Monday, July 30, 2012

TCM in August: Summer Under the Stars

July has flown by way too fast, but there's a silver lining to my favorite month of the year coming to a close: it's time for Summer Under the Stars on Turner Classic Movies! For a classic film fan, nothing says summer quite like the annual Summer Under the Stars Festival.

TCM has a special SUTS microsite which will go live on Wednesday, August 1st. They've also made this month's schedule available in .pdf format.

For a quick overview of the stars being celebrated this month, please visit the complete list I posted in May.

Here are just some of this month's TCM highlights:

...The celebration gets underway on August 1st with a day of John Wayne films. They're all good, but this time around I'll recommend a relatively lesser-known Wayne film, TALL IN THE SADDLE (1944). It's got a good script and a terrific leading lady in Ella Raines.

...On Myrna Loy's day, August 2nd, I'll be recording two Loy films I've never seen, THE GREAT DIVIDE (1929) and THE BARBARIAN (1933). I've seen the majority of the day's films and recommend them all. I was fortunate to see one of my favorite Loy comedies, LIBELED LADY (1936), at UCLA last January.

...Claude Rains Day on August 5th includes all three films in the FOUR DAUGHTERS (1938) series, perfect viewing for a Sunday. These films are not to be missed. Priscilla, Rosemary, and Lola Lane, Gale Page, Jeffrey Lynn, John Garfield, Frank McHugh, Eddie Albert, Dick Foran, and May Robson costar in the movies.

...I'm really looking forward to THE OUTCASTS OF POKER FLAT (1937), which has an appealing cast including Preston Foster, Jean Muir, Virginia Weidler, and Star of the Month honoree Van Heflin. The air date is August 6th.

...I've always loved Rita Hayworth, and my two favorite Hayworth films air on August 8th: TONIGHT AND EVERY NIGHT (1945), a Technicolor musical set during the London Blitz, and YOU WERE NEVER LOVELIER (1942), a black and white fairytale costarring Fred Astaire and a gorgeous Jerome Kern score.

...There's an appealing cross-section of movies being shown on Lionel Barrymore Day on August 10th, everything from GRAND HOTEL (1932) to A YANK AT OXFORD (1938) to YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU (1938) to KEY LARGO (1948). And of course a Dr. Kildare movie!

...Ginger Rogers is one of my favorite actresses, and I've seen all but two of the films airing on August 12th, PRIMROSE PATH (1940) and WEEKEND AT THE WALDORF (1945). Given that the first film costars Joel McCrea and the latter film has an all-star MGM cast, I really need to catch up with those! Several of my very favorite Ginger movies air on this date, including BACHELOR MOTHER (1939), CAREFREE (1938), and STAGE DOOR (1937). I can easily say, however, that all 13 of the films shown that day are worth watching.

...Deborah Kerr Day on August 13th starts with VACATION FROM MARRIAGE (1945), an interesting, rather different film in which Kerr and Robert Donat play a couple who are radically changed by their wartime service. I also like THE HUCKSTERS (1947), costarring Clark Gable, Ava Gardner, Sydney Greenstreet, Edward Arnold, and more.

...When I recently saw Billy Wilder's THE APARTMENT (1960), it didn't do anything for me, but I feel quite differently about a film Wilder made the following year, ONE, TWO, THREE (1961). I always remember my daughter telling me that one of her college roommates walked in when the movie was on, and after a couple minutes she gasped "This is brilliant!" and sat down to watch the rest. It's on James Cagney Day, August 14th.

...LITTLE WOMEN (1933) is pretty much a perfect movie, and I highly recommend it to anyone who hasn't seen it. It's beautifully filmed with a cast including Frances Dee, Joan Bennett, Jean Parker, and the day's Star, Katharine Hepburn; it airs August 17th.

...August 20th is Anthony Quinn Day. I'm intrigued by BLACK GOLD (1947), in which Quinn costars with his wife, Katherine DeMille. I hadn't realized Quinn was Cecil B. DeMille's son-in-law until a couple of years ago.

...As far as I'm concerned, one of the best days on the August schedule is August 21st, Kay Francis Day, which starts in fine style with one of my favorite pre-Codes, DR. MONICA (1934). The next film, MARY STEVENS, M.D. (1933), is fun too. And there are 15 more Francis films lined up after that!

...August 23rd is the centennial of the birth of Gene Kelly, and TCM will be showing a dozen Kelly films. I've seen all of them but BLACK HAND (1950), which I really need to catch up with! Although it's not as highly regarded as some of his other films, I'm especially partial to ANCHORS AWEIGH (1945) which is overlong but set in a Technicolor fantasy Los Angeles which I fell in love with as a child...and I still love it. Frank Sinatra, Kathryn Grayson, Dean Stockwell, and Jose Iturbi costar.

