by Brett Leveridge
Summertime means family time, and there are few better ways to spend quality time with the kids (or grandkids) than curling up on the couch for a classic film from the Golden Age of Hollywood. Here are some favorites airing on Turner Classic Movies in July.
Wednesday, July 1, at 8 a.m. ET
Sometimes an old-fashioned comedy is just what the doctor ordered. Celebrate Olivia de Havilland's birthday by watching her very first movie, in which she plays love interest to funnyman Joe E. Brown's idiosyncratic baseball pitcher as he tries to lead the Cubs to a pennant.
Wednesday, July 1, at 2:15 a.m. ET
This beloved musical never fails to lift the spirits. Stanley Donen directs Jane Powell, Howard Keel and Russ Tamblyn in a tale of six lumberjack brothers who, having seen their older brother get married, decide it's time they too had wives.
Thursday, July 2, at 4:30 p.m. ET
At a time when the world seemingly couldn't get enough of the Fab Four, this delightful comedy musical showed us another side of the boys from Liverpool. It stars, as you might expect, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr and a slew of exuberant teenage girls.
Thursday, July 2, at 12:15 a.m. ET
A 12-year-old Elizabeth Taylor, appearing in just her fifth movie, shines as a British farm girl who wins a horse in a raffle and dreams of him competing in England's Grand National Sweepstakes. An ex-jockey (Mickey Rooney) chips in to help her achieve that dream.
Friday, July 3, at 1:30 p.m. ET
In director John Ford's classic western, three outlaws (John Wayne, Pedro Armendáriz and Harry Carey, Jr.) suddenly find themselves the guardians of a newborn infant, after promising the child's dying mother they would take care of the child. This is the fourth remake of this story, which was filmed twice during the silent era, as The Three Godfathers (1916) and Marked Men (1919), and twice as talkies—Hell's Heroes (1929) and Three Godfathers (1936; this one starred Chester Morris, Lewis Stone and Walter Brennan)—before Ford filmed this version.
Saturday, July 4, at 2:30 p.m. ET
This innovative musical is the ideal 4th of July fare, telling, in musical form, the story of the Continental Congress and the drafting of the Declaration of Independence (the young people in your life may be surprised to learn that Hamilton wasn't the first musical take on the founding fathers). William Daniels, Howard Da Silva, Ken Howard and Blythe Danner star.
Saturday, July 4, at 5:30 p.m. ET
This beloved musical, which tells the story of legendary playwright, composer, actor, singer, dancer and theatrical producer George M. Cohan, has become an Independence Day tradition. James Cagney shines as Cohan, as do Joan Leslie as his wife, Mary, and Walter Huston as his father, Jerry.
Tuesday, July 7, at 6:15 p.m. ET
Based on actress and playwright Ruth Gordon's play Years Ago, a hit on Broadway in 1946, this charming film tells the story of Gordon's passionate youthful yearning to pursue a career as an actress. Jean Simmons portrays Gordon while Spencer Tracy and Teresa Wright play her parents.
Wednesday, July 8, at 10 p.m. ET
Howard Hawks' classic screwball comedy is one of the best in the genre. Katharine Hepburn stars as a harebrained heiress with a troublesome leopard, who takes a buttoned-down zoology professor (Cary Grant) on a madcap misadventure. Charles Ruggles, Barry Fitzgerald and May Robson shine in supporting roles.
Sunday, July 12, at 6:15 a.m. ET
Irene Dunne and Cary Grant star as a star-crossed young married couple who experience trials, tributations and heartbreak as they strive to start a family and build a life together. Have a box of tissues handy (maybe two).
Wednesday, July 15 at 8 p.m. ET
A newly-orphaned youth is sent to live with his free-spirited aunt (Rosalind Russell, in one of her most acclaimed performances), who encourages her inhibited nephew to live life to the fullest. Forrest Tucker and Peggy Cass also star.
Thursday, July 16, at 8 p.m. ET
This delightful romantic comedy finds Charles Coburn and Joel McCrea in search of a place to live during Washington, D.C.'s World War II housing shortage. As it turns out, Jean Arthur just happens to have an extra room or two (but she also has a rather stuffy fiance). George Stevens directed this overlooked classic of the genre. Highly recommended.
Friday, July 17, at 10:15 p.m. ET
John Ford's adaptation of John Steinbeck's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is a classic account of farmers ruined by the Dust Bowl heading west to California in search of better lives. Henry Fonda delivers perhaps his greatest performance, complemented by memorable turns from Jane Darwell and John Carradine.
Saturday, July 18, at 12 p.m. ET
A terrific picture to watch with children, Victor Fleming's film tells the story of a spoiled rich kid (Freddie Bartholomew) who falls overboard from an ocean liner and is rescued by a fishing boat. He quickly learns some valuable life lessons. The stellar cast includes Spencer Tracy, Lionel Barrymore, Melvyn Douglas and Mickey Rooney.
Sunday, July 19, at 12 p.m. ET
Frank Capra's classic comedy finds the scion of a conservative banker (James Stewart) falling in love with a girl (Jean Arthur) whose family is anything but conservative. Lionel Barrymore, Edward Arnold, Ann Miller and Spring Byington also star.
Wednesday, July 22, at 10 p.m. ET
This classic musical, inspired by George Bernard Shaw's play Pygmalion and a huge hit on the Broadway stage that ran for an amazing 2,717 performances, finds a snooty phonetics professer (Rex Harrison) accepting a wager that he can't transform a Cockney flower seller (Audrey Hepburn) into an elegant, well-spoken lady. The film was awarded six Oscars, including Best Picture.
Saturday, July 25, at 3:30 p.m. ET
James Stewart, in one of his greatest roles, plays Jefferson Smith, an idealistic if naive average Joe who is selected to fill a vacant seat in the U.S. Senate. The power brokers behind his selection expect him to be an ineffectual dupe whom they can manipulate, but when Smith sees widespread corruption in the halls of power, he sets out to battle those power brokers, mounting a memorable filibuster. One of director Frank Capra's most inspiring films, Mr. Smith shows the change that a committed individual can achieve. Jean Arthur and Claude Rains costar.
Sunday, July 26, at 12 p.m. ET
This classic drama has inspired three remakes (with, no doubt, more still to come), but if you've never seen the original, here's your chance. The great William Wellman directed this Technicolor classic, with Janet Gaynor starring as a young actress with big dreams and stars in her eyes, Fredric March portraying an alcoholic movie star whose career is on the wane, and other stalwarts, such as Adolphe Menjou and Andy Devine in supporting roles.
Wednesday, July 29, at 12:30 a.m. ET
In the minds of many movie buffs, Barbara Stanwyck is most closely associated with dramatic roles, but she excelled in comedies, too, especially this screwball classic from writer-director Preston Sturges. Stanwyck plays a beautiful cardsharp who sets her sights on the wealthy-but-not-worldly heir to a fortune built on beer (Henry Fonda). Charles Coburn plays Stanwyck's con-man father and Eugene Palette, at his apoplectic best, is Fonda's dad.
Thursday, July 31, at 1 p.m. ET
This epic western, originally exhibited in the innovative (but short-lived) wide-screen, three-projector format known as Cinerama, tells the sprawling tale of three generations of pioneers who made their way west to build new lives. The cast includes more A-list stars than we could possibly list here, but look out for Karl Malden, Gregory Peck, James Stewart, Debbie Reynolds, John Wayne and Walter Brennan, among many others.
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