Here's how this works: Visit the TCM schedule for the month -- the link
for June is here. Pick five films that you want to recommend. Please
include the title of the film, the day and time that it's on, and why you
are championing it. The idea isn't that these are the best films of the month,
just the five you want to recommend. Feel free to choose standards or the
more obscure. And remember, if you have to decide between two films,
try to choose the one that is not available on Netflix.
REMEMBER *** ALL TIMES EASTERN *** and *** TCM’s DAY RUNS FROM 6:00 a.m. TO 6:00 a.m. ***
8:00 a.m. Kiss Me, Kate (1953)
Dir: George Sidney
It took me most of my life before I got round to appreciating the glories of the Broadway musical. I passed over the great figures of that musical tradition – Kern, Berlin, Rodgers and Hart and Hammerstein, even the Gershwins – without so much as a pause to burp. When I finally woke up to what I’d been missing, I greedily devoured all the films I’d spent so much of my youth avoiding. Kiss Me, Kate is one of the best of them. Cole Porter was quietly regarded as a has-been, having just come off a failed effort, when he came up with this masterwork. Theater-goers figured his day was past, that he was now superseded by the young lions of a new theatrical generation. How little credit they gave to his genius. Here, the romantic leads – (Howard Keel and Kathryn Grayson, who also worked together in Showboat) – are the feuding soon-to-be-ex-husband-and-wife musical team who are staging a song-and-dance version of The Taming of the Shrew. Shakespeare’s original is often referred to as the “play within a play” – and this movie presents a not too dissimilar situation. The film begins with Ron Randell, as Mr. Porter himself, enticing his stars to do the show. A song here, an Ann Miller dance there, relieves the tedium. But once the curtain actually goes up on opening night, the movie steps into a higher class. Everything seems to work – not just the memorable and witty songs, but the spectacular dance sequences with Miller, Tommy Rall, Bobby Van, Carol Haney, Bob Fosse, et al. (I wonder if any of you can keep a straight face while Miller and company sing, “Dig-a-dick, a-dick-dick, dick-dick . . .”)
12:45 p.m. Mourning Becomes Electra (1947)
Dir: Dudley Nichols
When Melville first undertook to earn his bread as a man of letters he composed clear prose in unpretentious American English. But sometime in his twenties he began to read Shakespeare, and the Bard fucked him hard up his intellectual ass and fucked him once and for all. He was never the same writer after that. I won’t say that’s what happened to Eugene O’Neill when he encountered the great Greek tragedians, but his encounter with them left some pretty inflamed wounds. One of the scars is Mourning Becomes Electra – O’Neill’s take on the Orestes trilogy, replete with adulterous wife, glimmers of incest, brooding murders of vengeance, and family blood-guilt. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? To quote a line I read in a review of a porn film, “Don’t jack off too soon . . .” This picture’s a lo-o-ong, heavy meal. The best thing about it is the cast – Raymond Massey as Agamemnon, Katina Paxinou as Clytemnestra, Michael Regrave as Orestes, and Rosalind Russell as Electra, whose names were all changed once the background was shifted from ancient Hellas to nineteetnh-century America. Don’t travel up this path unless you really want to . . . and unless you’re something of a masochist.
8:00 p.m. Jezebel (1938)
Dir: William Wyler
Those who’ve watched Bette Davis only in soap opera pap like Now, Voyager or in freaked-out harridan roles like What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? or Beyond the Forest and have backed off in revulsion, wondering what all the shouting is about, will have their questions answered by All About Eve or, better yet, the films she made with William Wyler. The first of these is Jezebel, which won Bette her second Oscar. She’s Julee, the untamed southern belle who dares flout the ritual-bound society of ante-bellum New Orleans, where gentlemen fight duels at the mere mention of a lady’s name in a public tavern and unmarried girls must wear white dresses to the ‘Lympus Ball. With characteristic bravado Julee shows up in red – and that single act changes the course of her life. Fay Bainter likewise won an Academy Award as Julee’s aunt, but the whole cast is wonderful – I even like George Brent. Yet when the smoke clears it’s Davis who runs the show. She transforms herself into a beautiful woman – no mean task. And she opens up her New England throat to form a rounder, pipier accent – (“Press, you’re funnin’.”) It’s a great performance. A star’s performance. I know that movies like this aren’t made any more. And perhaps they shouldn’t be. But Julee’s profile of redemption, seated among the fever victims setting off for Lazared Island – (“Where the lepers are ! ”) – while Max Steiner’s music reaches a crescendo and a chorus underlines the grandeur of the moment – is something I miss in contemporary film. God! I get wet pants just thinking about it!
