TCM Watch List for May, 2017

This May On Turner Classic Movies: Monsters, Marty, a Midnight Cult Classic, and More!

WHERE WOULD we be without TCM? What other network would devote four nights of primetime, commercial-free real estate to classic monsters when it’s not even Halloween, or spotlight Gone With the Wind and Eraserhead with the same level of respect? Nobody, that’s who, which is why we love TCM and will continue to shine a spotlight on them for as long as we are able.

I’m really looking forward to this year’s Memorial Day Marathon—nearly four full days of wartime classics (May 26-29). What movies are you planning to watch this month? Let us know in the comments below, or share your thoughts with other Wonder Alliance readers via Facebook and Twitter.

And for the complete May lineup, along with specific air times in your time zone, be sure to visit TCM.com.

 

TCM Spotlight: Creature Features

SCREAM LEGENDS (clockwise from top left): “Creature from the Black Lagoon,” “The Black Scorpion,” “King Kong,” and “The Wasp Woman.”

IT MAY BE SPRINGTIME, but it’s going to feel a lot more like October every Thursday in May as TCM spotlights 25 classic Creature Features!

If you look at the lineup, and if you know your monsters, you’ll recognize that most of the featured critters are giants, like Reptilicus, Denmark’s answer to Godzilla (watch the trailer, below). But there are also killer ants in the mix, both big and small; dog-sized Killer Shrews that were actually portrayed by dogs (see pic, below); and a Wasp Woman who’s of average size, but big for a bug.

Even a force of nature becomes a menace in the little-seen 1953 sci-fi thriller, The Magnetic Monster.

Thank you, TCM, for keeping monster movies in prime time where they belong!

May 4
Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)
Revenge of the Creature (1955)
King Kong (1933)
Mothra (1962)
Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953)
Reptilicus (1961)
The Best of Hollow Mountain (1956)

May 11
Rodan (1958)
The Black Scorpion (1957) 
The Deadly Mantis (1957)
The Monster that Challenged the World (1957)
Empire of the Ants (1977)
The Giant Claw (1957)

May 18
Them! (1954)
Godzilla, King of the Monsters (1956) 
It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955)
The Giant Behemoth (1959)
Phantom from 10,000 Leagues (1955)
The Magnetic Monster (1953)

May 25
Tarantula (1955)
Return of the Fly (1959) 
The Cosmic Monsters (1958)
The Wasp Woman (1960)
Swamp Thing (1982)
The Killer Shrews (1959)

Canine actors made-up for mayhem in “The Killer Shrews.”

…and here’s a preview of Reptilicus!

 




 

The Culpepper Cattle Co. (1972)

I WOULDN’T BE surprised if you have never heard of The Culpepper Cattle Co.. It rarely comes up in conversations about westerns, even among fans of the genre, despite the fact that it’s one of the most unflinchingly realistic films of its type ever made. But maybe that’s the problem. In 1866, being a cowboy was not fun. 

My father took me to see the film in 1972, when I was 10 years-old, and though I immediately became swept-up in the story of a boy (Gary Grimes) who yearns to be a cowboy I was quickly, and brutally, relieved of any romantic notions I may have had about life on the trail. The picture was nothing at all like the older, shinier westerns I enjoyed on television in those days. With each new cynical, world-weary character I met, and each act of senseless brutality I witnessed, I had the growing sense that I was watching something I should not have been seeing. But my father was there sitting next to me in the dark, so everything was okay. In fact years later I would come to realize that the experience was actually one of many rites of passage I would undergo at his side.

Yeah, movies are powerful things when they’re saying something, and this wonderful effort from director Dick Richards (Rafferty and the Gold Dust Twins) seems to be saying that life is hard and people make it even worse for each other. Or better. We always have a choice.

The film is not so much plot-heavy as it is a character study, with a clear arc that allows some of the miserable cowboys we meet an opportunity to rise above it all when it really counts. The cast is made up of a terrific collection of leathery character actors including Geoffrey Lewis, Bo Hopkins, Luke Askew and Billy “Green” Bush.
May 8

Gone With the Wind (1939)

THERE’S NOTHING I can say about Gone With the Wind that has not already been said, except to admit that I watched it for the first time just a few years ago and 10 minutes in I was wondering why I’d waited so long. What an awesome way to spend an evening.

