Monday, June 15, 2015

Don Ameche night

TCM in the past couple of years seems to have had a little more luck in getting movies out of the Fox vault that they can run. Tonight's lineup is a good example of that. TCM is putting the spotlight on actor Don Ameche, who was a contract player at Fox in the late 1930s and early 1940s. I think at least two of the movies running tonight are TCM premieres, although I will admit that I don't have access to the entire 21 years of TCM scheduling.

The night kicks off at 8:00 PM with 1943's Heaven Can Wait, which is not one of the premieres. Ameche plays a man who has just died, and thinks that because of the dissolute way in which he's lived his life, he's not going to go to heaven. He meets the Devil (Laird Cregar), who quizzes him on just why his life isn't worthy of going to heaven for, and the life story is told in flashbacks. There's wonderful Technicolor, with good performances from Gene Tierney as Ameche's wife and Charles Coburn as Ameche's grandfather.

The Story of Alexander Graham Bell, at 10:00 PM, is, I think, a premiere for TCM. I know it didn't show up in the look at the films of "Hollywood's Greatest Year" 1939 that TCM did back in 2009. It's a 1939 biopic of Bell (played by Ameche), who invented the telephone with help from his assistant Watson (Henry Fonda, also under contract to Fox at the time), but gets into a patent dispute. Charles Coburn shows up again, while the love interest is played by Loretta Young.

That Night in Rio, which follows at 11:45 PM, might also be a TCM premiere. It was in the FXM or maybe Fox Movie Channel rotation at one point, but again I can't remember exactly when everything shows up everywhere. This is one of those energetic Fox musicals which might remind you a bit of the recently blogged about You Were Never Lovelier, as Ameche plays an actor who gets the job of playing a baron in order to help a business deal go through. The Baroness (Alice Faye) is OK with this arrangement, at least until the real baron comes back. Ameche's girlfriend (Carmen Miranda; there's a pairing) isn't quite so OK with it. With a cast like that there's ample opportunity for Fox musical merrymaking.

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