As kids enjoy the last days of summer vacation and parents await peace and quiet as their kids return to school, I bask in one of my favorite TV traditions, Summer Under the Stars (SUTS) on Turner Classic Movies (TCM). The Summer Under the Stars festival, which celebrates its 28th incarnation this year, runs the entire month of August and features the work of a different star each day. Along with TCM’s, I have a tradition of my own, to offer picks from each of the days’ offerings. As you can see, I ran later this year as SUTS is mere hours away.
This year’s Summer Under the Stars will feature seven debut stars listed here and with an * next to each name in the gallery:
…and many TCM premiere movies:
Aug 3 – Uptown Saturday Night (1974)
Aug 5 – Get to Know Your Rabbit (1972)
Aug 16 – Flareup (1969)
August 16 – Hannie Caulder (1971)
August 16 – 100 Rifles (1969)
August 18 – Meet Danny Wilson (1952)
Aug 19 – Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo (1970)
Aug 21 – The Gauntlet (1977)
Aug 24 – The Spiral Staircase (1975)
Aug 24 – St. Ives (1976)
Aug 24 – Believe in Me (1971)
Aug 24 – The Grasshopper (1970)
August 25 – Beauty and the Bandit (1946)
August 25 – Robin Hood of Monterey (1947)
Aug 31 – The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu (1980)
SUTS roll call and gallery:
August 1 – Elvis Presley
Someone on the TCM forums noted that Elvis Presley was the Star of the Month in July last year. And your point is?
I get that there are many actors, namely Eric Blore who many of us have been rallying for years, who have not gotten their SUTS day. And I get that Elvis may not be a favorite of the serious movie fan, but this choice makes sense given Elvis is on many a mind after the release of Baz Lurmann’s Elvis recently. In addition, August 2022 marks the 45th anniversary of Elvis’ death in 1977. Aside from all that, there are few I would rather spend a day with more.
My suggestions of Elvis Presley day are the ones where you see him in his element, on stage: Malcolm Leo and Andrew Solt’s This is Elvis (1981), which kicks off the day, Elvis on Tour (1972) directed by Robert Abel and Pierre Adidge, and the best, Denis Sanders’ Elvis: That’s the Way It Is (1970).
August 2 – Jean Arthur
If there is one actor on this list who can turn an average movie fan into a classics fan it is Jean Arthur. I cannot describe this enjoyable actor as well as my friend Joel Williams did in this 2017 tribute. In addition to how much fun Jean Arthur is to watch, her SUTS day offers five new-to-me movies. These are: Seven Chances (1925), The Silver Horde (1930), Public Hero No. 1 (1935), Whirlpool (1934), and Danger Lights (1931). Some of Arthur’s essentials like The More the Merrier (1943) are also scheduled. Truly, this is a great day spoken in Jean Arthur’s unique voice.
August 3 – Sidney Poitier
A legend by anybody’s definition, a breaker of barriers, and one of the greatest actors in film history. What more can be said about the great Sidney Poitier who we lost early this year? Mr. Poitier left an indelible mark on movies and August 3, 2022, offers the opportunity to learn why. His SUTS day movies span from 1955’s Blackboard Jungle to 1974’s Uptown Saturday Night, a TCM premiere for the day. All of it should not be missed including the new-to-me A Warm December (1973) directed by Poitier.
August 4 – Ruth Roman*
She never achieved superstardom, but Ruth Roman had a long, fruitful career always turning in solid performances. She hit her stride in the 1950s, a decade well represented on Roman’s SUTS day. I wish some of her varied television work had been added to the schedule, but you will no doubt enjoy this schedule. Aside from the popular Strangers on a Train (1951), I recommend a trio of noir: The Window (1949), Down these Dark Streets (1954), and 5 Steps to Danger (1956). The last because…well, Sterling Hayden. I recommend Lighting Strikes Twice (1951) as well.
