The sun is shining depending on what part of the country you’re living in, and springtime is in arriving. If you’re like me March is simply known as “the month I need to get through before TCMFF arrives.” There were several great films worth spotlighting this month, but these are the ten I’m the most interested in. Feel free to share your recommendations in the comments.
**Times are listed as Eastern. TCM can change the schedule at their discretion.**
I remember this being included as part of Edgar Wright’s guest programmer segment and didn’t get to see it. The Last of Sheila (1973) is a murder mystery/Hollywood satire about wealthy vactioners stumbling onto a murder. According to Wright – and Robert Osborne – the characters are all based on real Hollywood people at the time, adding to the fun. The cast includes the likes of James Coburn, Raquel Welch and Dyan Cannon which sounds fantastic, all three in their ’70s prime. You can learn more about The Last of Sheila on March 5th at 10:15pm.
Barbara Stanwyck made a lot of movies – over 85 in her career – and TCM is devoting March 7th to several of the divine queen’s films. The Gay Sisters (1942) is just one of many Stanwyck films I’ve yet to experience. Stanwyck plays a New York aristocrat who marries for money. Geraldine Fitzgerald and Gig Young are in this, but I’m more excited by Stanwyck pairing up with George Brent. The two are just amazing, with a lot of chemistry, in 1946’s My Reputation (which TCM is airing right after this on the 7th) and I’m eager to see how they were before that film. Meet The Gay Sisters on March 7th at 4pm.
I still kick myself for not trekking to the midnight showing of the Burton/Taylor WTF-fest Boom! (1968). The two made another film that same year with the somewhat classier adaptation of Faust, Doctor Faustus. Burton plays a scholar who sells his soul and Taylor is his lady fair. Now, considering how the two tended to make movies about their relationship – even when it wasn’t supposed to be – I’m here for a movie wherein Burton sells his soul for a woman who would just as often drive him crazy as drive him wild. The actual quality of the script might be questionable, but you can’t go wrong with a Burton/Taylor costume drama, can you? (This is coming from someone who enjoys their take on Cleopatra, too!) Make a bargain with Doctor Faustus on March 9th at 2:30am.
Richard Burton is March’s Star of the Month, and yet I can’t say I’ve seen much outside of his major films with Elizabeth Taylor and my favorite film of all time, Anne of the Thousand Days (1969). After donning the cap of Henry VIII Burton released this film, Staircase, the same year, and the two couldn’t be more different if they tried. Staircase stars Burton and My Fair Lady’s (1964) Rex Harrison as gay lovers navigating life and old age. If someone told me Burton and Harrison teamed up to play lovers in 1969 I’d have never believed them. I’m anticipating this will be fairly dated in terms of its portrayal of homosexuals, but I must see this. Climb the Staircase on March 10th at 10:45pm.
On March 13th TCM honors the directorial work of Philip Leacock. His name doesn’t ring any bells and with that I feel compelled to check out one of his movies which, based on the premises of the few listed, tend to focus on social issues regarding conflicts in either race or religion. Take a Giant Step (1959) is the story of a young black boy who classes, both racially and financially, with the world of white people. The film also stars the amazing Ruby Dee so it must be good. I love what TCM has done over the last few years in terms of spotlighting classic era films about African-Americans or other marginalized peoples. Take a Giant Step yourself on March 13th at 8pm.
Let’s say the unofficial motto of this column: I could have sworn this was on a previous list. Annie Get Your Gun (1950) is one of those musicals I worry I’ll enjoy. It’s a Technicolor musical Western starring Betty Hutton as Wild West sharpshooter Annie Oakley. Now, the last time I watched a movie about Oakley it was the less than stellar dramatic feature starring Barbara Stanwyck. As for Hutton I’ve only watched her in one previous film which I thoroughly enjoyed: The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek (1944). Hutton stars opposite Howard Keel whose movies I enjoy in terms of making fun of how serious his characters are. This one is going to be great or terrible, but I’m eager to wear my cowboy hat and don my six-shooter for it. Annie Get Your Gun airs March 15th at 8pm.
Speaking of a movie tailor-made for me…I first heard about Ziegfeld Girl (1941) from Cameron Howard in a ClassicFlix article. The film stars a trio of beauties – Judy Garland, Lana Turner and Hedy Lamarr – as young girls with aspirations of being in the Ziegfeld Follies. Think of Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl (1968) if she looked like Marilyn Monroe! I’ve heard this is an opulent musical with some weird performances. At its heart it’s nothing more than a showcase for individual performers and I’m all for a vaudeville show masquerading as a serious film. You can meet a Ziegfeld Girl on March 16th at 3:30pm.
I had one last month so let’s keep the Jennifer Jones train rolling. I’ve been fascinated with Cluny Brown (1946) after hearing Quentin Tarantino reference it in a film once. That, coupled with the fact it’s unavailable on home video and it’s become my new Holy Grail. The premise, though, is somewhat less than regal: A servant girl’s passion for plumbing shocks London society. It’s said the premise is meant as a satirical jab at London society, but I’m more interested in the idea of Jones playing a plumber! The film is directed by the famed Ernst Lubitsch so that could explain a lot. Enjoy the wackiness that is Cluny Brown on March 19th at 8pm.
I try to spread the love and not pick multiple films airing the same day, but I just couldn’t pass up another Lubitsch film. Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife (1938) stars Gary Cooper as the titular Bluebeard looking for the eponymous eighth wife played by Claudette Colbert. I had no idea Colbert and Cooper even starred in a film together and the appeal of their pairing is intriguing to me. Also, the whole Bluebeard mythos has always focused on the horror elements of a man murdering his wife; I doubt this film is similar, but maybe it is? Meet Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife on March 19th at 10pm.
TCM is devoting their Sunday mornings to a noir-themed series called Noir Alley…this isn’t a part of that series but I figured I should at least include one noir. Point Blank (1967) is oft-considered one of the best in the genre, and with a cast that includes Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson and Keenan Wynn I can’t blame them. Marvin plays a gangster who plans an elaborate scheme of revenge against his philandering wife. Some of the best noirs are really about domestic dramas at heart. Point Blank airs March 22nd at 1:30am.
THE TCM TRIO
TCM goes bad on March 22nd with a trio of titles starring nasty women (and girls). Patty McCormack is a blonde ball of evil as The Bad Seed (1956) at 7am. Then, Joan Crawford can’t control her wayward daughter in Mildred Pierce (1945) at 9:30am. And finally, Ingrid Bergman believes she’s going mad in Gaslight (1944) at 11:30am.
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.