So, this is a little weird, writing up a list of films airing on TCM this month that jump out at me as stuff I would enjoy seeing …. when I no longer have a television to watch them, much less basic cable. Oh well, it’s good to keep what’s left of my brain active by thinking about movies like this.
The schedule is on West Coast time; adjust accordingly. Also, don’t forget that we finishing off the 15-episode BBC megaseries, THE STORY OF FILM: AN ODYSSEY, which is well worth your attention if you have any interest in the global history of filmmaking.
5:15 AM Clock, The (1945)
A sweet but melancholy Judy Garland & Robert Walker WWII romance; you can sense Vincente Minnelli falling in love with Garland through his camera. Such cinematic besottment is remarkably rare; the closest thing that comes to mind at the moment is how Tarantino radiates affection for Robert Forster and Pam Grier in JACKIE BROWN.
7:00 AM Mortal Storm, The (1940)
I’m looking forward to reading Ben Urwand’s THE COLLABORATION: HOLLYWOOD’S PACT WITH HITLER, which I’ve heard is getting some hits from academics who question some of his research, but it’s undeniable that Hollywood was happy to play pattycake with fascists if it was good for box office. This Frank Borzage drama was one of the rare prewar anti-Nazi films — Borzage does his usual sure-handed job, getting nuanced performances out of the cast [Margaret Sullavan, James Stewart, Robert Young, Frank Morgan and Robert Stack] from George Froeschel & Claudine West’s [MRS. MINIVER, RANDOM HARVEST] screenplay.
5:00 PM Point Blank (1967)
I will always point out when this one airs; the ultimate Anglo-New Wave movie, starring Lee Marvin, Lee Marvin’s feet and Angie Dickinson.
7:00 PM Crooked Way, The (1949)
Someone watch this — “A war hero’s amnesia keeps him from dealing with his criminal past.” — and let me know how it compares to KANSAS CITY CONFIDENTIAL, my go-to Noir for John Payne.
8:38 PM Luncheon At Twelve (1933)
Just a two-reeler comedy from the highly underrated Charley Chase.
11:00 PM Diary of a Country Priest (1951)
This Robert Bresson classic is …. rewarding …. if you can make it all the way through it in one sitting.
5:30 AM Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse, The (1938)
Aside from the gloriously dirty-sounding title, this one has a good hook: “A doctor plots crimes so he can study criminal psychology.” Anatole Litvak directs Edward G. Robinson, Claire Trevor and a young-ish Humphrey Bogart from a script by John Wexley [ANGELS WITH DIRTY FACES , HANGMEN ALSO DIE] and a pre-MALTESE FALCON John Huston.
9:30 AM Big Steal, The (1949)
There’s a thin line between “lean/taught” and “cheap” thrillers, even Don Siegel’s — but I’d watch anything that stars Robert Mitchum and Jane Greer.
5:00 PM Hudsucker Proxy, The (1994)
You know it, you love it, you go through a period where you question your love for it but decide to muddle through for the childrens’ sake, etc. The Coen brothers go to work with Tim Robbins, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Paul Newman.
6:08 AM How To Figure Income Tax (1938)
You must love Robert Benchley. You must. This is one of his fine short subects.
8:00 AM Public Hero No. 1 (1935)
Hmm, a non-screwball from Jean Arthur? I know she did all sorts of movies, but hmm. Today seems to be gangster day on TCM.
10:37 PM Cruise Of The Zaca (1952)
A good day for short films! This is a charming seafaring travelogue two-reeler from Errol Flynn centered on his boat, the Zaca, which was made somewhat famous by being featured in Welles’ THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI.
6:00 AM Golden Hawk, The (1952)
It’s all pirate movies this morning, and the notion of a youngish Sterling Hayden playing a pirate makes me happier than a moron in a tanning salon full of prisms.
2:45 AM Second Chorus (1940)
The second half of the day is devoted to Fred Astaire. I’ve not seen this one, but I love that it costars Paulette Goddard instead of that wretched Ginger Rogers. Artie Shaw also co-stars.
4:15 AM Sky’s The Limit, The (1943)
There must be many good reasons why a service/newspaper romance featuring Astaire, Joan Leslie and Robert Benchley is so obscure. If you see this one, please tell me how it is. The following 10 hours are wasted on airing Otto Preminger’s movies. Life is too short.
3:00 AM Testament des Dr. Mabuse, Das (1933)
Fritz Lang’s icy hot crime-wave procedual.
5:45 AM Blackmail (1929)
I know I’ve seen this early Hitchcock at least twice, but recall none of it. THat’s probably not a good sign, but it’s a rare chance you should take if you know you haven’t seen this one yet.
