantic newcomer. Janet Leigh, Robert Mitchum.

When?  Saturday, December 24, 2:30 p.m. Eastern

Why? Sweet and predictable? Yes, but this underrated holiday romance set in post WWII New York is very well cast and worth a watch.

A young Janet Leigh (long before Psycho) gives a laudable performance as a war widow unable to move forward with her life after the loss of her husband.  Robert Mitchum–a tough guy cast against type as her romantic lead—plays “Mitchum,” as always, but with a softer edge and understatement that surprises and works amazingly well.

This film also marks the debut of adorable child actor Gordon Gebert as six-year old Timmy. I bet you a cookie you’ll want to hug this little guy to pieces.

Holiday Movie Schmaltz Rating – 1 hanky

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Cooper and Stanwyck in Meet John Doe

Meet John Doe

#3  Meet John Doe (1941)  Comedy/Drama/Romance. TCM. A reporter’s fake story for her soon-to-be-defunct column saves her career, turns a homeless man into a national hero for the working class, and changes them both into pawns of a powerful politician. Will they sell out? Gary Cooper, Barbara Stanwyck.

When?  Saturday, December 24, 8:15 a.m. Eastern

Why?  Feeling a little 21st century world weary? Need a revitalizing dose of some Frank Capra-like optimism? There are some who rank the lesser-known Meet John Doe right up with Capra’s crowning achievement, It’s a Wonderful Life.  Decide for yourself. A fist-pump-worthy final scene earns this film a…

Holiday Movie Schmaltz Rating of 3 hankies

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After The Thin Man#2  The Thin Man (1934)  Mystery/Detective. TCM. A tippling ex-private detective and his heiress wife investigate a murder while spending the holidays in New York.  William Powell, Myrna Loy.

When?  Friday, December 23, 8:00 p.m. Eastern

 Why?  Not normally thought of as a holiday film, right? But these wisecracking sleuthy spouses are visiting the Big Apple for Christmas when they stumble into this, the first of several more screwy murder mystery screenplays to come.

Check it. Sparkling romantic chemistry, droll humor, and snappy dialogue are topped off by a true-to-form dinner party reveal-the-murderer scene that will tickle your funny bone. “The murderer is right in this room. Sitting at this table. You may serve the fish…”

Holiday Movie Schmaltz Rating – 0 Hankies (All smiles.)

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James Stewart and Donna Reed 1946

James Stewart and Donna Reed 1946

#1     It’s a Wonderful Life(1946)  Holiday Fantasy/Drama.  NBC.  A small town banker contemplating suicide is saved by a guardian angel-in-training. Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Henry Travers.

When?  Saturday, December 24 at 8:00 p.m. on NBC

Why?  Of course this is number one. It will always be number one.  If I ever do a list of holiday films and this is not number one, call the cops. I’ve been kidnapped and an imposter took over my blog.

This is the granddaddy of all classic holiday films for good reason.

Jimmy Stewart is so pitch perfect as Everyman George Bailey, it’s impossible to imagine anyone else in the role. Donna Reed plays beautiful counterpoint, Barrymore preens as the quintessential villain, and Henry Travers wins hearts as Angel 2nd Class Clarence Odbody.

It just ain’t Christmas without it.

 Holiday Movie Schmaltz Rating = 4 hankies

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Last year’s trivia question remains unanswered, so here it is again:

What classic holiday film title appears on the Bijou theater marquee when George Bailey runs through the streets of Bedford Falls near the end of the movie?

Have a wonderful holiday week!

 

Photo credits:

Margaret O’Brien –Tenth Avenue Angel movie trailer screenshot

Angela Lansbury – Tenth Avenue Angel movie trailer screenshot

Meet John Doe screenshot – By Frank Capra Prod., Warner Bros. (Tumblr) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

It’s a Wonderful Life  – Screen Shots [Public domain]

Publicity Photo for The Thin Man with Myrna Loy, Skippy, and William Powell (1936) – [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

William Powell and Myrna Loy – Trailer screenshot Licencing information :http://web.archive.org/web/20080321033709/http://www.sabucat.com/?pg=copyright and http://www.creativeclearance.com/guidelines.html#D2 (After the Thin Man trailer) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

February Doings, Sequels, and Love in the Movies

The_Thin_Man_Publicity_Photo_1936

Myrna Loy, William Powell, and Asta

Nick: Did I ever tell you that you’re the most fascinating woman this side of the Rockies?

Nora: Wait till you see me on the other side.

From After the Thin Man, 1936  Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

February Doings

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when we think of February?

Valentine’s Day. Of course!

This is the time of year when the media, bookstores, and retailers reach out to romance writing types to help celebrate that most exhilarating and confounding of all human emotions… love.

a_gift_2 - Copy

Some Valentine’s goodies destined for the gift basket.

As a digital-only author, I don’t do book signings, but I’m looking forward to joining a whole passel of local romance authors at Ashcombe Farm and Greenhouses in Mechanicsburg, PA on Valentine’s Day.

