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TCM Top Twelve: April 2013


Have I mentioned how ready I am for summer to get here?  TCM keeps coming up with amazing movies for me to watch, and I’m usually at school or doing schoolwork (and with finals coming up it’s only going to get worse).  I really need to consider quitting school entirely and becoming a TCM couch potato.  Anyway, the twelve films assembled here are going to get my attention.  I’ll also be adding a TCM Twosome (since there’s really no Trio this month) worth seeking out.  The fine folks at TCM have also sent me a few things I figured you’d like to know about, so this is an action packed TCM Top Twelve…only a month left of school!

**As usual, times listed are Pacific so plan accordingly, and the schedule can be changed or altered at TCM’s discretion.**

TCM is unrolling a new running series entitled Friday Night Spotlight, and this inaugural edition is devoted to films about women.  This weekend’s slate of entertainment explores a woman’s world, and while Mildred Pierce is on right before, I picked Stella Dallas as the first to check out this month.  My mother swears if I enjoyed Mildred Pierce, I’ll love this, and really, who wouldn’t?  Barbara Stanwyck is a dynamo, and I’d be interested to see what kind of tough love she gives against Joan Crawford.  The plots are similar, and I’m sure the ending will tie everything up sweetly, but there’s something about Stanwyck!  Stella Dallas, and the first showing of Friday Night Spotlight, airs April 5th at 7pm.

I’ve only see Lucille Ball playing some facsimile of I Love Lucy, and yet she has quite the string of films both before and after the show where I doubt she played the same character.  I went back and forth on whether to include this because comedies can be fickle, but I’m a sucker for Hollywood satire and The Affairs of Annabel looks to explore the machinations of publicity in the 1930s.  The story could be dreck, but I’m betting Ball keeps things light and entertaining.  Set your DVRs because The Affairs of Annabel is on April 6th, at 5am.

It could be I picked this because I watched Chicago recently, or because Ginger Rogers has been blazing a trail in the finals of the Leading Lady tournament; either way, Roxie Hart is one of the twelve for this month.  I’m assuming this will be a highly idealistic version of Hart’s life and exploits, possibly removing the fact she actually murdered someone.  The synopsis has me leaning towards the latter since the synopsis says she “admits to a Chicago murder” without actually saying she committed one.  Regardless, there’s nothing wrong with Rogers singing, dancing, and committing a little homicide.  You can enjoy Roxie Hart on April 8th, at 5pm during an evening of The Essentials looking at courtroom defenses.

I know they remade this as the Jodie Foster movie Flightplan a few years back.  I didn’t particularly care for that film, so this has to be better?  It should be because the talent assembled looks phenomenal.  The plot follows a mother who loses her daughter, only to have others tell her she never had a daughter to begin with.  The psychological horror screams of a Hitchcock movie only this was directed by Otto Preminger who did the brilliant M.  With a cast that includes Laurence Olivier and the bubbly Carol Lynley, I’m excited to see this.  Bunny Lake is Missing airs April 10th at 2:15am (and TCM doesn’t cap their operating day till 3am so that’s 2:15am on the 11th).

I remember reading The Phantom Tollbooth in the sixth grade, and being sick the day we watched the movie; hence, I must rectify that!  The Phantom Tollbooth tells the story of a bored little boy who finds a tollbooth and enters a world where numbers and letters are at war with each other.  If that doesn’t entice you, it’s directed by cartoon icon Chuck Jones, and has the voice of Bugs Bunny himself, Mel Blanc.  The book was a wacky, irreverent fantasy that I ate up, and I’m excited to indulge the sixth grader in me who never got to enjoy this.  You can kick back with The Phantom Tollbooth on April 12th at 1:30pm.

Preston Sturges has crafted the best comedies out there, and what else could he do to make you laugh short of combing music with comedy?  Unfaithfully Yours follows a conductor who envisions various ways, including murder, to punish his wife for being unfaithful.  I’m not a fan of Rex Harrison, nor have I seen any of the work by Linda Darnell, so I’m purely going off of Sturges’s name here.  Unfaithfully Yours airs during a tribute to Linda Darnell on April 13th at 7:15pm.

The Snake Pit is one of those “I have it on DVD, and hopefully I’ll be forced to actually open it” films for this month.  It stars Olivia De Havilland as a woman combating mental illness.  It’s cited as one of the first films to accurately depict mental illness, so I’m assuming the message will be a taste dated with all the time that’s passed.  No matter, it looks intriguing and with De Havilland in the role I expect good things.  The Snake Pit airs April 13th at 12:30pm.

I’ve been reviewing horror films consistently these last few months in honor of my American Horror Class, so I was planning on avoiding all horror films this month.  Unfortunately, Tod Browning got me.  I find Browning to be an interesting director that didn’t get his fair shake after Freaks (a landmark study in horror that still packs a punch, in my opinion), and I’d love to see him return to the vampire genre.  With Mark of the Vampire you have a murder mystery wrapped up within a supernatural horror movie starring the legendary Lionel Barrymore and vampire impresario Bela Lugosi.  Mark of the Vampire is on super early, 3am, on April 17th.

