Heavy hitters, enchanting stars, beloved favorites, and a few lesser-known, bright talents are being served by Turner Classic Movies (TCM) this year as part of the network’s Summer Under the Stars (SUTS) festival. For those who may not know the drill – TCM dedicates each day in August to a different actor. Following is a roll call by day for your convenience and my pleasure. You’ll see a favorite portrait of each plus either recommendations, mentions of the movies I’m most looking forward to, or simple alerts on which stars you just have to sit back and enjoy.
This year’s SUTS festival will feature 14 TCM premieres and 14 stars who have never been honored, which is great. I’ve noted new honorees with a * next to the name and mention the premiere movies on their scheduled day in bold.
Let’s get to it….
August 1 – Frank Sinatra
Some of you may know that I’m not a fan of Frank Sinatra‘s acting. My friend Rob takes an exception to this, but what can I do? That said, Mr. Sinatra has been in quite a few good movies including Fred Zinnemann’s From Here to Eternity (1953) for which Frank won a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award. That memorable film is included on the TCM schedule on August 1st honoring the Chairman of the Board. My pick for the day, however, is Richard Whorf’s It Happened in Brooklyn from 1947, a movie I haven’t seen in quite some time. One of my favorite Sinatra musical numbers is included in the movie, the wonderful “Time After Time” with music and lyrics by Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn respectively. With a terrific cast It Happened in Brooklyn fulfills what its tagline boasted, Happy songs! Happy stars! Happy romance!
August 2 – Myrna Loy
Take the day off and enjoy the miracle that is Myrna Loy. I can’t think of any other golden age movie star who is more loved than this woman who was a great talent and had an exceptional screen presence. I will enjoy the entire day of entries on Loy day, but will have my DVR set for the two entries I’ve yet to see: Sam Wood‘s Stamboul Quest (1934), a suspense mystery co-starring August 13 honoree, George Brent and the honoree for August 4, Lionel Atwill; and Edward Cline‘s The Naughty Flirt (1931) starring Alice White.
August 3 – Lionel Atwill*
I am attending an all-day viewing party for this one. Stay on the lookout for some YouTube videos of the experience throughout the day. Tim Whelan‘s The Murder Man (1935) is the movie I am most looking forward to seeing on Lionel Atwill day. That movie stars Spencer Tracy, Virginia Bruce, Atwill, and in smaller roles favorites, James Stewart and William Demarest. George Seitz‘s Absolute Quiet (1936) is another interesting choice, but I do not think you can go wrong watching this actor who often played a menace on screen.
This day includes TCM premiere of Kurt Neumann’s Secret of the Blue Room (1933).
August 4 – Clint Eastwood
Dollars and bad guys are on the menu to honor Clint Eastwood. Arthur Lubin’s The First Traveling Saleslady (1956) is the most interesting choice of the day, although not the best movie scheduled. I’m just thinking most people have seen the ones that helped make Eastwood a living legend.
August 5 – Katharine Hepburn
If you haven’t seen any one of the Katharine Hepburn offerings then you simply have no choice but to do so on her day. As one of the most admired actors of the golden era, you can’t go wrong with any movie she appears in. If I had to recommend just a couple to a novice classics viewer, however, they would have to be George Cukor‘s The Philadelphia Story (1940) and Gregory LaCava‘s Stage Door (1937).
August 6 – Audrey Totter*
This is one of my favorite choices this year. Audrey Totter is not as well recognized as she should be and the line-up on her day is fantastic. My recommendation, however, is for the entire prime-time block beginning at 8pm EST. with John Berry‘s Tension (1949), followed by Curtis Bernhardt‘s High Wall (1947), Robert Montgomery‘s Lady In the Lake (1946), and Michael Curtiz‘s The Unsuspected (1947). You simply cannot beat that quadruple serving of films noir.
August 7 – Harold Lloyd
A delightful dose of Harold Lloyd antics awaits on this day. He is one of comedy’s true geniuses. Why would you miss 24 hours of him?
August 8 – Jeanette MacDonald
It’s not surprising that there are several Jeanette MacDonald movies scheduled on her day that I haven’t seen. She and frequent co-star, Nelson Eddy are not really my cup of tea. Millions of movie fans disagreed with me in 1939, however, when they crowned her “Queen of the Movies.” Regardless, I can still recommend a couple of entries on MacDonald day for your viewing pleasure. For instance, you should definitely watch W. S. Van Dyke‘s Rose Marie (1936) and Robert Z. Leonard‘s Naughty Marietta (1935), which are on the schedule. As for me, I am going to give Leonard’s new-to-me Maytime (1937) a try. It is noted in several places as Jeanette’s favorite movie.
