Welcome to the first revamped installment of TMP Recommends! Today I’ll be sharing two TCM recommendations airing in the first half of April and two streaming recommendations, for those of you who don’t have access to the US version of TCM. Happy viewing!
On the Beach (1959) – Airing on TCM at 5:45 pm on April 5
When compared to its source material — a powerful novel of the end of the world by Nevil Shute — the 1959 film On the Beach pales. There is a seriousness, a sense of melancholy and hopelessness to the novel that isn’t quite as strong on screen thanks to an increased focus on romance. However, as a film on its own, On the Beach is certainly entertaining and offers viewers the opportunity to see Ava Gardner and Gregory Peck share the screen. (Chances are, if you like old movies, you’ve got a crush on one or both of ’em. Don’t get me started on the perfection of Gregory Peck’s face!) Beyond the obvious appeal of its stars, this flick offers an interesting exploration of the many emotions one may feel knowing the world will end: fear, anger, hope, regret, and resignation to the inevitable. Give it a watch, but read the book too, for an even more chilling account!
Johnny Belinda (1948) – Airing on TCM at 10:00 pm on April 9
This is one of those films that I feel like I’ve mentioned on the blog a lot, but just can’t recommend highly enough. Jane Wyman gives an Oscar-winning performance as a deaf woman living on a farm, an outcast in her community due to the fact that she is different. A doctor, played by Lew Ayres, helps her learn to communicate through sign language. The film’s subject matter is handled tastefully and with sensitivity. Wyman’s Oscar was certainly well-deserved, as she carries the film with a very powerful performance.
Night Train to Munich (1940) – Available on US Netflix for streaming
TMP favorite Paul Henreid appears in this bold World War II thriller about a woman (Margaret Lockwood) who escapes a concentration camp and flees to England to find her father, only to be recaptured and sent back to Germany. Suspense is built slowly but effectively as the plot twists its way forward, surprising the viewer on more than one occasion but never getting too dark, despite its subject matter. Promotional materials for the film promised “Laughs! Thrills! Excitement!,” and Night Train to Munich certainly delivers all of these things.
Caged! (1950) – Available on Warner Archive Instant for streaming
Caged! tells the story of a 19-year-old widow sent to prison for a robbery committed by her husband, who was killed during the heist. Opting for realism and social critique rather than a sensational or salacious take on life in a women’s prison, the film is intense and emotional but also thought-provoking. Stellar performances bring the story to life in such a way that the viewer will still be thinking about the film long after watching. Every performer — from Eleanor Parker as the jailed widow, to Agnes Moorehead as the warden, to Betty Garde as tough criminal Kitty — is in top form for this impactful prison drama.