Robert Osborne on Summer Under the Stars
That's true again this year, when, for instance, all of August 22 will be movies with the magnificent Maggie Smith, who's been one of the most acclaimed performers of the year thanks to the popular British TV series Downton Abbey. On TCM we'll be showing 11 of her films, from one of her earliest, the British-made Nowhere to Go from 1958, a time she was basically unknown to U.S. moviegoers, all the way to 1981's Clash of the Titans, when Maggie was a two-time Academy Award® winner and working with Laurence Olivier in a film written by Maggie's husband Beverley Cross. In those 24 hours of Dame Maggie we'll also be showing the two films for which she won those Oscars® (1969's The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and 1978's California Suite), as well as another for which she was Oscar®- nominated (1965's Othello, also with Olivier) and a gem she made in 1973 with Timothy Bottoms called Love and Pain and the Whole Damn Thing, a movie you very likely have never seen or ever heard of which will, I guarantee, prove to be a delightful discovery.
Maggie, for the record, is a star we've never saluted before in one of these August celebrations, and this session she's joining 15 other August newcomers, including Academy Award® winners Joan Fontaine, Mickey Rooney, Hattie McDaniel, Wallace Beery, Shirley Jones, Rex Harrison and Charles Coburn, as well as Natalie Wood, Ann Blyth, Catherine Deneuve, Jeanne Crain, silent screen idol Ramon Novarro and two highly-respected character actors who've never received a fraction of the attention they deserve, Glenda Farrell and Mary Boland.
Among the film treats this month will be two versions of Ben-Hur (the spectacular silent one from 1925 and the epic sound version from 1959), 10 films which have won the Academy's Best Picture prize, 34 performances which have received Oscar® statuettes, and 35 TCM premieres, including Anatole Litvak's poignant wartime romance This Above All, Luis Buñuel's steamy Belle de Jour, Otto Preminger's witty The Fan (based on Oscar Wilde's Lady Windermere's Fan), Burt Kennedy's boisterous The Good Guys and the Bad Guys, the Joseph Mankiewicz thriller Escape (not to be confused with any of the many other films that carry that same title), and the list goes on.
On top of that, there will be 24 hours of magic with 15 incandescent stars we've honored before, among them Humphrey Bogart, Doris Day, Henry Fonda, Lana Turner, Bette Davis, Gregory Peck, William Holden, Elizabeth Taylor, Kirk Douglas and the man who once reigned as Hollywood's King, Clark Gable. To borrow the title from a Rex Harrison movie we'll be showing on August 31, we hope, all combined, this August on TCM will put you Over the Moon.
by Robert Osborne