What’s on TCM: April 2015

Anthony Quinn

Happy April, everyone! Ready for a new line-up of movies to look forward to?

Anthony Quinn will be TCM’s Star of the Month for April and his movies will be featured every Wednesday night this month. The theme for this month’s Friday Night Spotlight is A. Arnold Gillespie, MGM’s top visual effects artist. He helped bring some of MGM’s most famed movies to life, including The Wizard of OzSan Francisco, and Forbidden Planet, just to name a few.

One thing that will definitely be worth setting your DVR for is on April 14. TCM will be airing an all-star tribute to Robert Osborne, which was taped at the 2014 TCM Film Festival. I didn’t get to see it in person, but I heard it was one heck of an event, so I’m excited to finally see it for myself.

Now, let’s get on to the schedule!

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My Picks for TCMFF 2015

TCMFF 2015It’s that time of year again! The annual TCM Classic Film Festival is just around the corner and attendees are poring over the recently released full schedule, carefully making their choices and wondering how long they can go between meals. I am no exception to this.

Honestly, I think I’m more excited about this year’s schedule than I was about last year’s. I had a tremendous time last year, but I had a tendency to see things I had already seen before and only ended up seeing a couple of new-to-me movies. This year is shaping up to be the total opposite. If I stick to my plans as they currently are, I’ll only be seeing a few movies I’ve seen before. So I’m very excited to check out some movies I’ve never seen before because I’ve been really bad about watching things I haven’t seen before lately. It really will be awesome to make lots of discoveries this year.

Much like last year, I’m going into the festival this year fully expecting my plans to change at any time. If you’ve never been to TCMFF before, one of the best pieces of advice I have to give is to stay open to changing your plans. Things come up and you might not always end up sticking to your original schedule exactly, but that’s okay because you could end up doing some other awesome thing instead.

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What’s on TCM: March 2015

Ann SothernHappy March, everyone! I hope you’ve been enjoying 31 Days of Oscar, which extends into March for a few days. But then it’s back to TCM’s usual schedule. March’s Star of the Month is Ann Sothern, which I’m excited about since I like her, but haven’t really seen many of her movies. The Friday Night Spotlight theme will be roadshow musicals and I have a hard time resisting a good musical.

What I’m most excited about this month is coming up on March 24th, an evening all about Alan Arkin. TCM will be premiering the Live from the TCM Film Festival interview Arkin did with Robert Osborne at last year’s TCM Film Fest. I didn’t attend the taping of that, but I did get to see Arkin speak with Ben Mankiewicz before a screening of The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. I found the discussion with Arkin so fascinating that it made me very eager to see what the longer interview had in store. This should be a real treat.

Now, on to the rest of the schedule…

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Cedric Gibbons and Grand Hotel (1932): One of Oscar’s Biggest Oversights

Grand Hotel 1932 LobbyGrand Hotel (1932) is best remembered for being the movie to popularize all-star casts. Before Grand Hotel, the only movies that featured so many big stars together were “revue” type movies like The Hollywood Revue of 1929 and Show of Shows, which were popular in the early days of talkies and featured many of a studio’s top stars in a series of skits and musical numbers. While most other movies had just one male lead and one female lead, Grand Hotel took five of the biggest movie stars working at the time — Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, John and Lionel Barrymore, and Wallace Beery — and put each of them in a leading role.

However, there is one other person who should be mentioned along with Garbo, Crawford, Beery, and the Barrymores as being a major star of the movie: art director Cedric Gibbons. The exquisite Art Deco style sets he designed for Grand Hotel refuse to be relegated to the background.

Grand Hotel 1932 Lobby Desk

Grand Hotel is also noteworthy for being the only movie to win a Best Picture Academy Award without being nominated in any other categories — no nominations for writing, direction, or even acting. Despite the sheer magnitude of Grand Hotel‘s stars, it’s easy to see how they failed to get nominated in acting categories. Grand Hotel doesn’t have just one male or one female lead to choose from and categories for Supporting Actor/Actress wouldn’t be introduced until the 1936 Academy Awards.  However, it’s not nearly as easy to understand how Cedric Gibbons wasn’t nominated for Best Art Direction, which is one of the biggest Oscar oversights I can think of.

Cedric Gibbons was MGM’s top art director for most of its peak years. He started working at MGM in the 1920s and stayed there until he retired in 1956. Name a big hit MGM movie from the 1930s through the mid-1950s and it’s very likely Cedric Gibbons had a hand in it. He is credited as the art director for The Wizard of Oz, The Thin Man, Ziegfeld GirlMeet Me in St. Louis, Gaslight, On the Town, The Great Ziegfeld, The Good Earth, The Women, The Philadelphia Story, National Velvet, The Postman Always Rings Twice, Marie Antoinette, and Forbidden Planet, just to name a very select few. He even designed one of the most widely recognizable symbols of Hollywood: the Academy Award statuette. But for all of his contributions to film, Gibbons’ work for Grand Hotel is undoubtedly one of the crowning achievements of his career.

