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Mon May 20, 2024, 03:24 PM May 20

TCM Saturday 5/25/24 - Memorial Day marathon: "They Were Expendable," "A Farewell to Arms," Robert Mitchum, Gary Cooper

May 25 At a Glance

Platoon (1986)
Men in War (1957)
Steel Helmet, The (1951)
Go for Broke! (1951)
Human Comedy, The (1943)

Merrill's Marauders (1962) (7:45 am ET)
They Were Expendable (1945)
Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943) (Musical Matinee)
Onionhead (1958)
Story of G.I. Joe, The (1945)
Farewell to Arms, A (1932)

Attack (1956)
Captains of the Clouds (1942)
Bad for Each Other (1954)
Men of the Fighting Lady (1954)
Red Badge of Courage, The (1951)
Wings for the Eagle (1942)

May 25 Full Day Schedule

10:15 PM Platoon (1986)

Platoon is a 1986 American war film written and directed by Oliver Stone, starring Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe, Charlie Sheen, Keith David, Kevin Dillon, John C. McGinley, Forest Whitaker, and Johnny Depp. It is the first film of a trilogy of Vietnam War films directed by Stone, followed by Born on the Fourth of July (1989) and Heaven & Earth (1993). The film, based on Stone's experience from the war, follows a new U.S. Army volunteer (Sheen) serving in Vietnam while his Platoon Sergeant and his Squad Leader (Berenger and Dafoe) argue over the morality in the platoon and of the war itself.

Stone wrote the screenplay based upon his experiences as a U.S. infantryman in Vietnam, to counter the vision of the war portrayed in John Wayne's The Green Berets. Although he wrote scripts for films such as Midnight Express and Scarface, Stone struggled to get the film developed until Hemdale Film Corporation acquired the project along with Salvador. Filming took place in the Philippines in February 1986 and lasted 54 days. Platoon was the first Hollywood film to be written and directed by a veteran of the Vietnam War.

Upon its release, Platoon received critical acclaim for Stone's directing and screenplay, the cinematography, battle sequences' realism, and the performances of Sheen, Dafoe, and Berenger. The film was a box office success upon its release, grossing $138.5 million domestically against its $6 million budget, becoming the third highest-grossing domestic film of 1986. The film was nominated for eight Academy Awards at the 59th Academy Awards, and won four including Best Picture, Best Director for Stone, Best Sound, and Best Film Editing.

In 1998, the American Film Institute placed Platoon at #83 in their "AFI's 100 Years ... 100 Movies" poll. In 2019, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".


A neophyte recruit in Vietnam finds himself caught in a battle of wills between two sergeants, one good and the other evil.
Dir: Oliver Stone Cast: Tom Berenger, Charlie Sheen, Willem Dafoe, Forest Whitaker
Runtime: 120 mins Genre: Action Rating: TV-14 CC: Y

Oscar nominations:
ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE -- Tom Berenger {"Sgt. Barnes"}
ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE -- Willem Dafoe {"Sgt. Elias"}
CINEMATOGRAPHY -- Robert Richardson
*WINNER* DIRECTING -- Oliver Stone
*WINNER* FILM EDITING -- Claire Simpson
*WINNER* BEST PICTURE -- Arnold Kopelson, Producer
*WINNER* SOUND -- John K. Wilkinson, Richard Rogers, Charles 'Bud' Grenzbach, Simon Kaye

WRITING (Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen) -- Oliver Stone

Trivia: According to Oliver Stone, he intentionally cast Tom Berenger and Willem Dafoe against type. Berenger was mostly famous for playing good guys, while Dafoe had primarily played villains up until then. Both men received Oscar nominations for their work.

12:30 AM Men in War (1957)


Two enemies join forces to save their men during a retreat from the North Koreans.
Dir: Anthony Mann Cast: Robert Ryan, Aldo Ray, Robert Keith
Runtime: 104 mins Genre: War Rating: TV-PG CC: N

Trivia: The Colonel played by Robert Keith was the father of actor Brian Keith.

2:30 AM The Steel Helmet (1951)



Americans trapped behind enemy lines fight off Communists during the Korean War.
Dir: Samuel Fuller Cast: Robert Hutton, Steve Brodie, James Edwards
Runtime: 84 mins Genre: War Rating: TV-14 CC: Y

Trivia: Filmed in ten days only six months after the outbreak of hostilities, this film became the first Korean War movie.

Trivia: There were actually only 25 extras in this picture, playing both American and North Korean soldiers, and all of them were students from UCLA. The battle scenes were shot in Griffith Park.

