Friday, December 7, 2012

Director of the Month Ernst Lubitsch

TCM usually has, in addition to its regular Star of the Month, one other monthly feature. That could be a subject, such as last month's novel-to-film marathons, or a tribute to a person who was mostly not an actor. I'm reminded, for example, of cinematographer Jack Cardiff back in January. This month, that person happens to be director Ernst Lubitsch. TCM is running 14 of his films every Friday in prime time, before TCM Underground. Tonight kicks off with The Loves of Pharaoh at 8:00 PM, a silent movie Lubitsch made back in Germany before he came to Hollywood. I must admit that this is a movie I had not heard of until seeing it on this week's TCM schedule, so I can't really discuss it very much. It doesn't seem to be on DVD either, so you're going to have to catch tonight's TCM airing. Tonight's other two Lubitsch films are The Smiling Lieutenant at 10:00 PM, a Maurice Chevalier musical that's really not to my taste, although I'm sure some people like that stuff. That's followed at midnight by The Shop Around The Corner, in which James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan play co-workers who don't get along but also pen-pals through the personals column who, not knowing each other's identity, do get along.

One other thing that sounds intriguing tonight is Important News after The Shop Around the Corner, at about 1:40 AM. It's an MGM short about a newspaper editor facing the choice of what story to put on the front page. (Why not both? Do journalists really think their readers are so stupid they can only grasp one story? Apparently yes.) The star is Chic Sale, an actor who can be difficult to take -- he's not to everybody's taste. You may remember him as the grandfather in The Star Witness, playing a Civil War veteran who saves the day. The more interesting thing about the short is an uncredited supporting role from James Stewart.

TCM has been running a snazzy promo for the Ernst Lubitsch salute, and an even snazzier one for this month's Christmas movies that are going to be airing in Sunday night double features along with a marathon close to the 25th. (Trying to recognize all the movies from brief clips is always part of the fun.) I'm sure they've got one for Barbara Stanwyck as well, although I can't remember whether I've seen it.

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