Clear your DVRs and schedule those sick days, it’s here! Beginning with Bogart on August 1, Turner Classic Movies brings us its annual grouping of 24-hour tributes to 31 different classic movie stars.
From legends to supporting actors, stars of the ‘30s to stars of the ‘60s, with a special day here and there for fans of silent film, pre-Codes and even international cinema, TCM's Summer Under the Stars groups our favorite movies by their most identifiable assets: the stars.
When you come right down to it TCM is basically showing us the same mix of movies that they do every other month of the year. But come every August it’s all about the packaging!
If you love Bogie or Bette you’ll be happy this year. Maybe you can’t stand an actor who’s been chosen—don’t despair, they've likely played in something you liked at some point in their careers, even if it isn’t a title that's primarily remembered for the star TCM has bundled the daily celebration around.
There's something for TCM fans every day this month. And some days that something may be all day long!
Summer Under the Stars on Immortal Ephemera
Like last year I plan for August to be my busiest month of blogging. Last August also produced some of my most successful posts including peeks at the earliest days in the careers of Myrna Loy, Ginger Rogers, and Irene Dunne. I even found one of Gary Cooper's editorial cartoons when I dug through the old Helena, Montana papers for info about young Coop! Ten movies that played on TCM that month were reviewed in depth and I introduced a feature that proved popular called Picto-Sked.
If you’ve been around the site awhile you can pretty much guess who’s guaranteed some coverage as easily as you can spot the days I’ll likely take off. As the month begins I plan to follow a similar format to that I did last year. Some days we’ll go poring through the old newspapers, occasionally you’ll get the odd biography, a few movies will be reviewed and I’d be willing to bet that the old Picto-Sked makes a comeback too.
This page will serve as the Immortal Ephemera hub for Summer Under the Stars.
Immediately following is TCM’s calendar for August. One star per day. As I write new articles and post new stuff I’ll update that calendar with links to these latest articles next to the appropriate names. If you’re a subscriber who has saved this mailing for later reference just CLICK HERE to see the updated page as the month progresses.
Beneath the simple day-by-day listing you’ll find the regular monthly preview features, both Quickie Edition and Full Version.
Summer Under the Stars Calendar
Thursday, August 1 - Humphrey Bogart - Bogie's '30s in Hollywood; 1930 interview
Friday, August 2 - Doris Day
Saturday, August 3 - Alec Guinness
Sunday, August 4 - Mary Boland - Brief preview with full biography
Monday, August 5 - Charlton Heston
Tuesday, August 6 - Joan Fontaine - Biography, No Bed of Roses Review, TCM Preview plus Review: The Constant Nymph (1943)
Wednesday, August 7 - Fred MacMurray
Thursday, August 8 - Ramon Novarro - Picto-Sked
Friday, August 9 - Steve McQueen
Saturday, August 10 - Lana Turner - Early Lana in They Won't Forget (1937)
Sunday, August 11 - Henry Fonda
Monday, August 12 - Catherine Deneuve
Tuesday, August 13 - Mickey Rooney - Review: The Human Comedy (1937)
Wednesday, August 14 - Bette Davis - Digital Scrapbook, 1928-1934
Thursday, August 15 - Gregory Peck
Friday, August 16 - Ann Blyth
Saturday, August 17 - Wallace Beery - Preview and Recommendations
Sunday, August 18 - Natalie Wood
Monday, August 19 - Randolph Scott
Tuesday, August 20 - Hattie McDaniel
Wednesday, August 21 - William Holden
Thursday, August 22 - Maggie Smith
Friday, August 23 - Elizabeth Taylor
Saturday, August 24 - Charles Coburn - Biography
Sunday, August 25 - Clark Gable - Did Clark Gable Kill the Undershirt?
Monday, August 26 - Jeanne Crain
Tuesday, August 27 - Martin Balsam
Wednesday, August 28 - Shirley Jones
Thursday, August 29 - Glenda Farrell
Friday, August 30 - Kirk Douglas
Saturday, August 31 - Rex Harrison
Summer Under the Stars, Quickie Edition
Most Exciting Day: Pick your star! For me, Wallace Beery on the 17th is going to pull a close upset over Glenda Farrell on the 29th.
Top Pick: Very strong selections and a nice mix on Bette Davis day, August 14. Runner-up: Good mix of Clark Gable movies on the 25th.
Most Wanted: I would have never guessed it, but Rex Harrison day on the 31st offers me more DVR alerts than any other day. Runner-up: It's double duty for Glenda Farrell on the 29th, as I need to catch some of the rarer, non-Torchy titles.
Most Exciting Day is self-explanatory. If you want me to recommend a sick day from work, it'll be that day! Top Pick being those I have seen and would push you down on my couch and force you to watch if you even hint that you haven't seen it! Most Wanted being those I have to the best of my knowledge never seen but will be sure to check out this month.
