Kim Novak

TCMFF 2014, Day 1 — Let the Festivities Begin!

Thursday, April 10, 2014:

Rick Baker Joe Dante TCM Classic Film Fest 2014

Photo courtesy Getty Images

Festival activities started getting underway Thursday afternoon with a “Meet TCM” panel at the Egyptian Theater and a discussion at the Hollywood Museum called “Sons of Gods and Monsters” with director Joe Dante and Academy Award winning make-up artist Rick Baker, hosted by TCM’s Scott McGee.  “Sons of Gods and Monsters” was all about the wonderful world of monster movies and how Joe and Rick were influenced by them. I like monster movies, but I wouldn’t call them my area of expertise, so it was very interesting to learn a bit more about them from two people who are so incredibly passionate about them.

When asked about which movie they believed featured the most impressive monster make-up, Joe and Rick seemed to agree with 1931’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Mel Brooks Robert Osborne TCMFF Interview

Photo courtesy Getty Images

One really fun thing about TCMFF is that if you’re in the Roosevelt Hotel by Club TCM at the right time, you can catch Robert Osborne or Ben Mankiewicz interviewing some of the celebrities and historians attending the festival.  Over the course of the festival, I got to see Margaret O’Brien, Thelma Schoonmaker, and Judy Garland historian John Fricke being interviewed.  But the best interview I had the chance to catch was Mel Brooks. Before heading over to “Sons of Gods and Monsters,” I was there chatting with Jessica from Comet Over Hollywood and Raquel from Out of the Past while TCM was setting up for an interview. We didn’t realize who the interviewee was going to be at first, but we were pleasantly surprised when it was announced it would be Mel Brooks. Unfortunately, we couldn’t stay for the whole thing, but Mel was hilarious of course and it was exciting to have the opportunity to see him in person.  That interview will be airing on TCM in May, so stay tuned for that.

Kim Novak Jane Seymour Club TCM TCMFF

No matter what people said about her at the Oscars, Kim Novak looked lovely.

After “Sons of Gods and Monsters,” it was back to the Roosevelt Hotel for opening night festivities.  The Club TCM area was set to open with Kim Novak, Jane Seymor, Charles Busch, and Bruce Eric Kaplan discussing some artwork they had created that was on display during the festival.  (Manolo Blahnik, Todd Oldham, Joel Grey, Tony Bennett, Jules Feiffer, and Burt Young also created artwork  for the festival.)  I still get a little bit of a rush every time I get to say that I have been in the same room as Kim Novak, even if only for just a few minutes.

Ben Mankiewicz, Paul Le Mat, Candy Clark, Bo Hopkins TCMFF 2013

Photo courtesy Getty Images

For the first movie of the festival, I decided to go with the poolside screening of American Graffiti with stars Paul Le Mat, Candy Clark, and Bo Hopkins in attendance.  The vibe of being poolside was fun; I was chatting with friends, music was playing, and they had jitterbug dancers there.  However, I didn’t actually stay poolside for very long.  I stayed for the interview with the stars, but since the table I was sitting at really didn’t have a good view of the screen, my friends and I went back to Club TCM, where the movie was also playing. Poolside or not, it was a lot of fun.

What’s on TCM: September 2013

Kim Novak VertigoHappy September, everybody!  TCM’s Summer Under the Stars may be drawing to a close, but that doesn’t mean September is going to be a boring month.  In fact, September looks like it’s going to be one of my favorite TCM months in a long time.

First of all, TCM will be kicking off their major Story of Film series.  Not only will they be showing Mark Cousins’ The Story of Film — An Odyssey documentary series on Monday and Tuesday nights, but TCM will also be playing many films featured in the documentary.  This reminds me a bit of the programming TCM did when they had their Moguls and Movie Stars series back in November of 2010.  However, unlike Moguls and Movie Stars, The Story of Film looks beyond the American film industry and branches into world cinema so they will be showing many films that were not discussed during Moguls and Movie Stars.  Fans of silent films have good reason to be excited for this because there will be many nights focusing on the silent era.  If you want to expand your knowledge of film history in general, you are not going to want to miss this series.  This series will continue into October.