August 9 – Walter Matthau
There’s not a loser in the bunch of movies slated for Walter Matthau day. I’m partial to the two movies scheduled in which he co-stars with Jack Lemmon like Gene Saks’ The Odd Couple (1968) and Billy Wilder‘s The Fortune Cookie (1966). However, my recommendations are the more serious films on the schedule, which are all fantastic and offer a different side of Matthau many may not be familiar with. These include Joseph Sargent‘s The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974) and Sidney Lumet’s Fail-Safe (1964).
August 10 – Dorothy Malone*
This is one of the days I’m most looking forward to. I’ve seen a few of the movies slated for Dorothy Malone day, but not as many as is the case with others on this list. Although some may say Malone’s films were mostly mediocre, there’s no doubt her class, talent, and beauty escalated them all to memorable endeavors her fans delight in watching. My recommendations for Malone’s day are Henry Levin‘s Convicted (1950), and her Oscar-winning turn in Douglas Sirk‘s Written on the Wind (1957). The two I cannot wait to watch are One Sunday Afternoon (1949) directed by Raoul Walsh and Gordon Douglas‘ Sincerely Yours (1955), which stars Liberace.
August 11 – Gary Cooper
The line-up to honor this Hollywood heavy weight includes several of his big performances. Slated also is the 1991 documentary, Gary Cooper: American Life, American Legend, which is great. I’m a bit disappointed that none of Cooper’s early or silent performances are included. It’s a shame because silent Cooper is a completely different Cooper experience. That said, you can do a lot worse than spending a day with Gary Cooper.
August 12 – Doris Day
Here’s a day to just float on air and forget all your troubles. The wonderful Doris Day is honored with a slew of delightful entries. My recommendation is her performance in Norman Jewison’s The Thrill of It All opposite James Garner, however. While her on-screen pairings with Rock Hudson are enjoyable, it’s her teaming with Garner that I enjoy most. You’ll also get plenty of opportunity to listen to Ms. Day sing. In short, this is the Day everybody deserves.
August 13 – George Brent*
As expected, the 1930s and 1940s are well represented on George Brent day. I’m particularly looking forward to the two pre-codes that start the day, both of which I haven’t seen in a very long time. The first is Alfred Green‘s The Rich Are Always With Us (1932) with Ruth Chatterton and Bette Davis alongside Brent, followed by Thornton Freeland‘s They Call It Sin (1932) with Loretta Young and Una Merkel. I’m also looking forward to the new-to-me entry of the day, William Keighley‘s Secrets of an Actress (1938) starring Kay Francis, but Brent’s day is prognosis positive from start to finish with such memorables as Edmund Goulding‘s Dark Victory (1939) and Clarence Brown‘s The Rains Came (1939) in prime time.
August 14 – Lupe Velez*
Aside from the TCM premieres noted below on Lupe Velez day, I’m definitely setting my DVR for W. S. Van Dykes’ Laughing Boy (1934) starring Ramon Novarro. Both Velez and Novarro are not as well known today by run of the mill movie fans as they should be so this offers a terrific opportunity to see two Hispanic golden age stars in action. I also highly recommend Cecil B. DeMille‘s The Squaw Man (1931) featuring Warner Baxter. Of course you also get the Mexican Spitfire films for which Lupe is best remembered on the menu on this day and they are formulaic, but loads of fun.
This day’s schedule includes the TCM premieres of John Blystone’s Hot Pepper (1933) and Charles Barton’s Honolulu Lu (1941).
August 15 – Peter Finch*
I’ve never seen a Peter Finch movie in which he doesn’t knock my socks off with his acting chops. No doubt you’re familiar with his final, outstanding performance in Sidney Lumet‘s Network (1976), which is slated for late night on Finch day, but I’m recommending the entire day on what promises to be a memorable post-classic schedule.
This day’s schedule includes the TCM premiere of Anthony Harvey’s The Abdication (1974).
