by Julian Spivey
August is one of the best months of the year for classic movie lovers as Turner Classic Movies, the one television network dedicated to classic film, airs its annual Summer Under the Stars where one legendary movie actor is featured for the entire 24 hours with some of his or her all-time greatest flicks.
The entire TCM Summer Under the Stars schedule can be found HERE.
But, I wanted to take the moment to highlight five days during the month that all film lovers should instantly mark down on their calendars and set their DVRs for.
Arguably the four greatest actors to ever live are being featured as part of Summer Under the Stars this August, as well as one of the greatest actresses to ever grace the movie screen.
The month begins with one of the greatest, most naturalistic actors of all-time: Henry Fonda. Fonda could do everything from the greatest dramatic performances you’ve ever seen to laugh-out-loud comedies. Known for playing heroic everyman figures for the majority of his career he even branched out and played an all-time classic villain in Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West, which you unfortunately won’t see on the TCM schedule on Thursday, August 1. However, some of Fonda’s finest roles are on tap including “The Grapes of Wrath” (1940), “The Lady Eve” (1941) and “Mister Roberts” (1955). But, the one you should most make time for is Sidney Lumet’s jury room drama “12 Angry Men,” a top-10 all-time film, in my opinion.
The first week of TCM’s Summer Under the Stars is truly lit with three of the greatest actors to ever grace the big screen being featured on the small screen. Saturday, August 3 is Marlon Brando’s time to shine. Brando was truly a force to be reckoned with on the movie screen bringing the more modern method style of acting to the forefront. Among the classics being shown on his day are “Mutiny on the Bounty” (1962), “A Streetcar Named Desire” (1951) and “The Wild One” (1953), but the one most worth your attention is his performance as a guy who could’ve been a little bit more of a contender in Elia Kazan’s 1954 classic “On the Waterfront.”
James Stewart, who is personally my favorite actor of all-time, will be featured on Wednesday, August 7 wrapping up a fantastic first week of the month-long Summer Under the Stars. Stewart, much like his real-life best buddy Fonda, was known for playing heroic everymen, but also could play characters who were far from perfect and had a mean streak to them – and both of these aspects of his work are featured on his day. Among the notable films selected for his day are “The Naked Spur” (1953), “The Shop Around the Corner” (1940) and “Harvey” (1950), but the one you’re going to want top set your DVR for (because it’s airing in the middle of the night at 2:30 a.m.) is his all-time greatest performance in Frank Capra’s brilliant “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” (1939).
When the American Film Institute did its list of the greatest movie stars of all-time about two decades ago now the greatest actor of all-time on the list was Humphrey Bogart. Some of Bogart’s greatest work is being featured via Summer Under the Stars on Sunday, August 11 including “The Treasure of the Sierra Made” (1948,) “The African Queen” (1951) and “The Big Sleep” (1946). However, the one you should most look for is one of his most underrated roles of all-time as a writer going mad in Nicholas Ray’s 1950 film noir “In a Lonely Place.”
When you think of grace on the movie screen one of the first names to come to mind is the lovely Audrey Hepburn, who was without a doubt one of the greatest actresses to ever live. Her day being featured as part of Summer Under the Stars is Sunday, August 18 and among her most notable selections that day are “My Fair Lady” (1964), “Sabrina” (1954) and “Charade” (1963), but I highly recommend setting your DVR for her final film of the day “Wait Until Dark” airing at 3 a.m. where Hepburn plays a blind woman trying to hide from people out to rob and kill her in an incredibly taut thriller directed by Terence Young.