The TCM Top Twelve for October 2015
You aren’t seeing things; the month of October was so awesome I refused to par the list down to ten, and they’re not all horror films! This month’s slate includes some comedy, a celebration of women in film, more Esther Williams, a little Disney, and, yes, something to watch on Halloween night! What films are on your TCM roster for October?
**All times are Eastern. TCM can change the schedule at their discretion.**
You all know of my distaste for The Women (1939), right? So why would I pick a remake of it to put on this list? Simple, because it’s a musical with Ann Miller in it. I doubt this will charm me enough to shake my adoration for Stage Door (1937), but it can try. Much like The Women, The Opposite Sex (1956) follows a woman (June Allyson, again stepping into a role made famous by someone else) whose husband leaves her for another lady (Joan Collins taking over from Joan Crawford). The cast intrigues me, although I’m skeptical about how a musical element will work, and considering this month is all about honoring women, why not kick things off with an all-female cast? The Opposite Sex airs bright and early at 8am on October 4th.
Speaking of women, TCM has dedicated the entire month of October to “trailblazing women,” a series spotlighting films directed by ladies and the slate is incredible. I’ll be starting the month with Outrage (1950) directed by Ida Lupino, one of the landmark female directors of the studio era. Based on the synopsis, Outrage has a fairly scandalous storyline – for the Production Code – involving a rape survivor and her desire to escape her memories. Sounds like The Story of Temple Drake (1933), although I’m assuming not nearly as pre-Code. Outrage starts at 9:45pm on October 6th.
I first heard about Wanda (1978) from my friend Marya Gates whose been watching nothing but films written and directed by women since the beginning of the year. (you should check out her videos!) The film is directed and stars Barbara Loden whom I’ve adored since she played rebellious daughter, Ginny in Splendor in the Grass (1961), and follows her relationship with an abusive criminal. Since it’s a late-1970s film I’m expecting a lot of gritty photography and ennui. Feel free to tell me whether I’m right or wrong in the comments. Wanda starts at 8pm on October 8th.
Okay, when TCM has a night dedicated to the theme “Rouge Body Parts,” you gotta watch something! Mad Love (1935), I’ve been told, is an underrated horror gem. Starring Peter Lorre, the film involves a mad doctor grafting the hands of a murderer onto a concert pianist. I’m not sure how that goes pear-shaped, or how it turns into “mad love?” Maybe Taylor Swift had a “hand” in it (rimshot!). With Halloween on the way, this one sounds perfect to watch on a dark and stormy night! Mad Love kicks off a night devoted to rogue body parts on October 9th at 8pm.
After the Esther filled month of September, TCM keeps things rolling along with more Esther Williams films in October. Neptune’s Daughter (1949) sees our million dollar mermaid playing a bathing suit designer – a role she’d take on in real life – dealing with romance, Red Skelton, and Ricardo Montalban. I’m expecting a lot of musical divergences, but the triangle of Williams, Skelton and Montalban (with Betty Garrett in there for good measure) makes this a winner in my book. You too can hang out with Neptune’s Daughter at 8am on October 11th.
More Esther Williams, this time in a gasp non-swimming role! The Hoodlum Saint (1946) stars, not only Williams, but powerhouses Angela Lansbury and William Powell! Can this movie get any better? Powell plays a cynical newspaperman trying to find redemption. It sounds preachy, but the leads are too good to resist (and this is set for release through Warner Archive!). The Hoodlum Saint airs October 16th at 8:45am.
In writing up my Top 16 Must-See Dance Sequences – debuting this week if all goes according to schedule – I was referred a few titles worth checking out for future installments; one of them was Silk Stockings (1957). Fred Astaire, long an actor who gave me pause, is always worth watching in a dancing movie, even one that sounds as ridiculous as Silk Stockings. The premise sees a Soviet agent “seduced” by Paris and a film producer. According to Leonard Maltin’s review on TCM this is a remake of Ninotchka (1939), a film I didn’t adore like I expected; however, I’ll watch anything with Cyd Charisse, particularly anything where she dances. I am expecting to hear her give a bad Russian accent, though. Silk Stockings airs at 8am on October 18th.
