A Flickchart Guide to TCM in October
TCM is knocking it out of the park lately with their spotlight programming; last month it was a series of WWII documentaries and feature films by the directors featured in Mark Harris’s book Five Came Back; this month it’s an even more ambitious series dedicated to female filmmakers. I suggested in passing last March that TCM Fest should include a sidebar on women directors, even though there are precious few from the classic era; I’m sure they were already working on this month’s Trailblazing Women spotlight (cosponsored by Women in Film/Los Angeles) when I said that, and they have gone above and beyond to represent women filmmakers from all periods of film history, from the 1890s all the way up the 2010s. Now, some might argue that this goes outside of TCM’s “classic” designation, but I’ve always held that for thoughtful and carefully curated (and presented) programs, those rules can be bent. This is a perfect example.
TCM Spotlight: Trailblazing Women
The Trailblazing Women spotlight will appear throughout the month on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, so make sure to clear plenty of DVR space. The series will be hosted by actress Illeana Douglas, a long-time staple guest of TCM Fest and a favorite among fans. In addition to being a prolific actress, Douglas is the granddaughter of actor Melvyn Douglas, most famous for making Garbo laugh in Ninotchka, so she’s literally got Old Hollywood in her blood. Each evening will be cohosted by a guest host whose knowledge and experience will shed extra light on that evening’s theme. TCM has set up a rather nice microsite for the series, so I encourage you to check that out for more detail on any of the directors featured.
October 1: Women Film Pioneers
The Trailblazing Women series begins, appropriately enough, on October 1 with the very first female filmmakers. Tonight film historian Cari Beauchamp, author of Without Lying Down: Frances Marion and the Powerful Women of Early Hollywood among many other books about classic Hollywood, joins Illeana Douglas to talk about Frances Marion, Alice Guy-Blaché, Lois Weber, Lotte Reiniger, and Dorothy Davenport Reid. Given the dearth of female filmmakers during the 1930-1960 studio era, it may be surprising to learn that many women were quite powerful during the silent era – Frances Marion was a screenwriter with hundreds of credits, Alice Guy-Blaché was one of the first filmmakers of any kind, female or not, and actress/producer Mary Pickford was one of the most powerful people in Hollywood full stop in the mid-1920s. Beauchamp will have much more to say about these wonderful pioneers, and hopefully why their time passed almost instantly when sound arrived.
Alice Guy-Blaché was tasked by her boss Leon Gaumont to go out and get actuality footage; she did him one better, crafting some of the first narrative stories on screen and eventually becoming a mogul and mentor to up and coming filmmakers. We get a variety of her films from the 1910s, from comedy like Canned Harmony (ranked #7998 by 36 users) to emotionally resonant drama like Falling Leaves (ranked #6144 by 33 users). Others include A House Divided (ranked #7509 by 31 users), The Ocean Waif (ranked #7424 by 27 users), and the obscurity prize of the evening, The Birth, the Life and the Death of Christ, which has been ranked by only 1 user.
Highlights from other pioneers include Lois Weber’s The Blot (ranked #9695 by 24 users), Frances Marion’s The Love Light (ranked #10489 by 24 users), The Red Kimona (ranked #11659 by 22 users), which is credited to Walter Lang but producer/actress Dorothy Davenport Reid exerted co-director amounts of control, and Lotte Reiniger’s groundbreaking The Adventures of Prince Achmed (ranked #2122 by 167 users), the first animated feature, made eleven years before Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. There’s also a documentary based on Cari Beauchamp’s book about Frances Marion that should be highly informative and interesting. All of these films (except the doc) are silent, and most are quite short (anywhere from 10 to 70 minutes), and it’s well worth while to catch at least a few of them. You can read more about all these filmmakers at TCM.
October 6: Studio Directors from the Dawn of Sound into the 1970s
Cari Beauchamp will be back to talk about female filmmakers during the studio era, of which there are so unfortunately few that tonight’s films range from 1940 to 1977, encompassing the work of only five filmmakers – Dorothy Arzner (whose career actually stretches back to the silent era), Ida Lupino (who started as an actress but drifted behind the camera), Elaine May, Joan Littlewood, and Joan Darling.
