Welcome to another Tuesday installment of TMP Recommends, the series in which I share five films you should keep an eye out for on TCM over the next week. All times are listed in EST and come from the US version of the TCM schedule. Happy viewing!
Earthworm Tractors (1936)
Airing on TCM: April 1, 9:45 am
Joe E. Brown, that rubber-faced funnyman who fell in love with Jack Lemmon in Some Like It Hot, is a terribly underrated actor in my opinion. Earthworm Tractors is one of Brown’s starring vehicles, which now lives in the public domain, unfortunately neglected by copyright holder and viewers alike. The film doesn’t deserve such a fate! It’s an enjoyable tale of a man who forces himself into a job as a salesman, in attempt to impress the father of his sweetheart. Plenty of complications ensue, in both his job and his love life.
San Francisco (1936)
Airing on TCM: April 3, 10:00 pm
San Francisco places Clark Gable and Jeanette MacDonald in the midst of one of the west coast’s greatest tragedies: the major 1906 earthquake. Though this film is not quite as gripping as one may expect given the tense and heartbreaking subject matter of natural disaster, the final half-hour reaches full potential for drama and impact, making the entire thing worth watching. The earthquake montage is brilliantly staged, and strong performances are delivered by the central cast. I don’t consider this film a favorite, but it’s definitely worth your time if you’ve never seen it.
Airing on TCM: April 4, 10:15 pm
Laura is an example of film noir at its finest. Dana Andrews stars as a detective investigating the death of a woman named Laura Hunt (Gene Tierney), who has been found dead in her apartment. As his investigation progresses, he struggles to solve the case… and just when he thinks he’s figuring things out, a shocking turn of events occurs that turns the investigation upside down. This film is full of strong performances, and the script is full of drama. A very engrossing and entertaining crime story.
The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939)
Airing on TCM: April 7, 9:45 am
Bette Davis takes on Tudor history in this historical drama, which also stars Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, and Vincent Price. Michael Curtiz directs Davis as Elizabeth I, telling the story of her romance with Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex. Davis’ performance is very strong, as her performances always are, making the film worthy of a watch despite the fact that its account of history is so highly fictionalized. Davis would later play Elizabeth I again in 1955’s The Virgin Queen.
Mildred Pierce (1945)
Airing on TCM: April 7, 6:00 pm
What’s a woman to do when her marriage falls apart, her ex-husband has no job, and she has two children to support? Become a successful businesswoman, of course. It sounds like an inspiring tale… but not when you’re Mildred Pierce (Joan Crawford) and you’ve got a greedy/ungrateful daughter (Ann Blyth) to contend with. This classic melodrama is a strong adaptation of James M. Cain’s novel. (I’m actually in the middle of reading the novel, so I’ll definitely be tuning in for this film! Keep an eye out for a ‘Book vs. Film’ post in the near-ish future.)