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TCM Spotlight: Girlfriends
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TCM Spotlight: Girlfriends

They are often complicated and dramatic, sometimes playful and comedic, and always emotional and powerful - those friendships among women that have been chronicled on film since the movies' earliest days. Each Monday night in December TCM presents two double features focusing on feminine relationships and hosted by Tiffany Vazquez of New York City, winner of our TCM Ultimate Fan contest and part of the 20th Anniversary Fan Guest Programmers.

The movies are arranged by themes including Girlfriends Coming of Age, which features two charming comedies about best friends facing the perils of growing up. In The World of Henry Orient (1964) it is Tippi Walker and Merrie Spaeth as young New Yorkers suffering the pangs of an adolescent crush on an older man (Peter Sellers). Where Angels Go Trouble Follows! has Susan Saint James and Barbara Hunter as the rebellious schoolgirls who run afoul of a conservative Mother Superior played by Rosalind Russell. Best Friends includes George Cukor's Rich and Famous (1981), which looks at a pair of girlhood friends (played by Jacqueline Bisset and Candice Bergen) who grow up to become romantic and literary rivals. The crime drama Three on a Match (1932) stars Joan Blondell, Bette Davis and Ann Dvorak as former schoolmates who meet again as adults and face difficult and dangerous situations together.

Among filmic "Frenemies" are Bette Davis and Miriam Hopkins in Old Acquaintance (1943), in which the explosive stars play longtime pals and competitors feuding over the men in their lives; and that flock of female stars, headed by Norma Shearer and Joan Crawford, who cat-fight their way through The Women (1939). Wartime Women's Friendships encompass the kinship that develops between Goldie Hawn and Christine Lahti as co-workers in a World War II aircraft plant in Swing Shift (1984); and the mutual support system that another wartime factory worker (Ginger Rogers) develops with her work buddies in Tender Comrade (1948).

Where the Boys Are includes the 1960 film of that title, set in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and focusing upon the friendship among four vacationing coeds played by Dolores Hart, Yvette Mimieux, Paula Prentiss and Connie Frances. Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell memorably play pals scouting for husband material in the sparkling musical Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953). Roommates features another TCM premiere, Sheila Levine is Dead and Living in New York (1975), a comedy with Jeannie Berlin as a New Yorker sharing an apartment with a friend (Rebecca Dianna Smith) who is luckier in love. Another pair of roommates are featured in Girlfriends (1978), with Melanie Mayron and Anita Skinner as best friends who stop living together but remain deeply involved in each others' lives.

More Than Friends? includes two film versions of a Lillian Hellman play about a pair of schoolteachers who are suspected of being lesbian lovers. These Three (1936), starring Miriam Hopkins and Merle Oberon, had to alter the plot because of censorship rules; but The Children's Hour (1961), featuring Audrey Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine, sticks closer to the original and retains its title. A Circle of Friends is shared in Little Darlings (1980) by two teenagers (Tatum O'Neal and Kristy McNichol) who involve fellow attendees of a summer camp in a wager about which girl will be the first to lose her virginity. And Stage Door (1937) is enlivened by an incredible list of actresses who play would-be stars living at a New York City boarding house. Among them are Katharine Hepburn, Ginger Rogers, Andrea Leads, Lucille Ball, Eve Arden and Ann Miller.

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