A TCM Viewer's Guide for the Week of May 23, 2016

They Were Expendable (1945), starring John Wayne, Donna Reed, and Robert Montgomery, is one of the classic movies airing on TCM this week.

This week, TCM is airing great movies from stars like John Wayne, Richard Widmark, and Jayne Mansfield. Plus, they are featuring films about time travel and the annual Memorial Day war movie marathon. 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: John Wayne on Thursday.

Sunday Prime Time: Memorial Day war movie marathon.

Silent Sunday Nights: The Big Parade (1925) at 3:30 a.m. This World War I drama stars John Gilbert as a rich young man who learns about the horrors of war in the trenches of France.

TCM Imports: Not airing this week.

Best Day to DVR: Saturday. Starting at 11:15 a.m. with The Flying Leathernecks (1951), TCM is airing eight of old Hollywood's best war movies.

This is a great week for . . .: John Wayne fans. TCM is airing a birthday tribute on Thursday daytime. Plus, there's several of the Duke's war movies during the Memorial Day marathon.

Monday, May 23

Richard Widmark
Daytime Theme: Movies starring Richard Widmark. He is best known today for his work in film noir, but Widmark was a reliable leading man in a variety of genres. Up first, is Cheyenne Autumn (1964) at 6 a.m., director John Ford's late-career Western stars Widmark as an army captain who is sympathetic to the plight of the Cheyenne Indians in 1870's Oklahoma. Widmark plays medieval French king Charles VII in Saint Joan (1957) at noon, which is director Otto Preminger's adaptation of the George Bernard Shaw play. No Way Out (1950) at 6 p.m. is an interesting noir about a racist gangster (Widmark) who is forced to get treatment from a black doctor (Sidney Poitier) after a botched robbery.
Primetime theme: Movies that received a Peabody Award. First up is the TV movie, Green Eyes (1977) at 8 p.m., which is about a Vietnam veteran (Paul Winfield) who returns to the country to find his son. The Peabody committee lauded it for being a "bold stroke" because of its depiction of the lives of returning vets. Next is the documentary Hoop Dreams (1994) at 10 p.m., which offers a gripping portrait of life in inner-city Chicago through the eyes of two teenage boys who want to become professional basketball players. 
 Late Night Pick:  The Promise (1986) at 1 a.m. is another well-made TV movie that received a Peabody Award for its sensitive depiction of a man (James Garner) who must care for his schizophrenic brother (James Woods).

Tuesday, May 24

 Daytime Theme: Biopics about composers. Katharine Hepburn and Paul Henreid star in the story of Clara and Robert Schumann in Song of Love (1947) at 11 a.m., while an all-star cast, including Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, and June Allyson, salute composer Jerome Kern in Till the Clouds Roll By (1946) at 1 p.m. A Song to Remember (1945) at 3:30 p.m. stars Cornel Wilde as composer Frederic Chopin.
Primetime Lineup: Movies about time travel. First up is Sleeper (1973) at 8 p.m., a Woody Allen comedy about a nebbishy health food store owner (Allen, of course) who is cryogenically frozen until 200 years in the future, where he wakes up in a police state. The Ghost Goes West (1936) at 9:45 p.m. is an underrated gem about a rich American (Eugene Pallette) who buys a haunted Scottish castle. This movie features a great performance from Robert Donat as both the ghost and his descendant.
Late Night Pick: Despite being a notorious flop in its day, The Horn Blows at Midnight (1945) at 4:30 a.m. is a delightful comedy starring Jack Benny as a fussy angel who is chosen to blow the trumpet signaling the end of the world.

