Debonair Ray Milland is Turner Classic Movies' Star of the Month in April 2011. This evening, beginning at 8 p.m. ET, TCM will show a couple of Milland's biggest box office hits: Mitchell Leisen's period drama Kitty (1945), co-starring Paulette Goddard, and Cecil B. DeMille's color adventure Reap the Wild Wind (1942), with Goddard, John Wayne, Susan Hayward, and a giant octopus.
Also scheduled are William A. Wellman's Beau Geste (1939), a great-looking adventure tale starring Gary Cooper as an, ahem, Englishman, and featuring Milland, Robert Preston, Broderick Crawford, a very youthful Susan Hayward, and Donald O'Connor as the boy Beau. Brian Donlevy deservedly received a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his sadistic Foreign Legion sergeant.
Some would derisively call Beau Geste politically incorrect; it's not. Much like Gunga Din, The Four Feathers, and The Charge of the Light Brigade, it's downright racist and imperialistic. Yet, it's a must-see because of its cast, its reflection of cultural mores of the time (and of today as well, really), and as an example of beautifully crafted studio-era filmmaking.
As an aside: Ronald Colman was considerably more effective than Cooper in the 1926 silent version. Too bad Colman wasn't a Paramount contract player; else, he'd likely have reprised the role in the '39 version.
The Uninvited and Wise Girl are often shown on TCM. The former is a delightful ghost story, starring Milland, Ruth Hussey, and a gloriously beautiful Gail Russell; the latter is a watchable romantic comedy co-starring Miriam Hopkins.
Schedule (ET) and synopses from the TCM website:
8:00 PM Kitty (1945) A penniless British lord passes a street urchin off as a lady to sell her to a rich husband. Cast: Paulette Goddard, Ray Milland, Patric Knowles. Dir.: Mitchell Leisen. Black and white. 103 mins
10:00 PM Reap the Wild Wind (1942) Two sailors vie for the affections of a southern temptress while fighting off pirates. Cast: Ray Milland, Susan Hayward, John Wayne. Dir.: Cecil B. DeMille. Black and white. 124 mins
12:15 AM Beau Geste (1939) Three brothers in the French foreign legion fight off murderous Arabs and a sadistic sergeant. Cast: Gary Cooper, Ray Milland, Robert Preston. Dir.: William A. Wellman. Black and white. 113 mins
2:15 AM Everything Happens at Night (1939) Two reporters compete to discover a scientist living in hiding and win his daughter. Cast: Sonja Henie, Ray Milland, Robert Cummings. Dir.: Irving Cummings. Black and white. 78 mins
3:45 AM The Uninvited (1944) A brother and sister buy a house with a ghostly secret. Cast: Ray Milland, Ruth Hussey, Donald Crisp. Dir.: Lewis Allen. Black and white. 99 mins
6:00 AM Wise Girl (1937) A rich girl plays poor to win over a Greenwich Village artist. Cast: Miriam Hopkins, Ray Milland, Walter Abel. Dir.: Leigh Jason. Black and white. 70 mins