bulldog-drummondTalking Pictures TV, which over the last year has developed into by far the most interesting independent film channel, has thus far relied mainly on British cinema for its programming. American films have been few and mostly undistinguished, to say the least. But from early November the channel is scheduling a number of titles from the Samuel Goldwyn library, beginning with The Real Glory (1939) and The Adventures of Marco Polo (1938), both starring Gary Cooper. More impressively, the selection will include a Ronald Colman season.

The British-born Colman was under long-term contract to Goldwyn, one of the most prestigious independent producers of Hollywood’s golden age. Seven titles have been announced for the season: Bulldog Drummond (1929), Condemned (1929), Raffles (1930), The Devil to Pay! (1930), Arrowsmith (1931), Cynara (1932) and The Masquerader (1933). The only other sound film Colman made for Goldwyn that survives complete is The Unholy Garden (1931), so perhaps that will turn up too.

These films have rarely been shown on British television. After the Goldwyn library was first acquired for broadcast, in a groundbreaking deal made by Lew Grade’s ATV company in 1964, few local ITV stations bothered to take them up as they were among the oldest titles in the fifty-film package. When cherry-picking the collection a decade later the BBC took only Condemned of the Colman vehicles and it was left to Channel Four in the 1980s to revive or, in some cases, premiere the remainder.

Bulldog Drummond, the first of the Colmans to appear on Talking Pictures TV (2 November), made its UK TV debut on Channel Four on 22 January 1983. It’s tougher than the B-feature Drummond series that followed and is remarkable as an early sound production, directed by F. Richard Jones. Although he had been a silent star, Colman was born for the sound era, with a mellifluous, gently accented voice unlike any other. The word ‘debonair’ might have been coined for him.

View a trailer for the Ronald Colman season here (but beware the subtitles!): http://talkingpicturestv.co.uk/video/ronald-colman-season/

UPDATE: Listed below are the details of further screenings in the Colman season, as scheduled up to 11 December:

Arrowsmith: 10.0am Sat 3 December

Bulldog Drummond: 7.50am Tue 29 November

Condemned: 2.0pm Tue 9 November; 6.0am Sat 12 November; 7.0am Thu 1 December

Cynara: 4.0pm Wed 23 November; 7.50am Mon 28 November

The Devil to Pay!: 4.0pm Wed 16 November; 8.25am Thu 24 November; 10.45am Sat 26 November; 7.30pm Fri 9 December

The Masquerader: 4.0pm Wed 30 November; 10.05am Sun 4 December; 11.10am Tue 6 December; 7.40am Fri 9 December

Also coming up on Talking Pictures TV from the Samuel Goldwyn library: The Cowboy and the Lady (1938) from 8 November; Dead End (1937) from 10 November; Barbary Coast (1935) from 17 November; Beloved Enemy (1936) from 22 November.