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What to Watch: New Year’s Eve

If you are like me and are fortunate enough to have New Years Eve day off, TCM has an impressive line up of great classic films to entertain you all day and night long. In essence, the day is comprised of Cary Grant and Marx Brothers marathons, which means Dec. 31 is loaded with laughs, romance and more laughs.

Bringing Up Baby (1938)

I am not sure I would advise anyone to get up early on the day you are supposed to stay up late, but if you’re out of bed by 6 a.m. ET, Bringing Up Baby will get you laughing early on. The cute and absurd tale is of Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn and a trained leopard. The opposites incidentally attract plot is full of slapstick and antics that worked so well between the two pros. It, like most films shown Friday, is a requirement for all classic movie fans.

My Favorite Wife (1940)

Next Grnat is paired with the fabulously funny Irene Dunne in My Favorite Wife, airing at 8 a.m. ET. This movie really sold me on Dunne. She is the perfect goofy counterpart to comedic roles Grant played before turning gray, that is to say the more physically silly ones. In this scenario, Dunne returns from years lost at sea just after her husband marries another woman. Grant certainly loves Dunne more than the new broad, so he’s in a tricky situation that Dunne revels in making worse. It kind of has a similar ring to Mr. and Mrs. Smith, which chronicles a married couple who discover their union is not legal. Oh, how fun it is to see the propriety of days gone by face the fact that a duo already has intimate knowledge of each other.

The Philadelphia Story (1940)

Another love triangle presents itself in The Philadelphia Story, set to air at 9:30 a.m. ET.  I have mentioned before that I am partial to the musical version of this story, High Society, but that does not preempt the importance of this movie, which re-teams Grant and Hepburn as ex-spouses and adds Jimmy Stewart as a reporter on scene to document Hepburn’s marriage to a new man. The film was written with Hepburn in mind and in effect reversed her Box Office Poison title. The story does a great job of making unpredicatble with whom the woman will end up, although it makes apparent that her fiance is not the winner. This film features the classic moment when Grant, standing outside Hepburn’s door, pushes her down by the face. I once heard someone say that if that move had been perpetrated by any other actor, the move would have been vicious. Grant, however, could get away with anything.

Arsenic & Old Lace (1944)

My favorite slapstick movie is probably Arsenic and Old Lace. At 1:45 p.m. ET Grant will go through a night of familial trauma just after being married to a girl who hardly shows her face in the picture. When Grant discovers his elder aunts have been poisoning lonely men and burying them in the basement, he goes just about as daffy as his uncle who fancies himself as Teddy Roosevelt. Add in criminals Raymond Massey and Peter Lorre and Grant finds himself in such a mess that one cannot but roll with laughter. This flick is pretty good example of Grant’s slapstick charm and a requirement for all of his fans.

The Bachelor & the Bobby-Soxer (1947)

It is probably logical given their comedic talents that Grant and Myrna Loy would be a great pairing. They come together in The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer at 3:45 p.m. ET. I have never been one to pursue Shirley Temple, but as a teenager, she really can be quite appealing. The story is teenager meets playboy meets judge. As both a person of law and older sister to Temple, Loy is none too pleased with her sibling’s infatuation with Grant. In order to cure the girl of her crush, Grant is required to “date” her but in the process falls in love with Loy. The movie is a really cute, sweet, funny time and offered great roles for the leads.

North By Northwest (1959)

I will admit that North By Northwest is not among my favorite Hitchcock movies, despite its popularity. Between the length of the film airing at 5:30 p.m. ET and the use of Eva Marie Saint — who has yet to impress me — as the female lead, it just does not call to me from the DVD shelf. The story, however, is pretty great. It utilizes the “wrong man” storyline Hitchcock used often. Grant is mistaken for a spy and essentially learns the ropes of such a profession as he tries to free himself from opposing forces. Saint’s role in the plot is fun as it slowly reveals itself, but the best entertainment might be what happens in the woman’s room on the train when Grant is hiding out. The macguffin in this one is a roll of microfilm, by the way.

From 8 p.m. through to 7 a.m. or so New Year’s Day, The Marx Brothers will take over the screen. As the recent review would indicate, I have only seen Duck Soup, but I have the rest of them set to record so I can pace myself while discovering more masterpieces. Among the line up are:

  • Animal Crackers (1930) at 8:00 p.m. ET
  • Monkey Business (1931) at 9:45 p.m. ET 
  • Horse Feathers (1932) at 11:15 p.m. ET 
  • Duck Soup (1933) at 12:30 a.m. ET 
  • A Night at the Opera (1935) at 1:45 a.m. ET
  • A Day At The Races (1937) at 3:30 a.m. ET
  • Go West (1940) at 5:30 a.m. ET

2 Responses

  1. I too love High Society. I mean that duet with Crosby and Sinatra alone is worth seeing, but I think Philadelphia Story is the better of the two. I do agree with you on North by Northwest, my least fave of Hitch’s films. I also never saw the appeal of Eva Marie Saint. But I do love anything with Grant in it.

  2. Great selection.

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