TCM

What’s on TCM: August 2014

Carole LombardHappy August, everyone! Since we’re heading into August, that can only mean one thing — it’s time for TCM’s Summer Under the Stars! As you know, I’m a big fan of Summer Under the Stars and this year’s line-up has a lot for me to look forward to. Of course, there are the crowd-pleaser days dedicated to stars like Jimmy Stewart, Cary Grant, and Barbara Stawnyck, but there are quite a few names on this year’s schedule I wasn’t expecting to see such as Alexis Smith, Betty Grable, Gladys George, and Arlene Dahl. Betty Grable day is the day I’m most looking forward to this year; I haven’t seen many of her movies, but I’ve liked the ones I’ve seen. I’m also looking forward to Gladys George day. I’ve seen many of the movies being shown on her day, but I don’t have a strong opinion on her as an actress, so it will be cool re-watch those movies in a new way.

14 of the stars being featured this year have never been featured before, including the one and only William Powell. Before we get on to the highlights, let’s take a quick look at the full list of this year’s stars:

  1. Jane Fonda
  2. David Niven
  3. Walter Pidgeon
  4. Judy Garland
  5. Barbara Stanwyck
  6. Paul Muni
  7. Jimmy Stewart
  8. Jeanne Moreau
  9. William Powell
  10. Carole Lombard
  11. Marlon Brando
  12. Alexis Smith
  13. Cary Grant
  14. Charlie Chaplin
  15. Faye Dunaway
  16. Herbert Marshall
  17. John Hodiak
  18. Claudette Colbert
  19. Paul Newman
  20. Thelma Ritter
  21. Lee Tracy
  22. Audrey Hepburn
  23. Ernest Borgnine
  24. Gladys George
  25. Dick Powell
  26. Sophia Loren
  27. Edmond O’Brien
  28. Arlene Dahl
  29. Joseph Cotten
  30. Betty Grable
  31. Alan Ladd

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What’s on TCM: July 2014

Maureen O'HaraHappy July, everyone!  With summer now in full swing, TCM has plenty of great movies to watch on hot summer nights.  Maureen O’Hara is July’s Star of the Month and will be featured every Tuesday night this month.  TCM will also be commemorating the hundredth anniversary of World War I every Friday by showing some of the best WWI movies, including The Big ParadeSergeant YorkGrand Illusion, and All Quiet on the Western Front, just to name a few.

The night I am most looking forward to this month is July 10th.  TCM will be featuring six classic documentaries such as Salesman, Harlan County USA, and Sans Soleil. I really like documentaries and that night’s movies is a nice mix of things I’m looking forward to re-watching and ones I’ve been wanting to see.

Now, on to the rest of the schedule…

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What’s on TCM: June 2014

Rock Hudson Doris Day Pillow Talk

Happy June, everybody! On the TCM front, June looks like it will be a bit of a quiet month, but there’s still plenty of good stuff to set your DVRs for. Rock Hudson is the Star of the Month; his movies will be featured every Thursday night this month. The Essentials, Jr. series will make its return on Sunday nights at 8:00 PM. Actor and comedian Greg Proops is the host for Friday Night Spotlight this month and he will be featuring some of his favorite pirate movies.

If you were at the TCM Classic Film Fest this movie and missed out on seeing Written on the Wind, The Pawnbroker, or The Italian Job, you’re in luck because each of those are on the schedule this month.

Without further ado, let’s get on to the schedule…

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What’s on TCM: May 2014

June AllysonHappy May, everyone! April was a rather unusual month for TCM, but it’s back to the usual schedule for May.  June Allyson is May’s Star of the Month and will be featured every Wednesday night.  Friday Night Spotlight returns with a look at Australian cinema hosted by Jacki Weaver. Since I haven’t seen many Australian films, I look forward to having the chance to see more. For Memorial Day weekend, TCM will be having their annual 72-hour marathon of war films.  May’s Guest Programmer is none other than Rev. Mother Dolores Hart, who will be showcasing a few of her favorite movies on May 27th.

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A Few Final Thoughts on TCMFF 2014

TCMFF is more physically demanding than I expected.

As I was leaving the airport to come home, there were some employees standing near the entrance to the baggage claim area saying things like, “Have a nice day!” and “Enjoy your visit!” to people as they left. Not me, though. When I walked by, they said, “You’re almost there, you can make it!”  I’m sure I did look pretty exhausted by that point. I was coming right off a very long day at the festival, I was running on very little sleep, my shoe was starting to bother me and I was just ready to go home.

