- TCM film schedule today – Saturday, Sept. 30: Titles include Delmer Daves’ crime drama Dark Passage, starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall; John Cromwell’s prison drama Caged, starring Oscar nominee Eleanor Parker; and two 1980s releases centered on “Hispanic” characters, The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez and The Milagro Beanfield War.
TCM film schedule today: One all-star Jerome Kern musical biopic, one Bogart-Bacall crime thriller, one Eleanor Parker prison drama, and two ‘Hispanic’-centered titles of the 1980s
TCM film schedule today – Saturday, Sept. 30: Turner Classic Movies is presenting an eclectic array of titles encompassing various themes, genres, decades, and styles.
Here is today’s TCM film list:
- Richard Whorf’s glossy all-star musical biopic Till the Clouds Roll By (1946).
- Harold Young’s British-made, Reign of Terror-set romantic adventure The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934).
- Delmer Daves’ crime thriller Dark Passage (1947).
- John Cromwell’s women’s prison drama Caged (1950).
- As part of TCM’s “Hispanic Heritage Month” presentations, Robert M. Young’s ethnically conscious Western The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez (1983) and Robert Redford’s socially conscious comedy-drama The Milagro Beanfield War (1988).
Below is a brief overview of each movie.
Till the Clouds Roll By (1946)
Shot in Technicolor, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s mammoth hit Till the Clouds Roll By tells the life story of composer Jerome Kern – as it should have been in the view of studio head Louis B. Mayer (and his underlings).*
When given the chance a capable actor, Richard Whorf (Blues in the Night) was handed the thankless task of directing the biopic segments, while boy-next-door (and future Alfred Hitchcock psychopath**) Robert Walker was handed the equally thankless task of portraying Kern (who died during production).
Indeed, the real stars of Till the Clouds Roll By are the dozen or so performers showcased in a series of musical numbers, among them Kathryn Grayson and Tony Martin singing “Make Believe” from Show Boat, Judy Garland (as Marilyn Miller) singing “Look for the Silver Lining”† from Sally, and Dinah Shore warbling the Oscar-winning song “The Last Time I Saw Paris”,†† previously performed by Ann Sothern in MGM’s 1941 musical Lady Be Good.
* The credited writers were Guy Bolton (screen story), George Wells (story adaptation), and Myles Connolly and Jean Holloway (screenplay).
** In the 1951 murder-pact thriller Strangers on a Train.
† Originally for the 1919 musical Zip Goes a Million, which folded before reaching Broadway. Judy Garland’s musical numbers were directed by her then-husband, Vincente Minnelli.
†† Oscar 1941 win or no, originally published in 1940.
The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934)
Even if far less prestigious than Alexander Korda’s Oscar-nominated The Private Life of Henry VIII or Alfred Hitchcock’s The Lady Vanishes, the Korda-produced, Harold Young-directed period romantic adventure The Scarlet Pimpernel remains one of the best-known British productions of the 1930s. And though not as rousing as it should have been, this 1934 release is amusing enough.
Despite looking nothing like the character found in Baroness Emma Orczy’s 1905 novel (from her 1903 play) set in the blood-soaked aftermath of the French Revolution, Leslie Howard stars as the fearless titular hero (a.k.a. the pompously placid Sir Percy Blakeney), while fast-rising Anglo-Indian* beauty Merle Oberon looks fantastic as the clueless Lady Blakeney.
In 1941, Howard would direct, produce, and star in Pimpernel Smith, with the revamped action set in pre-World War II Europe. Unfortunately, whether in the U.K. or in Hollywood, there would be no big-budget, straight remake of The Scarlet Pimpernel in the 1940s or 1950s. (Richard Greene and Michael Wilding are two English leading men of the period who would have been great in the role.)
** The label is used loosely here, as the Bombay-born Oberon’s multi-branched national/ethnic background remains a subject of conjecture. Along with Ronald Colman the personification of the upper-class Englishman in Hollywood movies of the 1930s, the London-born Leslie Howard, for his part, was half Hungarian.
Dark Passage (1947)
The least well known of the four movies starring real-life couple Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, Delmer Daves’ great-looking (cinematography by Sid Hickox), entertaining – if utterly absurd – thriller Dark Passage revolves around an escaped convict who had been jailed for killing his wife. Set on proving his innocence while evading the cops, the man on the lam gets himself a new face (Bogart’s) via the miracle of plastic surgery.
The other three Bogart-Bacall titles are Howard Hawks’ To Have and Have Not (1945) and The Big Sleep (1946), and John Huston’s Key Largo (1948), in which the couple play second banana to gangster Edward G. Robinson.
Possibly cinema’s best women’s prison drama, John Cromwell’s Caged is one of a series of – not infrequently female-centered – post-World War II Hollywood releases that aimed to raise awareness about the United States’ systemic social ills.
