September is a good month for me in numerous ways, predominately that it contains my birthday which I do celebrate for the entire month as my mother so kindly states. With that TCM must have known because their star of the month is Lauren Bacall who you’ll know as being in my Hall of Fame and one of my favorite actresses. The month also looks to be a strong month of documentaries as I have five (with a sixth that’s a doc but not listed as such) making the list. I’m also going to do something new in the Primetime Must-See where I tell you which day to stay in and watch the 5-8pm block of films on TCM. The one requirement I set for myself is that I’d had to have seen all the films during that block in order to make the cut. So what’s worth taping this month (I’m itching for October to get here by the way), click after the jump!
****Note all times are Pacific so plan accordingly. Also the schedule is subject to change at the discretion of TCM so be sure to check your local listings.
Spirits of the Dead
Longtime readers of this column know that I’m a sucker for cheesy horror. Spirits of the Dead appears to be an anthology film focusing on retelling three Edgar Allan Poe works. The poster gives me the distinction impression this is a Hammer film or at least similar. It’s directed by Roger Vadim who did Barbarella and look at that cast! Brigitte Bardot, Alain Delon, Jane Fonda, those are three people I wouldn’t expect together. And if the bottom of that poster indicates anything the other two anthology directors include Fellini and Louis Malle. Spirits of the Dead could be terrifying, pretentious, or cheesy…or all three. It airs Sunday, September 2nd at 11:45pm.
Chuck Jones: Memories of Childhood
Our first documentary, in a month heavy with them, looks at the world of animator Chuck Jones. Jones is up there with Walt Disney in his iconic output of characters and this 2009 documentary is described as showcasing his life and art. I’m a huge animation fan and while my expertise is Disney, I did grow up with old Looney Tunes and the like. It’ll be interesting to discover more about the man behind the pencil. Chuck Jones: Memories of Childhood airs Monday, September 3rd at 7:15am (you might want to tape it if you’re a late sleeper).
I’m hoping to get another Preston Sturges film under my belt. I adored Sullivan’s Travels but only felt lukewarm about Christmas in July. The film appears to have quite the screwball premise involving a woman courting an eccentric millionaire and I do enjoy Claudette Colbert. Joel McCrea I’m on the fence about but again, enjoyed him in Sullivan’s Travels. Catch The Palm Beach Story during The Essentials: Telluride Tribute on September 3rd at 5pm.
Bacall on Bogart
You’ll see a few entries surrounding TCM’s star of the month, Lauren Bacall, who I consider one of my favorite actresses. This 1988 documentary showcases Bacall’s life with husband Humphrey Bogart. I consider Bogart and Bacall one of the best screen couples and yet I’ve never seen their relationship shown in film (mainly books). The doc is over 20 years old (actually the same age as me) so it’ll be interesting to not only see the actress reflect in her prime but also how their relationship was viewed in the 80s. Bacall on Bogart airs at 1am on September 6th.
Bogart: The Untold Story
Okay so I did take up two slots that air one after the other about the same thing (generally). This documentary is newer than Bacall on Bogart (this being from 1996) and actually interviews son Stephen Bogart on his father Humphrey. It’ll be fun to compare and contrast two views on Bogart, one from his wife and the other from his son and I’m hoping this gives me a far broader view of the star outside of lurid biographies and his iconic works. Bogart: The Untold Story airs right after Bacall on Bogart, September 6th at 2:30am.
Having recently read Joan Blondell: A Life Between Takes, there’s a lot of love for this adaptation of the popular novel. Not only does it star Blondell as the zany Aunt Sissy, but it’s already directed by Elia Kazan who I’m always interested in seeing his work. I don’t know much about the movie, and I’m sad to admit I’ve never read the book but with the two names mentioned above that was enough to secure it a spot. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn actually kicks off a marathon of Kazan’s films (all of which I recommend) on September 7th at 3am.
Private Screenings: Lauren Bacall
Not the last documentary nor is it the last appearance from Bacall. I’ve seen ads for the Private Screenings series before but never actually caught an episode till now. In looking through this list we’ve seen Bacall talk about her husband, but what about Bacall herself? I will say, her autobiography is astounding, frank, and detailed so I’m interested to see what host Robert Osborne (whose set up to take a vacation! Have fun) can discover about her. Check out Private Screenings: Lauren Bacall September 12th at 5pm.
Dial M for Murder
It always shocks people when they discover a Hitchcock film on here because I still haven’t seen all the “must-sees.” I added Dial M for Murder here because I’m really on the fence about whether I like Grace Kelly or not. Not to mention in light of HBO’s upcoming movie The Girl, I wanted to see the film that is notorious for allegedly alluding to Hitchcock’s relationship with Kelly. It’s also been said the sexual imagery is still shocking considering the time period. Dial M for Murder is showing as part of tribute to “death traps” on film on September 15th at 9pm.
The Divine Greta Garbo
Another pair of documentaries coming up, these two detailing the life of Greta Garbo. The Divine Greta Garbo is the older of the two, from 1990, but based on the synopsis appears to be analytic in approach; detailing how her films connected to her life. This could be far more intriguing than a documentary as it’ll be combining the film analysis with the biography. The Divine Greta Garbo airs September 18th at 3:30am.
Our last documentary on the month and another Garbo one to boot. Sure I don’t have a strong knowledge of her film work but I’ll know a lot about her life. Garbo is a newer documentary from 2005 and should give me whatever the first didn’t. It airs at 3:15pm, the same day as The Divine Greta Garbo.
Inside Daisy Clover
I forget which review it was but someone mentioned the film Inside Daisy Clover. I’d never heard of it which surprised me as it stars Natalie Wood, another favorite of mine. Based on the premise I’m assuming this is a “dark side of Hollywood” tale which is a genre I always get wrapped up in and it stars Christopher Plummer and Robert Redford! If anything this will continue to increase my love for Ms. Natalie! Check out Inside Daisy Clover September 23rd at 12:30pm.
Brigadoon is a double-edged sword that I will either love or regret. I mentioned in a few reviews my distaste for the musicals of Vincente Minnelli. I’ve seen about fifteen minutes of Brigadoon in the past and just didn’t get it. I’m going to give it a second viewing, all the way through this time, and I really do want to like it since it stars Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse. The story of a town that only appears once in several hundred years is sweet, blending sci-fi with fantasy in a way and I remember the dance sequences being exemplary as usual. I’m hoping Minnelli doesn’t let me down again. Brigadoon airs September 28th, at 11:30am.
THE PRIME-TIME MUST-SEE
If you want a crash course in the films of my favorite on-screen couple than I recommend you stay home September 5th and catch the three movies (and additional three, two of which appeared above) featuring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. All three have their pros and cons with Dark Passage being my least favorite. The Big Sleep is a masterpiece of film noir and the whodunit genre as well as being a damn fine piece of filmmaking. After the initial three I highly recommend staying for Key Largo which has some wonderful acting.
What movies are you seeking out on TCM (or Fox Movie Channel, IFC, what have you) this month? Any I forgot to mention?
A freelance film critic whose work fuels the Rotten Tomatoes meter. I've been published on The Hollywood Reporter, Remezcla, and The Daily Beast. I've been featured in the L.A. Times. I currently run two podcasts, Citizen Dame and Ticklish Business.