August 16 – Miriam Hopkins
Jaysus! Miriam Hopkins day serves one must-see after another. If I had to recommend just a few from what is a supremely enjoyable list of movies, I’d have to start with King Vidor‘s The Stranger’s Return (1933) with Lionel Barrymore, Franchot Tone and a terrific slate of supporters. It’s a no-brainer that if you haven’t seen Stephen Roberts‘ The Story of Temple Drake (1933) you simply must and I highly recommend Ernst Lubitsch‘s Trouble in Paradise (1932) featuring a fantastic cast alongside Hopkins. It’s just too difficult to choose. Watch her entire day.
August 17 – Barbra Streisand*
Well, if you have to go current then why not Barbra Streisand who has yet to get the credit she deserves in front of and behind the camera? I’m thrilled that her 1983 outing, Yentl is scheduled in prime time because it is a gorgeous, meticulously directed film. Other than that, I highly recommend the comedies scheduled on Barbra’s day. I wish she’d made more of them because she is a gifted comedic actor.
August 18 – Clark Gable
I’ll say it up front – thank you, TCM, for not scheduling Gone With the Wind on Clark Gable day. I love the 1939 epic as much as the next dame, but its length would have allowed for two less movies on the King’s day. Plus, it’s shown enough on TCM. That said, kudos for the variety of films slated for August 18th, which span from the 1930s through the 1950s. I think anyone watching TCM on this day will know why Clark Gable was the King of Hollywood. And we shall swoon.
August 19 – Judy Garland
There is nothing better than an entire Sunday with Judy Garland. Music, song, dance, dramatic performances and a tour de force. What more do you want?
Well, since you asked – I would have liked to see Charles Walters‘ Summer Stock (1950) on the schedule. That’s an all-too-often overlooked musical that is replete with iconic moments.
August 20 – Stewart Granger*
This day offers the most movies I’ve never seen so I’m looking forward to getting to know a bit more about Stewart Granger.
August 21 – Anita Louise*
Kudos to the members of TCM’s fan club, Backlot, for voting to have Anita Louise added to this year’s Summer Under the Stars schedule. Louise’s career – from child star to TV hostess – spanned six decades yet she remains virtually unknown. There are quite a few enjoyable movies slated for Anita day and two TCM premieres as noted below. I cannot wait to tape those and suggest you stay home and watch the entire 24-hour marathon and get to know this talented beauty.
This day’s schedule includes the TCM premieres of D. Ross Lederman’s Glamour for Sale (1940) and John Sturges’ Shadowed (1946).
August 22 – Dana Andrews
Admired by everyone who has ever seen him in a movie is Dana Andrews. A terrific, memorable actor who was great in every genre of film deserves a day in his honor every year. I know I sound like a broken record, but any movie slated for Andrews day should be seen. However, I’m particularly fond of the (perhaps) lesser known Beyond a Reasonable Doubt from 1956, directed by Fritz Lang and co-starring Joan Fontaine. And whether you’re into Westerns or not, I strongly recommend William Wellman‘s The Ox-Bow Incident (1943), which I saw at this year’s TCMFF, a screening I will never forget.
August 23 – Virginia Mayo*
Dana Andrews’ co-star in William Wyler’s great WWII drama, The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), which is scheduled for Dana’s day follows him with a day of her own. This premiere SUTS star is a great addition to the festival and should make for a fun day of films noir and musicals. Virginia Mayo day includes her personal favorite (IMDB), Bruce Humberstone‘s She’s Working Her Way Through College (1952) co-starring Ronald Reagan, Gene Nelson, and Don DeFore. However, I recommend the two back-to-back films noir scheduled in prime time, Richard Bare‘s Flaxy Martin (1949) and Vincent Sherman‘s Backfire (1950).
August 24 – Peter Lorre
One of the greatest actors who ever lived is worth watching every minute. What a day! And it includes a Peter Lorre TCM premiere (noted below). If you cannot record 24 hours of movies, however, I suggest watching from 8 pm EST. on for Peter Lorre day. The first offering in prime time is the actor’s unforgettable, if disturbing, performance in Fritz Lang’s M (1931). Then you get a lot of murder, mystery, and horror – Lorre style. Be sure to watch his hands too. Peter Lorre was a master at hand acting.
This day’s schedule includes the TCM premiere of Jack Cardiff’s Scent of Mystery (1960).
August 25 – Carroll Baker*
Another SUTS premiere and another promising day of movies. Despite her 50-year career and having seen a few of her movies, I know virtually nothing about Carroll Baker. The schedule on Baker’s day includes her film debut, Charles Walters’ Easy to Love (1953) starring Esther Williams as well as her Oscar-nominated turn in Elia Kazan‘s Baby Doll (1956), both of which I recommend.