If you’re an Alfred Hitchcock fan, you’re going to love the Sundays with Hitch series this month.  Every Sunday, almost all day long, will be dedicated to none other than the Master of Suspense.

Kim Novak will be the Star of the Month.  Her movies can be seen every Thursday this month.

Friday Night Spotlight also makes its return with a series called “Future Shock” hosted by Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune, dedicated to movies about futuristic dystopias.  There are a few more modern movies in this line-up, but I can forgive that considering how many nights are dedicated to silent film this month.

It’s going to be a very busy month, so let’s take a closer look at the schedule…


What’s on TCM: March 2013

Greer GarsonHappy March, everyone!  Hopefully you’ve all been enjoying 31 Days of Oscars, I know I have.  But we already have just a few days left of that before it’s back to the standard TCM schedule.  Greer Garson will be the Star of the Month for March and her movies can be seen every Monday night this month.  TCM will also be shining the spotlight on director Roberto Rossellini every Friday night in March.  Now, let’s take a look at the rest of the schedule:


The Testament of Judith Barton

Vertigo is a movie I’ve seen plenty of times, but I can’t say that I ever really thought too deeply about the character of Judith Barton (played by Kim Novak).  I always got too engrossed with the story of Scottie’s obsession with Madeline to think very much about who the woman behind the gray suit really is.  But after reading The Testament of Judith Barton by Wendy Powers and Robin McLeod, I’ve got a whole new perspective on Vertigo.

In The Testament of Judith Barton, we not only get to see the events of Vertigo through Judith’s eyes, we also find out more about her background.  We learn all about her childhood in Salina, Kansas as the tomboy daughter of a jeweler who passes away when she’s quite young.  After graduating from Catholic school, Judith and her aspiring actress sister Maggie head out to California in search of brighter futures.  However, once they get to California, Judith and Maggie go their separate ways.  Maggie goes on to Los Angeles while Judith starts a new life in San Francisco.  While working in a jewelery shop, Judith has her first encounter with Gavin Elster.  When she suddenly finds herself in need of money, Elster comes to her with the idea of paying her to impersonate his wife Madeline.

When I started reading The Testament of Judith Barton, I was mostly looking forward to seeing the events of the movie from Judith’s perspective.  But I was surprised by how wrapped up I became with the part that deals with Judith’s life in Kansas.  That section paints a vivid portrait of a fairly simple midwestern girl; hardly the type of person you’d expect to get caught up with a man like Elster.  But what makes the section that covers the events of the movie quite special is the fact that Powers and McLeod were able to get permission from Hitchcock’s estate to use excerpts from the Vertigo screenplay.  Being able to integrate actual lines from the film helps The Testament of Judith Barton blend seamlessly into the story we already know so well.

If you’re a fan of Hitchcock, I absolutely recommend checking out The Testament of Judith Barton for yourself.  It’s not often that you’re able to get such a fresh perspective on an old favorite movie. Please visit the book’s website for details on how to get a copy for yourself.

Disclosure:  I was provided a free review copy of The Testament of Judith Barton.

Middle of the Night (1959)

A few years after the death of his wife, Jerry Kingsley (Fredric March) has resigned himself to a life of loneliness.  He’s 56 years old, his children are grown, he lives with his sister, and he works too hard at the clothing company he owns.  But Jerry finds some brightness in his life one afternoon when he stops by his secretary Betty’s (Kim Novak) apartment to pick up some papers for work.  The two of them get to talking and Betty ends up telling Jerry all about her failed marriage.  Jerry gives her some good advice, but ends up finding himself smitten with Betty.  The only problem is that Betty is young enough to be his daughter.

Jerry wants to pursue a relationship with Betty, but is afraid that it would be wrong of him to be in love with someone so much younger.  Betty also tries to proceed with caution.  But their relationship quickly gives Jerry a whole new outlook on life and they are soon engaged.  Naturally, the news shocks both of their families, although Jerry’s family eventually comes around to liking Betty.  However, Betty’s family and friends keep trying to convince her to get back together with her ex-husband George.  Soon the pressures start to get to Betty and Jerry and Jerry starts seeing any younger man who comes near Betty as a threat.  After the two of them fight one night, Betty comes home to find her ex-husband waiting for her and Betty is left to decide if she wants to go back to George or stay with Jerry.

