It’s August, and classic film fans know what that means: Summer Under The Stars on TCM!
*crowd goes bananas*
Or perhaps it’s just me?
Regardless, August is the month during which a different single star dominates TCM’s programming each and every day. It’s a marvellous opportunity to get a grasp on various actor’s and actress’ styles and range, and more than one classic movie buff has fallen head over heels for a star they never disliked, but weren’t necessarily crazy about, during Summer Under The Stars.
As usual, TCM has a marvellous special website set up for Summer Under The Stars 2014, complete with interactive schedule, a photographic—hm, “artwork” seems too strong, but you’ll see when you head over there: for instance, here’s Joseph Cotten, a man whose work you all know I love—biography, filmography, and portrait for each Star of the Day. I do wish we were told who did these, but no such luck (yet). Thus, as usual, the site itself is great fun to look at—TCM always does such a good job with this stuff.
Surely you’re dying of curiosity—Jen, which stars’ (partial) oeuvre are you most looking forward to immersing yourself in this month?
As you might expect, I’m all too happy to answer! Of course, I immediately pick my very favourite stars from the list: Barbara Stanwyck (August 5), James Stewart (August 7), William Powell (August 9), Carole Lombard (August 10), Cary Grant (August 13), Herbert Marshall (August 16), Claudette Colbert (August 18, and the aforementioned Joseph Cotten (August 29). Those are the days when poor Ben may find himself crossing his legs until there’s time between movies, poor fellow.
After finding the stars I absolutely love, it’s easy to be happy about the prospect of days full of stars like David Niven (August 2), Walter Pidgeon (August 3), Paul Muni (August 6), Charlie Chaplin (August 14), Thelma Ritter (August 20), Ernest Borgnine (August 23), Dick Powell (August 25), Edmond O’Brien (August 27), pinup star Betty Grable (August 30), and last but definitely not least, Alan Ladd on the 31st.
There are also stars whose work I’m not quite as familiar with, like Jeanne Moreau (August 8), who most of you may remember as Cinderella’s great-granddaughter in 1998’s Drew Barrymore romance EVER AFTER. Alexis Smith is August 12’s star; I’ve seen quite a few of her films, but it will be nice to the have the opportunity to watch a couple on one day; we also have John Hodiak (August 17th) who I’m most familiar with from BATTLEGROUND, Gladys George (August 24), who I recall best in THE MALTESE FALCON and FLAMINGO ROAD, and Arlene Dahl, who you surely remember from 1959’s JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH with James Mason.
It’s a solid schedule, and there are big, big stars (Audrey Hepburn, Paul Newman, Marlon Brando, and Judy Garland, for instance) who I’ve not even mentioned (wait…does that count? Probably). Be sure to visit the official website for the schedule and prepare for a little time setting your DVR (if you have one, which I don’t, so I’ll probably spend a lot of time sewing and embroidering with great movies on)!
It’s probably too late to tell you to watch BACHELOR MOTHER at noon today, August 2nd, but if you’re around and able, catch it!
I did want to tip you all off to 1945‘s wonderful, touching THE CLOCK (August 4, 10:15PM EST), starring Judy Garland and Robert Walker; it’s my favourite Judy Garland film, and the woman doesn’t sing a note. Also very much worth catching is 1940’s excellent THE MORTAL STORM (August 7, 10:15PM), starring James Stewart, Robert Young, and Margaret Sullavan in the film that got MGM banned from Nazi Germany—it’s almost absolutely excellent (I repeat myself for a reason). TCM is following that eye-opening film with the charming THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER, also starring Stewart and Sullavan, so no one goes to bed entirely gobsmacked.
Small-town-girl Carole Lombard hoodwinks the entire nation in 1937’s laugh-out-loud-funny NOTHING SACRED (August 10, 11:45PM); Marlon Brando—well, just watch THE TEAHOUSE OF THE AUGUST MOON on August 11 at 3PM and just…accept it for what it is and laugh and please, please no one take it as insulting no matter how stunned you are when you see Brando playing a young Japanese man. It’s a ridiculously charming movie (I agree with the “outstanding comedy” label given it by Leonard Maltin), and until my Japanese doctor and his wife get angry at me over loving it, I just will. Love it. Not get angry.
Virginia Cherrill looks a lot like my little sister in Charlie Chaplin’s beautiful CITY LIGHTS at 12:30 August 14 (15th, really, but we all know how TCM sets up their schedule); I’m also very interested in 1947’s MONSIEUR VERDOUX at 2AM. Having always loved the book and having played Lily in the musical version of THE SECRET GARDEN, I’m looking forward to seeing the 1949 film again on August 16 (4:30PM), but cannot resist the gripping tale and beautiful photography of THE LETTER the same day at midnight—silken-voiced, urbane Herbert Marshall stars in both films.
John Hodiak, Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Marjorie Main, a drop-dead gorgeous Angela Lansbury, and Cyd Charisse make up the fabulous cast of 1946’s entertaining THE HARVEY GIRLS August 17 at midnight (there were Harvey Houses on Route 66, you know). A little more difficult to watch, but definitely worthwhile, is Claudette Colbert as an American woman taken as a Japanese prisoner of war during WWII in the true-story film THREE CAME HOME, August 18 at midnight.
Dad and I both have a soft spot for Rocky Graziano biopic SOMEBODY UP THERE LIKES ME (August 19/20, 2AM) (or perhaps I just have a soft spot for boxing films with a main character named “Rocky”?). More frothy, glamourous, and downright fun is 1933’s fabulous satirical comedy BOMBSHELL (August 21, 8PM), appropriately starring real-life bombshell Jean Harlow opposite Star of the Day Lee Tracy. TCM simply does not play BOMBSHELL often enough for me! Nearly everyone loves ROMAN HOLIDAY (August 22, 8PM) and MARTY (August 23, 8PM).
TWO WOMEN (August 26, 8PM) is, I will warn you, not for the kids and has some extremely difficult-to-watch moments, but an incredible film nonetheless. It is a film you could safely watch with your local pastor, but again, a few moments are stabbingly painful. However: It is, again, superb, and ultimately an incredible and…hm, ennobling story.
D.O.A. (August 27, 8PM) is a pretty fascinating thriller about a man racing against time to track down those who gave him a lethal poison. Some terrific photography in addition to a truly gripping noir tale!
Finally, everything on August 5 and 29 is worth watching, and you know it.
How about you? Who are your favourite 2014 Summer Under The Stars…stars? Any films you simply can’t wait to see, either again or for the very first time?
All of the wonderful illustrations courtesy the talented, unknown, unnamed artist at TCM. TCM, do tell us who made these!