by Brett Leveridge
Old movies are like cinematic comfort food in difficult times: they make us laugh, they make us cry, they inspire us. Here are 19 films that are recommended viewing from Turner Classic Movies' (TCM) May slate.
Saturday, May 1, at 3:30 p.m. ET
This drama stars Irene Dunne stars as a young American woman who in 1914 travels with her father (Frank Morgan) to England, where she meets a baronet who is a member of the landed gentry (Alan Marshall). The two fall in love and are wed. They learn they are expecting their first child just before the start of the First World War but the baronet, an army officer, is killed in action in France. Years later, when World War II is on the horizon, Dunne worries that she may also lose her son (played as a boy by Roddy McDowall and as a young man by Peter Lawford).
Sunday, May 2, at 8 p.m. ET
Satyajit Ray is a legendary director whose films are among the most acclaimed works from classic period of Indian cinema. This film, which won the Palme d'Or at the 1956 Cannes Film Festival, tells the tale of an impoverished priest who leaves his rural village in search of work, leaving his wife to care for their family in his absence. It is a terrific introduction to the director's work for the uninitiated.
Pather Panchali is followed by 13 more of Ray's films—a total of 24 hours devoted to his work—to mark the centennial of Ray's birth, so you might want to clear some space on your DVR in advance, in case your interest is piqued by this movie, as we think it will be.
Tuesday, May 4, at 6 p.m. ET
Esther Williams, Joan Evans and Vivian Blaine star in this fun musical comedy as three women who join the Navy in the hope of finding husbands. The hummable songs were written by Harry Warren with lyrics by Ralph Blane.
Wednesday, May 5, at 8 p.m. ET
This tense courtroom (well, jury room) drama, based on a smash hit Broadway production, reveals that tensions and conflicts that can arise when one juror holds out, declining to find the defendant guilty and in the process exposing the preconceptions and biases of his fellow jurors. The all-star cast includes Henry Fonda, Martin Balsam, Lee J. Cobb and E. G. Marshall, among others.
Friday, May 7, at 2 p.m. ET
Based on Emily Brontë's 1847 novel of the same name, this beloved drama stars Merle Oberon and Laurence Olivier as Catherine and Heathcliff, star-crossed lovers who never stop caring for each other but are kept apart by societal strictures. William Wyler directs and David Niven costars.
Sunday, May 9 at 4:30 p.m. ET
Irene Dunne shines in the lead role in this tale of Norwegian immigrants, rebuilding their lives following the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Several of the film's actors received Academy Award nominations: Dunne for Best Actress, Oscar Homolka for Best Supporting Actor and both Barbara Bel Geddes and Ellen Corby for Best Supporting Actress.
Monday, May 10, at 6:30 a.m. ET
What better way to celebrate Fred Astaire's 122nd birthday than to enjoy one of the classic films he made with the equally iconic Ginger Rogers? Astaire plays a psychiatrist who's falling in love with a patient, whom he's supposed to be curing of an aversion to marriage so that she'll wed his best friend. Ralph Bellamy and Jack Carson costar.
Wednesday, May 12, at 10:45 a.m. ET
It's Katharine Hepburn's 114th birthday. In this, her first cinematic pairing with Spencer Tracy, she plays political columnist Tess to his sportswriter Sam. They at first don't like each other very much, but they eventually fall in love and get married. But Tess is such a prominent public figure that her busy schedule puts a strain on their relationship. Can the marriage be saved?
Saturday, May 15, at 3:45 p.m. ET
Few films hold up to repeated viewings as well as Casablanca; no matter how many times you've seen it, it's always a good time to experience it again. Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Sydney Greenstreet and Claude Rains all deliver iconic performances, and Dooley Wilson's rendition of As Time Goes By will pull at your heartstrings. Casablanca is as close to perfect as Hollywood movies get.
Sunday, May 17; 2:15 p.m. ET
Howard Hawks' classic screwball comedy is one of the best in the genre. Katharine Hepburn stars as a harebrained heiress with a troublesome leopard, who takes a buttoned-down zoology professor (Cary Grant) on a madcap misadventure. Charles Ruggles, Barry Fitzgerald and May Robson shine in supporting roles.
Wednesday, May 20, at 2:30 p.m. ET
Spencer Tracy plays the title role in this delightful comedy about an exasperated father trying to navigate the preparations for the wedding of his daughter (Elizabeth Taylor). Joan Bennett plays the mother of the bride. The film, which was popular enough to inspire a sequel, Father's Little Dividend (1951), was nominated for three Oscars: Best Picture, Best Actor (Tracy) and Best Screenplay.
Thursday, May 21, at 11:45 a.m. ET
This modest romantic comedy, based on a Maxwell Anderson play, is surprisingly charming. Gloria Stuart and Ross Alexander star as newlyweds who find themselves in financial straits due to the Great Depression. Frank McHugh, Ruth Donnelly and Henry Travers costar.
Friday, May 22, at 12 p.m. ET
A stellar cast makes this, Alfred Hitchcock's second Hollywood film, a must-see. Joel McCrea plays an American reporter assigned to cover the war in Europe who stumbles upon a plot to assassinate a Dutch diplomat. Laraine Day and George Sanders costar in this suspenseful thriller, which was nominated for six Oscars.
Saturday, May 23, at 4 p.m. ET
The witty repartee flies fast and furious in this hilarious comedy, directed by the legendary Howard Hawks. Cary Grant is a conniving newspaper editor who wants to lure back his best reporter (who happens to also be his ex-wife), played by Rosalind Russell. The trouble is, she's engaged to another fellow (Ralph Bellamy). This one's tons of screwball fun.
Sunday, May 24, at 8:15 a.m. ET
This hard-hitting drama tells the story of what happens when a powerful business executive dies unexpectedly and those on his company's board of directors are left to compete to replace him. The cast is an all-star one: William Holden, Barbara Stanwyck, June Allyson, Fredric March, Walter Pidgeon, Shelly Winters and Nina Foch, just to name a few.
Monday, May 25, at 8 p.m. ET
This classic drama, written by Paddy Chayefsky, won four Oscars—Best Picture, Best Actor (Ernest Borgnine), Best Director and Best Screenplay. It tells the tale of a lonely, middle-aged butcher (Borgnine) who has given up on ever experiencing romance until he meets an equally lonely schoolteacher (the Oscar-nominated Betsy Blair) at a dance.
Tuesday, May 26, at 8 p.m. ET
Harper Lee-s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is brought to vividly etched life in this beloved classic film. Gregory Peck's inspiring portrayal of Atticus Finch garnered the Best Actor Oscar and Horton Foote's screenplay won the Best Adapted Screenplay. Philip Alford and Mary Badham costar as Finch's children, Jem and Scout, along with John Megna as their friend, Dill. Watch for Robert Duvall in a small but memorable turn as the mysterious Boo Radley.
Wednesday, May 27, at 3:15 p.m. ET
Barbra Streisand took home the Best Actress Oscar for her portray of entertainer and comedienne Fanny Brice in this acclaimed biopic, which was a Best Picture nominee. Omar Sharif, Walter Pidgeon and Kay Medford also star.
Sunday, May 31, at 8:30 a.m. ET
Gary Cooper plays Alvin C. York, a devout Christian who applied for conscientious objector status during World War I. When that request was denied, he went on to become one of the most decorated soldiers in the First World War and a Medal of Honor recipient. Walter Brennan, Joan Leslie and June Lockhart costar.
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