I can sum up my thoughts on Middle of the Night in two words: overlooked gem.  It’s a very well written movie with strong direction and excellent performances from Fredric March and Kim Novak, but for some reason, it doesn’t get talked about very often.  Why it isn’t a better remembered film is beyond me.  If you’re a fan of either Fredric March or Kim Novak, this is a must see.  Both of them give some very honest and vulnerable performances.  If you’re a fan of the movie Marty, Middle of the Night should be right up your alley (both were directed by Delbert Mann).  Definitely keep an eye out for this one on the TCM schedule.

This is my contribution for the March in March Blogathon hosted by Sittin' on a Backyard Fence. For all things Fredric March, be sure to visit there for more blogathon contributions.

What’s on TCM: November 2011

If you’re a fan of blonde bombshells, this is the month for you!  Rather than having just one star of the month, TCM will be spotlighting two classic blondes every Monday and Wednesday this month.  All the classic blondes like Marilyn Monroe, Lana Turner, Jean Harlow, and Jayne Mansfield (just to name a few) will be getting their time to shine.  And in preparation for the TCM Classic Film Cruise, they’ll be playing a night of movies set on ships every Thursday.  Lots of fun stuff to look forward to, so let’s get to my picks for the month:


Live Post: The Debbie Reynolds Auction

Even though I’m broke and can’t afford to actually bid on anything in today’s auction, there’s so much amazing stuff up for sale today that I can’t resist trying to follow the auction as best I can.  So I figured I’d try my hand at live blogging and cover the auction the best I can as it happens.  I’m not going to cover every single item up for sale, but I’ll try to keep you updated about some of the more noteworthy items.  So stay tuned, sit back, relax, and live vicariously through other people who can afford to spend insane amounts of money on movie memorabilia.  And I’m just putting it out there right now: I would not be even remotely surprised if Hugh Hefner buys Marilyn Monroe’s white dress from The Seven Year Itch.  A million dollar absentee bid has already been placed on it, so it will definitely be sold for at least that much today.

If you want to follow along with the auction live, just go here, click on “Live Bidding”, then click the option to just watch the auction. There is a live video stream, but no audio.


Note – The selling prices I list here don’t include the buyer’s premium.  If you see articles about Judy Garland’s Wizard of Oz test costume selling for more than a million, that source factored in the buyer’s premium.

3:12 PM – The first lot, a 1915 35mm Bell and Howell camera just sold for $32,500!

3:16 PM – Rudolph Valentino’s matador suit from Blood and Sand just went for $210,000.

3:19 PM – Mary Pickford’s headpiece from Dorothy Vernon of Haddon Hall went for $3,250.

3: 21 PM- Francis X. Bushman’s charioteer helmet from 1925’s Ben Hur sold for $30,000!

3:26 PM – Harold Lloyd’s suit and hat went for $4,000!

3:34 PM – Mary Pickford’s gown from The Taming of the Shrew sold for $17,000.

3:36 PM – Lots 17 and 18, both Douglas Fairbanks costumes from The Taming of the Shrew sold for $20,000 and lot 18 didn’t sell.

3:38 PM – One of Charlie Chaplin’s infamous hats went for $110,000!

3:40 PM – A Model T used by Laurel and Hardy sold for $32,500 and a pair of their suits went for $16,000.

3:42 PM – Carole Lombard’s gown from No Man of Her Own sold for $11,000.

3:47 PM – Claudette Colbert’s Cleopatra gown went for $40,000.

3:52 PM – Greta Garbo’s gown from Anna Karenina also sold for $40,000!

3:53 PM – Harpo Marx’s hat and wig went for $45,000!

4:10 PM – Lots 42, 43, and 44 are the paintings commissioned by Marion Davies and respectively went for $10,000, $11,000, and $17,000.  These really got the bidders going.

4:17  PM – W.C. Fields’ joke box sold for $35,000.

4:39 PM – Norma Shearer’s purple gown from Romeo and Juliet went for $20,000.

5:04 PM – Now we’re into stuff from The Good Earth and people went nuts for some of the furniture!  The pair of chairs went for $20,000, the opium bed for $20,000, two Paul Muni robes for $4,000 each, Luise Rainer’s shirt for $2,000, the lot of stands and other furniture for $3,500, and Luise Rainer’s jacket for $3,000.

