It’s that time of year again. Turner Classic Movies embraces the Oscar season with its arms open and gives us 31 straight days of Academy Award nominated films. It was because of this very month that I adjusted my cable package several years ago to make sure I could see the films they were showing that I was missing. And, granted, this worked a lot better when the Oscars were in March, but extra kudos to TCM for keeping the extra days even when they don’t correspond perfectly to the calendar anymore.
Well, those days of finding all sorts of pick ups for my list are pretty much gone. Of the over 300 films they’re showing, only three of them are films I haven’t seen before.
But, I’ve seen a lot more than most people and I’ve been good at finding films that are hard to find. So this is a little guide for films for everyone else – films that are hard to find and if you want to be an Oscar completist, you’ll need to see at some point. Not necessarily the best films – in fact, many of them aren’t that good. But they’re very hard to find and you should take the chance when you can. Here’s the complete package: 31 Days of Oscar. But after the jump are my highlights of the month. Below the film is its Oscar nominations – bold if it actually won. All times are EST, so you might have to adjust. Oh, and they do this weird thing where the day starts at 6 AM. Anything between midnight and 6, I list for the actual day it is on, not the day you’ll see it on the schedule.
- Lies My Father Told Me (6:00 PM)
- 1975 - Best Original Screenplay
- Very hard to find. I had to watch a badly dubbed version. I’ve already got the DVR set for this one so I can see a better version.
- The Happy Ending (4:oo PM)
- 1969 - Best Actress, Best Original Song
- Not available on DVD and hard to find on video. With good reason. A mediocre film from a great director (Richard Brooks). The performance from Jean Simmons didn’t come close to being deserving of its nomination, even in a weak year for Actress. For some reason listed on the schedule as being from 1967.
- The Last of Mrs. Cheyney (6: 30 AM)
- 1928-29 - Best Writing Achievement
- Formerly not listed as a nominee (and not in Inside Oscar). Later decided it was a nominee in a year where there are technically no official nominees. An okay film from a mediocre director (Sidney Franklin). But extremely hard to find – I think I found it on YouTube at one point.
- Voice in the Wind (12:30 PM)
- 1944 - Best Score, Best Sound
- One of three films playing in the next month I haven’t seen. That shows you how hard to find it is.
- Dr. Ehrlich’s Magic Bullet (1:30 AM)
- 1940 - Best Original Screenplay
- A decent enough medical drama – the kind Warner Brothers used to do between gangster films.
- State Fair (8:00 PM)
- 1932-33 - Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay
- A very good film, the first film version of the play. I bought a DVD version on-line. Still very hard to find and I don’t know why. A very good performance from Janet Gaynor.
- Broadway Hostess (4:30 AM)
- 1935 - Best Dance Direction
- The second film I haven’t seen this month. Nominated for one of those odd categories that only existed for a few years (Assistant Director is the other). This will mean there’s only one of the nominees left in those categories I haven’t seen (All the King’s Horses).
- The Guardsman (9:00 AM)
- 1931-32 - Best Actor, Best Actress
- The second film ever nominated for both Actor and Actress and very hard to find. Neither performance is that great and it’s again directed by Sidney Franklin. But it’s one of the rare chances to see it.
- White Shadows in the South Seas (6:30 AM)
- 1928-29 - Best Cinematography
- Very difficult to find. I kept ILL’ng and I kept getting the book. I finally saw it, but don’t miss your rare chance to see only the second Oscar winner for Best Cinematography. Directed by W.S. Van Dyke, who would later direct The Thin Man series.
- Captain Fury (7:15 AM)
- 1939 - Best Interior Decoration
- The third film I haven’t seen and my only remaining Oscar nominee from 1939.
- Pieces of Dreams (4:30 AM)
- 1970 - Best Original Song
- A pretty bad film, but very hard to find. Best Original Song nominees from the late 60′s and 70′s are often hard to find – the Academy tended to nominate the same people over and over, even with songs from films no one saw. After 1964, the only nominees I haven’t seen other than Foreign Films are four Best Original Song nominees.
- What Price Hollywood (9:00 AM)
- 1931-32 - Best Story
- For some reason this classic Cukor film is very hard to find and not on DVD. Don’t miss your chance to see it.
- I Married a Witch (8:00 PM)
- Best Score
- An enjoyable Veronica Lake comedy that I had to see on YouTube.
- Two Arabian Knights (8:00 AM)
- Best Comedy Director
- The major reason I got TCM several years ago. Winner of a category that was done away with after the first year. Not a great film, but worth watching and a valuable bit of Oscar trivia.
A Wish List:
If anyone at TCM happens to come across this list, here’s 10 films I’d love to see next year:
- When My Baby Smiles At Me
- The Blue Veil
- The Bold and the Brave
- The Big Fisherman
- Little Ark
- Half a House
- The Glass Cell
- The Hungarians
- Dust of Life