August 1–August 7


TOP HAT (August 5, 11:00 am): As a general rule, I don't like musicals, especially those with dancing. (Don't confuse that with movies with great music in which people don't suddenly break out in song. I like a lot of those.) So what's different about Top Hat? At the top of the list is Fred Astaire. As with most musicals, the plot is secondary. He's a dancer who wakes up the woman (Ginger Rogers) living in an apartment below him with his tap dancing. He falls in love, there are a few misunderstandings, and the two eventually get together. Astaire has great charisma and charm, and his dancing is so natural looking. He makes it look as easy as walking. The storyline is typical of a good screwball comedies from the 1930s (this one came out in 1935). But it's the dancing and the memorable songs, written by Irving Berlin, such as "Cheek to Cheek" and "Top Hat, White Tie and Tails," that make this movie a must-see and among my favorite musicals.

HANNAH AND HER SISTERS (August 6, 8:00 pm): Like me, Woody Allen loves Ingmar Bergman films. Unlike me, he gets to make films that steal, um, borrow from Bergman. You have to give Allen credit, he does great adaptations. For example, this film is very similar in structure to Bergman's excellent  Fanny and Alexander . In this 1986 film, Mia Farrow is Hannah, whose husband (played by Michael Caine), falls in love with one of her sisters, a free-spirit (Barbara Hershey). Woody, as Hannah's ex-husband, steals every scene as a hypochondriac convinced he's going to die. He ends up with Hannah's other sister (Dianne Wiest). The acting is spectacular, with Caine winning the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor and Wiest for Best Supporting Actress, and an all-star cast. 


THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD (August 2, 8:00 pm): When one looks up the term “action picture,” a still from this film should be under the definition. Quite simply, this is the role Errol Flynn was born to play, and he’s quite good in it. Give him such villains to play against as Claude Rains and Basil Rathbone, and this film just can’t be beaten. Olivia de Havilland shines as Maid Marian, with Una O’Connor and Herbert Mundin in fine form as the comic relief. The best thing about the film is its refusal to take itself seriously, which amps up our enjoyment even more. Michael Curtiz directed with a nearly flawless style. It’s simply one of those rare films I can watch over and over without growing bored.

THE BAND WAGON (August 5, 12:00 am): In my estimation, this is the greatest musical ever to come out of Hollywood. Fred Astaire has never been better than he is here playing a faded Hollywood musical star lured out of retirement to star in a stage musical based on Faust, of all things. He has tremendous support from the lovely Cyd Charisse, Nanette Fabray, English song-and-dance man Jack Buchanan, and Oscar Levant, who, although playing Oscar Levant as in every other film, has never done it better than this. There are lots of great numbers topped off by Astaire and Charisse in “Girl Hunt,” a mystery set in swingtime. Fabulous. It really doesn’t get any better than this.


ED: AThis film has the distinction of being the first mythic sports film ever made. If anyone was made for mythologizing, it was Lou Gehrig, who slid ever so comfortably into a role established in Greek myths. Gary Cooper was pitch perfect to play Gehrig, as both were of the strong, silent type. Watching it today, it’s hard to imagine anyone except Cooper in the role. Granted, there are some pictures he was never cut out to do, but this is the perfect role, as it plays to his strengths as an actor, especially in the last scene where the hero, to god-man, is forced to accept his mortality. The real prize in the film, though, is Teresa Wright, who practically steals the show as Gehrig’s devoted wife Eleanor. Another who deserves credit is cinematographer Rudolph Mate, who made the 41-year old Cooper look good enough to play the young Gehrig simply through the use of lighting and camera angle. This is one of the greatest sports movies ever made, and some critics today still count it the best ever made.

DAVID: B-. A good, but certainly not great, film that is more fantasy than reality. Gary Cooper does a decent job playing baseball legend Lou Gehrig, but despite what Ed wrote, he looks like an old man playing the younger Gehrig in college (?!) and during his early years in the major leagues. Adding Yankees, such as Babe Ruth, who played with Gehrig decades earlier, in cameo roles doesn't help matters as they also look too old. In this movie, Cooper reminds me of Robert Redford playing a ball player who is supposed to be much younger than he actually was in The Natural. For some reason, Hollywood has done an overall poor job making baseball films with the original Bad News Bears being its best effort and that film is certainly not a classic. However, this is an effective tear-jerker and the chemistry between Coop and Teresa Wright, as Gehrig's wife, is solid. Cooper makes Gehrig's "Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the Earth" speech, with the echo from Yankee Stadium, an iconic movie moment. Again, it's a good movie. It just has some dull spots and flawed moments.

Schedule Subject to Change (All Times Eastern)

August is the annual “Summer Under the Stars” feature on TCM. Each day a different star is highlighted.

