Welcome to TMP Recommends, the bi-weekly series in which I share two recommendations from the TCM schedule and two films available through streaming services. This time around we’ve got a noir about an insurance man, a couple of romances, and a bleak but brilliant portrayal of the future. On to the recommendations!
Pitfall (1948) – Airing on TCM on May 21 at 11:30 pm EST
Dick Powell stars in this grim tale of an insurance agent named John who lives a dull suburban life, until he becomes involved in an investigation of Bill Smiley (Bryon Barr). A private eye working with the company to uncover Bill’s dishonest financial practices has fallen in love with Bill’s girlfriend (Lizabeth Scott)… and when John meets the woman, he falls for her too, entangling himself in a twisted web. Strong performances and atmosphere make this noir well worth watching.
I Married a Witch (1942) – Airing on TCM on May 24 at 11:30 pm EST
You’d be hard-pressed to find a film that blends fantasy and romantic comedy in as delightful a fashion as the Veronica Lake-starring I Married a Witch. This is the type of film that has you laughing from beginning to end, and may warm your heart a little bit, too. Lake and Fredric March are wonderful leads for the film, with hilarious suppoting performances coming from Susan Hayward and Cecil Kellaway. A great watch all around!
Things to Come (1936) – Available on Hulu… for now!
This is currently available on Hulu, though I’m not sure for how long with the recent announcement of FilmStruck, an upcoming streaming service from Criterion and TCM. Whether you catch in on Hulu while their Criterion films are still available or wait for FilmStruck to go live, this apocalyptic sci-fi flick is definitely worth tuning in for. Written by H. G. Wells and directed by William Cameron Menzies, Things to Come tells the tale of a decades-long world war and its impact on society up to the 2030s.
To Catch a Thief (1955) – Available on Netflix
I’ve made it well-known on the blog that To Catch a Thief is one of my favorite films — a “comfort food” watch that I can put on at any time and enjoy. With the sun shining brighter and the temperatures rising in the Northern hemisphere, it’s the perfect time of year to watch this tale of cat burglars and romance in the French Riviera. Directed by master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock, this film falls on the lighter end of his filmography but is incredibly entertaining. The fact that it is led by two very talented classic stars doesn’t hurt, either: Cary Grant and Grace Kelly.
I Married a Witch is one of my all-time favorite movies.
Before shooting, March, who was snooty about his thespian status, described Lake to some friends as “nothing more than a jumped-up little sexpot” (quote from memory) and the remark got back to her. She therefore delighted in taking revenge on him during the filming. During the scene where he carries her from the flames, for example, she apparently had 30 pounds of extra weight strapped on under her costume — fun stuff for March when director Clair insisted on retake after retake . . .
Yes, I’ve heard that story! I’ve watched the film many times and would never have guessed from their performances that they didn’t get along behind-the-scenes, which makes those on-set pranks even funnier to me. Good on her, March deserved it for that comment!