Shirley MacLaine has her day, literally, on TCM
If Shirley MacLaine is happy that Turner Classic Movies is giving her a “Summer Under the Stars” day, it’s a sure bet she’s even happier to be here to see it.
Still active professionally – having recently filmed a part in the Anna Kendrick-starring “Noelle” for the forthcoming holiday season (reportedly for the new Disney Plus streaming service) – the spirited “Terms of Endearment” Oscar winner, stage veteran and best-selling author gets a 24-hour salute Saturday, Aug. 24, as part of TCM’s traditional month that puts a spotlight on one performer’s work each day.
“I love working,” MacLaine maintains. “I love the crew, I love the environment, I love pretending to be these other people.” With that said, though, the actress doesn‘t refute the notion that she can have high expectations of co-workers: “Being from the dance world, you have to, or you’ll get hurt,” she reasons. “I think I’m irascible about efficiency with others.”
Professing that she doesn’t know “what acting is all about,” MacLaine reflects, “I am not one of these deep Robert De Niro kinds of actors, or that great actor who just retired ... Daniel Day-Lewis. I don’t get into it like he does, nowhere near that. That’s why it was fascinating for me to work with Meryl (Streep, whose mother MacLaine played in ‘Postcards From the Edge’), because she does that. She adores that kind of replacement of her consciousness.”
Though the MacLaine tribute has a very noticeable omission – the Oscar-winning 1960 comedy-drama “The Apartment,” which TCM shows fairly frequently – the day’s lineup still offers plenty of prime Shirley. Here’s a look at some examples.
“Gambit” (1966): A fun “star vehicle” for MacLaine and Michael Caine casts them as a showgirl and a cat burglar who combine their respective talents to commit an art heist.
“Steel Magnolias” (1989): Hardly getting lost amid a strong ensemble of actresses, MacLaine teams with Sally Field, Dolly Parton and then-novice Julia Roberts (among others) in the film of Robert Harling’s play.
“Sweet Charity” (1969): MacLaine assumed Gwen Verdon’s Broadway role as a taxi dancer in director and choreographer Bob Fosse’s screen version, of his stage hit, notable for its extensive location filming around New York.
“Terms of Endearment” (1983): Memorably declaring that “I deserve this!” upon receiving an Academy Award for it, MacLaine found one of her signature roles in Aurora Greenway, whose love for her daughter (Debra Winger) was just as powerful as the dysfunction in their relationship.
“Two for the Seesaw” (1962): An attorney with marital problems (Robert Mitchum) relocates to New York and starts a relationship with a dancer (MacLaine) in this bleak but effective adaptation of a play by William Gibson.
Debra Winger (left) and Shirley MacLaine