Saturday, January 14, 2017

TCM Pays Tribute to Debbie Reynolds

Turner Classic Movies pays tribute to Debbie Reynolds on Friday, January 27 with the following festival of films. This program will replace the previously scheduled movies for that day. This is not the first time TCM has revised their schedule to pay tribute to the passing of a Hollywood legend. The programming manager of TCM has made such arrangements half a dozen times a year, for many years. For a commercial free network to take time and pay homage to Debbie Reynolds with an all-day marathon of her classic movies is a tribute to the good folks who operate the station. 

The new schedule for Friday, January 27 will be: 
6:00 AM It Started With A Kiss (1959)
7:45 AM Bundle of Joy (1956)
9:30 AM How the West Was Won (1962)
12:30 PM The Tender Trap (1955)
2:30 PM Hit The Deck (1955)
4:30 PM I Love Melvin (1953)
6:00 PM Singin' In the Rain (1952)
8:00 PM The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964)
10:30 PM The Mating Game (1959)
12:30 AM The Catered Affair (1956)
2:15 AM The Singing Nun (1966)
4:00 AM How Sweet It Is (1968)

Entertainer Debbie Reynolds embodied the cheerful bounce and youthful innocence of the post World War II era, buoying the genre's good-natured hokum with her sincere charm and energy. One of a long line of girls-next-door like Doris Day and June Allyson, Reynolds was never as sultry as Day could be, and was more of a showbiz cheerleader and less of a tomboy than either. In her most successful films like Tammy and the Bachelor (1957) and Singin' in the Rain (1952), she was often cast as a sincere young adult in the throes of puppy love - never the virgin chased by rogues like Day or the placid housewife like Allyson. Her squeaky clean image came in handy when, in the biggest Hollywood scandal of the 1950s, her then-husband, crooner Eddie Fisher, left her and their two children - Carrie and Todd Fisher - for sultry screen goddess, Elizabeth Taylor. Not surprisingly, the public was more than on Reynolds' side as the jilted wife. Once that furor died down, Reynolds was left to reinvent herself. In the late 1960s, when new sexual mores suddenly rendered the docile suburban female image a thing of the past, Reynolds shifted her focus to nightclub and theatrical stages. She was absent from the big screen for decades but settled into a comfortable presence in the American fabric by returning to film in the 1990s with funny mom roles in films like Mother (1996) and In and Out (1997) and hysterical guest appearances as the over-the-top mother of Grace Adler (Debra Messing) on Will & Grace (NBC, 1998-2006). Reynolds brought both self-mocking and nostalgia to these and other well-received comedic outings, using her persona as a perennially perky throwback to mine genuine laughs well into her 70s. 

It used to be that when a Hollywood celebrity passes away, a number of companies would sent out an e-mail blast offering discounted prices on DVD movies starring or co-starring the recently deceased. Many felt this was distasteful... the attempt to cash in on the recent trending of a celebrity obit. But it turns out such offers allow cinephiles the opportunity to revisit those old classics or in many cases, expose such talents to a generation that never knew the celebrity by name.  Thanks to Turner Classic Movies, you can watch many of her greatest films for free. Naturally, most of the movies being screened are owned by Turner Entertainment which means her films from 20th Century Fox will have to be purchased to be seen. And the Paramount classic, THE PLEASURE OF HER COMPANY, still remains one of the few Debbie Reynolds films that proves a challenge to find and view.

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