I knew the days would be long, but since I’m a person who likes walking and I generally walk a few hundred miles a year, I thought spending a few days running around within just a few blocks of Los Angeles should be no problem for me. Hahahahaha….no.  Maybe it would have been easy under normal circumstances where I’m eating normally, not jetlagged and not spending over 12 hours a day in theaters.  But I can’t wait to do it again.

The quality of prints were consistently very good.

During press day, Genevieve McGillicuddy and Charles Tabesh said that one of the biggest challenges of programming a festival like this is finding prints in acceptable quality.  Once the festival got started, I quickly appreciated how much effort they put into finding good prints.  The movies I saw were an even mix of digital and 35mm and they were all consistently very good, and in some cases, pristine. The lowest quality print I saw was National Velvet, but that’s completely forgivable considering it was a last minute addition.

The midnight movie selections were perfect.

Reactions to Eraserhead were generally…confused, but there’s no denying that Eraserhead and Freaks are two of the ultimate midnight movies.

You won’t be able to do it all, but what you will do will be amazing.

TCMFF is a bit like having your own On The Town type experience.  Only instead of having one day to do everything you want, you have four days and there will probably be at least two things happening at any given time that you’d love to be doing. (And that’s only if you come strictly for the festival events. If there are other things you want to see and do around town, I recommend either coming a day or two early or staying after the festival.)  I went into the festival with my list of movies and events to go to,  but I also went into it expecting those plans to change at any time.  And they did change, but I’m not sorry they changed, either.

I would have loved to have seen Maureen O’Hara, Jerry Lewis, and Quincy Jones in person, but the things I went to instead of those events and screenings were things I enjoyed so much that if I had it to do all over again, I would have made the exact same choices.  I realize that if I had gone to the Quincy Jones conversation on Friday like I originally planned to, I probably would have ended up missing either Why Worry? or Employees’ Entrance, and since both of those were highlights of the festival for me, I have no regrets.

The festival may be over, but I still have movies to watch.

Since it simply wasn’t possible to see everything, I came home with Fifth Avenue GirlSorcererOn Approval, Written on the Wind and Hat Check Girl on my list of movies I need to see.

The people are as exciting as the movies.

If you’ve been following other bloggers’ coverage of TCMFF, you’ve read a lot of people saying how appropriate it is that the theme for this year’s festival was “Family: The Ties That Bind” because there is a very strong sense of family among attendees.  At the risk of sounding clichéd, they’re all absolutely correct about that.

This was my first time attending the festival and even though I knew many people who were going to be there, it was also my first time getting to meet them in person. Despite the fact that I’ve known some of these people for years, there was still a small part of me that was a little worried that it would be totally weird to spend a few days going up to people and saying, “Hey, I know you from the Internet!”

Once I got there and started seeing people, I realized I had nothing to worry about. Excitement kicks in before you even have time to think of it as being potentially weird.  And after all, they know me from the Internet too and it’s fun for everybody be able to put a voice and a face to the blogs they read. No awkwardness, just an instant sense of camaraderie.  Even in cases where I had read a person’s writing but never personally knew the person behind the blog, it was still like running into an old friend.  I flew out there by myself, but once I got there, there was never a moment where I felt like I was alone.  Getting to spend a few days surrounded by so many friends in this classic film utopia was one of the most completely joyous experiences I’ve ever had.

TCMFF 2014, Day 4 — Another Good Thing Comes to an End

Sunday, April 13, 2014:

I went into the final day of the festival with very few plans in mind.  A large part of Sunday’s schedule wasn’t announced until Saturday afternoon, so I didn’t want to get make a bunch of plans, only to end up having to make even more hard decisions once the “To Be Announced” slots were announced.

The Sunday “To Be Announced” slots are typically given to movies that were more popular than expected and deserve a second run.  However, this year, the first “To Be Announced” spot was decided before the festival even started. Since Mickey Rooney had passed away just a few days before the festival, a screening of National Velvet was added to the schedule with Mickey’s long-time friend Margaret O’Brien in attendance to share her memories.

Margaret O'Brien Eddie Muller TCMFF 2014

Photo courtesy TCM

Stay tuned for a post specifically dedicated to this event.  TCM always does an excellent job with memorials and this was no exception.  It was extremely heartfelt and touching; I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house. A very fitting way to remember one of cinema’s most enduring stars.

After a lunch break, Jessica (Comet Over Hollywood), Carley (The Kitty Packard Pictorial/The Black Maria) got in line to see Gone With the Wind at the Chinese Theater.  After the amazing experience of seeing A Hard Day’s Night there the day before, I absolutely loved the idea of seeing Gone With the Wind in that theater.  We only stayed for the first half of the movie, but that was enough to blow me away.  I had seen Gone With the Wind in a theater once before, but this was a totally different experience.  Before, I had sat pretty far back in the balcony.  This time, I was much closer to the screen and the impact of being so close was pretty intense.  The print we saw was the new 75th anniversary print, which looked divine.