August 1 – Gene Tierney

6:00 am – NEVER LET ME GO (MGM, 1953): Clark Gable, Gene Tierney. Soviet authorities keep an American correspondent and his Russian ballerina wife separate in this unconvincing drama. C+

7:45 am – PLYMOUTH ADVENTURE (MGM, 1952): Spencer Tracy, Gene Tierney, & Van Johnson. An all-star cast in this superficial dramatization of the Pilgrims’ landing. C+

9:45 am – THE EGYPTIAN (Fox, 1954): Jean Simmons, Victor Mature, & Gene Tierney. An ancient Egyptian doctor uses court intrigue to discover his birthright. C

12:15 pm – BLACK WIDOW (20th Century Fox, 1954): Ginger Rogers, Gene Tierney, George Raft, & Peggy Ann Garner. A young stage hopeful is murdered and suspicion falls on her mentor. C+

2:00 pm – WHIRLPOOL (Fox, 1949): Gene Tierney, Richard Conte, & Jose Ferrer. A quack hypnotist uses a vulnerable woman as an agent to carry out his evil scheme. A

3:45 pm – LAURA (Fox, 1944): Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews, & Clifton Webb. A police detective falls in love with the woman whose murder he’s been investigating. A+

5:15 pm – THE RAZOR’S EDGE (Fox, 1946): Tyrone Power, Anne Baxter, & Gene Tierney. A young man's quest for spiritual peace threatens his position in society. A-

8:00 pm – THE GHOST AND MRS. MUIR (Fox, 1947): Gene Tierney, Rex Harrison. A spirited widow rents a haunted cottage and develops a friendship with its resident ghost. B+

10:00 pm – HEAVEN CAN WAIT (Fox, 1943): Gene Tierney, Don Ameche. An old rake arrives in Hades to review his life with the Devil, who will determine his eligibility to enter the underworld. A

12:00 am – ADVISE AND CONSENT (Columbia, 1962): Franchot Tone, Lew Ayers, & Henry Fonda. A Senate investigation of the newly nominated Secretary of State could ruin the candidate and the President. B+

4:15 am – TOYS IN THE ATTIC (UA, 1963): Dean Martin, Yvette Mimieux, & Geraldine Page. Dean runs into trouble aplenty when he brings child-bride Mimieux back to New Orleans. B+

August 2 – Olivia de Havilland

7:15 am – MY LOVE CAME BACK (WB, 1940: Olivia de Havilland, Jeffrey Lynn. A millionaire helps a young violinist with her career. C+

8:45 am – IT’S LOVE I’M AFTER (WB, 1937): Leslie Howard, Bette Davis, and Olivia de Havilland. A squabbling stage couple gets mixed up with an amorous fan and her jealous suitor. C+

10:30 am – THE GREAT GARRICK (WB, 1937): Brian Aherne, Olivia de Havilland. French actors set out to deflate the ego of legendary stage star David Garrick. B+

12:15 pm – THE MALE ANIMAL (WB, 1942): Henry Fonda, Olivia de Havilland. A college professor fights both censorship and his wife’s old boyfriend. C

6:00 pm – DODGE CITY (WB, 1941): Errol Flynn, Bruce Cabot. Soldier of fortune Flynn takes on old enemy Cabot, who runs Dodge City. B

8:00 pm – THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD (WB, 1938): Errol Flynn, Claude Rains, Olivia de Havilland, & Basil Rathbone. Errol Flynn as Robin Hood battles Prince John and Sir Guy of Gisbourne. A+

10:00 pm – THE PROUD REBEL (Buena Vista, 1958): Alan Ladd, Olivia de Havilland, & Dean Jagger. A rancher tries to raise money to treat his mute son. B

12:00 am – HUSH, HUSH SWEET CHARLOTTE (Fox, 1964): Bette Davis, Olivia de Havilland. A wealthy southern spinster fights to keep her family's secrets hidden. B-

4:15 am – GOVERNMENT GIRL (RKO, 1944): Olivia de Havilland, Sonny Tufts. A production expert and a secretary are thrown together in wartime Washington. C

August 3 – Adolphe Menjou

6:00 am – THE SHEIK (Paramount, 1921): Rudolph Valentino, Agnes Ayres. An Arabian sheik kidnaps a beautiful Englishwoman to win her heart. A-

7:30 am – A WOMAN OF PARIS (UA, 1923): Edna Purviance, Adolphe Menjou. When a young woman thinks her fiancé has jilted her, she runs off to Paris and a life of sin. Silent. A

9:00 am – THE EASIEST WAY (MGM, 1931): Constance Bennett, Adolphe Menjou, & Robert Montgomery. A slum girl enjoys life as a kept woman until she falls in love. Look for Clark Gable in his first film for MGM. C

