This time, it starts with Jane Fonda and ends with Alan Ladd.
And among those in-between are Judy Garland, Cary Grant, Marlon Brando, Barbara Stanwyck, James Stewart, Audrey Hepburn, Paul Newman, Faye Dunaway, Charlie Chaplin, Sophia Loren and David Niven.
If August is approaching, it’s time for Turner Classic Movies’ annual “Summer Under the Stars” festival, showcasing the films of one actor each day. Channel hosts Robert Osborne and Ben Mankiewicz offer insight into the given performer, with many tidbits about the featured actor or actress as varied as the attractions themselves.
Regular TCM viewers will recognize some of the stars have been showcased before. Still, the channel tries to “mix it up” in saluting notable character actors along with typically top-billed talents; in this round, Edmond O’Brien, Thelma Ritter, Joseph Cotten and Herbert Marshall also get their own days.
Here are some standouts in the early “Summer Under the Stars” features, noting the highlighted stars.
• “The China Syndrome” (Jane Fonda, Friday): As both a star and producer, Fonda showed how timely a topical drama could be … especially since the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant accident happened shortly after this film’s release.
• “The Pink Panther” (David Niven, Saturday): While director Blake Edwards’ comedy is famous for launching Peter Sellers’ Inspector Clouseau portrayal, Niven is typically, ideally suave as the jewel thief who’s dallying with the detective’s wife.
• “Meet Me in St. Louis” (Judy Garland, Aug. 4): One of Garland’s best musicals includes “The Trolley Song” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”
• “Scarface” (Paul Muni, Aug, 6): Al Pacino’s over-the-top version might be the immediate touchstone, but Muni’s 50-years-earlier profile of a ruthless mobster also endures.
• “The Naked Spur” (James Stewart, Aug. 7): Always at home in Westerns, Stewart had one of his best with this saga of a bounty hunter pursuing a lawman’s killer.