Arzner was the only… let me repeat that, the ONLY woman who worked consistently as a director in the studio system during Hollywood’s Golden Age. The film TCM is playing is her best-known and penultimate film Dance Girl Dance (ranked #9062 by 56 users), which features a young Maureen O’Hara and Lucille Ball as stage dancers who deserve better than what they get from their disruptive male audiences. The only other woman to gain a foothold as a director in the Golden Era was Ida Lupino, who remained just as active as an actress as she did as a director. Her focus tended to be gritty film noir type crime dramas, but TCM is playing one of her more personal films, Outrage, which touches on then-taboo subjects like rape and its aftermath.
Things opened up a bit more in the ’70s, but not a lot. Here we have Elaine May’s The Heartbreak Kid (ranked #5078 by 140 users), Joan Littlewood’s Sparrows Can’t Sing (ranked #21547 by 5 users), and Joan Darling’s First Love (ranked #24298 by 17 users). May, at least, would work heavily in the independent world as well, which leads into the next evening of programming.
October 8: Independent Classics
As you can see above, female filmmakers weren’t getting much of anywhere working within the studio system, but in the ’70s and ’80s they increasingly went independent as that became a viable option. Interestingly, though New Hollywood is seen as a great time of innovation within the studio system, it’s actually pretty aggressively masculine if you really look at it. Female filmmakers like Barbara Loden and Claudia Weill went outside the system to get their films made.
Acclaimed independent filmmaker Allison Anders will co-host a program that also includes one of her own early films, Border Radio (ranked #22665 by 14 users). Barbara Loden is the pioneer here, though she has only one feature film to her credit, 1971’s Wanda. She was married to director Elia Kazan, who encouraged her to direct the film herself after she asked him to – it has since become a landmark for women filmmakers. Other filmmakers followed in her wake, including Claudia Weill, who brought her experience in documentary to 1978’s Girlfriends (ranked #24382 by 5 users), Nancy Savoca, whose debut True Love (ranked #27024 by 26 users) draws on her Sicilian background to depict a realistic view of women in domestic situations, and Martha Coolidge, who had a major indie comedy success and immortalized a dialect with Valley Girl (ranked #2509 by 596 users).
October 13: The 1980s – A Step Forward
Thanks to the pioneering work of women in the studio era and the independent world, there were a few more opportunities for female filmmakers in the 1980s, and we’ll start seeing more recognizable names of filmmakers that are still active now, including Amy Heckerling, who will be co-hosting this evening’s programming, which includes her 1993 comedy Look Who’s Talking (ranked #466 by 15515 users). No offense, TCM, but I might just watch my own copy of Clueless during this time instead.
Meanwhile, we’ll also see a glimpse of Gillian Armstrong with 1984’s Mrs. Soffel (ranked #13737 by 92 users) – Armstrong is not only a successful woman filmmaker, but also leveraged a career in Australian film into a Hollywood career. Also on tap is Joan Micklin Silver‘s best-known film Crossing Delancy (ranked #10891 by 66 users), which explored three generations of Jewish immigrants. Susan Seidelman‘s films tend to deal with the struggles of women to be taken at face value the way men are; she came to the film Cookie (ranked #26184 by 60 users) due to the mentorship of Nora Ephron, by then becoming a force thanks to her successful romantic comedy screenplays. Prefiguring one of the later evenings in this series, Euzhan Palcy‘s film A Dry White Season (ranked #8257 by 79 users) is the first feature directed by a black woman in Hollywood history – the film concerns apartheid in South Africa.
October 15: Essential Documentaries
In this excursus from the chronological order, TCM looks at the impact of female filmmakers on documentary filmmaking, and it has been monumental. Many of the best social justice documentaries are helmed by women, notably Barbara Kopple‘s Harlan County U.S.A. (ranked #2199 by 209 people), an amazing film on the Harlan County, Kentucky, coal miner’s strike. The film is not an impartial document, but almost a rallying protest cry along with the workers, though it’s also clear Koppel faced an uphill battle gaining the trust of this insular community. You can read more about that film on the Flickchart blog.
