Summer Under the Stars Guide: 8/27-8/31

Well, here we are. It’s the last week of Summer Under the Stars. August is flying by. Here are my picks for the last few days,

Day 27-Leslie Caron

I could have picked any of the musicals from Caron’s filmography. But my pick is actually one that will be a first time viewing for me: Father Goose. The film co-stars Cary Grant, as a beachcomber in the South Sea who is persuaded to spy on planes passing over his island. But things get complicated when a schoolteacher (Caron) arrives on the island fleeing the Japanese. Grant ends up being responsible for the teacher and her pupils who are on the run with her. Sounds like some action-packed comedic fun to me.

Day 28-Slim Pickens

Slim Pickens is probably best remembered for his performance in Stanley Kubrick’s dark comedic masterpiece Dr. Strangelove. While that was inexplicably left off the TCM programming that day, his other scene-stealing performance was not. And that’s my pick for day 28: Blazing Saddles. Mel Brook’s irreverent send up of westerns is simply one of the most hysterical comedies ever to be filmed. Here’s a quick breakdown of the plot.

A town where everyone seems to be named Johnson is in the way of the railroad. In order to grab their land, Hedley Lemar (Harvey Korman), a politically connected nasty person, sends in his henchmen to make the town unlivable. After the sheriff is killed, the town demands a new sheriff from the Governor (Mel Brooks). Hedley convinces him to send the town the first Black sheriff (Cleavon Little) in the west. Bart is a sophisticated urbanite who will have some difficulty winning over the townspeople.–IMDB

Pickens is brilliant as one of Korman’s henchmen. And the film also features a great performance by the late Gene Wilder. The film is an equal opportunity offender. And that’s part of why I love it.

Day 29-Marion Davies

My pick for Marion Davies’ day is Show People. It’s a great satire on show business and a fun romantic comedy.

Colonel Pepper (Dell Henderson) brings his daughter, Peggy (Marion Davies), to Hollywood from Georgia to be an actress. There she meets Billy (William Haines) who gets her work at Comet Studio doing comedies with him. But Peggy is discovered by High Art Studio and she leaves Billy and Comet to work there. For her new image, she is now Patricia Pepoire and ignores Billy when he sees her on location. When she is not longer wanted by the little people who do not understand “ART”, she plans to marry Andre (Paul Ralli) to get a fake title. Billy will not let her go without a fight.–IMDB

Show People is a great silent comedy directed brilliantly by King Vidor.

Day 30-George Sanders

I must admit that I did a happy dance when I saw George Sanders’ day on the schedule. He’s not only a brilliant actor, but he has one of the most gorgeous voices in film history. He normally plays cads, but my choice is actually a film where he plays a good guy. It’s Hitchock’s brilliant thriller Foreign Correspondent. In the film, Sanders teams up with a reporter played by Joel McCrea to expose enemy spies in London on the eve of World War II. In addition to Sanders and McCrea, the film features a brilliant supporting cast that includes Laraine Day, Herbert Marshall, Robert Benchley, and Edmund Gwenn. It’s a taut thriller that is one of Hitchcock’s best. And that is saying something.

Day 31-Elizabeth Taylor

The last day is devoted to Elizabeth Taylor. And while she is largely remembered from her roles as an adult, especially Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Giant, my choice is actually one of her earliest film roles. It’s National Velvet from 1944. In the film, Taylor plays Velvet Brown, a young girl who dreams of riding her horse in the Grand National steeple chase. This film has a special place in my heart, because Velvet was a teen who was more interested in riding horses than chasing boys, a girl after my own heart. It’s an inspiring film that’s great for all ages. And Anne Revere is brilliant as Velvet’s mother. You’ll see why she won an Oscar. Also look for character actor Donald Crisp as Velvet’s stern but caring father and Mickey Rooney as a drifter who helps Velvet train her horse and live her dream.

That’s it for my Summer Under the Stars picks. Enjoy the last week of the festival!


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