10:15 am – MEN CALL IT LOVE (MGM, 1931): Adolphe Menjou, Leila Hyams, & Norman Foster. A man leaves his mistress to court a happily married woman. C

11:45 am – THE GREAT LOVER (MGM, 1931): Adolphe Menjou, Irene Dunne. A womanizing opera star falls in love with his innocent young protégée. C

1:00 pm – THE MILKY WAY (Paramount, 1936): Harold Lloyd, Adolphe Menjou. A mild-mannered milkman stumbles onto a career in the boxing ring. B+

6:00 pm – A STAR IS BORN (Selznick International, 1937): Frederic March, Janet Gaynor. A fading alcoholic leading man (March) marries the young beginner (Gaynor) he mentored to stardom. A+

8:00 pm – FATHER TAKES A WIFE (RKO, 1941): Adolphe Menjou, Gloria Swanson. A famous actress has to win over her new family when she marries a shipping magnate. C+

9:30 pm – GOLD DIGGERS OF 1935 (WB, 1935): Dick Powell, Gloria Stuart. A wealthy socialite is conned into backing a musical show. Great production numbers, including “The Lullaby of Broadway.” A-

11:15 pm – STAGE DOOR (RKO, 1937): Katharine Hepburn, Ginger Rogers, & Lucille Ball. Aspiring actresses live in a boarding house while waiting for the big break. C+

12:45 am – THE HUCKSTERS (MGM, 1947): Clark Gable, Sydney Greenstreet. War veteran Gable fights for honesty in the advertising game. A

2:45 am – THE TALL TARGET (MGM, 1951): Dick Powell, Paula Raymond, & Adolphe Menjou. A detective tries to prevent the assassination of President Lincoln during a train ride. A

August 4 – Teresa Wright

6:00 am – CALIFORNIA CONQUEST (Columbia, 1952): Cornel Wilde, Teresa Wright. A wealthy landowner leads the fight to leave Mexican rule and make California a state. C+

9:15 am – THE STEEL TRAP (Fox, 1952): Joseph Cotten, Teresa Wright. Bank employee Cotten must return stolen cash to the bank before it’s discovered missing. C+

10:45 am – THE ACTRESS (MGM, 1953): Spencer Tracy, Jean Simmons, & Teresa Wright. Based on the true story of Ruth Gordon’s struggles on the road to stardom. B-

12:30 pm – CASANOVA BROWN (RKO, 1944): Gary Cooper, Teresa Wright, & Frank Morgan. A couple on the verge of divorce learns the wife is pregnant. C+

2:30 pm – MRS. MINIVER (MGM, 1942): Greer Garson, Walter Pidgeon. Garson is a British housewife and Pidgeon her husband in the ultimate morale picture about a British family during the London Blitz. C+

5:00 pm – THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES (Goldwyn/RKO, 1946): Dana Andrews, Myrna Loy. William Wyler’s classic about the trials of three veterans trying to readjust after the war. A+

8:00 pm – THE LITTLE FOXES (RKO/Goldwyn, 1941): Bette Davis, Herbert Marshall. An ambitious woman takes on her corrupt brothers and honest husband in her drive for wealth. A

10:15 pm – SHADOW OF A DOUBT (Universal, 1943): Joseph Cotten, Teresa Wright. A young girl fears her favorite uncle may be a serial killer. A+

12:15 am – THE PRIDE OF THE YANKEES (RKO, 1943): Gary Cooper, Teresa Wright. Cooper stars in this biopic about the career of the Yankee great. Ratings: See above.

2:30 am – THE HAPPY ENDING (UA, 1969): Jean Simmons, John Forsythe. An unhappy middle-aged woman leaves her husband and children in search of herself. She should try the Yellow Pages. C

4:30 am – COUNT THE HOURS (RKO, 1953): Teresa Wright, MacDonald Carey. Don Siegel directed this suspense entry about a lawyer defending a migrant worker in a murder trial. B-

August 5 – Fred Astaire

6:00 am – FLYING DOWN TO RIO (RKO, 1933): Dolores Del Rio, Fred Astaire, & Ginger Rogers. Astaire and Rogers enliven this otherwise ordinary story of a bandleader who finds love and success in Brazil. B-

7:30 am – THE GAY DIVORCEE (RKO, 1934): Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers. An unhappily married woman mistakes a suitor for a gigolo hired to end her marriage. A-

9:30 am – ROBERTA (RKO, 1935): Irene Dunne, Fred Astaire, & Ginger Rogers. A football player inherits a chic Paris fashion house. A-

11:00 am – TOP HAT (RKO, 1935): Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers. Quintessential with a great Irving Berlin score highlighted by Fred and Ginger’s dancing to “Cheek to Cheek” It’s one for the ages. A+

1:00 pm – FOLLOW THE FLEET (RKO, 1936): Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Randolph Scott, & Harriet Hilliard. Two sailors on leave romance a dance-hall hostess and her prim sister. A

