The TCM Top Ten for July 2015
This isn’t a slap against TCM, but some months yield a higher slate of choice movies to watch than others. Last month, I struggled to find ten films that really intrigued me (short of filling all ten slots with noirs). That’s all rectified with July because I had to cut down my list from a whopping 24 titles to just ten, with as many as three films all on one day! The ten titles I’ll be watching this month are some of the most diverse choices I’ve made, with more than one foreign film title in there (a boon for me). What films will you be seeking out this July on TCM?
**All times listed are Eastern. TCM can change the schedule at their discretion.**
This is a bit of a cheat since I have to watch this for an upcoming episode of my Disney podcast, Walt Sent Me. I’m not as well-versed with Disney live-action as with their animation, especially the live-action films of the 1950s-1960s. I also never had to read the novel on which this is based. Johnny Tremain (1957) tells the story of a silversmith’s apprentice joining America’s burgeoning revolution for independence. Like most Disney films of the era it’s directed by Robert Stevenson, helmer of Disney classics like Mary Poppins (1964) and The Love Bug (1968), two titles where my enjoyment couldn’t be on further ends of the spectrum so this is fair game. Johnny Tremain is part of another foray into the Treasures From the Disney Vault series on July 2nd at 8:30pm.
I enjoy neo-noir just as much as classic noir. I also thought I’d put The Long Goodbye (1973) on a previous list. Guess I’m killing two birds with one stone! The Long Goodbye marks the further adventures of detective Phillip Marlowe, insert Elliot Gould in place of Humphrey Bogart. This is also directed by acclaimed director Robert Altman, another mark of serious quality and has inspired a wealth of popular titles in its wake. Sounds like something I should watch, right? The Long Goodbye airs as part of TCM’s Summer of Darkness on July 4th at 2:30am.
I’ve taken a class on fantasy, romance, and fairy tales so when I saw Donkey Skin (1970) on TCM’s list of films I knew I had to see the director Jacques Demy’s interpretation. The story follows a princess (Catherine Deneuve) who masquerades as a commoner to escape her father. After being utterly enchanted by The Umbrellas of Cherebourg (1964) and Demy’s composition/color – he’s very much in the vein of Powell/Pressburger – I have to see what happens when he actually gets to create a fairytale. Donkey Skin airs July 6th at 2:15am (apologies to all you who like to watch live).
How did no one tell me Debbie Reynolds and Dick Van Dyke made a movie together? I love these two separately, so it makes sense that their individual types of slapstick comedy would pair them up eventually. Divorce, American Style (1967) plays a bit like The Awful Truth (1937) with a couple headed to divorce and realizing the single life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Reynolds made several of these domestic comedies throughout the sixties, and I’ll watch Dick Van Dyke read the phone book. Divorce, American Style airs July 12th at 6pm (there you go, live watchers!).
With the announcement of Warner’s upcoming Special Effects box set, isn’t it lucky that TCM’s spending a day with the apes…ape related films, of course. Son of Kong (1933) places P.T. Barnum wannabe, Carl Denham (Robert Armstrong) returns to Skull Island where, I’m assuming, he meets the orphaned son of King Kong. This sounds about as successful as the hunter going back to check on Bambi! Son of Kong airs July 14th at 3pm.
For the record, TCM’s website lists this as The Pitfall, whereas IMDB and Google searches drop the definite article. Either way Pitfall (1948) stars noir regulars Dick Powell and Lizabeth Scott in a story involving an insurance man (Powell) who falls for a criminal’s girlfriend (Scott). Those insurance men sure got a lot of action back in the day! This sounds a bit too similar to Double Indemnity (1944), but I’m interested in watching Scott in more movies after enjoying her in Too Late for Tears (1949) awhile back. As for Powell, I can’t say I love him, whether he’s starring in musicals or dramatic work, but he’s usually backed by solid material. Pitfall is another early morning movie, airing on July 16th at 4:15am.
You long-time readers know I love when TCM airs horror films; as much as they love catering to the classy filmgoers, there’s also something for fans of trashy horror to indulge in. Bloody Birthday (1980) sounds like the kissing cousin of Village of the Damned (1960), following three children born during a solar eclipse and turn into heartless killers. I’m not sure how they leads to a bloody birthday but I’m excited to find out! And just look at that ridiculously cheesy poster! Bloody Birthday airs July 19th at 3:45am.
Maybe it was because I was watching The Court Jester (1955) the other day, but Scaramouche (1952) caught my eye immediately. I’ve seen the pictures of Eleanor Parker – love her! – with her flaming red hair in this and that really was the impetus for putting it on this month’s ten. The film also stars Farley Granger, an actor I can take or leave, as an 18th-century Frenchmen masquerading as an actor to avenge a friend’s murder. Just like The Court Jester, right? Scaramouche airs during a night devoted to red-headed women, July 22nd at 12:30am.
I swear, TCM must follow my GoodReads account or something. How else would they know to schedule Cria Cuervos (1976) and its predecessor, The Spirit of the Beehive (1973) right after I finish Dark Dreams 2.0, a film history book exploring horror and that analyzes these films? I mean, they had to have planned that, right? Cria Cuervos is a Spanish-language film starring Geraldine Chaplin – herself becoming a symbol of Spanish-language horror, in case you didn’t know. The film follows an orphan (Ana Torrent) trying to find her own identity under the thumb of a controlling aunt. This is considered a landmark film in horror, as well as the inspiration of several Spanish horror directors like Guillermo Del Toro. Cria Cuervos airs July 27th at 2:15am.
Finally, we pick a fairly standard Hollywood picture airing when people are actually awake! Too Young to Kiss (1951) stars June Allyson and Van Johnson in a plot that, starting to sound like a broken record, sounds like it borrowed the plot from The Major and the Minor (1942). Allyson plays a grown woman impersonating a child prodigy in order to become a concert pianist. Maybe it’s not borrowing so much as Hollywood really liked grown women impersonating children? I’m not big on June Allyson, but the plot sounds cute and after the nine films already included, cute sometimes works just as well. Too Young to Kiss is the 5pm movie on July 28th.
The TCM Trio
Spend the morning of July 28th with the lovely husband/wife detecting duo of Nick and Nora Charles. At 6:15am, Nick and Nora (William Powell and Myrna Loy) spend their Christmas libated, with a hint of murder, in The Thin Man (1934). Then, Nick and Nora find out they can’t quite escape murder and intrigue in After the Thin Man (1936) at 8am. And later, Nick, Nora, and baby makes three in Another Thin Man (1939) at 10am.
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.
Looks like I’ll be calling in sick on July 28th 😉
Haha, gotta love when TCM can be your excuse!
You will find the insurance game the only thing “Pitfall” has in common with “Double Indemnity”.
That works for me!
Many years ago, I posted my “Thin Man Drinking Game” to livejournal. Feel free to apply it, if you are a drinker. http://popegrutch.livejournal.com/45883.html
I’m not a drinker but your game is on-point!
Wow, an embarrassment of riches this month! Very excited to see Donkey Skin, Johnny Tremain, and Cria Cuervos (though I think that’s on Hulu Plus).
The Long Goodbye is AMAZING. Seriously a Top 100 film for me. And Scaramouche is a ton of fun. It’s Stewart Granger, though, not Farley Granger – that may or may not make a difference to your “take or leave” pronouncement. I find both of them kind of “take or leave”, to be quite honest. It does boast one of the longest, if not the longest, swordfight in film history, so there’s that!
Damn, I can’t believe I confused my Granger’s lol.