An interesting assortment of rare musicals on TCM this month, featuring some Pre-Codes as well as quite a bit of Gordon MacRae. In Behind-the-Scenes news, I think I’m getting closer to having to revise my criteria for deeming a musical “rare”—currently I judge it by whether it’s available to rent on Netflix (disc or streaming). But as their disc supply seems to be dwindling, even extending to musicals that I wouldn’t normally deem “rare,” I think I may need to start researching availability based on more streaming services, or some other metric. Anyway, that’s a problem for Future Me (which I’m pretty sure is what I said last month)!
Thursday, November 5
6:00am / Sweet Kitty Bellairs (1930)
Flirty Kitty (Claudia Dell) must choose between a dashing highway robber and the shy lord who loves her in this Pre-Code Technicolor musical.
Sunday November 8
6:00am / The Student Prince (1954)
Young Prince Karl sets off to get an education before assuming the crown and loosen up for his princess-bride-to-be—but falls for pretty barmaid, Kathie (Ann Blyth). Features the disembodied singing voice of Mario Lanza, as Lanza had already recorded the soundtrack before leaving MGM following a dispute.
8:00am / The Desert Song (1953)
Romberg and Hammerstein II operetta inspired by Moroccan freedom fighters, starring Kathryn Grayson and Gordon MacRae as the mild-mannered Latin tutor with a secret identity.
Wednesday November 11
9:15am / Flying High (1931)
Bert Lahr’s feature debut in this MGM Pre-Code musical, starring here as the inventor of a new flying machine—who hasn’t figured out how to land it yet.
3:00pm / Flirtation Walk (1934)
Dick Powell falls for Ruby Keeler once again, this time as a West Point cadet who’s in love with the general’s daughter.
Wednesday November 19
4:30pm / About Face (1952)
All’s going well for three West Point buddies (Gordon MacRae, Eddie Bracken, Dick Wesson), until they discover one of them’s been secretly married. Musical remake of Brother Rat.
6:15pm / Three Sailors and a Girl (1953)
Up-and-coming Broadway star Jane Powell captures the attention of three sailors on leave (Gordon MacRae, Gene Nelson, Sam Levene), who decide to invest in her career.
Wednesday November 25
9:15am / Two Weeks with Love (1950)
Sisters Jane Powell and Debbie Reynolds find love on a family vacation to the Catskills… proto-Dirty Dancing? Ricardo Montalban and Carleton Carpenter are their targets.
Thursday November 26
6:30pm / The Phantom Tollbooth (1969)
Mixture of live-action/animation adaptation of the beloved children’s book, starring Butch Patrick with voices by Mel Blanc. Book author Norton Juster was not a fan: “It was well reviewed, which also made me angry.”