by Brett Leveridge
This month, Turner Classic Movies is holding its annual 31 Days of Oscar festival, but this year, there's a twist: TCM is featuring more than 350 films that were Oscar-nominated, as they usually do, but they're airing them in alphabetical order, A to Z.
We've decided to offer our own take on 31 Days of Oscar: We've picked one TCM offering for each day in April (plus the 1st of May), so here are 31 movies we think you'll enjoy that are airing on Turner Classic Movies (TCM) in April 2021.
Thursday, April 1, at 6 a.m. ET
In the fifth of the nine movies they made together, Hollywood icons Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn star as a married couple who are both New York lawyers; he's an assistant district attorney and she's a defense attorney in private practice. They find themselves on opposite sides of a case in which a woman has shot (but not killed) her philandering husband, which brings comedic tension to their own relationship. Judy Holliday, Tom Ewell, David Wayne and Jean Hagen costar in Garson Kanin's acclaimed comedy. Kain and Ruth Gordon received an Oscar nomination for Best Writing, Story and Screenplay.
Friday, April 2, at 8 p.m. ET
William Wyler directed this 212-minute epic adaptation of Lew Wallace's best-selling 1880 novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ. The film won 11 Academy Awards (and was nominated for a 12th), including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Charlton Heston), who starred as Jewish prince Judah Ben-Hur, Best Supporting Actor (Hugh Griffith) and Best Cinematography.
Saturday, April 3, at 9 a.m. ET
The great Judy Holliday shines as Billie Dawn, an uneducated young woman whose boyfriend (Broderick Crawford), a crooked junk dealer, is embarrassed by her lack of education and social polish and so hires a journalist (William Holden) as her tutor. Comedic complications ensue. This classic comedy was nominated for five Oscars, including Best Director and Best Picture. Holliday took home the statuette for Best Actress.
Sunday, April 4, at 8 p.m. ET
Fred Astaire stars as—what else?—a hoofer whose partner (Ann Miller) has suddenly and unexpectedly gone solo. In order to make his former partner jealous, he teams with an inexperienced young Broadway chorus girl (Judy Garland), with whom he intends to keep things on a strictly business basis. Will he succeed? This beloved musical is filled to the brim with Irving Berlin songs, including the title song, and won the Oscar for Best Scoring of a Musical Picture.
Monday, April 5, at 8 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.
Tuesday, April 6, at 9:30 a.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 go stars in this suspenseful thriller. The film was nominated for six Oscars, in categories including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor and Best Original Screenplay.
Wednesday, April 7, at 8 p.m. ET
An elderly teacher and headmaster of a boarding school (Robert Donat) looks back over his life and recalls the beautiful young woman (Greer Garson) who saw through his stiff-upper-lip demeanor to give him warmth and affection. The film was nominated for seven Oscars, with Donat getting the Best Actor nod.
Thursday, April 8, at 10:45 p.m. ET
In this romantic fantasy-drama, Pete, a bomber pilot during World War II (Spencer Tracy), is killed in a crash on his final mission and finds himself in heaven, where an angel called The General (Lionel Barrymore) sends him back to earth to pass on his experience and know-how to Ted, a young pilot (Van Johnson, in his breakthrough role). Problems arise when Pete learns that Ted has fallen for Pete's girlfriend, Dorinda (Irene Dunne). The film was nominated for the Best Writing, Original Story Oscar.
Friday, April 9, at 8 p.m. ET
Olivia de Havilland garnered one of her two Best Actress Oscars for her performance in William Wyler's film adaptation of the Henry James novel, Washington Square. In the film, set in mid-19th-century New York, De Havilland plays Catherine Sloper, the plain and socially awkward adult daughter of a domineering father (Ralph Richardson), who is wooed and deceived by a handsome man of questionable character (Montgomery Clift), who appears to care much more for her family's wealth than for Catherine. Nominated for eight Oscars (it won four, including Best Actress and Best Costume Design), it's arguably one of the finest dramas Hollywood has ever produced.
Saturday, April 10, at 5 p.m. ET
This epic western, originally exhibited in the innovative (but short-lived) wide-screen, three-projector format known as Cinerama, tells the sprawling tale of three generations of pioneers who made their way west to build new lives. The cast includes more A-list stars than we could possibly list here, but look out for Karl Malden, Gregory Peck, James Stewart, Debbie Reynolds, John Wayne and Walter Brennan, among many others. Nominated for eight Oscars, it won three—for screenplay, sound and editing.
