Somehow “Noirvember” 2020 is already in the rearview mirror, leaving December, and the holidays, bearing down on us. While this particular holiday season will be far different from those most of us are used to, we always have the joy of finding an age old favorite, or even a delightful first-time-watch on TCM. Let’s talk about the TCM schedule this December!
Here are my Top 10 picks for this month!
Last month, I rewatched this movie after more years than I care to admit, and I now want to shout about it from the rooftops. Sure, it is not a holiday movie by any stretch of the imagination, but there’s no shame in celebrating your winter holiday of choice with a little atomic creature feature, am I right? The puppetry and special effects work is truly impressive to watch here, making it one of the must-sees in the creature feature genre. Classic TV fans out there should get a kick out of seeing a pre-Gunsmoke James Arness. Meanwhile, the always delightful Edmund Gwenn puts in a traditionally great performance.
Them! airs at 1:15pm PT on December 3rd.
Blessed Event (1932)
Blessed Event is a delightful pre-code which should be a must-see for anyone interested in this iconic Hollywood era. This manic comedy was a relatively recent first-time-watch for yours truly and it left me wondering where Lee Tracy had been my whole life. The actor, whose career was tragically short-lived after the 1930s, seems a perfect fit for this fast-talking period, and he’s truly at his peak in this performance. Meanwhile, Dick Powell fans should also add this one to their lists for his pre-Busby Berkeley appearance as “Bunny Harmon”. Yes, it is as great as it sounds.
Blessed Event airs at 8:00pm PT on December 3rd.
Bell Book and Candle (1958)
This is first of the works which we can truly call a “Christmas movie” on this list. Bell Book and Candle paints a sumptuous portrait of witches in bohemian New York (with a dash of Christmas thrown in, of course). The movie received Oscar nominations for both art direction and costume design. However, it is the performances which elevate this film to a new level. Fans of Jimmy Stewart, Kim Novak, Elsa Lanchester and Jack Lemmon should most assuredly add this one to their lists. You won’t be sorry.
Bell Book and Candle airs at 10:30am PT on December 5th.
Babes in Toyland (1934)
Laurel and Hardy fans rejoice! TCM is set to air multiple days of the legendary duo’s work throughout the month of December. Babes in Toyland is my personal favorite from the comedians, and it’s the Christmas movie I make sure to watch multiple times a season. The story combines the traditional comedy of Laurel and Hardy with the bones of a 1930s operetta, all set in a whimsical land of fairytales. If you’ve somehow missed this Laurel and Hardy classic, make sure you check it out this December.
Babes in Toyland airs at 9:15pm PT on December 7th.
Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
Meet Me in St. Louis is an important film. The Vincente Minnelli feature is one of the pre-emanate musicals to come out of MGM during its golden age, and it’s one heck of a Christmas movie too. The story of the Smith family in 1904 is by far one of the most heartwarming, endearing and enjoyable yarns to enjoy this Christmas. There is so much here to like that it’s difficult to keep this down to a single blurb.
Meet Me in St. Louis airs at 1:00pm PT on December 13th.
Peyton Place (1957)
Peyton Place is… Peyton Place. Truth be told, I fought against watching this movie for a good long time. However, there is something inherently watchable in the soapy intensity of this little new England hamlet. There is far too much to go into in one blurb, but this film is a lot. And truth be told, that’s not a bad thing. Peyton Place presents some delightfully memorable performances, particularly from its bevy of Oscar nominees: Lana Turner, Arthur Kennedy, Russ Tamblyn, Diane Varsi and Hope Lange.
Peyton Place airs at 12:00pm PT on December 15th.
Alias, Boston Blackie (1942)
This will be a first time watch for yours truly, but my excitement for this movie solidifies it as one of my top picks this month. The ultra popular Boston Blackie was a mainstay throughout not only literature, but feature films, television and radio as well. While the reformed criminal appeared on screen as early as the nineteen-teens, the most popular incarnation was brought to life by Chester Morris throughout the 1940s. Alias Boston Blackie is the third film in Morris’ series.
Alias Boston Blackie airs at 5:00am PT on December 19th.
Zero Hour (1957)
I’m a sucker for a good airline drama. I’ve been there for Airplane, the Airport series, and heck, I even watched Skyjacked. However, Zero Hour has been one to elude me… until this month, that is. The film boasts an impressive cast, featuring Dana Andrews, Linda Darnell and Sterling Hayden. The legendary Arthur Hailey (among others) penned the script, and Zero Hour is also best known as the movie on which Airplane is based.
Zero Hour airs at 10:30am PT on December 1st.
The Bad and the Beautiful (1952)
This is a movie which I’m embarrassed to admit will be a first-time-watch for me, and I’m honestly not sure why. The cast speaks for itself: Kirk Douglas, Dick Powell, Gloria Grahame and Lana Turner (to name a few). The film features a cast comprising some of the most glamorous, A-list Hollywood performers money could buy, appearing in a story about some truly A-list Hollywood drama. Think of all the soapy goodness!
The Bad and the Beautiful airs at 9:45am PT on December 15th.
No Way Out (1950)
No Way Out is another first-time-watch I’m excited to finally check out when it airs on TCM this month. With a cast that includes the “King of Noir” himself, Richard Widmark, Sidney Poitier and Linda Darnell with writing and direction by the legendary Joseph Mankiewicz, you’re set for something impressive. The film is a deeper cut of film noir, and I’m excited to finally cross it off my list.
No Way Out airs at 11:15pm PT on December 3rd.
This is merely a snapshot of everything airing on TCM throughout December. There’s a ton of noir offerings (more than we saw during ‘Noirvember’ interestingly), Laurel and Hardy, creature features, mysteries, musicals, and of course, holiday movies! Get ready for a great month of viewing!
What movies are you most excited for? Shout them out in the comments.
Podcaster, film historian, and general lover of all things classic film and television. Studying the contributions of women behind the camera in classic television.
You can find me on Twitter @kpierce624!