A new month, and thus, a new TCM Top Twelve. For long-time fans of the channel, you should be aware of TCM’s two big “events:” August has Summer Under the Stars, and February has 31 Days of Oscar. Every movie airing in primetime, and quite a few outside of that sphere, have been nominated for that coveted golden statuette. I can’t say that every movie I picked this month has an Oscar associated with it, but suffice it to say, you might want to keep TCM on throughout the month. Also in the top twelve for this month, I’ve changed up The Prime-Time Must-See. Instead of finding three films that I’ve seen, and that air strictly in the prime-time block, I’ll be finding a trio of films that I think are simply worth watching back to back to back; it’s the TCM Trio. Let’s see what’s worth seeking out this month!
**As always, the schedule can be changed at the discretion of TCM. Times listed are Pacific, so plan accordingly.**
I didn’t have a documentary choice last month, so for this month I’ve picked the special on the Warner Brothers 90th Anniversary, subtitled Tales From the Lot. There’s no description listed for it, but I’m assuming it’ll have interviews from actors/directors/etc. of today discussing how working for Warner Brothers had helped their careers. You might see a brief history of the studio (the special’s only an hour), as well as detailing the production of some of the more famous films made on the actual lot. Set your TIVOs if you’re not an early bird because this airs February 3rd, at 6am.
I had absolutely no idea that Robert Mitchum and Shirley MacLaine did a movie together! I’m not sure how I feel about Mitchum doing comedy, but him opposite one of my favorite stars of the 1960s has to have something worth seeing. Two for the Seesaw, according to TCM, follows a conservative attorney (I’m assuming Mitchum) falling in love with an “emotionally fragile” dancer (MacLaine obviously). I’m expecting melodrama, love, and it’s a comedy so humor. You can catch Two for the Seesaw on February 6th, at 12:30pm.
I remember doing my first blogathon; it was centered around stars who died too soon (you can find the post somewhere on the blog), and I did The Moon is Blue actress Maggie MaNamara. When I wrote that original post, I’d mentioned wanting to see her other notable film, Three Coins in the Fountain, so it makes this month’s list. The plot revolves around three Americans on vacation in Italy, and I’ve heard it was the basis for the 1960s movie The Pleasure Seekers, which I reviewed awhile back. Three Coins in the Fountain is on February 9th, at 9:30pm.
When Ginger Rogers won the 1930s Leading Lady Tournament last week, a commenter had mentioned her work in Bachelor Mother. February 11th seems to be devoted to Rogers with quite a few of her films listed, so out of them all I went with this movie. The plot seems ripe for screwball antics as it sees Rogers’ character be saddled with a baby that isn’t hers. Rogers played characters that you never expected to have kids, so I’m intrigued to see how this all turns out. Bachelor Mother airs February 12th (technically, but TCM doesn’t start a new day till 3am) at 1:15am.
I saw the 1998 remake of Mighty Joe Young, and from what I recall it wasn’t that bad. I’d be interested in comparing it to the original, as well as comparing this to that other movie about a lovable ape: King Kong. I doubt this will have much comparison, but the remake was a sweet movie (for the most part), so I’m in. Mighty Joe Young is on February 13th, at 1:30pm.
One of my favorite movies is Victor/Victoria. It’s hilarious, the songs and plot are memorable, and who didn’t love Julie Andrews paired up with James Garner? Is it wrong that I didn’t realize they did another movie together? I’ve heard of The Americanization of Emily, and the story of a war widow who falls for an American sailor in WWII, and it airing on Valentine’s Day, should be an expert blend of romance and tears; not to mention the leads are fantastic already! The Americanization of Emily is on February 14th, at 5am.
Who doesn’t love anytime William Powell and Myrna Loy are paired together? They’ve done several films outside of the established Thin Man franchise, and The Great Ziegfeld is one of their bigger, non-Thin Man projects. I was surprised to read this is listed as a musical. Does William Powell sing, or is this a case of someone else providing the vocals? The lavish story of Flo Ziegfeld is a fascinating one, and I’m sure with the star-power of Loy and Powell, it’ll provide a slew of entertainment. It’s also a Best Picture winner! The Great Ziegfeld airs February 15th, at 10am.
Blow-Up is one of those movies that is referenced all throughout popular culture, and only the true fans “in the know” are aware of the references. I think the one most closely identified is when Austin Powers borrowed from it in International Man of Mystery. I want to be cool, ergo it gets a place on the list. I’ve also never seen a Michelangelo Antonioni film before (seen Fellini and a Godard), so I need to continue to work my way through the best of foreign directors. Blow-Up is on February 17th, at 10:30pm.
There’s a Jimmy Stewart movie in every bunch, isn’t there? While I’m not a fan of him, I do love classic movies about witchcraft. It goes back to my love of Veronica Lake in I Married a Witch. With that being said, a key reason I want to check this out is to see how close this film ties into the Lake film. Both movies deal with a witch putting a love spell on an unsuspecting male. Do the similarities end there? Kim Novak and Jimmy Stewart are also reteamed, one year off of their famous pairing in Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertgo. See all the spells and romance in Bell, Book, and Candle airing on February 23rd, at 8:30am.
The Color of Money is a bit late in the classic film game, being made in 1986, but it’s airing on TCM as part of 31 Days of Oscar so I’m sticking it on this list! I’ve seen snippets of this, and it’s dated. I mean, look at Tom Cruises’ hair. Fortunately, it’s directed by Martin Scorsese and not only stars Cruise at his most charming, but Paul Newman! The Color of Money airs February 25th, at 11:45pm.
Barbara Stanwyck nabbed a place in the semi-finals of my Leading Lady Tournament, so it seems appropriate to place one of her films in this month’s top twelve. Howard Hawks’ has crafted some amazing films, and I’ve heard nothing but good things about Ball of Fire (particularly since Gary Cooper and Stanwyck were lovers). It’s been compared to Snow White, which I have to see to believe, and has a screenplay by favorite director of mine, Billy Wilder; that screams comedy gold to me! Ball of Fire is on February 27th, at 5:15am.
If you read my review of Bette Davis in The Virgin Queen, then you know I love anything Tudor related. Thankfully, TCM is showing the Alexander Korda film The Private Life of Henry VIII, starring the formidable Charles Laughton as the eponymous King. I approve that casting. I’m beyond intrigued to see who plays Anne Boleyn (I see Merle Oberon is in the cast..if she plays Boleyn that’d be amazing), and Elsa Lanchester as Anne of Cleves makes me smile. I don’t expect this to be a comprehensive look at Henry’s life, as it only deals with five of his wives, but it should be a sumptuous and well-acted costume drama/romance. The Private Life of Henry VIII is on February 28th, at 1am.
THE TCM TRIO
The TCM Trio for this month is the, affectionately titled, Topper Tuesday. February 26th, you can catch all three installments of the Topper series, in order. At 12:15 is 1937’s Topper, followed by Topper Takes a Trip and Topper Returns. The first Topper is hilarious, and I still have to watch the later two. Keep in mind, Topper Takes a Trip is not currently out on DVD, so TCM is one of the rare places to catch it.
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.