Charles Coburn Day on TCM–8/24

23 Aug

TCM’s August “Summer Under the Stars” programming is always hit and miss with me. Frequently (and they seem to be fighting this mightily in 2013) it ends up spending half its time celebrating some of more obvious actors and films that they show all year, more even than their “31 Days of Oscar.”

But, oh, that other half.

Earlier in the month, there was a day dedicated to Mary Boland; another to Wallace Beery; another to Ramon Navarro. All of which makes up mightily for the Bogart and Davis and Wood and people I love, I do, but have at my disposal and need little reminding about the careers of.

Charles Coburn1And tomorrow (Saturday, August 24) we shall all gather and celebrate Charles Coburn with an utterly ridiculous wealth of character work.

The nice thing about these days dedicated to character actors (Martin Balsam, Glenda Farrell, Boland, Beery) is that even when they show something familiar, the block gives a nice picture of a workhorse career, a focus on depth instead of breadth. Coburn played every plump older gentleman you can imagine, and was always Coburn, yet with differences – the mark of a true pro in the character world.

All of this will be clear when you look at the highlights of the lineup:

Vivacious Lady with James Stewart, Ginger Rogers and a truckload of collegiate Wacky, featuring one of the finest lady-fights on film;

Together Again with Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer – more late Screwball charm;

Made for Each Other, with Stewart again as well as Carole Lombard in a melodrama pulled up to greater heights by the cast;

Bachelor Mother, with Rogers;

Heaven Can Wait, a never-mentioned-enough gem with Gene Tierney and Aon Ameche;

The Lady Eve which just typing makes me want to drop my day and watch;

The More the Merrier, another oft-ignored little Screwball with Jean Arthur and Joel McCrea;

-plus a couple I haven’t seen: H.M. Pulham, Esq. and the semi-Lubitsch, A Royal Scandal.

Not too shabby for a man who didn’t work in Hollywood until his late 50s.


2 Responses to “Charles Coburn Day on TCM–8/24”

  1. Audra Hampstead August 25, 2013 at 3:43 am #

    Refreshing, succinct, a relief to find another sane person with acquaintance with the Classics. Love Charles Coburn, and, like Harry Davenport, he is found in remarkable list of vehicles or enjoyable films. Perhaps even more so. Hurray for this “late starter”! The month will end on a high note with Rex Harrison, been looking forward to “Over the Moon”. Why would they/TCM miss the Volpone play—-“Honeypot”? Early Maggie Smith, opposite Susan Hayward. Appreciate your Blog.
    Saturday evening 24 Aug 2013

    • baldmanwithacowlick August 25, 2013 at 1:47 pm #


      (And I know they’ve shown Honeypot before – I suppose a career like Harrison’s doesn’t allow for easy encapsulation into a mere 24 hours…)

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