Turner Classic Movies starts its annual 31 Days of Oscar programming on Friday, February 1, 2013, with a full schedule of classics from the Warner Brothers, including films starring James Cagney, Errol Flynn, Paul Muni, and Bette Davis. The month long celebration of Oscar winners and memorable nominees continues all month through Sunday, March 3, with a huge lineup of the best in classic films, and TCM will feature the productions of different studios in turn, including Universal, 20th Century Fox, and RKO.
The opening day of programming starts with “The Jazz Singer” (1927) at 6 a.m. Eastern time. The film, which stars Al Jolson, won an Honorary Oscar for revolutionizing the film industry with the jump into sound. At 7:30 a.m, George Arliss stars in the 1929 biopic, “Disraeli,” which won Best Actor for the star and earned nominations for Best Picture and Best Writing.
Starting at 9 a.m., TCM offers back-to-back gangster classics. First up is “Little Caesar” (1931), starring Edward G. Robinson as the ambitious title thug. The movie earned a nomination for Best Adaptation and also stars Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and Glenda Farrell. “The Public Enemy” (1931) follows at 10:30 a.m., with James Cagney, Jean Harlow, and Joan Blondell. “The Public Enemy” earned its own nomination for Best Original Story.
The afternoon begins with two Busby Berkeley musical extravaganzas. “42nd Street” (1933) airs at noon, with Warner Baxter leading a cast that includes Ruby Keeler, Dick Powell, Ginger Rogers, Una Merkel, and George Brent. The movie earned its two Oscar nominations for Best Picture and Best Sound Recording. Next up is “Gold Diggers of 1933” (1933) at 1:30 p.m., starring Warren William, Joan Blondell, Ruby Keeler, Dick Powell, Guy Kibbee, and Ginger Rogers. “Gold Diggers” also picked up an Oscar nomination for Best Sound Recording.
At 3:15 p.m., TCM returns to the biopic with “The Story of Louis Pasteur” (1935), starring Paul Muni in an Oscar-winning role as the French scientist. The film also won Oscars for Best Original Story and Best Screenplay, as well as a nomination for Best Picture. “Black Legion” (1937), another nominee for Best Original Story, follows at 4:45 p.m., with Humphrey Bogart in the leading role.
An Errol Flynn double feature begins at 6:15 p.m. with “The Adventures of Robin Hood” (1938), a three-time Oscar winner for Best Art Direction, Film Editing, and Original Score. Olivia de Havilland, Alan Hale, Claude Rains, and Basil Rathbone join a tremendous supporting cast of familiar classic stars for this classic adventure. “Captain Blood” (1935), which also stars Flynn and de Havilland in the lead roles, airs at 8 p.m. Although it won no awards, this swashbuckler did attract five Oscar nominations, including three write-in nominations plus official nods for Best Picture and Best Sound.
At 10:15 p.m., “I am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang” (1932) brings Paul Muni back to the TCM screen for an earlier Oscar-nominated role. Also nominated for Best Picture and Best Sound, the movie tells the harrowing story of a good man thrown into terrible circumstances, partly because of a brutal prison system. At 12:15 a.m., “Four Daughters” (1938) stars Claude Rains and John Garfield as part of a dramatic family tale, which earned five Oscar nominations.
The wee hours of the night bring more Paul Muni with “The Life of Emile Zola” (1937) at 2 a.m. The picture earned an impressive 10 Oscar nominations and three wins, including statues for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Screenplay. At 4 a.m. Bette Davis stars in an Oscar-winning performance as a spoiled Southern belle in “Jezebel” (1938), with Fay Bainter also taking the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. The lineup wraps up at 5:45 a.m. with Gary Cooper making his own Oscar-winning appearance in “Sergeant York” (1941), a film that garnered an impressive 11 Oscar nominations in all.
The Warner Brothers films continue on TCM through Tuesday, February 5. Check the official TCM website for more information about the schedule and the featured films.
Jennifer Garlen writes as the Huntsville and National Classic Movies Examiner. Her book, “Beyond Casablanca: 100 Classic Movies Worth Watching,” is now available in paperback and Kindle editions on Amazon.