Three brief examples:
Prior to Caged, Academy Award nominee Susan Hayward was a raging alcoholic in Stuart Heisler’s Smash-Up: The Story of a Woman (1947); New York Film Critics Circle winner and Academy Award nominee Olivia de Havilland was a mental patient in Anatole Litvak’s The Snake Pit (1948); and Academy Award nominee Jeanne Crain was a white girl with some recent black ancestry passing/taken for a white girl with no recent black ancestry in Elia Kazan’s Pinky (1949).*
One of the best actresses of her generation when well handled, Eleanor Parker (Pride of the Marines, Lizzie) deservedly received an Oscar nod for conveying the horrors of doing time in a U.S. prison. As the mannish, sadistic prison matron, Hope Emerson was shortlisted in the Best Supporting Actress category.
Recommended: Two of the most notable Caged-inspired women’s prison dramas are Lewis Seiler’s concisely titled Women’s Prison (1955), starring Ida Lupino as a vicious, mentally unbalanced warden and featuring a first-rate performance by Phyllis Thaxter as the young new arrival; and Renato Castellani’s Hell in the City / Nella città l’inferno (1958), starring exuberant jailbird Anna Magnani and wide-eyed newcomer Giulietta Masina, who, playing against type, ends up about as hardened as Al Capone.
* Though also a “problem movie,” Jean Negulesco’s socio-psychological drama Johnny Belinda – which earned Jane Wyman (as a deaf-mute rape victim) the 1948 Best Actress Oscar – is actually set in Canada.
The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez (1983)
Featuring future Oscar nominee Edward James Olmos (Stand and Deliver, 1988) as the titular character, Robert M. Young’s The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez chronicles the hunt for and ensuing legal travails of a Mexican-born, dawn-of-the-20th-century Texan farmer accused of killing a sheriff.
Issues of race/ethnicity play a key role in the goings-on – even though, of course, “Mexican” is as much a race/ethnic group as “Texan” or “American.”
The Milagro Beanfield War (1988)
Seemingly a cross between Passport to Pimlico and Chinatown, Robert Redford’s socially/politically conscious comedy-drama The Milagro Beanfield War features an extensive pan-American cast: Panamanian Rubén Blades; Brazilian Sonia Braga (attempting to pass for a Spanish speaker); Mexican Carlos Riquelme; Americans Chick Vennera, Richard Bradford, Melanie Griffith, John Heard, Julie Carmen, and Christopher Walken.
Based on John Nichols’ 1974 novel (which he adapted with David S. Ward), the story revolves around a small, impoverished New Mexican agricultural community – most of its denizens have Spanish surnames – that takes on big business and political interests to protect their water and, by extension, their land and livelihoods.
Despite the fact that its director had won an Academy Award (Ordinary People, 1980) and happened to be an international superstar, The Milagro Beanfield War was both a critical and a commercial disappointment. It ended up receiving one single Oscar nomination, in the Best Original Score category (Dave Grusin).
Below is TCM’s Saturday, Sept. 30, film schedule.
TCM movie schedule – Saturday, Sept. 30, EDT
12:00 PM Till the Clouds Roll By (1946)
2h | Musical Biopic
Director: Richard Whorf
Cast: Robert Walker, Van Heflin, June Allyson, Lucille Bremer, Judy Garland, Kathryn Grayson, Van Johnson, Tony Martin, Lena Horne, Dinah Shore, Gower Champion, Cyd Charisse, Viginia O’Brien, Angela Lansbury, Frank Sinatra, Harry Hayden, Paul Langton, Ray McDonald. Cameo: Esther Williams.
2:30 PM The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934)
1h 35m | Period Adventure
Director: Harold Young
Cast: Leslie Howard, Merle Oberon, Raymond Massey, Nigel Bruce, Anthony Bushell, Bramwell Fletcher, Joan Gardner, Melville Cooper.
4:15 PM Dark Passage (1947)
1h 46m | Thriller
Director: Delmer Daves
Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Bruce Bennett, Agnes Moorehead, Tom D’Andrea.
6:15 PM Caged (1950)
1h 36m | Social Drama
Director: John Cromwell
Cast: Eleanor Parker, Agnes Moorehead, Ellen Corby, Hope Emerson, Betty Garde, Jan Sterling, Lee Patrick, Olive Deering, Jane Darwell, Gertrude Michael, Sheila MacRae (as Sheila Stevens).
8:00 PM The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez (1983)
1h 44m | Social Western
Director: Robert M. Young
Cast: Edward James Olmos, James Gammon, Tom Bower, Bruce McGill, Brion James, Alan Vint. Cameo: Ned Beatty.
10:00 PM The Milagro Beanfield War (1988)
1h 58m | Social Dramatic Comedy
Director: Robert Redford
Cast: Rubén Blades, Richard Bradford, Sonia Braga, Julie Carmen, James Gammon, Melanie Griffith, John Heard, Carlos Riquelme, Daniel Stern, Chick Vennera, Christopher Walken, Jerry Hardin. Cameo: M. Emmet Walsh.
“TCM Film Schedule Today: Bogart-Bacall + 2 ‘Hispanic’ Tales” notes
TCM film schedule via the Turner Classic Movies website.
Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall Dark Passage movie image: Warner Bros.
Melanie Griffith and Richard Bradford The Milagro Beanfield War movie image: Universal Pictures.
“TCM Film Schedule Today: Bogart-Bacall + 2 ‘Hispanic’ Tales” last updated in October 2023.