Another month and another TCM Top Twelve (if you’re keeping track I’ve reviewed two films that made my Top Twelve in May and one from my Twelve in June…that’s not good). I’ve decided in the interest of my DVR to limit things to 12 and 12 alone, no honorable mentions (unless I decide to watch them live). I’m still undecided on whether to do a standard TCM Top Twelve in August or do a separate looking at the Best of the TCM Summer Under the Stars but that’s next time. Let’s look at the twelve movies I’m anticipating in July!
**Keep in mind air dates can change the discretion of TCM and times listed are Pacific so plan accordingly**
This choice came as a result of my participation in the William Wyler Blogathon, not to mention my love of classic literary adaptations. While I can’t say that Pride and Prejudice is my favorite book (it’s not) nor can I say I’ve seen every adaptation (I think I’ve seen one and that’s the modern take) I am interested in seeing this version. Namely because I adore Laurence Olivier as Heathcliffe in Wuthering Heights and can imagine he’d be a brilliant Darcy. I’ve also never seen a Greer Garson film. TCM is showing this early in the morning on July 3rd.
Another choice inspired by a recent post, I’m hoping to catch Ace in the Hole as it’s one of the films directed by Billy Wilder I haven’t seen. I’ve heard nothing but great things about this movie which deals with an ace reporter (Kirk Douglas) trying to make something big out of a small-town disaster. I seem to be in a media mood, what with my recent review of Network and my new-found love for Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom. Should be nice to see this look at small-town media, I’m sure I’ll discover not much has changed. Ace in the Hole airs during a night of films programmed by director Spike Lee July 5th (might be a good night to stay in as right after is The Night of the Hunter, On the Waterfront and my next pick).
It seems I won’t be doing anything July 5th as there’s a block of quality films that day. I mentioned trying to round out my Billy Wilder filmography, well the same applies to Elia Kazan (a director I love just a bit more than Wilder…sorry). I’d actually never associated with A Face in the Crowd with Kazan, I was just looking through TCM and the title caught my eye. A Face in the Crowd seems to be in the same vein as Ace in the Hole as it follows a television executive (Patricia Neal) who turns a singing drifter into a media darling. Elia Kazan telling a tale of how fame corrupts (I’m assuming that’s the plot because what else could be about with that poster). Sounds like the hard-hitting tales Kazan is known for. Once again, that airs July 5th!
Them! is a movie I always see on my Netflix Watch Instantly and it seems like it’s constantly on TCM…so I figured if I finally watched it, I’d stop seeing it (isn’t that how it always is). I know the film has a camp quality to it like Mystery Science Theater 3000 (anyone know if they ever reviewed this?). I’m expecting a hokey story of government testing, mutated ants, and some solid stop-motion or rear projection effects. You too can watch the story of mutated ants early in the morning on July 11th!
What’s the Matter With Helen was an impulse choice. I have no idea what this movie is about but it’s a 1970s horror movie starring Debbie Reynolds (Little Ms. Perfect) and Shelley Winters! That sounds all kinds of amazing. The story, according to TCM, tells of two women, whose sons are convicted of murder, who move to Hollywood and open a talent school. I usually try to include one movie whose premise sounds awesome and/or ridiculous and I have a soft-spot for 1970s horror. If anything this sounds like a crazy middle-aged version of Suspiria (I don’t know why I’m getting that image, I just am). Please let there be a Debbie Reynolds/Shelley Winters catfight at some point and what’s up with Reynolds as a puppet…this movie could suck and I’d find something fun about it. What’s the Matter with Helen airs July 14th.
I’ve mentioned my distaste for Fred MacMurray (nothing personal but it all goes back to his douchey character in The Apartment) but I’m interested in gaining a better appreciation for Ms. Jean Arthur and this is cited as one of her must-see films. The plot does strike a chord with me as it seems oddly similar (almost like a complete rip-off with gender switched) of the Cary Grant film My Favorite Wife. In this case Jean’s character believes her husband is dead, he isn’t, and she tries to make a go of it with her new and old husbands. Either way it’s a screwball comedy and there’s nothing wrong with those, if it ain’t broke right? Too Many Husbands airs in a marathon of Fred MacMurray films on July 15th.
You may consider this a bit of a cheat but I don’t. See, I’ve seen parts of Peyton Place but not the entire film. I missed a few days of film class where we watched this and say about 30 minutes in the end (and that was a good 5 years ago so I barely remember that). Either way, who doesn’t love one of the prime examples of the soap opera style of film from the late 50s. I consider this a different entity than melodrama because it deals with everything from incest, to murder (according to my recollections). Not to mention it stars Lana Turner, whose scandals I’ve read about but never seen on film. Catch Peyton Place on July 15th!
I debated for a while on whether to include this or Orson Welles’ legendary Citizen Kane but in the end I keep trying to avoid CK and decided to try out The Magnificent Ambersons, a film whose tortured history I’ve read about. The film boasts an amazing cast of actors I enjoy including Anne Baxter and Agnes Moorehead and I’m interested in seeing how the film’s numerous cuts and history plays out on-screen. You can watch The Magnificent Ambersons, right after Citizen Kane, on July 20th.
It appears there’s an unofficial theme going with my picks this month as this is the second film titled with the “Too Many” moniker. I don’t know much about Too Many Girls but it stars both Lucille Ball (who I’m dying to see in other roles after adoring her appearance in Stage Door) and Desi Arnaz before they were married! The plot seems humorous, involving football players chaperoning a ditzy heiress who I’m assuming is Ball. Either way it should be great to see Ball and Arnaz before they slipped into the roles that would make them household names in I Love Lucy. Too Many Girls airs alongside a group of films featuring couples Before They Were Married on July 21st.
If there’s one movie on everyone’s lips in the classic film community it’s The Best Years of Our Lives. Again, this was inspired by the William Wyler Blogathon and I can’t even name all the various critics “Must-See” films and other lists that cite this film. I should have made this a priority a long time ago but so many movies, so little time. Not only is it a must in the Wyler canon it includes quite the cast including Myrna Loy (I’m assuming not playing a light Nora Charles type character) and Teresa Wright whose name is another I hear a lot. I think I’ll be in a great deal of trouble with the classic film bloggers of the world if I don’t see this and you can too when it airs July 28th.
I’m continuing in my attempts to feature at least one documentary in my picks (in instances where TCM doesn’t offer anything I’ll be borrowing from my Netflix Watch Instantly). This month’s documentary is Joan Crawford: The Ultimate Movie Star. Made in 2002 and narrated by Anjelica Huston (a favorite of mine), I’m hoping this documentary looks at more than just Mommie Dearest or similar tales of Crawford’s troubled relationship with her children. Most people have come to see Crawford as purely an atrocious person and not looking at the body of amazing performances she left behind. Hopefully, this documentary looks at the good and the bad, the woman and the actress. Joan Crawford: The Ultimate Movie Star airs after a night of Crawford films on July 29th.
Making another appearance on The TCM Top Twelve is a Boris Karloff movie. Last month I included The Black Cat and in a further attempt to diversify I’m hoping to include more old horror films from the 1930s-1940s (hmmm I wonder if I’ve discovered my Halloween theme this year). The Walking Dead, not to be confused with the AMC series, follows a reanimated man seeking revenge. It’s directed by acclaimed director Michael Curtiz as well, if there’s one thing Karloff did it was work with phenomenal directors. The Walking Dead airs early in the morning (right time for a horror movie) on July 29th!
That’s the top twelve for this month. What movies (TCM or otherwise) are you looking forward to in July? Till next month!
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.