It’s the story of Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh), pampered princess of a lush plantation in antebellum Georgia. When we meet her, her biggest problems in life are of the romantic variety. Then the Civil War breaks out, bringing reality crashing down upon Scarlett and the Old South itself, changing both forever.

Few movies have captured the end of an era as effectively as this one does. That’s a credit to author Margaret Mitchell, who authored the novel upon which the film is based. By mirroring epic events with the fortunes of a single character, she vividly personalized both and rendered them unforgettable.

Directed by Victor Fleming, Gone with the Wind remains and important and magnificent work of art. Clark Gable, Oscar-winner Hattie McDaniel, Olivia de Havilland, Thomas Mitchell, Leslie Howard, and Butterfly McQueen head the stellar cast.
May 23




TCM Underground: Eraserhead (1977)

WITH TWIN PEAKS returning to television this month (on Showtime), there’s no better time to take another look at the film which gave the world its first real taste of David Lynch.  

Eraserhead is avant-garde and pretty much indescribable—in a fascinating and yet off-putting way that’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen. And no one seems to know for certain what it’s really about. You could make a hobby of reading the various interpretations and counter-interpretations that have been attempted over the years by critics, scholars, and fans. You may even have one of your own.

I first saw Eraserhead with a friend in a Greenwich Village theater back in the late ’70s, when it was a cult favorite at midnight shows. Nearly four decades later, my friend and I still talk about that night because neither of us has ever fully recovered from the experience.

The film is set in a nightmarish industrial city where Henry Spencer (Jack Nance) lives in a state of near constant anxiety, especially with regard to the opposite sex. He’s does have a girlfriend, though, and before long she and he become the parents of a mutant baby that looks sort of like a reptile and almost never stops crying. It all becomes too much for Mom and she takes off, leaving Henry to care for their now sick child and explore even deeper realms of personal anxiety. There’s some respite to be had from the grotesque-yet-angelic dream lady who sings to Henry from behind the radiator, but the baby’s getting sicker by the day, and seems to be growing into the embodiment of Henry’s inner turmoil. At one point it even laughs at him. Maybe the guy in the asteroid can help. I forgot to mention him.

Still with me? If so, you’ve either seen the film and probably think I’ve done a lousy job of explaining it, or you have yet to see it and you’re just weird or brave enough to want to.

Do it, I say.

Every scene of a David Lynch movie—weird as it may be—is a carefully constructed work of art. His sound design, too. Stunning. If nothing else, he’ll challenge you to think.
May 20

 

Marty (1955)

 

IT WAS the Academy Award-winning Best Picture of 1955, and scored three additional Oscars for writing, direction, and lead actor. It won both top prize and the coveted Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. It’s considered to be an important entry in America’s mid-century “realist” film movement. It even has a 100% score on Rotten Tomatoes!

Amazing, then, to consider that we’re talking about a simple, lovely story about two lonely people (Ernest Borgnine & Betsy Blair) finding each other in New York.

But that’s the magic of Marty, directed by Delbert Mann (The Bachelor Party) from a script by the great Paddy Chayefsky (Network). If you haven’t seen this one you’re in for a treat. Watch it with someone you love.
May 31

NOTE: All programming is subject to change. In the event of any changes, this guide will be updated.

                                                                             

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Stephen Vincent D’Emidio is the editor and publisher of Wonder Alliance. steve@wonderalliance.com

6 Comments

  1. Robert Sand

    April 28, 2017 at 9:51 pm

    I also saw Eraser head in the Village many years ago. Till this day I still have no clue what I watched.

    • Stephen Vincent D'Emidio

      April 28, 2017 at 11:28 pm

      The old Waverly Theater on Avenue of the Americas, right? That’s where I saw it.

      • Robert Sand

        April 29, 2017 at 2:49 pm

        Same here. Can you say Asparagus?

        • Stephen Vincent D'Emidio

          April 29, 2017 at 4:59 pm

          The animated short! Yikes. It really set the stage for Eraserhead.

  2. Furious Monk

    April 28, 2017 at 9:42 pm

    TCM needs to get it’s act together in regards to the War Movies they show. Every Memorial/Veterans day it’s the same movies.So many great obscure War films out there that the viewing audience would enjoy.

    • Stephen Vincent D'Emidio

      April 28, 2017 at 11:29 pm

      I know you’ll be watching Steel Helmet, though. Again!

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