And onward to the second half of the month when TCM features a solid 24 hours of our favorite leading players from yesteryear.
August 16th …. Raquel Welch
The obvious choice for the boys might be One Million Years B.C. but the gems on this day are the Richard Lester Musketeers films that like Kill Bill were halved and released in two parts. With an all star cast surrounding Miss Welch these two films are the definitive version(s) of the Dumas novel. Oliver Reed, Michael York, Richard Chamberlain and Frank Finlay are the swordsmen while Raquel and Faye Dunaway play the leading ladies with Charlton Heston and Christopher Lee plot as the heavies. Cinematic heaven.
August 17th …. Spencer Tracy
The man some refer to as the greatest actor of his generation to come out of Hollywood takes center stage and since Bad Day at Block Rock is not playing I’d like to suggest 1936’s Fury. The film also serves as the North American debut for Fritz Lang.
August 18th …. Shelley Winters
Miss Winters had a long and varied career from films like A Place in the Sun to The Poseidon Adventure. One title playing on this day I’m not familiar with is a 1960 release titled Let No Man Write My Epitaph. She’s paired with the likes of Ricardo Montalban and I’ll go with that one though I must admit I’m a big fan of He Ran All the Way which is also being featured. It was the final film for John Garfield.
August 19th …. Toshiro Mifune
While some may find this surprising, I’ve been a fan of Mifune since childhood and that’s due to seeing the 1971 western Red Sun at an impressionable age. It paired the legendary Japanese actor with Charles Bronson and while it isn’t playing I’d recommend it if you can find a copy. Plenty of the Kurosawa films are featured on this day so rather than a samurai flick, give the tense drama High and Low a shot if you’ve never seen it. Tremendous film.
August 20th …. Joan Crawford
I guess it’s easy to just tell everyone to sit back and watch Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? or Mildred Pierce but personally I haven’t seen The Women in a number of years and recall it being a great comedy with a top notch cast of gals plus George Cukor directing.
August 21st …. Clint Eastwood
Country music, Geoffrey Lewis, Ruth Gordon, Beverly D’Angelo, a backwards motorcycle gang and an Orangutan named Clyde all play along with garage mechanic Clint who doubles as a streetfighter. I’ve been laughing right along with this since I saw it at the theater as a kid. What’s not to love.
August 22nd …. Constance Bennett
Let’s be honest here. Of all the films playing on this day I’ve only seen one and it’s easy to recommend even if I’d seen all the others. It’s the 1937 comedy Topper with Cary Grant. So on the flip side, feel free to recommend to me any films of Miss Bennett’s playing on this day. Strangely enough I recently picked up a blu ray of Merrily We Live so it’s a sure thig I’ll be watching that one some time soon.
August 23rd …. Mickey Rooney
Rooney takes center stage and the films are mostly his earlier efforts. All prior to 1951. So you can watch Andy Hardy if you like, a Judy Garland pairing or Boys Town. Why not give Killer McCoy a shot. It’s a 1947 reworking/remake of the 1938 Robert Taylor release, The Crowd Roars and stands on it’s own as a good flick for “The Mick.”
August 24th …. Jacqueline Bisset
I know Bullitt and The Deep are both playing on this day and rightly so but yeah I’m a Bronson fan and 1976’s St. Ives is a lot of fun. It’s a Noir like mystery that surrounded Charlie with one of the best casts he ever headlined including Maximilian Schell and John Houseman and Miss Bisset is mighty tempting to our mustached icon who left Jill Ireland on the sidelines this time out. Is Miss Bisset a femme fatale or not?
August 25th …. Gilbert Roland
A day with “Amigo” is a day well spent. For me Roland was one of the most likable actors of the 1950’s when he played second lead to actors like Jimmy Stewart and Kirk Douglas. Toss in plenty of westerns and what’s not to like. Going back to the silent era he was the Latin Lover type. On this day I’m going to sit in on a WB “B” flick called Gambling On the High Seas if for no other reason than it’s 55 minute running time. I love shoehorning a movie into a tight schedule. Contract players Wayne Morris and Jane Wyman costar.
August 26th …. Vivien Leigh
If you’ve never actually seen Gone With the Wind, here’s your chance. But I’m not about to recommend a 4 hour flick outside of a few favorites like Spartacus or Once Upon a Time In America meaning GWTW isn’t for me outside of a revisit every 20 odd years or more. No in this case why not watch 1941’s period piece That Hamilton Woman that cast her alongside hubby Laurence Olivier.
August 27th …. Marilyn Monroe
Just go with Some Like It Hot. It’s Billy Wilder and it’s maybe the greatest comedy ever made. Marilyn, Tony and Jack. If you’ve seen it far too often then go with The Misfits. That one tugs my heart every time I see it.
August 28th …. Cary Grant
Always a tough time to single out a Cary Grant title but in this case I’m going with North By Northwest. It’s just another one of those ICONIC films from Alfred Hitchcock. I remember when I was discovering the films of Hitch for myself and every time you’d see one you’d think he’d topped the previous one and this was your new favorite. That’s what happened when I finally caught up with this one in those early days of the VHS tape that had Cary front and center running from a crop dusting plane.
August 29th …. Myrna Loy
It’s darn near impossible for me to flip past 1946’s The Best Years of Our Lives and not have to find the nearest seat in front of the TV to once again partake in one of the finest movies made during the 1940’s. So yeah it’s the obvious choice on Myrna Loy day even if it is an ensemble piece. I will add that I’m never seen the 1935 film Whipsaw she made with Spencer Tracy so as it’s airing right before Best Years we can all make it a double feature. Of course, there are always the William Powell flicks …..
August 30th …. Jack Carson
Another of those actors that’s you can’t help but like when he takes to the screen. And a good old Canadian born boy to boot ‘eh. Wanna go star gazing with me? Then sit in and watch It’s a Great Feeling where Jack is cast as himself trying to make a star out of a new actress on the WB lot. The young lady is none other than Doris Day and she’s accompanied by a huge roster of talent under contract to the studio. There goes Joan Crawford and Danny Kaye. Say, isn’t that Gary Cooper sitting there? “Yup.”
August 31st …. Peter Sellers
The genius of Peter Sellers had me laughing all through my childhood and show me a clip of Inspector Clouseau on a case to this day and I’m rolling on the floor in stitches. No Clouseau films playing can only mean that TCM hasn’t secured the rights so why not give 1959’s The Mouse That Roared a look that allowed Peter to play multiple rolls in this comedy gem. I’d also be out of line if I didn’t mention that TCM will be showing Being There his 1979 triumph not long before his untimely death at just 54 years of age. Was I ever pulling for him to win the Oscar that year.
Well, That’s all folks. Be sure to leave your own recommendations in the comments below.
I too saw Red Sun when I was a little boy, and I always remembered Toshiro Mifune even before I knew who he was. The same with Alain Delon too. The best quote on Mifune came from Kurosawa himself when he said “The ordinary Japanese actor might need ten feet of film to get across an impression; Mifune needed only three”, spot on. High & Low is Kurosawa’s best non Samurai film. Love the other stars that have been selected too, especially Marilyn Monroe and Gilbert Roland. Roland’s one Italian Western Johnny Hamlet is coming to Blu Ray from Germany in October. Raquel Welch is a little underrated in my opinion, she never got to go as far as she should’ve I think.
Mifune is one of those unforgettable stars of cinema. A long shadow indeed. On Roland I’ll look out for that western but do believe he made other “spaghetti westerns”. I have a couple on DVD, Any Gun Can Play, Between God, the devil and a Winchester and one with Van Heflin and Klaus Kinski that isn’t bad called The Ruthless Four.