The temperature’s rising and there’s no better time to sit down and cool off with TCM. I tried mixing things up a bit with a host of different genres and films, all of which I’m eager to check out for the first time. What’s on your TCM Top Ten for June?
**Times are listed as Eastern. TCM can change the schedule at their discretion.**
My friend and ClassicFlix associate Laura brought Johnny Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1944) to my attention in a previous article she wrote. I’m a sucker for post-WWII housing films (Apartment for Peggy remains the top example) and I’ll watching Simone Simon in anything. Simon plays a woman who sublets a Marine’s apartment without knowing several other men will be there too. Perfect set-up for housing hijinks! You can find out why Johnny Doesn’t Live Here Anymore on June 7th at 3:45pm.
It’s been awhile since I put a cheesy horror movie in this column. A woman’s quest for beauty leaves a monstrous wasp in The Wasp Woman (1960). As if the woman isn’t vain enough she’s described as a cosmetics executive, proof that beauty is truly skin deep and making one’s skin better can turn you into a flying insect! This sounds like a fun sci-fi/horror film in the vein of Attack of the 50-Foot Woman (1958). What else would you expect from a film directed by Roger Corman? The Wasp Woman airs June 11th at 6:45am.
This month’s attempt to branch out has me picking an adventure/war film. I read the Tennyson poem on which the title is derived in high school, but Lord help me if I remember anything. I doubt director Michael Curtiz borrowed much, if any of it, for this. The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936) sees two brothers – one of whom is Errol Flynn – vying for the affections of the same woman, played by Flynn leading lady Olivia de Havilland. A war-time love triangle with Flynn and de Havilland is more than enough to capture my attention, particularly in the light of my enjoyment of Dodge City (1939) and Captain Blood (1935). Get up early for The Charge of the Light Brigade on June 12th at 6:30am.
After the one-two punch of The Cat and the Canary (1939) and The Ghost Breakers (1940) I’ve decided to watch more of Bob Hope’s work. My Favorite Brunette (1947) caught my eye for its similarity to My Favorite Wife (1940), one of my favorite comedies. Hope is a baby photographer mistaken for a PI and implicated in murder. You have to love how Hope can’t just be a photographer; he has to be the softest type of photographer – of babies! Dorothy Lamour also stars and she’s an actress whose work I’ve yet to experience. Meet My Favorite Brunette on June 15th at 7:30am.
My favorite film is Anne of the Thousand Days (1969), so it stands to reason I’ll give any 1960s costume drama my time. Camelot (1967) is best remembered as the musical that gave us Julie Andrews along with recounting the love triangle between King Arthur, Queen Guinevere and Lancelot. Unfortunately Andrews wasn’t able to star in the film but it still boasts an impressive cast that includes Richard Harris and Vanessa Redgrave, two actors who I wouldn’t immediately assume as musical stars. Camelot airs June 17th at 3am.
In spite of my love for Judy Garland, I can’t say I’ve watched any of her films with regular partner Mickey Rooney. I could have picked Girl Crazy (1943), airing earlier in the month, but I went for Strike Up the Band (1940) instead. Directed by acclaimed choreographer Busby Berkeley, this is another “put on a show” movie starring Rooney and Garland as teens trying to win a national radio contest. I don’t know about you, but I think they win at the end. You, too, can Strike Up the Band on June 26th at 6am.
I’ve avoided the “epics” subsection of classic cinema like the plague. I’m sorry, but it takes a lot to hold my attention beyond three hours, let alone the 222 minutes that Ben-Hur (1959) clocks in at. But, because I’m a film critic who likes a good overview, I decided I’d watch this is anticipation of the upcoming remake. (Before you judge me, I’m a sucker for a pretty leading man, hence why I’m going to the damn film in the first place.) I also had a lot of fun with a few TCM friends at this year’s festival watching video of Gore Vidal explain the homoerotic text in the film. I’m pretty uninterested in anything starring Charlton Heston, but I’ll watch him unwittingly play a character with some bromantic love for his bestie, without knowing it. Ben-Hur airs June 27th at 10:30am, prepare to settle in for the afternoon.
A Date With Judy (1948) sounds like the perfect Kristen movie: It stars Robert Stack, Jane Powell and Elizabeth Taylor. And it’s directed by Richard Thorpe, helmer of many Esther Williams films. I can’t imagine what a movie starring the raw sexuality of Taylor with the apple-pie chastity of Powell, but I’ll give it a whirl regardless. And considering it stars this month’s Fridays With winner, Carmen Miranda, even more reason to see it. Go out on A Date With Judy June 28th at 6am.
TCM’s played this adaptation of Shakespeare’s pastoral comedy several times. I don’t think I can ignore it anymore. This happy tale of warring couples, fairies, and a weird donkey/man is one of Shakespeare’s funnier and fantastical plays. Director Max Reinhardt got a barrel full of top-tier talent, too many to mention but here’s a few: James Cagney, Dick Powell, Olivia de Havilland and Mickey Rooney. I was raised and educated on Shakespeare that I can spit out lines in my sleep. A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1935) remains one of my favorite plays for its mix of swoony romance and fantasy fun, a literal fairy tale. A Midsummer Night’s Dream airs June 30th at 12:45am.
Esther Williams in Idaho? Where’s the pool gonna be? Duchess of Idaho sees Williams trying to help her roommate find romance, only to be entangled in one of her own. Esther Williams can do no wrong, and though I worry about how we’ll shoehorn in swimming and Xavier Cugat numbers I’m prepared for some good, clean fun. Duchess of Idaho airs June 30th at 11:45am.
The TCM Trio
TCM gets quirky on June 18th starting with the final movie in its evening devoted to Jane Austen adaptations. Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet learn lessons in love in Sense and Sensibility (1995) at 12:15am. Then, Catherine Deneuve and David Bowie are vampires looking for new blood in The Hunger (1983) at 2:45am. Finally, Bowie returns as a musical ad-man teaching a young man about stardom in Absolute Beginners (1986) at 4:30am.