Classic Couple Exclusive: Fireside Favorites with TCM Host Alicia Malone
On Saturday, December 4, Alicia Malone will take over the prime time slot on TCM as programmer for Fireside Favorites with the Hosts. Classic Couple asked Alicia about her classic movie picks for the evening. And, we couldn’t resist asking for her go-to film for a cold Winter night. Alicia’s Fireside Favorites below.
Classic Couple: Leave Her to Heaven (1945) blurs the genre lines of film noir, psychological thriller, and melodrama. What aspects make this film an Alicia Malone Fireside Favorite?
Alicia Malone: Gene Tierney! She is remarkable here—wielding her beauty as a weapon to play a very interesting female character. Her Ellen is obsessive, cruel, has major daddy issues, and is not maternal at all. “I hate the little beast!” she says about her unborn baby, “I wish it would die!” That’s a surprising comment from a woman in any classic Hollywood film.
And there are a lot of subtler moments that reveal more about her character too—such as the constant references to the love she had for her father, and a scene near the beginning, where she conducts a swim race with two kids, and instead of being nice and letting them win, Ellen swims fast and proudly tells them, “I win.”
It all looks beautiful too, a noir (or melodrama) where the horrors take place in bright sunlight, exquisite houses, and saturated Technicolor. This is the kind of film that is impossible to forget—in particular, the scene on the lake!
Classic Couple: Dance, Girl, Dance (1940) has picked up a reputation as a “feminist film.” What is your take on that description?
Alicia Malone: There’s a part of me that wonders if it’s not a tad revisionist to claim “Dance, Girl, Dance” as a completely feminist film… but then again, there’s another part of me that loves to dig into all of its possible messages about the commodification and sexualization of women in entertainment. It’s hard to misread the scene where Maureen O’Hara’s Judy admonishes the audience for yelling at her to strip while she’s trying to perform ballet: “What’s it for?” she asks the mostly male crowd, “So you can go home when the show’s over, strut before your wives and sweethearts and play at being the stronger sex for a minute?” Brutal! There’s also the wonderfully complex female friendship between Judy and Lucille Ball as Bubbles — who doesn’t mind using her sexuality to make money. I see something new in this movie every time I watch it, based on where I am in my own life.
Classic Couple: It’s a cold, gray Winter night. What film is your go-to?
Alicia Malone: When it’s cold and snowy outside, I love nothing more than to get into my comfiest clothes, pile on the blankets and pop in one of my Douglas Sirk DVDs. I’m a melodrama enthusiast, and, underneath, his films were always pieces of social criticism.
I adore all of his Technicolor melodramas, but my Winter (and Fall) go to is “All That Heaven Allows.” Luscious New England visuals by Russell Metty, snowy landscapes, Rock Hudson in plaid and a heart-wrenching scene involving a television as a Christmas gift. What’s not to love?