Films in 2020: August

August was a huge-movie watching month for me and other avid TCM viewers, as it was the channel’s annual Summer Under the Stars festival. This year was definitely the most I tuned into the programming thanks to being home much more often, and if I was working from home as well this month’s count would’ve likely been even higher. I think it’s safe to say this August also boasts the biggest amount of movies I’ve ever watched in a month’s period at exactly 100! This does include some rewatches, but only about a dozen of all the movies I watched were not part of TCM’s Summer Under the Stars. And while August is now behind us, there are still several titles I’m planning to check out on the Watch TCM app before they leave the service, so the festival isn’t quite over for me yet. Anyway, before moving onto September, a look back at all that I watched over the past 31 days.

New-to-Me: 70

Re-Watched: 30

New-to-Me Films by Decade:

  • 1910s – 1
  • 1920s – 4
  • 1930s – 10
  • 1940s – 12
  • 1950s – 15
  • 1960s – 14
  • 1970s – 7
  • 1980s – 3
  • 1990s – 1
  • 2000s – 2
  • 2010s – 1
  • 2020s – 0

List of New-to-Me Films:

  1. Sadie Thompson (1928)
  2. Oh, God! (1977)
  3. The Golden Blade (1953)
  4. Annie Oakley (1935)
  5. Something of Value (1957)
  6. Ice Station Zebra (1968)
  7. The Flame and the Arrow (1950)
  8. The Crimson Pirate (1952)
  9. City Streets (1931)
  10. Street Scene (1931)
  11. You and Me (1938)
  12. Thirty Day Princess (1934)
  13. Condemned (1929)
  14. Topkapi (1964)
  15. Wild Is the Wind (1957)
  16. Foul Play (1978)
  17. The First Wives Club (1996)
  18. It’s a Date (1940)
  19. Anna Lucasta (1958)
  20. Reveille with Beverly (1943)
  21. Watch the Birdie (1950)
  22. …One Third of a Nation… (1939)
  23. The Happy Thieves (1961)
  24. The Pilgrim (1923)
  25. Shoulder Arms (1918)
  26. Vera Drake (2004)
  27. Happy-Go-Lucky (2008)
  28. Another Year (2010)
  29. Seems Like Old Times (1980)
  30. Butterflies Are Free (1972)
  31. There’s a Girl in My Soup (1970)
  32. Never So Few (1959)
  33. Day of the Outlaw (1959)
  34. Born Free (1966)
  35. Tap (1989)
  36. Stop Making Sense (1984)
  37. When a Man Loves (1927)
  38. Rasputin and the Empress (1932)
  39. Bachelor in Paradise (1961)
  40. Bird of Paradise (1932)
  41. The Undercover Man (1949)
  42. Escape in the Fog (1945)
  43. Mary Burns, Fugitive (1935)
  44. The Honeymoon Machine (1961)
  45. Soldier in the Rain (1963)
  46. Red Light (1949)
  47. Mickey One (1965)
  48. The Fortune (1975)
  49. Madame X (1966)
  50. More Than a Miracle (1967)
  51. A Fine Pair (1968)
  52. Affectionately Yours (1941)
  53. The Renegade Ranger (1938)
  54. The Long Haul (1957)
  55. Manpower (1941)
  56. Race Street (1948)
  57. Loan Shark (1952)
  58. For Men Only (1952)
  59. The Spanish Main (1945)
  60. Sinbad the Sailor (1947)
  61. At Sword’s Point (1952)
  62. All Fall Down (1962)
  63. The Stalking Moon (1968)
  64. A Hatful of Rain (1957)
  65. Loving (1970)
  66. Husbands (1970)
  67. Cynthia (1947)
  68. Lullaby of Broadway (1951)
  69. Music in Manhattan (1944)
  70. Vice and Virtue (1963)

A Few Favorite Discoveries:

You and Me (1938)

You and Me (1938), directed by Fritz Lang

Of all the stars honored on TCM in August, my favorite as far as discoveries go would be Sylvia Sidney. I already enjoyed some of her other movies like Merrily We Go to Hell and Fury, but her day of programming featured some great gems like Thirty Day Princess and City Streets. The one that I ended up enjoying the most was this romantic crime film directed by Fritz Lang. I think what surprised me the most about this was how charming I found George Raft (who was also honored during Summer Under the Stars this year)! I’d always felt a little indifferent about Raft, though I’ve liked him enough in his most famous movies. But seeing him being romantic with Sidney really endeared me to him, which worked out nicely later when I watched some of the movies featured on his day (though the ones I hadn’t seen before weren’t nearly as good). Anyway, the two stars make a nice pair in what’s sort of an odd movie from Lang, as it’s got romantic comedy elements mixed in with a good dose of crime, but somehow it all works together well.

Topkapi (1964)

Topkapi (1964), directed by Jules Dassin

This was one of my few non-TCM viewings in August, as I’m slowly trying to get through films featuring Oscar-nominated or winning performances after having watched all the movies nominated for Best Picture. In this case, it’s Peter Ustinov earning his second Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor just a few short years after winning his first in the same category for Spartacus. It’s another engaging caper from Jules Dassin, coming nearly a decade after Rififi and its impressive heist sequence. This time around, the crime movie is more easy-going with its lean toward comedy. Set against some beautiful locales in Turkey and Greece, the film features a well-rounded cast, including the aforementioned Ustinov, Maximilian Schell, and Melina Mercouri, and a fun heist sequence that surely influenced a notable scene in the first Mission: Impossible movie.

The First Wives Club (1996)

The First Wives Club (1996), directed by Hugh Wilson

Another Summer Under the Stars day I really enjoyed was the one dedicated to Goldie Hawn, who just lights up the screen no matter the quality of the movie. The First Wives Club was one of those 90s blindspots that I’ve been meaning to fix for a while, so it was great to see TCM feature it for her day so I could finally watch it. She makes up a truly dynamic trio with Diane Keaton and Bette Midler, and the best scenes are the ones that feature the three of them together, and fortunately, there are plenty of them. It’s definitely among the most entertaining movies I’ve watched this year.

Happy-Go-Lucky (2008)

Happy-Go-Lucky (2008), directed by Mike Leigh

I took a break from watching TCM movies one night to check out a few of the Mike Leigh movies featured on the Criterion Channel as they were set to leave the service at the end of the month. Happy-Go-Lucky was my favorite of the three I watched, mostly thanks to Sally Hawkins’s exuberant performance. Her character is one of the most optimistic people you could ever come across, so her positivity could be annoying to some (both in the movie and for anyone watching the movie itself), but fortunately, I was enchanted by her and liked seeing how such a happy person navigated through her life among others who could be much more cynical. It’s no wonder that after Hawkins’s breakout role here (for which she received a Golden Globe Award) that she’s gone on to even bigger projects, as she’s been a delight to watch over the past few years.

Madame X (1966)

Madame X (1966), directed by David Lowell Rich

Madame X was not a movie I expected to enjoy nearly as much as I did because of its sort of campy reputation, but I was completely swept up in all the melodrama. This was part of the day honoring Lana Turner, and I was really impressed with her performance. Here she shows a much more vulnerable side, especially compared to the more glamorous roles she’s known for, and I think it’s one of the best performances of her career. I also enjoyed seeing Constance Bennett in what became her final film role (unfortunately she passed away before it was released). If you haven’t seen this before, I’d recommend going in with an open mind and a box of tissues by your side.

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