From A to Z, TCM offers a month of Oscar-worthy movies

Dave Karger remains among channel hosts providing introductions

Dave Karger is among the Turner Classic Movies hosts introducing “31 Days of Oscar,” which starts Thursday.

A bit later than usual this year, Turner Classic Movies’ “31 Days of Oscar” is ready to give film fans another journey through Academy Award-caliber attractions.

Since the motion-picture industry’s top ceremony was moved (to April 25), TCM’s annual festival that coincides also has relocated. This time, it returns to an alphabetical-by-title “Oscars From A to Z” lineup of nominees and winners, starting with the 1949 Spencer Tracy-Katharine Hepburn comedy “Adam’s Rib” Thursday, April 1, and concluding with the Costa-Gavras-directed 1969 political thriller “Z” very early Sunday, May 2.

Along the way, such TCM staples as “Ben-Hur,” “Citizen Kane,” “The Maltese Falcon,” “Singin’ in the Rain” and “A Star Is Born” (the first three of the four versions to date) appear again … with “Leaving Las Vegas” and “The Truman Show” among new-to-TCM titles included. The Oscar slant helps the channel’s hosts with the direction of their segments bookending each film.

“Nothing makes sense in the movie world right now,” reflects ever-pleasant TCM Saturday-afternoon and Monday-night host Dave Karger, “but it made sense that when the Oscars moved to the end of April, we moved ’31 Days of Oscar.’ The whole point is to help everyone get swept up in the excitement of the awards season, and even though I’m thinking about the Oscars all year long, most people — even avid movie fans — are just starting to think about them now. Plus, the Oscars used to be in April, so this harkens back to the Oscars of old.”

The alphabetized approach lands some major “31 Days of Oscar” attractions in the wee hours, so Karger says, “I would encourage newcomers and devotees alike to really let their DVRs work overtime during this. Inevitably, some great things will run overnight, and I know I’m definitely going to be setting my DVR for several movies I’m excited about.”

Such TCM fixtures as “Gone With the Wind,” “Casablanca,” “Doctor Zhivago” and “The Apartment” are absent from “31 Days of Oscar” this time, but Karger admits he’s “OK with that. Those are films that get more than enough time on TCM, and it allows room for something a little bit different … films we don’t get to show often, if ever.”

Having movies run alphabetically challenges TCM hosts to come up with commentaries that link one film to the next. For instance, Karger explains that on April 19, “‘On the Town’ is followed by ‘On the Waterfront.’ Well, they’re both set in New York City, so we’re able to make that connection. In this day and age, when everything is so complicated, I’m happy there’s one thing that’s simple and easy to understand. And that is ’31 Days of Oscar’ alphabetized.”

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.

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