Welcome to this week’s installment of TMP Recommends. Every Tuesday, I share five films that I think you should check out on TCM over the next seven days.
This week proved incredibly difficult in terms of choosing just five films to feature. Our favorite channel has some truly stellar programming this week, including quite a few Stanwyck films, so be sure to check the full schedule at tcm.com if you haven’t already!
All times are listed in EST and come from the US version of the TCM schedule. Happy viewing!
Night Tide (1963)
Airing on TCM: April 16, 12:00 pm
A very young and fresh-faced Dennis Hopper stars in this tale of a sailor who, while on leave in a seaside town, falls in love with a woman who works as a “mermaid” at the local carnival. The twist? She might be an actual mermaid… and a killer mermaid, too! Successful mood-building and an interesting story make this a good watch, though the spooks are few and the pace is moderate. For those of you who don’t have access to TCM, this film is also available in some of Mill Creek’s box set releases, including “50 films: The Sensational Sixties.”
Our Town (1940)
Airing on TCM: April 17, 8:15 am
Life in the small town of Grovers Corner is portrayed through two neighboring families: the Gibbs family and the Webb family. Based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Thornton Wilder, Our Town explores the highs and lows of life in a close-knit, somewhat stifling community. Sentimental and heartfelt, this drama provides and honest look at the human experience — that sometimes-frustrating, but often-beautiful thing that we call life.
Stage Fright (1950)
Airing on TCM: April 18, 6:00 am
TMP favorite Jane Wyman stars in this Hitchcock thriller, which takes place in the world surrounding the London stage. Wyman is Eve, an aspiring actress who finds herself caught up in a murder-mystery. Her friend Jonathan (Richard Todd) has been having a secret affair with well-known and respected stage actress Charlotte (Marlene Dietrich), and Charlotte has admitted to him that she killed her husband. Though not quite as well-known or beloved as Hitchcock’s more prominent films, Stage Fright is still a very good watch. It’s a film that lies to the viewer, removing any predictability that would normally have been found in the plot by telling the story through a “false flashback” technique and deliberately misleading the viewer.
My Reputation (1946)
Airing on TCM: April 19, 8:00 pm
Barbara Stanwyck stars as Jessica Drummond, a widow who is now raising two sons on her own. While on vacation, she meets Scott Landis (portrayed by George Brent), and sparks fly. But Jessica falls prey to small-town gossip when she returns to her home in Illinois and rumors spread about her relationship with Landis. Stanwyck and Brent have great chemistry, and both give very good performances in this film. It’s well worth a watch both for their star power, and for its blend of sweet romance and societal drama.
Airing on TCM: April 21, 3:30 am
Like Stage Fright, Detour is a film that relies of flashbacks to tell its story. This is a technique that I’m a total sucker for, and in this film it works exceedingly well. Tom Neal gives a striking performance, leading the viewer into each flashback as well as acting as the main player in the past-set scenes. The script is good, and the score and cinematography are very effective in adding to the film’s mood. For a Poverty Row noir, Detour is incredibly impressive, and the quality much higher than one may expect. For those of you who don’t have access to TCM, this film is in the public domain; it can be found very cheaply on DVD, as well as on many streaming sites (including the Internet Archive).