While school doesn’t end for a few weeks, it’s summer in my book and that’s reflected in the fantastic slate of movies I’ve assembled for this month’s TCM Top Twelve. You’ll see a bit of romance, comedy, musical, film noir, and the return of the TCM Documentary of the month (although couldn’t find a TCM Trio). I’m not sure quite what happened but I found there’s a better selection earlier in the month as opposed to later, but hey, all the easier for me to get up to speed! So, let’s look at the fantastic set of movies assembled that you can watch this month on TCM.
**Remember, all times listed are Pacific, and TCM can change this schedule at their discretion**
A soapy melodrama seems to be the perfect way to kickstart the summer, and what better way than a movie starring the diverse Claude Raines? The movie spawned a few sequels and details the lives of the eponymous four daughters and the four different suitors they meet. I enjoy a good sentimental family drama, and with Rains here (who is creeping up the list to being one of my favorite actors), it might be worth a look. Four Daughters airs during an evening devoted to actress Priscilla Lane at 6:45pm on May 1st.
Final papers are piling up, so it’s no surprise I’m seeking a well-told story that’s not particularly complex during these early weeks of May; probably why this and the above film are somewhat similar. Ruby Gentry tells of a Southern woman (Jennifer Jones) marrying a plain man (Karl Malden) to spite her lover (Charlton Heston). Again, soapy, but boy is that cast something to watch! Jennifer Jones dazzled me in The Song of Bernadette and I’m hell-bent on watching her work. I’m assuming this is a grittier Gone With the Wind (quite the comparison I know), and Malden is usually entertaining as the stalwart and loveable schlub. Ruby Gentry airs in prime-time during a line-up composed of the later work of director King Vidor; you can catch it May 2nd at 7:30pm.
Place the next too picks in the “I own them on DVD” category. I recently purchased High Society on a whim since it’s a remake of the [insert adjective about how awesome the film is] Philadelphia Story. I haven’t made a determination about Grace Kelly, and to say she has big shoes to fill is an understatement, nor am I a fan of Bing Crosby. However, the story is just too damn good to pass up and I’m hoping they don’t screw it up. High Society airs May 3rd at 3pm.
I own the complete Busby Berkley collection (thanks Mom for that excellent Christmas present) and Gold Diggers of 1933 is often cited on numerous “best musical” lists; not to mention it’s got the lovely Joan Blondell who is always a nice addition to any movie! I’m hoping to review all the movies in the box set along with this one. You can enjoy Gold Diggers of 1933 on May 4th at 5pm followed by a marathon of Berkley’s other works.
I’d originally included Crossfire in April’s Top Twelve before dropping it from the final list; thanks TCM for giving me a second chance to include it. It’s got a who’s-who of top noir actors including the love of my life Robert Mitchum, Robert Ryan and Gloria Grahame; it’s also got Robert Young to complete the “Robert’s.” Following an attorney solving the case of a murdered Jewish man Crossfire appears to be a message movie bound up within a noir, and looks awesome. Crossfire airs May 7th at 7pm.
I mentioned this in a past News From the Lake segment, but now it’s finally airing and is worth a spot on the list; the Richard D. Zanuck documentary, Don’t Say No Until I Finish Talking, will details the producer’s rise to fame, his legendary film output, and talk to family and stars who knew him best. TCM creates high quality profiles and while I don’t expect this to be anymore than fluff, it should be an insightful look at a man who understood the hits. You can watch Don’t Say No Until I Finish Talking twice on May 8th, at 5pm and 8:30pm.
The 1950s family is on tap for the May 9th, starting with this Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck reteam directed by the master of melodrama, Douglas Sirk. I’ve only watched Sirk’s Written on the Wind which has grown into a better film than when I first reviewed it; and I also find Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray to be good partners. The suds fly with There’s Always Tomorrow at 5pm on May 9th.
After Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, Bette Davis saw a career resurgence; sadly, it placed her in the world of horror films where she tended to play insane characters. Stories about twins aren’t usually good, so when one has someone like Davis at the helm, I have to believe it’s worth checking out. Davis played twins twice, right? Dead Ringer airs May 11th at 11am.
Noir is my constant companion on these top twelves, and none are better than the ones made by Otto Preminger; furthermore, this also has the lovely Gene Tierney and you can’t go wrong with that. The noir model is turned topsy-turvy in Where the Sidewalk Ends, when a cop, played by Dana Andrews, murders a man and then is placed in charge of the investigation. It sounds all kinds of fantastic, and you can watch it on May 14th at 7pm.
Janet Leigh is another leading lady I’m growing to love; she’s just so spunky! My Sister Eileen is a musical featuring the first choreographed (on film anyway) dance routines by Bob Fosse. With a cast that includes a young Jack Lemmon this should be a fun musical to enjoy. My Sister Eileen is on May 16th at 7:30am.
I’ve been scouring the internet, hoping to find this movie for a future installment of Biopic Theater, and it seems TCM is going to help me out. George Raft isn’t a well-regarded name today, and considering the state of 1950s biopics I’m sure this is highly fictionalized, but Raft has an interesting story (which I’m certain this movie will ignore). If you want to gauge how much cheese is in this, it’s got Jayne Mansfield! The George Raft Story airs early in the morning, 3am, on May 18th.
Alfred Hitchcock does comedy? I have to see it to believe it. Mr. and Mrs. Smith didn’t come in my Hitchcock box set, and I’ve heard differing reviews on how good the movie is. I’m intrigued to see the Master of Suspense take on something light, not to mention I want to compare it to the Brad Pitt/Angelina Jolie movie of the same name – although I doubt they’re related. Mr. and Mrs. Smith airs May 21st at 3:15pm.
That’s all for this month! Have fun watching TCM in May!
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.