I’m not sure if I have Leave Her to Heaven on DVD (isn’t that the mark of a true film fanatic?), so this could be another DVD incentive.  That’s going to bother me for the rest of this feature.  Anywho, Leave Her to Heaven has been recommended to me numerous times, and I have no good excuse for not seeing it.  It stars Gene Tierney, who I’m not convinced isn’t made from angels and diamonds, playing a no-good villainess.  The Technicolor process is often given as a reason to watch this, as well, because Tierney never looked better.  I’ve heard nothing but good things, and while I expect this to be a lurid melodrama, that’s always worth watching.  Leave Her to Heaven airs at 7pm during an evening looking at studio archived movies.

One of my favorite movies is the 1990s adaptation of The Little Princess, so really I’m simply interested in this for comparison’s sake.  I shouldn’t admit this, but I’ve never seen a Shirley Temple movie where she was a little girl (my favorite Temple film is the teenage Temple in The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer).  There’s something about the saccharine mop-top that didn’t get my attention as a child.  Here’s hoping this version of the acclaimed novel holds up as well as the 1990s interpretation.  The Little Princess is on April 23rd at 3am.

Clark Gable and Jean Harlow have grown to be my favorite Hollywood pairing.  Their sexual chemistry in Red Dust is still the most electric that I’ve seen, and who doesn’t enjoy PRE-CODE CLARK GABLE!  Hold Your Man wasn’t available when I did my Jean Harlow Retrospective, and I’d like to see the duo paired up again.  You can watch Hold Your Man is on April 26th at 7:45am.

Nicholas Ray is another director whose films I always include on here, and I just haven’t gotten to them.  They Live By Night is Ray’s first film focusing on rebellious youth who get in trouble with the law (sound familiar).  The movie is often considered a landmark in depicting juvenile delinquency, and would obviously inspire Ray’s Rebel Without a Cause.  They Live By Night is on April 28th at 5pm in the Friday Night Spotlight on Lovers on the Run.


Normally, I pick three movies that I’ve seen and include them in the section, The TCM Trio.  Since there were so many fantastic movies though in the month of April, I went with a duo that I’ve been dying to see.  As mentioned previously, TCM’s newest feature, The Friday Night Spotlight will be looking at women in film.  One of their tributes will be to women in during WWII.  On April 12th, they’ll discuss So Proudly We Hail and Since You Went Away.  The former is a Claudette Colbert vehicle that includes my girl Veronica Lake in a role that removed her from her film noir environs.  Colbert is also in the latter film playing opposite a teenaged Shirley Temple in her film comeback.  Both intrigue me due to the lovely ladies involved, and I recommend seeing both!

Other TCM Tidbits

April 1st – TCM welcomes guest host and NBA commentator Reggie Miller to discuss a slate of impressive works including Strangers on a Train, Cool Hand Luke, The Graduate, and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.  That all starts at 5pm.

Also April 1st is a series of movies devoted to America’s national pastime: baseball.  At 5 o’clock tune in for Angels in the Outfield, The Kid From Left Field (a TCM premiere) and others that will make you want to head out to the ballgame.

Laurence Olivier is the Star of the Month so every Wednesday in April will be spotlighting his work.  Several of his Shakespearean adaptations will play on April 3rd, as well as quite a few of his book adaptations on April 17th.

April 22nd-23rd: TCM Celebrates Film Preservation looks at six Hollywood studios and their efforts at film preservation.  Each film shown has been fully restored.  Highlights include The Wizard of Oz and The Invisible Man.  Might be the weekend to watch the HD version of TCM.

April 30th – A tribute to Glenn Ford is planned for today in honor of the DVD release of Glenn Ford: Undercover Crimes through the TCM Vault Collection.  Catch his performances in Gilda, The Loves of Carmen, and Baby for Sale (a TCM premiere).

And finally, if you’re a fan of TCM Underground, be aware it’s been moved to Saturdays due to Friday Night Spotlight.  You can still catch the channels ode to cult films this month including the reshowing of the William Castle documentary Spine Tingler.


That’s all for this month over at TCM!


TCM Top Twelve

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.

5 thoughts on “TCM Top Twelve: April 2013 Leave a comment

  1. You have some great films on your list — I’m especially looking forward to finding out what you think of Leave Her to Heaven, They Live By Night and Hold Your Man. It’s funny, just earlier today I’d noticed the description for Roxie Hart, and thought it was funny that Roxie is supposed to have admitted to a murder in order to further her career. Ah, Hollywood.

  2. Gotta say, I’m in awe of those of you who actually plan ahead for viewing AND I’ve come to rely on it. Several notables on your list I’ve yet to see so will be setting DVR well in advance.

    Great list.


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