Thursday, July 31, 2014

TCM in August: Summer Under the Stars Highlights

Summer is flying by, but we've still got all of August to enjoy the season, including TCM's annual Summer Under the Stars Festival!

For a quick look at the 31 stars being celebrated on Turner Classic Movies this month, please visit the complete list of names I posted last May.

TCM has prepared a special Summer Under the Stars microsite, in addition to the regular online schedule.

There are a number of days this month I'd be happy to leave the TV on all day long! Here's a quick look at a few highlights from a great month on Turner Classic Movies:

...The month starts off with SUNDAY IN NEW YORK (1963) starring August 1st honoree Jane Fonda along with Rod Taylor, Cliff Robertson, and Robert Culp. This movie was even funnier when seen with a group of Rod Taylor fans at this year's TCM Classic Film Festival!

...David Niven is the day's star on August 2nd. The excellent lineup includes BACHELOR MOTHER (1939), another film shown at this year's TCM Fest, and PLEASE DON'T EAT THE DAISIES (1960), also starring Doris Day.

...I love Walter Pidgeon more with each passing year. There's something about his persona and especially his voice which I find so soothing! August 3rd is Walter Pidgeon Day on TCM, an opportunity to enjoy everything from the early musical SWEET KITTY BELLAIRS (1930) to FUNNY GIRL (1968) nearly 40 years later. I recently enjoyed his last film with Greer Garson, SCANDAL AT SCOURIE (1953).

...August 4th is Judy Garland Day. It is ever not a good time to watch MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS (1944)? I didn't think so.

...Barbara Stanwyck is celebrated on August 5th. Since I'm currently catching up on some Errol Flynn movies, I'd love to take another look at the interesting Gothic mystery CRY WOLF (1947) with the unique combination of Stanwyck and Flynn. And NIGHT NURSE (1931) is a very "pre-Code" film!

...Prime time on James Stewart's day, August 7th, will include THE NAKED SPUR (1953), a terrific Anthony Mann Western I saw at UCLA earlier this year. Stewart plays a bitter bounty hunter, with Robert Ryan his quarry. Janet Leigh also stars.

...August 9th is William Powell Day! I'm sure I could happily watch the entire lineup. CROSSROADS (1942) is interesting to me because is also stars a favorite actress, Hedy Lamarr, who would also star with Powell in THE HEAVENLY BODY (1944). CROSSROADS is a bit slow-moving and not entirely successful, but as it's a lesser-known Powell film his fans may want to take this chance to catch up with it.

...Carole Lombard was at one point married to William Powell, and her day follows his, on August 10th. It's another day which could be watched 'round the clock. I'll particularly single out one of the best soapy romances ever made, IN NAME ONLY (1939), also starring Cary Grant and Kay Francis. Lombard gives a lovely, sensitive performance as a widow who falls for married Cary Grant, and watch out for Kay Francis as Grant's nasty wife!

...Alexis Smith Day! I'm so happy she's being honored this year. Her special date is August 12th. There are many good movies on the agenda, including the classic drama THE CONSTANT NYMPH (1943), with Joan Fontaine and Charles Boyer; the interesting crime drama CONFLICT (1945) with Humphrey Bogart and Sydney Greenstreet; and a few movies with frequent costar and good friend Errol Flynn, including SAN ANTONIO (1945) and MONTANA (1950). I'm especially looking forward to a movie I've never seen, ONE LAST FLING (1949) with Zachary Scott.

...August 13th is Cary Grant Day. Just set the DVR to run all day.

...Herbert Marshall and his glorious voice will be front and center on August 16th. I'm looking forward to seeing THE UNDERWORLD STORY (1950), also starring Dan Duryea and Gale Storm, directed by Cy Endfield.

...John Hodiak is honored on August 17th. It's another day filled with interesting films, including TWO SMART PEOPLE (1946) with Lucille Ball and Lloyd Nolan, where he plays a con artist with gourmet tastes, and one of my favorite MGM musicals, THE HARVEY GIRLS (1946). That's Entertainment!

...One of my favorite actresses, Claudette Colbert, is the star on August 18th. The day includes the TCM premiere of the rarely seen SKYLARK (1941) with Ray Milland and Brian Aherne. When will SKYLARK and ARISE, MY LOVE (1940), another film she made with Milland, come out on DVD?!

...I recommend a very entertaining "B" movie, CRASHING HOLLYWOOD (1938), on August 21st. It stars Lee Tracy as an aspiring screenwriter who teams up with an ex-con to create a series of crime films for "Wonder Pictures." The RKO lot stands in for Wonder Pictures which makes it even more fun to watch.

...Take a vacation day on August 25th and enjoy Dick Powell 'round the clock! Titles include the superb 1860s "train noir" THE TALL TARGET (1951). When I saw it at UCLA earlier this year, the lighting and cinematography (by Paul Vogel) blew me away. Directed by Anthony Mann.

...I also love Edmond O'Brien, star of the day on August 27th. O'Brien's not your typical cowboy but I really enjoyed COW COUNTRY (1953), with a cast including Peggie Castle and James Millican. Stick around for films such as WHITE HEAT (1949), D.O.A. (1950), THE HITCH-HIKER (1953), and many more.

...There sure are a lot of Anthony Mann movies on the schedule! On Arlene Dahl Day on August 28th I especially recommend Mann's THE BLACK BOOK (1949), also known as REIGN OF TERROR, a "French Revolution noir" costarring Bob Cummings and beautifully filmed by John Alton.

...Joseph Cotten is another wonderful actor who's part of this year's festival. His day will be August 29th. I love I'LL BE SEEING YOU (1944), where he plays a shell-shocked soldier on leave at Christmas.

...There are several TCM premieres on Betty Grable Day, August 30th, including one of my favorite film noir titles, I WAKE UP SCREAMING (1941), costarring Victor Mature and Carole Landis. It's a great entry into the genre...and one of the best movie titles of all time, although I don't think anyone actually ever wakes up screaming!

...The month wraps up in fine style with a tribute to Alan Ladd on August 31st. After years of toiling in bit parts, Ladd suddenly emerged as a major star playing a lethal killer in THIS GUN FOR HIRE (1942), the first of several successful teamings with Veronica Lake.

Happy Summer Under the Stars!


Blogger Kristina said...

you and I love exactly the same movies, Meet me In St. Louis is a big fave of mine. Just as a random observation, on Arlene Dahl day there are few very B but interesting noirs She Played with Fire, Wicked as They Come. I'll be getting a lot of the Lee Tracy titles too. best!

7:26 AM  
Blogger VP81955 said...

Just moved to Los Angeles...and even better, my cable is installed and carries TCM! SUTS is my favorite promotion on the channel -- and I may not leave my apartment Aug. 9 and 10 in order to watch my all-time favorite actor and actress (William Powell and Carole Lombard, of course). Plus I'll be viewing plenty of Stanwyck, Stewart, Colbert and Lee Tracy, not to mention Paul Muni on the 6th. Thank you, TCM!

8:31 AM  
Blogger Joel Williams said...

Very nice write-up, Laura! Hoping to catch some of the reco's you suggest. I trust your eye for classic film. :)

5:07 AM  

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