4:45 pm – CAREFREE (RKO, 1938): Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers. A psychiatrist falls in love with a woman he’s supposed to be steering to someone else. A-

8:00 pm – SHALL WE DANCE? (RKO, 1937): Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers. A ballet dancer and a showgirl fake a marriage for publicity purposes and fall in love unexpectedly. A-

10:15 pm – YOU WERE NEVER LOVELIER (Columbia, 1942): Fred Astaire, Rita Hayworth. Argentine heiress Hayworth thinks penniless American dancer Astaire is her secret admirer. A-

12:00 am – THE BAND WAGON (MGM, 1953): Fred Astaire, Nanette Fabares, Oscar Levant, & Cyd Charisse. Astaire is a Hollywood song and dance man whose transition to Broadway proves painful. A+

2:00 am – SILK STOCKINGS (MGM, 1939): Fred Astaire, Cyd Charisse, & Peter Lorre. This musical version of Ninotchka stars Charisse in the Garbo role and Astaire in the Douglas role. B-

August 6 –Michael Caine

8:15 am – HELL IN KOREA (British Lion, 1956): George Baker, Harry Andrews. A small U.N. patrol tangles with the Chinese. C+

9:45 am – BILLION DOLLAR BRAIN (UA, 1967): Michael Caine, Karl Malden. A retired spy becomes involved in a plan to overthrow Communism using a new supercomputer. C

11:45 am – PULP (UA, 1972): Michael Caine, Mickey Rooney. Reclusive ex-actor Rooney recruits Caine, a writer of sleazy pulp novels, to help him write his autobiography. C

1:30 pm – THE WILBY CONSPIRACY (UA, 1975): Sidney Poitier, Michael Caine. An African activist and an Englishman join forces to battle a corrupt government official in South Africa. B+

3:30 pm – THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING (Columbia, 1975): Sean Connery, Michael Caine. Two con artists set out to take over a remote Asian land with a priceless golden treasure. A-

5:45 pm – DEATHTRAP (WB, 1982): Michael Caine, Christopher Reeve, & Dyan Cannon. A blocked playwright plots to kill a beginner and steal his script. C

8:00 pm – HANNAH AND HER SISTERS (Orion, 1986): Mia Farrow, Michael Caine, Carrie Fisher, & Dianne Wiest. Woody Allen’s look at a large family and its affairs between two Thanksgivings. A-

10:00 pm – THE IPCRESS FILE (Universal, 1965): Michael Caine, Nigel Greene. Secret agent Harry Palmer fights to survive brainwashing when a traitor hands him over to the enemy. B

12:00 am – GET CARTER (MGM, 1971): Michael Caine, Ian Hendry, & Britt Ekland. A small time gangster searches for the truth behind his brother’s death. B+

2:00 am – THE ROMANTIC ENGLISHWOMAN (New World, 1975): Glenda Jackson, Michael Caine. A blocked novelist tries to use his wife's search for romance as inspiration. C+

4:00 am – THE SWARM (WB, 1978): Michael Caine, Katherine Ross. An all-star cast helps fight the invasion of killer bees from South America. It’s a disaster in more ways than one. F

August 7 – Katharine Hepburn

6:00 am – LITTLE WOMEN (RKO, 1933): Katharine Hepburn, Joan Bennett. The four March sisters fight to keep their family together and find love while their father is off fighting the Civil War. B+

8:00 am – SYLVIA SCARLETT (RKO, 1935): Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant. This is a bizarre tale concerning a young woman who passes as a male in order to escape the law in France. B-

10:00 am – QUALITY STREET (RKO, 1937): Katharine Hepburn, Franchot Tone. A woman masquerades as her own niece to win back a neglectful suitor. B-

11:30 am – BRINGING UP BABY (RKO, 1938): Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn. Howard Hawks directed this great screwball comedy about a naïve professor who is pursued by a dizzy heiress with a pet leopard. B-

3:00 pm – ADAM’S RIB (MGM, 1949): Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, David Wayne, & Judy Holliday. Tracy and Hepburn are husband and wife lawyers on opposite sides in a murder case. B

8:00 pm – ALICE ADAMS (RKO, 1935): Katharine Hepburn, Fred MacMurray. A small town woman with grand social ambition meets an upper class man and suddenly finds her family embarrassing. A-

10:00 pm – THE LION IN WINTER (Avco Embassy, 1968): Peter O’Toole, Katharine Hepburn, & Anthony Hopkins. King Henry II and Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine argue over the choice of an heir. A+

12:30 am – MARY OF SCOTLAND (RKO, 1936): Katharine Hepburn, Frederic March. Hepburn stars as the Scottish queen who ended her days in the tower of London. Directed by John Ford. B-

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