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The TCM Top Twelve for September 2016


Summer comes to a close and that means TCM (and I) start gearing up for the fall. I know I sound like a broken record, but where did the year go? September is my birthday month and since I’m the birthday girl I’m giving you twelve titles to watch with me this month on TCM! Any films I should add to my list?

**All times listed as Eastern. TCM can change the schedule at their discretion.**


September’s star of the month is Gene Hackman and he’s starred alongside some of my favorite actors and actresses, one of whom is Mr. Robert Redford. If TCM wanted to devote an entire day to Robert Redford movies, I’d be a goner; the man is too beautiful for words. I’m getting ahead of myself though. Downhill Racer (1969) tells the tale of a skier and the sacrifices that are made. Outside of the title and Redford’s billing, I know next to nothing about the film, so I’m eager to see how hot good Redford and crew are. Downhill Racer airs during the month’s tribute to Hackman on September 2nd at 10pm.


What better gift could TCM give me than another installment of Treasures From the Disney Vault? (Okay, Ben Mankiewicz doesn’t count!) Disneyland Around the Seasons (1966) is what the title says: glimpses of Disneyland during various seasons including the holidays. This is easily one of my most anticipated watches of the year, not because I go to Disneyland every year (November this year!) and the holidays are the best time, but because this shows us the Disneyland of 1966. Disney himself died that same year, and this was the first Wonderful World of Color to air after his death, making it all the more bittersweet. Disneyland Around the Seasons airs on September 8th at 11:45pm during an evening devoted to Treasures From the Disney Vault.


Being the literary gal I am, I have a soft spot for movies about authors. I’m still surprised when I discover how many Agatha Christie films there are, if only because there really aren’t any made now. Agatha (1979) is a fictional account of what happened in 1926 when the titular murder mystery authoress (here played by Vanessa Redgrave) disappeared for eleven days. Doctor Who did a pretty fun episode around those same events if memory serves. Dustin Hoffman and Timothy Dalton also star and this has all the makings of a fun 1970s throwback to the ’20s, a popular theme during the decade. Agatha airs September 11th at noon.


Let’s talk about Errol Flynn. I did an entire Fridays With… series on the infamous actor, and while I looked at his swashbucklers and dramatic features, I didn’t look at his mystery films. Honestly, I wasn’t aware Flynn dabbled in the detecting genre until I discovered Footsteps in the Dark (1941). Footsteps in the Dark sees Flynn as an aspiring mystery writer who stumbles on exactly what he writes about. Brenda Marshall (the ex-Mrs. William Holden) and Ralph Bellamy also appear. I’m a fan of 1940s mysteries and Flynn is so classy I anticipate him only making me yearn for him to star in more detective features. You can follow the Footsteps in the Dark on September 17th at 8am.


I swear I thought Tammy and the Bachelor (1957) was included in a previous TCM Top list, but looks like it wasn’t so I’m making it official. You can’t ever go wrong with Debbie Reynolds, can you? Tammy and the Bachelor stars Reynolds as the titular Tammy and Leslie Nielsen as the bachelor she saves from a plane crash. I can only imagine how we possibly get from A to B but I’m sure it’s delightful and filled with Reynolds’ spunkiness. Tammy and the Bachelor is part of a “Tammy” double-feature on September 18th at 8pm.


Based on Glenda Farrell’s starring role I assumed Girl Missing (1933) was a Torchy Blane movie, but it isn’t. Farrell and Mary Brian are the girls who discover both a missing bride and a dead body in the same hotel. Warner Bros. 1930s comic mysteries are always snappy affairs and you can’t go wrong with Farrell and Guy Kibbee. Girl Missing airs on September 21st at 6:15am.


There’s always room for Lucille Ball and I’m picking another of her mystery films. Two Smart People (1946) puts Ball into the role of a lady thief trying to swindle a con-man. Ball is the biggest name opposite John Hodiak and Lloyd Nolan, but Ball would have easily outshone bigger stars. Two Smart People airs at 8:30am on September 22nd.


September 23rd honors actress and real-life princess Grace Kelly (odd, considering her birthday is in November). As beautiful as Kelly is, I can’t say her acting throws me for a loop, but maybe I’m not watching the right films. Directed by Charles Vidor of Gilda (1946) fame, The Swan (1956) stars Kelly as a woman marrying a prince, only to fall for her brother’s tutor. Outside of the tutor, sound familiar? The movie was obviously capitalizing on Kelly’s nuptials. Kelly and Guinness are the leads, but I’m watching this for the Louis Jourdan. The Swan airs at 2pm on September 23rd.

October’s a month away but that’s no reason to avoid the horror genre. Night Train to Terror’s (1985) premise sounds existential, but I’m sure it fosters a whole wealth of supernatural horrors; John Phillip Law and Cameron Mitchell star as to passengers – God and Satan – debating the life of three sinners. TCM doesn’t give any indication this is a horror anthology, but the multiple narratives imply that it will be, and I’m a sucker for a good anthology! Climb aboard the Night Train to Terror on September 25th at 2am.


Though I did an entire tribute to Shirley Temple last year I still didn’t get to every film in her filmography, like The Littlest Rebel (1935). Temple reteams with both John Boles and Bill “Bojangles” Robinson. This time Boles stars as Temple’s father, a Confederate soldier eager to return to her. The Littlest Rebel is best remembered as the film where Temple and Robinson dance up the staircase. The Littlest Rebel is part of a tribute to Robinson on September 25th at 9:30pm.


Margaret O’Brien burst onto the scene in Journey in Margaret (1943), but it was Music for Millions (1944) that made her a household name. O’Brien is June Allyson’s kid sister in this story of a pregnant woman (Allyson) waiting for her husband to return from war. Considering it stars Jose Iturbi and Jimmy Durante alongside Allyson and O’Brien, I anticipate a lot of musical interludes. I have high hopes for this one, especially since Henry Koster, director of The Bishop’s Wife (1947) is behind the helm. Music for Millions airs September 27th at 6pm.


Algiers (1938) is another “didn’t I already include that” title. This one’s played quite a few times over the last few months on TCM, most recently during Charles Boyer’s Summer Under the Stars tribute. Boyer plays a thief on the run who meets the beautiful Hedy Lamarr and sparks fly. It’s Hedy Lamarr…I’m sure sparks would fly no matter what! Algiers airs September 30th at 1pm.



Celebrate the madcap director with a socially conscious heart, Preston Sturges on September 1st (my birthday!!). Henry Fonda finds out he can’t fool Barbara Stanwyck in The Lady Eve (1941) at 8pm. Then, Joel McCrea goes out to find himself in Sullivan’s Travels (1942) at 9:45pm. And later, Joel McCrea and Claudette Colbert can’t fight their feelings in The Palm Beach Story (1942) at 11:30pm.


TCM Top Twelve

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.

2 thoughts on “The TCM Top Twelve for September 2016 Leave a comment

  1. Happy Birthday!

    TWO PEOPLE is a favourite of mine because of its leads and its moody atmosphere. I can’t claim it is entirely successful, but it is one of those movies that owns me.

    After watching THE SWAN check out an earlier version of the story, ONE ROMANTIC NIGHT starring Lillian Gish.

    MUSIC FOR MILLIONS is typical MGM schlocky stuff, but they put a lot of their terrific actresses to work and, gosh-darn-it, it gets to me.


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