A TCM Viewer's Guide for the Week of March 14, 2016

The Asphalt Jungle (1950), starring Louis Calhern (left), Sterling Hayden, Jean Hagen, and Sam Jaffe, is one of the old Hollywood favorites airing on TCM this week.

This week, TCM is featuring great movies from thirties stars like George Brent and Edward Everett Horton. Plus, they are celebrating St. Patrick's Day and Jerry Lewis' 90th birthday. So, without further ado, let's jump right in to this week's offerings. Just a note: the highlighted text has links to full length articles.

I'll go in-depth a little further down in the article, but first here's a quick rundown.

Birthday tributes: George Brent on Tuesday daytime; Jerry Lewis on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings; Edward Everett Horton on Friday.

The Essentials pick (airs Saturday nights at 8): The classic prisoner of war movie, The Great Escape (1963), starring Steve McQueen, Richard Attenborough, and James Garner.

Sunday Prime Time: The Biblical epic Ben-Hur (1959) at 8 p.m.

Silent Sunday Nights: Fatty Arbuckle shorts at midnight.

TCM Imports: Scenes From a Marriage from director Ingmar Bergman at 2 a.m.

Best Day to DVR: Monday afternoon, which features four great "jungle" movies.

This is a great week for . . .: Dean Martin fans. Several of his best movies with Jerry Lewis will air on Tuesday night and his classic comedy Kiss Me, Stupid (1964) is part of the Thursday night series on condemned movies.

Monday, March 14

Sterling Hayden (left), James Whitmore, and Anthony Caruso in The Asphalt Jungle (1950).
Daytime Theme: Movies with "jungle" in the title. Viewers can start off their afternoon with the live-action version of  The Jungle Book (1942) at 12:30 p.m. that features Sabu as wild child Mowgli. This spectacular special effects film features Sabu interacting with several real animals, including a terrifying cobra. The Blackboard Jungle (1955) at 4 p.m. stars Glenn Ford as an idealistic teacher who has a reality check when he begins teaching at inner-city school. This movie is notable for its rock 'n' roll soundtrack and an early performance from Sidney Poitier. One of the great films noir, The Asphalt Jungle (1950), at 6 p.m. centers around a group of Midwestern jewel thieves who are trying to pull off the perfect heist.
Primetime Lineup: TCM is featuring movies about artists each Monday in March. The evening kicks off with Lust for Life (1956) at 8 p.m., which is a great biopic of 19th century Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh. This movie features a sensitive lead performance from Kirk Douglas and painterly cinematography from director Vincente Minnelli and DP Russell HarlinEl Greco (1966) at 10:15 p.m. is an underrated biopic about the 17th century Spanish painter starring Mel Ferrer.
 Late Night Pick: Legendary Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky brings the story of 15th century painter Andrei Rublev (1966) to the big screen at 1:30 a.m.

Tuesday, March 15

 Daytime Theme: A birthday tribute to George Brent who was born March 15, 1904, in Ballinasloe, Ireland. He was a debonair leading man in the 1930's and 1940's, often appearing opposite the great female stars of the era. Brent was Bette Davis' most frequent co-star and the morning kicks off with Front Page Woman (1935) at 7:30 a.m. which is a fun newspaper comedy where Brent and Davis play rival reporters. Their best known film together was Dark Victory (1939) at 9 a.m., which features Brent as a crack brain surgeon who gives heiress Davis a "large dose of prognosis negative." My Reputation (1946) at 12:15 p.m. is a turgid soaper about a young widow (Barbara Stanwyck) who falls for a dashing army officer only to bring on the disapproval of her stuffy family.
Primetime Lineup: TCM is celebrating Jerry Lewis' 90th birthday (it's Wednesday) with a two-day festival of his films. First up are his fifties collaborations with Dean Martin. The Stooge (1952) at 8 p.m. find the duo as showbiz failures who are trying to create a winning act, while The Caddy (1953) at 10 p.m. is all about a swingin' golf pro (Martin) and his inept sidekick (Lewis)
Late Night Pick: My favorite Martin-Lewis comedy is At War With the Army (1950) at 4 a.m. which features the guys as bumbling new recruits.

