How is it we’re already in July? The year is just sailing right on by isn’t it? Thankfully, we have the world of TCM to keep time firmly rooted in the past. It’s only a matter of time before we’re celebrating Summer Under the Stars. The ten films below are ones I’ll be attempting to beat the heat with. Feel free to leave additional titles in the comments!
**All times listed as Eastern. TCM can change the schedule at their discretion.**
I’ve only watched the 1998 Leonardo DiCaprio version of Dumas’ novel which, I’ll admit, isn’t a particularly good movie. I’m assuming the 1939 adaptation possesses the same storyline: The Three Musketeers must band together to save the imprisoned twin brother of the villainous King Louis. Oddly enough this is one of several movies on this list with a Bennett sister, in this case Joan, and is directed by a post-Frankenstein (1931) James Whale. My past experiences have put Whale in the role of horror director. Of the films I’ve watched Whale certainly has a flair for the opulent, even in grim, dark settings, so I’m excited to see how things fare when he’s allowed wonderful costumes and settings that wouldn’t be described as “crypt-like.” The Man in the Iron Mask airs during a salute to James Whale on July 8th at 9:45pm.
I missed David and Lisa (1962) when it played at the TCM Film Festival this year, and after interviewing its star, Keir Dullea I feel I need to see it. David and Lisa was directed by Frank Perry, who you might infamously know as the director of Mommie Dearest (1981). Before that, though, he was a director of substance, and David and Lisa is oft-considered his best work. Dullea stars as a troubled young boy who finds a bosom buddy with a schizophrenic woman played by Janet Margolin. The film has that gritty, British kitchen sink drama feel to it that I generally enjoy. And who doesn’t think Keir Dullea in black and white is the cutest thing ever? Meet David and Lisa on July 9th at 9:45pm during a night of Frank Perry movies.
We all watch TCM to learn, whether it be about a certain star or just classic film in general. For me, TCM helps open up the world of foreign cinema to me, and there’s no better gateway than looking at Shakespeare. Yes, the Bard is a person applicable to all cinema, foreign and domestic. Throne of Blood (1957) is one of many masterpieces directed by Akira Kurosawa…and I confess I’ve only seen one (1961’s Yojimbo, in case you’re curious). Kurosawa’s films are so visually striking that it’s a no-brainer he’d adapt Shakespeare’s bloodiest play, Macbeth. Macbeth is in the top 10 of my favorite Shakespeare plays and there’s no outright terrible version to be filmed. I’m sure Kurosawa’s take will be amazing and I can’t wait to see it. Throne of Blood plays July 12th at 1am during an evening of Shakespeare adaptations.
I’m traveling all the way to NYC to see Hamlet performed, so I figure now might be a good time to see another version of it. Yes, I’ve only watched the modern takes on Hamlet – yes, even the Mel Gibson one – and haven’t made time for the quintessential version performed by Sir Laurence Olivier in 1948. Hamlet’s story is nothing new; he’s a guy who sees ghosts and can’t make up his mind. Okay, I’m simplifying but you should all know the story! This is one of many crowning achievements by Olivier so that alone should warrant it a watch. Hamlet’s indecision starts July 12th at 7:45am.
When I watched Robert Osborne’s Private Screenings interview with Liza Minnelli from 2010 it was heartbreaking to watch how she talked about her father, Vincente. The love between the two of them was still strong and, if memory serves, she mentioned wishing she could have more time with him. In 1987 Liza did a documentary called Minnelli on Minnelli: Liza Remembers Vincente, and I can only imagine it will make me cry. Liza is an amazing storyteller with a wealth of information, so hopefully she shares some great stories about her dad and her mom (though I don’t expect that to be the primary focus). Minnelli on Minnelli: Liza Remembers Vincente airs July 14th at 3:30pm.
Some don’t like it – and it’s often considered box-office suicide to do so – but I enjoy seeing real-life couples act together on-screen. I mean, the Golden Era is rife with this, which is why TCM is doing a night of films with real-life couples acting opposite each other. Out of the ones I haven’t watched I picked 1972’s The Getaway, starring Steve McQueen and Ali MacGraw. I’m not a die-hard fan of either actor, but I do love director Sam Peckinpah who I have faith will direct something gritty as can be. The Getaway follows a bank robber whose job goes bad, leaving him and his wife to go on the run. Anyone else seeing shades of Bonnie and Clyde (1967)? Watch out for The Getaway on July 16th at 12:15am.
Who saw Logan this year? Well, if you did then you know the movie homages George Stevens’ Shane (1953) a lot. Westerns aren’t necessarily my forte but since I adore Logan I feel it’s only right to go back to its inspiration. Alan Ladd stars the eponymous character who helps a small town fight off an evil gunslinger. I’m just finishing up Glenn Frankel’s exploration of the blacklist and High Noon (1952), and Shane is considered a kindred spirit to that film, so the stars are aligning for me to watch this. Watch Shane on July 16th at 8pm.
Longtime readers of the site know I’ll give the time of day to an anthology film, despite realizing the quality of these productions varies wildly. From Beyond the Grave (1973) sounds akin to Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors from 1965, and that’s mainly because both star Peter Cushing. The similarities also seemingly extend to plot. Where Dr. Terror saw stories based on a group of people in a train car, From Beyond the Grave features a series of stories based around an antique shop and its owner. No matter the gateway I’m a fan of anthologies so let’s give this a go! From Beyond the Grave airs July 18th at 4:30pm.
There must be something medieval in the air! As with The Man in the Iron Mask we return to costume dramas of old with Knights of the Round Table (1953). From the sounds of the premise this doesn’t appear to focus on the typical Arthurian trappings of Merlin and a watery tart throwing a sword at someone. This is a good old-fashioned love story that just happens to have King Arthur in it. Ava Gardner plays Guinevere, torn between her love for her husband, the eponymous Arthur and his best friend, Lancelot. Director Richard Thorpe did several of these movies – and was a frequent helmer of Esther Williams films! Gardner and Robert Taylor look beautiful in stills, so I can only imagine how they look in dazzling Technicolor. Gather around with the Knights of the Round Table on July 25th at 12:45am.
Trapeze (1956) is another film I missed at the TCM Film Festival and I’m eager to see it. Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis star as two trapeze artists who fall for the same woman, played by Gina Lollobrigida. I’ve heard the aerial photography is great, and that this has a fair bit of 1950s homoeroticism. I’m not big on either Lancaster or Curtis, but you can’t really go wrong with circus movies, can you? Jump on the Trapeze on July 29th at 10:15pm.
THE TCM TRIO
TCM gives us a trifecta of mid-century modern romances on July 10th starting with William Holden and Maggie McNamara trying to figure out why The Moon is Blue (1953) at 8pm. Then, Joan Crawford leads a trio of women to strive for The Best of Everything (1959) at 10pm. And, at 12:15am, Judy Garland and James Mason face all manner of complications when A Star is Born (1954).
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.