Gone With the Wind Intermission TCMFF 2014

As fabulous as it would have been to stay for all of Gone With the Wind, Carley, Jessica and I were really eager to check out The Heart is a Lonely Hunter introduced by Alan Arkin.  Earlier that afternoon, Arkin had recorded a “Live from the TCM Film Festival” interview with Robert Osborne at the Montalban theater.  If the discussion before Heart is a Lonely Hunter was a taste of what’s to come in the Robert Osborne interview, I can’t wait to see that interview; it should be fascinating.

Alan Arkin Ben Mankiewicz TCMFF 2014

Photo courtesy Getty Images

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter was one of my few new-to-me movies of the festival and it was a good one.  Alan Arkin gave an amazing performance in it and even though I could tell from the very beginning that it was going to be a tearjerker of a movie, I wasn’t prepared for just how devastating the ending would be.

After a short break, it was already time for my final movie of the festival — Alfred Hitchcock’s The Lodger.  The Lodger has long been on my list of movies to see, so getting to see it in a stunning digital print with live music by the Mont Alto Orchestra was an incredible way to get to see it for the first time.  And I had the added bonus of watching it with my friend Trevor (A Modern Musketeer). Since Trevor and I became friends because we both love silent films, watching one together in person was a really good way to end the festival.

TCMFF 2014, Day 3 — From “Father of the Bride” to “Freaks”

Saturday, April 12, 2014:

Father of the Bride Spencer Tracy Elizabeth TaylorAfter having ended the previous day’s movies with Eraserhead, I woke up this morning in need of a little levity.  Originally, I had been planning to see Stella Dallas, but decided to go with Father of the Bride instead.  Not only is it a very funny movie, I had never seen a Spencer Tracy or Elizabeth Taylor movie in a theater before.  Plus it had the added bonus of playing in the same theater as the next movie I wanted to see, Godzilla.

Father of the Bride was delightful as always.  Godzilla was so much fun to see with a crowd and boy was the crowd enthusiastic!  This screening was the world premiere of a new restoration of the original Japanese version of Godzilla, in all its Raymond Burr-free glory.  The picture quality was absolutely stunning.  If you have the chance to go see this restoration on the big screen, I very highly recommend it.  Godzilla was introduced by historian Eddie von Mueller and Gareth Edwards, director of the upcoming Godzilla movie.

Godzilla

From Godzilla, it was back to Club TCM to check out the conversation with editor Thelma Schoonmaker hosted by author and historian Cari Beauchamp. In addition to Schoonmaker’s long collaboration with director Martin Scorsese (her work on his films has won three Academy Awards), she was an editor on the groundbreaking documentary Woodstock and was married to legendary British filmmaker Michael Powell, half of the Powell and Pressburger team.  (Fun fact: Martin Scorsese was also an editor/assistant director on Woodstock.  Scorsese brought cufflinks with him to Woodstock because he thought they’d be going out to dinner while they were there.)

Thelma Schoonmaker Cari Beauchamp TCMFF 2014

Photo courtesy Getty Images

Of the movies she’s done with Scorsese, she discussed Raging Bull the most. Raging Bull was a very challenging film to edit because there was so much improvisation from the actors; a challenge revisited with Scorsese’s most recent film, The Wolf of Wall Street.  She doesn’t visit the sets of his movies because she thinks it’s important to have a cold eye in the editing room.  Schoonmaker credits Scorsese with teaching her everything she knows about editing because he’s a director who thinks like an editor. As for what quality Scorsese most admires most in her, he knows he can trust her.  Ever since the time in film school when she helped him fix his student film that hadn’t been cut properly, he’s known she will do what’s right for his films.

Schoonmaker spoke very fondly of her time with husband Michael Powell. She’s very active in preserving her husband’s film legacy and also introduced his film A Matter of Life and Death at the festival.  She plays a role in overseeing the restorations of Powell’s work and mentioned that after this conversation, she was heading out to check some work on a transfer on one of his films.  If you are hoping to see a HD print of The Tales of Hoffman, you’ll be glad to know that she said the original negative is in excellent condition.

Next up was “Hollywood Home Movies: Treasures from the Academy Film Archive.”  We were treated to rare behind-the-scenes footage and personal home movies of film legends.  This was a must-see event for me because I knew it would be a totally unique event that I wouldn’t be able to attend elsewhere.  I was definitely not disappointed; the home movies we saw were absolutely fascinating.

