Welcome back! Kim has been sitting down to pour over the TCM schedule this month so you don’t have to! February means one thing… Valentines Day! And Black History Month! And Groundhog Day… okay, February packs quite the punch as it relates to programming, so there will undoubtedly be a lot to talk about over the next 28 days. So, as always, here we are with our regular TCM Top 10. Some months, it can be a struggle to limit the list to 10 and February admittedly saw me doing some cheating. So, without further ado, let’s get to the picks.
Moon Over Miami (1941)
It’s always a bit of a challenge to catch one of the iconic Fox musicals airing on the small screen and I will admit to being shamefully weak on these candy-colored, Betty Grable pictures. This is exactly why this little gem is making the list.
Moon Over Miami follows two sisters (Grable and Carole Landis) who venture to Miami in an age-old quest. They want to snag themselves a millionaire. While on their frothy vacation, they find themselves involved with the always dashing Don Ameche and a baby Robert Cummings.
As mentioned, these movies hardly air and they’re often hard to find in physical media, so make sure you check out Moon Over Miami while you can.
Moon Over Miami airs at 7:00 pm PST on February 2nd.
The Magnificent Seven (1960)
I came to The Magnificent Seven early in life. This is one of the movies I think of as… the epitome of cool. You don’t get much better than a cast including: Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, James Coburn, Charles Bronson, and Robert Vaughn… to name a few.
The John Sturges directed western comes from Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai and follows as a team of gunfighters joining together to save a Mexican town from a bloodthirsty group of bandits.
The Magnificent Seven is a brilliant example of the neo-westerns coming to the forefront in the 1960s. Characters weren’t so “black and white”. Life in the old west was violent, complex and the bad guys didn’t always wear black hats.
The Magnificent Seven airs at 1:00 pm PST on February 5th.
Mister Roberts (1955)
With the beginning of February comes a new Star of the Month. This month, Henry Fonda has that honor, so there will be no shortage of tremendous work airing on TCM. There is certainly a lot to pick from, but Mister Roberts is by far and away, my favorite of Fonda’s work.
Of course, Ticklish Business readers shocked by this are probably living under a rock. I’ve hardly been shy in hyping the World War II dramedy and if you’ve missed this one, now is your chance.
Mister Roberts features an all-star cast, including Henry Fonda, James Cagney, William Powell, and Jack Lemmon (in an Oscar-winning role). The story follows the crew of a supply ship in the Pacific during World War Two.
Mister Roberts airs at 5:00 pm PST on February 8th.
The Best Man (1964)
It’s a Henry Fonda twofer in the recommendations this month. The Best Man is one of my more recent discoveries, but it ranks among my favorites in Fonda’s filmography.
The Best Man follows the political action at the 1964 Democratic National Convention as a group of candidates (led by Fonda and Cliff Robertson) do battle for the party’s nomination. The film features a savvy script by Gore Vidal presented by an all-star cast, including Kevin McCarthy, Lee Tracy (in an Oscar-nominated role), Edie Adams, Margaret Leighton, and Ann Sothern.
The film is a rough and cut-throat political drama, but the strength of this cast combined with Vidal’s script makes this a must-see.
The Best Man airs at 9:00 pm PST on February 8th.
The General (1926)
The General is probably the most essential of the essential silent comedies and this is the work most think of when looking back on Buster Keaton’s career. In fact, this is the movie that firmly ensconced Buster Keaton as my favorite silent film comedian for a very long time.
The General follows a young man (Keaton) whose train engine is captured by spies during the Civil War. As he struggles to rescue the object, he stumbles his way through some of the best, most intricate, and stunning stunts ever depicted on-screen. Keaton was a legend for a reason and The General shows us just why he deserves all the love he receives.
The General airs at 11:15 pm PST on February 10th.
Red-Headed Woman (1932)
Thinking through the schedule, we really don’t see Jean Harlow hitting the TCM airwaves all that much. So, when one does hit the small screen, it is going to be a must-see. Jean Harlow deserves to be celebrated, darn it.
Harlow stars in this Pre-Code drama opposite Chester Morris as a cunning secretary from “the wrong side of the tracks”. She has her eyes on landing a rich husband and her unsuspecting boss is her only candidate. There is one problem though, he’s already in a relationship. The role is an iconic one for Harlow who is firing on all cylinders at this point in her career.
With that being said, Red-Headed Woman is not really an easy sit. To me, this film is the epitome of what film scholars talk about when they reference Pre-Code cinema. These characters are complex and not always likable, but it’s fascinating to watch this all come together. This movie is an essential watch for Pre-Code fans as well as lovers of Jean Harlow. Heck, if you’re interested in 1930s cinema, this is one of the hallmarks.
Red-Headed Woman airs at 5:00 pm PST on February 12th.
The Player (1992)
Okay, truth be told The Player is a bit new for our purposes here, but as the kids say, “sorry, not sorry”. It’s been a while since I dove into this one myself, but in that, it’s a perfect time.
Robert Altman is one of the titans of New Hollywood, but in truth, he was a very late addition to my director knowledge. Believe it or not, The Player was my introduction to his ground-breaking work. With a filmmaker as unique and diverse as Altman was, having a great gateway film never hurts.
The Player stars Tim Robbins and follows the story of a Hollywood executive facing death threats over a script he rejected. As a fan of Old Hollywood, I find movies about Hollywood incredibly comforting and nostalgic. While The Player is set in the contemporary, Altman injects all the shine and luster we love (and that’s common to nostalgic pictures of the 1980s and 1990s) making this one a pleasure to watch.
If you’re looking to dive into Altman or “New Hollywood”, why not start here.
The Player airs at 11:00 pm PST on February 12th.
Brief Encounter (1945)
Well, somehow I’ve hit this point in the recommendations without dropping a heaping helping of romance pictures on this month’s Top 10. However, Brief Encounter is certainly a must-see any and every time it hits the TCM airwaves.
A hallmark of UK cinema, this powerful romance stars Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson under the direction of the iconic David Lean. The story follows a married woman who after meeting a dashing Doctor begins to wonder if she really loves her husband.
I can’t lie. This movie is powerful and emotionally draining, but it’s so worth the experience. It’s THAT Valentine’s Day movie. Grab a tissue box, sit down and be prepared to be bowled over.
Brief Encounter airs at 7:15 pm PST on February 14th.
Gene Tierney Triple Feature
Okay, I’m cheating with this entry. On the night of February 17th, the network is airing not one, but three of Gene Tierney’s best works. The primetime block starts at 5:00 pm PST with Laura, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, and Whirlpool.
Each of these movies tends towards film noir (who are we kidding, Laura is one of the hallmarks of the movement). However, the commonality here is Gene Tierney giving one heck of a performance. These are some of her best roles and picking just one felt like an impossible undertaking. You won’t go wrong with any of these pictures.
The action begins at 5:00 pm PST on February 17th.
Sidney Poitier Marathon
Okay, I’m cheating again. So sue me. I must admit that up until this month I have been shaaaaaamefully under-viewed on Sidney Poitier’s work. In the wake of his January 6th passing, I’ve been doing a lot of first-time-watching.
As February 19th and 20th rolls around, TCM has devoted 24 solid hours of programming to showcase the breadth of Poitier’s filmography. Some of these movies have been the most powerful, emotional, and beautiful I’ve seen this month… and I’m frankly ashamed it took me this long to watch many of them.
The action begins at 5:00 pm PST on February 19th.
What I say in every TCM Top 10 remains true for February 2022. There are lots to watch and even more to love on the TCM airwaves this month. Let’s look towards a productive month of viewing and pay tribute to some of our favorites.
What are you looking forward to watching this month?
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