“Hollywood sold its stars on good looks and personality buildups. We weren’t really actresses in a true sense, we were just big names – the products of a good publicity department.” – Ann Sothern
Despite what Ann Sothern may have thought about publicity and the role it played in making Hollywood careers it can’t be given full credit for a career that lasted 75 years. For that you must have talent, flexibility and fierce determination. Ann Sothern, who is largely overlooked today, had all of those in spades.
Ann Sothern made her mark in a variety of movie genres from the 1930s on forward and when film failed her she moved on to radio and television. While the majority of the movies she starred in are in themselves “B” formula pictures, Sothern makes them memorable and worth a watch. If you’re not familiar with her work get ready to be enchanted as TCM has chosen Ann Sothern as its Star of the Month for March.
Every Wednesday night in March you’ll get an Ann Sothern feast with a total of 35 of her films featured on TCM throughout the month. Included in the line-up is the entire ten-film Maisie series, which I’m particularly excited about since I’ve only seen three of those. I have, however, listened to Sothern as Maisie on the radio in “The Adventures of Maisie,” which came about after the actress reprised her 1941 MAISIE WAS A LADY role in a Lux Radio Theatre adaptation.
After that Lux show aired CBS chomped at the bit to have Ann Sothern star in a Maisie-based radio show of her own, but MGM resisted – until 1945. In July of that year “The Adventures of Maisie” premiered as a syndicated series produced by MGM, which retained all rights to the show. “The Adventures of Maisie” was an instant hit even beating the mighty Milton Berle Show in viewership during its run. Unfortunately “The Adventures of Maisie” had a relatively short run with its cancellation in 1947, a short two years after its premiere. Although two years is not a terrible run for a syndicated radio show the fact that Sothern as Maisie was beloved by audiences leads one to believe the show simply ran its course as far as finding new, believable “situations” to place Maisie in. Here’s a nice write-up by Chuck Beam in his syndicated entertainment news column on Ann Sothern as Maisie on the radio:
Um…sorry! I veered away from the topic at hand – you can tune in to TCM on March 11th to watch the entire Maisie film series – all ten films. I strongly suggest you take a look at the entire TCM Schedule for March though to ensure you don’t miss other worthy Ann Sothern films. She’s always a lot of fun to watch. And take notes if you need to.
There’s a lot more going on in TCM world in March besides Sothern madness. To start – the month’s Friday Night Spotlight festival’s focus will be on ‘Roadshow Musicals,” twelve films that were given “roadshow” presentations in the 1960s and 1970s. In addition, radio personality Robin Quivers poses as Guest Programmer on March 10th and proves to have exceptional taste in film by choosing George Stevens’ masterful A PLACE IN THE SUN as one of her favorites. Then on March 15th the network will air 5 movies and 2 shorts in its “Treasures from the Disney Vault” series and on the 24th there’s a “Starring Alan Arkin” tribute paying homage to the distinguished actor who sat for a lengthy conversation with Robert Osborne during last year’s Turner Classic Movies Film Festival (TCMFF). My heart did a little jig as I wrote that, by the way. When the four-film Arkin retrospective airs I will be in Hollywood awaiting the start of TCMFF 2015. Stay tuned for pre- and post-festival thoughts from me and many other bloggers, as well as near-continual festival coverage across social media – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Vine and what-have-you. TCM has again – generously – granted me media credentials and I promise not to disappoint.
As if all of that weren’t enough to make a person feign a 30-day flu, perhaps more exciting than all I’ve mentioned so far is the start of the new season of The Essentials with Sally Field taking over the co-host spot from Drew Barrymore opposite Robert Osborne.
The new season of The Essentials premieres on March 7th with William Wyler’s ROMAN HOLIDAY. I’m really looking forward to the film insight the two-time Oscar-winning Field will offer as well as seeing her choices for film Essentials going forward. Since the promo clips for the series features substantial banter about Billy Wilder’s SUNSET BLVD., which is possibly my favorite film of all time, I’ll be paying close attention to these exchanges.
Anyway – I’ve only touched upon a few of the TCM highlights in March. You’d do yourself a favor by clearing out your DVR or canceling dates and planning your viewing accordingly. If you’re one of the unlucky people who doesn’t recognize TCM itself as an essential, I’ll leave you with this fantastic article by Leon Wieseltier published this past Friday in The New York Times Magazine, “Letter of Recommendation: Turner Classic Movies.” As TCM Senior Writer/Producer Scott McGee noted on Facebook “this is all sorts of fantastic.”