Star of the Month at Turner Classic Movies is Barbara Stanwyck.
TCM will be showing 55 Stanwyck films each Wednesday evening and on into the following Thursday, beginning tonight, December 5th.
The Stanwyck festival begins with a 24-hour marathon of melodramas, concluded tomorrow by the 1991 documentary BARBARA STANWYCK: FIRE AND DESIRE.
The 13 films shown tonight and tomorrow include pre-Codes such as LADIES OF LEISURE (1930), THE MIRACLE WOMAN (1931), and BABY FACE (1933); THIS IS MY AFFAIR (1937), costarring her then-husband Robert Taylor; classics such as STELLA DALLAS (1937) and MEET JOHN DOE (1941); and later work such as EXECUTIVE SUITE (1954) and WALK ON THE WILD SIDE (1962).
December 12th and 13th will feature another 13 Stanwyck titles, including the lovely Christmas film REMEMBER THE NIGHT (1940). Many of the films in this group are on the lighter side, including her classics THE LADY EVE (1941) and BALL OF FIRE (1941), along with lesser '30s comedies such as THE BRIDE WALKS OUT (1936), BREAKFAST FOR TWO (1937), and THE MAD MISS MANTON (1938).
I especially enjoyed two short little dramas, THE SECRET BRIDE (1934), costarring Warren William, and SHOPWORN (1932), with Regis Toomey. Both air on the 13th.
December 19th the focus turns to film noir, leading off with DOUBLE INDEMNITY (1944). THE STRANGE LOVE OF MARTHA IVERS (1946) and CLASH BY NIGHT (1952) are among the additional noir titles shown on the 19th.
I especially like two "Gothic noir" titles airing early on the 20th, THE TWO MRS. CARROLLS (1947) and CRY WOLF (1947). Humphrey Bogart costars in the first film and Errol Flynn in the second. Neither film is perfect, but they're both quite entertaining.
One of my favorite Stanwyck pre-Codes, THE PURCHASE PRICE (1932), also airs on the 20th. She's a nightclub singer on the run who becomes the mail-order bride of farmer George Brent.
The month closes out on December 26th and 27th with several Westerns, including FORTY GUNS (1957) and THE MAVERICK QUEEN (1956), both with Barry Sullivan, THE VIOLENT MEN (1955) with Edward G. Robinson and Glenn Ford, TROOPER HOOK (1957) with Joel McCrea, and THE MOONLIGHTER (1953) with regular costar Fred MacMurray.
There's another especially fun pre-Code being shown in this group, NIGHT NURSE (1931) -- notable, among other things, for a villainous young Clark Gable -- and an excellent mystery costarring Joseph Cotten and Leslie Caron, THE MAN WITH A CLOAK (1951).
MY REPUTATION (1946) might be my all-time favorite Stanwyck film, and it airs early on the 27th. This film about a widowed mother of two young sons finding a new life and a second chance at love costars George Brent. As much of the film is set at Christmas and New Year's, it makes perfect seasonal viewing.
Looking at Stanwyck's credits, I'm surprised to realize how many of her films I've seen which aren't on this month's schedule; she had a very deep and interesting career. I'd have loved to see a couple favorite titles such as EAST SIDE, WEST SIDE (1949) or NO MAN OF HER OWN (1950) make the December schedule -- and it's undeniably odd that CHRISTMAS IN CONNECTICUT (1945) is missing, in December of all months! -- but it's hard to complain in the face of such bounty!
Be sure to visit Cliff's post at Immortal Ephemera, which includes some unique photos of the young Stanwyck.
For more information on the current month's schedule, please visit TCM in December: Highlights and TCM in December: Christmas Movies.