5:13  PM – A gown worn by Norma Shearer in Marie Antoinette and Lucille Ball in Du Barry was a Lady sold for $11,000.

5:44 PM – Oh, now we’re into a busy bunch of lots!  First up was Marlene Dietrich’s outfit from “The Boys in the Backroom” number in Destry Rides Again, which went for $8,000, one of Judy Garland’s test costumes from The Wizard of Oz went for $910,000, a test pair of the ruby slippers sold for $510,000, an extra’s jacket from the Emerald City scenes of the Wizard of Oz sold for $22,500, Clark Gable’s dressing robe from the production of Gone With the Wind went for $10,000, and Basil Rathbone’s famous Sherlock Holmes caped overcoat sold for $50,000!

5:54 PM – Vivien Leigh’s suit from Waterloo Bridge sold for $16,000.

6:09 PM – Gary Cooper’s military uniform from Sergeant York went for $55,000.

6:16 PM – A couple of costumes worn by James Cagney in Yankee Doodle Dandy, the satin jockey shirt went for $27,500 and the clown outfit sold for $15,000.

6:19 PM – Not so fast, Louis!  A suit worn by Claude Rains in Casablanca sold for $55,000!

6:53 PM – Took a dinner break and missed another busy bunch of lots!  Elizabeth Taylor’s riding outfit from National Velvet went for $60,000, Judy Garland’s “Under the Bamboo Tree” dress from Meet Me in St. Louis sold for $16,000, Judy’s dress from the snowman building scene in Meet Me in St. Louis went for $10,000, Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra’s sailor suits from Anchors Aweigh went for $27,500 and $15,000 respectively.

7:00 PM – $22,500 for Joan Crawford’s waitress uniform from Mildred Pierce and $5,000 for Ann Blyth’s Mildred Pierce suit.

7:05 PM – Edmund Gwenn’s Santa suit from Miracle on 34th Street just sold for $22,500.

8:12 PM – The gold lame dress worn by Ginger Rogers in The Barkleys of Broadway went for $8,000.

8:51 PM – The chiffon robe worn by Vivien Leigh in A Streetcar Named Desire sold for $18,000.  Then it went into a bunch of items from An American in Paris with Leslie Caron’s peacock dress from the fantasy ballet number for $15,000, Nina Foch’s white halter gown from a party scene for $3,000, and a showgirl costume from the Stairway to Paradise number for $1,100.

9:05 PM – We have reached the Singin’ in the Rain part of the auction.  First were the green and white checked suits worn by Donald O’Connor and Gene Kelly, $8,000 and $14,000 respectively.  Jean Hagen’s Marie Antoinette-esque dress sold for $5,500 and Gene Kelly’s period costume went for $9,000.  Debbie’s green and white leaf print dress went for $15,000, Gene Kelly’s jacket from the Broadway Melody Ballet number went for $6,500, Jean Hagen’s black and white fur coat went for $6,000, Donald O’Connor’s “Good Morning” suit didn’t sell, Cyd Charisse’s white Broadway Melody Ballet outfit for $7,000, and Debbie’s “Good Morning” dress went for $27,500.  A pink dress worn by Gwen Carter sold for $3,750, and a bunch of costumes from the “Beautiful Girl” montage brought $5,500.

9:22 PM – Now we’re getting into some of the Marilyn Monroe and Marilyn-related items.  First up is Marilyn’s red “Two Little Girls from Little Rock” dress from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, which brought $1.2 million!  Then came the feathered hat worn by Jane Russell when she impersonates Loreli Lee in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, that sold for $4,250.  Lauren Bacall’s wedding dress from How to Marry a Millionaire went for $8,000 and the car used by Marilyn and Cary Grant in Monkey Business sold for $210,000.

9:48 PM – A lot of two safari outfits worn by Grace Kelly in Mogambo sold for $47,500.  A Winchester rifle used by Clark Gable in Mogambo brought in $15,000.

10:00 PM – A couple more from Marilyn Monroe.  The gold dress from River of No Return went for $510,000 and her costume from the “Heat Wave” number in There’s No Business Like Show Business brought in $500,000!

