It’s that time of year once again when the TCM Summer Under the Stars festival begins. For 24 continuous hours a spotlight will shine brightly on a single classic film star for the month of August. 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 names that can slip through the cracks of time to those who are not students of film history.
Here’s a look at this years roster with just one recommendation (a tough endeavor so maybe two) for each “star” being shown during their 24 hour spotlight. Many I’ve seen before while others are films I’ve always wanted to catch up on.
Maybe you have a recommendation to make yourself. Please do.
August 1st … Elvis Presley
With the new Elvis movie playing in theaters starring Austin Butler, why not tune in to see what the King brought to the real stage and catch the restoration of Elvis : That’s the Way It Is originally released as a concert film in 1970. Then again maybe you’d just rather watch a little kid named Kurt Russell kick Elvis in the shin back in 1963’s It Happened At the World’s Fair.
August 2nd …. Jean Arthur
Miss Arthur has long been one of all time favorite actresses so I welcome this date. So many great titles to choose from but if I’m going to get tough and make one recommendation then let’s forgo the usual titles like Mr. Deeds and Mr. Smith, why not tune in and catch the hilarity of 1941’s The Devil and Miss Jones when Jean starred opposite Bob Cummings. Heck, make it a double feature and watch The More the Merrier right afterwards. Trust me on these. You too will become a fan for life if you already haven’t.
August 3rd …. Sidney Poitier
For this day I’m going to make an effort to watch a Poitier film I’ve never actually seen. That would be 1972’s Buck and The Preacher. I’m sure some of the other titles like A Patch of Blue and A Raisin In The Sun rate higher but somehow I’ve never seen the western with Poitier opposite Harry Belafonte, Ruby Dee and Cameron Mitchell.
August 4th …. Ruth Roman
When you’ve appeared in Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train, it’s kind of tough to suggest anything else on Miss Roman’s spotlight but let’s try. Assuming you’ve all seen Train, maybe you’re looking to find something new like me. How about Lightning Strikes Twice with Ruth starring opposite Richard Todd and Zachary Scott.
August 5th …. Orson Welles
Citizen Kane? Lady From Shanghai? The Stranger? With all due respect to each one of those classic titles and the others playing on the day we celebrate Orson Welles, I’ve never seen the early Brian De Palma feature, Get To Know Your Rabbit that stars Tom Smothers and John Astin alongside the big guy. So there you have it.
August 6th …. Audrey Hepburn
I can’t always be avoiding the classics for some little feature that we don’t we see all that often. So for Miss Hepburn I’m going to suggest 1953’s Roman Holiday. The film that turned her into an overnight sensation opposite another cinema icon, Gregory Peck. A magical movie one can watch time and time again.
August 7th …. Gene Kelly
It’s been many years since I sat in and watched the 1948 star studded version of the Dumas Classic, The The Three Musketeers so I guess that’s what I’ll settle on even if you’d prefer to watch Gene tapping his way through any number of musicals playing on his TCM spotlight. On The Town and Singing in the Rain among them. No this time around I’ll watch Gene in technicolor alongside Lana Turner, Van Heflin and June Allyson. Ok, yes Vincent Price too.
August 8th …. Maureen O’Sullivan
Naturally I’ve seen Maureen in Tarzan, The Ape Man and all the sequels she graced so it’s easy to recommend the first two films of the series which are playing. Having said that, there are a number of features I’ve not seen with Miss O’Sullivan and the title Woman Wanted jumps at me that sees her costarring with Joel McCrea in this 1935 outing that I’m going to try and have a look at.
August 9th …. William Holden
I’ve so many favorites when it comes to William Holden titles with three standing a might taller than the others. Since The Wild Bunch and Kwai are not playing then I have to direct one and all to Sunset Boulevard. Billy Wilder’s masterpiece with Holden, Gloria Swanson, Erich von Stroheim, Nancy Olson and the Waxworks.
August 10th …. Greta Garbo
I’m still working on the cinema of Garbo and will admit that she wasn’t even on my radar growing up though I knew the name and had seen Ninotchka since Bela Lugosi had made an appearance. I did however watch The Mysterious Lady just last year in my silent film project and can easily direct you to check out this superior 1928 film with Greta mixing love and espionage together.
August 11th …. Laurence Harvey
Harvey represents another actor I’ve not seen a great deal of when combing over his filmography. For that reason I’ve settled on suggesting a new to me title from director Carol Reed, The Running Man with Lee Remick costarring and Arnold Schwarzenegger nowhere in sight. Still, there’s always The Manchurian Candidate.
August 12th …. Jane Powell
Hard to recommend a movie when all you’ve seen are A Date With Judy and Seven Brides. I should add I saw them as a kid on TV so the memories are fleeting. So I put it to you. Shall I go with Hit The Deck, The Girl Most Likely To, Royal Wedding, Two Weeks With Love or maybe Enchanted Island with actor Dana Andrews costarring?
August 13th …. Marlon Brando
Simply put I’m going to let Brando the Wiener Dog make a pick on this one and to do so I placed each one of the scheduled movies on the floor with a cookie on top of the disc case. And the winner is……
August 14th …. Elizabeth Taylor
I know it’s over three hours in length and in some quarters labeled as boring but 1963’s production of Cleopatra is the stuff of movie legends. It’s the film when Taylor met Burton. I’ve loved the film since I was a youngster when it would be shown regularly on TV in two parts running on consecutive days. If you have seen the film be sure to grab a copy of the DVD or blu and watch the two hour documentary on the making of the film. Star power reigns supreme.
August 15th …. Randolph Scott
Western legend Scott was a staple of television viewing in our home growing up. Plainly put, we loved westerns. The obvious title here is Peckinpah’s Ride the High Country but I’d like to suggest Ride Lonesome. A 1959 feature that Scott made with his longtime collaborator Budd Boetticher.
Their films have done nothing but grow in stature since they were made in the 1950’s.
I’m liking the majority of the picks so far they’ve got for the Summer swan song Summer Under the Stars. Surprised they didn’t give August 16th to Elvis as it’s the 55th Anniversary of his passing. Not sure if I could stand an entire 24 hours of Marlon Brando, always thought he gave actors a bad name with his shenanigans.
Yeah Brando and his offscreen antics and seemingly disregard for the profession has always been a turnoff. More so when factoring in that in many of his films you can’t take your eyes off him he’s so darned good and makes it look so easy.
Great recommendations as usual. I am a big fan of Jean Arthur, often a bit under-rated I felt. Buck and the Preacher I saw when it came out and i remember liking it a lot. Not seen that Garbo so thanks for letting me know of its existence. I can recommend The Running Man, i reviewed it some time ago and found it a decent thriller. Hit the Deck would be one of my choices for Jane Powell. She had a great screen personality. I thought The Formula was enjoyable old hat and at that point it was a delight to see Brando in anything no matter how bad he might be. You can never go wrong with Cleopatra, a stunning film with great performances. But I’ll have to check these out on DVD because TCM doesn’t run its festival in the UK.
Yeah I love to sit back and watch Jean Arthur movies. Such charisma on camera. And to think she retired from movies after Shane….. too bad. I’ll be sure to PVR Running Man to get a look at it.
She was often the top-billed star ahead of stars who are these days far better known – John Wayne, James Stewart for example.
My favorite month on TCM!
YES! I always look forward to it hoping they’ll uncover some gem for us though after all these years of having the station that’s less likely to happen but it’s still fun to tune in.