August 5 – Orson Welles
A much-admired big gun, Orson Welles, gets a day and there is indeed much to admire. The veritable Citizen Kane (1941) is slated as is The Lady from Shanghai (1948). If you have never seen The Third Man (1949) that is my recommendation, a zither-filled dutch-angled mystery treat that will keep you entertained. Its visuals are stunning. The Stranger (1946) offers an interesting journey. I will be recording the new-to-me documentary The Eyes of Orson Welles (2018) and Confidential Report (1955) (AKA Mr. Arkadin), which Welles called the “biggest disaster” of his life. I would have liked an opportunity to watch The Trial (1962), the one Orson Welles considered his best. However, the Welles day schedule offers plenty of the actor/director to enjoy.
August 6 – Audrey Hepburn
A day of style and grace is welcome after a day of Orson Welles. For me, anyway.
The two standouts for me on Audrey Hepburn day are Wait Until Dark (1967), which I do not think gets the credit it deserves for being the spine-tingly thriller it is, and Charade (1963), which serves stylish romance and suspense every minute. If you have never seen Roman Holiday (1953), of course you simply must, and you will not soon forget The Children’s Hour (1961).
August 7 – Gene Kelly
By now I am hungry for a good, old-fashion musical and Gene Kelly day is what the doctor ordered. I have never seen The Happy Road (1956), which means I will be recording that one for slow digestion later. As far as the others go, you cannot go wrong with Singin’ In the Rain (1952), On the Town (1949), For Me and My Gal (1942), and Summer Stock (1950). I am simply thrilled about the last because it was not scheduled on Judy Garland’s centennial celebration on TCM, and it is one of my favorites.
August 8 – Maureen O’Sullivan*
The 1930s rule on Maureen O’Sullivan day. Squeeeeee! This is one of the best days of this year’s Summer Under the Stars for me.
Two of O’Sullivan’s Tarzan outings are scheduled for prime time, and they are enjoyable if you go for jungle adventures. I have not seen every picture slated to honor Maureen O’Sullivan but among those I recommend is The Devil Doll (1936). Who can resist a horror picture co-starring Lionel Barrymore? Of the new-to-me pictures, I am really looking forward to The Bishop Misbehaves (1935) and Woman Wanted (1935) in which O’Sullivan co-stars with Joel McCrea who I happen to love.
August 9 – William Holden
It is no exaggeration to say that William Holden is one of the greatest screen actors of his generation. It is also not an exaggeration to say he was one of the handsomest men I have ever seen. I do not want to diminish the first by the second fact I noted, but both are worthy reasons for staying home on Tuesday, August 9, 2022. I will not recommend one here. You must see them all in a schedule that includes films from 1940 to 1976 and his outstanding performance in Network.
August 10 – Greta Garbo
If you want to know what all the Garbo fuss is about, Greta’s SUTS day will show you with films spanning from silent to Two-Faced Woman in 1941. My recommendations are the Garbo films that have crossed over to legend, films like Anna Christie (1930) and Queen Christina (1934), her silent films, which are rarely shown, and the delightful Ninotchka (1939). Needless to say, I strongly suggest you watch Greta Garbo with a whisky, ginger ale on the side, and don’t be stingy, baby.
August 11 – Laurence Harvey*
Harvey is the actor I know least about of this year’s Summer Under the Stars honorees. Still, I have seen all of the movies scheduled on his day. My top recommendations are The Manchurian Candidate (1962), Room at the Top (1959), and Walk on the Wild Side (1962).
August 12 – Jane Powell
The darling Jane Powell always makes for fun, innocent entertainment. For me, most of her movies don’t rank up there with best of the classic Hollywood musicals, but Ms. Powell could cut a rug and sing in delightful fashion. My picks for Powell day are: Seven Brides For Seven Brothers (1954), Royal Wedding (1951), and The Girl Most Likely (1957). I’ll add Small Time Girl (1953) to the list for Nat King Cole songs, Ann Miller, Busby Berkeley-choreographed routines, and Bobby Van’s famous jumping street dance.
