by Brett Leveridge
With the chill winds of January blowing and the call to continue social isolation for safety's sake, curling up on the couch for a classic film is an appealing option. Here are 22 movies we think you'll enjoy that are airing on Turner Classic Movies (TCM) in January 2021.
Friday, January 1 at 4 p.m. ET
What better way to start off the new year than with a great comedy? Born Yesterday certainly qualifies. The great Judy Holliday won Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of Billie Dawn, an uneducated young woman whose boyfriend (Broderick Crawford), a crooked junk dealer, is embarrassed by her lack of education and social polish and so hires a journalist (William Holden) as her tutor. Comedic complications ensue.
Saturday, January 2, at 2 p.m. ET
Director William Wellman helmed this inspiring biopic of Ernie Pyle (Burgess Meredith), the Pulitzer Prize-winning war correspondent for the Scripps-Howard newspaper syndicate, who wrote about the war from the perspective of the men and women fighting it. Robert Mitchum costars.
Sunday, January 3, at 1:30 p.m. ET
William Wyler directs this thought-provoking drama about an Indiana Quaker family whose commitment to their pacifist beliefs is tested by the Civil War. Gary Cooper, Dorothy McGuire and Anthony Perkins star.
Tuesday, January 5; 12:45 p.m. ET
Frank Capra's classic romantic comedy (or is it a drama?) tells the tale of the owner of a small-town tallow works (Gary Cooper)—who also plays the tuba and writes poetry for greeting cards—whose life is turned upside down when he inherits $20 million. Douglas Dumbrille, Lionel Stander and Jean Arthur costar.
Friday, January 8, at 4:45 p.m. ET
On what would have been Elvis Presley's 86th birthday, TCM is airing eight of his movies in a row, starting at 6:15 a.m. ET. This is our favorite of the bunch. Elvis plays a race car driver who loses the money he was going to spend on a new engine for his car and must somehow raise the funds so he can participate in Las Vegas' first Grand Prix race. Oh, and by the way, he falls for a pretty swimming instructor (Ann-Margret) along the way and sings a few songs, to boot.
Saturday, January 9, at 8 p.m. ET
Who couldn't use a little escapist espionage right about now? This classic adventure tells the tale of an advertising man (Cary Grant) who finds himself in seriously hot water when he is mistaken for a spy. Alfred Hitchcock directs, so of course there's a beautiful blonde (Eva Marie Saint) on hand, and if you watch closely, you just might spot a cameo appearance by an issue of Guideposts magazine. (Don't blink!)
Sunday, January 10, at 2 p.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 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.
Tuesday, January 12, at 6 p.m. ET
Rarely in movie history has a director undertaken a remake of his own picture, but that's just what Leo McCarey did. You may be more familiar with the remake, An Affair to Remember (1957), which starred Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr, but Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer are terrific in this, McCarey's first take on the story. Have a box of tissues handy.
Wednesday, January 13, at 8 p.m. ET
If you're a fan of classic whodunits, you'll enjoy this comedy, written by Neil Simon, that spoofs tropes of the genre as well as a number of beloved fictional detectives, among them Sam Spade, Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple, Charlie Chan, and Nick and Nora Charles. Eileen Brennan, James Coco, Peter Falk, Alec Guinness, Elsa Lanchester, David Niven, Peter Sellers, Maggie Smith, Nancy Walker, and Estelle Winwood star.
Friday, January 15, at 10 p.m. ET
In Alfred Hitchcock's remake of his own 1934 film of the same name, James Stewart and Doris Day play American tourists having a very rough time during a sojourn in Marrakesh. They witness a murder, learn of the planned assassination of a diplomat, and, to top it off, their son is kidnapped. What does one thing have to do with another? Watch to find out.
Monday, January 18, at 1:30 p.m. ET
Selina, a young blind woman who is white (Elizabeth Hartman) begins to blossom and come out of her shell, thanks to a friendship with Gordon (Sidney Poitier), a young, Black office worker. Selina falls in love with Gordon, which outrages her domineering mother (Shelley Winters). Both Winters (Best Supporting Actress) and Hartman (Best Actress in a Leading Role) won Academy Awards for their performances in this acclaimed film.
Tuesday, January 19, at 10 p.m. ET
In the fifth of the nine movies they made together, Hollywood icons Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn star as a married couple who are both New York lawyers; he's an assistant district attorney and she's a defense attorney in private practice. They find themselves on opposite sides of a case in which a woman has shot (but not killed) her philandering husband, which brings comedic tension to their own relationship. Judy Holliday, Tom Ewell, David Wayne and Jean Hagen costar in Garson Kanin's acclaimed comedy.