Sunday, April 11, at 10:30 p.m. ET
Sidney Poitier stars as a Philadelphia homicide detective who is falsely arrested in Sparta, Mississippi. Though he's quickly cleared, the town's bigoted sheriff (Rod Steiger) asks him to help solve the crime. This hard-hitting film was nominated for seven Oscars, winning five, including Best Picture and Best Actor in a Leading Role (Steiger).
Monday, April 12, at 10:30 a.m. ET
This romantic comedy from Frank Capra—truly one of the all-time classics of the genre—is as fresh and funny (and yes, romantic) as it was the day it debuted nearly 90 years ago. Clark Gable plays a newspaperman on the trail of a runaway heiress (Claudette Colbert). This classic film was nominated for five Oscars—Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay—and won them all, every one richly deserved.
Tuesday, April 13, at 8 p.m. ET
Legendary band leader Paul Whiteman stars in this two-strip Technicolor musical-comedy revue that, thanks to a recent restoration, looks better now than ever before. John Boles and Laura LaPlante costar and watch for Bing Crosby as a member of the vocal trio The Rhythm Boys. This film took home the Oscar for Best Art Direction.
Wednesday, April 14, at 8 p.m. ET
In the minds of many movie buffs, Barbara Stanwyck is most closely associated with dramatic roles, but she excelled in comedies, too, especially this screwball classic from writer-director Preston Sturges. Stanwyck plays a beautiful cardsharp who sets her sights on the wealthy-but-not-worldly heir to a fortune built on beer (Henry Fonda). Charles Coburn plays Stanwyck's con-man father and Eugene Palette, at his apoplectic best, is Fonda's dad. This classic comedy was nominated for Best Writing, Original Story.
Thursday, April 15, at 9:45 p.m. ET
William Powell portrays a stern and strait-laced father of four sons in this charming family comedy, set just before the turn of the last century, but it's really his wife, played by Irene Dunne, who runs the show. Elizabeth Taylor also stars. This film was nominated for four Oscars, including Best Actor (Powell).
Friday, April 16, at 8 a.m. ET
Rarely in movie history has a director undertaken a remake of his own picture, but that's just what Leo McCarey did. You may be more familiar with the remake, An Affair to Remember (1957), which starred Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr, but Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer are terrific in this, McCarey's first take on the story, which was nominated for six Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Actress (Dunne). Have a box of tissues handy.
Saturday, April 17, at 8 p.m. ET
This moving and inspiring account of Annie Sullivan's dedicated efforts to teach the deaf and blind Helen Keller to speak, read and write earned a Best Actress Oscar for Anne Bancroft, who played Sullivan, and a Best Supporting Actress nod for Patty Duke, who played Keller, as well as three other nominations.
Sunday, April 18; at 6 a.m. ET
Frank Capra's classic romantic comedy (or is it a drama?) tells the tale of the owner of a small-town tallow works (Gary Cooper)—who also plays the tuba and writes poetry for greeting cards—whose life is turned upside down when he inherits $20 million. Douglas Dumbrille, Lionel Stander and Jean Arthur costar. It was nominated for five Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Actor (Cooper); Capra took home the statuette for Best Director.
Monday, April 19, at 9 a.m. ET
In this classic melodrama, Bette Davis portrays a repressed spinster who has been emotionally abused by her domineering mother. With the help of a psychiatrist (Claude Rains) and a doomed love for an unhappily married man (Paul Henreid), she blossoms into a strong and independent woman. Listen for the legendary line of dialogue: "Oh, Jerry, don't let's ask for the moon. We have the stars." The film was up for three Oscars, including a Best Actress nomination for Davis.
Tuesday, April 20, at 12:15 p.m. ET
Ann Blyth plays a teen who is stunned to learn from her younger sister (Joan Evans) that she is adopted. Her parents, played by Jane Wyatt and Donald Woods, support her in her efforts to find her birth mother (Ann Dvorak). Martin Milner and Farley Granger also star in the film, an Oscar nominee for Best Sound.
