Saturday, November 28, 2020

Christmas Movies on TCM in December

Barbara Stanwyck & Dennis Morgan in
Christmas in Connecticut
Every December Turner Classic Movies shows several Christmas movies. This year TCM fans have good reason to rejoice. First, it appears that they showing more Christmas movies than they ever have before. Second, after complaints from many of us over the years, Turner Classic Movies is finally showing The Apartment (1960) during the holiday season. The Apartment unfolds from November 1 to New Year's Eve, with the bulk of the plot unfolding during the holiday season. What is more, Christmas is pivotal to the plot. The Apartment is much more a Christmas movie than some of the movies TCM shows every year in December. In more good news, TCM is actually showing The Thin Man (1934) before Christmas, as well as showing it as part of the marathon of "Thin Man" movies on December 31. In yet more good news, after being absent from the schedule last year, Christmas in Connecticut (1944) is back.

Below is a schedule of the Christmas movies on TCM in December that I have compiled. As usual I have omitted any movies that I don't think of as Christmas movies. Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) is one of my favourite movies of all time, but I have never thought of it as a Christmas movie! I also have to point out that all times are Central, so you'll want to adjust the times for other time zones.

Saturday, December 5
2:30 PM The Apartment (1960)
4:45 PM It Happened on 5th Avenue (1947)
9:00 PM The Thin Man (1934)

Sunday December 6
11:00 AM Love Finds Andy Hardy (1938)
3:15 PM Holiday Affair (1949)
5:00 PM Christmas in Connecticut (1944)

Monday, December 7
11:15 PM Babes in Toyland (1934)

Tuesday, December 8
7:00 PM A Christmas Carol (1938)

Saturday, December 12
11:00 AM A Christmas Carol (1938)
12:30 PM 3 Godfathers (1949)
2:30 PM Meet John Doe (1941)
4:45 PM The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942)

Sunday, December 13
1:00 PM Bundle of Joy (1956)
5:00 PM In the Good Old Summertime (1949)

Friday, December 18
7:00 PM Remember the Night (1940)
8:45 PM The Apartment (1960)
11:00 PM Desk Set (1957)

Saturday, December 19
1:00 AM Black Christmas (1975)
5:00 AM Three Godfathers (1936)
6:20 AM "Big Business" (1929)
8:15 AM Bush Christmas (19470
9:45 AM Night at the Movies: A Merry Christmas! (2011)
1:00 PM Susan Slept Here (1954)
3:00 PM Desk Set (1957)
5:00 PM The Bishop's Wife (1947)
7:00 PM We're No Angels (1955)
9:00 PM Lady on a Train (1945)

Sunday, December 20
1:00 AM Lady in the Lake (1947)
3:00 AM Cover Up (1949)
7:30 AM Beyond Tomorrow (1940)
1:25 PM Ma and Pa Kettle at Home (1954)
3:00 PM The Shop Around Corner (1940)
7:00 PM It Happened On 5th Avenue (1947)
11:00 PM Christmas Past (1925)

Monday, December 21
8:00 AM A Christmas Carol (1938)
11:00 PM Good Sam (1948)

Tuesday, December 22
2:45 AM Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (1983)
6:45 AM Cover Up (1949)
7:45 AM Never Say Goodbye (1946)
1:00 PM Lady in the Lake (1947)
4:45 PM The Lion in Winter (1968)
7:00 PM Christmas in Connecticut (1944)
9:00 PM In the Good Old Summertime (1949)
11:00 PM Holiday Affair (1949)

Wednesday, December 23
12:45 AM Night at the Movies, A: Merry Christmas! (2011)
2:00 AM Bachelor Mother (1939)
3:30 AM Bundle of Joy (1956)
5:00 PM Bell, Book and Candle (1959)
9:00 PM The Cheaters (1945)
10:45 PM The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942)

Thursday, December 24
9:00 AM Love Finds Andy Hardy (1938)
10:45 AM It Happened on 5th Avenue (1947)
1:00 PM In the Good Old Summertime (1949)
5:00 PM Christmas in Connecticut (1944)
7:00 PM The Bishop's Wife (1947)
9:00 PM The Shop Around the Corner (1940)
11:00 PM A Christmas Carol (1938)