Filmmaker Connie Field will be co-hosting this evening, and presenting her own documentary The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter (ranked #28614 by 3 users). Field focuses on hidden or lesser known history, particularly women’s history, shining a light on figures and events that are often ignored. Margo Benacerraf represents an amazing combination of things – a Venezuelan female documentarian of Moroccan-Jewish descent. She studied in Paris, but her signature film and the one TCM is playing is 1959’s Araya (ranked #14015 by 14 users), a triptych about the variety of life in Venezuela.
In the American indie documentary scene, few names stand out like that of Shirley Clarke, whose 1964 The Cool World captured the rhythms of life in 1960s Harlem to an exhilarating degree. The film TCM is playing is Portrait of Jason (ranked #20921 by 5 users), a raw and intimate study of a single gay black man in New York’s avant-garde art scene. Penelope Spheeris is probably best known for directing Wayne’s World, but her greatest achievement may be her three-part documentary chronicling the So-Cal punk scene, The Decline of Western Civilization (part 1 ranked #4910 by 102 users). She made light-hearted studio fare like The Beverly Hillbillies to pay the bills, but managed to complete the Decline series almost completely on her own in 1998. Note that TCM is only playing Part 1 of the trilogy tonight, but will play Part 2 on 10/17 and Part 3 on 10/24.
October 20: The 1990s – Mainstream Hits
By the 1990s, you’ll actually find mainstream hits directed by women who became recognizable names (even “brands”, if you will) in their own right – Nora Ephron and Penny Marshall first and foremost, but also actresses dabbling in directing like Jodie Foster and Barbra Streisand. Amy Heckerling is back for co-hosting duties this time around, and again I lament the lack of Clueless in this lineup – it just serves as a reminder, though, that even though this series is wide-ranging, it’s merely the slightest introduction to female filmmakers. There’s lots more to discover and revisit!
Penny Marshall and Nora Ephron each have a number of solid films in their credits, but A League of Their Own (ranked #1109 by 17843 users) and Sleepless in Seattle (ranked #2591 by 21797 users) are definitely great choices to represent them. Randa Haines may not be as immediately recognizable a name, but besides TCM’s programming choice Wrestling Ernest Hemingway (ranked #11695 by 90 users), Haines directed 1986’s Children of a Lesser God, which brought Marlee Matlin a Best Actress Oscar. Finally, actors like to take a stab at directing with some frequency, so why shouldn’t established actresses get their turn behind the camera? We see exactly that here, with Barbra Streisand’s The Prince of Tides (ranked #4990 by 573 users) and Jodie Foster’s Home for the Holidays (ranked #3676 by 666 users). Interestingly, both films are the middle ones of the three features each woman has directed, and both currently have another film as director in the works. Maybe Foster and Streisand are actually the same person…?
October 22: African-American Independents
Tonight TCM looks at a subset of minority female filmmakers, which is quite important to do – as much as we talk about needing more women behind the camera, minorities of either gender are pretty much just as rare, and that gives minority women even more of an uphill battle to climb. You could do this same thing with Latina or Middle Eastern or Asian female filmmakers I’m sure, but you have to start somewhere, and I’m sure TCM couldn’t resist the opportunity to program Ava DuVernay‘s pre-Selma film Middle of Nowhere (ranked #45371 by 13 users).
Besides that, we have a rarity indeed in Kathleen Collins’ Losing Ground (unranked), which was made in 1982, shown once on television and possibly a festival (records are inconclusive), and then forgotten until recent efforts to document the New York indie scene brought it back into the spotlight. It’s now considered among the first narrative features directed by an African American woman. Collins never made another film and died six years later of cancer. Leslie Harris also only has one feature to her name (though she is said to be actively working on another), 1992‘s Just Another Girl on the I.R.T. (ranked #34952 by 6 users), a slice of life film about black teens in New York that’s been acclaimed for its nonchalant realism. Julie Dash has been more prolific, but her signature film Daughters of the Dust (ranked #25538 by 20 users), about the Gullah culture her father came from, took her nearly 20 years to complete, due to financing issues.