9:00 AM Dead of Night (1945)
Cool, the full version of this early multi-director supernatural anthology film.
10:45 AM Pride of the Marines (1945)
John Garfield single-handedly elevates this postwar weepy to something more than sociopolitical Oscar bait, for which Garfield should have won all the Oscars. Eleanor Parker costars.
3:00 PM Forbidden Planet (1956)
Is this movie underrated? Possibly, even though it’s beloved and respected for the effectiveness of its SFX and the clever adaptation of Shakespeare’s THE TEMPEST in outer space. There’s something much bigger going on in this one, I just can’t put my finger on it.
5:00 PM Blonde Venus (1932)
Let’s see, we have mid-period Josef von Sternberg directing a retroactively young Marlene Dietrich and a Cary Grant before he was CARY GRANT.
1:30 AM Women, The (1939)
Is this the ladies’ film that features no men, or the one that John Garfield essentially steals with his mechanic walk-on work.
5:45 AM He Ran All the Way (1951)
Great little John Garfield thriller that co-stars a young Shelley Winters. How’s that for a transitionary work?
11:15 AM War Comes to America (1945)
About time we got a little Pearl Harbor action today! I believe this is one of the films in the WHY WE FIGHT series.
5:00 PM Key Largo (1948)
The Huston & Bogie original still beats all comers. Edward G. Robinson and Lauren Bacall co-star.
7:00 PM Reap the Wild Wind (1942)
I enjoy the sincere kitsch of Cecil B. DeMille, sue me. Ray Milland and John Wayne are sailors, Paulette Goddard is the girl, pirates are the narrative complication.
11:00 PM Blue Sunshine (1979)
1:00 AM Big Cube, The (1969)
2:45 AM Visit to Santa, A (1963)
Stay off the LSD, kids.
3:00 AM Prince And The Pauper, The (1937)
Solidly entertaining Mark Twain adaptation from Warners workhorse William Keighley, starring Errol Flynn & Claude Rains.
1:00 PM Yearling, The (1946)
A shameless tearjerker about a boy and his pet deer, but oh, the Technicolor! The legendarily makeup-free Gregory Peck, Jane Wyman and Claude Jarman Jr. star.
3:15 PM Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948)
I still kinda like Cary Grant’s postwar run of mercenary actor-producer domestic comedies, although I think I liked this story better when it was titled GEORGE WASHINGTON SLEPT HERE and starred Jack Benny.
9:00 PM King of Kings, The (1927)
11:45 PM Proces de Jeanne d’Arc, Le (1962)
1:00 AM Passion of Joan of Arc, The (1928)
How’s that for a triple-header? DeMille, Bresson and Dreyer in a row.
3:15 PM 13 Ghosts (1960)
A slice of cheesy fun from William Castle.
7:00 PM Russian Ark (2001)
9:00 PM Climates (2006)
Whoa, this must be a STORY OF FILM night — ARK is the relatively recent Alexander Sokurov film that’s shot in one take, and a dreamy period piece to boot, while CLIMATES is a remarkable contemporary Turkish romance.
3:00 AM Manhattan Melodrama (1934)
Never seen, but I’m intrigued by the combination of Clark Gable with Powell & Loy.
5:00 PM You’ll Never Get Rich (1941)
6:45 PM You Were Never Lovelier (1942)
You really want to love these wartime musicals from Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth, but they never quite pop. A matching set of Astaire & Cyd Charisse and Astaire & Vera-Ellen double features follow, if you just can’t get enough of him.
5:00 PM Cinema Paradiso (1989)
7:15 PM Sullivan’s Travels (1941)
An ingeniously synergistic two-fer tonight.
9:00 PM Two Weeks In Another Town (1962)
11:00 PM What Price Hollywood? (1932)
12:45 AM Alex In Wonderland (1970)
Three movies about movie directors trying to pull out of a career skid. Minnelli places the shot at rejuvenation in Europe, Cukor in the faith in a talented woman, and Mazursky in himself or something, man.
3:45 AM Forbidden Planet (1956)
I will always pick this one out — I wish I could put a finger on why it’s so vivid to me.
1:45 PM Grand Prix (1966)
5:00 PM Palm Beach Story, The (1942)
One of these films roars along at mind-boggling, cacophonous speed; the other one is a John Frankenheimer car-racing movie.
6:45 PM Tomorrow Is Forever (1946)
This well-crafted WWI weepie provides fairly clear illustration of what Orson Welles’ career would have been if he had stayed in Hollywood, stayed in shape and worked as a non-producer/director actor after the war. Claudette Colbert stars.
