Yes, I know ... I've failed you again. You depend on my constant reminders about the brilliance that is , and although I did do that big month ahead preview, I can't expect you to keep going back to that. Hell, it's not even on this main page anymore.
Plus, I suppose I failed you with the great, elegant, magical Fred Astaire who's day is going on right now. In fact, as I write this, The Gay Divorcee -- one of the best, and earliest, of the Astaire-Rogers ouevre -- is nearing its end. But don't fret too much: there's still time to catch Top Hat at 8 PM and Swing Time at 10 PM, among others.
Aug. 15 -- Fred Astaire: You really can't go wrong with anything TCM has programmed for Astaire. Virtually all of the phenomenal pairings with Ginger Rogers are included in the day, and they're all worth watching and marveling at Astaire's effortless graceful dancing that has rarely if ever been matched on film. But to once again continue the unintentional Vincente Minnelli theme, I'm going to tell you to check out the 1945 musical Yolanda and the Thief (4 AM). This film was an enormous flop when it was released during an era where an MGM musical was almost always a guaranteed success. It's not an amazing movie, but in many ways Minnelli's film was ahead of its time as it experimented with new techniques and looks, taking full advantage of technicolor and a more surrealistic style than audiences were used to or, possibly, even ready for. While a definite example of style over substance, it's still worth watching, and it certainly isn't as bad as its notable box office failure makes it out to be.
Aug. 16 -- Donna Reed: Best known for her role as the best mother in the history of the world on the pre-Vietnam era classic TV series The Donna Reed Show, Reed had a wonderful career in the movies throughout the '40s and '50s, probably best known by the modern general public as Mary Bailey in the classic It's a Wonderful Life. She also won an a Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance in From Here to Eternity, but neither of those films screen on Reed-day. (You can however see her as Glenn Ford's wife in Ransom! mentioned above on Aug. 14.) Still, the lineup is interesting and includes her first two films made when she was just 20 years old. The pick-of-the-day, though, must be the 1945 adaptation of Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray (12 PM).
Aug. 17 -- James Garner: Like Reed, Garner is probably best known these days for his seven years as Jim Rockford on The Rockford Files, and chances are if you're under 30, you possibly don't even know him from that. Maybe, because of the 1994 film adaptation with Mel Gibson, Garner and Jodie Foster, he's still thought of as Bret Maverick in the '50s western TV series Maverick. There are many worthy titles on TCM's schedule, and I'm sure I'd be criticized to death if I didn't at least mention The Great Escape (5 PM), but I'm going to suggest another film which, if you watch it while it's actually on, would provide you a fantastically depressing start to your day, and isn't that what we're all looking for most of the time. Wake-up at 6 AM with The Children's Hour, William Wyler's wonderful adaptation of the Lillian Hellman play. (She adapted the script herself.) Since there is shockingly no Audrey Hepburn day this year, here's a chance for you to see her, along with Shirley MacLaine and Garner.
Aug. 18 -- Irene Dunne: Five-time Oscar bridesmaid, but never an Oscar bride. While her best known performance and role is probably in the 1948 family drama I Remember Mama (2:30 AM), her second nomination came for the 1936 screwball comedy Theodora Goes Wild (8 PM), a somewhat dated but still very funny romantic comedy that helped set the standard for much of the genre -- for better or worse.
Aug. 19 -- Marlon Brando: A Streetcar Named Desire (4:15 PM) and On the Waterfront (8 PM) are the obvious choices, but you've already seen them. (Right? Because if you haven't, for shame!!) Certainly not the best of Brando's films but one of the strangest is The Teahouse of August Moon (8:30 AM), a flat-out comedy that placed Brando even more against-type than his role Guys and Dolls (11 AM). Together, the films were an attempt to show a different side of Brando's talent. With August Moon especially, the brooding tough guy gives way to a comedian. Granted, Brando's portrayal of a post-War Japanese interpreter might not be the most culturally sensitive casting, but for the time, and per his own method acting sensibilities, Brando wanted to make it as authentic as possible, short of him being actually, well, you know ... Japanese. It's a curious oddity among the Brando canon, and its showing is a perfect example of why TCM's breadth of programming is the best on television.