If you’re in the area and you could use some baked sweets, seeds, plants, or a little romance, stop by and buy a signed book, take home a post card, or sign up for a chance to win a gift basket full of donated Valentine goodies from our authors.

Coming in 2015 … the sequel to It Had to Be You

1920s Fiction, 1920s romantic mystery, 1920s mysteryThere’s a reason my posts have been few and far between lately. I’ve been hard at work on the next book in my 1920s romantic mystery series.

No kidding! Trixie Frank and Sean Costigan are set to return in a new romantic mystery–Toot Tootsie Goodbye.

What do you think of the title? I’ll have a blurb soon.

I’ve also been working with a talented new cover artist, so expect something a bit different this time. Stay tuned. 🙂

 Love in the Movies…

CLASSICMOVIEJUNKIE

TCM ‘s big to-do this month, of course, is its annual 31 Days of Oscar festival of Academy Award nominated movies. The line-up is phenomenal.

My humble self-appointed task was simply to pick a theme–take, love, for example (not just romance, mind you)—and choose some films about love in all its varied shapes, forms and sizes…

Thursday, February 5

 ♥ Desperado Love 

Bonnie and Clyde Trailer

Dunaway and Beatty

2:00 p.m.  Bonnie and Clyde (1967)  Crime/Drama. A 1930s bank-robbing couple’s crime spree cuts a violent swath through the American South. Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, Michael J. Pollard., Gene Hackman, Estelle Parsons.

 Why?  Beatty and Dunaway illuminate the screen with more than awesome good looks in this 1967 story based loosely on the crime spree of Depression-era lovers Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrows. Nominated for ten Academy Awards, it broke taboos for sex and violence and shot Dunaway to stardom (pun intended).  And yes, it still rates a caution for violence.

Tuesday, February 10

Bantering Witty Sleuth Love 

After The Thin Man

Powell and Loy in After the Thin Man

4:00 p.m. After the Thin Man (1936) Comedy/Mystery TCM. Nick and Nora Charles return home to San Francisco after Christmas in New York only to find yet another mystery to solve. Nora’s cousin has been accused of murder! Myrna Loy, William Powell, James Stewart.

 Why? Loy and Powell return as bantering sleuths Nick and Nora Charles in the second of their wildly popular Thin Man movies. Their inimitable romantic chemistry remains front and center, but the mystery is cranked up several satisfying notches.  (Watch a young Jimmy Stewart ooze early star power.)

 Thursday, February 12 (13)

Family Love 

Father_of_the_bride_1950_promo (1)

Taylor and Tracy in Father of the Bride

3:30 a.m. Father of the Bride  (1950) Comedy. TCM  A family man is overwhelmed by the upheaval of planning his beloved daughter’s wedding. Spencer Tracy, Elizabeth Taylor.

Why?  Tracy is perfectly cast as the crusty-on-the-outside, squishy-on-the-inside father of the bride, and a teen-aged Elizabeth Taylor charms as his effervescent daughter. A light family comedy with some misty-eyed moments to warm the heart.

Friday,  February 13 (14)

Three’s a Crowd Love 

Taylor-Clift-A_Place_in_the_Sun

Taylor and Clift

 2:15 a.m. A Place in the Sun (1952) Drama. TCM. A poor young man faces hard choices when the world of wealth and privilege beckons to him in the form of a beautiful young socialite. Mongomery Clift, Shelley Winters, Elizabeth Taylor.

Why? Spot-on performances by all three players in this riveting 1950s love triangle. Nineteen-year-old Liz Taylor scores her first time out in a serious, grown-up role, and Shelley Winters sheds her blonde bombshell image to the tune of an Oscar nomination. But it’s Montgomery Clift who owns this tragic tale of one man’s path to hell paved with good intentions.

 Saturday, February 14

 Bantering Legal Beagle Love 

Adam's Rib

Tracy and Hepburn in Adam’s Rib

6:00 p.m.   Adam’s Rib (1949)  Comedy, Drama, Romance. TCM.  Sparks fly on the home front when husband-and-wife lawyers represent opposite sides in a women’s rights case.  Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, Judy Holliday.

Why?  Tracy and Hepburn are  synonymous with smart romantic comedy,  and this entertaining film with its battle-of-the-sexes story line  is no exception. Hepburn’s heartfelt courtroom arguments for women’s equality may seem quaint today, but they’re a telling product of their time. How far have we come since then? And how far have we yet to go?

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And that’s a wrap!
I’ll say toodle-oo with a movie trailer–After the Thin Man–Find it HERE. Have a great week!

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Times listed are EST. Check here for your U.S. time zone Turner Classic Movie monthly schedule.

 (Missed something? You may be able catch it for a week or more on demand at Watch TCM)

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Photo credits:

Publicity Photo for The Thin Man – Author Unknown [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

It Had to Be You Cover Art used by arrangement with Harlequin Enterprises Limited ® – Copyright © 2014 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited

Bonnie and Clyde – Trailer – [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 After the Thin Man – By Trailer screenshot  (After the Thin Man trailer) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Father of the Bride – By Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (work for hire) ([1]) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

A Place in the Sun – Production Still from feature film by Paramount Pictures [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Adam’s Rib – By Trailer created by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Classic Movie Junkie & It Had To Be You

Nora Charles:  Pretty girl.Thin_Man,_The
Nick Charles: Yes. She’s a very nice type.
Nora Charles:  You got types?
Nick Charles: Only you, darling. Lanky brunettes with wicked jaws.