12:30 AM Incubus (1965)
Aw yeah, the world’s greatest ghost movie ever made in Esperanto! A young William Shatner stars in a genuine cult classic.
2:00 AM Golden Years, The (1960)
2:00 AM Holiday From Rules (1959)
2:00 AM Visit to Santa, A (1963)
2:00 AM One Got Fat – Bicycle Safety (1963)
Social hygiene/engineering shorts — like INCUBUS, you need to see ONE GOT FAT at least once in your life.
3:00 AM Night at the Opera, A (1935)
In case you haven’t seen it lately — I know this is supposed to be the Marx Brothers’ undisputed best, but I miss Zeppo; replacing him with random handsomely goyish/goyishly handsome tenors in the same role just doesn’t work for me.
9:15 AM Holiday Affair (1949)
A nice change of pace from the usual yuletide fare — will widowed young mother Janet Leigh shack up with fired stockboy Robert Mitchum or stuffed shirtWendell Corey?
3:00 PM Thin Man, The (1934)
5:00 PM Man Who Came to Dinner, The (1941)
My favorite Xmas movie. Monty Woolley is simultaneously the perfect annoying relative/house guest and the ideal avatar for sticking it to one’s annoying relatives/house guests.
9:00 PM Unholy Three (1925)
Another batshit but slightly wooden silent film from Tod Browning, Lon Chaney Sr. and some other freaks.
6:30 AM Screen Directors Playhouse: White Corridors (1956)
8:45 AM Screen Directors Playhouse: Apples On The Lilac Tree (1956)
12:45 PM Screen Directors Playhouse: Arroyo (1955)
4:15 PM Screen Directors Playhouse: Bitter Waters, The (1956)
I like that TCM is showing more live-TV productions, although Hal Roach’s SCREEN DIRECTORS PLAYHOUSE never had the prestige of a PLAYHOUSE 90 or even a PHILCO PLAYHOUSE. WHITE is a super-early effort from workhorse director Ted Post, presenting “An American tourist fights to get the staff of a British hospital to believe she’s witnessed a murder.” from beginning to end in just 26 minutes. APPLES is a Mr. Mom-style inverted domestic comedy that must have raised some eyebrows in ’56. ARROYO sounds decent, an Injuns-killed-my-traveling-party mystery from George “Wolf Man” Waggner. BITTER stars George Sanders and Robert Vaughn in a blanderized, bowdlerized adaptation of a Henry James short story; it’s highly entertaining if you like seeing actors who look a lot alike play relatives.
5:00 PM O. Henry’s Full House (1952)
I like these postwar anthology movies — presumably this is the uncut version, with the “Ransom of Red Chief” sequence starring Fred Allen and Oscar Levant.
9:15 PM Good Sam (1948)
I love Leo McCarey, even though this one doesn’t move me like it reportedly did Truffout and some of the other Cahiers gang. Gary Cooper and Ann Sheridan star.
6:45 PM Remember the Night (1940)
Another underrated Xmas movie — Assistant D.A. Fred MacMurray takes shoplifter Barbara Stanwyck home with him for the holidays, remarkably they do not conspire to commit insurance fraud and murder — although this is the movie that so infuriated its screenwriter, Preston Sturges, that he insisted on directing his own scripts from then on.
2:00 AM Screen Directors Playhouse: Tom and Jerry (1955)
Whoa, here’s one you won’t see every day — Leo McCarey reunited with his old producer Roach to direct Peter Lawford and Nancy Gates to make a Christmas divorce film for Roach’s TV anthology.
2:00 PM Bells Are Ringing (1960)
This musical Minnelli romp is nothing new, but I wish Judy Holliday and Dean Martin had made a dozen more like it.
11:00 PM Damsel In Distress, A (1937)
This musical George Stevens romp is nothing new, but I wish Fred Astaire and Burns & Allen had made a dozen more like it.
9:15 AM Far Country, The (1955)
11:00 AM Naked Spur, The (1953)
Nice double feature of Anthony Mann and Jimmy Stewart Westerns. SPUR is the best, lifted up by a game Janet Leigh and a gleefully antagonistic Robert Ryan.
10:30 AM Awful Truth, The (1937)
It’s an Irene Dunne mini-marathon today; gotta love this gloriously misanthropic Leo McCarey screwball, even though he’s absolutely correct that he should have gotten the Oscar that year for his other movie, MAKE WAY FOR TOMORROW. Perhaps that’s why the Academy has snubbed comedies for so long.
8:45 PM Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
John Cazale uber alles.
