A new year of the TCM Top Twelve kicks off with a slate of movies that I’m interested in. Unfortunately, TCM doesn’t seem to have any documentaries worth seeking out, in my opinion, nor is there a prime-time series this month where I’ve seen all the films. Regardless of that, there’s still twelve movies I’m hoping to seek out this month. Remember that I’m using Pacific time, and that TCM can change their schedule at their discretion. So, let’s see what TCM has in store for audiences in January!
When I reviewed Ernst Lubitsch‘s Heaven Can Wait I mentioned how, despite having the same title, that film shared little in common with the 1970s film Heaven Can Wait. That film was a remake of this movie, 1941’s Here Comes Mr. Jordan. Since I love both versions of Heaven Can Wait, I figure it might be time to check out this film. The movie itself tells the story of a prizefighter who dies before his time and returns in the body of a wealthy tycoon whose wife tries to kill him. My fingers are crossed that it’s as funny and heartfelt as the Warren Beatty remake. It also stars Robert Montgomery, the father of Elizabeth Montgomery, and I’ve never actually seen him act. Here Comes Mr. Jordan airs January 2nd at 2:30pm.
The Incredible Shrinking Man is one of those 1950s sci-fi films I should have seen well before this. I mean, it’s referenced in countless films (most hilariously in The Jimmy Neutron film). I mean the man shrinks and his entire living room becomes a house of horrors! I have the Richard Matheson work this is based on, and haven’t read that yet, so I’m hoping this will light the fire under me to read it. Catch The Incredible Shrinking Man on January 4th at 8pm.
Since I had to narrow my list down to twelve movies I tried to limit it to one film a day, and the seventh had two movies worth watching. I went with the 1956 film Somebody Up There Likes Me against The Bad and the Beautiful (I’ll leave that up to you readers to tell me if that was a bad choice). I’ve read about this in countless books due to the caliber of talent that was originally involved. This film was meant to be a vehicle for James Dean before his untimely accident, and it does star Sal Mineo in his follow-up to Rebel Without a Cause. The connections to James Dean become three-fold with the appearance of Pier Angeli, who was Dean’s girlfriend. It’s also directed by Robert Wise who has created some of my favorite films. Somebody Up There Likes Me is on January 7th at 3pm.
Anything directed by William Wyler should immediately go on this list! I’ve heard nothing but fantastic things about The Little Foxes, and I should since it’s directed by Wyler and stars the incomparable Bette Davis. From the synopsis it follows an ambitious woman (Davis) fighting her brothers and husband to gain wealth. It’s airing during a slate of films detailing Southern belles of which I know Davis excels. It also stars Teresa Wright who I’ve been saying I’ll see more of after loving her in Mrs. Miniver. You can catch The Little Foxes on January 12th at 9:45pm after a double feature of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, and A Streetcar Named Desire (I guess that’d be a prime-time must-see!).
I actually own Spellbound, but I’m listing here to remind myself to actually watch it. I recently rewatched Hitchcock’s Notorious (which I’ll review soon), and consider Ingrid Bergman to be the best of Hitchcock’s “cool blondes.” I’ve heard a lot said about the surrealistic images Hitchcock employs here, as well as the psychological dialogue employed. To me, it’s all about seeing Bergman tear up her role, especially opposite Gregory Peck who I’m still on the fence about. Spellbound is on January 13th at 1pm.
Carnal Knowledge is a film that could be hit or miss. It’s directed by Mike Nichols who’s directed some incredibly influential films, but it’s always hard to judge films detailing the sexual revolution considering our views on sex now. Either way, I love Ann-Margaret and this is the film that secured her an Oscar nomination. Carnal Knowledge airs January 14th at 9:45pm.
I heard about No Way Out during my recent reading of My Life as a Mankiewicz as it’s directed by Joseph Mankiewicz. The film tells of a racist gangster who forces a black doctor, played by Sidney Poitier, to treat him. The film is a landmark in portraying racism on-screen apparently, and is still considered a provocative movie. I generally enjoy Sidney Poitier, although I haven’t seen nearly enough of his dramatic work, and Richard Widmark hasn’t dazzled me in anything yet, but with a Mankiewicz at the helm it’s worth seeking out. Catch No Way Out at 3am on January 21st.
Cast a Dark Shadow has a gritty, film noir plot that sold me. I mean read it: A wife-killer marries an innocent barmaid and plots her death. That’s a Hitchcock-esque premise right there! The film also stars Dirk Bogarde who I loved in Victim. Bogarde played the aforementioned victim, so it should be a great dichotomy to see him play a sinister Bluebird. Cast a Dark Shadow airs at 3am on January 22nd.
If you’ve read this column long enough you know I enjoy a bad horror movie, or a premise that sounds so ridiculous it has to have some redeeming value. I mean who would turn their nose up at a film called The Sadist? The film is from 1963 so we’re looking at an early Last House on the Left, or a horrible Mystery Science Theater 3000 film! I’m excited to see the good, the bad, the ugly, or a combination of all three. Check out The Sadist on January 23rd at 4:30am.
The Tender Trap is one of two films starring Frank Sinatra that made this list, and I can’t really explain why as I have a “take it or leave it” interest in Sinatra as an actor. The Tender Trap seems cute simply because it has Debbie Reynolds, but it also has a romantic comedy premise as old as time. I’m a sucker generally for films about smooth gentlemen and the women who resist, but keep in mind I only like this premise in older films as they’re actually formulated logically. If any actors could easily pull off this type of story it’s Sinatra and Reynolds. The Tender Trap is on January 25th at 5pm.
Otto Preminger continues to set himself apart as one of my favorite directors who wasn’t afraid to tackle the tough subjects. I’ve come upon The Man With the Golden Arm several times, and still haven’t seen it. I understand it’s a rather dated look at drug addiction, but considering the time period it’s a seminal film in breaking down the barriers of showing drug addiction on film. It’s also the second of two Frank Sinatra films that I have here, and I don’t think both could be more different. The Man With the Golden Arm is on January 29th at 4:45am.
As a classic film blogger it pains me to say I’m ill-equipped to discuss Orson Welles, as I haven’t seen nearly enough of his work. The lone film I know off-hand that I’ve seen is The Lady From Shanghai. The Stranger sounds amazing, gripping, suspenseful; all of which I found and loved in The Lady From Shanghai. The film also stars TCM’s Star of the Month Loretta Young who I will say I’m not a huge fan of, but playing a schoolteacher is easily within her wheelhouse. The Stranger airs January 30th at 6:45pm.
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.