From The Thin Man, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1934

It Had To Be You Update

I was very excited this week to get a look at the final cover art for It Had to Be You, my new romantic mystery due out April 7, 2014 from Carina Press.  It’s gorgeous and perfectly reflects the “classic movie” feel that inspired me to write the book.  Stay tuned for the official  cover reveal and blurb to be posted soon! 

Classic Movie Junkie … Or “What’s that man doing in my drawers?”

On another note, the timing for my cover art turns out to harmonize perfectly for this Classic Movie Junkie.  I nearly did a somersault when I found one of my favorite pick-me-up films on tap for Sunday morning: The Thin Man.  I’ll try to keep the gushing to a minimum, but…

No. I lie. I won’t.

If there’s one movie that inspired me to write a romantic mystery, it was The Thin Man. Why? Clever dialogue and flawless romantic chemistry mixed with a murder mystery, shady suspects (complete with shifty eyes) and a scene-stealing terrier named Asta.

This film was so popular it inspired five sequels. The dialogue—even lying flat on a two-dimensional screen—is so quotable it shines. Serve up  those quips and double entendres with the impeccable timing and tongue-in-cheek delivery of William Powell and Myrna Loy and what you get is pure classic gold.

Love mystery? Adore romance? Comedy and snappy comebacks? Check out The Thin Man. It will not disappoint.

And now on to this week’s watch list.  (Oh…waiter? “Will you please serve the nuts?”) 🙂

Sunday, February 16

After The Thin Man 10:00 am  The Thin Man (1934)  Mystery/Detective. TCM. A tippling ex-private detective and his heiress wife investigate a murder while spending the holidays in New York.  William Powell, Myrna Loy.

Why?   Sparkling romantic chemistry, droll humor, and snappy dialogue are topped off by a true-to-form dinner party reveal-the-murderer scene that will tickle your funny bone. “The murderer is right in this room. Sitting at this table. You may serve the fish…”

Monday, February 17

Rosalind Russell

Rosalind Russell in Gypsy

12:45 am  Gypsy (1962) Musical/Biography. TCM . Based on the memoirs of burlesque star Gypsy Rose Lee. An overbearing stage mother pushes her two daughters to be Vaudeville stars. Rosalind Russell, Natalie Wood, Karl Malden, Ann Jillian.

Why?  I’m the first  to admit that I’m deficient in the area of recommending musicals, but I do love this one for the story and the time period as well as the music. Rosalind Russell is superb as the never-say-die Mama Rose and Natalie Wood tugs at the heartstrings as the less talented daughter who wanted only her mother’s love.

Friday, February 21

Paul Newman

Paul Newman

 3:30 pm  Cool Hand Luke (1967)  Drama TCM.  A strong-willed prisoner refuses to conform to a sadistic warden’s rules in a 1940s southern rural prison. Paul Newman, George Kennedy, Strother Martin.

Why?  This story about a man who refuses to be beaten down will stick with you for a long time after the credits roll. Newman’s portrayal of the tragically flawed but heroic Luke Jackson is riveting—maybe the best of his career. George Kennedy is perfectly cast as his burly prison mate, Dragline.

Trivia Corner:  Some nifty facts about Asta.*

"Don't make a move or that dog will tear you to shreds."

“Don’t make a move or that dog will tear you to shreds.”

  • Like many early stars, Asta wasn’t born with his glamorous stage name. His real name was Skippy. It was after the first Thin Man movie that Skippy changed his name to Asta.
  • Asta starred in many other films in the 30s,  perhaps most notably as “Mr. Smith,” the object of a custody squabble between Irene Dunne and Cary Grant in The Awful Truth.
  • In 1936, Asta was featured along with other dog stars in the book Dog Stars of Hollywood.
  • Asta appeared in only the first two of the Thin Man movies. The other films featured other canine actors.

* Check out these Asta facts and more at Wikipedia and I Love Asta – The Official Fan Site of Asta the Dog.

Have a great week!

Times listed are EST. Check here for your U.S. time zone Turner Classic Movie monthly schedule.

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Quotes:  All of this week’s movie quotes are gems from The Thin Man, MGM, 1934.
Based on The Thin Man novel by Dashielle Hammett. Screenplay by Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich.

Photo credits:

The Thin Man- By Employee(s) of MGM [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Trailer screenshot Licencing information :http://www.sabucat.com/?pg=copyright and http://www.creativeclearance.com/guidelines.html#D2 (After the Thin Man trailer) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 By Trailer screenshot (Gypsy trailer) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Skippy – By Trailer screenshot Licencing information :http://www.sabucat.com/?pg=copyright and http://www.creativeclearance.com/guidelines.html#D2 (After the Thin Man trailer) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons