Apologies for skipping April’s TCM Top Ten. The post-TCM Film Festival hit me hard, and I forgot about everything short of documenting the festival on the site. But we’re back with a vengeance this month as TCM gears up for the summer season! If you’re not interested in checking out the latest Avengers movie, here’s ten titles worth kicking back with on TCM this month!
**All times are Eastern. TCM can change the schedule at their discretion.**
The story follows a gold-digging secretary trying get her married boss. This sounds like an earlier, B-list version of Jean Harlow’s Wife vs. Secretary (1936), if Jean Harlow wasn’t super malicious and Myrna Loy was also cheating. Dorothy Mackaill is an actress I don’t know much about, aside from knowing she made many salacious pre-Codes. Directed by Lloyd Bacon, who worked on several musicals with Busby Berkeley, this looks to be a frothy pre-Code. The Office Wife (1930) airs May 1st at 6:45am.
If our fearless leader, Robert Osborne, picks the movie than that’s all the proof we need, right? I thought I’d put Miss Sadie Thompson (1953) on the list, but maybe I was thinking about its earlier version, starring Joan Crawford, Rain (1932)? Either way, both movies deal with a moralist attempting to reform a floozy (one guess as to who the floozy is in this film). I must admit, I haven’t seen nearly as many Rita Hayworth films as I should have by now. Maybe I’m afraid of not “waking up” with Gilda. Miss Sadie Thompson airs during an evening of Robert’s picks, May 5th at 8pm and if Bob says watch it, I’m doing it!
What’s one more movie about the crazy, lust-filled frenzy that is the life of the executive? Okay, maybe Office Wife isn’t necessarily about the executive proper, but you can’t deny movies made the corporate world sound a lot more fun than it is. The title, Crime of Passion (1957) seems to tell us everything we’d need to know about the movie. It stars Barbara Stanwyck as an executive’s wife who trades…ahem, carnal pleasures…for her husband’s business success. Since this is 1957, I’m assuming the movie won’t harp on that too frankly. Stanwyck made quite the soapy potboiler throughout the 1950s, and this looks to be a scandalous picture I expect to be tamed down upon execution. Crime of Passion airs May 7th at 2:45am.
It’s hard to screw up William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, so I tend to watch every version that comes around, and I always find something new. I didn’t know the legendary Orson Welles tackled the Scottish play…and yet, I should have expected it from him; the magnanimous Macbeth, the woods of Dunsinane, all of these sound like things Welles would want to tackle with his trademark egomania. He’s the Friday Night Spotlight subject for the month and I expect nothing but wonders from him. Macbeth (1948) is the midnight movie on May 16th.
As someone whose favorite movie is The Red Shoes (1948), how did I not know director Michael Powell directed another movie about ballet, also starring Moira Shearer? The Tales of Hoffmann (1951) sounds like a different, albeit connected, follow-up to The Red Shoes, involving a writer brooding over three lost loves. The acclaimed producing team of Powell and Pressburger (Emeric Pressburger) haven’t let me down yet between The Red Shoes and A Matter of Life and Death (1947), so I’m fascinated to see this based on their names alone. The Tales of Hoffmann airs May 16th at 10:30pm during an evening devoted to ballet-based films – start watching at 8pm if you want to see The Red Shoes beforehand.
After watching Kiss Me Kate (1953), I’m interested in checking out more films with its cast members, one of whom was Kathryn Grayson. Grayson starred in several musicals, obviously, and Seven Sweethearts (1942) sounds like an intriguing, vaguely Shakespearean tale. The film follows a father who forces his seven daughters to marry, from eldest to youngest, in order. Directed by Frank Borzage and co-starring Marsha Hunt, this looks like a sweet, fluffy story. Lazy Sunday starts early on May 17th when Seven Sweethearts airs at 8am.
I’ve mentioned this several times already: I love British history! And I’m currently reading a book about the Plantagenets (Google them) so I naturally gravitated towards Tower of London (1939), the story of the villainous Richard III (here played by Basil Rathbone). I’m interested to know why this is listed as a horror film on the TCM website, though? Is it because it co-stars Boris Karloff? I expect historical liberties to be taken, but there might be some fantastic production design…it is the set in the Tower of London after all! Come be a British geek with me and watch Tower of London on May 18th at 10:15pm during an evening devoted to films set in the 15th-century.
Have I mentioned how much I miss my TCM film fest friends? Since the festival ended I’ve tried to recreate the atmosphere at home by watching movies that either played the festival or remind me of particular elements. And after taking in the schlock that was Earthquake – which actually airs this month! – I figured, why stop at one disaster movie? You might recall an earlier celluloid version detailing the Titanic sinking starring Barbara Stanwyck, Titanic made in 1953. This version is based on Walter Lord’s best-selling novel and is filled with British actors. The TCM blip accompanying says A Night to Remember is approaches the sinking with a documentary approach, so maybe this won’t be one of those gimmicky 1970s disaster films I know so well. Either way, it gives me an excuse to sing “My Heart Will Go On,” right? A Night to Remember airs May 22nd at 2:15am.
There’s always room for Katharine Hepburn! The alliteration in Alice Adams always has me confusing it with Sylvia Scarlett. It doesn’t help that both movies came out in the same year, 1935, as well. Alice Adams pairs Hepburn up with Fred MacMurray, a romance I can’t envision for starters. MacMurray plays a playboy while Hepburn is a “small-town girl with social ambitions.” I’m sorry, does this sound possible to anyone else? I recently watched Undercurrent (1946), a movie I couldn’t get behind because Hepburn played such a doormat. I’m hoping that Alice Adams doesn’t see Hepburn taking it lying down. Alice Adams plays at 4:45pm on May 28th.
Fury’s (1936) almost made this list a few times and seems eerily similar to The Ox-Bow Incident (1943) with its emphasis on a lynch mob. Spencer Tracy ends up escaping the mob in this case, and comes back seeking revenge. It also stars Sylvia Sidney, an actress I’ve been eager to see in classic films (she’ll always be Juno from Beetlejuice!). Fury airs May 30th at 10:30pm during a spate of films focused on small-town justice; To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) airs right before.
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.