9:00 AM Bush Christmas (1947)
Never seen it, but this sounds interesting — an Australian kids “Western,” basically: “A group of children track down rustlers they accidentally helped steal their father’s horses.”
1:15 PM Mouse That Roared, The (1959)
Delightful little-big Peter Sellers farce, co-starring Jean Seberg.
12:30 AM Husbands (1970)
I’ve heard that the critical-consensus pendulum has swung back regarding John Cassavetes; he’s a self-indulgent drunk again, apparently. I disagree, but I’ve also never really enjoyed his movies as art; I treasure many of them as good company. This one is gets better and better on that score each time I come back to it other the years. Ben Gazzara and Peter Falk co-star.
3:00 PM Gigi (1958)
Monte Hellman recently cited this as his favorite musical, so now I gotta see it. And so should you.
5:00 PM Shop Around The Corner, The (1940)
7:00 PM In The Good Old Summertime (1949)
The remake has its charms, but nothing tops the original Lubitsch.
11:15 PM Au Hasard, Balthazar (1966)
Never work with children or animals, unless your name is Robert Bresson.
5:00 PM Meet Me In St. Louis (1944)
The au currant stealth Christmas movie is DIE HARD, but I still like this one more.
7:00 PM Bells Of St. Mary’s, The (1945)
Leo McCarey! The boxing lesson from nun Ingrid Bergman is still the best, and still curiously useful. Don’t forget your footwork, never take your eyes off your opponent and keep your mouth shut when you’re within punching distance
6:15 AM Meet Me In St. Louis (1944)
8:15 AM Man Who Came to Dinner, The (1941)
11:30 AM Shop Around The Corner, The (1940)
1:15 PM Holiday Affair (1949)
12:15 AM Holiday (1938)
It’s not really that kind of holiday, but a film full of excellent life lessons.
2:00 AM Star in the Night (1945)
Don Siegel’s directorial debut, a rather curious short film about cowboys seeing a bright light in the distance on Christmas Eve night. You can probably figure out the rest.
4:30 AM Big Fisherman, The (1959)
Never seen, and a little leery of any movie that’s 165 minutes long, even a BEN HUR-style religious roadshow epic. But, an epic with Frank Borzage at the helm …. hmm.
3:00 AM Narrow Margin, The (1952)
I love these Richard Fleischer crime programmer movies.
6:30 AM Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
I also love Jean Arthur in just about any kind of movie.
9:00 PM Pennies From Heaven (1981)
A very pleasant movie, but nothing on the original Dennis Potter series. Steve Martin, Bernadette Peters, Jessica Harper and Christopher Walken star.
11:00 PM Juliet of the Spirits (1965)
1:30 AM Projectionist, The (1971)
At last, Fellini and Dangerfield united.
11:00 AM Across The Pacific (1942)
The MALTESE FALCON team reunites for a Panama Canal caper that you won’t be disappointed by if you expect too much from it in the first place.
1:00 PM We Were Strangers (1949)
I suppose I’ve seen this Cuban-strife drama at least twice, considering my Huston and John Garfield binge-watching habits, but don’t recall this one.
1:30 PM Black Swan, The (1942)
Frame for frame, the best pirate movie ever. Tyrone Power and Maureen O’Hara star.
3:00 PM Jason And The Argonauts (1963)
The always delightful Ray Harryhausen kids’ classic.
11:00 PM Mixed Blood (1984)
12:45 AM Alphabet City (1984)
Wow, Xmas is really over, huh. A double shot of Lower East Side drug-deal doublecrosses from the mid-’80s
2:15 AM Distant Drummer: A Movable Scene (1970)
2:15 AM Distant Drummer: Flowers of Darkness (1972)
MOVABLE SCENE: “An education film that exposes drug use and drug culture,” as narrated by ….. Robert Mitchum, who presumably needed the community-service hours for getting caught with his own drugs, perhaps.
9:15 AM Lady From Shanghai, The (1948)
Greatest movie ever made with hilariously terrible fight scenes.
3:00 PM Forbidden Planet (1956)
11:00 PM Mouchette (1967)
12:30 AM Kes (1969)
A two-fer of abused-child dramas, from Bresson and Kenneth Loach.
10:15 PM Loved One, The (1965)
12:30 AM Five Easy Pieces (1970)
I like this combination of misanthropic verve.
6:30 AM Go, Johnny, Go! (1959)
Alan Freed stars in a fine jukebox movie featuring Chuck Berry, The Flamingos, Jackie Wilson, Eddie Cochran, The Cadillacs and Ritchie Valens’ only onscreen appearance.