Each year the month of August brings the TCM Summer Under the Stars spotlight where 24 continuous hours are devoted to one actor or actress. Sure we get some of the box office champs taking their bows but it’s always nice to see that the network shines the light on some of the great character players that made each and every film they appeared in that much better.
Here’s a look at this years roster with just one recommendation (a tough endeavor) for each “star” being shown on their day and wherever possible a link to a film I’ve featured previously that is also programmed during their 24 hour spotlight.
August 1st …. Barbara Stanwyck (1907-1990)
Truth is I’ll watch any film with this beautiful lady. My recommendation on this day is the comedy gem, Ball of Fire, teaming Miss Stanwyck as Sugarpuss O’Shea with Gary Cooper for director Howard Hawks. Here’s a look at Crime of Passion also playing that day.
August 2nd …. Rock Hudson (1925-1985)
Pillow Talk. Probably my favorite Hudson film and the first of three he made with Doris Day. A must see. Ice Station Zebra is also being played that day with Rock heading an all-star cast.
August 3rd …. Rita Hayworth (1918-1987)
Gilda. The film that the “Love Goddess” is most associated with has to be the one to go with. It’s iconic and it’s got Glenn Ford, her famous costar of multiple films. She also played The Strawberry Blonde which is being shown that day.
August 4th …. S.Z. Sakall (1883-1955)
Scene stealer, “Cuddles” Sakall, was a regular in Warner Brother films so why not give the colorful big scale western San Antonio a go. You can also see him with Errol Flynn in Never Say Goodbye.
August 5th …. Ann Miller (1923-2004)
No stranger to musicals it’s hard not to recommend On The Town where Ann gets to share the screen with Gene, Frank and Jules Munshin as sailors on leave looking for love in the Big Apple.
August 6th …. Burt Lancaster (1913-1994)
One of the greatest leading men to have graced the screen, why not spend the entire 24 hours with TCM during this salute to Burt? Tough for me to narrow this down to one recommendation but if you’ve never seen 1980’s Atlantic City, then here’s your chance. You can also catch Burt’s wonderfully physical performance in The Train, a film that gets better with each viewing.
August 7th …. Sylvia Sidney (1910-1999)
I’m looking forward to this celebration of Miss Sydney. She was so good at crying when called upon that according to director Richard Fleischer she wanted to know from which eye to shed a tear. Plenty of new to me films being shown on this day including the 1931 film City Streets where she plays opposite Gary Cooper. Of those I’ve seen I’ll recommend Fritz Lang’s Fury alongside Spencer Tracy. You can also check out the 1937 classic, Dead End.
August 8th …. Charlie Chaplin (1889-1977)
The legendary silent film star is featured in both full length features and plenty of his short films. Why not give Limelight a look. Made in 1952 it’s a chance to see Chaplin share the screen with another comedy king of the silent era, Buster Keaton.
August 9th …. Goldie Hawn
I guess it’s hard not to suggest tuning in to Goldie’s breakout film, Cactus Flower, released in 1969. Playing opposite Walter Matthau, Goldie netter the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress and launched a career that is still active to this day.
August 10th …. Norma Shearer (1902-1983)
The Canadian born actress is featured in both silent film and talkies. Many produced by her husband, Irving Thalberg. I’ll admit to not having seen many of the films being featured but can enthusiastically suggest you sit in on 1939’s The Women where she’s taking center stage between Joan and Rosalind.
August 11th …. Sammy Davis Jr. (1925-1990)
What an amazing talent! I’ve often said he was the most entertaining performer of the Rat Pack. Act, sing and of course dance. Sammy was the complete package. I’ve no idea how many times I’ve seen Oceans 11 but what a cast. That’s my not so surprising pick.
August 12th …. Lana Turner (1921-1995)
How can one not suggest The Postman Always Rings Twice. A clear cut Noir cult classic with Lana and John Garfield mixing sex and murder. It’s a must see if you’ve never taken the time. Want to check out a dark haired Lana? Check out Betrayed where she starred opposite Gable.
August 13th …. John Barrymore (1882-1942)
The Great Profile. Star of silent film and talkies. We get both during this salute to one of the great stars of his era. I’ll suggest a silent film for a change of pace and go with the 1926 silent film, Don Juan, that cast John opposite a young Mary Astor. 1933’s Night Flight is also playing that day and sees John leading a first rate cast delivering a memorable performance.
August 14th …. Steve McQueen (1930-1980)
The King of Cool. Very few films to his name but a solid number of must see titles. Yes The Great Escape and Bullitt are playing but go with the Robert Wise epic, The Sand Pebbles. It’s the only film the Academy deemed fit to single out McQueen with an Oscar Nomination. For a lesser known title you can always give The Honeymoon Machine a look as well.
August 15th …. Nina Foch (1924-2008)
From 1943 through to 2007, Miss Foch never seemed to slow down between film and television work. I’m looking forward to 1948’s The Dark Past. Been years sine I’ve seen this classic Noir that sees Nina playing lead opposite William Holden and Lee J. Cobb. Also playing is The Undercover Man. A 1949 title where she starred opposite Glenn Ford.
Perhaps you have other ideas. Feel free to chime in on your thoughts or picks. Realizing not all of you will have access to TCM, hopefully my suggestions might be found through other streaming devices or home video if you’re a collector like me.
to be continued ……