I could have sworn I had Young Bess (1953) on a previous Top Ten but after scouring my list of past TCM Top’s I didn’t see it. My love for Tudor history knows no bounds….except for the films made about them. Considering George Sidney, a director with a light touch, helmed this exploration of the life of a young Elizabeth I (played by Jean Simmons…I’m already nervous), already leaves my head in my hands. But, I maintain I can’t be a true fan of the period if I don’t give all the written and filmed views of their life a shot. Young Bess also stars Deborah Kerr, Stewart Granger and Charles Laughton so at least it’ll be well-acted and well-dressed. Young Bess starts at 4:15pm on October 20th.
There’s not much information about this on TCM’s schedule, nor is there a decent poster for it on Google; hence the photo above. I’m unsure if that implies a lack of quality, but as someone who’s read Poe’s story, I figured it behooved me to watch The Fall of the House of Usher (1949). The original Poe story involves a man named Roderick and a mysterious illness which befalls him and his twin sister. When the sister dies and Roderick insists she be entombed in the house, things get weird. Whether the film follows Poe’s story is another matter, and I’m assuming we’ll see significant changes. The Fall of the House of Usher airs during a night devoted to literary horror stories on October 24th at 12:45am.
I haven’t determined whether I’m a fan of Doris Day or not. Sure, I like some of her movies, but never really because of anything she’s done. Tea for Two (1950) sounds like a fun film with a premise that could yield a high-concept comedy even today. Day stars an heiress who has to say no to every question for 24 hours. I do believe Jim Carrey mined this same premise, albeit with a yes, in Yes Man in 2008. Day costars with Gordon MacRae who I haven’t watched in a non-musical. Tea for Two airs at 12:30pm on October 25th.
I had to pick something from this month’s Treasures from the Disney Vault, of course, and I was torn between a few of their Halloween offerings. I’ve already reviewed The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949), and contemplated putting Mr. Boogedy (1986) on this list. Instead, I went with a film my mom has urged me to watch for months, Escape to Witch Mountain (1975). I’ve seen Disney’s TV-level remake from the 1990s and the bombastic 2000s remake with The Rock, but haven’t gone back to the original. The films all feature two extraterrestrial children being hunted by people wanting to exploit them. I was very surprised that Ray Milland and Donald Pleasence were in this cast, although Bette Davis did star in the sequel. Escape to Witch Mountain is a part of an amazing slate of Disney-centric programming on October 28th at 11:15pm.
TCM starts Halloween on the 30th with a tribute to horror impresario Val Lewton. I had the hardest time not saying, “Watch the entire block,” but instead picked Bedlam (1946). Starring Boris Karloff, Bedlam involves an actress trying to reform an insane asylum, said reform eventually leading to her commitment. Lewton hasn’t let me down entirely; The Ghost Ship (1943) is the only film of his I’ve disliked so far. Bedlam airs October 31st at 5:30am.
THE TCM TRIO
Halloween night is a scream with this trio of killers. Jean Arless plays a woman who knows the meaning of the word Homicidal (1961) at 1:15pm. Then, Vincent Price will try to save you from The Tingler (1959) at 3pm. And later, Vincent Price becomes obsessed with his House of Wax (1953) at 4:30pm.
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.
I watched Mad Love for a 1935 blog post last month. It was easily my favorite movie I saw all month. Totally loved. Peter Lorre’s great as always, but the real star is the German Expressionism. This was the last of a handful of films directed by Karl Freund, but he’s better known as a cinematographer…cutting his teeth on things like, oh, Metropolis and The Last Laugh.
Young Bess was a random childhood favorite of mine. I watched it for years before I was old enough to really get a lot of it, I know. I’m a little afraid to revisit it now, but I also kind of really want to. I think nostalgia will win out even if it turns out to be not that good.
I’m hoping TCM will have a Winter of Darkness and we will have more Film Noir like we had June & July.
Winter of Darkness…That would be Brilliant. Toujours Noir!
The last line of “The Opposite Sex” is worth the movie.