Summertime has arrived and though the weather might be too beautiful to waste indoors who can pass up what TCM’s offering in June? Between the spotlight on Gay Hollywood, Star of the Month Audrey Hepburn and the always watchable Noir Alley, you might have to time your trips into the sunshine around TCM’s schedule….but, that’s why you have me. I’ve listed ten movies I know I’ll be seeking out this month. Feel free to leave other suggestions in the comments.
**All times listed as Eastern. TCM can change the schedule at their discretion**
TCM’s putting a spotlight on homosexuality in cinema this June with their Gay Hollywood series, and kicking things off is the 1931 film Just a Gigolo. The film follows a British lord who pretend to be a gigolo to escape a gold digger. Directed by Jack Conway of Libeled Lady (1936) fame, Just a Gigolo stars William Haines, whose career ended in the late ’30s after he refused to keep his homosexuality under wraps. I’ve heard Haines’ name and was aware of his past, but I can’t say I’ve watched his work. Just a Gigolo airs June 1st at 8pm.
Another installment of Treasures From the Disney Vault arrives this month and the subtheme, I’m assuming, is “Starring Haley Mills.” I recommend watching Summer Magic (1963) earlier in the evening. It’s a sweet coming-of-age tale. The one I haven’t watched is what ended up on the list: 1960’s Pollyanna. Pollyanna is directed by David Swift, who also helmed Mills’ The Parent Trap (1961) the year after. Based on Eleanor Porter’s novel, Pollyanna is a “glad girl” whose cheerful optimism changes the small-town around her. I’m all for Disney’s 1960 brand of happiness, accompanied by Mills’ acting, but I doubt this will be as enduring as The Parent Trap. Jane Wyman, Agnes Moorehead, Karl Malden, Adolph Menjou, Donald Crisp and Nancy Olson also pop up, so talk about a cavalcade of stars. Meet Pollyanna on June 2nd at 10pm.
Full disclosure: I’ve never watched Grand Hotel (1932), of which Weekend at the Waldorf (1945) is a remake. Regardless, both movies involve all-star casts who navigate life and love while living in a hotel. Where the previous film starred Joan Crawford and Greta Garbo, Weekend at the Waldorf has Ginger Rogers, Lana Turner and Van Johnson, among others. I’m going to guess this one has more song and dance in it? I love the cast and director Robert Z. Leonard hasn’t steered me wrong so far. Spend a Weekend at the Waldorf on June 3rd at 6:15am.
I always forget Dick Powell was more than just the star of Busby Berkeley musicals. He played hard-boiled detective Philip Marlowe and was a director. Split Second (1953) was the first of Powell’s five turns behind the camera. The film follows convicts who hole up in a ghost town where a nuclear bomb is being tested. This sounds like the quintessential ’50s movie with its fear of nuclear power decimating small-town America. It also boasts the beautiful Alexis Smith, an actress I’ve seen in several features but have yet to make a determination on in regards to whether I like her or not. Maybe this film will help me decide? Find out what happens in Split Second on June 8th at 8:45am.
Marlene Dietrich was the focus of my first round of July Five subjects, but we didn’t even scratch the surface of her remarkable career. TCM honors her with a presentation of three of her films; I picked Song of Songs (1933). Song of Songs sees Dietrich as a lowly country girl who marries a wealthy man, in spite of her love for a lowly sculptor. The film’s directed by the legendary Rouben Mamoulian and stars pre-Code leading man Lionel Atwill alongside Dietrich. You might recall Atwill for his horror films, Mystery at the Wax Museum (1933) and Doctor X (1932). Sing the Song of Songs with Marlene Dietrich on June 13th at 10pm.
Take a tropical vacation with TCM this month as they settle in for a day of films set in the South Sea islands. There were several films I wanted to put on this list, but I went with one that featured two of my favorite things: pre-Code and Joel McCrea. Enter Bird of Paradise (1932). McCrea stars as a visitor who falls for a Polynesian beauty (Dolores Del Rio) while on a trip to the islands. It’s directed by King Vidor whose work I generally associate with the homefront; he worked on Kansas sequences in The Wizard of Oz (1939). I can’t say I’ve watched Del Rio in anything, but you can’t go wrong with Joel McCrea. Find the Bird of Paradise on June 14th at 7:15am.
You can’t go wrong with beautiful costumes in a movie! When I watched the 2015 documentary about Orry-Kelly, Women He’s Undressed, I was taken by clips shown from this movie, Les Girls (1957). They’re exquisite, and it’s not a surprise that Kelly won an Oscar for his work on this. Cast the clothes aside – well, not literally – and you have the story of three showgirls who recount their very different journeys through Europe. Sounds like The Pleasure Seekers (1964) meets Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)? I’m assuming, of course. Les Girls is directed by George Cukor, master director of several “women’s pictures,” and stars the likes of Gene Kelly, Mitzi Gaynor and Kay Kendall. Meet Les Girls on June 16th at 5:45am.
From the looks of things Lana Turner is my unofficial Star of the Month. The second Turner film on this list is Slightly Dangerous (1943) which sounds mostly pleasant….insert rimshot here. Turner plays a girl who changes her identity and flees to New York. Unfortunately she fails to tell anybody her plans and her boyfriend ends up being a suspect in her disappearance. Don’t you just hate it when you’re erroneously accused of murder? Turner acts opposite Robert Montgomery, one of several Roberts I confuse with each other. Do something Slightly Dangerous on June 19th at 11:30am.
You should know by now that I’m a fan of weird ’80s movies. This is the same site that put up a review praising TerrorVision (1986), after all. Eating Raoul stars ’80s horror gem Mary Woronov as one half of a Los Angeles couple who fund their new restaurant through less than savory means. Am I detecting shades of Sweeney Todd here? This is a film in the Criterion Collection so there must be something pretty special going on. I’m just here for what I hope is some gory goodness. Eating Raoul airs June 22nd at 1am.
The first book I read when I went to college was John Updike’s Rabbit, Run. I’d never read anything like it and it both terrified me and intrigued me about the college experience. I say all this to explain my logic in putting the 1970 film adaptation on this list. I didn’t even know this was adapted for the screen! Caan plays the eponymous Rabbit, dissatisfied with his life and job. It’s the ultimate midlife crisis film. Watch Rabbit, Run on June 28th at 2:15am.
THE TCM TRIO
TCM has the best acting trio set up for June 15th. Things start at 5:30pm when Cary Grant meets the wrong end of a crop duster in North By Northwest (1959). Then, James Dean, Natalie Wood and Sal Mineo learn what it means to be a Rebel Without a Cause (1955) at 8pm. And, finally, Jane Wyman and Rock Hudson are lovers who learn All That Heaven Allows (1955) at 10:15pm.
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.