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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Specht

TCM's Annual Month Long Series, Summer Under the Stars, Begins Today

Every summer for the past twenty-five years Turner Classic Movies (TCM) has dedicated the month of August to thirty-one separate stars, one for each day of the month. Each day twenty-four hours is dedicated to showing the films that feature the chosen star of the day. Some stars are old familiar faces, and others are those deserving of a day's tribute but may not be known, let alone familiar, to even the most dedicated classic film fan. Well, here's a chance to enjoy the movies you love, and discover the films with which you may just fall in love through Summer Under the Stars.

Not too surprising, the list of this year's stars include fan favorites such as Henry Fonda, Marlon Brando, and Jimmy. However, the day's schedule for each contains the lesser known work of the star; films that even the biggest fan will not know. I find this aspect of the month long series very exciting. Imagine, watching a beloved actor in something new. Yes, it's still "old", but it will be new to you, and others who have never seen it before. I love it when that happens. It's a wonderful feeling that there's still more to learn, to enjoy and share about your favorite screen star.

And then there's the introduction of the stars you don't really know, if at all - including the supporting actors with whom you didn't realize played the lead in their own vehicles at one time or another. These actors include, Ruth Hussey (best known as a supporting actress in Philadelphia Story), Paul Lukas (perhaps best known for his villainous role in The Lady Vanishes), and Leila Hyams (known for the female lead in Freaks). These are the film entities who have contributed to the classic films we now revere, but whose names fall off the spectrum of quick identification.

Yes, there will be the odd ball film that throws you for a loop. You question why such a film is included in the lineup, or even have difficulty sitting through. That's the challenge, even the risk of scheduling such an eclectic spectrum of cinema. Not all films will appeal to all viewers. Some may even fall completely flat to the TCM audience. But I'm game to give it a try, and there have been times when I've really been challenged. In those moments I remember what one of my film school professors once said, : You have no right to an opinion of a film until you've seen it". I have some very definite opinions about some films I deem truly awful, or down right horrible. But my opinion has been fully formed because I watched them, and often those films were introduced to me via TCM.

However you make your viewing selection for Summer Under the Stars, I encourage you to explore if only a little bit. It's a great way to expand your knowledge of classic cinema, as well as to see first hand what it is that makes TCM believe that they are worth watching. After all, the TCM library has a carefully curated collection of films. And I suspect they just may know what they're doing. At least they should after 25 years. I think they've probably gotten all of the kinks out of the system by now.

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