by John Walters
Wednesdays in July are TCM’s “Feel Good Films” night, hosted by Ben Mankiewicz, when the premium cable TV channel unleashes its best (if not epic) material. Tonight is the final of five July Wednesdays in 2020, and there’s no holding back (all times Eastern):
Viva Las Vegas (1968) with Elvis Presley and Ann-Margret: What’s it about? Who cares? Elvis sings and Ann dances. What else do you want?
The Thin Man (1934), with William Powell and Myrna Loy: The original wise-cracking, crime-solving, martini-guzzling couple. A film that launched a genre, and still no one has done it better than these two.
Guys and Dolls (1955) with Frank Sinatra and Marlon Brando: Sinatra wanted Brando’s role of Sky Masterson (originated on Broadway by Robert Alda, Alan’s pop) and was unhappy about finishing second the entire production. Still, one of the better musicals.
The Lady Eve (1941) with Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda. Stanwyck was Hollywood’s original smart dame and as for Fonda’s gullible bachelor, this is a role that his best friend, Jimmy Stewart, could have played in his sleep. A comedy about a gold digger who gets her comeuppance and comes back for more.
Arsenic and Old Lace (1944) with Cary Grant and Priscilla Lane. A black comedy about a young married comedy, a body underneath the window seat, and a bizarre set of in-laws.
Some Like It Hot (1959) with Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis and Marilyn Monroe. This may be the perfect comic film. The plot never drags and it’s sublime from the opening moments in wintry Chicago to the final scene in a getaway motor boat. Tony Curtis plays three characters, essentially, and is credible as each. Deserved the Oscar for this.