“Of all the jaw-droppingly beautiful women who’ve become genuine movie stars, none has had a longer film career (62 years), has been filmed in Technicolor more often (34 times), has had a more versatile group of leading men (from John Wayne to John Candy) or has spent more time held captive on a pirate ship than our TCM Star of the Month for July, the magnificent red-headed Maureen O’Hara.” – Robert Osborne
Among the dreams that came true for me during this year’s TCMFF was being able to get up close to one of my all-time favorite movie stars, Maureen O’Hara. I suspect that I wasn’t the only one that felt that way on Sunday, April 13th as a crowd of heaven knows how many stood by silently and in awe as Robert Osborne interviewed the legend in the lobby of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. Miss O’Hara who will celebrate her 94th birthday on August 17 is still a beauty with a biting humor that charmed us all. She was particularly appreciative of her fans and turned to answer questions as the Osborne interview concluded. It was a day I’ll never forget.
I can’t say how much of that interview will air on TCM next month as the network spotlights Maureen every Tuesday, but if any portion does appear, you’ll likely get a good glimpse of Kellee (@Irishjayhawk66) , Annmarie (@ClassicMovieHub) and I right behind Miss O’Hara. We were as close as humanly possible without rudely getting into her salad. That’s not the reason I’m most excited about the network choosing O’Hara films in the month-long tribute, however. I’m excited because I love so many of her films and her in all of them.
I think most would agree that Maureen O’Hara’s career has been unique, as Robert Osborne notes in the quote I opened this post with. Aside from her extraordinary beauty, what makes Maureen stand out is her feistiness and willingness to show her spirit and energy in any number of adventure films in which she often did her own stunts, while still maintaining a poignancy that made her a natural for dramatic roles as well. And, could she ever do comedy! And romance! And…well, she brought everything to the table.
TCM’s O’Hara tribute will feature 26 of her films beginning on Tuesday, July 1st with William Dieterle’s THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME (1939) starring Charles Laughton of whom Maureen spoke at length during the TCMFF interview, her admiration and appreciation for him evident. And HUNCHBACK is followed by one of my favorite films of all time, John Ford’s HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY (1941), which the star introduced at this year’s TCMFF. Also scheduled throughout the month are a Maureen swashbuckling night on July 15th, some of her Westerns and War pictures on the 22nd and a few of her great leading lady parts (does that sound right?) to end the tribute on July 29th. Be sure to check out the TCM schedule for details.
As terrific as the Maureen O’Hara line-up is, which includes several films of hers I haven’t seen, TCM has lots more in store this July that everyone’s excited about – twitter’s abuzz! To name just a few – the Friday Night Spotlight series will feature films commemorating the centenary of World War I all introduced by U.S. Army General Wesley Clark, July 10 will focus on 6 classic documentaries, on July 21 the network will screen 5 films based on Agatha Christie and the month ends on a high note with 5 movies starring Mel Brooks on the 31st. All that in addition to several must-watch day-long tributes celebrating the birth anniversaries of several classic stars. In other words, I need a second DVR.
And be prepared – July is followed by Summer Under the Stars on TCM in August. There’s no rest for the classically weary. How wonderful.