Olivia de Havilland is the July Star of the Month. She'll be honored every Friday evening of July, starting on July 1st. I'll have more on TCM honoring the great Olivia's centennial birthday posted here tomorrow. (Update: Please visit TCM Star of the Month: Olivia de Havilland.)
Also on the July TCM schedule: The TCM Spotlight series TCM Presents Shane (Plus a Hundred More Great Westerns). Keith Carradine hosts every Tuesday and Wednesday this month. Here's a promo video, and TCM has also put together a special microsite with a detailed schedule.
SEVEN MEN FROM NOW (1956), THE TALL T (1957), RIDE LONESOME (1959), or COMANCHE STATION (1960). There must be a reason they're not being shown, as it's such a glaring omission; they've aired in the past, but perhaps TCM has lost the right. More musings on the Westerns series titles and omissions follow at the end of this post! (Important Update: Many thanks to Caftan Woman for pointing out in the comments that RIDE LONESOME shows up on the the schedule July 6th; somehow I missed that when I checked over the schedule!)
Here are some of the great highlights ahead this month on TCM, with special note paid to the Westerns. Click any hyperlinked title to read the corresponding film review and learn more about the cast.
...The July 2nd prime time theme is "Musical Americana," including THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT! (1974), SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS (1954), and ON THE TOWN (1949). It sounds funny, but SEVEN BRIDES was one of my three favorite movies from the first time I saw the barn-raising dance in THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT!, before I even saw the whole movie! And the rest of the movie, needless to say, did not disappoint.
...The Independence Day lineup includes the usual but always-welcome titles, THE MUSIC MAN (1962) and YANKEE DOODLE DANDY (1942).
...The Westerns series begins on July 5th. It kicks off with "The Early Years," then celebrates the films of John Ford and John Wayne in the evening, with a lineup of STAGECOACH (1939), THE SEARCHERS (1956), FORT APACHE (1948), SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON (1949), and 3 GODFATHERS (1949).
BADMAN'S TERRITORY (1946), RETURN OF THE BADMEN (1948), CANADIAN PACIFIC (1949), and FORT WORTH (1951). The evening will feature five Sam Peckinpah Westerns, starting off with Scott and Joel McCrea in the classic RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY (1962).
...CROSS-COUNTRY ROMANCE (1940), showing on July 9th, is a charmer starring Gene Raymond and Wendy Barrie. It was also on in June, so if you missed it, here's a second chance. It's only 69 minutes long.
...The July 12th Westerns lineup begins with "epic Westerns," including the most epic of them all, HOW THE WEST WAS WON (1962). ('Tis a puzzlement why they're showing THE BIG SKY instead of THE BIG COUNTRY, though...) The evening lineup is fantastic: four Anthony Mann Westerns, THE NAKED SPUR (1953), THE MAN FROM LARAMIE (1955), THE LAST FRONTIER (1955), and DEVIL'S DOORWAY (1950).
MONTANA MOON (1930), a Johnny Mack Brown film in which Cliff Edwards sings. The evening has five films directed by John Sturges, including HOUR OF THE GUN (1967), THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (1960), BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK (1955), THE LAW AND JAKE WADE (1958), and ESCAPE FROM FORT BRAVO (1953). Overnight there's a showing of Nicholas Ray's THE LUSTY MEN (1952).
...A day of beach movies on July 14th includes a classic of the genre, WHERE THE BOYS ARE (1960).
THE PALM BEACH STORY (1940), with brilliant performances by Claudette Colbert, Joel McCrea, Rudy Vallee, and Mary Astor. It's on Sunday, July 17th.
...A Red Skelton tribute on July 18th includes a favorite MGM musical, LOVELY TO LOOK AT (1952). This remake of ROBERTA (1935) may be considered relatively minor as MGM musicals go, but it's totally entertaining and has many great moments, including spectacular dances by Marge and Gower Champion. Howard Keel, Kathryn Grayson, and Ann Miller also star.
3:10 TO YUMA (1957) and THE FASTEST GUN ALIVE (1956), followed by a lineup of films John Wayne made with Howard Hawks and Andrew McLaglen. This includes the can't-miss Hawks film RIO BRAVO (1959).
...The Ronald Colman version of THE PRISONER OF ZENDA (1937) airs July 21st. Swashbucklers don't come any better. Madeleine Carroll, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Raymond Massey, Mary Astor, and David Niven costar.
...John Ford's superb THE LONG GRAY LINE (1955), starring Tyrone Power and Maureen O'Hara, airs on July 25th. I just caught up with this for the first time a few months ago. Don't wait as long as I did!
...July 26th the theme is Western comedies, including a pair of films I've recently reviewed here, TWO GUYS FROM TEXAS (1948) and CALLAWAY WENT THATAWAY (1951). The classic of the comedy lineup is James Garner's SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL SHERIFF! (1969) which only gets funnier on each successive viewing. That night the theme is "Great Barroom Brawls," including SHANE (1953).
...The Westerns series wraps on July 27th with "True Stories?" including QUANTRILL'S RAIDERS (1958), and ending with "Revisionist Westerns." Wrapping up a Westerns series with the infamous HEAVEN'S GATE (1980) doesn't seem to do justice to the genre...but maybe that's just me.
...July 29th there's a nine-film tribute to Nancy (Davis) Reagan, including her fine performance as a kind therapist helping traumatized Gigi Perreau in SHADOW ON THE WALL (1950)
Final thoughts on the Westerns series: There's a lot I'd have liked to see included in a Westerns series, like a George O'Brien RKO Western, a George Montgomery Western, Wellman's WESTWARD THE WOMEN (1951), and more of John Ford, including WAGON MASTER (1950) and RIO GRANDE (1950). You can never show too many John Ford Westerns!
The extra expense of licensing films from 20th Century-Fox and Universal is doubtless the reason we're missing key films like Ford's MY DARLING CLEMENTINE (1946), Mann's WINCHESTER '73 (1950), and Tourneur's CANYON PASSAGE (1946). It also leaves out most Universal Westerns in general, including Audie Murphy and Joel McCrea films; any '50s Westerns fan can wax eloquent on the importance of Universal Westerns to the genre, so it's a big piece of the puzzle missing.
Wellman's YELLOW SKY 1948), a Fox film, is another one I'd have shown. I can't complain about the number of John Wayne films being shown, but still, I'd have added in ANGEL AND THE BADMAN (1946). There are also titles I'd have discarded in favorite of more worthy entries.
All that said, the series is a great idea and definitely has something for everyone, so it should be very enjoyable...and it would be great if it sparked an interest in Westerns in some viewers not so familiar with the genre. Perhaps if there's enough interest there will be a sequel series at a future date.
For more on TCM in July, please visit the complete schedule. Also, a reminder that TCM Backlot members can now page through the Now Playing guide online.