Friday, December 25, Christmas Day
12:30 AM Meet John Doe (1941)
2:45 AM Beyond Tomorrow (1940)
4:15 AM Three Godfathers (1936)
8:15 AM The Great Rupert (1950)
9:45 AM Babes in Toyland (1934)
11:14 AM Susan Slept Here (1954)
1:00 PM The Man Who Came to Dinner (1941)
3:00 PM Holiday Affair (1949)
4:45 PM The Apartment (1960)

Thursday, December 31
9:15 AM The Thin Man (1934)

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Happy Thanksgiving 2020

Before I get to the  Golden Age of Hollywood pinups I traditionally post on holidays, I would like to address a question many might have. Namely, why would someone of Cherokee descent, such as myself, celebrate Thanksgiving? After all, many Native Americans view the holiday as a celebration of the genocide the colonists committed upon indigenous peoples and observe it as a day of mourning. And I can fully understand their point of view. After all, the Wampanoag who are said to have dined with the Pilgrims in Plymouth, suffered greatly for their contact with British settlers. And, sadly, the mythology of that Thanksgiving celebrated at Plymouth seems intimately tied to the holiday.

That having been said, contrary to popular belief, the Thanksgiving observed at Plymouth was not the first in what would become the United States. As far as Europeans go, Spanish explorer Francisco Vasquez de Coronado and his men observed a Thanksgiving on May 23 1541. As far as the British Colonies go, Thanksgiving was observed at Berkeley Hundred in Virginia in 1619. Of course, here I have to point out that various Native American tribes were observing Thanksgiving rituals well before any Europeans arrived in North America. The Seneca have Thanksgiving rituals that last four days, and other Iroquois nations have their own Thanksgiving rituals as well. The Cherokee have several different ceremonies at which we give thanks, including the Great New Moon Ceremony, the Exalting Bush Festival, and the Ripe Corn Ceremony.

Given that various Native American tribes have their own Thanksgiving rituals and I feel that the act of giving thanks is something important to do from time to time, my only strong objection to Thanksgiving is the mythology of the Pilgrims attached to it. To me the solution is then to divorce the Pilgrims myth from the holiday and observe it purely as a time to give thanks for what we have in our lives. Wilma Mankiller, the first woman to serve as Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, expressed my view perfectly, "We celebrate Thanksgiving along with the rest of America, maybe in different ways and for different reasons. Despite everything that's happened to us since we fed the Pilgrims, we still have our language, our culture, our distinct social system. Even in a nuclear age, we still have a tribal people."

For those of you who may be wondering why someone of Cherokee descent would celebrate Thanksgiving, that is why I do. Anyway, I know many of you are expecting pinups, so here they are.

First up is Raquel Torres who is cuddling a turkey.
Next up is Peggy Diggins, who is also cuddling a turkey. 
 Next is Judy Garland, who is making friends with a turkey.
Joan Leslie also seems to have made friends with a turkey.

I think it is safe to say Virginia Gibson does not plan to friends with the turkey!
And last but not least, Ann Miller is serving turkey!

Happy Thanksgiving!


Wednesday, November 25, 2020

"Wheel of Fortune" by Kay Starr

Chances are good that if you are into popular music from the mid-20th Century that you have heard of Kay Starr. Blessed with a beautiful voice, she had such hits as "Wheel of Fortune," "Side by Side," "The Rock and Roll Waltz," and the Christmas song "(Everybody's Waitin' For) The Man with the Bag." What you might not know is that Kay Starr was Native American. Her father was a full-blooded Iroquois. Her mother was part Choctaw, part Cherokee, and part Irish.

Kay Starr was born Catherine Laverne Starks in Dougherty, Oklahoma. Her family later moved to Dallas. It was after she had won several talent contests as a young girl that Dallas radio station WRR gave young Catherine her own 15-minute show. She was only ten years old when she was making $3 a night singing, a good amount of money during the Great Depression. Her family moved to Memphis, Tennessee where she continued singing. She received a good amount of fan mail when she sang at Memphis station WMPS. Unfortunately, many of her fan letters misspelled her name. Young Catherine and her parents then decided she should take the stage name "Kay Starr."