10:52 PM – After a little break, we’re back with the dress everyone’s been waiting for — the infamous Marilyn Monroe white subway dress from The Seven Year Itch.  I fully expected bidding to be out of control for this one and I wasn’t disappointed.  It brought in an astonishing $4.6 million!

11:03 PM – Now we’ve got a couple from To Catch a Thief.  A coat worn by Cary Grant brought in $15,000 and an outfit worn by Grace Kelly earned a jaw dropping $450,000!

11:41 PM – A couple of dresses worn by Deborah Kerr in An Affair to Remember brought in $6,000 and $11,000.

12:17 AM – One of Lana Turner’s dresses from Peyton Place sold for $4,250.

12:22 AM – Lot number 407 is rather unique because it includes things worn by both Kim Novak and Rita Hayworth in Pal Joey.  It went for $6,500.

12:29 AM – Leslie Caron’s iconic plaid schoolgirl outfit from Gigi went for $65,000.

12:40 AM – Charlton Heston’s tunic and cape from Ben Hur could have been yours for the low, low price of $320,000!

1:32 AM – Marlon Brando’s naval outfit from Mutiny on the Bounty just brought in $90,000!

2:12 AM – Elizabeth Taylor’s famous headdress from Cleopatra went for $100,000 and Richard Burton’s tunic, cape, and sword brought in $85,000.

Oh, who cares what time it is anymore?  Yes, I’m still going!  Aren’t these people tired and broke yet?!  Janet Leigh’s yellow fringed dress from Bye Bye Birdie fetched $3,750 and Bette Davis’ blood stained dress from Hush, Hush…Sweet Charlotte sold for $11,000.

Another big item to watch tonight was Audrey Hepburn’s Ascot dress from My Fair Lady.  I fully expected it to exceed the $200,000-$300,000 and it sure did.  It went up to $3.7 million!

I would say that the hills are alive with the sound of music, but at this time of night, I’m pretty sure that’s a noise ordinance violation.  Julie Andrews’ guitar went for $140,000, her jumper from the “Do Re Mi” number for $550,000, her turquoise and green dress for $45,000, the peasant dress went for $42,500, and a pair of the Trapp children’s outfits sold for $35,000.

And at long last we have reached the Barbara Streisand part of the auction.  First from Funny Girl is her costume from “I’d Rather Be Blue” for $65,000, a lot of the other roller skating costumes for $2,500, the black velvet dress from “My Man” for $16,000, a bunch of stuff worn by the Ziegfeld girls in the “His Love Makes Me Beautiful” number for $7,500, Anne Francis’ silk dress for $1,800, and Kay Medford’s beaded shawl for $1,400.

A jacket worn by Robert Redford in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid brought $8,500 and a dress worn by Katharine Ross went for $16,000.

And back to Streisand.  The purple Hello, Dolly dress went for $55,000 and the gold dress for $100,000.  Surprised the gold dress went for that little, that’s how much it cost to make that dress back in the day.

You’ll be fascinated to know that a shirt worn in the cinematic masterpiece known as Grease 2 sold for $475.

We have finally made it to the final segment of posters/portraits!  The title cards for Blind Husbands fetched $2,000, the lot of three Gloria Swanson title/lobby cards sold for $1,200, the portrait of Gloria Swanson went for $8,500, the lot of two Mabel Normand lobby cards for $800, the pair of silent title/lobby cards for $1,600, the lobby card for Lon Chaney’s The Penalty for $1,700, and the lobby card for Chaplin’s The Idle Class for $1,600.  The portrait of Jean Harlow went for $11,000!

Now it’s high time I called it a night!  Good night everybody!

Jeanne Eagels (1957)

In the late 1910s, Jeanne Eagels (Kim Novak) was nothing more than an aspiring actress from Kansas City.  When she meets a traveling salesman who says he can fix it so she can win a beauty pageant at the carnival, she buys it hook, line, and sinker.  But when she gets to the pageant, Sal Satori (Jeff Chandler) has other plans and Jeanne doesn’t win.  However, she sticks around at the end of the night and convinces Sal to give her a job in the carnival.  While on the road, she and Sal fall in love and she dances in any show she can on the carnival circuit, but she’s has her sights set on bigger things.  Eventually, Sal decides to sell his carnival and start a new carnival in Coney Island with his brother.  Jeanne accompanies him to New York, where she takes acting lessons from the great acting coach Nellie Nielson (Agnes Moorehead).

