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TCM offers classic Memorial Day movie marathon

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Cable television’s Turner Classic Movies presents its annual Memorial Day salute all weekend long with a 72-hour marathon of 34 classic films. Stars including Gary Cooper, Clint Eastwood, Errol Flynn, John Garfield, Lee Marvin, Audie Murphy and Gregory Peck offer heroic exploits, heartwarming human tales, comedic antics and non-stop excitement in a lineup begging you to stock up on popcorn and Visine. The action kicks off at 6 a.m. Saturday May 24 and runs till 6 a.m. Tuesday. See the full schedule at tcm.com and catch each day’s must-see recommendations below.

Forget “The Expendables” and see the classic all-star cast of tough guys that make up “The Dirty Dozen” at 8 p.m. Saturday. Lee Marvin heads up a special squadron of the most unlikely hard cases ever in this 1967 adaptation of E. M. Nathanson’s novel. Twelve convicted murderers take on a top secret suicidal raid on a Nazi officer vacation chateau hoping to survive and receive a pardon. John Cassavetes gives an unforgettable Oscar nominated performance as Franko, the hardest of the hard cases. Donald Sutherland is equally memorable with a hilariously oddball impersonation of an officer during an inspection.

Saturday at noon brings the must-see comedy-drama with something for everyone “Mister Roberts.” This 1955 adaptation of the Broadway smash is as good as any movie gets. Henry Fonda stars as the title character waging war with James Cagney’s delightfully tyrannical captain on board a WWII navy cargo ship. Roberts desperately wants to see some combat but is repeatedly refused a transfer. Jack Lemmon is sensational in his Oscar winning role of the ineffectual scheming womanizer Ensign Pulver. The ever dashing William Powell gives his last performance as the sly and sympathetic Doc. It’s human, hilarious, and heartbreaking.

Rise early or set the DVR for Monday’s 7:30 a.m. broadcast of “Sergeant York.” Gary Cooper won his first Best Actor Oscar for his perfect portrayal of the real life Tennessee sharpshooter in this Howard Hawks directed 1941 classic. The simple pacifist hillbilly York went on to become a WWI hero. You can also see Robert Porterfield, the founder of Virginia’s Barter Theatre, as romantic rival Zeb Andrews.

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