As if in testament to the low numbers of minority female filmmakers out there, TCM has thrown in a pair of films overnight that have non-black female directors – Tamra Davis‘ Best Men (ranked #29361 by 38 users) and Christine Edzard‘s Little Dorrit (ranked #21770 by 22 users). Producer and executive Cathy Shulman will be co-hosting this evening.
October 27: International Breakthroughs
TCM has been focusing largely on American filmmakers to this point, but women were making strides internationally as well, especially in France, but also in India, Germany, and New Zealand. Cari Beauchamp is back on air to co-host this whirlwind tour of highlights from Angès Varda, Mira Nair, Lina Wertmuller, Jane Campion, and more.
The pioneer of women directors in France was Jacqueline Audry, who served as script girl and assistant director for in the late 1930s, then stepped into directing after WWII, when France desperately needed to rebuild their film industry and there was lots of opportunity. TCM is playing her 1949 adaptation of Colette’s Gigi (unranked), which is much better known in its 1958 musical version (this one is NOT a musical, and is apparently more risque – Audry went afoul of the censors many times). The French New Wave’s sole woman director was Agnès Varda, whose Cleo from 5 to 7 (ranked #975 by 304 users) is an astounding combination of New Wave sensibility and a woman’s perspective. Meanwhile, ten years later Chantal Ackerman would make one of the definitive feminist films in Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (ranked #2852 by 143 users).
In Germany, Lina Wertmuller was pushing the envelope on social and political satire with films like Love and Anarchy (ranked #12007 by 19 users), about a poor farmer accidentally tasked with assassinating Mussolini. Mira Nair straddles the line between US and India, but almost always deals with Indian characters, often women negotiating the blurring lines between tradition and modernity. The film TCM is showing, however – Salaam Bombay! (ranked #9302 by 56 users) – takes a much younger generation as its protagonists, focusing on street children in Mumbai. Finally, New Zealand-born filmmaker Jane Campion is well-known on the international arthouse scene, gaining a big boost with 1990’s Angel at My Table (ranked #4200 by 131 users), a harrowing portrait of author Janet Frame, whose misdiagnosis of schizophrenia let her in for some pretty horrific “treatments.”
October 29: A New Generation
We started at the dawn of cinema with Alice Guy, and now only a month later, we’ve caught up with ourselves, taking a look at some of today’s finest women directors. These are among the newest films you’ll see on TCM, too, so if that bothers you, well…get over it, because these are some great movies. Filmmaker Julie Dash is co-hosting the evening (you can see one of her films on the 22nd as part of the African American filmmaker themed programming).
Nicole Holofcener claims her films are for women tired of “chick flicks,” showing a more nuanced and messier version of women’s lives, influenced by the same New York intellectual milieu that brought us Woody Allen. Catherine Keener is a mainstay in her films, including tonight’s offering Walking & Talking (ranked #5560 by 132 users). The daughter of Francis Ford Coppola tried acting first, but Sofia Coppola found her calling in the same profession as her dad, directing dreamy and incisive films that bring a new perspective to women’s lives. TCM has chosen to air her 1999 debut film The Virgin Suicides (ranked #1474 by 7639 users), about a group of mysterious sequestered sisters who captivate and confuse their male neighbors. Writer/director Jessie Nelson started her directing career with passion project Corrina Corrina, sticking to her guns against potential financiers who wanted to cast a beautiful model instead of Whoopi Goldberg, then after a stint of screenwriting, made the thoughtful and challenging I Am Sam (ranked #3374 by 6829 users) about a mentally challenged man (Sean Penn) seeking custody of his daughter. Nelson’s a solid eye for casting and the determination to make films her way despite studio objections has made her a critical favorite.