Under the tutelage of Nellie, Jeanne quickly climbs the ladder of success on Broadway, but her relationship with Sal suffers as a result and Jeanne quickly moves onto John Donahue (Charles Drake).  While she’s outside of the theater one day, Jeanne meets Elsie Desmond (Virginia Grey), the former Broadway star who lost her career to pills and booze.  Elsie desperately wants to make a comeback starring as Sadie Thompson in a production of Somerset Maugham’s “Rain.”  Elsie gives Jeanne a copy of the script for her to give to a producer since he’d listen to her, but when Jeanne reads the script, she falls in love with it.  She makes some phone calls and finds out that not only does nobody want to touch it if Elsie’s involved, but her option has expired, so she convinces the producer to do “Rain” with her as Sadie Thompson.  Jeanne is a sensation in the part, but Elsie is driven even deeper into despair and commits suicide.

Jeanne feels painfully guilty for Elsie’s demise, but things look up for her when John’s divorce is finalized and the two are married.  However, marrying John doesn’t stop her from falling into a downward spiral of alcoholism and taking John with her.  While on the road with “Rain”, Jeanne’s drinking forces several performances to be canceled, getting her in hot water with the actors’ union.  Meanwhile, Sal’s new carnival has really taken off, but he still misses Jeanne.  After Jeanne divorces John, she returns to New York to star in a new show.  But just before the show opens, Jeanne gets drunk and doped up before going on stage and as a result, forgets her lines and has a meltdown on stage.  When the entire show gets canceled, the actors’ union bans her from performing in legitimate theater for 18 months.  Sal, however, takes pity on her and gives her a chance to perform in his vaudeville theater, which she accepts.  Unfortunately, after an altercation with a fellow performer, Jeanne once again turns to pills and liquor to cope, but this time, she doesn’t live to make it to the next performance.

I have to say, I was a little underwhelmed by Jeanne Eagels.  First of all, it pretty much goes without saying that Hollywood biopics tend to play a little fast and loose with reality.  But the real Jeanne Eagels never was a carnival dancer and I think it’s a bit much to make an inaccuracy into such a huge part of the movie.  Secondly, Kim Novak’s performance tends to be a bit campy, especially during her drunk scenes and the scenes of Jeanne performing in the play Rain.  The only performance I’ve seen of the real Jeanne Eagels was the 1929 version of The Letter and based on what I saw there, I can totally imagine her bringing down the house with that line, “…Hang me and be damned to you!”  I just can’t imagine Kim’s delivery of that line having the same impact.  It was one of those moments that’s supposed to be so great but left me thinking, “Wait…seriously?”  The writing also had a few issues.  The way it’s written, it feels like Jeanne had the fastest descent into alcoholism I’ve ever seen in a movie.  We don’t see her touch the stuff through most of the movie, then she has one drink and the next thing we know, she’s going off on benders.  I also thought the introduction of Elsie Desmond was a pretty heavy-handed attempt at foreshadowing, even though I really did like Virginia Grey’s performance as Elsie.

Before seeing this movie, I really liked the idea of Kim Novak playing Jeanne Eagels and I give her an “A” for effort because she tried her darndest.  But maybe with a better script and if director George Sidney had reigned Kim in just a little bit, this could have been a far better movie.

What’s on TCM: September 2010

I Hope everyone had fun with Summer Under the Stars 2010!  I know I sure did.  I saw a lot of great stuff for the first time and I’ve still got lots to catch up on.  September feels a little slow in comparison, but there’s still some great stuff coming soon.  Vivien Leigh is the star of the month, so you know there will be lots of great movies featuring her this month.  In addition to Vivien, fans of Kim Novak and Mickey Rooney will have a lot to look forward to.  Thursday nights are dedicated to looking at films with the theme of revenge.  Anyone with an interest in Mexico or Mexican films will be interested in TCM’s celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Mexican revolution.  All of this month’s TCM Import selections for this month come from Mexico, plus a night of movies about Pancho Villa, in addition to a few other selections.  Now, onto the highlights: