The TCM Top Ten for March 2016
The Oscars have come on gone and TCM reverts back to their all classics, all the time model. Unlike last month March had me fighting the urge to go higher with the amount of movies – there’s just so many to choose from! Here are the ten films I’ll be taking on TCM this month. Feel free to include your films below!
**TCM can change the schedule at their discretion. Times listed as Eastern.**
After taking Jane Powell’s The Girl Most Likely (1958) last month, I’ve decided to seek out more from the bubbly blonde. Small Town Girl (1953) sees Powell in a film alongside my dancing diva du jour, the lovely Ann Miller. I can just imagine these two ladies having a dance-off! Powell plays a small-town sheriff’s daughter – hmm, wonder where the title came from? – who falls for a playboy arrested for speeding. Sounds like a simple premise that will lead to some crazy hijinks only dancing can fix! Small Town Girl airs March 2nd at 3:30pm.
Considered essential cinema, Black Narcissus (1947) is another tale from the Archers – Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, the team behind the fantabulous The Red Shoes (1948), The Tales of Hoffmann (1951) and A Matter of Life and Death (1946), two of those titles are my favorite movies of all time. I’ve heard nothing but praise for the bleak story of nuns in an Himalayan convent and I anticipate some utterly beautiful cinematography and a flair for color that’s nearly 3D in its exquisite beauty. Though Deborah Kerr doesn’t do much for me, Powell and Pressburger are fantastic at taking cold redheads and infusing them with fiery passion. Black Narcissus airs as part of TCM’s monthly series, Condemned on March 3rd at 9:30pm.
Merle Oberon’s one of those actresses whose work I spotlight here despite watching just one or two of her films. Oberon wasn’t always given the best material, forever typecast as Cathy in Wuthering Heights (1939), but The Dark Angel (1935) puts Oberon in more serious material than frivolous programmers. Oberon’s placed in a love triangle between Fredric March and Herbert Marshall (honestly, she’s too good for either in my book) during WWII. A lot of tears from the sounds of this! The Dark Angel airs March 5th at 1am.
Billy Wilder’s a master of comedy and yet I found myself saying, “I’ve never heard of A Foreign Affair (1948)?” Though lacking a Marilyn Monroe or a Jack Lemmon, A Foreign Affair boasts two fantastic leading ladies in Jean Arthur and Marlene Dietrich. Arthur takes over Jimmy Stewart’s Mr. Smith role as a Congresswoman dealing with issues surrounding post-war Germany. It’ll be great watching Arthur take a serious leading role, playing a woman with significant power in the late-’40s, no less. I wonder if her role itself is meant to be an ironic send-up of Nazi Germany? You can learn about A Foreign Affair on March 6th at 2pm.
Long-term readers of JiCF know the words “Cyd Charisse” and “ballerina” will always get my attention. Meet Me in Las Vegas (1956) fulfills the Cyd Charisse requirement for March, with Charisse playing a ballerina who becomes the lucky charm of a gambler. Outside of Charisse there’s a host of actors that capture my attention, specifically the always wonderful Agnes Moorehead (Endora!). I doubt this is a masterpiece but you can’t go wrong with Cyd! Meet Me in Las Vegas airs March 8th at 6pm.
No, we’re not talking about Alfred Hitchcock’s 1927 silent version. Apparently unconnected to Hitchcock’s film, this Lodger involves a cadre of boarding house residents – including Merle Oberon, George Sanders, and Laird Cregar – believing one of the new tenants is Jack the Ripper. The premise sounds like a taut little thriller, in the vein of The Phantom of Crestwood (1932) and has a delicious cast. I anticipate things getting pretty hammy. The Lodger (1944) airs during a night devoted to Oberon’s films on March 11th at 8pm.
Honestly, I’m unsure whether I included That Uncertain Feeling (1941) on a previous TCM Ten but, according to my notes, I didn’t. You can’t deny, whether you enjoy Oberon or not, that she wasn’t teamed up with some amazing co-stars. That Uncertain Feeling pairs Oberon with Melvyn Douglas and Burgess Meredith as a young woman doubting her husband and hoping to find reassurance with a psychoanalyst. You can’t go wrong with director Ernst Lubitsch and, again, that cast! You can certainly watch That Uncertain Feeling on March 18th at 11:45pm.
You know I can’t close out the month without a horror movie! I mean, TCM Underground was invented for me to watch weird horror films, right? And, really, can A Quiet Place in the Country (1969) be that bad considering it stars Vanessa Redgrave? Sounding like a combination of The Woman in White (1948) and The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945), A Quiet Place in the Country involves a ghost enticing a painter to commit murder. Based on that premise alone, I have to watch how things play out! Visit A Quiet Place in the Country on March 22nd at 2:45am.
Another entry in TCM’s “Condemned” series this month, The Carey Treatment (1972) was a lock purely for being directed by Blake Edwards. I’ve enjoyed almost every directorial work Edwards put out – with the exception of The Great Race (1965) – and you can’t go wrong with James Coburn. Based on what’s posted about it on TCM it involves murder and abortion, two items that are a hotbed of controversy, both politically and from a film standpoint. Either way, I’m in. The Carey Treatment kicks off the nights condemned titles on March 24th at 8pm.
Finally, you can never go wrong with anyone associated with the Thin Man series. Penthouse (1933) has two parts of what made the series so magical – Nora Charles herself, Myrna Loy, and director W.S. Van Dyke – and tells the story of a man eliciting the help of a call girl to escape a murder rap. The regal Myrna Loy as a call girl? Surely, you jest! Penthouse airs March 29th at 9:15am.
The TCM Trio
Be left breathless by Hollywood’s most death-defying stunts on March 26th. The evening starts with Ryan O’Neal as a getaway driver in The Driver (1978) at 9:30pm. Then, a cadre of strangers, and John Wayne, try to start a new life in Stagecoach (1939) at 11:15pm. Finally, Harold Lloyd throws caution to the wind in Safety Last! (1923) at 1am.
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.
Black Narcissus~ You will be riveted by Sister Ruth (Kathleen Byron) Her performance steals the film.
I’ve heard Byron is utterly astounding. I’m excited to see it!
All cynicism must be cleared out of your heart prior to watch the WWI story “The Dark Angel”. Honour and love are the watchwords, and if there be tears, let them flow.
Thanks for the advice Patricia!