August is here and that means it’s times to lay out for Summer Under the Stars. TCM’s month-long tribute to the best of Hollywood’s Golden Era is the perfect way to say sayonara to summer and hello to back to school! Below are the ten films I’ll be making time for this month. And be sure to check out my Summer Under the Stars blogathon where several fantastic bloggers discuss their favorite stars! Let me know which stars’ days will cause you to call out “sick” from work this month.
**All times listed as Eastern. TCM can change the schedule at their discretion.**
Journeys in Classic Film started by exploring the work of Marilyn Monroe, but I, unfortunately, wasn’t able to secure a copy of Ladies of the Chorus (1949) back then. Let’s rectify that! Ladies of the Chorus is touted as Monroe’s first significant role. She plays a chorine headed down a dangerous path once walked by the film’s true leading lady, Adele Jergens. Look at the photo above, Monroe CAN’T be avoided. The film itself deals with a mother/daughter duo trying to navigate the world of stardom, love and marriage inevitably complicate things. Meet the Ladies of the Chorus on August 1st at 6am alongside several other Monroe features.
When I did my Robert Mitchum tribute episode of Ticklish Business I mentioned I hadn’t watched either of Mitchum’s pairings with Jane Russell. TCM must have listened to that episode because they’re showing one of those Mitchum/Russell features, 1951’s His Kind of Woman. Directed by John Farrow, Mitchum plays a gangster causing problems at a Mexican resort. According to what I’ve heard, the film has some subversive jabs at the noir genre. I adore Mitchum, and Russell has always struck me as the Maureen O’Hara-esque equivalent to his John Wayne so I’m eager to see them play off each other. And we have Vincent Price in this to boot?! Find out more about His Kind of Woman on Robert Mitchum’s day, August 6th at 12pm.
I don’t know if this is a taboo statement but I don’t like Franchot Tone, at all. I’ve watched him in several things and he’s just a dull piece of wood. Actually, that’s disrespectful to wood. So why did I pick a movie from his day? Because it’s impossible to deny the power of Bette Davis. Dangerous (1935) sees Tone as the kind-hearted man (I’m assuming) trying to rehabilitate an alcoholic actress played by Davis. The plot sounds generic as can be but I’m a soft touch for Hollywood stories in the vein of A Star is Born (1954). Find out what’s so Dangerous on August 8th at 8am during Franchot Tone day.
Sandra Dee kickstarted a franchise when she appeared as the bubbly girl surfer in one of my favorite movies, Gidget (1959). By 1961 she was ending franchises when she took over the role of scrappy swamp girl Tammy in Tammy Tell Me True. I saw the original Tammy (1957) this year and it’s a fun, if toothless movie that suits Debbie Reynolds. I can’t imagine how Dee would be able to elevate the role outside of just playing Gidget again. This Tammy story sees the girl going to college in order to impress a guy, played by John Gavin. Expect a fun theme song! Tammy Tell Me True airs as part of a tribute to Sandra Dee on August 10th at 2am.
I have a delayed revelation to make: I have a crush on 1930s-era Joel McCrea. Yes, I’m late to the party but I can’t deny it. Chance at Heaven (1934) pairs McCrea alongside Ginger Rogers and that should be all you need to know before recording it. McCrea stars as a gas station attendant stolen away from Rogers by a spoiled rich girl played by Marion Nixon. Already I’m skeptical of this plot because who would give up Ginger? Find a Chance at Heaven on August 11th at 9:15am alongside several other Ginger Rogers features.
I would be remiss not to choose a film during the day devoted to Ms. Barbara Stanwyck. The majority of the films they’re airing I’ve seen but I stumbled upon All I Desire (1953), a Stanwyck film that encompasses story elements I enjoy. Stanwyck plays a stage star who returns to the small town and the family she left behind. I’m a sucker for “wealthy person goes back home” stories, a la Twilight Zone’s “Ring-a-Ding Girl” (albeit without that episode’s morbid twist). Stanwyck looks like the film’s biggest draw….oh, wait, this is directed by Douglas Sirk. That means I HAVE to watch it! All I Desire airs August 13th at 8pm during an evening of Barbara Stanwyck movies.
I’ve been a huge fan of the Romanovs since I saw Anastasia in 1997 and since then I’ve made time for several movies and books about the bloody dynasty. If you haven’t watched the astounding Nicholas and Alexandra (1971) make time. But I didn’t know there was a movie looking at Catherine’s life specifically. Young Catherine (1991) sees Julia Ormond play the titular Catherine dealing with the trials and tribulations that would lead to revolution. The Michael Anderson-directed film has an all-star cast that includes Christopher Plummer and Vanessa Redgrave. I’m anticipating some exquisite costumes and locations. Learn about Young Catherine on August 14th during Vanessa Redgrave day at 6am.
You’re probably saying, “Kristen, are you okay? You have a war movie on here!” Yes, I did. This 1964 George Seaton film stars one of my favorite stars, James Garner, alongside the beautiful Eva Marie Saint and Rod Taylor. It tells the story of an American intelligence officer kidnapped by Nazi and brainwashed to believe the war is over. The premise alone sounds interesting, and who can pass up that trio? 36 Hours airs August 18th at 6am alongside other films starring Rod Taylor.
It’s been awhile since I’ve had a documentary on here. Leslie Caron: The Reluctant Star (2016) doesn’t have a lot of information on it but I’m assuming it’s an intimate look at Caron’s life and career. Caron is an actress who honed a very particular look, in the vein of Audrey Hepburn, and I’d love to hear how she dealt with that. Since I only know Caron from two films it’ll be great to see her career in context. Leslie Caron: The Reluctant Star airs during Leslie Caron’s day on August 27th at 8pm.
I love my fair of private detective movies and The Gay Falcon (1942) looks like it would appease many a fan of the Thin Man (1934) series. George Sanders first in the series sees him looking into a jewel theft. I’ve yet to watch Sanders in any of his Saint forays so this seems like a great beginning. The Gay Falcon airs August 30th at 12:45pm.
August 20th is all about the King of Charm, Cary Grant. Things kick off with Cary teaming up with Katharine Hepburn to enjoy a Holiday (1938) at 8pm. Then, Grant and Deborah Kerr engage in an unforgettable Affair to Remember (1957) at 9:45pm. And later Cary Grant meets his match in Shirley Temple in The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947) at midnight.
A freelance film critic whose work fuels the Rotten Tomatoes meter. I've been published on The Hollywood Reporter, Remezcla, and The Daily Beast. I've been featured in the L.A. Times. I currently run two podcasts, Citizen Dame and Ticklish Business.