Next month Turner Classic Movies (TCM) celebrates its 12th Annual TCM Summer Under the Stars (SUTS) festival, a month-long event classics fans look forward to all year. It’s safe to say that for the entire month of August DVRs are pushed to their limit and many lose sleep as each day’s featured star throughout the month can be more exciting than the previous and as memorable as the next. I just perused the August edition of TCM’s Now Playing Guide and whoa, Nellie! Is this ever a spectacular line-up! For those of you who don’t subscribe to Now Playing I am listing all 31 stars to be featured on TCM in date order so you can plan your viewing and/or taping schedule (also because I just love the pictures, who am I kidding?) As a reminder, during each day of the month a different featured star gets a full 24-hours of airtime so we’re talking about a wealth of career retrospectives and films.
By the way, leave it to TCM to feature two of my all-time favorites on the cover of Now Playing in consecutive months. As you can see, featured on the August edition is a young Judy Garland who follows Maureen O’Hara featured on the July cover as the network is honoring her as its Star of the Month.
Before you get to the gallery of this year’s 31 stars, be aware that this list includes fourteen stars TCM has never featured in a SUTS festival, including Betty Grable, Paul Muni and (unbelievably) William Powell to whom Robert Osborne dedicates his monthly Now Playing column in the August edition because the exclusion of Powell to date is a surprise even to TCM. Coincidentally, William Powell’s SUTS day is scheduled for August 9th and I will be at Capitolfest that weekend watching classic films on the big screen featuring the weekend’s featured star – William Powell. Yes, I wish I could be in two places at once!
Highlights for this year’s SUTS include 20 TCM premieres, the AFI Salute to Jane Fonda who opens the 2014
SUTS festival and the brand-new documentary, HOW CHAPLIN BECAME THE TRAMP (2014), which honors the 100th anniversary of Chaplin’s famous character in film. For details on air dates and times visit the TCM schedule.
Other things to look forward to on the TCM front for August are necessary, frequent visits to the WatchTCM App if you miss taping or watching the films featured throughout the month. If you’ve yet to download the app you must because it’s fantastic! And, be mindful of the gorgeous display dedicated to each star on his/her SUTS day on the TCM site. Just as the network did last year the site will feature schedules, biographies, videos and daily opportunities for fans to add comments on the Twitter Legacy Wall. I added my share last year and plan to do so again.
And now, in date order, the 2014 SUTS featured Stars and – where possible – my recommendation for each day:
August 1 – Jane Fonda
Aside from the AFI Tribute, which is airing twice during the 24 hours dedicated to Fonda, I have to go with a classic that falls far beyond the traditional classic era for my pick of the day – James Bridges’ THE CHINA SYNDROME (1979).
August 2 – David Niven
There are several must-sees served for Niven day, but if you must choose one new-to-you screening make it Garson Kanin’s BACHELOR MOTHER (1939).
August 3 – Walter Pidgeon
I’m going to look beyond the wonder of Barbra, Ford’s HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY (one of my all-time favorites) and the great FORBIDDEN PLANET to recommend the one I think is probably not as well-known – Otto Preminger’s ADVISE & CONSENT (1962).
August 4 – Judy Garland
If you haven’t seen Judy’s tour-de-force then set your DVRs for George Cukor’s A STAR IS BORN (1954) at midnight and bask in her incredible talent. But, if your DVR is already getting full then Get Happy and enjoy the shorter SUMMER STOCK (1950) directed by Charles Walter.
August 5 – Barbara Stanwyck
I’m going for pre-code Stany at (almost) pre-dawn. Set your alarms as this is the first Stanwyck of the day – Archie Mayo’s ILLICIT (1931).
August 6 – Paul Muni
The inclusion of Muni in this year’s SUTS festival is thrilling – a great, underrated actor. My pick just played on TCM, but if you missed it then it is as much of a must-see as any movie ever made, in my book – the influential, controversial, compelling SCARFACE (1932) directed by Howard Hawks. If not, you can’t miss with any entry on Muni day!
August 7 – James Stewart
Let’s go with a Western smack in the middle of prime time for one of – well, everybody’s favorites! Anthony Mann’s THE NAKED SPUR (1953).
August 8 – Jeanne Moreau
Sadly, I’ve seen only one of the films scheduled starring Moreau so I’ll just name the two I am most looking forward to – Francois Truffaut’s THE 400 BLOWS (1959) and Orson Welles’ THE TRIAL (1963).
August 9 – William Powell
Choosing one film is an impossibility with Mr. Powell. It’s thrilling to see THE THIN MAN and AFTER THE THIN MAN scheduled in prime time and I’m sure my friends at TCMparty will have a blast with these movies, but I will be DVRing two pre-codes from 1933 scheduled that day that I haven’t seen – William Dieterle’s LAWYER MAN and John Cromwell’s DOUBLE HARNESS.
August 10 – Carole Lombard
Again here I’m leaning toward taping the two scheduled to air on Lombard day that I haven’t seen – Walter Lang’s NO MORE ORCHIDS (1932) and Mervyn LeRoy’s FOOLS FOR SCANDAL (1938) . As far as a recommendation – see them all!
August 11 – Marlon Brando
I hate to be cliché, but have to go with Elia Kazan’s ON THE WATERFRONT (1954). Brilliantly acted, relevant and affecting film.
