If you’re like me the summer time is the best season for movie watching. Of course, the majority of movie patrons trot out to the local multiplex but who needs the theater when TCM’s showing nothing but classics all summer? I whittled this list down from 22 to ten which is no mean feat! Hopefully, there’s a little bit of something for everyone!
**All times are listed as Pacific so plan accordingly. Scheduled dates and times change at TCM’s discretion**
Costume drama impresario Alexander Korda tackling the acerbic Oscar Wilde? Sign me up! An Ideal Husband’s been remade several times, but I’ve yet to experience one from the studio era. There isn’t much star power other than Korda and Paulette Goddard as wife who stays with her husband (Michael Wilding), a prominent politician being blackmailed. I’m intrigued whether this holds up against the 1999 take, and how saucy the script gets for 1947 audiences. An Ideal Husband airs early, 7am, on May 4th.
The V.I.P.S. was filmed during the turbulent relationship of Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, when their star was so bright it threatened to overshadow them. All TCM tells me is the story involves wealth passengers stuck in London’s Heathrow Airport. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? in an airport? The V.I.P.S. airs May 5th at 8:45am.
Richard Burton returns in this scandalous, John Huston-directed drama. When I hear about Huston as a director I get a lot of differing opinions about this movie, but it comes up regardless. TCM lists it as the story of a defrocked priest (if someone’s got to play a dirty clergyman who better than Richard Burton?) who juggles three women in Mexico. You certainly couldn’t do better than Deborah Kerr and Ava Gardner, and Lolita herself, Sue Lyon. Taking into account it’s based on a play by Tennessee Williams, whose yet to disappoint me in movie form, I’ll give it a go. The Night of the Iguana airs May 8th at 9:15pm in a block devoted to 1960s plays transferred to screen.
Hausu was recommended to me last Halloween and for various reasons I didn’t get to it. And while it isn’t Halloween yet, TCM’s airing it as part of their TCM Underground series of cult and horror features. I’ve heard this described as “weird,” “bizarre,” and “seriously damaged.” The TCM advertisement for the Criterion DVD calls it a “psychedelic ghost story.” I’m not sure how to take that, especially when the premise sounds rather innocuous: A schoolgirl spends her summer vacation in a haunted house. I’ve yearned for something frightening in the last several months, and maybe Hausu is the movie to slake that. Hausu airs May 11th at 12:45am.
The only time I’ve watched Barbara play opposite an elegant blonde it was the underwhelming The Two Mrs. Carrolls. In The Strange Love of Martha Ivers Stanwyck plays a murderer stuck with her husband out of obligation. It’s also labeled as the debut of Kirk Douglas. You can’t go wrong where Barbara Stanwyck is concerned, and I can’t recall watching Scott in anything previously. Regardless, Stanwyck in the 1940s is where she did her most diverse work. The Strange Love of Martha Ivers airs March 14th at 5am.
There’s never enough movies about hypochondriacs for me. I have a tendency to exaggerate illnesses, so it’s always nice for me to know Hollywood feels my pain…from a comedic standpoint. Send Me No Flowers isn’t just about hypochondriacs, it’s the first Doris Day/Rock Hudson pairing I’ve wanted to watch. Hudson plays a hypochondriac who decides to choose a new husband for his wife before he “dies.” It’s utterly insane but maybe I’ll be swayed by Hudson in comedy as opposed to drama. Send Me No Flowers airs as part of a block of comedies devoted to hypochondriacs (so I’ll be entertained and highly nervous), May 15th at 10:15pm.
Another literary adaptation for you this month. (I should start a classic movie adaptation book club. You think?) Of Mice and Men’s another book that’s received various adaptations and, for me, the best is the 1990s version with John Malkovich. However, I’m willing to sway that opinion if Burgess Meredith and Lon Chaney, Jr. can pull off George and Lennie better. The movie, and book, follow two men with troubled pasts as they make a living on a farm. For all those lucky to live near Broadway, they’re doing a revival of the Broadway show right now with James Franco and Chris O’Dowd. Either way, Meredith is the interesting casting choice and I want to watch him play the character. Of Mice and Men airs May 19th at 1:15am.
Hold Your Man was a movie I’d originally planned for my Jean Harlow Retrospective but tracking it down proved difficult, but that’s where TCM comes in! Jean Harlow and Clark Gable were an underrated screen duo who deserve to go up alongside Veronica Lake/Alan Ladd, Kate Hepburn/Spencer Tracy, and Lauren Bacall/Humphrey Bogart. I’ve loved the previous Harlow/Gable pairings in Red Dust and Wife vs. Secretary. Their chemistry is so potent you fear they could get intimate right on the screen. Hold Your Man sees Harlow as a tough cookie paired up with a con man played by Gable, so a tinge of Trouble in Paradise perhaps? Hold Your Man airs May 20th at 3:15am (set those DVRs).
The mack daddy of all cinema is officially on my TCM Top Ten. Yes, I’ve yet to experience Orson Welles’ masterpiece, Citizen Kane. You know how some movies are just so smothered in hype you fear disliking it? That’s where I’m at with Citizen Kane. This is the studio film to watch and I lack a proper reason for shying away from it. Everyone should sit down to watch Citizen Kane on May 29th at 5pm.
And we’ll close out the month with a little film noir. Edward G. Robinson plays the dupe seduced by Joan Bennett. Scarlet Street is a noir I’m continually told to watch, alongside Detour. I expect little from noirs other than strong characters and beautiful production design so hopefully this’ll deliver. Scarlet Street airs May 30th at 8am.
It’s all about the ladies in this month’s TCM Trio. The fun starts May 27th at 5pm when guest programmer Dolores Hart looks at the beautiful but deadly events of Laura. At 8:45pm, Jennifer Jones sees the Virgin Mary in The Song of Bernadette. And at 11:30pm, Anna Magnani can’t get rid of Burt Lancaster in The Rose Tattoo.
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.