I’ve probably used this phrase before, but it stands true this month: September is a great time to become a TCM fan. I usually reserve that October what with the horror films and all, but this September TCM will be giving classic film audiences an education you wouldn’t be able to get in a university setting (or at least not where I attend). I have a documentary this month that actually runs over the next two months, as well as a host of films that will give audiences a crash-course in film history. Let’s dive in to what TCM has to offer in the month of September.
**Remember, all times are Pacific; TCM reserves the right to change times and dates at will**
What better way to celebrate the day I was born than by kicking things off with TCM’s Sundays with Hitch. Every Sunday Alfred Hitchcock’s works will be showcased, and it was hard for me to limit myself to just one. Out of the few I have yet to see one has always drawn me in: Shadow of a Doubt. The story of a girl (Teresa Wright) and her less than trustworthy uncle (Joseph Cotten) could be rife with sexual innuendo and/or suspense. Sundays with Hitch is the perfect way to prepare for a week filled with school and stress. Shadow of a Doubt is the first film to air during Sundays with Hitch; September 1st at 5pm.
TCM is a genius to air Mark Cousins fifteen-part documentary series The Story of Film: An Odyssey. I could have watched the entire series on Netflix Instant, but the way TCM is going about this makes it worth watching on the channel. Throughout the next few months they’ll be showing episodes and then featuring a series of films made during the period; must-sees to develop your knowledge of the history of film. It’s like getting a degree in film without tests or tuition! The Story of Film starts September 2nd with 1895-1918: The World Discovers a New Art Form. After that you can watch new episodes every Monday night at 7pm with an encore every Tuesday at 1am.
I saw about fifteen minutes of Haxan a few years ago and scared myself silly. Something about the jerky movements of the silent film coupled with the rather realistic depictions of witchcraft and the Devil freaked me out enough that I haven’t returned. Now that I’m 25 I figured it’s time to conquer my fear, once and for all. Haxan tells the story of the history of witchcraft and demonic possession; a story that I’m sure is incredibly over-the-top for 1922. Haxan airs September 3rd at 11pm.
The Criterion Collection is preparing to release Charlie Chaplin’s opus, City Lights, to Blu-ray and DVD soon. With that being said, I’ve only seen Chaplin in one film: Modern Times. City Lights is considered Chaplin’s masterpiece with his story of the Little Tramp helping a blind flower seller. Since I have little experience with Chaplin at all, this might be the one to define his entire work for me. City Lights will be on September 9th at 10:45pm.
Keeping with the theme of film history this month, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is another unseen gem for me. The films use of German Expressionism has kept it on the syllabus of many film classes; however, I’ve only seen about 20 minutes total. The tale of a somnambulist and the doctor who controls him is a perfect representation of the Gothic and creepy as hell. You can catch The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari on September 16th at 11:15pm.
Moving out of film history, I decided to look at another film starring Gregory Peck. The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit follows a public relations man (Peck) as he struggles over a wartime romance. The plot is vague, and I’m all for a little mystery. It also stars Jennifer Jones who hasn’t captured my heart since I watched The Song of Bernadette, but I’m excited to see how she does opposite Peck who usually elevates his leading ladies. The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit is on September 23rd at 12:15pm.
I have a review of Ernst Lubistch’s To Be Or Not To Be planned in a few weeks, so I wanted to watch another comedy starring Carole Lombard. Twentieth Century is one I confused with Lubitsch’s film, only this one is directed by Howard Hawks and tells the story of a theatrical director trying to woo back a star he created and drove away. Lombard and Hawks have to be as amazing a combination as Lubitsch and Lombard; I’m excited to see if this transcends To Be Or Not To Be. Twentieth Century also airs September 23rd at 12:45am (technically September 24th).
Storm Warning has an insane premise to the point I couldn’t ignore it. The plot follows a model whose sister’s husband is a murderous Ku Klux Klansman. Dare I ask whether said Klansman is played by former President Ronald Reagan? The movie also stars the darling Ginger Rogers in a non-musical role (I can’t think of whether I’ve seen her in drama before) and Doris Day. It sounds like a fun murderous mystery with a strong cast. Storm Warning airs September 24th at 10:45am.
I didn’t want to have two movies on the same day, especially done twice but there’s just so much to watch this month. The poster for Black Widow reminds me a lot of the boring Born to Be Bad, but that film didn’t have both Ginger Rogers and the luscious Gene Tierney. If there’s murder in this movie, you should immediately look at Tierney, by the way. I can’t wait to see what mayhem these two ladies will get up to. Black Widow is on September 24th at 2pm, after Storm Warning.
Black Widow and Payment on Demand are both from 1951 having me wonder if it was a good time to be a woman or not? Bette Davis plays a divorcee looking back at the issues throughout her marriage, and it’s fitting considering the entire day is being devoted to movies about divorce; hopefully, this is better than The Divorcee. Davis usually makes the weepiest crap tolerable, so I’m giving it a go. Payment on Demand airs September 25th at 8:30am.
I always enjoy a campy 1950s film, especially with a title like Creature With the Atom Brain. Does anyone know if Mystery Science Theater 3000 riffed this because the name sounds familiar? Nazi scientists, gangsters, and atomic zombies all sound like a hilarious mix of terrible camp and 1950s fear. You can check out Creature With the Atom Brain September 28th at 6:30am.
The final film as part of the twelve is Penny Serenade, a movie that I’m constantly told is one of Cary Grant’s best. The last time I saw Irene Dunne and Grant paired up it was the hilarious My Favorite Wife, which I consider one of the greatest comedies Grant did. The movie charts the deterioration of a marriage as the female reflects back on her attempts to adopt a child. Grant and Dunne certainly played up the romance angle in My Favorite Wife, so I’m sure they’ll bring the necessary heat and melodrama to this. You can watch Penny Serenade on September 30th at 3am.
That’s what’s on TCM this month! See you in October!
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.