4:00 AM Go for Broke! (1951)


The true story of World War II's all Japanese-American unit.
Dir: Robert Pirosh Cast: Van Johnson, Lane Nakano, George Miki
Runtime: 92 mins Genre: War Rating: TV-PG CC: Y

Oscar nominations:
WRITING (Story and Screenplay) -- Robert Pirosh

Trivia: Several of the main characters were played by actual members of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team depicted in the film. The men saw action with the outfit in Italy and France.

5:45 AM The Human Comedy (1943)

The Human Comedy is a 1943 American comedy-drama film directed by Clarence Brown.[3] It began as a screenplay by William Saroyan, who was expected to direct. After Saroyan was removed from the project, he wrote the novel of the same name and published it just before the film was released.[4] Howard Estabrook was brought in to reduce the run time to two hours. The picture stars Mickey Rooney with Frank Morgan; also appearing in the film are James Craig, Marsha Hunt, Fay Bainter, Ray Collins, Van Johnson, Donna Reed and Jackie "Butch" Jenkins. Barry Nelson, Robert Mitchum and Don DeFore appear together as boisterous soldiers in uncredited supporting roles.


A small-town telegraph boy deals with the strains of growing up during World War II.
Dir: Clarence Brown Cast: Mickey Rooney, Frank Morgan, James Craig
Runtime: 118 mins Genre: Drama Rating: TV-PG CC: Y

ACTOR -- Mickey Rooney {"Homer Macauley"}
CINEMATOGRAPHY (Black-and-White) -- Harry Stradling
DIRECTING -- Clarence Brown
*WINNER* WRITING (Original Motion Picture Story) -- William Saroyan

Trivia: Writer William Saroyan wanted desperately to direct the film despite having no experience in directing. Louis B. Mayer told Saroyan that he would consider the request and assigned the writer to direct a one-reel short. The short film was a disappointment, and studio stalwart Clarence Brown was promptly assigned. Saroyan was so bitter about the experience that soon afterward he wrote a play about Mayer titled "Get Away, Old Man". He also adapted the story he wrote for the film into a novel, which was published within weeks of the movie premiere and became a best seller.

7:45 AM Merrill's Marauders (1962)


Burma, 1944: The 5307th commanded by Brigadier General Frank D. Merrill is deep behind Japanese lines marching through the dense, unforgiving jungle. They've gone undetected so far, but the trek has taken its toll on the gaunt, fatigued soldiers. Then, arriving at their destination, the men endure the sheer hell of war, ...
Dir: Samuel Fuller Cast: Jeff Chandler, Ty Hardin, Peter Brown
Runtime: 98 mins Genre: War Rating: TV-PG CC: Y

Trivia: Vaughan Wilson, who plays Gen. Merrill's aide-de-camp Bannister, was actually one of the members of Merrill's Marauders (as Lt. Col. Samuel Wilson), and served as Merrill's deputy during the campaign.

Trivia: The cast features several actors from the Warner Bros. Television stock company who were then the lead actors in American television shows. They include Ty Hardin from Bronco, Peter Brown from Lawman, Andrew Duggan from Bourbon Street Beat, and Will Hutchins from Sugarfoot.

9:30 AM They Were Expendable (1945)

They Were Expendable is a 1945 American war film directed by John Ford, starring Robert Montgomery and John Wayne, and featuring Donna Reed. The film is based on the 1942 novel of the same name by William Lindsay White, relating the story of the exploits of Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron Three, a United States PT boat unit defending the Philippines against Japanese invasion during the Battle of the Philippines (1941–42) in World War II.

While a work of fiction, the book was based on actual events and people.[1] The characters John Brickley (Montgomery) and Rusty Ryan (Wayne) are fictionalizations of PT-Boat Squadron Three Commander John D. Bulkeley, a Medal of Honor recipient, and his executive officer Robert Kelly, respectively.[3] Both the film and the book, which was a best-seller and excerpted in Reader's Digest and Life,[4] depict certain combat-related events that were believed to have occurred during the war, alongside those which did not;[a] nonetheless, the film is noted for its relatively accurate and detailed depiction of naval combat for the era in which it was made.


After a demonstration of new PT boats, navy brass are still unconvinced of their viability in combat, leaving Lt. "Rusty" Ryan frustrated. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, however, Ryan and his buddy Lt. Brickley are told they can finally take their squadron into battle. The PT boats quickly prove their worth.

Dir: John Ford Cast: Robert Montgomery, John Wayne, Donna Reed
Runtime: 135 mins Genre: War Rating: TV-PG CC: Y

Oscar nominations:
SOUND RECORDING -- Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studio Sound Department, Douglas Shearer, Sound Director
SPECIAL EFFECTS -- Photographic Effects by A. Arnold Gillespie, Donald Jahraus, Robert A. MacDonald; Sound Effects by Michael Steinore

Trivia: Robert Montgomery was a real-life PT skipper in World War 2. He helped direct some of the PT sequences for the film after John Ford broke his leg three weeks into filming. Montgomery finished the film and was complimented by Ford for his work. Ford claimed he couldn't tell the difference between his footage and Montgomery's, who took no screen credit.