10 a.m. Bonjour Tristesse (1957)
Dir: Otto Preminger
This comes from Francoise Sagan’s novel, which was something of a sensation in its day, if only because she was so young when she wrote it. There’s not much to it. It looks like some sort of teen-aged girl’s fantasy of adult tragedy – how the very self-aware heroine and her skirt-chasing father are bound together by guilt for their cruel mistreatment of a decent woman. I bring it up because it was directed by Otto Preminger and stars the lovely young Jean Seberg, whom he had cast as Shaw’s Saint Joan after a very public nation-wide campaign to discover the right blend of mature talent and fuckable innocence that Preminger believed was indispensable to the part. Seberg’s own life would end all too soon. I can’t say she’s a terrific actress, but she’d learned much from the critical shellacking she took as Joan, and Preminger puts her through the paces with more than able support from David Niven and the always excellent Deborah Kerr.
8:00 p.m. Finian’s Rainbow (1968)
Dir: Francis Ford Coppola
This movie is clearly out-of-its-time. Even on its release it seemed a relic from a distant age – a decidedly distant age. The book is among the most idiotic in all Broadway musical history. And the cast is not just a mite mature, but positively geriatric. Despite these drawbacks – and I don’t want to minimize them -- Burt Lane’s music and “Yip” Harburg’s lyrics are still young enough to delight anyone who’s not constitutionally hostile to movie musicals: Old Devil Moon, On that Great Come-and-Get-It Day, Look to the Rainbow, How Are Things in Glocca Morra, If This Isn’t Love, The Begat, When I’m Not Near the Girl I Love. Coppola directs this with genuine conviction, determined to prove, perhaps, that he could produce competent commercial work – even in a genre on the dark side of the moon from what he was accustomed to doing. Tommy Steele is something of an obnoxious leprechaun – (yes, you read that right) – but I’ll never forget the sudden baritone in his otherwise squeaky voice when he’s kissed by Susan the Silent and says, directly to the camera, “Fairyland was never like this.”
8:00 p.m. A Night of Preston Sturges movies (1940 – 1944)
In a bare six years Melville published Typee, Omoo, Mardi, Redburn, White Jacket, Moby Dick, and Pierre. In little more than half that time Faulkner produced Sartoris, Sanctuary, The Sound and the Fury, As I Lay Dying, and Light in August. Preston Sturges belongs in their company. From 1940 to 1944 he wrote and directed seven of the best and most lasting comedies ever to come out of Hollywood. Six of them will be aired in an all-night extravaganza. A seventh, The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek, is omitted for some reason. To be honest, some are better than others, but they’re all worth seeing and they all contain life-threatening laughs – and more than laughs, too. The whole show starts off with Sullivan’s Travels, perhaps the best of the lot and the one that is often cited as Sturges’ apologia pro vita sua. Next up is Christmas in July, which is fairly lightweight, but features a wonderful turn by the too-often underrated Raymond Walburn as the acidly sarcastic coffee tycoon. Then follows The Great McGinty, whose screenplay won an Oscar. After that comes The Lady Eve, Hail the Conquering Hero, and The Palm Beach Story, this last one featuring the memorable shenanigans of the Ale-and-Quail Club. If you are one of those who have yet to discover Preston Sturges, I envy you your first encounter with his movies. He was like nobody else.