Wednesday, March 16

 Daytime Theme: Movies directed by Louis King. King started out as a character actor in silent movies, but he moved into directing in the 1920's, and he made several Western and action-adventure films, although his two best-known movies are The Song of Bernadette (1943) and Twelve O'Clock  High (1949). Road Gang (1936)  at 7:45 a.m. is an expose of Southern chain gangs from writer Dalton Trumbo. Special Investigator (1936) at 10 a.m. is a great crime movie about a crooked lawyer (Richard Dix) who comes to regret keeping a notorious gangster (J. Carrol Naish) out of jail. The Lion and the Horse (1952) at 3 p.m. is a sensitive B Western about one man's love for a wild stallion. 
Primetime Lineup: The second night of TCM's Jerry Lewis celebration features some of his best solo films. The Bellboy (1960) at 8 p.m. is a meta-comedy where Lewis plays both himself and a bumbling hotel employee who is often mistaken for "Jerry Lewis." The King of Comedy (1983) at 9:30 p.m. is a searing film from director Martin Scorsese about an arrogant talk show host (Lewis) who is kidnapped by a would-be comic (Robert De Niro).
 Late Night Pick: If you've never seen Charlie Chaplin's masterpiece, The Great Dictator (1940), set your DVR. It's on at 5 a.m.

Thursday, March 17

Daytime theme: St. Patrick's Day. Start your holiday with two of old Hollywood's favorite Irish-Americans. James Cagney and Pat O'Brien play brothers who are fighting for the affections of Olivia de Havilland in The Irish in Us (1935) at 8:45 a.m.. One of Anna Neagle's best musicals is Irene (1940) at 10:15 a.m. She plays an Irish shop girl who falls for high-society gent Ray Milland. Young Cassidy (1965) at 3:30 p.m. features one of Rod Taylor's best performances as Irish playwright Sean O'Casey. 
Primetime lineup: TCM is featuring movies condemned by the National Legion of Decency each Thursday night in March. First up is Virdiana (1961) at 8 p.m. This movie, from controversial director Luis Bunuel, is about a young nun (Silvia Pinal) who inherits a fortune. Kiss Me, Stupid (1964) at 9:45 p.m. ran afoul of the censors for its depiction of star Dean Martin's love life.
Late Night Pick: Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967) at 3:45 a.m. features Marlon Brando's best film performance of the 1960's as an army major who is attracted to another man.

Friday, March 18

Daytime theme: A birthday tribute to Edward Everett Horton, who was born March 18, 1886, in Brooklyn. Horton was a beloved character actor who mostly appeared in comedies and musicals as an often befuddled, but amiable sidekick. The early talkie Wide Open (1930) at 6 a.m. gives Horton one of his few starring roles as a bumbling accountant who finds romance. Sing and Like It (1934) at 11:30 a.m. features Horton as a terrified music producer who must make a star out of a gangster's tone-deaf girlfriend (ZaSu Pitts). Horton plays the attorney who comes between Warren William and Joan Blondell in Smarty (1934) at 12:45 p.m.
Primetime lineup: TCM continues its star of the month celebration of Merle Oberon with some of her best forties movies. In First Comes Courage (1943) at 8 p.m. Oberon plays a Norwegian resistance fighter who marries a Nazi (Carl Esmond) in order to learn his secrets. A Song to Remember (1945) at 9:45 p.m. features Oberon as French novelist George Sand in this biopic of composer Frederic Chopin (Cornel Wilde).
Late Night Pick: 'Til We Meet Again (1940) at 3 a.m. is one of old Hollywood's great romances featuring Oberon as a dying woman who falls in love with a criminal (George Brent) during a cruise.

Saturday, March 19

TCM's primetime lineup is all about prisoner of war movies. The night begins with this week's The Essentials pick, The Great Escape (1963) at 8 p.m. followed by French director Robert Bresson's existential drama, A Man Escaped (1956) at 11 p.m. The night winds up with director Alfred Hitchcock's rarely seen propaganda film Bon Voyage (1944) at 1 a.m. about a downed British flyer (John Blythe) in occupied France.

Sunday, March 20

The Sunday Night Feature starts off the Easter season with one of old Hollywood's best Biblical epics, Ben-Hur (1959) at 8 p.m. starring Charlton Heston as a Jewish prince whose life is transformed by Jesus Christ.