These picks are based upon Turner Classic Movies' US schedule (most also air in Canada). Any times mentioned are all EST because that's what TCM uses inside my Now Playing Guide and that's what I use when I set the clocks here on Long Island. The days are TCM's own slightly screwy time periods, typically beginning at 6 am and working through to the following morning at the same time.
Summer Under the Stars, Full Version
Bogart day on August 1 sticks to the 1940s and ‘50s so we get several Bogie classics throughout these first 24 hours. Casablanca is not one of them since TCM just played it in late July while celebrating Star of the Month Paul Henreid. But you will be able to catch High Sierra (1941 - 7 am), The Maltese Falcon (1941 - 9 am), The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948 - 12:30 pm) and Key Largo (1948 - 10 pm).
I’m partial to the final Doris Day movie airing on the 2nd, Love Me or Leave Me (1955) starring Day as Ruth Etting with James Cagney providing her a quite nasty romantic partner.
Mary Boland day is a highlight on August 4. By focusing on a prolific supporting actress such as Boland, TCM gives itself a wide range of titles to choose from. I especially like The Solitaire Man (1933) at 11:45 am and have always loved Charles Laughton as Ruggles of Red Gap (1935 - 8 pm). My most anticipated title this day is Three-Cornered Moon (1933), a Claudette Colbert movie I haven't seen, which plays immediately after Ruggles at 10 pm. You can also catch better known classics such as The Women (1939) and Pride and Prejudice (1940) later that night.
I’m reading Joan Fontaine’s No Bed of Roses while I write this, hoping to finish up by Fontaine day on TCM, August 6. To be honest, fifty pages in, No Bed of Roses has only made me even more of an Olivia supporter. Joan can’t resist taking petty swipes at older sister in response to what reproduces as rather mild childhood and youthful slights on Olivia’s part. Maybe something big happens later to magnify these constant digs, but so far I prefer what I see on film to what I read on the page. Perhaps more to come on that book! And by the way, don’t miss Fontaine’s delightful performance in The Constant Nymph (1943) at 2:15 am.
A couple of years ago I was invited to write about Double Indemnity (1944) for The Dark Pages but backed out after discovering that the movie just didn't do it for me anymore. The dialogue that I had once found so sparkling now seemed ridiculous and Fred MacMurray, TCM’s featured star on August 7, was spouting most of the lines I found myself alternately laughing and sneering at. At any rate, my grudge isn’t against MacMurray, who I really enjoy in lighter movies such as Too Many Husbands (1940), airing at 6 am, and A Millionaire for Christy (1951), which plays a little later on at 2:45 pm. Dive Bomber (1941 - 1:30 am) is pretty good too, though it’s mostly pretty good because of Errol Flynn. To finish my Dark Pages story, Karen graciously invited me back the following year and published my article about Joan Blondell in her Nightmare Alley special and I'm flattered to have been invited back again for this year's big double issue covering The Killers (1946).
As for Double Indemnity, everyone else still seems to enjoy it so I should probably let you know that it airs at 10 pm on August 7.
Every year TCM selects a star who is primarily known for their career in silent film. The choice this year is Ramon Novarro on Thursday the 8th. Yes, only six of the movies showing that day are silent, but that includes two classics being shown during prime TCM hours: Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1925) at 8 pm followed by Ernst Lubitsch’s The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg (1927) at 10:30. I also picked up a copy of Andre Soares' critically acclaimed biography of Novarro that I hope to get into before the 8th (as long as Miss Fontaine doesn't slow me down too much with her complaints!). If that sounds interesting and you'd like a preview be sure to check out this post at Andre's AltFilmGuide excerpting a portion of the book concerning the murder of Novarro.
Over twenty years of Lana Turner's screen work is represented during the 24 hour period beginning at 6 am on Saturday, August 10, with the highly recommended They Won’t Forget (1937). Turner is only in this one a few minutes and Gloria Dickson is the blonde who really steals the show, but this Mervyn LeRoy title about bigotry and mob violence is a winner! Other recommended titles that day are more obvious: Johnny Eager (1942) at 11 am; The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946) at 1 pm; The Bad and the Beautiful (1952) at 8 pm.
Several excellent choices on Henry Fonda day, Sunday the 11th, including classics like The Grapes of Wrath (1940) at 8 pm and Mister Roberts (1955) at 12:30 that night. Other entertaining offerings that day include The Male Animal (1942) with Olivia De Havilland at 7:45 am; the twisty A Big Hand for the Little Lady (1966), which you will want to make sure you watch through to the very end, at 2:45 am; and Alfred Hitchcock’s The Wrong Man (1956), an absolutely terrifying story of mistaken identity.
