Tuesday, July 31, 2018

TCM in August: Summer Under the Stars Highlights

Hard to believe that August is here and it's time for the annual Summer Under the Stars Festival on Turner Classic Movies!

For a quick look at a list of the 31 actors being celebrated in August 2018, please visit the preview I posted in May.

TCM has also created a Summer Under the Stars microsite with information regarding this month's movies, and of course, the regular schedule is also available.

And there's also a promotional video!

Noir Alley fans, please note that there are no Noir Alley showings during Summer Under the Stars. Check out this cute video in which Eddie Muller goes "on the lam" until September 2nd, when he returns with a showing of THE LOCKET (1946).

This year I'm recommending one film from all but a few days on the schedule. Click any hyperlinked title for my review.

...The month kicks off with Frank Sinatra on August 1st, and I'm recommending a movie in which Frank doesn't sing: SUDDENLY (1954), a zippy 77-minute crime film in which Sterling Hayden and Nancy Gates must find a way to stop Sinatra from killing the President of the United States.

...I'm not sure how many times I've recommended LIBELED LADY (1936) over the years, but given that it's one of my favorite comedies, it must be a lot! It's part of Myrna Loy Day on August 2nd. William Powell, Jean Harlow, and Spencer Tracy star.

...August 3rd features films with character actor Lionel Atwill. He was in one of my favorite entries in the Dr. Kildare series, THE SECRET OF DR. KILDARE (1939), playing the father of a young woman (Helen Gilbert) with a psychosomatic illness.

...It's safe to say that my favorite Katharine Hepburn film is LITTLE WOMEN (1933), which I've seen countless times yet somehow have never yet reviewed here. Frances Dee, Jean Parker, and Joan Bennett costar with Hepburn as the four March sisters. It airs on August 5th.

...One of the best days on the schedule is Audrey Totter Day on August 6th. I've seen all but three of the films being shown that day and there are many good ones to choose from! I'm going to go with suggesting TENSION (1949) because it's a lesser-known film with a fabulous cast, including Richard Basehart, Cyd Charisse, and Barry Sullivan; Audrey is tremendously fun as a greedy wife. But honestly, if you're going to pick one day in August to call in sick and watch movies, this is the day!

...Although you could also spend August 7th happily watching Harold Lloyd movies all day! So many wonderful hours from which to choose...since I've mentioned several of his silent films here in the past, I'd like to highlight one of his talkie comedies, THE MILKY WAY (1936). Some viewers will recognize the story from the later Danny Kaye remake, THE KID FROM BROOKLYN (1946). I particularly enjoyed Verree Teasdale in a wonderful role; Teasdale's husband, Adolphe Menjou, is in the movie too.

...24 hours of Jeanette MacDonald on August 8th is pure bliss as well! Do be sure to check out THE MERRY WIDOW (1934), costarring Maurice Chevalier and directed by Ernst Lubitsch. It was a highlight for me at this year's TCM Classic Film Festival.

...I've only seen two of the films showing on August 9th, Walter Matthau Day, but I can say that CHARLEY VARRICK (1973), a heist film with Matthau as a cagey crook, is worthwhile and interesting.

...On August 10th TCM pays tribute to Dorothy Malone, who passed away last January. I've seen many of the films showing that day and will mention here I movie I saw eight years ago and found quite memorable, THE LAST VOYAGE (1960). Poor Dorothy spends most of the movie trapped on a sinking ocean liner, while her husband (Robert Stack) and two brave crew members (Edmond O'Brien and Woody Strode) try to save her. George Sanders plays the captain. With a cast like that how can you go wrong?!

...August 11th is Gary Cooper Day, and I'd like to put in a good word for Billy Wilder's LOVE IN THE AFTERNOON (1957). Some film fans don't like the age difference between Cooper and costar Audrey Hepburn, but I find it moving. Maurice Chevalier costars.

...August 12th celebrates that beam of sunshine everyone loves, the one and only Doris Day. Again, I've seen most of the movies showing that day, and as with my Sinatra recommendation, I'm going to mention a non-musical film which isn't particularly popular with the critics but that I really enjoyed: JULIE (1956), costarring Louis Jourdan, Barry Sullivan, Frank Lovejoy, and Jack Kelly. Sure, it's far from Doris's best film, but it's highly entertaining, especially when Doris lands a plane at the end (!), and what a great cast!

...I love that the perennially underrated George Brent has his own day on August 13th. He plays a doctor in THEY CALL IT SIN (1932), a fun little 69-minute pre-Code costarring Loretta Young and Una Merkel.

...It's great that Miriam Hopkins is being celebrated (August 16th) since I just recently attended a tribute to her at the Egyptian Theatre. You can't go wrong with Lubitsch's TROUBLE IN PARADISE (1932), which I'll be seeing for the gazillionth time this month at UCLA.

...It's Clark Gable Day on August 18th; there's only one film airing that I haven't seen yet, and I can safely say this is an entertaining day start to finish. One of Gable's best performances was in COMMAND DECISION (1948), when he must bear the responsibility of sending flyers to their deaths during WWII. The superb cast includes Van Johnson, Brian Donlevy, Walter Pidgeon, John Hodiak, Charles Bickford, and Edward Arnold, plus at least 10 more familiar faces.

