It may be 31 Days of Oscar on TCM but it’s just another month of superlative content on TCM (just more superlative than usual). I tried my best to shy away from the big Oscar-winning movies of the month and give you guys the deep cuts, the B-sides for the month. As always, feel free to leave me additional recommendations in the comments section.
*All times are Eastern. TCM can change the schedule at their discretion.*
The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm was a gamble since it sounds like a simultaneous biopic and recreation of Grimms’ fairy tales (according to TCM.com three stories are recreated). I’m not quite sure how that pans out but I enjoyed star Laurence Harvey in The Manchurian Candidate and haven’t seen any of his work post. It also has Claire Bloom. Get up early to watch The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm on February 8th at 8:15am.
I honestly thought The Harvey Girls was included on a previous TCM Top article, and yet I haven’t found it on the list so let’s put it here now! The Harvey Girls has both Judy Garland Angela Lansbury, as well as the infectious “On the Atchison, Topeka, and the Santa Fe,” a song I already know and haven’t seen the movie. Garland has grown into one of my favorite actresses, removed from The Wizard of Oz, although I’m interested to watch her in movies where she isn’t paired with husband Vincente Minnelli. The Harvey Girls airs February 10th at 5am.
This is another one I thought I’d previously touched on but haven’t. This is based on a short story by Ernest Hemingway and, as an English major, I’m obligated to watch it. It stars Burt Lancaster, an actor I’m still unsure of, and Ava Gardner with director by noir regular Robert Siodmak. It’s considered a classic in the film noir genre so I’ll give it a go. The Killers airs February 10th at 10:15pm.
Speaking of noirs, Naked City is one of the seminal depictions of the genre with its step-by-step documentary approach to a murder investigation. Director Jules Dassin is also heralded for his on-set location shooting and stark presentation of events that ended up putting a ding on studio-filmed fare. This one gets in for being a legendary must-see. Spend your morning with Naked City on February 15th at 10:45am.
Okay, I said I wasn’t including any of the big 31 Days of Oscar fare, and technically this isn’t playing during that block. I’ve avoided putting Auntie Mame on the list in the past because, I hate to admit, I’m not keen on Rosalind Russell. Her brash personality always comes off as annoying and nosy. Maybe I’ve been watching the wrong movies and hopefully Auntie Mame, with its story of an eccentric heiress raising her nephew, will change that. In the movie’s defense, my mom watched it and enjoyed it. Auntie Mame airs February 21st at 3:45pm.
You’re probably saying, “TCM just did a whole month of Robert Redford movies and you pick NOW to include this?” Okay, poor timing aside, I’m a fan of political films and the Watergate story has fascinated me for years. This is the de facto Watergate narrative film, and although I haven’t loved everything director Alan J. Pakula’s done he had his finger on the pulse exploring political intrigue. This might be worth pairing with the more comical take on the Watergate scandal, 1999’s Dick. All the President’s Men plays during 31 Days of Oscar, February 24th at midnight.
Let’s move away from the serious Oscar-winning fare. It Happened Tomorrow stars Dick Powell as a newspaperman whose headlines have an eerie tendency to come true. It’s directed by Rene Clair, the helmer of I Married a Witch and I’ve said I’ll give Clair a chance on that fact alone, despite my distaste for Dick Powell. It also stars the lovely Linda Darnell and Jack Oakie. It Happened Tomorrow is the evening movie, February 24th at 6:30pm.
February 25th is a day of war movies, but you wouldn’t immediately know that on the premise of Once Upon a Honeymoon. This Cary Grant/Ginger Rogers team-up has Grant as a radio correspondent hoping to save Rogers from her marriage to a Nazi. Yes, Ms. Ginger Rogers married to a Nazi! Oh, how will she ever get out of this pickle? And how uncomfortable will it be to watch? Once Upon a Honeymoon sounds like it could have only been made in the WWII studio era, exclusively with Grant and Rogers (who I adored in Monkey Business). You can catch Once Upon a Honeymoon February 25th at noon.
Many people criticize TCM for playing contemporary movies but it’s hard to ignore the wealth of future classics who have collected Oscars over the decades. Meryl Streep is the Queen of the Academy, and her work in A Cry in the Dark is infamous. Yes, this is the film where “the dingo ate [her] baby.” Part of me just wants to see Meryl Streep speak in an Australian accent and it was released the year I was born. A Cry in the Dark airs February 28th at 3:45am.
Finally, we have another thriller, this one starring Jane Fonda, Jack Lemmon and Michael Douglas in a blend of the contemporary and the classic. The China Syndrome deals with nuclear power plants and corruption, the main things audiences were worried about in the late 70s. Fonda continues to rise in my appreciation with every classic film of hers I’ve watched, and Jack Lemmon’s in my Hall of Fame because he’s amazing! The China Syndrome airs February 28th at 5:45pm.
THE TCM TRIO
Gritty Oscar-winning dramas rule the day on February 22nd starting with Jack Nicholas as R.P. McMurphy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest at 10:30pm. After, Al Pacino runs into some trouble robbing a bank on a Dog Day Afternoon at 1am. Later, Faye Dunaway and Bill Holden struggle with their definitions good entertainment in Network at 3:15am.
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.