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Doris Day and Anna May Wong on Turner Classic Movies

Thursday, June 5, highlights on Turner Classic Movies:

Love Me or Leave Me is a competent biopic, with Doris Day giving a capable performance as torch singer Ruth Etting, while Johnny Belinda is an underrated psychological drama – one that features a then scandalous rape scene – that boasts an excellent star turn by Jane Wyman, who deservedly won a best actress Oscar. (Not that Irene Dunne in I Remember Mama didn't deserve an Oscar as well.)

Based on Leon Uris' novel about the founding of the state of Israel and adapted by blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, Exodus is quite probably Otto Preminger's worst movie. It's worth a look solely for the – unintentionally funny – scene in which Sal Mineo explains that concentration camp guards had used him as one uses a woman! That's how bad it is.

Anna May WongThe Anna May Wong films are a must, if only because, well, Anna May Wong is in them. She's actually quite good as a mysterious train rider in the highly stylized melodrama Shanghai Express, just about stealing the show from fellow train rider and classy prostitute Marlene Dietrich.

Wong is a capable villainess in Daughter of the Dragon, but the film is nothing more than a historical curiosity as it provided Sessue Hayakawa with one of his few roles in Hollywood talkies. As for The Toll of the Sea, it is an early two-strip Technicolor drama about an interracial romance, while Old San Francisco offers a good earthquake sequence and Dolores Costello's loveliness.

More information on Wong can be found at the Anna May Wong Society.

The Daughter of the Dragon image found in this article was restored by the Anna May Wong Society.

Schedule (Pacific Time) and synopses from the TCM website:

2:20am [Short Film] Short Film: From The Vaults: Madame - Sophia Loren (Trailer) (1961)
C-2 mins

2:30am [Romance] C'era una Volta (1967)
A prince falls for a peasant girl in a fairy tale kingdom.
Cast: Sophia Loren, Omar Sharif, Dolores Del Rio. Dir.: Francesco Rosi. Color. 103 mins. Letterbox.

4:15am Ghosts - Italian Style (1969)
An unemployed opera singer and his wife find jobs as caretakers in a haunted castle.
Cast: Sophia Loren, Vittorio Gassman, Francesco Tensi. Dir.: Renato Castellani. Color. 93 min.

5:49am [Short Film] Short Film: From The Vaults: Italy's In Season (1967)
C-7 mins

6:15am Union Station (1950)
A secretary gets caught up in the hunt for kidnappers.
Cast: William Holden, Nancy Olson, Barry Fitzgerald. Dir.: Rudolph Mate. Black and white. 81 min.

7:45am [Musical] Love Me Or Leave Me (1955)
True story of torch singer Ruth Etting's struggle to escape the gangster who made her a star.
Cast: Doris Day, James Cagney, Cameron Mitchell. Dir.: Charles Vidor. Color. 122 mins. Letterbox.

10:00am Johnny Belinda (1948)
A small-town doctor helps a deaf-mute farm girl learn to communicate.
Cast: Jane Wyman, Lew Ayres, Agnes Moorehead. Dir.: Jean Negulesco. Black and white. 102 min.

11:44am [Short Film] Short Film: One Reel Wonders: Don Redman And His Orchestra (1934)
BW-10 mins

12:00pm Exodus (1960)
A young Israeli activist fights to set up a homeland for his people.
Cast: Paul Newman, Eva Marie Saint, Sal Mineo. Dir.: Otto Preminger. Color. 208 mins. Letterbox.

3:30pm [Short] Festival of Shorts #24 (2000)
TCM promotes two MGM comedy shorts produced by Peter Smith: Menu (1933) and Penny Wisdom (1937).
C-22 min.

4:00pm [Documentary] Anna May Wong-Frosted Yellow Willows: Her Life, Times and Legend (2008)
A documentary on the life and career of pioneering Chinese-American actress Anna May Wong.
C-50 mins

5:00pm [Silent] Toll of the Sea, The (1922)
An American sailor marries then deserts the Chinese beauty who had saved his life.
Cast: Anna May Wong, Kenneth Harlan, Beatrice Bentley. Dir.: Chester M. Franklin. Color. 55 min.

6:00pm [Silent] Old San Francisco (1927)
In this silent film, an Asian villain menaces a family of aristocratic Spanish settlers.
Cast: Dolores Costello, Warner Oland, Anna May Wong. Dir.: Alan Crosland. Black and white. 89 min.

7:45pm [Silent] Piccadilly (1929)
In this silent film, the dancers at a London nightclub get wrapped up in jealousy and murder.
Cast: Gilda Gray, Jameson Thomas, Anna May Wong. Dir.: E.A. Dupont. Black and white. 109 min.

Sessue Hayakawa, Anna May Wong in Daughter of the Dragon

9:45pm Daughter of the Dragon (1931)
A Chinese princess gets caught between the ruthless warlord Fu Manchu and a handsome secret agent.
Cast: Anna May Wong, Warner Oland, Sessue Hayakawa. Dir.: Lloyd Corrigan. Black and white. 70 mins

11:00pm [Romance] Shanghai Express (1932)
A beautiful temptress re-kindles an old romance while trying to escape her past during a tension-packed train journey.
Cast: Marlene Dietrich, Clive Brook, Anna May Wong. Dir.: Josef von Sternberg. Black and white. 82 min.

12:30am [Documentary] Anna May Wong-Frosted Yellow Willows: Her Life, Times and Legend (2008)
A documentary on the life and career of pioneering Chinese-American actress Anna May Wong.
C-50 mins

1:30am Study in Scarlet, A (1933)
Sherlock Holmes is called in to solve the case when secret society members start dropping like flies.
Cast: Reginald Owen, Anna May Wong, June Clyde. Dir.: Edwin L. Marin. Black and white. 72 min.

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2 Comments to Doris Day and Anna May Wong on Turner Classic Movies

  1. Marcus Tucker

    SHAGHAI EXPRESS is just plain fun to watch, especially hearing a German and a Chinese American speak such lovely English, much better than any of their British and American co-stars. Anna May stole the show even though it was Dietrich vehicle, I have always wondered what von Sternberg could have done with Anna May in a starring vehicle.

  2. Anthony B. Chan has written the best and ultimate biography, Perpetually Cool: The Many Lives of Anna May Wong, 1905-1961 (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2003, 2007).