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The TCM Top Twelve in May

The TCM Top Twelve of May

Here’s that new segment I was talking about (having gone under some heavy revisions in 24 hours.  I’m working on a banner for this and I’m open to suggestion.  I notice that a lot of blogs put up the TCM schedule and do commentary which I love but I want to set myself apart, thus the top 12 movies I’ve never seen (but plan to watch) airing on TCM every month.  Yes I’m going to embarrass myself revealing movies I’ve never seen before but I hope in trying to find twelve I’ll also discover movies I might have glossed over.  Now this segment is a first time so any suggestions on changes are appreciated!

TOP TWELVE MOVIES (in order of air date)

Cover of "Sullivan's Travels: The Criteri...

This is airing on TCM tonight in honor of the TCM star of the month Joel McCrea.  Now if you’re on Netflix like me, there’s a total absence of any movies starring Veronica Lake (except for this one) and I fell in love with her after seeing Kim Basinger as her doppelgänger in L.A. Confidential.  It was cemented further by Lake’s performance in the sweet Halloween film I Married a Witch.  Hell, when George Clooney starts quoting Sullivan’s Travels, I knew I was out of the loop!  This is already set on my DVR and I could care less what it’s about, it’s a classic and it’s got Veronica Lake!

Cover of "The Three Faces of Eve"
The Three Faces of Eve

I originally got this movie confused with All About Eve when I was first getting into classic movies (I was young, sue me).  Since then I’ve wanted to see it as the story of a woman with multiple personalities is a topic I don’t think I’ve ever seen discussed in film.  Not to mention a film made in the late 1950s.  It’s on May 2nd!

Cover of "Waterloo Bridge"

I’ve seen Waterloo Bridge on DVD at Barnes and Noble so many times I probably should buy it!  I actually didn’t know what it was about till I started compiling this list and boy does the plot sound intriguing.  “A ballerina turns to prostitution when her fiance is reported killed in WWI!”  Ballet, prostitution, Vivien Leigh, 1940!  I have to see how this gets played out.  On the surface the plot sounds like a soapy redemption story (and I have the sneaking suspicion that fiance might not be as dead as the synopsis…right?).  Either way I’m a fan of Leigh and director Mervyn Leroy (although I’m not sure if his work on the Bad Seed is universally beloved as I think it is).  It’s on TCM May 5th during The Essentials: Star-Crossed Romances

"I Want to Live!"

Robert Wise is one of my favorite directors and I doubt I’ve seen half his canon.  There’s so many of his movies that I love from The Sound of Music to West Side Story to The Haunting.  I Want to Live stars Susan Hayward as a crook trying to avoid the gas chamber.  It’s sad to say I’ve never seen Susan Hayward in a film (it’s getting worse I know) and for 1958 I have a few preconceived notions of how this film will play out.  I mean there’s a 50/50 chance of her dying right?  It’s slated to show on May 10th during TCM’s Spotlight on True Crime.

Mildred Pierce

Personally my go-to Mother’s Day movie is Mommy Dearest.  That’s no disrespect to my mother whose wonderful, we both love that movie (and Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford)!  But TCM is doing a Mother’s Day tribute on May 13th and how ironic they plan on showing a movie that stars Joan Crawford (hopefully free of wire hangers).  I’ve seen the HBO miniseries on Mildred Pierce and while Kate Winslet and Guy Pearce were AMAZING I couldn’t stand Evan Rachel Wood as the daughter Veda.  From what I’ve heard I’ll have the same sentiments watching this!

You Can't Take It With You
You Can't Take It With You

I’m not a Frank Capra fan.  I’ve admitted that a few times I think on this blog (most recently during my Jean Harlow Retrospective when I discussed Platinum Blonde).  So it’s odd that I’ve picked this film (and that my mother has secretly bought me a Frank Capra box set as a graduation gift…don’t tell her I know!).  I figure I’m being too harsh on the guy and should make a better opinion after seeing some more diverse films.  I get Jean Arthur confused with a lot of other actresses and I can’t tell you if I’ve seen her in any other movies but the premise of a girl trying to impress her fiance’s conservative parents sounds like it’ll be hilarious.  It’s set to air on May 18th in a morning devoted to the works of Frank Capra.

Norma Rae
Norma Rae

As I’m mentioned on this blog, I’m taking a Women in Film class and yet we glossed over the films of the 1980s that focused on women trying to unionize.  There’s Silkwood or the more recent ones like North Country but the one I always hear about is Norma Rae.  I’m a Sally Field fan, and this movie airs on the 21st in honor of Sally Field, and of women’s causes so it seems like a natural fit.


The next day, the 22nd, is a Rita Hayworth double feature.  I’ve only seen the first 30 minutes of Gilda (I KNOW!) and that needs to be fixed.  I’ve seen the “Who me?” and the “Blame on Mame” part and need to finish the rest.  It’s airing right before a fantastic documentary on Hayworth herself entitled Rita that I saw last year and highly recommend.  I promise I’ll have checked Gilda off my list of movies this month!  Please don’t take away my classic film card!

Born to Be Bad
Born to Be Bad

I was aimlessly looking for a twelfth movie and stumbled on this one.  The premise of Born to Be Bad involves a woman getting a rich husband but keeping her lover on the side.  Again, I’m all for soap opera drama in a classic film and being from 1950 there might be a lot, I mean look at this poster.  Not to mention the film seemingly boasts a fantastic director in Nicholas Ray and stars the beautiful Joan Fontaine.  It’s not to be confused with the Cary Grant film of the same name.  It airs May 23rd.