Mickey Rooney is well represented on Tuesday, August 13, with films featuring him from age 14 to 52. As big a fan as I am of the Hardys I’m glad TCM doesn’t go the marathon route, though the series actually winds up underrepresented. The title they picked is an interesting one, as it’s the first in the series, but A Family Affair (1936 - 9:45 am) features Rooney less than any of the other series entries. The classic Boys Town (1938) plays at 11 am and is followed by one of Rooney’s entertaining pairings with Judy Garland in Strike Up the Band (1940) at 1 pm. Those two films from the height of Rooney’s career combine to offer a nice introduction into what made him such a special talent during this period.
Wednesday, August 14 will no doubt be one of TCM’s most popular Summer Under the Stars days when twelve Bette Davis movies are featured. While classics like Jezebel (1938 - 12 pm), The Letter (1940 - 2pm) and Dark Victory (1939 - 9:15 pm) are sprinkled throughout the day, I’m most excited about the earlier ‘30s titles that are especially prevalent in the early morning: Parachute Jumper (1933) at 6 am; The Girl from 10th Avenue (1935) at 7:30 am; Dangerous (1935), for which Davis won her first Oscar, at 9 am and Ex-Lady (1933) at 8 pm. Be sure to catch Davis’ 1971 appearance on The Dick Cavett Show at 1:15 am for a charming hour with a very personable Davis. She reminds me more of my grandmother than a movie legend when she’s with Cavett!
I’m really stunned TCM would bother to do a Gregory Peck day and not show To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), but that’s what happens on Thursday the 15th. In a day book-ended by war movies and Westerns probably my favorite Peck offering of those I have seen is Tay Garnett’s The Valley of Decision (1945) set around a 19th Century Pittsburgh steel mill. DVR it at 9:15 am.
Mildred Pierce (1945) highlights Ann Blyth day at 8 pm on Friday the 16th. I haven’t watched my copy of Jules Dassin’s Brute Force (1947) for awhile now, but have fond memories of this dark title starring Burt Lancaster. (Hopefully it doesn't provide another Double Indemnity experience!)
TCM includes several entertaining Beery titles that Saturday with 1934’s Viva Villa! (1934) perhaps the most enjoyable of the bunch! The day also includes peeks at Beery’s most famous pairings, teaming him with Jackie Cooper in The Champ (1931 - 12:30 pm), which won Beery a share of the Oscar the following year, and Min and Bill (1930) unleashing the team of Beery and Marie Dressler (1930) playing at midnight. Early Beery is represented at 6 am with The Last of the Mohicans (1920) and Beery makes a wonderful Long John Silver, alongside Cooper again, in Treasure Island (1934) at 2:15 pm. Beery is a spectacular drunk in MGM’s adaptation of Eugene O’Neill’s Ah, Wilderness! (1935) at 4:15 that afternoon, a title I only recently wrote about HERE. Of course, Grand Hotel (1932) plays at 8 pm and is followed by Dinner at Eight (1933) at 10, but while Beery features among the better performances in each it may as well be Barrymore night. Not a bad thing!
Western fans will be thrilled with the selections on Monday, August 19, Randolph Scott day, which includes two directed by Andre De Toth, three from Budd Boetticher plus Sam Pekinpah’s Ride the High Country (1962) at 9:30 pm. I’d have loved to have seen some of Scott’s Paramount pre-Code features scheduled, but I was pretty sure that wasn’t going to happen anyway. Still, Scott is teamed with old Paramount pal Cary Grant in RKO’s My Favorite Wife (1940), also with Irene Dunne, at 11:30 pm.
There could be no better centerpiece to Hattie McDaniel day on the 20th than Gone With the Wind (1939), airing at 8 pm. I love the bit of singing she gets to do on the train in the bittersweet Saratoga (1937), playing just before GWTW at 6:15 pm, and I look forward to hearing more from her in Show Boat (1936), a major title that I just haven’t caught yet. I love Jack Benny in George Washington Slept Here at 4:30 pm, but that’s just one of many playing that day that feature Hattie McDaniel in a smaller, but typically stand out, maid role.
TCM begins its William Holden overview on Wednesday the 21st in 1949, so we miss out on a few titles I would have liked to have seen featured, but we get several major titles: Executive Suite (1954) is a favorite at 11:30 am; Picnic (1955) at 3:30 pm; The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) at 8 pm; Born Yesterday (1950) at 11 pm; The Wild Bunch (1969) at 1 am. Unfortunately, no Sunset Blvd. (1950), no Stalag 17 (1953) and no Network (1976), but that just goes to show how many classics this underrated actor appeared in.
I love the first half of Elizabeth Taylor day, Friday, August 23, but other than Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), airing at midnight, the later stuff doesn’t do much for me. I can’t think of another movie that improves by such leaps and bounds with each and every viewing than George Stevens’ Giant (1956), which plays at 4:15 that afternoon.
