Every year, Turner Classic Movies spends an entire month dedicating 24 hours to a single movie star. This August, my friend Sydney challenged me to watch one new-to me film for each star of the day. In week one, I already knocked out a few important blind spots!
Day 1- Barbara Stanwyck
Ball of Fire (1941)
This was such a delight! Stanwyck plays a nightclub singer who needs a place to hide out from the feds when her mobster boyfriend is in trouble. She ends up crashing with a group of professors writing an encyclopedia. One of them is Gary Cooper as an English encyclopedia who needs her help with the entry on slang. Stanwyck ends up falling for Cooper while bringing joy to the boring lives of the 7 other professors in a modern Snow White motif.
Day 2 – Rock Hudson
Winchester ‘73 (1950)
Dudes Love Guns: The Movie. Truly I only chose those because I had already seen the better Hudson films airing this day and because I knew Tony Curtis makes a brief appearance. Still was not really worth having to see my dude Rock play a Native American. I also rewatched “Pillow Talk,” “All That Heaven Allows,” and “Magnificent Obsession.” Please watch any of those instead.
Day 3 – Rita Hayworth
One of the main intentions of this challenge is an opportunity to finally watch those big blind spots. “Gilda” has always been one for me and now I wish it hadn’t taken me this long. Hayworth and Glenn Ford have incredible chemistry as bitter exes who cross each other’s paths again when Ford’s new boss turns out to be married to her. Excellent if you’re fascinated by the fine line between love and hate.
Day 4 – S.Z. Sakall
Christmas in Connecticut (1945)
I’ll jump at any excuse to watch a Christmas movie in August. Thanks, TCM! Barbara Stanwyck is back as a food columnist famous for her farm life with a husband and child…all of which are a lie. She can’t even cook. This leads to complications when the owner of the magazine wants her to host a war hero at her farm for Christmas. Hijinks ensue. Hungarian character actor and star of the day S.Z. Sakall plays Stanwyck’s loyal friend and actual creator of the recipes she publishes. With the warmth and positive vibrancy he brings, I can see why Sakall was given the nickname “Cuddles.”
Day 5 – Ann Miller
Hit the Deck (1955)
No disrespect to Ann Miller but the only scene of this “On The Town” knockoff worth watching is Debbie Reynolds and Russ Tamblyn going through a funhouse. Everything else is a jumbled excuse of an MGM musical.
Day 6 – Burt Lancaster
The Train (1964)
In a less conventional but still action-packed war film, Burt Lancaster stars as the reluctant leader of a resistance team trying to stop a train full of priceless French art to reach Germany as the war ends. He also rocks a sweet cardigan in the final act as he takes down Nazis. The real question the film poses is: is art worth the lives lost to save it?
Day 7 – Sylvia Sidney
Thirty Day Princess (1934)
I’m the first to admit that before this, the only thing I’d seen Sylvia Sidney in was “Beetlejuice.” My loss. She’s betwiching in dual roles as a princess sent to America to seek out a loan and an actress hired to impersonate her when she falls ill. Cary Grant is a reporter who falls for her, complicating the ruse. So yeah, “Roman Holiday” meets “Dave” is my quick pitch for this.
The full schedule can be found here if you’d like to play along!