Grand Hotel 1932 Exterior ShotEven with Garbo, Crawford, Beery, and two Barrymores to contend with, Gibbons’ sets stand out so much, they become a character unto themselves. Some people might even argue the sets outshine the actors. Although the sets are extravagant, there’s nothing about them that feels artificial. After all, this is a movie set in the finest hotel in Berlin, the sets need to exude an aura of luxury and represent the epitome of early 1930s glamour. But the sets are so believable as a lavish hotel, it’s very easy to forget Grand Hotel was filmed on a Hollywood soundstage and not on location.

Cedric Gibbons’ Grand Hotel sets demonstrate what an integral part art direction plays in creating Hollywood fantasy. This is a movie about characters going through difficult times in their lives, so it’s not a movie people watch and think, “I want to be just like them.” However, the sets are so breathtaking, people do look at them and think, “I want to go there!” If you’re a lover of Art Deco style, you’ll desperately want to believe this was a real hotel you could go visit. The hotel may not be real, but you’ll wish the sets had been preserved and put in a museum somewhere. These were movie sets that went far beyond being sets and were works of art.

 

31 Days of Oscar 2015 Blogathon

For more Oscar related articles, stay tuned to Once Upon a Screen, Outspoken & Freckled, and Paula’s Cinema Club all month long!

 

The Hollywood Revue Turns 5!

Ava Gardner Cake

It’s hard to believe it’s already been five years since I launched The Hollywood Revue! Although I haven’t been posting nearly as much as I would like to have been lately,  I have plans to change that in the near future. I just wanted to take a moment to thank you all for your support over the past five years and thank you for your patience through the bouts of less frequent posting. I’ve got some plans in mind coming up in the near future, so stay tuned!

What’s on TCM: February 2015

Bette Davis Spencer Tracy Academy Award

Clear out the DVR, it’s once again time for TCM’s annual 31 Days of Oscar line-up. This year, the theme is the history of the Oscars. As always, every movie shown during these 31 days is either an Oscar winner or nominee. During the day, movies will be grouped together based on genre, but each night in prime time, the movies will reflect a couple of years in film history with at least one Best Picture winner being shown. The evening line-ups will work their way through Oscar history chronologically, from the first years to the most recent. I’m sure this will be a “love it or hate it” theme with many TCM viewers, particularly near the end of the event when modern movies are being shown in prime time. Personally, I don’t mind this since most of the Oscar nominees I haven’t seen are from the more modern era, so this gives me a chance to catch some of those.

Now, let’s get to the schedule.

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Cecil B. DeMille: The Art of the Hollywood Epic

Cecil B. Demille: The Art of the Hollywood Epic

Cecil B. DeMille’s name is synonymous with the words “Hollywood epic.” Over the course of his career, DeMille played a huge role in creating the grandeur and the sense of wonder that  is now an integral part of the Hollywood mystique. Even though it’s been over 50 years since DeMille last sat in the director’s chair, his legacy of grandeur still endures and the new book “Cecil B. DeMille: The Art of the Hollywood Epic” by Mark Vieira and Cecilia de Mille Presley (Cecil’s beloved granddaughter) is here to pay tribute to Hollywood’s ultimate showman.

I can’t help but be excited when I see a new book by Mark Vieira. He is responsible for some of my favorite books on the subject of classic Hollywood and “Art of the Hollywood Epic” has the same level of quality I have come to expect from Vieira. It’s exactly the type of tribute a director like DeMille deserves. Much like his films, this book is lavish, beautiful, and big. (And I do mean big. Amazon lists its shipping weight at 6.6 pounds.)

“Art of the Hollywood Epic” is illustrated with loads of stunning stills, behind the scenes photographs, storyboards, costume sketches, and photographs of original memorabilia preserved by DeMille’s estate. In her introduction, Cecilia de Mille Presley said, “DeMille was an art lover. He particularly loved illustration. It told a story, just as he did.” Vieira also states that DeMille put the same level of effort into the unit still photographs taken for his films as he did the films themselves, something Hollywood directors rarely did. As you look through this book, it’s very clear how much he truly did care about all of those things. Things other directors might have considered a nuisance or irrelevant, he treated like fine art.

Some of the memorabilia photographed for the book includes the typewriter used to write 1914’s The Straw Man, scripts, props, and costumes such as Charlton Heston’s robe from The Ten Commandments and the Adrian-designed cape from Madam Satan. I always love it when books include photographs of props and costumes that still exist. It’s exciting to see what still exists from these films. They also give you the chance to see some of these props in costumes in a whole new way. The Madam Satan cape looks pretty fabulous in black and white, but it looks even more spectacular in color.

Lest you think this is just another coffee book with nothing more to offer than pretty pictures, the text is very much worth reading. Between Vieira’s first-rate writing and insights from Cecilia de Mille Presley, Cecil B. DeMille’s granddaughter who was very close to her grandfather, the end result is a wonderful tribute to the king of Hollywood epics that not only celebrates the visual aspect of his career, but also offers a lot of insight to the type of person DeMille was.

Disclosure: I received a review copy from the publisher, which does not influence my opinion of this product in any way.