12:00 PM Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943)


An Eddie Cantor look-alike organizes an all-star show to help the war effort.
Dir: David Butler Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Eddie Cantor, Bette Davis
Runtime: 127 mins Genre: Musical Rating: TV-G CC: Y

Oscar nominations:
MUSIC (Song) -- "They're Either Too Young Or Too Old," Music by Arthur Schwartz; Lyrics by Frank Loesser

Trivia: When Conrad Wiedell takes Bette Davis and does the jitterbug, she felt he was holding back in rehearsals and told him to treat her like an experienced dance partner. When the cameras rolled, Wiedell--a national jitterbug champion hired specifically for this dance--pulled out all the stops and swung her around and she fell on her knee. As she finishes her song, she is seen limping out of the nightclub set and leaning against a post, rubbing her knee. This was a real injury, but she finished the song despite the pain. When director David Butler asked Davis to "try it once more," she replied, "No! No! I said one take, and that was it." She then turned to the press who had shown up to watch her number, telling them "Show's over, gentlemen. Now get the hell out."

Trivia: Probably Errol Flynn's most uncharacteristic screen appearance occurred in this film when he sang and danced his way through a pub number entitled "That's What You Jolly Well Get." It's also reportedly the only film in which Bette Davis sings. The Oscar-nominated song "They're Either Too Young or Too Old" introduced here by Davis became a hit for Jimmy Dorsey with vocalist Kitty Kallen.

Trivia: Each star was paid $50,000 ($756,000 in 2021) for their appearance in this film, which was then donated to The Hollywood Canteen, a club at 1451 Cahuenga Blvd. in Hollywood for servicemen and women. The club had food, dancing and entertainment, all for free. It was open from October 3, 1942 to November 22, 1945 and was founded by Bette Davis and John Garfield. The salaries plus admissions to this film raised over $2M for the club.

2:15 PM Onionhead (1958)

An irresponsible student enlists in the Navy expecting to sit out World War II.
Dir: Norman Taurog Cast: Andy Griffith, Felicia Farr, Walter Matthau
Runtime: 110 mins Genre: Comedy Rating: TV-PG CC: Y

Trivia: Andy Griffith stated that this film was such a box-office disaster, that it rerouted his career from film into television.

4:15 PM The Story of G. I. Joe (aka Ernie Pyle's Story of G.I Joe) (1945)

War correspondent Ernie Pyle joins an Army platoon during World War II to learn what battle is really about.
Dir: William A. Wellman Cast: Burgess Meredith, Robert Mitchum, Freddie Steele
Runtime: 109 mins Genre: War Rating: TV-14 CC: Y

Trivia: The extras in the film were real American GIs, in the process of being transferred from the war in Europe to the Pacific. Many of them were killed in the fighting on Okinawa--the same battle in which war correspondent Ernie Pyle, who was an advior to this film, was killed by a Japanese machine gunner. They never saw the movie in which they appeared.

Trivia: The creator of the G.I. Joe Action figure, Hasbro executive Donald Levin, got the idea for the name from this movie. He was originally going to have several names like Rocky the Marine, Ace the fighter pilot, Salty the sailor. Levin was told to keep it to one and after struggling to name the doll, he saw this movie and then licensed the name.

6:15 PM A Farewell to Arms (1932)

A Farewell to Arms is a 1932 American pre-Code romance drama film directed by Frank Borzage and starring Helen Hayes, Gary Cooper, and Adolphe Menjou.[3] Based on the 1929 semi-autobiographical novel A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway, with a screenplay by Oliver H. P. Garrett and Benjamin Glazer, the film is about a tragic romantic love affair between an American ambulance driver and an English nurse in Italy during World War I. The film received Academy Awards for Best Cinematography and Best Sound, and was nominated for Best Picture and Best Art Direction.[3]

In 1960, the film entered the public domain in the United States because the last claimant, United Artists, did not renew its copyright registration in the 28th year after publication.[4] However, the novel that the book is based on is under copyright until 2025, thus restricting reuse of the film until then.