Speaking of Cary Grant (segue!) that takes us to the next film I want to see in May, Topper!  I honestly don’t know what I expected this movie to be about, I just knew it had Cary Grant but does it have a fun premise.  The movie revolves around a couple returning from the dead to help a henpecked husband.  So it’s like Beetlejuice if Beetlejuice was just about Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis?…..Beetlejuice!  It airs May 26th during The Essentials Spotlight on Billie Burke.

Baby Face
Baby Face

Here’s another movie I’ve only seen parts of this (this time for a regular film class I took awhile back).  I seem to be seeing a lot of Barbara Stanwyck films for school, or at least inspired to see them.  I know the origins of this movie and its racy storyline.  I also know the ending is pretty much a cop-out for the time period so not to expect much of a resolution.  I’m all for saucy one-liners through and a girl…making her way to the top.  It airs May 29th in a morning devoted to Barbara Stanwyck so fans set your Tivos!

Irving Thalberg: Prince of Hollywood
Irving Thalberg himself

My last film is actually a documentary, Irving Thalberg: Prince of Hollywood.  I personally wish TCM aired more documentaries and making-of specials.  Their eight-part series on the history of film was the best thing I’ve seen and I wish they did more.  Either way Irving Thalberg is one of the most influential people in early Hollywood.  I know he died incredibly young (37) and was married to Norma Shearer which made her the envy of actresses everywhere.  Hopefully this documentary will teach me more than that, and since it’s TCM I know they won’t disappoint.  It airs May 30th.

The full TCM schedule with the complete list of movies showing in May is available on!

General Stuff:  Our poll on the next movie I review seems to be at in the grips of a three-way tie between The Tempest, Cape Fear, and Night of the Hunter.  Now, mind you all of them are a single vote so please vote even if you’re just passing through!  Also, the contest will be revealed hopefully by Friday along with the banners for our Leading Man tourney!  Thank you to the fantastic Monty at All Good Things who has graciously volunteered to write an intro for our upcoming tourney.  I’m also hoping to have a legit movie review tomorrow or Thursday of The Ex-Mrs. Bradford.  School is literally kicking my ass over the next two weeks but after the 15th I’m free to devote every waking second to this blog till September!  Bear with me.

Kristen Lopez View All

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.

18 thoughts on “The TCM Top Twelve in May Leave a comment

  1. I envy you, watching Gilda for the first time, it is my favorite Glenn Ford movie and a must see noir. Can’t wait to find out what you think of it. As for Mildred Pierce, it does not follow the book as faithfully as the HBO version, which was practically verbatim. IMO, the changes made for the Crawford movie were an improvement. Despite enjoying Pearce and Winslet, I thought the HBO version dragged and required some serious editting.

    • I’ve heard similar things about Mildred Pierce so I’m hoping I enjoy it more than the HBO version. I’ll definitely be posting a review when I watch Gilda (and thankfully I’ll have time to breath after the stress of school).

  2. I’ve seen about half of those. I’ve got Norma Rae coming to me soon on DVD as I’m working my way back through the Oscar nominated films I’ve yet to see. Good list.

  3. I love TCM, but haven’t seen much on your list. I have seen HBO’s Mildred Pierce, like many others. I loved it and hated Veda so much…it was hard not to. Thanks for the movie ideas, I’ll add them to my list!

    • Happy to help! I’ve read numerous books about what Veda symbolizes in the original book and the movie…should be interesting to compare the two filmed adaptations. Thanks for reading!

  4. Never be embarrassed that you haven’t yet seen a movie…no matter HOW famous it is. After all, there are SO many movies and only so much time in our lives! I still have never seen “Citizen Kane,” “Vertigo,” “A Streetcar Named Desire,” and a host of others.

    As for your list…I adore many of the movies you are hoping to watch. “Waterloo Bridge” is one of my top 20 movies of all-time…definitely my favorite Robert Taylor film (and I quite adore him). “Born to Be Bad” has my #1 Robert Ryan, so I’m wild about that film. And Susan Hayward is my #2 gal, and “I Want to Live” is her Academy Award-winning role, so I love that one.

    Anyhow, I’ve seen most of the ones you are hoping to see. Hope they all meet your expectations.

    • Yay, another Citizen Kane avoider. I think that’s the one I get the most flak on having not seen. True, there’s only so many movies a person can see, but it seems that to be taken seriously as a movie writer you get a lot of heat for not seeing the “BIG” movies.

  5. Forgot to make a comment about “You Can’t Take It with You.” I will be curious to hear what you think of it. While I DO love Capra, I’m only so-so about that film. I think it’s my least favorite of all his movies. The rest of my family loves it, but it’s a bit too slapstick for my tastes. Plus, I feel it’s too long…although it’s just over 2 hours, it seems to drag on endlessly for me. It’s got a terrific cast, though!

    • I’m definitely on the fence about Capra in general. I’m just not as in love with his work as others. When I said It’s a Wonderful Life was overrated to a friend of mine I almost got slapped lol.

  6. To be honest, I haven’t seen too many of these, either – there are just too many movies out there! I’m particularly looking forward to I Want to Live! and Baby Face. For your final pick, I’d say Born to Be Bad is a great choice. I caught it on TCM when it aired several months ago, and it’s a pretty entertaining little melodrama, especially if you’re a fan of Nicholas Ray and/or Joan Fontaine. I’m curious to hear your thoughts on it.

    • That’s what I say about books and movies…there’s just too many! I’m definitely happy to get back into my TCM groove, school has definitely put a damper on my viewing habits.

  7. I’ll pass on Citizen Kane, I didn’t think it was all that great a film. I think as movie lovers we all have different views and that is good.

  8. Did you ever see Veronica Lake with Claudette Colbert in So Proudly We Hail? It is a tremendous film.

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