Goodbye for now to TCM’s Summer Under the Stars

From TCM’s archives

Every year I look forward to August, when Turner Classic Movies offers a star a day during the Summer Under the Stars Festival, showing movies featuring one particular actor from 6 am one day to 6 am the next.  When I was a child one of the local stations played old movies (i.e. 30’s and 40’s) every Sunday afternoon and my film buff parents and I would hang out together watching.  William Powell and Irene Dunne, et al were just as current for me as the younger stars of more contemporary movies (now sadly also considered oldies…).

Cropped screenshot of William Powell and Myrna...

Cropped screenshot of William Powell and Myrna Loy from the trailer for The Great Ziegfeld (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

They used to mainly feature all the famous and obvious choices like Fred Astaire, Katherine Hepburn and/or Myrna Loy.  After a few years I realized that I’ve covered most of the films considered great by the greats and that I didn’t particularly want to see some of them again every year.  So I started making a point of recording more obscure movies.

This year TCM seemed to spend more days featuring character actors and stars who haven’t been as much remembered, like Mary Boland and Charles Coburn.  So I’ve had quite a fest this round of seeing movies I’ve never seen before.  Some were entertaining but forgettable, some I couldn’t get through.  But I found some gems with greats like Melvyn Douglas (over the last few years this fest has turned me into a big fan), Fred MacMurray, Claudette Colbert and others.

Cropped screenshot of Melvyn Douglas from the ...

Cropped screenshot of Melvyn Douglas from the film Ninotchka (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cropped screenshot of Claudette Colbert from t...

Cropped screenshot of Claudette Colbert from the film I Cover the Waterfront (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve discovered over the years that I particularly love thirties movies , for so many reasons.  Even though I’m not a fashion buff generally, I have to say I LOVE the thirties clothes.  Dialog tended to be fast and witty (many exceptions, of course).  I love stepping back in history by getting caught up in a film that is now historical– I don’t always agree with the sensibilities but I’m fascinated to get to glimpse another way of being and doing.

When the month comes to an end I always feel a mixture of relief that I don’t have to keep finding time to watch one or two movies a day and sadness that I know TCM will go back to having giant blocks of Westerns and war movies (neither of which are appealing to me) and the fun of discovering gems of the past will be over.  I still have a couple of recordings to watch and today they’re easing me out by running a bunch of Hitchcock movies, but, sigh, Summer Under the Stars is over for this year.  Had a lovely time.

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