Friday, October 01, 2021

TCM in October: Highlights

It's hard to believe it's October already! It's time for a look at this month's schedule on Turner Classic Movies.

The October Star of the Month is Lucille Ball. Over 40 of Ball's films will be shown on Thursdays this month, starting on October 7th. I'll have a separate Star of the Month post here next week. (Update: Please visit TCM Star of the Month: Lucille Ball.)

This month's Noir Alley entries are THE GLASS WALL (1953) on October 2nd and 3rd, BRIGHTON ROCK (1948) on October 9th-10th, THE DARK PAST (1949) on October 16th-17th, THE BEAST MUST DIE (LA BESTIA DEBE MORIR) (1952) on October 23rd and 24th, and CAT PEOPLE (1942) on Halloween weekend, October 30th and 31st.

Note: The Noir Alley website continues to show STRANGE FASCINATION (1952) on the last weekend of the month, but TCM's more current monthly schedule has CAT PEOPLE.

This month the TCM Spotlight is on New Waves Around the World, while the Special Theme is "Big Country."

Before I delve into the schedule, a few more comments on TCM's "rebranding," which was discussed at some length at the top of the September highlights post.

I participated in a Zoom press conference on September 8th in which TCM executives and their "brand refresh" collaborators presented information, slides, and videos on the recent changes at the network.

I had the opportunity to ask TCM's general manager, Pola Chagnon, the questions I raised in last month's post. I commented that I perceived a dichotomy between some of the language used to introduce the changes ("new," "contemporary," and so on) and the network's reassurances that nothing important was changing.

I asked Ms. Chagnon if she would describe the refresh as more of a cosmetic change, designed to attract new audiences, or whether viewers should anticipate more significant changes, such as an increased percentage of "newer" films or more "Reframed"-style editorializing.

She said that the film programming should remain much as it is now, owing in part to the libraries available to the network; newer films will continue to be shown to fill out Star of the Month lineups and illustrate themes, just as they are now.

She said that the Reframed series was developed in parallel with the brand refresh and that there will probably be more of that style of presentation in the future.

I felt that her comments were the most significant takeaway, along with the overall theme that the network is clearly concerned about appealing to new, younger audiences. For example, it's been suggested by some on social media that TCM's brighter sets are designed to be easier to see for those watching on their cell phones! That's the same reason the TCM website is now so difficult to use on desktop computers, with relatively little information and lots of white space on the pages; it's designed for smaller devices which are often used by younger viewers.

For my part, having had time to watch many of the new intros which precede the host introductions, they strike me as quite "generic" and deliberately shorter; I assume the briefer length is designed to "hook" viewers into the host introduction or movie more quickly. The intros strike me as bland and host-centric, losing the "Let's get excited about movies!" feel of past intros.

Although I don't agree with all the changes, I did feel that the TCM staff is making a good-faith effort to walk the line between keeping the things we love -- first and foremost, commercial-free classic movies -- with trying to draw new audiences and secure the network's future. As always, time will tell.

And now it's time to look at some October highlights! Below are just a few highlights from the many great viewing options on TCM this coming month. Please click on any hyperlinked title for my extended review.

...Saturday morning, October 2nd, I'll be recording the "B" movie LADIES MUST LIVE (1940), a 58-minute film starring Wayne Morris and Rosemary Lane.

...October 3rd the network will be showing a new documentary, THIS IS FRANCIS X. BUSHMAN (2021), followed by Bushman starring in the silent version of BEN-HUR (1925).

...In keeping with the "spooky season," October 4th is a day of Val Lewton horror films, including Frances Dee, James Ellison, and Tom Conway in I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE (1943), an unusual and very worthwhile spin on Charlotte Bronte's JANE EYRE.

...October 5th is a day of films of the '50s directed by Vincente Minnelli and Nicholas Ray. The lineup includes Ray's PARTY GIRL (1958), starring Cyd Charisse and Robert Taylor, which will soon be out on Blu-ray!

...Scott Eyman, author of a new book on 20th Century-Fox, will be featured on the evening of October 6th. A wonderful lineup of Fox films will be presented, starting with ALL ABOUT EVE (1950).

...October 7th features a seven-film birthday tribute to June Allyson which includes the delightful TWO GIRLS AND A SAILOR (1944), costarring Van Johnson, Gloria DeHaven, and Tom Drake.

...October 8th is "A Night With Nancy Sinatra," featuring her TV special MOVIN' WITH NANCY (1967) and films she appeared in, including MARRIAGE ON THE ROCKS (1965) and FOR THOSE WHO THINK YOUNG (1964).

