Robert Osborne on Summer Under the Stars
Thankfully, our oversight does not constitute a crime punishable by flogging, or being fed to sharks, but it does confuse us as much as it obviously has some of you. (We get letters.) It's all the more puzzling since the sly, witty, always welcome Bill Powell is one of our prime favorites here on TCM. His films such as My Man Godfrey (1936), Libeled Lady (1936), the six Thin Man classics, his two appearances as Florenz Ziegfeld, his earlier Jewel Robbery and One Way Passage (both in 1932) and his great exit from films as "Doc" alongside Fonda, Cagney and Lemmon in 1955's Mister Roberts are all jewels of the screen, and never would it be wise to dismiss any of them lightly. None of this even touches on his great silent screen career, with such legendary Powell titles as Beau Geste and The Great Gatsby (both 1926), or his five appearances as private eye Philo Vance.
In our defense, we haven't exactly ignored Mr. Powell through the years. Twice we've celebrated him as our Star of the Month (February 1999, December 2011). But for anyone feeling William P. has been, well, neglected, we'll have 24 hours of his movies coming up on August 9, as he's one of 14 movie stalwarts we're honoring this August for the very first time, a list that also includes Betty Grable, with several Grable films we've never previously shown on TCM, most notably The Dolly Sisters (1945) and the film noir crime favorite I Wake Up Screaming (1941). We'll also have the wonderful Thelma Ritter, with five of the six films for which she received Academy Award® nominations (1951's The Mating Season, 1952's With a Song in My Heart, 1953's Pickup on South Street, 1959's Pillow Talk and 1962's Birdman of Alcatraz); Herbert Marshall, whose 24 hours include two versions of Somerset Maugham's The Letter, one with Jeanne Eagles (1929), the other with Bette Davis (1940); Alan Ladd in his greatest film legacy Shane (1953), as well as three of the film noir favorites which so dynamically teamed him with Veronica Lake (1942's This Gun for Hire, 1942's The Glass Key, 1946's The Blue Dahlia). Other first-timers on our August TCM list will include Europe's eternal femme fatale Jeanne Moreau; Hitchcock's rugged discovery in Lifeboat (1944), John Hodiak; the woman who kept Bogart busy trying to knock off various movie wives, sultry Alexis Smith; the fast-talking, scandal-plagued Lee Tracy; Oscar® winners from the 1930s (Paul Muni), the '50s (Edmond O'Brien) and the '70s (Faye Dunaway); the brilliant, underappreciated Gladys George, and another talented Powell long overdue in getting a TCM August salute--actor, crooner, film noir tough guy, director, producer, movie exec Dick Powell.
There's so much great stuff going on in August here on TCM, this is not a good time to even consider being anywhere but within the immediate vicinity of the Turner Classic Movies "on" button.
by Robert Osborne