Wednesday, April 21, at 8 a.m. ET
Irene Dunne and Cary Grant star as a star-crossed young married couple who experience trials, tribulations and heartbreak as they strive to start a family and build a life together. Have a box of tissues handy (maybe two). Grant was nominated for Best Actor for his work in this film.
Thursday, April 22, at 6:30 a.m. ET
This delightful adaptation of Jane Austin's comic romance boasts a stellar cast. Mr. and Mrs. Bennet (Edmund Gwenn and Mary Boland) have five daughters they hope to see married, and the arrival of two eligible gentlemen, Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy (Bruce Lester and Lawrence Olivier), bring improved prospects but also new complications. The daughters are played by Greer Garson, Maureen O'Sullivan, Ann Rutherford, Marsha Hunt and Heather Angel. The film took home the Oscar for Best Art Direction (Black and White).
Friday, April 23, at 10 a.m. ET
Greer Garson shines as a music hall performer who marries a World War I veteran (Ronald Colman) who has lost all memory of his pre-war life to amnesia. Their happy life together is turned upside down when he, while on an out-of-town excursion, suffers an accident that restores his memory of his early years (he was born into a family of wealth and privilege) but erases his knowledge of his life with Greer. Will the unlucky pair be reunited? This classic drama was nominated for seven Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Actor (Colman).
Saturday, April 24, at 8 p.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. The film was nominated for 11 Oscars, winning for Best Actor (Cooper) and Best Editing.
Sunday, April 25, at 6 p.m. ET
Perhaps the most beloved movie musical of all, Singin' in the Rain takes the viewer back to the early days of talking pictures, when some silent picture stars struggled to find their footing with the ascent of sound. Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds and Donald O'Connor all shine in this delightful celebration of Hollywood's golden age, but it was Jean Hagen, who played the silent star with the kewpie doll voice, who received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress, one of two nominations the film received.
Monday, April 26, at 12 p.m. ET
This classic drama has inspired three remakes (with, no doubt, more still to come), but if you've never seen the original, here's your chance. The great William Wellman directed this Technicolor classic, with Janet Gaynor starring as a young actress with big dreams and stars in her eyes, Fredric March portraying an alcoholic movie star whose career is on the wane, and other stalwarts, such as Adolphe Menjou and Andy Devine in supporting roles. The film was nominated for seven Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Actor (March) and Best Actress (Gaynor); it won for Best Writing, Original Story.
TCM is following this film with the first two sequels, the 1954 version, starring Judy Garland and James Mason, at 8 p.m. and the 1976 version, starring Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson, at 11:15 p.m.
Tuesday, April 27, at 6:00 p.m. ET
James Stewart stars as Monty Stratton, the star pitcher for the Chicago White Sox who lost his leg in a hunting accident but fought back to continue his career. June Allyson costars as Stratton's wife, Agnes Moorehead plays his mother. The film won the Oscar for Best Writing, Motion Picture Story.
Wednesday, April 28, at 9:45 p.m. ET
Irene Dunne shines in this delightful screwball comedy as the writer of a titillating, sensational novel who, in real life, is a member of a prim and proper New England family and keeps her status as a bestselling author a secret in the small town she resides. On a business trip to New York, though, she meets her book's illustrator (Melvyn Douglas), who is intent upon helping her break out of her shell. Much hilarity ensues. The film was nominated for two Oscars and won one: Best Actress (Dunne).
Thursday, April 29, at 2 p.m. ET
You'll want to gather the kids around the TV for this one. Russ Tambyln stars as the six-inch Tom in George Pal's adaptation of the beloved fairy tale, first published in 1621. Alan Young, June Thorburn, Terry-Thomas and Peter Sellers costar. The film won an Oscar for Special Effects.
Friday, April 30, at 3 p.m. ET
Actor and director Vittorio De Sica's heartrending tale of the travails of a retiree (Carlo Battisti) who is alone in the world save for the love of his little dog and the friendship of a young woman (Maria Pia Casilio) in his boarding house. Beautifully directed and wonderfully acted, you'll rarely see a more moving film. It was nominated for Best Writing, Motion Picture Story, but it was deserving of so much more. Don't let the subtitles dissuade you; this is a film that should be seen.
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). The film received an Oscar nomination for Best Cinematography, Black-and-White.
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