Welcome to week 4 (and change) to Turner Classic Movies’ Summer Under The Stars! This was such a fun challenge in the long run. There were of course some duds, but I knocked out a lot of blind spots and found some new favorite gems!
Day 22 – Natalie Wood
Natalie Wood plays a neglected wife who finds excitement by robbing her husband’s bank. At first she delights in her life of crime, but it becomes less fun for her when no one believes she actually did it. Wood is so dang charming and funny that it’s pretty easy to ignore the absurdity of the privilege illustrated here, or maybe that’s the whole point. It’s also easy to see why every man that crosses her path, including therapist Dick Shawn and NYPD Lieutenant Peter Falk fall in love with her. To be honest, who wouldn’t?
Day 23 – Olivia De Havilland
The Heiress (1949)
The transformation De Havilland undergoes in her performance from beginning to end is breathtaking. She starts off a shy girl sheltered and controlled by her father. When she falls for poor but gorgeous social climber Montgomery Clift, her father disapproves of the disadvantageous marriage. The outcome of the way she is treated by both men leads her to come out of the situation stronger than ever, with one of the most satisfying endings I’ve seen in some time.
Day 24 – George Raft
Red Light (1949)
Have you ever watched a noir and thought, “I could use a heavy dose of Catholicism with this?” If so, have I got the picture for you! George Raft plays a mobster whose war hero priest brother is killed. The only hint he gives of his murderer is a bible that was stolen from his hotel room, leading Raft on a quest for revenge. Whether you’re a fan of religious undertones or not, it at the very least is a different take on the genre.
Day 24 – Ann Shirley
Stella Dallas (1937)
Barbara Stanwyck stars in the titular role of a mom trying to give her daughter (Shirley) the best life possible, even if it means she can no longer be a part of it. The logic of her sacrifice may not fully make sense (moms are supposed to be embarrassing sometimes!!), but both lead performances sell it.
Day 25 – Laurence Olivier
This may be something I need to dedicate a full piece to dunking on in the future. HAMLET is my favorite Shakespeare play and I hold a very deep emotional connection to it. I was also expecting a lot given Olivier’s credibility. Unfortunately, Larry did not deliver the goods in my opinion. He made some BOLD decisions that I disagree with from an adaptation standpoint including utilizing voiceovers as soliloquies, rearranging scenes, and cutting both crucial texts and entire characters. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern aren’t dead, just completely obliterated from the text despite having a direct impact on the plot!
Day 26 – Claudette Colbert
The Palm Beach Story (1942)
I wish I had more to say about this one other than “heterosexual nonsense” but I feel like that perfectly encapsulates it. Just very fun and very unhinged.
Day 27 – Paul Henreid
Now, Voyager (1942)
Bette Davis takes us on a journey….a VOYAGE if you will. In the process of therapeutically recovering from her controlling mother’s abuse, Charlotte (Davis) takes a cruise and meets a charming married man (Henried) Jerry. Their affair is brief and doomed, but their friendship becomes the catalyst to what becomes her personal journey to self worth. She is able to return the favor when she meets Jerry’s daughter at the same therapy from before. What really sets this one apart for me was that the romantic love is not the sole factor of Charlotte’s journey. The concept of someone finally seeing you and caring can be so crucial and becomes the more important theme of the film.
Day 28 – Eva Marie Saint
A Hatful of Rain (1957)
I can’t even imagine seeing this upon its release considering the groundbreaking way it approaches addiction in such a non-judgmental way. Saint plays the wife of a war vet with a morphine addiction. While the film mainly focuses on him and his brother, Saint is the emotional center carrying the film and she really shines in the role.
Day 29 – Charlton Heston
The Omega Man (1971)
I just cannot fathom how Heston is the scientist in this pandemic scenario when everything about his character exudes the energy of someone who would refuse to wear a mask in 2020.
Day 30 – Alain Delon
Purple Noon (1960)
When you’re so used to The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)