Charles Coburn day, Saturday, August 24, ranks in a similar regard to Mary Boland day back on the 4th. The old-timer is never going to be your lead, typically third or fourth billed as somebody’s cranky father or grandfather. He does this to great effect throughout this day in titles such as Vivacious Lady (1937 - 6 am), H.M. Pulham, Esq. (1941 - 7:45 am), Princess O’Rourke (1943 - 9:45 am), Made for Each Other (1939 - 2:45 pm), Bachelor Mother (1939 - 4:30 pm), most famously in The Lady Eve (1941 - 8 pm) and without blood ties in The More the Merrier (1943 - 10 pm).
Probably the best thing about Clark Gable day on Sunday the 25th is that TCM has already played Gone With the Wind for Hattie McDaniel day and so it has to find another four hours worth of Gable to fill its schedule! We still get the big stuff with It Happened One Night (1934) at 8 pm and Mutiny on the Bounty (1935) at 3:30 pm; Myrna Loy pairings with Test Pilot (1938) at 1:15 pm and Too Hot to Handle (1938) later at 10 pm; and heavy on the Joan Crawford pairings, especially early stuff (hooray!), with Dance, Fools, Dance (1931) opening the day at 6 am, Laughing Sinners (1931) following at 7:30; Possessed (1931) at 8:45 am; Chained (1934) at 10:15 am, and later Strange Cargo (1940) at midnight.
I especially love how perky Jeanne Crain is in a pair of earlier titles playing Monday, August 26, Margie (1946) at 11:15 am and Apartment for Peggy (1948) at 2:45 pm. Leave Her to Heaven (1945 - 12 am) is great as well, though that's more to Gene Tierney's credit.
As no year will go by without TCM Summer Under the Stars giving a day over to a silent performer and an international star, so to do they always include a 24-hour period dedicated to a star most associated with the pre-Code era. This year that star is Glenda Farrell who shows up in 17 different movies over the 24 hours of Thursday, August 29, including all seven of her appearances in the Torchy Blane series. The day opens with Little Caesar (1930) at 6 am and if you want more classics also includes I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932) at 10:45 pm. Farrell is in a couple of the later Gold Diggers titles late that night and paired with her best remembered co-star, Joan Blondell, a couple of times that morning in I’ve Got Your Number (1934) and Kansas City Princess (1934). Horror fans even get a little taste at 9:15 pm with Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933) starring Lionel Atwill.
Kirk Douglas day on August 30 opens with film noir classic Out of the Past (1947) at 6 am and features Stanley Kubrick’s Paths of Glory (1957) at 8 pm. It also gives me a chance to spout my monthly plug for Lust for Life (1956), airing at 11:45 pm.
Rex Harrison closes Summer Under the Stars on Saturday, August 31. I absolutely loved The Rake’s Progress (1945) the last time I saw it and am really looking forward to it again at 2:15 am. The most intriguing title is a Miriam Hopkins movie I have not seen before, the British made Men Are Not Gods (1936), which opens the day at 6 am. The Foxes of Harrow (1947) is another one I’ve not seen, but reads right up my alley as a period piece depicting a rise to fortune. It also draws a few interesting comparisons to Gone With the Wind from some IMDb commenters. Of those I have seen I’d recommend The Citadel (1938 - 9:30 am), though I do so as a Robert Donat fan. The big Harrison titles play on the 31st as well with My Fair Lady (1964) at 5 pm followed by Anna and the King of Siam (1946) at 8 pm.
Summer Under the Stars Elsewhere
Michael and Jill are back with their Summer Under the Stars Blogathon again this year. You’ll find their daily logo plastered somewhere within everything I post this month. So, for example, when I include their Bogart banner in tomorrow's Bogie post, just click the banner to head to their site(s) and you’ll find links to several new posts about Humphrey Bogart written by other classic film bloggers from around the web. For now you’ll find announcements of the Blogathon at Michael and Jill’s respective sites.
Angela at The Hollywood Revue does her own Blogging Under the Stars series each year. She tops me in reviewing one film per day for every day on the August calendar! You can visit her site HERE, subscription recommended!
And you can catch links to Summer Under the Stars previews from all of the usual bloggers over at Kristina’s Speakeasy HERE.
You've likely seen this, but I'd be neglecting my duties if I didn't point you over to TCM's own special Summer Under the Stars mini-site. I haven't poked around it yet this year, but last year's version of the site included an incredible amount of biographical information for each selected star.
It’s going to be a busy month on Immortal Ephemera—hoping you’ll stick with me through it and hoping to gain many more friends to the site as we progress towards September.
Talk soon … very soon!
PS: TCM Star of the Month for September will be Kim Novak.