There are a few good items, but overall the May 2011 schedule lacks creativity in my opinion. Our message board posters do a better job with their programming challenges...
First, I do not think a lot of fans are clamoring for a month of *Esther Williams*. That is another safe choice, and they should be stepping a bit outside the box and choosing talent that has a little more dramatic dimension.
As I went through the schedule, I kept hoping they would air some of her non-musical films. They save them for the last week, and their idea of non-musical is an Andy Hardy movie she did. She has several interesting titles made with Fernando Lamas in Europe and she also has a film she did for Fox. I think they should've acquired those. Otherwise, go on to a star like Joel McCrea with more wide-ranging roles.
The only film I am happy about in any shape or form for Esther Williams this month is THE UNGUARDED MOMENT. I do like THE HOODLUM SAINT, but I feel it should've come earlier in the month. Why work up to the mid-50s sequentially then go back and get a dramatic part from the 40s.
There is a morning where they air a group of tank-related films. Why not throw in TANK, starring perennial fan favorite Jim Garner? That's a missed opportunity to get a relevant modern classic into the lineup.
My favorite day is the one where two very unique gals are featured: *Margaret Rutherford*, including but not limited to the Miss Marple mysteries. And later on, a showcase of *Joan Bennett* who never delivers a dull performance. We even get a film she made in 1970 when she was riding a crest of popularity with the gothic soap Dark Shadows.
Similarly, I am pleased to see a cluster of *Raymond Massey* films, covering a multitude of genres. He's a diverse actor and his body of films illustrates that. He should be a SUTS honoree in my estimation.
There's a day of *Kate* RKO titles, including THE LITTLE MINISTER which I haven't seen. And an early feminist piece she did called A WOMAN REBELS. That should be fun.
Two *William Haines* titles are a start in the right direction towards making amends with his often neglected fan base.
Meanwhile, I am dissatisfied with the *Mary Astor* films they have chosen for a day early in the month. Most of it is filler, with the exception of THE GREAT LIE. It will seem odd watching her do supporting roles in two crime flicks, one a Philo Vance whodunit and the other a Perry Mason entry. I would prefer that they use some of her work from the 50s and 60s, when she could steal an entire picture in a reduced supporting role just because she was the great Mary Astor.
A bevy of *Valentino* silents should make that fan base happy. But no SHEIK? And no SON OF THE SHEIK? Let us pause while we collectively scratch our foreheads on that one.
*Maureen O'Sullivan* is featured one day in May, and I am definitely happy about that. But again, like Mary Astor, I would love to see some of her later work included, too.
They do the same thing with *Henry Fonda*. We get some of his Warners work, before he went to Fox. He's still learning his craft in some of these pictures from the 30s. For added contrast, let's see something later with him, like SOMETIMES A GREAT NOTION. Notice I am n-o-t suggesting the much-played, much-hyped 12 ANGRY MEN.
I could go on, and no doubt I will when the spirit convenes with me again. But this is good enough for now. I think that while I have not picked the plate clean, I have sopped up most of the juice with the bread of thought.