Fellow Turner Classic Movie fans,
31 Days of Oscar has ended (although a few are still available ON DEMAND) and a new season of TCM begins. Here are the some highlights for March.
Star of the Month-Merle Oberon
Merle Oberon’s life was far more interesting than her films. For years, Merle claimed she was born in Tasmania, an island nation near New Zealand. As it turns out, she was born in Bombay (now Mumbai), India. Now, here’s where things get interesting. Now Oberon believed her parents were Arthur O’Brien Thompson, a British engineer, and Charlotte Selby, a Eurasian woman from Sri Lanka. Now in the 1930s and 1940s, it would be considered career suicide to admit that you were of mixed-race. So, Merle hid her origins. She claimed her mother was her maid and had a portrait of her mom’s dark skin lightened.
Now, here’s the kicker. The lies Merle Oberon told everyone were miniscule compared to what she had been told about her parents. At the age of 14, Charlotte gave birth to a baby girl, Constance, after an affair with Irish tea planter Henry Selby. Around twelve years later, Charlotte met Arthur Thompson, who not only had a relationship with the mother, but the 12-year-old daughter as well. This resulted in the birth of Estelle Merle O’Brien Thompson on February 19, 1911. This information was only revealed to the public a few years ago.
I told you her life was more interesting.
Mariah’s Pick: TCM will be showing 25 of Oberon’s films every Friday in March. Merle Oberon is not one of my favorite actresses so I’m not recording all of her films. So, my choice would be These Three, a 1936 film that is based on Lillian Hellman’s play The Children’s Hour. Hellman wrote the script because if you are not familiar with the play, it’s about when a devil child tells her influential grandmother that her two female teacher are having an affair with each other. Now, in 1930’s America, good luck with getting that story on the screen. Hellman told producer Samuel Goldwyn that the story was really about the power of a lie and changed the story that one of the women slept with the other’s fiance. The lie is powerful, as it destroys the women’s lives. Everything they had built has been ruined because of one horrible little girl.
TCM Spotlight-Art and Artists
Mondays in March, TCM spotlights 18 films dealing with famous artists, creepy paintings and painters, and art forgers.
Mariah’s Pick: 1933’s Mysteries of the Wax Museum. The last film made in the Technicolor two-color process. Also, the movie was considered “lost” for years until a print was found in movie mogul Jack Warner’s private vault.
On Thursday nights in March, watch the films were condemned by the Catholic Legion of Decency which was created in 1933. One thought, how the hell was Ice Castles condemned?!
Here’s some of the reason’s why these certain films were condemned (including my pick):
Baby Face-a woman sleeps her way to the top and studies the philosophy of Nietzsche.
Blood Money-crime always pays and a young woman is a nymphomaniac.
The Story of Temple Drake-a woman likes sex and is forced into prostitution.
Design for Living (my pick for this festival)-makes a mockery of marriage and celebrates polamory.
Men in White-implies a back-alley abortion.
The Outlaw-see above.
Black Narcissus-the sexual thoughts of nuns.
Treasures From the Disney Vault
Mariah’s Pick: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The first live-action film from Walt Disney Studios and Kirk Douglas’s great chemistry with a seal.
Jerry Lewis’s 90th Birthday
On March 15 and 16 (his actual birthday), Jerry Lewis will co-host some of his best films including two premieres. I have no pick because I haven’t watched any of his films.