TCM Top 10: November 2021
Well, well, well. Here we are! It’s November… somehow. We wanted to take some time to jump into TCM’s programing this month because it’s getting to Kim’s favorite time of the year. It’s the holidays, it’s winter. Heck, it’s Noirvember. However, there’s a lot more going on over at TCM this month, so here’s our Top 10 films airing over the month of November.
Without further ado, let’s get to the picks!
The Misfits (1961)
There’s one thing most can agree on: You can never get too much Marilyn on your schedule. The first time I watched this film (it was a 2021 first-time-watch for yours truly) I found myself absolutely blown away by the modern western and I say with complete assurance, The Misfits doesn’t get the love it deserves.
The Misfits is perhaps best known as Marilyn Monroe’s last fully completed film. It was also the final feature for her equally legendary co-star Clark Gable. It brings the superb casting trifecta to a close with a powerful turn from Montgomery Clift. It is unfortunate that the powerful nature of this film as Monroe’s last really overshadows the fact that she’s legitimately good here.
There’s such a tendency for popular culture to see Monroe either as the bombshell sexpot singing “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend”, or as a struggling addict in over her head, that we often forget one major thing: she’s a darn fine actress.
The Misfits airs November 2nd at 2:45pm PST
Guys and Dolls (1955)
Guys and Dolls was a formative musical for yours truly, dating back to the earliest days of my schoolgirl crush on Frank Sinatra. In fact, this is one I will still stop and watch whenever I find it on.
Guys and Dolls features an incredible top and below the line cast with names like: Marlon Brando, Jean Simmons, Vivian Blaine, Stubby Kaye and B.S. Pully. Say what you will about Brando’s take on “Luck Be a Lady”, but I find it delightful. Similarly, Vivian Blaine is a treasure who should be far better known than she is today.
Guys and Dolls is a candy colored joy of a classic that should be a must for all-fans of the musical genre.
Guys and Dolls airs November 8th at 9:00 PST.
My Brilliant Career (1979)
This is probably one of the deeper cuts to make the list this month and with that, it is one of the later entries. Very rarely do we find ourselves so close to the (gasp!) 1980s.
However, there’s one thing you all need to know. Young Sam Neill. Okay, fine… there’s a lot more to this beautiful period piece, including stunning direction by then up-and-comer Gillian Armstrong (who shows why she was the perfect choice to helm the 1994 version of Little Women). And I would be failing as a critic, a woman and a writer, if I didn’t mention the gorgeous performance by Judy Davis.
The adjectives I could use for this movie wouldn’t do it justice. It’s a stunning work of cinema and is certainly a must-see… especially if you (like me!) love Little Women.
My Brilliant Career airs November 9th at 9:00pm PST
The French Connection (1971)
I’m taking a hard left into a completely different tone with our next film here. A hallmark in the ‘New York is a Terrible Place’ sub-genre of the 1970s and 1980s, The French Connection is a fascinating watch.
I mean, if nothing else you have the car chase which is ONE OF the greatest to be captured on celluloid. The movie also brings Gene Hackman at his best and is also the performance which dropped Roy Scheider (the object of this month’s Ticklish Business tribute) squarely on the map.
Is it always an easy watch? No. The plot is a bit dense and Popeye Doyle (Hackman) is a ball of gritty 1970s… problematic…ness. However, the performances and William Friedkin’s direction make The French Connection the classic it is. This is New Hollywood at its most brash and cynical. Check this essential out if you haven’t.
The French Connection airs November 13th at 5:00pm PST.
Boy’s Night Out (1962)
Okay, I talk about this movie a lot, so if you’re a regular reader you know that you should make time for this early 1960s sex comedy. (Why haven’t you already?!).
Boy’s Night Out features a darling cast lead by James Garner , Kim Novak, Tony Randall, Howard Morris and Howard Duff in a story about what else… the sex life of the suburban male in the 1960s. The movie follows four white collar businessmen as they rent a bachelor pad and find a beautiful sexpot to live in it. However, there’s only one problem. It turns out she’s a sociology student studying the sexual proclivities of the suburban male.
If you’re a fan of late 1950s and early 1960s sex comedies, this is one to add to your lists. It’s fun, adorable and very much of its time.
Boy’s Night Out airs November 14th at 7:00pm PST
The Gay Divorcee (1934)
You can’t go wrong with Fred and Ginger… am I right? Of course, The Gay Divorcee holds an important place in their legacy. The film is their first starring vehicle and is probably the best known of the duo’s work together (next to Top Hat which hit theaters in 1935).
