Saturday, July 18, 2015

Quick Preview of TCM in October

The October schedule was posted online last week by Turner Classic Movies!

The October Star of the Month is Oscar-winning British actor David Niven. Over three dozen Niven films will be shown on Monday evenings in October, continuing overnight and well into Tuesday.

There are many excellent Niven films on the roster, and I'm wondering if Paramount's THE PERFECT MARRIAGE (1947) might be a TCM premiere; I'm a big fan of costar Loretta Young and finally caught up with it thanks to borrowing a friend's VHS copy a few years ago. (September Update: Although THE PERFECT MARRIAGE is still in the title index in the back of TCM's NOW PLAYING guide, it's not on the schedule itself, nor does the TCM website reflect an upcoming airdate.)

As always, there are many outstanding films on TCM in October, including tributes to William Wyler, June Allyson, Walter Matthau, Bob Hope, Mervyn LeRoy, Gene Tierney, Angela Lansbury, Jeff Chandler, Charlie Chaplin, and Lillian Gish. October themes include the Depression, wind, trains, Scotland, and (appropriately for the "scary" month of the year) wife killers.

Treasures from the Disney Vault returns in October, leading off with THE ADVENTURES OF ICHABOD AND MR. TOAD (1949) and the classic short THE OLD MILL (1937), in which animals take shelter in the title mill on a dark and stormy night.

The Disney night will also include ESCAPE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN (1975) with Ray Milland and RETURN FROM WITCH MOUNTAIN (1978) with Bette Davis, along with newer titles I'm admittedly less enthused about such as FRANKENWEENIE (1984) and MR. BOOGEDY (1986).

My overall reaction to the October schedule is perhaps more muted than usual; I'm not a fan of horror, which is understandably a big part of the October schedule, and the series on female directors necessarily means there are a host of "newer," not necessarily always very good films on the schedule, given that Dorothy Arzner and Ida Lupino were the lone classic era women directing movies. I admit I cringed a bit when I saw titles like FIRST LOVE (1977) and LOOK WHO'S TALKING (1989) in the lineup, especially after noting how many post-1970 films are already on the September schedule.

Although films in TCM series are "curated" and presented in a particular context, I'd just as soon not see the channel air so many recent titles which are easy to find elsewhere. However, that's a regular topic of debate among TCM fans which isn't likely to end soon, and indeed, the rumbles I hear through various sources hint that "new" films will likely be an increasing part of TCM's future, as they work to widen their audience. Needless to say, that could be a two-edged sword; if it's not done carefully, they could lose audience as well. We'll see what develops.

In the meantime, there's still no other station anywhere that does what TCM does, presenting such a variety of Golden Era films; to highlight just one evening, a night of silents includes Harry Houdini in THE GRIM GAME (1919), which was shown at this year's TCM Classic Film Festival, and Fatty Arbuckle in the very first Western shot in legendary Lone Pine, THE ROUND-UP (1920). And in terms of the Women in Film series, I can at least recommend CROSSING DELANCEY (1988) from among the "newer" titles.

I'll have more on the October schedule around October 1st. In the meantime, Shirley Temple continues as the July Star of the Month, with Summer Under the Stars coming in August and Susan Hayward the Star of the Month in September.

October 1st Update: For much more on TCM in October, please visit TCM in October: Highlights.


Blogger Jerry E said...

I am interested in your comments on a possible change of 'direction' by TCM, Laura. Here in the UK I had noticed just recently that TCM UK now includes lots of episodes of 'Conan' and 'Container Wars' (don't know what these are and don't want to!) which means a reduction in the number of those great and often rare little films they had been showing. I hope this only temporary. As you say, they could end up losing existing audience. They were unique. Why follow the audience all the other channels have?

1:29 AM  
Blogger The Siren said...

I am resigned to TCM showing movies that in no way fit my definition of classic, even though I wish they wouldn't. It seems to me that every time I turn it on and find, to my frank horror, something like "Look Who's Talking," later that week I turn it on late one night and find a rare foreign or silent or early talkie that absolutely nobody else would ever put on TV. And of course, uncut, no commercials and (usually) in the right aspect ratio. OK, so they air dreck from the 80s (was there a single more godforsaken decade of film? I say no, and I just wrote a whole novel about the 80s, although it's very deliberately about a woman who's avoiding current movies in favor of classics). If that keeps the ratings up to satisfy the higher-up suits, fine, as long as the core mission stays intact. So far I've never gone through a month that had nothing to interest me.

Also Laura, I love this feature of yours. And I adore Niven, so October should be fine!

3:02 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Laura, that's an interesting collection of Disney films for October! I still remember seeing Mr. Boogedy as a kid. We also watched all the Witch Mountain movies too. I'm most interested to see The Old Mill, which I don't think that I've ever seen.

5:58 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

I'm belatedly catching up on this thread! Thanks to you all so much for your thoughtful comments.

Jerry, I'm most interested to hear the kinds of programming you see in the TCM UK along with movies. Do keep us posted on how that develops.

Farran, I completely agree with you. I can happily accept programming on TCM I don't care for because of all there is that's great -- I think the fear of many of us, of course, is that eventually it could go the way of AMC. Let's hope not!

I'm so glad you know you enjoy the long-range TCM previews! I sure enjoy doing it. :)

Dan, THE OLD MILL is great, I hope you'll enjoy it. True story, a family friend was going to do the young girl's role in ESCAPE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN and broke her leg! And it went to Kim Richards instead.

Best wishes,

6:36 PM  
Blogger Crocheted Lace said...

Being unemployed, I had to give up cable, so haven't watched TCM for a few months, but it is very disheartening to see the newer, easy to see post 1970 movies on TCM. I know they are catering to a younger audience.

On the other hand, it's lovely that David Niven is getting so much play on TCM. He seems to be remembered as a sophisticated, sometimes weak, foppish or cynical character. But several of his films show such depth and manliness. He was so touching and sad in Separate Tables of course. In Wuthering Heights, his supporting part may seem deceptively bland in comparison to the obsessive Heathcliff. But Niven shows the sincerity and pain of a husband who never figured out his own wife, then is devastated when he discovers the truth.
In "The Moon is Blue", Niven is louche and quite sexy. Very enjoyable. My mother saw Niven in the play in San Francisco and said he was fantastic.

4:55 PM  

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