Today! Because I really am a horse doctor, but marry me, and I’ll never look at another horse –
A Day at the Races (1937)
Directed by Sam Wood
Starring Groucho Marx (x3), Harpo Marx (x3), Chico Marx (x3), Allan Jones, Maureen O’Sullivan (x2), Margaret Dumont (x2), Sig Ruman (x3), Esther Muir, Douglass Dumbrille, Dorothy Dandridge, Leonard Ceeley
The last really good Marx Brothers movie (and even that is up for some debate), A Day at the Races functions as a solid last gasp for the team, even though they couldn’t have known it when production began. Like on A Night at the Opera two years earlier, they had the benefit of road testing some of the material, to get the jokes down solid and the timing together to hold for laughs. They had the enthusiasm and support of MGM boss Irving Thalberg, who threw them the money and resources to make this work, and got the film launched before cameras in the fall of ’36.
For two years, they were quite the team
Today! Because we switched a whole study course from the menace of Communism to the inspiration of Hazel Flagg –
Nothing Sacred (1937)
Directed by William Wellman
Starring Carole Lombard (x3), Fredric March (x2), Walter Connolly, Charles Winninger, Sig Ruman (x2), Frank Fay, Margaret Hamilton, Maxie Rosenbloom, Charles Lane, Sidney Kibrick, Hattie McDaniel (x2), Hedda Hopper, Jinx Falkenburg, Billy Barty
The movie that kicked off my 2018 marathon of every existing Carole Lombard feature (all 42 of them), Nothing Sacred inspired this endeavor by functioning as the purest example of Lombard-led screwballery. The other (spoiler alert) four Lombard films on this list all feature an equally effective leading man performance, be it Fred MacMurray or Jack Benny or William Powell, but Fredric March is just big name window dressing in this all-out Lombard vehicle. She plays small-town Hazel Flagg, incorrectly diagnosed with a rapidly terminal illness, who is quickly whisked away to New York City by an unaware, enterprising reporter hot for a human interest story. Hazel can’t help but get caught up in the attention and glamour, and obvious issues arise when more and more people find out about this deception.
It’s a real rock ’em sock ’em affair
Today! Because let’s just say we’re doing it for an old pal from the Army –
White Christmas (1954)
Directed by Michael Curtiz
Starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, Vera-Ellen, Dean Jagger, Mary Wickes, John Brascia, Anne Whitfield, George Chakiris, Barrie Chase, Sig Ruman, Carl “Alfalfa” Switzer
My relationship with White Christmas has evolved quite a bit over the years. It went from a movie I barely noticed – that let’s put on a show musical was never my jam – to something periodically airing in the household, to a movie I watch every year in theaters because it is on a double bill with It’s a Wonderful Life, culminating with its place as (apparently) my favorite film from 1954.
Due to a one-off viewing of the George Bailey extravaganza in Tunkhannock, PA well predating the Music Box’s Christmas Spectacular, White Christmas will likely never jump into even a tie for the movie I’ve seen in a theater the most – but it is solidly in second. And this whole process has also proven it to be #1 in my heart from that calendar year, with only Seven Samurai to beat in ’54. Hell, it could be worse – 1955 and 1958 field no movies whatsoever (spoiler for years to come!). This is the first time we’ve had a movie on this list that can be awarded favorite of a particular year, and so –