The TCM Top Ten for January 2016

TCMTop10

You probably still have enough TCM content saved on your DVR to last a year on its own, but it’s time to look at another ten films worth adding to your already overburdened television recorder. Here’s to an amazing New Year’s kickoff of another year with the wonders of TCM!

**All times listed as Eastern. TCM can change the schedule at their discretion.**

Bigamist

I missed the boat on Ida Lupino’s directing work when TCM recently honored women in cinema, a slight I’m rectifying now with my first Lupino choice. The Bigamist (1953) has Lupino, both in front of and behind the camera, playing opposite Joan Fontaine as dueling women who discover their husband is one and the same. I’m interested in seeing if the husband ends up being redeemed by the end or is presented in stereotypical “cad” terms. Lupino is one of the preeminent female directors of the studio era, and I’m interested in seeing her tackle a topic that could put women at each other’s throats. The Bigamist airs as part of TCM’s tribute to films restored by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association on January 6th at midnight.

TheUnfaithful

On first reading The Unfaithful’s (1947) premise and seeing the cast I thought it was akin to the nifty noir, Shadow on the Wall (1950). Unfortunately I was misinformed as the latter came out three years after this and stars Ann Sheridan, not Ann Sothern. Either way, The Unfaithful follows a woman caught up in a murder when her husband’s away and, much like Shadow, includes Zachary Scott. I’m calling it now, he’s the one at the center of this murder (as he usually is). It also stars Dr. Kildare, aka Lew Ayres, who I haven’t watched in anything since enjoying him in Holiday (1938). The Unfaithful airs January 6th at 4:30pm.

YoursMineOurs

One of my fellow writers – he knows who he is – mentioned an appreciation of Yours, Mine and Ours (1968) so when I saw it pop up on TCM’s schedule for January I had to include it or risk being a bad friend. I absolutely adore Lucille Ball, yet her life after I Love Lucy, particularly in terms of her film work, is a mystery to me. Much like similar “big family” comedies like Cheaper By the Dozen (1950) and With Six You Get Eggroll (1968), this sees two families blend together with complications ensuing. You can’t go wrong with Ball, Henry Fonda, Van Johnson, and a gaggle of kids, right? Yours, Mine and Ours airs at 6pm on January 10th.

PardonMyPast

January’s Star of the Month is Fred MacMurray, an actor whose work I’ve begrudgingly come to appreciate (he’s still a louse in The Apartment!). In a plot that sounds ripped from the works of Frank Capra or Preston Sturges, Pardon My Past (1945) has MacMurray playing a penniless veteran mistaken for a wealthy playboy. Based on the Leonard Maltin synopsis there might be an air of The Prince and the Pauper to this, as well. Get up early to record Pardon My Past at 6:30am on January 14th.

KissesForMyPresident

This was a reader recommendation at some point that was preempted for a TCM Remembers tribute and I figured I’d properly include it here. Kisses for My President (1964) deals with the totally insane concept of a female President of the United States; please take note of the sarcasm. Polly Bergen plays our President with MacMurray as the husband trying to deal with the changes. I’m a sucker for “President’s home life” movies which, before discovering this, tends to deal with presidential children. The power shift, both in the marriage and in our government, should be fun to watch if not incredibly dated by today’s standards. Kisses for My President airs during Fred MacMurray’s tribute on January 21st at 2:15am.

TheYounginHeart

After a lackluster introduction to the work of Janet Gaynor, I was hesitant to give her films another look. The Young in Heart (1938) makes the list for two other stars, Paulette Goddard and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., as well as the 3 1/2 star review Leonard Maltin gave this. The film follows a family of con artists inspired to change their wayward ways after meeting a wacky, wealthy woman; this sounds like pure screwball and that’s always fun to watch. The Young in Heart is the morning movie at 9am on January 22nd.

ConnecticutYankee

As an English major you’d think I’d have read more Mark Twain than I actually have and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court remains unread by me. Adapted several times before, TCM is showing the 1949 interpretation starring Bing Crosby. I’ve yet to be dazzled by Crosby’s work, but a movie like this can usually stand on its own merits, and dare I say I’m hoping for something in the vein of The Court Jester (1955)? A Connecticut Yankee airs on January 24th at noon.

WomanUndertheInfluence

I hate admitting I haven’t watched John Cassavetes landmark feature A Woman Under the Influence (1974). Starring Gena Rowlands, the film follows a woman slowly going mad due to the pressures of family life. Often considered an iconic piece exploring womanhood and domesticity, A Woman Under the Influence is usually cited as a must for those looking at female-centric features. Airing during a night devoted to recipients of the Governor’s Awards, A Woman Under the Influence airs January 26th at 10:15pm.

ThatUncertainFeeling

That Uncertain Feeling (1941) has a premise only found in the work of Ernst Lubitsch – “a happily married woman sees a psychoanalyst and develops doubts about her husband.” Lubitsch’s work thrived in taking couples and giving them saucy plots which threatened everything. And as if Lubitsch’s name isn’t a worthy endorsement of the film, look at the cast: Merle Oberon, Melvyn Douglas, Burgess Meredith and Eve Arden? Sign me up! You can catch That Uncertain Feeling on January 28th at 1pm.

PhantomLady

Maybe because of my enjoyment of Lady on a Train (1945), but I’ve settled on watching more mysteries in 2016. Phantom Lady (1944) stars that human void – sorry, don’t care for him – Franchot Tone as part of a story involving a man suspected of murdering his wife, and the “phantom lady” who can provide proof of his innocence. Looking at the cast alone, Phantom Lady sounds like a fun, if slight, B-movie mystery airing on January 31st at 8:30am.

THE TCM TRIO

DoubleIndemnity

Let’s give it up for Star of the Month, Fred MacMurray by watching a trio of his legendary performances opposite the incomparable Barbara Stanwyck.. Starting at 8pm, Fred MacMurray lands in hot water with Barbara Stanwyck in Double Indemnity (1944). Then, at 10pm, MacMurray and Stanwyck realize There’s Always Tomorrow (1956). Finally, MacMurray and Stanwyck learn how to Remember the Night (1940).

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5 thoughts on “The TCM Top Ten for January 2016

  1. “The Unfaithful” is a post-war spin on “The Letter” and has some interesting things to say about marriage and relationships.

    “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” features that well known (!!) musical trio of Crosby, William Bendix and Sir Cedric Hardwicke. Their number (“Busy Doing Nothing”) is a real treat.

    “Phantom Lady” delves deep into noir territory. Siodmak was a master.

  2. I had no idea that MacMurray and Stanwyck starred in two other flicks besides Double Indemnity. Phantom Lady and Woman under influence are the only ones on this list whose plot sound interesting to me. Have a happy new year

  3. I found your blog through a google search for The Young in Heart. I look forward to seeing the movie tomorrow morning on TCM. I’m on a mission to see every Douglas Fairbanks Jr. film! I really enjoy him in screwball comedies like The Joy of Living and Parachute Jumper and feel he is sometimes overlooked as one of the great actors of Hollywood’s Golden Age.

    • Hi Allison! Glad you stumbled upon my site. I’m actually considering Fairbanks Jr. for a future Fridays With… series. He’s an actor whose work I’ve seen pieces of, but never really explored it.

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