A new year is upon us and that means less than two months till the 2015 TCM Classic Film Festival. Okay, maybe that’s my own personal countdown, but the slate of TCM films is enough to get anyone through the doldrums of winter and the post-holiday malaise, whether you’re waiting for a particular date or not. Here are the ten films I’ll be watching this month on TCM!
**All times are listed as Eastern. TCM can change the schedule of films at their discretion.**
Kicking things off with a little Burt Lancaster film noir. Criss Cross is a Robert Siodmak film following a man (Lancaster) hoping to save his ex-wife (Yvonne De Carlo) from her criminal boyfriend. The TCM review says Lancaster is miscast but you can’t go wrong with film noir. Criss Cross airs January 4th at 10:15am.
Too Much, Too Soon was recommended to me as a future Biopic Theater entrant and that’s partly why it makes the list. It certainly ups the gossip factor, telling the story of Diana Barrymore (as played by Dorothy Malone) with Errol Flynn playing the great John Barrymore! Honestly, I need to see that to believe it! It also stars Efram Zimbalist, Jr., who has slowly become the King of Biopic Theater since his role in Harlow. You can enjoy Too Much, Too Soon January 9th at 11am.
Speaking of recommendations, I was told to watch The Blue Gardenia by my college film professor and you can’t go wrong with Fritz Lang. The film tells of a telephone operator who kills someone but can’t recall the murder. Anne Baxter carved out a niche in smaller, intellectually stimulating noirs (read my review of Chase a Crooked Shadow for another small noir starring Baxter that’s worth watching). You also have Richard Conte, Ann Sothern, and Superman himself, George Reeves, in the film. The Blue Gardenia plays during an evening of Lang-directed pictures on January 10th at 12:30am – technically January 11th.
Long-time fans know I gravitate towards stageplays, especially in comparison to their Broadway origins. While I’ve never seen Light in the Piazza onstage this cast certainly leaves me wondering where this movie can go. I mean, who would immediately think Olivia de Havilland and stageplay would go together? De Havilland plays a woman trying to marry off her daughter but harboring a dark secret. You can watch Light in the Piazza during an evening devoted to “Love, Italian Style,” January 12th at 10:15pm.
Robert Redford is the star of the month and this marks the first of two movies where he’ll make an appearance. Barefoot in the Park seems like another lightweight romantic comedy starring Jane Fonda, and if it’s half as good as Sunday in New York I’ll be very happy. And, surprisingly, Barefoot seems to follow a similar – but gender swapped – trajectory as Sunday, with Fonda as free-thinking bride trying to compromise with her straitlaced groom. Barefoot in the Park airs January 13th at 10pm.
Here’s another romantic comedy about opposing couples, but I doubt Barefoot in the Park takes the term literally. Turnabout stars Carole Landis as a wife who swaps personalities with her husband. The poster’s tagline – “a sex-switch comedy” – probably caused some to clutch their pearls in 1940 so I’m not expecting much in the way of boundary pushing. It’s also based on a story by Thorne Smith, the author of my favorite film, I Married a Witch. Catch Turnabout January 18th at 8am.
The World, the Flesh, and the Devil is my requisite “weird horror movie” choice of the month. Its premise sounds like an episode of The Twilight Zone: “One woman and two men are the only people left alive after a nuclear disaster.” The Twilight Zone comparisons only continue considering Inger Stevens starred in two episodes of the 1960s series. The 1959 release date of the film could also yield some intriguing racial commentary. The World, the Flesh, and the Devil is the noon movie on January 19th.
More Robert Redford in the film role only he could have played in 1974. Having just received my Masters degree in English, it would behoove me to include this second of three well-known adaptations (I believe the Alan Ladd version made its way onto a past TCM Top and remains highly sought after). The fractious story of Jay Gatsby (Redford) and his love Daisy (Mia Farrow) is well-trod territory, and I’m sure I’ll have my issues with it; just like I do with the 2013 version. Either way, Redford capitalized on being the golden boy and this is the role he was best suited for. The Great Gatsby airs January 21st at 1:15am so set your DVRs.
I just saw the Debbie Reynolds tribute, narrated by her daughter, Carrie, on TCM and I had to include a Reynolds title. I’m a huge Titanic fan – I grew up in the height of 1990s Titanic mania – and yet I haven’t watched what was, before 1997 at least, the best version of Molly Brown’s story. Debbie Reynolds loved making this film and I’ve seen some of the epic dance sequences that were captured for this musical biopic about the woman who struck it rich and survived the Titanic. You can sail the seven seas with The Unsinkable Molly Brown on January 23rd at 1:30am.
Too Much, Too Soon has Errol Flynn playing John Barrymore, so why not include a movie starring the real John Barrymore for comparison’s sake? I picked Svengali, the Archie Mayo-directed horror feature wherein Barrymore’s Svengali uses his powers to entrap and propel a beautiful opera singer, played by Marian Marsh Trilby, into fame and fortune. Svengali airs January 31st – technically February 1st – at 12:45am.
THE TCM TRIO
January 5th honors luminous comedienne Jean Arthur! The fun starts when Jean gets too close to the newly wealthy Gary Cooper in Mr. Deeds Goes to Town at 8pm; then, Jean ends up getting more than she bargained for when she starts cohabiting with Joel McCrea and Charles Coburn in The More the Merrier at 10pm; finally, Jean and Jimmy Stewart have to get their parents to cooperate in You Can’t Take It With You at midnight.
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.