Welcome to this week’s installment of TMP Recommends! Here are five films you should keep an eye out for over the next seven days on TCM. All times are listed in EST and come from the US version of the TCM schedule.
The Brain That Wouldn’t Die (1962)
Airing on TCM March 4, 8:45 AM
One of the highest-ranking films ever to grace the Corny Cliff Scale here on TMP, The Brain That Wouldn’t Die is possibly the cheesiest, most enjoyable sci-fi film of the mid-century. It tells the tale of a scientist who believes he has found a way to keep body parts alive, for transplants. When his fiance is decapitated in a car crash, he decides to use his scientific invention to keep her head alive, and transplant it onto another body. All of the acting is over-the-top, but Virginia Leith gives the performance of a corny lifetime as “Jan in the Pan,” the fiance’s decapitated-but-alive head. There’s a bit of true suspense to be had here, but for the most part the film is just plain fun.
Roman Holiday (1953)
Airing on TCM March 7, 8:00 PM
This is a very typical choice for a classic movie recommendation, but I can’t help mentioning it every time it pops up on TCM. Roman Holiday is my all-time favorite romantic comedy. Audrey Hepburn stars as a princess who creates an adventure for herself when she sneaks out of her room and disguises herself as a regular girl, exploring Rome rather than attending to her press tour duties. She meets an American journalist played by the very talented (and very handsome) Gregory Peck, who accompanies her through the city, and secretly knows that she’s the princess. Hepburn and Peck have fantastic chemistry, and the film is full of charm.
Gun Crazy (1950)
Airing on TCM March 8, 8:30 AM
One of the best entries into the film noir genre, Gun Crazy tells the story of young lovers who go on a crime spree, in attempt to steal so much money that they’ll never have to work again. John Dall and the phenomenal Peggy Cummins star as the ill-fated couple, loosely based on the infamous Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. Great cinematography, great story, great performances… you can’t go wrong with this one. (Shameless self-promotion: If you’re interested in reading some trivia about the film or a list of my favorite moments, check out my “Favorite things about… Gun Crazy“ post from 2013.)
A Summer Place (1959)
Airing on TCM March 9, 4:30 AM
Here at TMP, the melodrama is a beloved genre, and melodramatics are certainly delivered by the 1959 Sandra Dee picture A Summer Place. The film is a romantic drama of two couples: a businessman and an old flame rekindling their connection, and two teenagers (Johnny and Molly) finding young love. The twist? The businessman is the father of Johnny, and his old flame is the mother of Molly. On top of that awkward scenario, both the businessman and his old flame are married (to Johnny’s mother and Molly’s father, respectively). Constance Ford gives an appropriately hatable performance as Molly’s overbearing mother in this crazy-in-all-the-right-ways film.
Life Begins (1932)
Airing on TCM March 9, 6:45 AM
Loretta Young gives a wonderful performance in this sentimental pre-code tale of motherhood… and prison. Young stars as Grace Sutton, an expectant mother who is being held in prison for murder. Grace deals with the prospect of her child growing up with an imprisoned mother. Her fellow inmates in the prison’s pregnancy ward deal with their own variety of conflicts — the decision to give a child up for adoption, for example. Alongside Young’s strong performance, there is a stellar supporting cast including Glenda Farrell, and a very gripping story.