WE’VE GOT a really nice mixed bag for July. From classic drama and classic monsters to psychological thrillers and ’80s action, there’s something for everybody.
But if you’re like me, you’ll watch them all!
And for the complete July lineup, along with specific air times in your time zone, be sure to visit TCM.com.
BY NOW, you’ve probably heard the classic line of dialogue from a key scene in All About Eve that has nearly come to define Bette Davis as an actress: “Fasten your seatbelts, its going to be a bumpy night!”
It came from the pen of Joseph L. Mankiewicz (great uncle of TCM’s Ben Mankiewicz), who wrote so many memorable lines of dialogue for Davis and the entire cast of this magnificent film about showbiz types, their ambitions, and their fading fortunes.
It’s a dialogue movie, one that whips by like a fast train that you’re happy to be aboard, privy to every snappy conversation, subtle put-down, and sly machination—especially those of a young actress (Anne Baxter) out to steal the spotlight, and lots more, from a great but aging star (Davis).
The cast, including George Sanders, Thelma Ritter (above, right), and Celeste Holm, is perfect, and perfectly deployed by Mankiewicz, who also directed. The film won six Oscars and probably should have won more. Consider it appointment viewing and fasten your seatbelts for a bumpy night.
TCM HAD originally scheduled this Underground double feature to air back in March, but it was cancelled to make way for a weekend-long tribute to the late, great Robert Osborne. I’m really glad they decided to revisit it. If you like dark, mind-bending psychological mystery, and you happen to be up late on July 15th, do yourself a favor and catch both Shock Corridor and The Ninth Configuration.
Shock Corridor (1963)
Writer/director Samuel Fuller (Pickup on South Street; The Steel Helmet) was a master of pulpy, hard-boiled drama. Subtlety wasn’t part of his worldview, or his work, and it’s certainly nowhere to be found in this lurid story about a reporter (Peter Breck; above) who has himself committed to a mental hospital in order to solve a murder that took place there. But while he wasn’t subtle, Fuller was ironic. A journalist by trade, he always had something to say. Here, he seems to be playing off that old quote by Nietzsche: “If you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.”
With Gene Evans, Constance Towers, Hari Rhodes, and James Best.
The Ninth Configuration (1980)
The late author and filmmaker William Peter Blatty, who left us just recently, entered the pantheon of “authors who shook the world” when he published his novel, The Exorcist, in 1971, going on to adapt it into a screenplay for director William Friedkin, who turned it into one of the most successful movies of all time, both creatively and financially. It was a hard act to follow, and Blatty didn’t necessarily try. But he did go on to write more good novels and make a couple of films, one of which was The Ninth Configuration, based on a novel he’d published in 1966.
It’s the story Col. Vincent Kane (Stacy Keach; above, right), an Army officer charged with rehabilitating troubled soldiers at a remote mountain castle. But before Kane even walks through the door it’s clear that he, and we, the audience, are about to enter a rabbit hole of darkness and mystery that will demand answers to some troubling questions.
As Blatty proved time and again during his career, he was a master at getting under our skin and inside our heads. This well-crafted effort does just that, and then some.
The great ensemble cast is loaded with familiar faces, including The Walking Dead‘s Scott Wilson (above, left), Neville Brand, Moses Gunn, and The Exorcist‘s Jason Miller.
IT’S PROBABLY no coincidence that TCM is airing this early Kyle MacLachlan film in July, what with the actor making TV history right now in Twin Peaks: The Return.
But that’s part of MacLachlan’s magic. While he’s never risen to the level of A-list star, he’s been a household name for over 30 years, ever since Blue Velvet, in 1986, and whether on television or at the movies, people are always happy to see him. I know I am.
In The Hidden MacLachlan plays an alien cop who’s come to Earth in search of a fugitive extra-terrestrial parasite that likes to possess people’s bodies and go on really violent rampages. It’s a neat gimmick, one that results in a number of exciting set pieces that are played for all they’re worth by director Jack Sholder (A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge).
If nothing else, this movie will remind you why it was so much fun to go to the movies back in the ’80s.
Flashdance veteran Michael Nouri (above, left) costars as a human cop trying to make sense of it all.
THIS IS one of those films that most people have never seen, but which those who have seen remember as if they had experienced its troubling story firsthand.
It’s just one of the string of classic films producer Val Lewton created during his famous tenure as head of RKO’s horror unit, a pitch-dark drama about a young woman’s (Kim Hunter) search for her missing older sister (Jean Brooks, above), who may have become involved with a cult of Devil worshipers.
The word haunting doesn’t even begin to cover this shadowy mystery. Through the younger sister’s innocent eyes, New York City is a hellscape of darkness and despair, eager to swallow the weak and seduce the powerful. Director Mark Robson uses shadows the way other directors use light, to paint pictures in your mind that suggest, rather than illuminate, and thus draw you into the mystery right along with the film’s characters.
DURING THE late 1940s and ’50s there were a number of films produced on the subject of corruption in boxing. I wrote about one, The Set-Up, back in April. It’s practically a genre unto itself, and The Harder They Fall is one of its shining lights.
Humphrey Bogart stars as Eddie Willis, a veteran sportswriter who’s out of work and desperate for money. Opportunity knocks when a shifty promoter (Rod Steiger) offers Eddie a job as publicist for his latest discovery: Toro Moreno (Mike Lane, above), a towering Argentinian who seems like a sure bet to win the heavyweight championship. But before long Eddie realizes that he’s actually become an unwitting pawn in a con, one that’s not likely to end well either for him or the gentle giant who’s come to trust him like a father.
Bogart is mesmerizing in what would turn out to be his last performance, wringing-out every ounce of personal turmoil he can find in a character who is troubled not only by the tragedy that is unfolding before his eyes, but by the larger realization that he has devoted his life to a world where truth, sportsmanship, and honor get KO’d by fast money every time.
Based on a novel by Budd Schulberg, and directed by Val Lewton regular Mark Robson (Isle of the Dead; Bedlam), this is one of the very best films of its kind. Featuring Jan Sterling and real-life boxers Max Baer and Jersey Joe Walcott.
The Mummy (1932)
Island of Lost Souls (1933)
Kiss of the Tarantula (1976)
The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
The Invisible Man (1933)
Mad Love (1935)
The Hidden Hand (1942)
Scared to Death (1947)
The Sorcerers (1967)
The Brain That Wouldn’t Die (1962)
Horror Hotel (1960)
The Leopard Man (1943)
The Terror (1963)
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920)
The Wasp Woman (1960)
The Wolf Man (1941)
The Reptile (1966)
The Green Slime (1969)
The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945)
From Beyond the Grave (1973)
Stephen King’s Cat’s Eye (1985)
The Body Snatcher (1945)
The Bat (1959)
Diary of a Madman (1963)
Cat People (1942)
House of Wax (1953)
The Curse of the Cat People (1944)
House on Haunted Hill (1958)
The Birds (1963)
Deadly Friend (1986)
NOTE: All programming is subject to change. In the event of any changes, this guide will be updated.