Julie Taymor is a fascinating director, moving from bloody Shakespeare (Titus) to Beatles tribute (Across the Universe) to Mexican painter biopic in Frida (ranked #2996 by 2704 users), the film playing tonight. She’s always unpredictable, always experimental, not always successful, but always worth watching. Also not always taking the expected path is Sarah Polley – she started out as an actress, and continues to act more often than she directs, but her few films as director already place her among the top echelon of female directors working today. Away from Her (ranked #2279 by 546 users) focuses on an aging woman with Alzheimers, which is a surprising subject for a filmmaker as young as Polley, but it’s an amazing film full of heart and experience.
And TCM wraps it all up with probably the most well-known and most acclaimed female filmmaker working today – Kathryn Bigelow, who also holds the distinction of being the only woman to win an Academy Award for Best Director. The film she won for, The Hurt Locker (ranked #686 by 9724 users) is understandably airing tonight, but Bigelow’s career is long and varied, and worth a deeper look than just that film. And that’s a good final reminder as well – enjoy TCM’s overview of the contributions of women directors throughout the history of cinema, but remember this is only an introduction. There’s lots more to see, and thanks to the efforts of organizations like cosponsors of this series Women in Film Los Angeles, there will hopefully be exponentially more to see in the future.
October is, of course, for Halloween, and TCM is not disappointing the horror fans who like to see some classic thrills during the month. Every Friday in October has a themed set of horror films – we’re highlighting the top-ranked film on Flickchart in each theme, but if you’re a fan of, say, haunted house films, then you’ll want to check out the whole programming schedule for that night. October 29-31 are almost completely devoted to horror (except for the evening of the 29th, which finishes out the Trailblazing Women series).
Haunted Houses (10/2) – The Haunting (ranked #643 by 1025 users) – Not to be confused with its less-good 1999 remake, the 1963 version of The Haunting, directed by Robert Wise, actually lives up to its name, with a great performance by Julie Harris as the sensitive girl attuned to the spirits in a creepy old English mansion. Plays October 2 at 11:30 pm. Other films in the programming block include The House on Haunted Hill (1959) and The House of Dark Shadows (1970).
Rogue Body Parts (10/9) – Eyes Without a Face (ranked #413 by 559 users) – Most of the films in this block are lurid b-movies featuring body parts with minds of their own; Eyes Without a Face is a contemplative but eerie French film about a scientist trying to perfect face transplants to repair his own daughter’s disfigurement. She wears an expressionless mask throughout, but her eyes will haunt you. Plays October 9 (really the 10th) at 4:15 am. Other films in the programming block include Mad Love (1935), The Beast with Five Fingers (1946), and The Brain That Wouldn’t Die (1962).
Scary Kids (10/16) – Village of the Damned (ranked #1903 by 520 users) – Creepy kids in horror movies are always a good draw, and they don’t get much better than Martin Stephens in Village of the Damned (he’s also creeptastic in The Innocents), as one of a group of mysterious kids who can communicate psychically and thus destroy any grown-up intervention in their plans. Plays October 16 at l1:45 pm. Other films in this programming block include The Nanny (1965), The Bad Seed (1956), and The Curse of the Cat People (1944). Also this film’s sequel Children of the Damned, but do not watch that. It is terrible.
Literary Horror (10/23) – The Curse of Frankenstein (ranked #2025 by 319 users) – This is Hammer Studios most straightforward version of the Frankenstein story, which still owes as much of a debt to the 1931 Frankenstein as to Mary Shelley’s novel, though it definitely has its own take on the tale. Plays October 23 (really the 24th) at 4 am. Other films in this programming block include Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939), and The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945).
Great Horror Directors (10/29) – Freaks (ranked #328 by 2179 users) – Extremely controversial at the time of its release, Freaks seems a bit tamer now, but not by much. A group of sideshow “freaks” forms their own community within a circus, but interactions with other circus folk are not, well, always amicable. Plays October 29 at 7:45 am. This programming block runs in the morning and includes double-features from Tod Browning, Alfred Hitchcock, William Castle, and Roger Corman, so really, you can’t go wrong with anything here.
