Still from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927).
Recommended viewing on Turner Classic Movies for the week of Sunday, November 7 to Saturday, November 13. Some are films I’ve seen and some are ones I plan to check out. All times are listed in PST because that’s where I live; see the full schedule here.
• Prime Time Feature: Fritz Lang (Sunday, November 7, 5PM-1:41AM PST) – Catch the world television premiere of the newly restored version of Lang’s groundbreaking 1927 dystopian drama Metropolis, including 25 minutes of previously lost footage and the original score by Gottfried Huppertz. You can read all about the new restoration at the Turner Newsroom press release, or stay tuned after the feature for Metropolis Refound, a one-hour documentary on how this lost footage was recovered after eighty long years. The night wraps up with the crime thriller Spies (1928); M (1931) starring Peter Lorre; and The Woman In The Window (1944) with Edward G. Robinson and Joan Bennett.
• Best Foot Forward (1943, dir. Edward Buzzell) (Monday, November 8, 4:15AM PST) – Lucille Ball plays herself in this quirky Arthur Freed musical about a prep school boy who finds himself stuck between a rock and a hard place when the “Queen of B Pictures” unexpectedly accepts his facetious invitation to the senior prom.
• Prime Time Feature: The History of Hollywood (Monday, November 8, 5PM-2AM PST) – TCM’s second episode of the “Moguls & Movie Stars” documentary series on the history of film covers 1907-1920 with “The Birth of Hollywood.” Later you can catch Traffic In Souls (1913, dir. George Loane Tucker), the very first film made by the studio that would become Universal; The Indian Massacre (1912), directed by the father of the Western film, Thomas H. Ince; the incorrigible The Birth of a Nation (1915, dir. D.W. Griffith), which facilitated the rebirth of the Ku Klux Klan and is still used as a Klan recruitment tool to this day; and, refreshingly, Within Our Gates (1920), Oscar Micheaux’s controversial response to Griffith’s film, and the oldest known surviving film made by an African-American director. Frankly, if TCM has to show Birth of a Nation, I’m glad they’re pairing it with Within Our Gates; but at the same time, at 3:30AM EST? That seems a little insulting. While I do recognize the film’s monumental significance to history, Birth of a Nation has been discussed to death already, and frankly I’m a little sick of seeing all that racism justified for its “artistic” merit. Everyone knows about Birth of a Nation, so why not give Micheaux’s response a more prominent spot on the schedule? You know, at a time when people might actually see it? At this point Within Our Gates is almost more significant and relevant to our modern understanding of the history of film, so why not give credit where credit is due? Why insult the viewers by showing something obvious like Birth of a Nation, instead of actually attempting to enlighten people to an underrepresented aspect of film history by highlighting Within Our Gates? Or do we have to wait for Black History Month for that? Sorry to get all preachy in the middle of my schedule notes, but while at first I was pleased to see these two films paired together, now it just strikes me as condescending and offensive.
• Birthday Tribute: Claude Rains (Wednesday, November 10, 3AM-5PM PST) – TCM celebrates the marvelous Claude Rains with chronological airings of They Won’t Forget (1937, dir. Mervyn LeRoy) with Gloria Dickson; The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938, dir. Michael Curtiz) with Errol Flynn; Mr. Smith Goes To Washington (1939, dir. Frank Capra) with James Stewart; Saturday’s Children (1940, dir. Vincent Sherman) with John Garfield; Now, Voyager (1942, dir. Irving Rapper) with Bette Davis; Mr. Skeffington (1944, dir. Vicent Sherman), again with Ms. Davis; and Passage to Marseille (1944, dir. Michael Curtiz) with Humphrey Bogart.
• TCM Underground (Friday, November 12, 11:15PM-2:15AM PST) – Get your weekly dose of B-movie fun with Galaxy of Terror (1981, dir. Brian D. Clark) and They Came From Beyond Space (1967, dir. Freddie Francis).
Check out the schedule – what are YOUR recommendations for this week?