All times Eastern Midnight to 11:59PM
3rd 6AM Young Bess (1953)
Based on a book by Margaret Irwin, this is a fictionalized biography of Elizabeth Tudor who later became Elizabeth 1st of England, beginning with her childhood years and ending with her accession to the throne. Through this film we see her (Jean Simmons) attempts to survive the English court's powerless, except for the loyalty of a few noblemen, with her greater danger coming from a Thomas Seymour (Stewart Granger).
4th 12:15AM The Blot (1921)
Directed by a few women of their day, Lois Weber tends to focus her movies on social problems. Through this film she is contrasting a professor's family getting a near-poverty wage with their prosperous next door neighbor, a wealthy shoe maker. The professor's daughter becomes ill. Her mother goes out to find nourishing food for her but was turned down by the grocer and returning home she sees this scrumptious chicken cooking at her neighbor's house. The question now is - Should she? or Shouldn't she?
8th 11:30AM The Horn Blows at Midnight (1945)
Jack Benny plays a trumpet player in a radio station orchestra who falls asleep during a coffee commercial and while sleeping he dreams he is an angel, Althanael, in the heavenly orchestra. His superior now sends him to Earth on a mission. By blowing his trumpet at midnight he will be able to destroy Earth. But as he returns to Earth some fallen angels see him and they will try and prevent this mission of his from occurring.
17th 8AM Lies my Father Told Me (1975 Canada)
Set in the 1920s the story follows David Herman (Jeffrey Lynas) a young boy whose opinion of the world is formed via the competing perspectives of his inventor father and his immigrant grandfather a rag and scrap collector. Grandfather schools the boy on the moral values of the day and over time, David finds his heart and soul completely won over by his somewhat old-fashioned grandfather much over the chagrin of his father.
18th 5AM Les Carabiniers (1968 France)
Two brothers wer approached by riflemen [carabiniers] with the proposition that if they join their army they can do anything they want. What follows is a fanatical account of traveling all over the world (with postcards to prove it), killing anyone who gets in their way and playing sickening games with their victims.. They eventually returned home supposedly as victors but once home they realized a revolution had taken place and they are now branded as traitors.
The Horn Blows at Midnight . . . yes.
8:00 p.m. Rio Bravo (1959)
Dir: Howard Hawks
Walter Brennan damn near steals this movie for me. Dean Martin's work in this film is fantastic. Angie Dickinson is gorgeous, so gorgeous in this film that whenever she kisses John Wayne I found myself thinking "But you're young...you can do better than him". Ricky Nelson can't really act. It must have been Hawks' direction that kept his casting from completely derailing the movie. And John Wayne is VERY John Wayne in this move.
4:00 a.m. What Ever Happened To Aunt Alice (1969)
Dir: Lee H Katzin
Produced by Robert Aldrich this movie has some undeniable class to it. Even when it gets batshit crazy it doesn't get exploitive, which will not make the group over at The Sanitarium happy, but you stick with it you'll really like it, expecially Ruth Gordon. She's really good in this movie playing off of Geraldine Page.
12:15 p.m. The Spirit of St Louis (1957)
Dir: Billy Wilder
This movie is great, enthralling, wonderful, light, entertaining, and not at all stagy. This is an amazing movie from Billy Wilder that is just light-hearted fun. Stewart's co-star is a fucking fly, who should have received his own screen credit.
2:15 a.m. The Young Philadelphians (1959)
Dir: Vincent Sherman
Harry Stradling's cinematography is wonderful, as is everything else about this movie. Adam West is awesome in this movie. Paul Newman is early in his career here, but he shines. This is before Hud & The Hustler, but after Somebody Up There Likes Me & The Long Hot Summer. Robert Vaughn gives a career great performance.
5:30 p.m. The Train (1965)
Dir: John Frankenheimer
Excellently shot black and white film with brilliant direction from Frankenheimer. It's a thoroughly enjoyable, entertaining, and thrilling movie. It will make me want to watch Von Ryan's Express and Emperor of the North again.