...One of the more unusual titles showing on TCM this month is KENNY ROGERS AS THE GAMBLER (1980), a TV-movie costarring Bruce Boxleitner. It will be shown on October 11th and is part of the 16-film "Pure Country" series on Monday nights. Incidentally, Boxleitner is on the guest list for this year's Lone Pine Film Festival, where he'll present the TV remake of RED RIVER (1988) which he starred in with James Arness and Gregory Harrison.

...A wonderful lineup of "Insurance Cases" on October 13th features films such as PITFALL (1948) and MYSTERY IN MEXICO (1948). PITFALL stars Dick Powell, Lizabeth Scott, Jane Wyatt, and Raymond Burr, while MYSTERY IN MEXICO stars William Lundigan and Jaqueline White, seen here.

...A day of circus-themed films on October 15th includes THE BIG CIRCUS (1959), with Victor Mature heading a wonderful cast.

...Saturday, October 16th, is the Jane Powell memorial tribute. Four of her films will be featured during the day: LUXURY LINER (1948), SMALL TOWN GIRL (1953), ROYAL WEDDING (1950), and SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS (1954).

...PRIDE AND PREJUDICE (1940) will be shown on October 17th, followed by the documentary MARSHA HUNT'S SWEET ADVERSITY (2015). Hunt plays Mary in PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, which stars Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier.

...Miriam Hopkins receives an eight-film birthday tribute on October 18th, including WISE GIRL (1937), costarring Ray Milland.

...October 20th features British comedies, including the warm, unusual A CANTERBURY TALE (1944).

...The night of the 20th is a wonderful evening of Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals! The lineup is THE KING AND I (1956), CAROUSEL (1956), STATE FAIR (1945), and FLOWER DRUM SONG (1961).

...Jack Carson receives a nine-film birthday tribute on October 27th. There are a number of good titles on the schedule; I'm quite fond of the comedy CRASHING HOLLYWOOD (1938), starring Lee Tracy.

...Also on October 27th, there's another recent documentary of interest, CARL LAEMMLE (2019).

...I tend to give horror films short shrift as they're not my thing, but rest assured there are many such films showing on TCM this month, including all of Halloween weekend. Those who are interested should be sure to review the complete schedule! I'll suggest a spooky film I really like, Val Lewton's THE LEOPARD MAN (1943), which is showing on Halloween. Dennis O'Keefe and Jean Brooks star.

Additionally, fans of pre-Codes should also be sure to check out Danny's list of October titles at

For more on TCM in October 2021, please check TCM's online schedule along with my Quick Preview of TCM in October and TCM Star of the Month: Lucille Ball.

Happy October TCM viewing!


Blogger Caftan Woman said...

Thanks for your takeaway on the Zoom conference with TCM. Depending on my mood, I do find some of the changes a slap in the face to longtime (or older) fans. Nonetheless, I want the network to continue to thrive with a younger audience. It does put me in mind of the push toward the young that the networks used regarding daytime dramas and then cancelled so many because "the ratings were down."

Looking forward to much on the October schedule, but I just realized I don't want to spend any of those moments with the vile Pinkie (Richard Attenborough) in Brighton Rock. That is a very specific mood movie for me. I think I need the charm of A Canterbury Tale with Mrs. Attenborough.

Note: Caftan Woman's choice for the month will be up on Monday as a bunch of blogathons ran together at the end of September.

9:14 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Caftan Woman, that's an interesting comparison with soap operas. It's been sad to see so many of the classic daytime dramas disappear. It will be interesting to see how this all works out re TCM. Hopefully enough of the TCM we love will stay the same that longtime viewers won't be alienated.

I'll be looking for your October pick!

Best wishes,

2:05 PM  
Blogger dfordoom said...

If you haven't seen it then BRIGHTON ROCK is an absolute must-watch. Dickie Attenborough's greatest performance - he's even more Dickie Attenborough-like than usual. A truly great movie.

If we had TCM here I'd be tempted to give PARTY GIRL another chance. Apart from Robert Taylor's superb performance the movie itself left me cold when I saw it years ago. But then I have issues with Nicholas Ray...

I fear that TCM is doomed. Classic movie fandom cannot survive without new blood, without attracting new younger viewers. But there's just no way to persuade significant numbers of young people to watch black-and-white movies. Appreciating black-and-white movies is like learning to speak another cinematic language and young people just never learn to understand that language.

And streaming is going to kill classic movie fandom stone dead. It makes me desperately sad.

3:48 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Here's Caftan Woman's "One for October" pick of the month: DIAL 1119 (1950).

Best wishes,

10:45 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

DforDoom, I've not yet seen BRIGHTON ROCK!

I really liked PARTY GIRL, been a while since I saw it. Glad to see it airing on TCM this month along with the new Blu-ray release.

Be interesting to see what the future holds for TCM... Interesting development today with the announcement of an "in person" fest for 2022.

Best wishes,

10:47 PM  

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