This day’s schedule includes the TCM premieres of Gordon Douglas’ Sylvia (1965) and Bob Fosse’s Star 80 (1983).
August 26 – Anthony Quinn
I’m not a huge Anthony Quinn fan, but you’re sure to get high drama and lots of energy on the 26th. My recommendations from the schedule are Edward Dmytryk‘s Warlock (1959), a Western with a memorable performance by Richard Widmark and the great Henry Fonda, and Ralph Nelson‘s Requiem for a Heavyweight (1962), co-starring Jackie Gleason, Mickey Rooney, and Julie Harris. I’ll admit a bit of disappointment as I perused Quinn day because I was hoping to see George Cukor’s Wild In the Wind (1957) on the schedule. That movie features one of my favorite Anthony Quinn performances opposite the legendary Anna Magnani. Oh well.
This day’s schedule includes the TCM premiere of Alexander Mackendrick’s A High Wind in Jamaica (1965).
August 27 – Agnes Moorehead*
I CANNOT WAIT FOR THIS ONE and wish Agnes Moorehead day fell on a weekend. Unfortunately, late August is an extremely busy time of year at work so I’ll have to rely on the DVR for every single entry that I have not seen numerous times. If you only know Agnes Moorehead as Endora on Bewitched you are missing the work of one of the all-time great character actors. I am most looking forward to watching the two Moorhead movies I’ve yet to see, Leslie Fenton’s Tomorrow, the World! (1944) starring Fredric March and Betty Field, and the TCM premiere noted below. My recommendation is every entry on the schedule, which includes Moorehead’s four Oscar-nominated performances. In truth, Agnes Moorehead pretty much steals most scenes she appears in so watch her closely and watch her in everything.
This day’s schedule includes the TCM premiere of Irving Pichel’s Without Honor (1949).
August 28 – Lew Ayres*
I could have sworn that TCM had already dedicated a day to Lew Ayres as part of the SUTS festival, but no so you’ve a treat in store. Slated to play are the first two installments in MGM’s long-running Dr. Kildare film series, Harold S. Bucquet‘s Young Dr. Kildare (1938) and Calling Dr. Kildare (1939) co-starring Lionel Barrymore. While there are several memorable dramatic offerings on Ayres day, I’m recommending the delightful Remember? (1939) directed by Norman Z. McLeod and featuring Robert Taylor and Greer Garson in rare romantic comedy roles. Remember? was a box office dud in 1939, but I fell in love with it when I first saw it.
This day’s schedule includes the TCM premiere of James P. Hogan’s The Last Train from Madrid (1937).
August 29 – Lauren Bacall
I expect this to be one of the most popular days of this year’s Summer Under the Stars festival and rightfully so. Lauren Bacall is always enjoyable to watch. The Bacall day schedule includes film noir staples as well as the Turner documentary, Bacall on Bogart, which stars Bacall and features many famous names discussing the career of the beloved and much-admired actor.
For Lauren Bacall day I’m recommending Michael Curtiz’s Bright Leaf (1950), which is not as well known as other offerings that day. Opposite Bacall in the movie is Gary Cooper with Patricia Neal, another favorite, rounding out the stars. The supporting cast is also fantastic with Jack Carson, Donald Crisp, and Gladys George among the notables.
August 30 – Marcello Mastroianni*
My favorites on Marcello Mastroianni day are all about marriage – Michelangelo Antonioni‘s La Notte (1961) co-starring Jeanne Moreau and Vittorio De Sica‘s Marriage Italian Style (1964) with Sophia Loren. Both are supremely entertaining and well worth your time.
This day’s schedule includes the TCM premieres of Jacques Demy’s A Slightly Pregnant Man (1973) and Ettore Scola’s The Pizza Triangle (1970).
August 31 – Joan Crawford
I absolutely love that TCM is ending this year’s SUTS festival with Joan Crawford and the schedule they’ve planned is terrific to include films from four decades of Crawford’s career. The movies will air in decade order with the Crawford marathon beginning with Edward Sedgwick’s Spring Fever (1927) and ending with Robert Aldrich’s What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962). The entire day is required viewing, as far as I’m concerned. Even the staunchest Joan detractors should be impressed with her career trajectory.
That’s it for now. Be sure to visit TCM.com for details of Summer Under the Stars 2018. Happy summer and happy watching.