Hammer Horror (10/30) – Dracula, Prince of Darkness (ranked #2617 by 247 users) – Hammer Studios is probably second only to Universal in terms of great classic-era horror cycles, and a lot of that is thanks to Christopher Lee, whose Dracula is pretty much on par with Lugosi’s. Here Dracula is resurrected, to the detriment of four visitors in his castle. Plays October 30 at 9:45 am. Other films playing in this block include The Mummy (1959), Frankenstein Created Woman (1967), and Dracula Has Risen From the Grave (1968).
Val Lewton (10/30) – Cat People (ranked #766 by 652 users) – Val Lewton’s unit at RKO is probably third only to Hammer and Universal…you get where I’m going with this. Lewton and Hammer might even be tied, thanks to Lewton’s literate and atmospheric approach to horror, nowhere better exemplified than in Cat People. Plays on October 30 at 8 pm. Other films playing in this block include The Seventh Victim (1942), The Body Snatcher (1945), and Isle of the Dead (1943).
Happy Halloween (10/31) – Dead of Night (ranked #1235 by 386 users) – Here we have a whole day of horror films, and I can’t find any other thread between them, so just enjoy some random chills. Dead of Night is a wonderful horror anthology film, with a series of individual stories held together by a frame story that itself becomes a nightmare toward the end. Plays on October 31 at 11:30 pm. Other films playing in this block include White Zombie (1932), The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967), and The Tingler (1959).
Star of the Month: David Niven
The epitome of the debonair British gentleman, David Niven planned to follow his father into the British Army, but the calm between the wars was too boring for him and he left the military for Hollywood, quickly moving from extra and bit parts into the stereotype of the hero’s best friend. He re-enlisted for WWII, attaining the rank of Lt Col, and bolstering his persona with the adventuresome strength of a soldier. Soon after the war, he found his career best role in A Matter of Life and Death. He continued in films for another three decades, alternating challenging fare like Separate Tables, where he played a philanderer, with light but cunning comedy like The Pink Panther. Niven’s ability to convey both ease and exasperation, sometimes at the same time, made him an always enjoyable if rarely electrifying screen presence. Here are the Top Five David Niven films playing on TCM this month, according to Flickchart.
A Matter of Life and Death (ranked #194 by 522 users) – This film also played last month, but it’s always worth highlighting again; in one of his most acclaimed roles, Niven plays a dying WWII pilot who falls in love with the emergency dispatcher talking to him as his plane goes down. Now that he’s got a reason to live, he goes to heaven to plead his case to stay with her. Sweeping and romantic. Playing October 12 at 8 pm.
Murder by Death (ranked #1285 by 1036 users) – An all-star spoof of detective stories, bringing together thinly veiled versions of famous detectives (Niven plays “Dick Charleston” to Maggie Smith‘s “Dora Charleston”, a spoof on Nick and Nora Charles of The Thin Man) invited to a mysterious mansion to solve a mystery. Playing October 26 (really the 27th) at 4:30 am.
Wuthering Heights (ranked #1605 by 423 users) – An early role for Niven, he plays (uh, spoilers, I guess, for a book you should’ve read in high school) the somewhat thankless role of Edgar Linton, the man Cathy marries even though she really loves Heathcliff. Playing on October 5 (really the 6th) at 1 am.
The Bishop’s Wife (ranked #1783 by 394 users) – Niven played second fiddle a good bit during his career, and always with aplomb; here he’s the titular bishop helped by Cary Grant‘s angel. Playing October 12 at 10 pm.
Dodsworth (ranked #1875 by 148 users) – Another early “other man” role, with Niven as the man Mrs. Dodsworth briefly dallies with while she and her businessman husband are on a European Grand Tour. Playing October 5 (really the 6th) at 6:15 am.