...Judy Garland costars in LOVE FINDS ANDY HARDY (1938), which I saw for the first time at this year's TCM Classic Film Festival. Andy (Mickey Rooney) juggles having asked multiple girls (Ann Rutherford and Lana Turner) to the Christmas dance, Judy sings, and all in all it's a good time. Judy Garland's day is August 19th.

...There are some terrific movies on Stewart Granger Day August 20th, including ADAM AND EVELYNE (1949), a romance with his future wife, Jean Simmons.

...Lovely Anita Louise is celebrated on August 21st. I recommend another highlight from this year's TCM Classic Film Festival, A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM (1935), in which she plays Titania. I wasn't especially excited about that title and left feeling like it was one of the top films I saw this year, truly enchanted.

...And then a full day of Dana Andrews on August 22nd! The 20th Century-Fox film FALLEN ANGEL (1945), costarring Linda Darnell and Alice Faye, is one of the movies which made me a film noir fan.

...Virginia Mayo Day on August 23rd! PAINTING THE CLOUDS WITH SUNSHINE (1951) was an unexpected charmer. It's the old plot of three gals looking for rich husbands, but it's bright and colorful, with a great cast including Dennis Morgan, Virginia Gibson, Gene Nelson, and Tom Conway. I loved it.

...SILK STOCKINGS (1957), a remake of NINOTCHKA (1939), may not be one of MGM's top musicals, but the dancing of Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse makes it worth a look. "Fated to Be Mated" and "Red Blues" are simply terrific! The movie is part of Peter Lorre Day on August 24th.

...On Anthony Quinn's special day, August 26th, I recommend a Western I just saw for the first time a few months ago, WARLOCK (1959). He plays the longtime friend and companion of a "town tamer" (Henry Fonda), ultimately proving to be just a little too obsessed with making sure his pal is "top gun." Richard Widmark and Dorothy Malone also star.

...As is probably apparent from some of the recommendations above, I've been trying to highlight some lesser-known titles I've enjoyed this month. One such film is SCANDAL AT SCOURIE (1953), in which a Canadian couple (Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon) adopt an orphan (Donna Corcoran). It's a tiny bit reminiscent of another Canadian orphan story, ANNE OF GREEN GABLES, but it has some unique aspects, including the charming relationships of the three leads and the theme of religious discrimination. Agnes Moorehead, whose films are being shown on August 27th, plays the nun who entrusts the little girl to Garson and Pidgeon.

...It's Lew Ayres Day on August 28th. THE UNFAITHFUL (1947) was loosely inspired by THE LETTER (1940). Ayres plays the attorney for Zachary Scott and Ann Sheridan, who become mixed up in intrigue when Sheridan kills an intruder when hubby Scott is out of town.

...Just about a year ago I enjoyed seeing Lauren Bacall and John Wayne in William Wellman's BLOOD ALLEY (1955) for the first time. It's an imperfect but entertaining film about Chinese villagers fleeing Communism on a paddle-wheeler, navigating 300 uncharted miles in an attempt to reach safety in Hong Kong. It's part of Bacall's day on August 29th.

...The month wraps up celebrating Joan Crawford on August 31st. I really enjoyed her costarring with Robert Montgomery and William Powell in THE LAST OF MRS. CHEYNEY (1937). She and Powell play jewel thieves, but she's reformed by love for Montgomery.

For more on TCM this month, please visit the schedule or the Summer Under the Stars site.

Happy August movie viewing!


Blogger Net - "It's a Wonderful Movie" said...

What a wonderful resource! I'm going to try my best to watch several of the movies you suggested for the month, Laura! I love how you went through each day highlighting the favorites to watch. I'm most excited... as it's been awhile since I've enjoyed a good classic TCM movie! Of course, I 've been watching mostly Hallmark premieres and Christmas in July! Besides that, Summer has been so busy outdoors... but now it's getting closer to the time when we gather inside to watch even more movies and such. And TCM's August Summer Under the Stars sounds perfect for that!

Thank you, Laura, for all the wonderful movie suggestions!
Happy movie watching!!! :)

Blessings, Net


9:29 AM  
Blogger barrylane said...

Libeled Lady clicks perfectly, at least on an initial screening. Not so great second time around, but compared to the shrill remake, Easy To Wed, shrill and a reel longer, it is the show to see, although I am inclined to believe that Van Johnson and Keenan Wynn were there for something better. Lucy was unappealing in a way that should give anyone who didn't think Jean Harlow was a great talent some pause to reflect, and Esther Williams, as charming and great looking as she could be, was out of her class. No Myrna Loy there.

9:49 AM  
Blogger Caftan Woman said...

Two of your recommendations feature Barry Sullivan. Has he ever been given the SUTS treatment? I've developed a retro crush on Mr. Sullivan over the past few years that is quite alarming.

11:03 AM  
Blogger Seth said...

No TCM at home, but I decided to move LIBELED LADY to the top of my queue because you highlighted it.

11:39 PM  

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