by Julian Spivey
Turner Classic Movies’ annual August tradition of “Summer Under the Stars” is underway. Every August Turner Classic Movies (TCM) selects 30 actors, one for every day of the month, and airs nothing but films featuring that movie star on their day. The television channel dedicated to classic movies doesn’t just choose the biggest stars of acting every year, but also likes to give days to talented character actors like Warren Oates and Lee J. Cobb, who are both featured this year.
Here are the 10 days you should definitely mark on your calendar for this year’s Summer Under the Stars lineup:
Katharine Hepburn (Friday, Aug. 7)
Friday, August 7 features films all day long starring the all-time winningest best actress Oscar winner Katharine Hepburn, considered by many to be the greatest actress in film history. Be sure to catch one of Hepburn’s four Oscar-winning performances in “The Lion in Winter” (1968) at 9 p.m.
Robert Mitchum (Wednesday, Aug. 12)
Wednesday, August 12 features a day of films featuring Robert Mitchum, one of the most masculine actors in film history. Mitchum’s Summer Under the Stars slate unfortunately doesn’t include his greatest performance as Rev. Harry Powell in “The Night of the Hunter” (1955), but be sure to catch him as a fast-driving moonshine runner in “Thunder Road” (1958) at 9:45 p.m.
Groucho Marx (Friday, August 14)
Friday, August 14 features a day filled with movies from one of the funniest men to ever grace the big screen, Groucho Marx. It’s interesting that Groucho is the featured star of the day and not the entire Marx Brothers trio, including Harpo and Chico. If you like witty and sarcastic humor you’d better not miss out on this. Be sure to check out Groucho’s best performance in “Duck Soup” (1933) at 9:45 p.m.
Patricia Neal (Sunday, August 16)
Sunday, August 16 features a slate full of movies featuring Patricia Neal, who is likely one of the most underrated leading women in film history. Neal can be seen in quite the trifecta of “The Day the Earth Stood Still” (1951), her Oscar-winning performance in “Hud” (1963) and perhaps her greatest performance in “A Face in the Crowd” (1957) starting at 7 p.m.
Lee J. Cobb (Monday, August 17)
Monday, August 17 features films starring Lee J. Cobb, who if you were to make a list of the greatest supporting or character actors in the history of cinema would probably be near the very top. Cobb was particularly adept at portraying film baddies and can be seen doing so back-to-back in the stellar “12 Angry Men” (1957) and “On the Waterfront” (1954) starting at 8:45 p.m.
John Wayne (Wednesday, August 19)
Wednesday, August 19 features a day filled with films from John Wayne, the man who perhaps is the most iconic and larger than life star in all of cinema history. Many of The Duke’s most memorable roles are on the schedule for his Summer Under the Stars date, but the recommendation has to be his greatest role in John Ford’s “The Searchers” (1956) at 9:15 p.m.
Warren Oates (Monday, August 24)
Monday, August 24 is filled with films featuring a man that some novice movie watchers may not know by heart, but absolutely should and that’s Warren Oates. Oates is one of the greatest character actors in film history and one of the great things about TCM’s Summer Under the Stars is its able to bring an entire day of films from a lesser known, but terrific actor like Oates to the forefront. It’s unfortunate his great performance in Monte Hellman’s “Two-Lane Blacktop” (1971) isn’t on the schedule, but be sure to catch him in Sam Peckinpah’s “The Wild Bunch,” considered one of the greatest Westerns of all-time, at midnight, August 25.
Ingrid Bergman (Friday, August 28)
Friday, August 28 features a day filled with performances from one of the greatest actress of all time and one who’s also somewhat underrated in the stunningly beautiful Ingrid Bergman. Only one of the three-time Oscar winners performances is on the schedule for this day: “Gaslight” (1944), but you should be sure to catch what’s likely her most memorable performance as Ilsa in “Casablanca” (1942).
George C. Scott (Saturday, August 29)
Saturday, August 29 features a day full of George C. Scott movies. George C. Scott was the consummate actor who was at home perfectly in either a larger than life leading role like his Oscar-winning turn in the biopic “Patton” (1970) or as a supporting actor in films like “The Hustler” (1961) and “Anatomy of a Murder” (1959” – all which are featured on his day.
Gary Cooper (Sunday, August 30)
Sunday, August 30 features an entire day of films starring American acting legend Gary Cooper, who always seemed to play endearing heroes on the big screen. Cooper was a two-time best actor Oscar winner, but unfortunately only one of those performances is featured on his day: “Sergeant York” (1941), with perhaps his greatest movie performance as Marshall Will Kane in “High Noon” (1952) being absent. The one film you should be sure to check out on Cooper’s day is his star-making turn in Frank Capra’s fascinating “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town” (1936).