Sunday, July 31, 2011

TCM in August: Summer Under the Stars

It's time for Summer Under the Stars on Turner Classic Movies! There are countless interesting films on the August schedule.

Be sure to check out the creative TCM micro site with a nostalgic "road trip" theme celebrating this month's stars. I especially loved the page for Linda Darnell (August 27th), with "Stella's Diner"; Claudette Colbert's page (August 12th) is also special, featuring -- what else? -- "Jericho Motor Court."

A complete list of this month's stars was also posted by me last April.

Here's a preview of just a handful of this month's interesting films:

...Smart, lively Paulette Goddard has become a real favorite of mine over the past couple years, and TCM devotes the day to her on August 2nd. The films include the delightful THE CRYSTAL BALL (1943) with Ray Milland, SECOND CHORUS (1940) with Fred Astaire, MODERN TIMES (1936) and THE GREAT DICTATOR (1940) with Charlie Chaplin, and THE WOMEN (1939), where Goddard is part of an all-female all-star cast. Here's hoping for another day of Goddard films next year; wouldn't it be wonderful if TCM could license rarities such as HOLD BACK THE DAWN (1941), THE FOREST RANGERS (1942), and STANDING ROOM ONLY (1944)?

...On August 4th, Ronald Colman Day, I'm intrigued by MY LIFE WITH CAROLINE (1941), costarring Anna Lee. The day is filled with treats; those who've never seen THE PRISONER OF ZENDA (1937), RANDOM HARVEST (1942), or LOST HORIZON (1937) should be sure to check them out!

...One of John Garfield's best performances is in PRIDE OF THE MARINES (1945), airing on August 5th. It costars Eleanor Parker, Dane Clark, and Rosemary DeCamp and was directed by Delmer Daves.

...STAGE DOOR (1937) is a terrific movie with an all-star cast including Ginger Rogers, Katharine Hepburn, Eve Arden, Ann Miller, and Lucille Ball. It's being shown on Ball's day on TCM on August 6th. For a completely different Lucy, check out the excellent Douglas Sirk thriller LURED (1947), costarring George Sanders.

...August 8th is Orson Welles Day, and I'm excited about being able to see a new-to-me Margaret Lockwood film, TRENT'S LAST CASE (1952). It also stars Michael Wilding. The short thriller JOURNEY INTO FEAR (1943), which I saw at this year's Noir City Film Festival, is also on the day's schedule.

...There are a bunch of interesting movies on Ann Dvorak Day on August 9th, including a number of pre-Codes. My advice is to set the DVR and let it run all day!

...I love Ben Johnson having his own day on August 11th. WAGON MASTER (1950) is one of my all-time favorite movies, and I also love SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON (1949). The day's films include Johnson's Oscar-winning performance in THE LAST PICTURE SHOW (1971).

...I've never seen Claudette Colbert in OUTPOST IN MALAYA (1952), which airs on August 12th. I've seen 2/3 of the dozen Colbert films airing on the 12th, and I highly recommend tuning in. If I had to choose just one film to recommend, I guess I'd suggest MIDNIGHT (1939), a near-perfect '30s romantic comedy. I also hope to catch Colbert and Jimmy Stewart in IT'S A WONDERFUL WORLD (1939) soon, as I've not seen it for many years.

...There's a terrific day of Ralph Bellamy films on August 14th. The day leads off with one of my favorite Fred and Ginger films, CAREFREE (1938). The titles also include HEADLINE SHOOTER (1933), a pre-Code starring Frances Dee, and THE NARROW CORNER (1933), a pre-Code starring Douglas Fairbanks Jr. GIRLS' SCHOOL (1938) is an interesting RKO programmer starring Anne Shirley.

...On Humphrey Bogart Day, August 17th, the lineup includes the highly entertaining THEY DRIVE BY NIGHT (1941), which is Warner Bros. style at its best. George Raft, Ann Sheridan, and a brilliant Ida Lupino costar.

...I've seen all but the first two films on Cary Grant's Day, August 21st, and as far as I'm concerned the TV could run all day that Sunday. There's one good movie after another, including GUNGA DIN (1939), ONLY ANGELS HAVE WINGS (1939), THE BISHOP'S WIFE (1947), BRINGING UP BABY (1938), and many more.

...Joan Crawford's Day includes FORSAKING ALL OTHERS (1934) with Clark Gable and Robert Montgomery. There are a number of other good films that day, August 22nd.

...Crawford is also in the fun ABOVE SUSPICION (1943) on Conrad Veidt Day, August 23rd. It's a WWII espionage story which costars Fred MacMurray.

...I think the most interesting day on the schedule is August 27th, Linda Darnell Day. All but three of the films showing that day are TCM premieres! Darnell's greatest success was at 20th Century-Fox, and TCM has to specially license Fox films. While I'm disappointed that a Darnell film originally advertised on the back of the July Now Playing guide, the hard-to-find HOTEL FOR WOMEN (1939), was pulled from the schedule, there's still lots to enjoy that day. I'm especially looking forward to TWO FLAGS WEST (1950), a Western also starring Joseph Cotten and Jeff Chandler, directed by Robert Wise. Other Darnell films showing that day include ZERO HOUR! (1957), BRIGHAM YOUNG (1940), SECOND CHANCE (1953), FALLEN ANGEL (1945), HANGOVER SQUARE (1945), and DAY-TIME WIFE (1939). What might be Darnell's best performance, in A LETTER TO THREE WIVES (1949), airs that day as well.

...TCM pays tribute to the late Anne Francis on August 29th. The day starts with her small role in the musical SUMMER HOLIDAY (1948) and continues with films including SO YOUNG, SO BAD (1950), BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK (1955), SUSAN SLEPT HERE (1954), and BLACKBOARD JUNGLE (1955).

...Howard Keel Day on the 30th includes all his best-known MGM musicals, as well as lesser-known titles like DESPERATE SEARCH (1952), costarring Jane Greer; FLOODS OF FEAR (1958); and THE SMALL VOICE (1948).

The above represent just some of the highlights of an excellent month on TCM. Enjoy the festival!


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