Ben's Top Pick for October
Seguing from September to October on TCM won't be seamless. Sidney Poitier - with all the class, charisma and charm that he brought to the screen - was our Star of the Month; every Friday night, we celebrated the 150th anniversary of college football at the College Football Hall of Fame, including a night hosted by former Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz; and the last two Monday nights of September were focused on examining and celebrating the history and the future of disability in cinema.
So how do we match Poitier, Holtz and the need for greater inclusion in the movies? It appears we don't. On the other hand, we have 17 Godzilla pictures. Every October, part of our annual deep dive into the mysterious and the macabre in movies, we feature a Monster of the Month. This year, it's Godzilla. More accurately, Godzilla and friends - occasionally, Godzilla and enemies. All the films come from Japan's Toho Studios, which produced 15 Godzilla movies from 1954-1975, in addition to many other kaiju ("strange creature") pictures without Godzilla, a few of which are in our lineup. A significant part of my preparation for Godzilla-fest focused on learning to pronounce Ebirah, Ghidorah, Gigan and Mechagodzilla correctly. Thanks to Twitter, I'm fairly certain Godzilla fans will let me know how I did. But please, tweet with compassion.
Paul Muni will have to fight off Godzilla to claim his share of the spotlight. He's October's Star of the Month. But the real star for TCM every October is a genre: horror. We'll run through a bloody and ghastly gauntlet of films before we move into November, including movies about witchcraft and the occult (for example, Dario Argento's Suspiria); plus vampires (Christopher Lee as Dracula and William Marshall as Blacula); the undead (George Romero's Night of the Living Dead, Lee and Peter Cushing in The Gorgon); horror classics (Boris Karloff in James Whale's Bride of Frankenstein and Vincent Price in two Roger Corman pictures, House of Usher and The Pit and the Pendulum); as well as a night of terror where each movie is less than 75 minutes long (Peter Lorre in Karl Freund's Mad Love and two seminal horror films from producer Val Lewton, directed by Jacques Tourneur, Cat People and I Walked With a Zombie).
Those shorter features make up one night of a month-long spotlight on movies you can watch without hitting the pause button to use the restroom. Every Wednesday in October, from dusk 'til dawn, we'll present exactly 100 movies clocking in under 75 minutes. In addition to the night of horror, we'll dedicate primetime lineups to short and sweet comedies, war movies, and film noir. We'll kick it off October 2 with a night of pre-Code pictures, each of them just over an hour long.
It's tough saying goodbye to Poitier and Holtz, but we're confident the combination of Godzilla and gore will capture your attention. If they don't, then an angry Godzilla will step on your home, crushing you where you live. Anyway, have a great month.
by Ben Mankiewicz