August 12 – Alexis Smith
Vincent Sherman’s THE YOUNG PHILADELPHIANS (1959). You can’t go wrong with a young Paul Newman as a social climber and this one is not scheduled on Newman’s day later in the month. Plus, Ms. Smith is great in it.
August 13 – Cary Grant
I don’t know why George Stevens’ PENNY SERENADE (1941) is being ignored – yet again, but Mr. Grant’s fantastic comedic skills will be on full display throughout his day. However, I’m going for what is perhaps a rarely seen charmer, Norman Taurog’s ROOM FOR ONE MORE (1952).
August 14 – Charles Chaplin
My DVR will be going all day long for Chaplin, but if you’ve yet to see CITY LIGHTS from 1931 then it’s a can’t miss – one of my all-time favorite films.
August 15 – Faye Dunaway
Several top-notch choices scheduled to honor Dunaway, but I’m going with Roman Polanski’s CHINATOWN (1974). Just because it’s one of the ones everyone should see.
August 16 – Herbert Marshall
The back-to-back version of THE LETTER starting at midnight – William Wyler’s from 1940 and Jean De Limur’s from 1929 – have my heart racing!
August 17 – John Hodiak
This is another day with several offerings I haven’t seen. Of those scheduled I’m betting on Mervyn LeRoy’s HOMECOMING (1948), which has a great cast. I do recommend Hitchcock’s LIFEBOAT (1944), a great movie that seems to fall by the wayside.
August 18 – Claudette Colbert
I’m going with the two I’m most looking forward to seeing for the first time – Irving Pichel’s TOMORROW IS FOREVER (1946) and IT’S A WONDERFUL WORLD (1939).
August 19 – Paul Newman
I love me lots of Newman! Looking forward most to the one movie scheduled I haven’t seen, Mark Robson’s THE PRIZE (1963), which also co-stars another favorite of mine, Edward G. Robinson.
August 20 – Thelma Ritter
Thelma didn’t appear in one single film she didn’t make better, but I recommend a film that features one of her best dramatic performances, Sam Fuller’s PICKUP ON SOUTH STREET (1953).
August 21 – Lee Tracy
A WOWZA wealth of pre-code must-sees scheduled from the afternoon through the evening hours so take your pick!
August 22 – Audrey Hepburn
Gotta go with Ms. Hepburn’s terrific film debut, William Wyler’s ROMAN HOLIDAY (1953).
August 23 – Ernest Borgnine
I love his films, but PRIVATE SCREENINGS: ERNEST BORGNINE will air at 7 pm est. and if you’ve time for one Borgnine entry make it this hour of stories on his life and career.
August 24 – Gladys George
This is a tough one so I’m really cheating here and not choosing one. I recommend taping eighteen hours and sleeping six then watching the movies that aired during those six hours on WatchTCM! This is a terrific line-up with something for all tastes. Included on the schedule are W. S. Van Dyke’s MARIE ANTOINETTE (1938), John Huston’s THE MALTESE FALCON (194) and Michael Curtiz’ FLAMINGO ROAD (1949).
August 25 – Dick Powell
I’m partial to Powell’s darker, cynical side so my recommendations are André De Toth’s PITFALL (1948) and his terrific portrayal of Philip Marlowe in Edward Dmytryk’s MURDER, MY SWEET (1944).
August 26 – Sophia Loren
Loren’s just wonderful in Vittorio De Sica’s TWO WOMEN (1960) so watch it!
August 27 – Edmond O’Brien
You must watch Rudolph Maté’s D.O.A. (1950) with strong recommendations for both of Ida Lupino’s 1953 movies on this day – THE HITCH-HIKER (1953) and THE BIGAMIST.
August 28 – Arlene Dahl
I’m at a complete loss on Dahl day so I can only say Henry Levin’s JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH (1960) is fun family entertainment.
August 29 – Joseph Cotten
Both of Orson Welles’ films co-starring Cotten will air (CITIZEN KANE and THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS) as well as Carol Reed’s THE THIRD MAN. I don’t think anyone would disagree all three are essential films, but I recommend a (perhaps) lesser known noir co-written by Cotton, Norman Foster’s JOURNEY INTO FEAR (1942). Missing from the line-up, by the way, is Cotten’s most famous role, his portrayal of Uncle Charlie in Alfred Hitchcock’s SHADOW OF A DOUBT (1943).
August 30 – Betty Grable
Some of my earliest movie memories are of Betty Grable musicals so this is a welcome tribute for Summer Under the Stars and I plan to watch everything I possibly can on this day. I’m slightly disappointed to see that Irving Cummings’ SWEET ROSIE O’GRADY (1943) will not be shown. That was my favorite of the lot as a child and I’d love to watch it again.
August 31 – Alan Ladd
Despite the ever-popular SHANE (1953) directed by George Stevens airing on primetime, which makes for a fantastic tweet-a-long, I’m thrilled about the great noir double bill that follows it – Frank Tuttle’s THIS GUN FOR HIRE (1942) and George Marshall’s THE BLUE DAHLIA (1946).
And there it is – a fantastic array of talent and loads of movie goodness to look forward to. Thank you, TCM! If you want more recommendations for SUTS, by the way, visit my friend Raquel’s post dedicated to SUTS on her blog, Out of the Past.
Oh, and if you think putting these images together for your enjoyment is easy, consider trying to choose just one Cary Grant image to include. It’s murder!!
See you under the stars on TCM in August.