August 13 – Marlon Brando
You will not see Brando’s most famous pictures on his SUTS day. That’s a good thing to allow for people to be introduced to lesser-known fare. You will, however, get a few of Marlon Brando’s essentials. These are: Julius Caesar (1953), Mutiny on the Bounty (1962), The Chase (1965), and Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967). I suggest them all and since his day falls on a Saturday you have no excuse.
August 14 – Elizabeth Taylor
Robert Osborne was not a fan of Elizabeth Taylor’s work but I am. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1966) and Father of the Bride (1950) are my favorites on Taylor’s day but there’s also the giant Giant (1956) in prime time. There is a variety of genres slated on this day, which promises something for everyone.
August 15 – Randolph Scott
Scott day kicks off with the supremely enjoyable Follow the Fleet, a 1936 Astaire-Rogers vehicle I adore. That one is followed by My Favorite Wife (1940) starring Cary Grant and Irene Dunne, one of my favorite screen couples. Both of those will set up a positive day for you and get you ready for some fantastic Western fare. If you think you do not like Westerns, tune in on Randolph Scott day, which will surely make you a fan.
August 16 – Raquel Welch*
I believe you will enjoy the SUTS day dedicated to debut star Raquel Welch. The day offers two TCM premieres, Hannie Caulder (1971) and 100 Rifles (1969), featuring wonderful casts. I cannot wait to see the #TCMParty buzz on Welch day. I also highly recommend the mystery/thriller The Last of Sheila (1973). But honestly, Welch day offers an entire day of fun.
August 17 – Spencer Tracy
Mr. Tracy never missed a beat on the acting front so most, excepting his Jekyl and Hyde, are worth the price of admission. If I had to recommend a few from the schedule on Tracy day they would be San Francisco (1936), Keeper of the Flame (1942), Adam’s Rib (1949), and Pat and Mike (1952). Those are just me preference they are entertaining offerings.
August 18 – Shelley winters
The talented Shelley Winters never gave a bad performance in my book. Although one could argue a few over-the-top turns. My suggestion on her day is to gather friends in prime time for two essentials, A Place in the Sun (1952) and The Night of the Hunter (1955). If you want to watch a triple feature of Shelley’s terrible taste in men, add Lolita (1962). I Died a Thousand Times (1955) earlier that day is also terrific.
August 19 – Toshiro Mifune
Watching Mr. Mifune is a lesson in acting no matter what you see him in. Always memorable. Watch everything on his day as far too many people are unfamiliar with his talent. If you cannot record the day, be sure to tune in to prime time for masterpieces, Rashomon (1950) and Seven Samurai (1953).
August 20 – Joan Crawford
One of my favorites. Ms. Crawford often gets a bad rap, but she made lots of entertaining movies. Of those scheduled on Crawford day I recommend Possessed (1947), The Women (1939) of course, her Oscar-winning turn in Mildred Pierce (1945), and Queen Bee (1955), which I saw for the first time at this year’s TCM Film Festival and adored. That combination of movies will give a good glimpse into Crawford the actor and Crawford the movie star. Other notables are on the schedule as well, but those I mentioned are my picks for a true Crawford experience. Too bad some of her enjoyable pre-codes are missing from the schedule.
August 21 – Clint Eastwood
There are quite a few Clint Eastwood movies scheduled on his day that I have not seen particularly his 1950s movies. I will be recording those. Of the 1970s outings slated on his day, my recommendation is The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976), which I believe is his first great Western as director.
August 22 – Constance Bennett
If it’s pre-codes you want then Constance Bennett day is for you. I cannot wait for this one. Try to stay tuned all day on the 22nd, but if you have time limitations, focus on the Topper (1937), Merrily We Live (1938), and What Price Hollywood (1932) block. But tell me titles like Son of the Gods (1930), Sin Takes a Holiday (1930), and Lady With a Past (1932) don’t sound like a hoot?
