Summer Under the Stars Guide: 8/13-8/19

Greetings, readers! I hope if you get TCM you’re enjoying the Summer Under the Stars Festival as much as I am. Just like last week, I have picks for the days of each featured star. Here are my must-see movies for this week.

Day 13-Barbara Stanwyck

This was one of the hardest to pick just one. I’m a huge fan of Stanwyck’s and you honestly can’t go wrong with anything she’s in. Having said that, if you watch one film on her day, make it Baby Face. It’s the grande dame of pre-code movies. It was racy in 1933 and it’s racy today. Stanwyck is brilliant in the story of a woman literally sleeping her way to the top. Don’t miss it!

Day 14-Vanessa Redgrave

My pick for Redgrave’s day is Blow-Up. Michelangelo Antonioni’s mystery movie about a London photographer who thinks he may have photographed a murder, is one heck of a trip. It’s very 60s with its costumes and music. But it’s a great thriller to be sure. It’s psychedelic as well as mesmerizing.

Day 15-Ricardo Montalban

My favorite film of Montalban’s is actually Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. While that one isn’t being shown, there are plenty of other good ones. My pick for his day is Mystery Street. On the surface it’s a simple film noir in the format of a police procedural about the investigation of the death of a prostitute. But the way it’s constructed brilliantly builds tension. The film was groundbreaking for the first real presentation of forensic evidence in a movie and it was a breakthrough role for Montalban. Up until that time he had mostly been cast as a Latin lover.

Day 16-Elvis Presley

I have to confess I’m not the world’s biggest Elvis fan. But I did enjoy one movie of his, and it’s my pick of the day: Jailhouse Rock. A film about a talented singer/songwriter who becomes a teen idol after serving time for manslaughter, Jailhouse Rock shows us that Elvis Presley had potential to really grow as an actor. Sadly he never quite got the right material. It’s worth seeing for the iconic title song and it’s groundbreaking choreography.

Day 17-Rosalind Russell

Like Stanwyck’s day, Rosalind Russell’s day made it hard to pick just one. But I have to choose my favorite film comedy: His Girl Friday. The chemistry between Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell, the rapid-fire dialogue, and all the physical screwball comedy, make this film a pure delight. The plot, adapted from the play The Front Page, follows a newspaper editor (Grant) as he employs one trick after another to keep his top reporter and ex-wife from re-marrying. You can’t help but fall in love with this comedic masterpiece.

Day 18-Rod Taylor

I’m a lover of science fiction. So my pick for Rod Taylor’s day will hardly come as a surprise. It’s The Time Machine. Based on H.G. Wells’ classic novel of the same name, it follows a man who travels forward in time in a time machine, hoping to see the future as more utopian. Sadly the future isn’t quite that bright. The film, wonderfully directed by George Pal, manages to capture the intellectual spirit of the novel and also dazzle with groundbreaking special effects.

Day 19-Angela Lansbury

I grew up knowing Angela Lansbury from her TV series Murder, She Wrote and as the voice of Mrs. Potts in Beauty & the Beast. None of that prepared me for her chilling performance in John Frankenheimer’s The Manchurian Candidate. As the mother of a Korean War hero and Medal of honor winner, Lansbury is spellbinding as the hero’s domineering mother who is part of a communist conspiracy plot that involves brainwashing and an assassination. Mrs. Iselin belongs on any respectable list of great movie villains.

Those are my picks for this week. Enjoy the movies!





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