Treasures from the Disney Vault: October 28
TCM and Disney made a deal a few months ago for TCM to air a series called Treasures from the Disney Vault periodically, hosted by Disney expert Leonard Maltin. This has quickly become one of TCM’s most must-see programming blocks, as they show often rare Disney films, interspersed with classic Disney shorts and usually at least one episode from Disney’s groundbreaking 1950s TV shows. It’s a wonderful glimpse back into Disney history, as well as a great block of programming to introduce kids to TCM.
This month the featured animated film is quite appropriate for October – The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (ranked #1987 by 1203 users). They’re following that with an episode from Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color entitled “The Plausible Impossible,” in which Walt explains the concept that in a narrative, you can have things that are impossible, as long as they remain plausible, and illustrates this with the help of Donald and others. Finally, we get more on the Halloween theme with a pair of Disney live-action films, Escape to Witch Mountain (ranked #4271 by 1211 users) and Return from Witch Mountain (ranked #6933 by 540 users).
Flickchart Top Five
These are the top-ranked films playing on TCM this month, regardless of whether they’re programmed in a specific series or not. This is the most direct way to highlight the best that TCM has on offer in October.
Citizen Kane (ranked #26 by 33728 users) – Widely acclaimed as one of the greatest films of all time, this needs no introduction from me except to say that it’s also more entertaining than you’d expect from “one of the greatest films of all time.” So don’t let its reputation scare you off. Playing October 7 at 10:30 pm.
The Third Man (ranked #35 by 8111 users) – An American novelist tries to find a friend in war-torn Vienna, but discovers the friend might not be who he thought he was. Add in some great noir cinematography, a chillingly cheerful performance from Orson Welles, and an unforgettable zither score, and yeah. This is one of the greatest films of all time, no offense to Citizen Kane. Playing October 27 at 4:15 pm.
A Clockwork Orange (ranked #47 by 57440 users) – Is Kubrick against ultraviolence or against brainwashing? OR BOTH? This film is rather hard to watch, to be honest, but it’s definitely uncompromising and unlike anything else ever made. Playing October 14 at 12M.
The General (ranked #52 by 1974 users) – If you’ve never seen a silent film before, this is a great place to start, with Buster Keaton as a Civil War-era train engineer who crosses enemy lines to recover his stolen engine – many of the stunts are downright hair-raising and all absolutely practical effects. Playing October 9 at 6 am.
Strangers on a Train (ranked #79 by 4784 users) – This isn’t always mentioned among Hitchcock’s top echelon, but it should be, and I’m glad to see Flickchart users rank it so highly. Two strangers discuss doing each other’s murders, except one guy thinks it was casual chitchat and the other actually follows through. Psychologically and physically intense. Playing October 12 at 11:30 am.
More Movies to See Before You Die
We have a series here on Flickchart called Movies to See Before You Die, which we’ve defined as any films in Flickchart’s Global Top 1000. That describes all the films below. If you’re working on completing the Flickchart Top 1000, take a look and see if there’s anything TCM can help you check off!
(You may note that The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is ranked higher than Strangers on a Train, which we included in the Flickchart Top Five this month; blame editorial license since The Treasure of the Sierra Madre was on the Top Five last month as well.)