The Gay Divorcee follows Guy Holden (Astaire) as a song and dance man who meets and falls in love with a woman (Ginger Rogers). There’s only one problem, she’s trying to get a divorce and she thinks he’s the correspondent charged with breaking-up her marriage. Awkward.
All the textbook Fred and Ginger moments are there! Mistaken identities, impeccably choreographed dance numbers and finally, a supporting cast that dreams are made of. Behind Fred and Ginger, the film brings Edward Everett Horton, Erik Rhodes, Eric Blore and even a very young Betty Grable. Every moment of this movie is an absolute joy. So, if you haven’t taken the Fred and Ginger plunge, why don’t you start here!
The Gay Divorcee airs November 15th at 9:00pm PST.
Where the Boys Are (1960)
Where the Boys Are was a movie I didn’t see until film school, but it was one which redefined me as a student, a scholar and a historian. The teen film immediately changed my research interests and became the foundation of much of the work I’ve done since.
Where the Boys Are follows four college coeds (Dolores Hart, Paula Prentiss, Connie Francis and Yvette Mimieux) as they travel to Fort Lauderdale for Spring Break. As they escape their snowy campus, they dream of life and love… on a steak pact budget.
In the decades to follow, teenage, ‘beach party’ films have come to be defined as sugary, tame things starring Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello. However, Where the Boys Are did something different. Sure, it might seem a bit tame now, but it explores questions of sex, gender and relationships through the perspectives of four women at a time when that wasn’t often done.
Where the Boys Are airs November 18th at 9:30 am PST.
Young Frankenstein (1974)
Okay, we’re coming out of October and the joys of Halloween. Sure, Young Frankenstein is probably more at home during the Spooky Season, but Mel Brooks is always a good decision.
Young Frankenstein ranks next to films like Some Like it Hot and Duck Soup as one of the greatest comedies ever to come out of Hollywood. At the same time, Mel Brooks’ horror/comedy follow-up to Blazing Saddles is perhaps his biggest love letter to the joys of classic entertainment… as if it couldn’t be any more delightful.
The film follows Gene Wilder as Dr. Frankenstein’s grandson Frederick who finds himself pulled to his grandfather’s castle where he’s unable to fight the compulsion to take over the family business. Young Frankenstein is a black and white, seamless integration of so many classic stylistic elements of Universal Horror… and the results are hysterical.
Comedy fans, Brooks fans… heck, horror fans… if you haven’t seen this one, definitely add this to your list.
Young Frankenstein airs November 18th at 5:00pm PST
The Great Race (1965)
The Great Race is exactly what it sounds like… it’s about a ‘Great Race’ between two daredevils. However, it is so, so, so much better than that.
Yeah, this is another formative favorite for yours truly. In fact, it’s one of the first comedies little me remembers loving. The Great Race is led by an all-star cast, including: Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, Natalie Wood, Peter Falk and Keenan Wynn. You really can’t go wrong here.
The Great Race is part comedy, period film, action thriller and everything in between. The battle between “The Great Leslie” (Curtis) and “Professor Fate”(Lemmon) is a delightful comment on the serials of Hollywood history. In fact, the film is very much a love letter to silent “B” pictures from the ground up. The only thing missing is a woman tied-up on the train tracks. However, what it does have is the best pie-fight ever captured on celluloid. I will die on that hill.
The Great Race is a WatchTCM viewing for most, airing at 12:15am PST on November 19th.
Ocean’s 11 (1960)
Last but not least, some of you are probably out there rolling your eyes and sorry, but I’m not sorry. This movie has gotten a surprising amount of derision over the sixty years which have passed since its release and I really don’t get it.
Ocean’s 11… for those who don’t know… follows a group of ex-soldiers who decide to rob Las Vegas. Most remember this plot thanks to the George Clooney movie of the same name. However, there’s one noted difference. The Rat Pack. This is the one movie which puts Frank Sinatra’s full Rat Pack on-screen together. Frank, Dean, Sammy, Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop are all there… among others.
Ultimately, the problem with Ocean’s 11 is that it’s marketed as a heist film. Sure, the movie is about a heist, but this is not a heist movie. Instead, it is a study in nostalgia, personality and star persona. Frank Sinatra may be playing a man named Danny Ocean, but he really is himself… and he’s having a blast. The joy in watching this movie is watching these men (The Rat Pack) interact with each other in a time we won’t see again.
Ocean’s 11 airs November 26th at 5:00pm PST
Of course, this list doesn’t even taken into account the major thing we have hitting Turner Classic Movies during November… Noirvember. Stay tuned for more content coming throughout the entire month!
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