Turner Classic Movies is slipping into spring, so you can introduce the kids to a biblical epic, a couple of baseball comedies, a slew of Irish films and a few enjoyable mysteries. Note: All TCM movies on St. Patrick’s Day (4:30 a.m.-5 p.m.) are good but two standouts are especially recommended.
—3 a.m.: Solomon and Sheba (1959). Combine veteran director King Vidor with Yul Brynner, flush from his success as Pharaoh in “The Ten Commandments,” Italian dish Gina Lollabrigida and George Sanders, that most sardonic of villains and, voile, a box office blockbuster, right? Wrong. Everyone hams it up in this unintended comedic venture into the Books of Kings, made all the sillier by a script written in Hollywood’s version Spenserian English. Yea, verily.
—5 p.m.: Christmas In Connecticut (1945). A mix-up in seasons here: Barbara Stanwyck, Dennis Morgan and Sydney Greenstreet nonetheless shine in this comedy about a successful newspaper homemaking columnist who knows nothing about cooking, on the spot when her publisher decides to visit for a delicious Christmas dinner.
—7 p.m.: A Christmas Story (1983). TCM’s still stuck in the Yuletide but if, by chance, you missed the fun last December of watching Ralphie dream of getting a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas, you can make up for it now. Stars Peter Billings, Darren McGavin and Melinda Dillon.
—1:15 p.m.: It Happens Every Spring (1949). A college science professor invents a solution which causes objects to avoid wood. Of course he signs up as a major league baseball pitcher. Game sequences were filmed at LA’s old Wrigley Field. Stars Oscar-winner Ray Milland and the always enjoyable Paul Douglas.
—9 a.m.: Hail the Conquering Hero (1944): Writer-director Preston Sturges serves up themes of honor, fidelity and patriotism wrapped around one of the funniest comedies ever put on celluloid. Stars the ever-reliable Eddie Bracken, Raymond Walburn and William Demarest.
—11 a.m.: The Mating Game (1959). Something to remind you to pay your taxes. Uncle Sam comes after a horse-trading country boy owing a gigantic tax bill. Lotsa fun, with Tony Randall, Debbie Reynolds and, once again, Paul Douglas, in his final film role.
—3 p.m.: After the Thin Man (1936). Great sequel to The Thin Man, again starring William Powell and Myrna Loy as crime-solving New York sophisticates Nick and Nora Charles, with a young Jimmy Stewart in support.
—4:30 a.m.: The Irish in Us (1935). An Irish family makes it in lower Manhattan. James Cagney shines as a boxing promoter, with Pat O’Brien as his cop-brother and the scrumptious Olivia de Havilland as his fiancée.
—10:45 a.m.: The Rising of the Moon (1957). Tyrone Power introduces three stories of Irish life under British repression, directed by John Ford and performed by members of Ireland’s famed Abbey Theatre.
—4:15 a.m.: Take Me Out to the Ballgame (1949). Enjoyable musical-comedy about a no-nonsense lady manager taking over a turn-of-the-century baseball team. Great cast includes Gene Kelley, Frank Sinatra and Esther Williams.
—6:15 p.m.: Whistling in the Dark (1941). Lotsa fun with Red Skelton in a WWII comedy-mystery. He’s radio detective Wally Benton, alias “The Fox”, backed up by spunky Ann Rutherford and suavely villainous Conrad Veidt.
—9:15 p.m.: A Southern Yankee (1948). One of Red Skelton’s best: he’s a bellboy pretending to be The Gray Spider, a Union spy during the Civil War in order to impress the lovely Arlene Dahl. Misadventure begins when he finds himself squaring off against Brian Donlevy, the real spy.
—5 p.m.: The Palm Beach Story (1942). In another hilarious Preston Sturges masterpiece, down-on-his-luck Joel McCrae loses his wife, Claudette Colbert, to multimillionaire Rudy Vallee, whose flirtatious sister, Mary Astor, sets her cap for Joel, causing mishaps galore.
—8:15 p.m.: The Kennel Murder Case (1933). Debonair William Powell stars this time as society sleuth Philo Vance who finds chicanery in a dog show, with demure Mary Astor and the gruffly amusing Eugene Pallette as Detective Heath. Considered one of the best mystery adaptations (from S. S. Van Dine’s novel) on film.
—5 a.m.: The Little Giant (1933). Edward G. Robinson enjoyably spoofs his sinister Little Caesar mobster characterization. Prohibition ends and bootlegger Bugs Ahearn leaves Chicago (where else?) trying to break into Southern California society. It’s an agreeable little comedy, see? Myah, myah.
Sean M. Wright presents workshops and enrichment courses in Catholic topics at parishes throughout the archdiocese. He replies to comments sent him at [email protected].