...Irene Dunne, like Ginger Rogers, is one of my all-time favorites; like Ginger, she was a musical performer equally adept at comedy and drama. This is a wonderful lineup including the superb comedy MY FAVORITE WIFE (1940) -- costarring Cary Grant, Randolph Scott, and Gail Patrick -- and the musical SHOW BOAT (1936), in which she sings the role of Magnolia. You can't go wrong recording any and everything on August 24th.

...August 25th celebrates another huge favorite, Tyrone Power. It's a bit of an odd lineup, given that the majority of his films were for 20th Century-Fox and aren't as easily available to be shown on TCM. Although TCM does have some Fox films to show on the 25th, there isn't a single one of the many films he made with Loretta Young, Linda Darnell, or Alice Faye; to my mind, the single most important Power film is THE MARK OF ZORRO (1940), costarring Darnell. It's a shame it's not being shown! Putting that complaint aside, there are some excellent movies in the lineup, including John Ford's THE LONG GRAY LINE (1955), the adventure film CAPTAIN FROM CASTILE (1947), the Oscar-winning THE RAZOR'S EDGE (1948), Billy Wilder's WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION (1957), and the well-done Western JESSE JAMES (1938), costarring Henry Fonda and Nancy Kelly.

...And the next day is Gary Cooper! I find his goofier Westerns, like ALONG CAME JONES (1945) and DALLAS (1950), very appealing. The Oscar-winning SERGEANT YORK (1941) is in the lineup too.

...Jeanette MacDonald was a great talent, a wonderful singer, a beauty, and a very good actress especially adept at comedy. Among her movies with Nelson Eddy, I'm partial to NEW MOON (1940), with a score including "Lover, Come Back to Me." The date is August 27th.

...And then there's Ava Gardner Day on August 28th. I really like the film noir THE BRIBE (1949), costarring Robert Taylor, Charles Laughton, Vincent Price, and John Hodiak, plus a wonderfully shot fireworks finale which might have been done by Vincente Minnelli.

...ADAM HAD FOUR SONS (1941) has a plot that's a bit syrupy at times, but it also has a great cast which makes it extremely watchable: Warner Baxter, Susan Hayward, Fay Wray, June Lockhart, and Ingrid Bergman, whose films are being celebrated August 29th.

...I suspect many in the classic film blogging community would name August 30th as their favorite day on the August schedule, as it celebrates Warren William, a pre-Code star who also played movie detectives Philo Vance, Perry Mason, and the Lone Wolf. I'm looking forward to recording new-to-me William films such as BEDSIDE (1934) and THE MOUTHPIECE (1932). There are a whopping 16 William films being shown, including classics such as one of the best Busby Berkeley musicals, GOLD DIGGERS OF 1933 (1933); Frank Capra's LADY FOR A DAY (1933); and DeMille's CLEOPATRA (1934). Pre-Code classics airing that day include THREE ON A MATCH (1932), SKYSCRAPER SOULS (1932), and the infamous EMPLOYEES' ENTRANCE (1933), in which his character is so amoral and predatory I found it difficult to watch!

This is a good-sized list, yet it's just a glimpse of the many interesting titles airing on TCM this month. Be sure to visit Immortal Ephemera and Thrilling Days of Yesteryear for additional tips from Cliff and Ivan!

Happy movie viewing!


Blogger Cliff Aliperti said...

Great run-down, Laura, and thank you so much for linking to my own preview!

"I suspect many in the classic film blogging community would name August 30th as their favorite day on the August schedule" -- this tickles me, as the main reason I started the Warren William site back in 2007 was that there was barely anything to be found about the guy on the internet and even less in hard copy books other than Mick LaSalle's Dangerous Men. He's really made a heck of comeback since John Stangeland's (incredible!) biography was published in late 2010--now I always see new Warren stuff coming, it's great!

By the way, love your mentioning "Adam Had Four Sons," a title I really liked a lot more than I expected.

No love for Freddie Bartholomew? Another of my more anticipated days right after Warren and, we're in agreement here, Kay Francis!

12:17 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks so much, Cliff!

Isn't it great to see how appreciated William is becoming? We are sure fortunate to live in a time when the movies are so accessible and can be enjoyed by new audiences. I've got to pick up that biography at some point. So many books I'd like to get along with movies!

Glad to know you also enjoyed ADAM HAD FOUR SONS. I especially get a kick out of the young Susan Hayward and the very young June Lockhart in that one.

Think I skipped over Freddie in part as I don't think I've seen any of the movies airing that day! I should check some out, although a number of them are '30s literary/adventure films that don't do so much for me, like CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS and KIDNAPPED. Will look at recording some things like YANK AT ETON and TOM BROWN'S SCHOOLDAYS.

Best wishes,

11:29 AM  
Blogger Emma said...

August 30th is definitely the best day of the TCM Summer Under the Stars. Warren Williams is my all time favourite actor and, although I have seen most of the movies mentioned, a couple of them are hard to find.

Thanks for this post, I'll be sure to watch TCM over the month!!

9:38 PM  

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