By 1939 Kay Starr was singing with the likes of Bob Crosby and Glenn Miller. During the Forties she sang with Wingy Manone and Charlie Barnet. It was in 1946 that she became a solo artist and signed with Capitol Records. After having a few modest hits, Kay Starr had her first major hit with "Hoop-de-Doo" in 1949, which went to no. 2 on the Billboard chart. It was followed in 1950 by her second major hit, "Bonaparte's Retreat." By the time of her biggest hit, "Wheel of Fortune," Miss Starr had already had several hit records. Her version of "Wheel of Fortune" hit no. 1 on the Billboard chart in 1952 and remained there for ten weeks. While Kay Starr had many other hits (including "The Rock and Roll Waltz," which also hit no. 1), none matched the success of "Wheel of Fortune."

Here, without further ado, is Kay Starr's rendition of "Wheel of Fortune."

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Brave Eagle

Today Native Americans are nearly invisible on the broadcast television networks, cable channels, and streaming services. This was not the case in the Fifties. The boom in Westerns that started in the Fifties that Native American characters would appear form time to time on various shows. There would even be two shows that would feature Native American characters as their leads: Brave Eagle, Broken Arrow, and Law of the Plainsman. The first of these was Brave Eagle. It debuted on CBS on September 28 1955. It aired its final original episode on March 14 1956.

The idea for Brave Eagle originated with Arthur Rush, who was Roy Rogers's manager. Mr. Rush came up with the idea of a Western told from a Native American point of view. He brought the idea to Roy Rogers, whose company Frontier Productions produced the show. Arthur Rush served as the executive producer of Brave Eagle. Mike North would later be added as another executive producer. Roy Rogers also had the title of executive producer, although he had very little to do with the day to day running of the show. That having been said, much of Brave Eagle was shot at Roy Rogers's ranch in Chatsworth, California. It was also shot at the Corriganville Ranch in Simi Valley.

Brave Eagle centred on the fictional Cheyenne chief of that name. As was often the case in the Fifties, a non-Native was cast in the role of Brave Eagle. Keith Larsen was Scottish, Danish, and Spanish in descent. He had appeared in such films as Hiawatha(1952) and Son of Belle Star (1953), and had starred in the short-lived espionage series The Hunter. He would later star on the shows Northwest Passage and The Aquanauts. While Keith Larsen was not indigenous in descent, others in the show's cast were. Kim Winona, who played Brave Eagle's love interest Morning Star, was Sioux in descent. Brave Eagle's adopted son Keena was played by Keena Nomkeena (birth name Anthony Numkena), who was Hopi and Karuk. Totally miscast as the halfbreed Smokey Joe was Bert Wheeler of Wheeler and Woolsey fame. Bert Wheeler was no more an American Indian than Keith Larsen was.

In many ways Brave Eagle was unique among Westerns beyond the fact that it featured a Native American as its hero. White characters very rarely appeared on Brave Eagle. Instead the show focused on the various issues the Cheyenne faced from day to day. When shows featured antagonists, it was usually the Apache (one of the historical opponents of the Cheyenne). The show was also unique in portraying Native Americans sympathetically. Even when the Apache appeared as the Cheyenne's opponents on the show, they were presented as human beings rather than cardboard villains. If there is one criticism that could be directed at Brave Eagle, it's that Brave Eagle occasionally assisted the U.S. Army against other Native American tribes. That having been said, this did happen historically.

Like many Westerns made primarily for children at the time, Brave Eagle generated a good deal of merchandise. Dell Comics published a Brave Eagle comic book. There were Little Golden Books, a lunch box, and other bits of merchandise.

While Brave Eagle would generate a good deal of merchandising, it was not successful in the ratings. The show had the misfortune of being scheduled against Disneyland on ABC. Not only did Disneyland appeal to the same young audience for whom Brave Eagle was made, but it ranked no. 4 for the season. Brave Eagle then went off the air with the end of the 1955-1956 season.

While some of its casting left a bit to be desired, Brave Eagle was in many ways a revolutionary show. It was ahead of its time in its portrayal of Native Americans. Given the fact that Native Americans are so rarely seen on American television even now, in some ways it is ahead of this time. While Brave Eagle was not a perfect show, it was the first television show to attempt to present Native Americans realistically.