Classic movie channel showcases legendary actor throughout July
Tony Curtis certainly, and fully, was a movie star.
Partial confirmation can be found in the fact that the strikingly handsome actor-producer is Turner Classic Movies’ “Star of the Month” throughout July. Each Monday night is made up of his attractions, with the July 13 slate led by a comedy widely renowned as one of the best of all time, 1959’s “Some Like It Hot.” The rest of that evening’s lineup demonstrates how Curtis alternated between drama and humor: “Captain Newman, M.D.” (1963), “The Perfect Furlough” (1958), “Who Was That Lady?” (1960) and “The Great Race” (1965).
Since it’s on Mondays, the Curtis tribute has landed on the watch of host Dave Karger, who also has Saturday afternoons as part of his regular TCM beat. “The focus is on the ‘50s and ‘60s, when he was in the prime of his career,” the friendly Karger says, “and I think what’s fascinating is that while they make such an interesting mix, they all manage to showcase his charisma, which shines through in every performance he gave. And he looks like a million bucks!”
Though veteran Hollywood reporter Karger never met Curtis, he has encountered daughter Jamie Lee Curtis a number of times. He also did a phone interview with Curtis’ former wife and sometimes co-star, the late Janet Leigh, and Karger says he was “very excited when I saw that I was getting to host all of his ‘Star of the Month’ programming for July.”
In fact, Karger notes that the Blake Edwards-directed “The Perfect Furlough” was released “one week after Jamie Lee Curtis was born, so Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh shot it at a very important time in their lives. It’s really interesting to see the chemistry they had together.”
Later Mondays include such diverse Curtis fare as “Spartacus” (1960), “Sex and the Single Girl” (1964) and “The Boston Strangler” (1968), but a notable omission is the esteemed 1957 drama “Sweet Smell of Success,” in which the actor plays a New York press agent desperate for the approval of a powerful columnist (Burt Lancaster). “That is one that we show a lot,” Karger affirms. “I think it’s a favorite of Ben’s (fellow TCM host Mankiewicz). I also was surprised not to see it on the schedule, and I can guarantee that’s just a case of availability.”
An avid painter at the time he died in 2010, Curtis “never shied away from movies and roles that were edgier, that had a little bit of controversy attached to them,” Karger reflects. “He would balance those with fun, lightweight comedies, and that’s what makes him such a good ‘Star of the Month.’ There’s nothing one-note about his acting. It’s so varied.”