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (ranked #59 out of 4517 users) – 10/26 1:15 pm
Cool Hand Luke (ranked #88 by 9808 users) – 10/17 5:30pm
The Gold Rush (ranked #108 by 1928 users) – 10/26 9:45 am
Charade (ranked #159 by 2563 users) – 10/1 3:45pm
Dial M for Murder (ranked #174 by 4584 users) – 10/12 1:30pm
The Kid (ranked #191 by 1166 users) – 10/26 6 am
A Matter of Life and Death (ranked #194 by 522 users) – 10/12 8 pm
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (ranked #246 by 1462 users) – 10/7 2:45am
The Adventures of Robin Hood (ranked #277 by 3323 users) – 6:45 am
Freaks (ranked #328 by 2179 users) – 10/29 7:45am
Key Largo (ranked #341 by 1695 users) – 10/4 6:15pm
Enter the Dragon (ranked #346 by 6813 users) – 10/10 4:00am
Eyes Without a Face (ranked #413 by 559 users) – 4:15 am
Ninotchka (ranked #464 by 765 users) – 10/10 8pm
Andrei Rublev (ranked #470 by 430 users) – 10/25 2:15am
East of Eden (ranked #490 by 830 users) – 10/5 6pm
A Face in the Crowd (ranked #561 by 333 users) – 10/1 10 am
Gilda (ranked #565 by 870 users) – 10/18 12N
Suspicion (ranked #581 by 992 users) – 10/29 1:45pm
My Darling Clementine (ranked #612 by 665 users) – 10/10 3:30pm
The Haunting (ranked #643 by 1025 users) – 10/2 11:30pm
The Hurt Locker (ranked #686 by 9724 users) – 10/29 11:45pm
Horse Feathers (ranked #714 by 656 users) – 10/10 8:30am
Intolerance (ranked #728 by 559 users) – 10/14 6am
Point Blank (ranked #730 by 638 users) – 10/4 4:30pm
Elevator to the Gallows (ranked #746 by 289 users) – 10/12 5:30pm
Cat People (ranked #766 by 652 users) – 10/30 8pm
Adam’s Rib (ranked #769 by 827 users) – 10/11 6pm
It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (ranked 773 by 2402 users) – 10/28 5:15 pm
The Killers (ranked #804 by 489 users) – 10/4 12N
Phantom of the Opera (ranked #865 by 980 users) – 10/4 12:45 am
Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (ranked #955 by 994 users) – 10/17 8 pm
Cleo from 5 to 7 (ranked #975 by 304 users) – 10/27 9:30pm
Jandy’s Hidden Gems
Of course, I have my personal favorites that don’t fit in anywhere else, so these are my top picks from everything ELSE playing in October.
Bachelor Mother (ranked #5568 by 73 users) – I’m a huge sucker for Ginger Rogers, and this is one my favorites of her films, and it’s criminally unknown. She plays a department store clerk who accidentally gets mistaken for the mother of a baby left on an orphanage’s steps, which causes all sorts of trouble as she’s not married and it’s 1939. Very sweet and funny, and with plenty of Ginger’s wise-cracking style. Playing October 5 at 9:30 pm.
Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (ranked #4207 by 103 users) – I don’t even know how to describe this film, but I’ll take a stab. It’s a Czech film from 1970, very fairy tale like, about a young girl meeting adolescence and, like, there’s vampires. Or something. The narrative doesn’t TOTALLY make sense, but the mood is so exquisite and the film is so deliciously weird that I have to recommend it to anybody I think has an open mind. Playing October 16 (really the 17th) at 4:30 am.
Chimes at Midnight (ranked #2166 by 174 users) – Orson Welles is, of course, well-known for Citizen Kane, but he’s also one of the greatest Shakespearean actors of the 20th century, and this is his take on Falstaff (drawn mostly from Henry IV, but also other plays featuring the character). It’s visceral and funny, offputting and heartbreaking. Not a fuzzy experience, but a good one. It’s been unavailable in good quality for a long time, but a new pristine print has been circulating since TCM Fest this year, and presumably this airing is from that print. Playing October 3 at 8 am.
Gold Diggers of 1933 (ranked #1835 by 219 users) – The big name in 1930s backstage musicals is 42nd Street, but I’ll take this first Gold Diggers movie over it any day. The story may not be quite AS good, but the musical numbers show choreographer Busby Berkeley‘s growth in just a year, the one-liner in the script are wonderful, and the film’s evocation of its Depression-era setting while still being a light-hearted musical is perfect. Playing October 15 at 9:45 am.
The Petrified Forest (ranked #2317 by 222 users) – The lingering Humphrey Bogart persona was forged with The Maltese Falcon, but before that he was a desperate gangster type, and The Petrified Forest is probably his best in that persona. Throw in an indolent Bette Davis, and you’ve got yourself some memorable cinema. Playing October 17 at 10 pm.