An American soldier falls in love with Catherine Barkley, a British nurse he meets after being wounded at the front.
Dir: Frank Borzage Cast: Helen Hayes, Gary Cooper, Adolphe Menjou
Runtime: 89 mins Genre: Romance Rating: TV-G CC: Y

Oscar nominations:
ART DIRECTION -- Hans Dreier, Roland Anderson [came in 2nd]
*WINNER* CINEMATOGRAPHY -- Charles Bryant Lang, Jr.
OUTSTANDING PRODUCTION -- Paramount [came in 2nd]
*WINNER* SOUND RECORDING -- Paramount Studio Sound Department, Franklin B. Hansen, Sound Director

Trivia: Censorship problems arose from early versions of the script, which included phases of Catherine's actual childbirth and references to labor pains, gas, her groaning and hemorrhaging. After 12 minutes of footage was removed, the MPPDA approved the script, and even issued a certificate for re-release in 1938 when the censorship rules were more strictly enforced. Still, the film was rejected in British Columbia and in Australia, where Hemingway's book was also banned. Luckily, producer David O. Selznick had acquired an original negative, as he was so keen to buy the remake rights, so the original cut has been preserved (Selznick finally acquired the rights in 1955, making his own version two years later with Rock Hudson and Jennifer Jones).

8:00 PM Attack (1956)


A cowardly captain leads his men into danger in WWII Belgium.
Dir: Robert Aldrich Cast: Jack Palance, Eddie Albert, Lee Marvin
Runtime: 107 mins Genre: War Rating: TV-14 CC: Y

Trivia: Although he plays a coward in this film, in real life Eddie Albert, who served in WW II, was a war hero. At the Battle of Tarawa (1943), whilst braving heavy enemy fire, he rescued over 70 wounded Marines, loading them on to his landing craft and taking them back to other ships to receive medical care. For these actions he was award the Bronze Star with "V" device for valor.

10:00 PM Captains of the Clouds (1942)


A mail flyer joins the Canadian air force for fun but has to prove his worth when he goes to war.
Dir: Michael Curtiz Cast: James Cagney, Dennis Morgan, Brenda Marshall
Runtime: 113 mins Genre: War Rating: TV-G CC: Y

Oscar nominations:
ART DIRECTION (Color) -- Art Direction: Ted Smith; Interior Decoration: Casey Roberts
CINEMATOGRAPHY (Color) -- Sol Polito

Trivia: This was James Cagney's first film in Technicolor and the first Hollywood picture to be filmed entirely on location in Canada.

12:00 AM Bad for Each Other (1954)


A doctor returned from the Korean War must choose between setting up a glamorous practice and helping the poor.
Dir: Irving Rapper Cast: Charlton Heston, Lizabeth Scott, Dianne Foster
Runtime: 83 mins Genre: Drama Rating: TV-PG CC: Y

Trivia: According to December 1950 articles in The Hollywood Reporter and the Los Angeles Times, producer Hal B. Wallis purchased the rights to the novel before it was published for $100,000 (about $1.3M in 2023). Wallis intended the leads to be Burt Lancaster and Patricia Neal and that the project was to be filmed at Paramount. It never got off the ground, and Wallis ended up selling the rights to Columbia in early 1953.

1:45 AM Men of the Fighting Lady (1954)


Men on a U.S. aircraft carrier fight to survive the Korean War.
Dir: Andrew Marton Cast: Van Johnson, Walter Pidgeon, Louis Calhern
Runtime: 80 mins Genre: War Rating: TV-PG CC: Y

Trivia: F9F Panther jets from US Navy squadron VF-192 were also used to film The Bridges at Toko-Ri (1954). After the filming of these two movies, the squadron name was changed from "Golden Dragons" to "World Famous Golden Dragons".

Trivia: After Van Johnson brings in a blind pilot and lands safely on the carrier, he mutters "I should have found a home in the Army". In Battleground (1949), he mutters "I found a home in the Army".

3:15 AM The Red Badge of Courage (1951)


A young Union soldier fights to atone for a moment of cowardice during the Civil War.
Dir: John Huston Cast: Andy Devine, Robert Easton Burke, Douglas Dick
Runtime: 69 mins Genre: Drama Rating: TV-PG CC: Y

Trivia: When filming was completed, John Huston held a special screening for the cast and crew and invited directors and producers. They were overwhelmed, and he declared it the best film he had ever made. Audie Murphy couldn't believe he had turned in such an impressive performance, and his mentor, Hedda Hopper, declared it the best war film ever made.

4:45 AM Wings for the Eagle (1942)


Dedicated aircraft workers compete for the same girl.
Dir: Lloyd Bacon Cast: Ann Sheridan, Dennis Morgan, Jack Carson
Runtime: 83 mins Genre: War Rating: TV-PG CC: Y

Trivia: The studio received permission to film inside the Lockheed Aircraft Co. in Burbank, California, but each member of the crew was required to carry a birth certificate to enter the plant. Despite the presence of film stars and crew, not one day of aircraft production was lost at the Lockheed Burbank plant.
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