The selections included home movies of Florenz Ziegfeld and Billie Burke, an extremely playful Alfred Hitchcock at home with Alma and daughter Pat, Jean Harlow in her dressing room, visitors to Hearst Mansion (including a cameo from Howard Hughes), Gilbert Roland and Constance Bennett with friends on their boat, behind the scenes footage of Gone With the Wind, the It’s a Wonderful Life wrap party picnic, Walt Disney riding on a backyard railroad, location footage of Oklahoma!, behind the scenes of Jerry Lewis on The Geisha Boy, and a montage of movie stars with their pets and other animals.

Vivien Leigh behind the scenes Gone With the Wind

Behind the scenes of Gone With the Wind

My favorite clips were the Ziegfeld/Burke home movies, which included Florenz Ziegfeld frolicking with a butterfly net and a pet elephant trying to walk into daughter Patricia’s playhouse; the Hitchcock home movies; and Jean Harlow in her dressing room.  I found the Jean Harlow footage particularly interesting because it wasn’t official, studio-sanctioned footage; it appeared to be filmed by a friend or MGM employee who was casually testing out their personal home movie camera.  So it doesn’t show “Jean Harlow the movie star,” it’s Jean being herself, casually chatting with the camera operator.  Even when she wasn’t being “Jean Harlow the movie star,” she was captivating to watch.  The hosts from AMPAS said they could tell from some grain on the film that it had originally been filmed in color, but unfortunately, they only had a black and white copy.

The Gone With the Wind behind the scenes footage was a real treat.  It was color 8mm footage that showed Vivien Leigh with her stand in, Clark Gable riding horses with Cammie King, and the setups for filming the scene at Twelve Oaks where Scarlett is surrounded by all the men at the party and the scene where Rhett and Scarlett are on their honeymoon and are having dinner with the can-can dancers in the background.  I was also thrilled to see the It’s a Wonderful Life picnic since that was something Karolyn Grimes had talked about when I saw her at the Redford back in November.

The types of film used for some of the home movies were also unintentionally revealing about the types of people who used it.  The Ziegfeld/Burke home movies were filmed on 35mm, something that would have only been used by the very wealthy in the early 1920s.  The Hitchcock home movies, which dated from 1929-1936, were in color, so it should come as no surprise that he was definitely a person on the cutting edge of film.

After “Hollywood Home Movies,” I headed over to the Chinese theater for A Hard Day’s Night.  I was really torn between seeing A Hard Day’s Night and Bell, Book, and Candle introduced by Kim Novak at the Egyptian.  I had been leaning more toward Bell, Book, and Candle, but I really wanted to see something at the Chinese theater and I was starting to worry that I might not get to see anything there, so A Hard Day’s Night won.

Alec Baldwin Don Was TCMFF 2014

Photo courtesy Getty Images

Beatlemania may have started 50 years ago, but it was still going strong at TCMFF.  I couldn’t have asked for a better venue to see A Hard Day’s Night in. Their sound system is wonderful, so it was a dream to hear all those Beatles classics  that way.  The picture quality was absolutely pristine.  The Chinese theater seats over 900 so it was packed with a lot of enthusiastic fans.  The excitement was palpable and I loved every minute of being a part of it.

A Hard Day’s Night was introduced by Alec Baldwin and music producer Don Was (who has produced albums for Ringo Starr, The Rolling Stones, Bob Seger, Bob Dylan, just to name a few).  Their introduction was one of my favorite introductions of the festival; it was hard to not be engrossed by their enthusiasm.

Then it was time to head to the El Capitan to get in line for The Women.  I joined Raquel (Out of the Past), K.C. (A Classic Movie Blog), and Lara (Backlots), who are exactly the kind of people you want to be in line with to see The Women. I had so much fun discussing the movie with them and quoting the famous, “There’s a name for you ladies…” line in unison.

The Women TCMFF 2014

Photo courtesy Getty Images

Over the course of TCMFF, I saw a lot of movies with very enthusiastic crowds, but I think the crowd for The Women took the cake.  I’m used to people applauding for certain things like a star’s entrance or a name appearing in the opening credits.  Since this is a movie with such an incredible cast, there was a lot of applauding going on.  The crowd went wild for Norma Shearer saying, “I’ve had two years to grow claws, mother! Jungle red!” It’s a fabulous movie to watch at home and even better to see with a crowd.  The Women was introduced by Ben Mankiewicz and actress Anna Kendrick. Much shade was thrown at the 2008 remake.

Freaks Poster

The last movie of the day was the midnight screening of Freaks.  I honestly don’t remember a whole lot about this screening since I was pretty exhausted by the time I got there.  But I’m glad I had to check out one of the ultimate midnight movies on the big screen.

And I just love the fact that I started this day with Father of the Bride and ended it with Freaks.