Wednesday, May 25

 Daytime Theme: Movies about redheads. Rita Hayworth gives an infatuated James Cagney a run for his money in the comedy The Strawberry Blonde (1941) at 6 a.m., while Deborah Kerr braves the wilds of Africa with Stewart Granger in King Solomon's Mines (1950) at 2:30 p.m. Greer Garson plays a beautiful Edwardian woman who leaves her uptight husband (Errol Flynn) for a dashing architect (Robert Young) in That Forsyte Woman (1949) at 4:15 p.m.
Primetime Lineup: Movies starring Jayne Mansfield. She was one of the leading bombshells of the 1950's and 1960's until her untimely death in 1967. Mansfield's became a star after appearing as a Marilyn Monroe-esque movie star in Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957) at 8 p.m. The Girl Can't Help It (1956) at 9:45 p.m. stars Mansfield as a gangster's moll who sets out to be a rock star. This movie is notable for appearances by early rock stars like Little Richard and Fats Domino.
 Late Night Pick: Mansfield has a small part in Pete Kelly's Blues (1955), a great musical/film noir about a jazz musician (Jack Webb of Dragnet fame) who gets mixed up with the mob.

Thursday, May 26

John Wayne
Daytime theme: A birthday tribute to John Wayne, who was born Marion Morrison on May 26, 1907, in Winterset, Iowa. Wayne drifted into the movies after his football career was ended by an injury. At first, he took any job he could, but the 6 foot 4 Wayne generated enough notice to get jobs in front of the camera. Throughout the 1930's, Wayne appeared in several B Westerns, including The Telegraph Trail (1933) at 9 a.m. After his star-making performance in Stagecoach (1939), Wayne became one of old Hollywood's biggest stars in movies like Angel and the Badman (1947) at 4 p.m. and McClintock! (1963) at 5:45 p.m.
Primetime lineup: TCM will celebrate the legendary B movie company American International Pictures with a spotlight on the company's films every Thursday in May. TCM is wrapping up its AIP tribute with two of the company's best films of the 1970's: The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971) at 8 p.m. starring AIP icon Vincent Price and director Martin Scorsese's second film, Boxcar Bertha (1972) at 10 p.m.
Late Night Pick: One of AIP's least typical films is A Matter of Time (1976) at 5:30 a.m. This sophisticated romance was directed by old Hollywood legend Vincente Minnelli and stars his daughter, Liza Minnelli, and Ingrid Bergman.

Friday, May 27

Robert Ryan.
Daytime theme:  The morning theme is movies produced and directed by Merian C. Cooper. He was known for his action-adventure films like King Kong (1933). TCM is airing the silent film Chang (1927) at 7:15 a.m. about a rural Thai family who battles mother nature followed by the classic horror film, The Most Dangerous Game (1932) at 8:30 a.m. The afternoon's lineup is devoted to movies starring actress Mary Boland, including the delightful comedy, Down to Their Last Yacht (1934) at 4:15 p.m. about a rich family who charters out their luxury boat during the Great Depression.
Primetime lineup: TCM begins its annual Memorial Day war movie marathon with one of star of the month Robert Ryan's best World War II dramas, Battle of the Bulge (1965) at 8 p.m.
Late Night Pick: The Longest Day (1962) at 11 p.m. is an all-star recreation of the Allied invasion of Normandy that features Ryan as the assistant commander of the 82nd Airborne division.

Saturday, May 28

The Memorial Day Marathon continues:
Daytime pick: They Were Expendable (1945) at 1 p.m. Director John Ford's sensitive depiction of the struggles of a PT-boat unit stationed in the South Pacific is one of the best World War II dramas.
Primetime pick: The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) at 8 p.m. Director David Lean's drama about a Japanese prisoner of war camp features great work from William Holden, but the battle of wills between camp commander Sessue Hayakawa and British officer Alec Guinness makes this film riveting.
Late night pick: A Bridge Too Far (1977) at 11 p.m. This underrated movie about the Allied air drop into the Netherlands is TCM host Ben Mankiewicz's pick for May. 

Sunday, May 29

The Memorial Day Marathon continues:
Daytime pick: No Time for Sergeants (1958) at 5:45 p.m. This comedy about the peacetime Air Force drags a bit at times, but it is held together by a magnificent performance from Andy Griffith as a Georgia recruit who wreaks havoc on everything he touches.
Primetime pickThe Best Years of Our Lives (1946) at 8 p.m. This touching home front drama starring Fredric March, Harold Russell, and Dana Andrews follows three soldiers after the end of World War II.
Late night pick: The Big Parade on Silent Sunday Nights.