Ann Sheridan, the determined, humorous, sensual 1940s Warner Bros. star, is one of my favorite movie toughies. Sheridan was also a first-rate comedienne (I Was a Male War Bride) and in the right role was a capable dramatic actress (Angels with Dirty Faces – except for the hysterical scene). As a plus, she was great to look at and listen to. [See this 2007 Ann Sheridan piece; followed by an interview with author Ray Hagen, then working on a biography of the actress.]
Unfortunately, there are no rarities. No Woman and the Hunter, Just Across the Street, or Fighting Youth. But Ann Sheridan is always worth another look.
Sheridan looks great in her most famous movie, Sam Wood's melodrama Kings Row (1942), but that classic has always left me cold. I find both Ronald Reagan and Robert Cummings badly miscast, while Betty Field, who could be an excellent actress, was in dire need of some major toning down.
Also, the Production Code censors kept themselves busy ensuring that Warners and screenwriter Casey Robinson cleaned up all the filthy, disgusting, vile, evil, satanic dirt found Henry Bellamann's novel set in Small Town U.S.A., to the point that the only thing “scandalous” about the movie version is that it's so chicken-shit tame. (In that department, Warners fared much better with another 1942 “family movie,” John Huston's In This Our Life, which left precious little to the imagination.)
The Unfaithful (1947) is The Letter all over again (minus the prestige); Torrid Zone (1940) is basically, to paraphrase co-star James Cagney, The Front Page set among bananas; while The Opposite Sex (1956) is a much panned remake of The Women (1939).
So much for those who assert that Hollywood has recently lost its imagination, going for remakes and reboots all the time – as if that wasn't done in the '40s and '50s (or as early as the 1910s, for that matter).
None of the three aforementioned films is considered a classic, but since Ann Sheridan is in them they're all definitely worth a look.
Now, Sheridan is at her best in the comedy The Man Who Came to Dinner (1941), stealing the show (along with Reginald Gardiner, Mary Wickes, and a penguin) from nominal leads Monty Woolley (as a version of Alexander Woollcott) and Bette Davis (as the “straight woman”). Don't miss it.
Schedule (PT) and synopses from the TCM website:
4:30 AM Nora Prentiss (1947)
An ambitious singer ruins a doctor's life. Cast: Ann Sheridan, Kent Smith, Bruce Bennett. Dir.: Vincent Sherman. Black and white. 112 min.
8:30 AM Wings For The Eagle (1942)
Dedicated aircraft workers compete for the same girl. Cast: Ann Sheridan, Dennis Morgan, Jack Carson. Dir.: Lloyd Bacon. Black and white. 84 min.
10:00 AM One More Tomorrow (1946)
A playboy and a lady photographer allow social differences to come between them. Cast: Ann Sheridan, Dennis Morgan, Jack Carson. Dir.: Peter Godfrey. Black and white. 88 min.
11:45 AM Juke Girl (1942)
A migrant laborer becomes a champion of farm workers' rights. Cast: Ann Sheridan, Ronald Reagan, Richard Whorf. Dir.: Curtis Bernhardt. Black and white. 90 min.
1:30 PM City For Conquest (1940)
A truck driver risks his eyesight when he boxes to pay for his brother's education. Cast: James Cagney, Ann Sheridan, Arthur Kennedy. Dir.: Anatole Litvak. Black and white. 104 min.
3:15 PM George Washington Slept Here (1942)
A pair of New Yorkers face culture shock when they buy a dilapidated country house. Cast: Jack Benny, Ann Sheridan, Percy Kilbride. Dir.: William Keighley. Black and white. 91 min.
5:00 PM Torrid Zone (1940)
A Central American plantation manager and his boss battle over a traveling showgirl. Cast: James Cagney, Pat O'Brien, Ann Sheridan. Dir.: William Keighley. Black and white. 88 min.
6:45 PM Kings Row (1942)
Small town scandals inspire an idealistic young man to take up psychiatry. Cast: Ann Sheridan, Robert Cummings, Ronald Reagan. Dir.: Sam Wood. Black and white. 127 min.
9:00 PM Man Who Came to Dinner, The (1942)
An acerbic critic wreaks havoc when a hip injury forces him to move in with a midwestern family. Cast: Bette Davis, Ann Sheridan, Monty Woolley. Dir.: William Keighley. Black and white. 113 min.
1:00 AM Opposite Sex, The (1956)
In this musical remake of The Women, a happily married singer lets her catty friends convince her to file for divorce. Cast: June Allyson, Joan Collins, Dolores Gray. Dir.: David Miller. Color. 117 min.