Wednesday, January 20, at 2 p.m. ET
In this romantic fantasy-drama, Pete, a bomber pilot during World War II (Spencer Tracy), is killed in a crash on his final mission and finds himself in heaven, where an angel called The General (Lionel Barrymore) sends him back to earth to pass on his experience and know-how to Ted, a young pilot (Van Johnson, in his breakthrough role).
Problems arise when Pete learns that Ted has fallen for Pete's girlfriend, Dorinda (Irene Dunne).
Thursday, January 21, at 1 p.m. ET
In this romantic comedy (that takes a dramatic turn), James Stewart plays a young playwright whose first Broadway show is a hit, but success goes to his head and threatens to derail his career and end his marriage (Rosalind Russell plays his wife). It's not a typical role for Stewart, but he carries it off with aplomb. Genevieve Tobin, Charles Ruggles, Allyn Joslyn and Louise Beavers costar.
Thursday, January 21, at 9:30 p.m. ET
In this drama, TCM's Star of the Month Miriam Hopkins play Phyllis, a young woman who marries into a blue-blood family, only to find their family fortune is no more and that her new mother-in-law was counting on her son, Brighton (Joel McCrea), to marry a woman of means (which Phyllis is decidedly not). Phyllis supports Brighton's dream of pursuing a writing career, but his mother pushes him into a high-paying job he's not suited for. Billie Burke and David Niven costar.
Sunday, January 24, at 11:45 a.m. ET
In this comedy classic, Mr. and Mrs. Blandings (Cary Grant and Myrna Loy) leave their cramped Manhattan apartment for a fixer-upper (to put it mildly) in rural Connecticut. As you might guess, the road to a newly-renovated dream home proves to be a hilariously rocky one. Reginald Denny and Melvyn Douglas costar.
Tuesday, January 26, at 1 p.m. ET
If there are kids in your life not yet familiar with the comedy stylings of Abbott and Costello, this picture would make a terrific introduction. Bud and Lou enlist in the army to avoid trouble with the law, only to learn their drill instructor is the cop who was after them before they entered the military. It's a classic comedy, and features not only Abbott and Costello, but also the melodic sounds of the Andrews Sisters.
Tuesday, January 26, at 4:15 p.m. ET
German-born Douglas Sirk began directing in Hollywood in 1934, but he really found his niche in the 1950s, when he became known as the maestro of the romantic melodrama. In this film, a well-to-do widow (Jane Wyman) falls for a young, blue-collar man (Rock Hudson) to the dismay and disapproval of her children and her privileged peers. Agnes Moorehead costars.
Wednesday, January 27, at 6 p.m. ET
In this white-knuckle drama, a wealthy couple (Glenn Ford and Donna Reed) experience every parent's nightmare when their child is kidnapped. The police are on the case and the press covers every development in the ongoing drama, but Ford, while working to raise the money demanded by the perpetrators, struggles to decide how best to proceed in the quest to recover his son. Leslie Nielson, in his film debut, costars.
Thursday, January 28, at 8 p.m. ET
Olivia de Havilland garnered one of her two Best Actress Oscars for her performance in William Wyler's film adaptation of the Henry James novel, Washington Square. In the film, set in mid-19th-century New York, De Havilland plays Catherine Sloper, the plain and socially awkward adult daughter of a domineering father (Ralph Richardson), who is wooed and deceived by a handsome man of questionable character (Montgomery Clift) and appears to care much more for her family's wealth than for Catherine. It's arguably one of the finest dramas Hollywood has ever produced.
Friday, January 29, at 6 a.m. ET
A terrific picture to watch with children, Victor Fleming's film tells the story of a spoiled rich kid (Freddie Bartholomew) who falls overboard from an ocean liner and is rescued by a fishing boat. He quickly learns some valuable life lessons. The stellar cast includes Spencer Tracy, Lionel Barrymore, Melvyn Douglas and Mickey Rooney.
Sunday, January 31, at 5 p.m. ET
This classic musical, inspired by George Bernard Shaw's play Pygmalion and a huge hit on the Broadway stage that ran for an amazing 2,717 performances, finds a snooty phonetics professer (Rex Harrison) accepting a wager that he can't transform a Cockney flower seller (Audrey Hepburn) into an elegant, well-spoken lady. The film was awarded six Oscars, including Best Picture.
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