‘Summer Under the Stars’: Ben Mankiewicz Previews TCM’s Elvis Presley Marathon

Viva Las Vegas Elvis Presley
Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

As Elvis Presley mesmerizingly sang in the title song to 1964’s Viva Las Vegas, “How I wish that there were more than 24 hours in the day.” His legion of fans will indeed get 24 hours’ worth of a dozen of the King’s movies as he opens TCM’s annual August event, Summer Under the Stars, which honors a different film star each day of the month.

And while the August 1st slate begins with the posthumous patchwork 1981 documentary This Is Elvis, it’s anchored by the aforementioned Sin City musical dramedy classic (8/7c), featuring Presley as auto racer Lucky Jackson but dominated by his chemistry with equally swivel-happy costar Ann-Margret.

Girl Happy Elvis Presley

Girl Happy (Credit: Everett Collection)

“It’s infectious,” says TCM host Ben Mankiewicz of the much-loved film. “It’s the gold standard of this type of Elvis movie.” That said, there’s something for all the faithful here, from lauded 1965 beach romance Girl Happy (6/5c), with Elvis falling for the daughter (Shelley Fabares) of a nightclub owner, to his first non-drama film, the 1970 performance documentary Elvis: That’s the Way It Is (10/9c), with “some cool backstage stuff that gives you a bit of insight into the man,” says Mankiewicz.

Whether or not this is just your warm-up to Baz Luhrmann’s current big-screen Presley biopic with Austin Butler and Tom Hanks, there are lots of other classics to view Under the Stars.

Tuesday, August 2, spotlights Jean Arthur, the beautiful heart inside director Frank Capra’s feel-good 1-2-3 of 1938’s You Can’t Take It With You (5:45/4:45c), 1939’s Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (8/7c) and 1936’s Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (10:15/9:15c). And Wednesday, August 3, is reserved for Sidney Poitier (his remarkable breakout, the 1955 high school drama Blackboard Jungle, airs at 7:30am/6:30c).

Summer Under the Stars, Monday, August 1, 6am/5c, TCM