August 23 – Mickey Rooney
I am a sucker for anything in which Judy Garland appears and there are a few scheduled on Rooney day. Aside from those, I recommend The Human Comedy (1943) and Boys Town (1938). Mickey is great in both of those.
August 24 – Jacqueline Bisset*
If you are a fan of 1970s cinema, this year’s Summer Under the Stars offers a lot to be thankful for. The 1970s happens to be one of my favorite movie decades, which is why the Welch and Jacqueline Bisset, another SUTS debut star, days are so exciting. Although a few of my favorites starring Bisset are not on the schedule, I highly recommend The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972), Bullitt (1968), and Day for Night (1973). Bisset day has the most TCM premieres of the festival with four.
August 25 – Gilbert Roland*
My goodness. Gilbert Roland day has the most movies I have yet to see. The handsome actor’s day begins with three of those, Men of the North (1931), Our Betters (1933), and Gambling on the High Seas (1940). I cannot wait to sink in. Aside from that, I would concentrate on the late afternoon/evening programming starting with The Bad and the Beautiful (1952). Prime time on Gilbert day kicks off with the TCM premiere of Beauty and the Bandit (1946).
August 26 – Vivien Leigh
The beautiful and talented Vivien Leigh is always a pleasure to watch. That said, two documentaries on her day stand out, Vivien Leigh: Scarlet and Beyond (1990), scheduled first on her day, and Making of a Legend: Gone with the Wind (1988) in prime time. Gone with the Wind (1939) is scheduled after the documentary followed by two of my favorite Leigh movies, Waterloo Bridge (1940) and That Hamilton Woman (1941). I highly recommend both of those.
August 27 – Marilyn Monroe
The most popular star in the world, beloved still sixty years after her death. Who wouldn’t want to spend a day with her and her movies? Now you can.
Marilyn day offers The Asphalt Jungle (1950), one of the greatest American heist films ever made. However, to enjoy the talent that was Marilyn Monroe, I would go with a block of comedies she excelled in, How to Marry a Millionaire (1953), Monkey Business (1952), The Seven Year Itch (1955), Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), and Some Like it Hot (1959). It’s almost too much of a good thing.
August 28 – Cary Grant
The greatest ever. I do not know of a man or a woman who doesn’t like Cary Grant. And some of his best are offered on his Summer Under the Stars day. Watch him in everything, from his superb dramatic turn in Penny Serenade (1941) to the action-packed North by Northwest (1959) with plenty of screwball in between. One of the greatest movie stars and an actor for the ages. Do not miss this.
August 29 – Myrna Loy
There are beloved stars of the golden age of Hollywood, but few are as revered as Myrna Loy. A true delight on screen. Once again here I will cheat and say watch every single movie on the Myrna Loy day schedule. If you must work, I recommend you leave early and get home by three for The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), then sit back and enjoy the laughs and the cocktails.
August 30 – Jack Carson*
The addition of debut star Jack Carson must make many a fan happy. A reliable character actor with gusto, Mr. Carson made every single movie he appeared in better. In fact, he may steal a scene or two on his day. Usually loud, Carson had a gift for the double take, and his day promises to be thoroughly entertaining. Although Jack made many musicals and comedies, he was terrific in all genre of movie. Watch everything on August 30 there is not a wasted scene with him in it.
August 31 – Peter Sellers
I must admit I am not a Peter Sellers fan. It must be that off or off-kilter personality that comes across the screen. Still, Sellers is much admired by many and there are movies of his I enjoy. Three of his best are scheduled, Being There (1979), Dr. Strangelove (1964), and The Mouse That Roared (1959). I am sure others would recommend more, but that is all I have. Oh, there is a TCM premiere for Sellers, The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu (1980).
There you have it. And just in time too. Here’s to a fabulous Summer Under the Stars festival.