It’s a new year and thus a whole new spate of TCM movies to anticipate. TCM continues to diversify their schedule, and while the inclusion of more modern movies is questionable, it hasn’t taken over the entire schedule. With that being said, I had to whittle this list down from thirty movies to twelve, proof of a good month in my book! Here’s looking at you, TCM, and a fruitful year of movies to take us through 2014!
**Take note: TCM can change the schedule at their discretion. All times are Pacific.**
The unfortunate passing of Eleanor Parker is part of the reason I chose Caged for this month. Her work as the Baroness in The Sound of Music always captured my attention, and yet I can’t recall seeing her previous work. Another reason is my mother caught this last month and highly recommended it, and if it’s good enough for mom…Caged tells the story of a young woman (Parker) struggling to survive in a women’s prison. The women in prison movie became an exploitation trope in the ’70s, and Caged appears to lay down the foundation from what I’ve heard. It also stars Agnes Moorehead of Bewitched fame, and after going through the Bewitched box set, I need more Endora in my life! Caged airs January 4th at 3:30am.
Robert Osborne is the father/grandfather we all wish we had. I mean, he’s the face of TCM, coming into our homes every evening to discuss classic movies. The man is God for classic film buffs. Maybe I’m overselling it, but it’s incredibly fitting TCM should devote a segment of Private Screenings to Osborne. Hosted and moderated by Alec Baldwin, Osborne is set to discuss his life, involvement with the movie industry, and his work with TCM. This is one of two Private Screenings I have on this list, and continues to showcase the network as the arbiters of documentary and interviewing. Private Screenings: Robert Osborne airs twice on January 6th, once at 5pm and again at 8:30pm.
And director Vincente Minnelli pops his head into the TCM Top Twelve. He was here last month with The Clock, and this time he jumps in with a non-musical (at least I hope it is). Vincent Van Gogh is one of my favorite painters and his tragic life is prime biopic material; so it’s surprising I’ve never heard of this Kirk Douglas-led biopic. Lust for Life is adapted from Irving Stone’s biography and features Anthony Quinn as fellow painter, Gauguin. Art snobs and biopic fans should find something to enjoy, and even though Kirk Douglas isn’t my favorite person, I can’t ignore his acting talent. You can catch Lust for Life on January 11th at 3am.
The Anastasia story has astounded me since childhood, and yes it is pretty gruesome subject matter for a child to take an interest in but what can I say, I was weird. I’ve reviewed a serious look at the Romanov family when I discussed the movie Nicholas and Alexandra, but Anatole Litvak’s Anastasia explores the bizarre events taking place after. Ingrid Bergman plays a woman believed to be the missing Romanov princess, Anastasia. I’m assuming this is a romanticized exploration of the Anna Anderson story; however, Anderson was proven a fake, so does Hollywood portray the character as the real princess? I have to solve the mystery of the mystery within the movie! Anastasia plays January 12th at 5pm during The Essentials tribute to Ingrid Bergman.
I’ve wanted to watch The Children’s Hour for several years. It commonly pops up in various film history texts, whether it’s the examination of homosexuality in movies or the role of boundary breaking in the 1960’s. The story of two women, played by Audrey Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine, and a vicious rumor involving a lesbian relationship was scandalous for 1960s and thought it does reassert tired tropes of homosexuality being a death sentence, the two leading ladies are worth the watch. I finally need to sit down and take this in. You can watch The Children’s Hour with me when it airs January 14th at 5pm during an evening devoted to the SAG Lifetime Achievement Awards.
I try not to double up on movies playing the same day. I fear it limits the amount of diversity I have within the month. But I had to double up a few days this week because some movies were just too damn good to pass up; Marlowe is one of them. Detective Philip Marlowe has been played by a host of serious leading men, most importantly Humphrey Bogart, so I was shocked to find out James Garner once took on the private dick. The movie follows Marlowe as he navigates Los Angeles’ seedy underbelly, always good fun. The various Marlowe films always integrate way into the time period filmed, and James Garner is always an enigmatic actor. Marlowe airs on the same night as The Children’s Hour, January 14th, at 8:30pm.
Joan Crawford is January’s star of the month, but running alongside her is an examination of child actors with both Jane Withers and Margaret O’Brien having several films playing this month; Jane Withers even gets her own day, which I’ll get to in a bit. Private Screenings: Child Stars was filmed in 2006 and features interviews with the aforementioned O’Brien, Withers, and Darryl Hickman. The changes from child stardom today and yesteryear is startling, so hopefully this episode of Private Screenings will explore the joys and depressions of growing up on film. Private Screenings: Child Stars airs January 15th at 5:30am.
Margaret O’Brien is the leading lady of January 15th, and I was torn between this and Music for Millions; I’ll probably end up watching both. Our Vines Have Tender Grapes features Edward G. Robinson struggling to raise two children, and when one of them is Margaret O’Brien what can go wrong? It also features Agnes Moorehead and places Robinson in a role totally removed from his gangster origins. Our Vines Have Tender Grapes airs January 15th at 3pm. And to be sneaky, if you want to watch Music for Millions followed by The Canterville Ghost (which I reviewed and loved) you should start watching at 11am.
More ghost stories this month, continuing the trend started by my review of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. The Portrait of Jennie stars Joseph Cotten as a painter who falls in love with a ghost played by Jennifer Jones. I picked this one on Jones’ name alone because I adored her in The Song of Bernadette. It’s pretty hard to screw up golden era ghost stories, or maybe I’m just really forgiving towards them. The Portrait of Jennie airs January 19th at 9:15am.
Director Fritz Lang is one of the premier directors of film noir, and Edward G. Robinson returns to the twelve with this noir following a painter (Robinson) obsessed with a woman (Joan Bennett). I’ve heard Scarlet Street mentioned in several film texts with regards to unseen films noir and I’m always intrigued by checking out the deep cuts of a particular genre. Scarlet Street airs January 22nd at 7:45am.
I had the opportunity to interview Jane Withers in 2013 and she discussed, in-depth, the making of Bright Eyes and her attempts at friendship with Shirley Temple. Temple’s had a few films on the Twelve and I reviewed several of Withers’ work, but never had the chance to watch her most famous film. Thankfully, I snagged a three-volume set of Temple’s work, and this was included so I have no good reason not to see Jane Withers play a mean-spirited girl who torments Temple’s beloved orphan. Bright Eyes airs during an evening devoted to actress Jane Withers (I recommend staying around for a young Rita Cansino in Paddy O’Day), January 22nd at 5pm.
THE TCM TRIO
The Friday Night Spotlight for January explores science in the movies, so this month’s trio is in honor of three fantastic horror movies. It may be January, but there’s no reason you can’t have a good scare. The whole thing starts at 5pm when Frankenstein’s monster (Boris Karloff) returns with a bride in tow in The Bride of Frankenstein; at 6:30pm, Spencer Tracy can’t control his urges in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; then at 8:30pm, a group of scientists are told to “watch the skies” in The Thing From Another World.
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.