by Brett Leveridge
Autumn has arrived, and the increasingly chilly evenings the season brings are the perfect opportunity to settle in and watch a classic film with the family. Here are 15 movies airing on Turner Classic Movies in October 2020 that we think you'll enjoy.
Friday, October 2, at 4:15 p.m. ET
Today, TCM celebrates Groucho Marx's 130th birthday by airing eight of his movies. For us, the day's clear standout is the classic A Night at the Opera, in which Groucho, along with his brothers Harpo and Chico, create comedic havoc in the typically formal setting of an opera house.
Friday, October 2, at 8 p.m. ET
As you might expect, TCM is airing many scary movies this month, but we're recommending the first of Universal's long string of horror classics, Dracula. Based on the Bram Stoker novel and starring Bela Lugosi in the iconic role of Count Dracula, this one still offers plenty of chills nearly 90 years after its initial release. Helen Chandler, David Manners and Edward Van Sloan costar.
Saturday, October 2, at 12 p.m. ET
This is a terrific adaptation of Mark Twain's beloved novel about a prince who trades places with a peasant he closely resembles, allowing each to see how the other half lives. Twins Billy and Robert J. Mauch portray the title characters, with Errol Flynn and Claude Rains costarring.
Sunday, October 4, at 6 p.m. ET
On Buster Keaton's 125th birthday, TCM is airing four of his classic silent features, preceded at 6 p.m. by The Great Buster: A Celebration, Peter Bogdonavich's recent documentary about Buster's life and career. This is a great opportunity to introduce the kids in your life to one of the true geniuses of silent comedy, and you can't go wrong with any of the four films slated to air: Sherlock Jr. at 8 p.m., followed by The General at 9 p.m., Steamboat Bill Jr. at 10:30 p.m. and at midnight, Seven Chances.
Wednesday, October 7, at 4:45 p.m. ET
This classic romantic comedy from director Ernst Lubitsch is often labeled a Christmas movie but it holds up to year-round viewing. James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan are feuding co-workers in a gift shop owned by Frank Morgan, and though neither of them realizes it, they are also romantic, if anonymous, pen pals.
Sunday, October 11, at 8:30 a.m. ET
Robert Young portrays a war correspondent stationed in Europe during the early days of World War II. After his wife (Laraine Day) returns to Connecticut after she loses the baby she was carrying, Young, feeling the emotional wounds of that loss and the horrors he's witnessed in covering the war, encounters two traumatized orphans (Margaret O'Brien and William Severn, who later became an evangelist), whom he resolves to help. Fun fact: This was the then-five-year-old O’Brien’s first role, and she changed her given name—Angela—to Margaret after the name of the character she played in the film.
Wednesday, October 14, at 8 p.m. ET
Raymond Massey, in an Oscar-nominated performance, portrays our 16th president in this acclaimed account of Lincoln's life in the years leading up to him being elected to the White House. Mary Howard, Ruth Gordon and Gene Lockhart (father of former Guideposts intern June Lockhart) costar.
Saturday, October 17, at 10 pm. ET
Judy Garland stars as a farmer whose actress sister (Gloria DeHaven) shows up at the family farm with her director/boyfriend (Gene Kelly) and their theatrical troupe in tow, asking to use the barn for rehearsals. Romantic entanglements occur, songs are sung, and dances are danced (including Garland's famous performance, in tux and black hat, of Get Happy and Gene Kelly's acclaimed solo dance sequence to You Wonderful You). Eddie Bracken, Marjorie Main and Phil Silvers costar.
Tuesday, October 20, at 10:45 a.m. ET
Irene Dunne shines in this delightful screwball comedy as the writer of a titillating, sensational novel who, in real life, is a member of a prim and proper New England family and keeps her status as a bestselling author a secret in the small town in which she resides. On a business trip to New York, though, she meets her book's illustrator (Melvyn Dougles), who is intent upon helping her break out of her shell. Much hilarity ensues.
Wednesday, October 21, at 7:45 a.m. ET
This 34-minute film (which was actually lengthy for its time) is one of the earliest cinematic accounts of the life of Christ. Alice Guy-Blaché, a true pioneer of film, tells this beloved story in 25 scenes. Those unfamiliar with early motion pictures may find the film a bit primitive, but its techniques and effects were groundbreaking at the time. Think of it as a lesson in film history, with an inspirational focus.
Wednesday, October 21, at 1:45 p.m. ET
If you were a fan of Dr. Kildare, the 1960s television series that starred Richard Chamberlain and Raymond Massey, you'll want to check out the popular film series of the 1930s and '40s that inspired it. Here, Lew Ayres stars as Kildare and Lionel Barrymore portrays his crusty but warm-hearted mentor, Dr. Gillespie. TCM is airing this, the first entry in the series, followed by four of the next five chapters in the series: Calling Dr. Kildare (1939) at 1:45 p.m., The Secret of Dr. Kildare (1939) at 3:30 p.m., Dr. Kildare Goes Home (1940) at 5 p.m., and at 6:30 p.m., Dr. Kildare's Crisis (1940).
Thursday, October 22, at 2:30 p.m. ET
Today, TCM is remembering actress Constance Bennett on what would have been her 116th birthday with nine of her films. You can't go wrong with this very funny screwball comedy about a pair of fun-loving ghosts (Bennett and Cary Grant) who decide to enliven the existence of a stuffy banker (Roland Young). An equally funny sequel, Topper Takes a Trip (1939), follows at 4:15 p.m.
Saturday, October 24, at 6 a.m. ET
In this delightful adaptation of Jean Kerr's best-selling book of humorous essays about surburban life and raising four sons, David Niven and Doris Day star as a college professor and his wife who, after struggling to raise four sons in a cramped, two-bedroom New York City apartment, decide to buy a rundow...er, fixer-up mansion 70 miles outside the city, even as the professor transitions from his university position to a job as drama critic for a major newspaper. Janis Paige, Spring Byington, Patsy Kelly and Jack Weston costar.
Sunday, October 25, at 12 p.m. ET
This drama stars Irene Dunne stars as a young American woman who in 1914 travels with her father (Frank Morgan) to England, where she meets a baronet who is a member of the landed gentry (Alan Marshall). The two fall in love and are wed. They learn they are expecting their first child just before the start of the First World War but the baronet, an army officer, is killed in action in France. Years later, when World War II is on the horizon, Dunne worries that she may also lose her son (played as a boy by Roddy McDowall and as a young man by Peter Lawford).
Wednesday, October 28, at 3:30 p.m. ET
Greer Garson shines as a music hall performer who marries a World War I veteran (Ronald Colman, in an Oscar-nominated performance) who has lost all memory of his pre-war life to amnesia. Their happy life together is turned upside down when he, while on an out-of-town excursion, suffers an accident that restores his memory of his early years (he was born into a family of wealth and privilege) but erases his knowledge of his life with Greer. Will the unlucky pair be reunited? You'll have to tune in to find out!
Click on a picture to enjoy more inspiring photos and stories.