August only can mean one thing for Turner Classic Movies.
Fans of that channel are used to that month being devoted to the annual “Summer Under the Stars,” with each day showcasing the movies of one actor. TCM hosts including Ben Mankiewicz, Alicia Malone, Dave Karger, Jacqueline Stewart and Eddie Muller will introduce the primetime and weekend attractions that begin Monday, Aug. 1, with Elvis Presley features and conclude Aug. 31 with Peter Sellers titles.
Many of this year’s highlighted performers also have had days in past “Summer Under the Stars” rounds, and viewers often tune in to watch favorites … but TCM also likes to work in several newcomers. This time, those include Ruth Roman (Aug. 4), Maureen O’Sullivan (Aug. 8), Laurence Harvey (Aug. 11), Raquel Welch (Aug. 16), Jacqueline Bisset (Aug. 24), Gilbert Roland (Aug. 25) and Jack Carson (Aug. 30).
Besides Welch and Bisset, the only featured star who has a day and is still living is Clint Eastwood (Aug. 21). However, no classic film devotee or TCM loyalist is likely to complain about a schedule that again promotes Audrey Hepburn (Saturday, Aug. 6), Gene Kelly (Aug. 7), William Holden (Aug. 9), Marlon Brando (Aug. 13), Elizabeth Taylor (Aug. 14), Spencer Tracy (Aug. 17), Joan Crawford (Aug. 20), Mickey Rooney (Aug. 23), Vivien Leigh (Aug. 26), Marilyn Monroe (Aug. 27) and Cary Grant (Aug. 28).
“Elvis Presley is such a perfect person to start the month off with,” says TCM’s ever-amiable Karger, who will host that evening, “also because the new ‘Elvis’ movie is out. I think he’s someone that more people might be interested in than ever before, and we’re not only showing several of his movies (as an actor), but also a couple of his concert documentaries.”
As usual, Karger enjoys the mix of superstars and supporting players that “Summer Under the Stars” encompasses: “Two-thirds of it is ‘TCM’s Greatest Hits,’ if you will, like Cary Grant and Gene Kelly and Joan Crawford. But then, they’ll sometimes throw in a character actor or actress like Constance Bennett or Ruth Roman. And I also love when we get to do 24 hours of someone who’s still with us, like Raquel Welch and Jacqueline Bisset. I think it’s great that they’ll get to appreciate these celebrations of their long careers.”
With that, more films get added to TCM’s catalog, such as Welch’s “Hannie Caulder” and Bisset’s “The Grasshopper.” Karger reasons, “Classic Hollywood is classic Hollywood, without a doubt, but I think that a new year of films can be deemed ‘classic’ every year. Just like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame can have a new ‘class’ every year, I think we can, too.”