TCM Essentials Jr.
Sundays beginning June 2
TCM, 8pm ET
Like you, we’re lamenting the loss of Bill Hader on Saturday Night Live, where he filmed his final episode as a regular cast member last weekend. No more Stefon, no more Vincent Price, no more plasticine game-show hosts. Ah, but the diverse funnyman will still be on television, only this time just being himself.
Hader returns June 2 for his third go-round as host of TCM Essentials Jr., a showcase of 13 films — one airing each Sunday — aimed at helping parents introduce their children to classic films.
“It’s something I’m legitimately excited to talk about; it’s something I’m genuinely interested in,” Hader says. “If we were at dinner together, I would probably be saying the same stuff. I thought maybe that could trump any self-consciousness I have.”
This season’s lineup features many of Hader’s personal favorites. There’s the madcap antics of Danny Kaye in The Court Jester, as well as the timeless drama To Kill a Mockingbird, the Jacques Tati comedy Mon Oncle and the classic Western The Magnificent Seven, which Hader associates with a fond memory of his father letting him stay up late to watch it when he was a kid.
And don’t get him started on the genius that is Ruggles of Red Gap.
“Charles Laughton, he did that movie the same year he did Mutiny on the Bounty, and you just think, ‘Wow, he could do anything,’” Hader says. “That movie really holds up. It’s just a perfect idea for a movie, and everybody in it, every actor, there isn’t one bad performance.”
He then goes on to talk about how Ruggles was a transition film for director Leo McCarey from his slapstick Duck Soup days to the more sentimental films of his later career. So yes, Hader is far more than just an empty-headed line reader: He knows his stuff. He was raised on classic movies, and relishes the chance to share that passion. Even if it means giving up the comfort of hiding behind a character and putting himself out there.
He thinks he might even have the hang of it now.
“You can’t help but do Robert Osborne and Ben Mankiewicz’s inflections,” Hader says, referring to the longtime TCM hosts. “At SNL, you’re usually reading cue cards, but you’re in character, you’re telling jokes, you’re acting. This is a little different. This is just me, myself, having to give information. Some of the lines become real tongue-twisters. I have a hard time reading those anyway. I was happy with myself this go-round that I was able to breeze through [it]. I was patting myself on the back a lot in front of the crew. ‘Hey, a lot better than the last two years, huh? Only five trip-ups on that one.’”
June 2 – The Court Jester (1955)
June 9 – The Lavender Hill Mob (1951)
June 16 – To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
June 23 – The Pirate (1948)
June 30 – A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945)
July 7 – The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957)
July 14 – The Magnificent Seven (1960)
July 21 – Mon Oncle (1958)
July 28 – Great Expectations (1946)
Aug. 4 – Ruggles of Red Gap (1935)
Aug. 11 – The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
Aug. 18 – The Great Race (1965)
Aug. 25 – It Happened One Night (1934)
Photo: © Jeremy Freeman/TCM