Sophia Loren

What’s on TCM: April 2016

Judy Garland

Happy April, everyone! There is a fantastic month of movies ahead on TCM to look forward to, so let’s get started.

First of all, we have Judy Garland as Star of the Month. Her movies will be paying every Friday night in April. There’s also a spotlight on John, Lionel, and Ethel Barrymore with a Best of the Barrymores spotlight every Monday night. Between those two movies, there’s a lot of great stuff to look forward to.

I’m also very excited about the From Caligari to Hitler spotlight on films from Germany’s Weimar era, which will be running on Wednesday nights starting April 13th. Since I’m a huge fan of many movies from this era such as Metropolis, Diary of a Lost Girl, The Blue Angel, and M, I’m so looking forward to this. Plus there are a few movies in that schedule that I’ve never seen before, but have been wanting to see for a long time. Should be great.

Last, but certainly not least, there’s a night of Sophia Loren coming up on April 28th. This night’s schedule includes the premiere of an interview she taped at the 2015 TCM Film Festival. I had the privilege of being able to attend the taping of this interview and I can safely say you’re in for a real treat. Since Robert Osborne was unable to attend the festival last year, Loren’s son Edoardo Ponti filled in for him, making this a totally unique interview. They’ll also be playing Human Voice, which is a short film she starred in in 2014. Her performance is absolutely incredible in it; I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Without further ado, let’s get on to the rest of the schedule!

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TCMFF 2015, Day 3: Light on Movies, Big on Star Power

In terms of how many movies I watched, Saturday (March 28th) was my slowest day at the festival. I had seen 5 movies the previous day and I would see 4 movies the following day (more on that shortly), but on this day, I only made it to 3 actual movies. Instead, I spent most of Saturday going to events rather than screenings but I had the chance to bask in some serious star power throughout the day.

Colleen Moore Why Be Good

My first movie of the day was 1929’s Why Be Good, the final silent film from Colleen Moore. As much as I love silent film, I’d never seen a Colleen Moore movie before and I was definitely not disappointed. If you see Why Be Good without knowing anything about Colleen Moore, you’ll have no problem seeing why she was a big star. She is an utter delight to watch; the perfect example of that youthful, exuberant flapper image. The movie itself is a lot of fun and offers great commentary on double standards for women, a fact that the audience seemed to appreciate very much.

Rory Flynn Book Signing

Rory Flynn Signing Autographs

From Why Be Good, I headed over to the Roosevelt, where Rory Flynn, daughter of Errol Flynn, was signing copies of her book “The Barron of Mulholland.” I would have loved to have been able to see the presentation she gave in Club TCM the previous day about her father’s life, so I wanted to at least be able to stop by, say hello, and get a copy of her book. If you ever have the chance to meet her, Rory is absolutely lovely and very approachable. One of the highlights of the festival was when she complimented my dress because, I mean, how often do you get complimented on your outfit by the daughter of one of the greatest screen icons of all time?

Sophia Loren TCMFF 2015

Photo courtesy of TCM/Edward M. Pio Roda

After the book signing, I took a stroll down to the Montalban Theater to get in line for the taping of the “Live from the TCM Classic Film Festival” interview with Sophia Loren. Although I’ve always looked forward to seeing these interviews on TCM, I’ve never attended the taping of one before and since I admire so many of Loren’s films, I figured this would be a good time to go to one. This is the kind of event that even some of the celebrity guests attending the festival wanted to be at; I spotted Greg Proops and Rory Flynn in the crowd.

Traditionally, these interviews are conducted by TCM host Robert Osborne, but since he wasn’t able to attend the festival this year due to health issues, Sophia’s son Edoardo Ponti was there to fill in for him. Robert Osborne is a brilliant interviewer, but there’s simply no way to replicate the dynamic between a mother and her child and it was very clear that Sophia adores her children. Sophia mentioned being a very shy person and I think having her son there with her helped put her at ease. Being able to see an icon like Sophia Loren being interviewed by one of her sons is a truly unique event that I never thought I would have had the chance to witness firsthand.

Just a few of the subjects she talked about included her family, growing up in Italy during World War II, trying to get a start in show business only to be told she wouldn’t make it because she wasn’t pretty enough, motherhood, working with Vittorio De Sica, her co-stars, and even the infamous photo of her with Jayne Mansfield. She explained that her reaction to Mansfield wasn’t judgement, but that she was trying to figure out technically, how she was managing to keep her dress on.

At one point, she talked about what the movies meant to her as a young girl and how she adored Blood and Sand with Tyrone Power. Although it was a simple anecdote, I liked that she talked about that. In the lobby of the TCL Multiplex, TCM set up a video booth and asked festival attendees to come in and talk about the moments that made them love movies, so it was like she unintentionally gave an answer to that. (If you want to see my answer to that question, my video is up here.)

After a quick dinner, it was back to the Roosevelt for Hollywood Home Movies. As always, they had a fascinating selection of clips including Gary Cooper and Esther Ralston behind the scenes of 1928’s Half a Bride (now a lost film); footage of Hollywood Boulevard around the time Hell’s Angels was released; a party hosted by Cedric Gibbons and Dolores Del Rio in 1935; some of Henry Koster’s home movies that show him visiting Charles Laughton and Elsa Lanchester. Jane Withers’ home movies; footage of Bob Hope, Frances Langford, Betty Hutton and Joe DiMaggio entertaining the troops in 1944; footage of Sophia Loren filming on location in Greece; and Steve McQueen at home.

Hollywood Home Movies Screenings Jane Withers Neile Adams McQueen

Bob Koster, Neile Adams, and Jane Withers at Hollywood Home Movies. Photo courtesy TCM/Edward M. Pio Roda

When they show these home movies, they often try to get family members of the people who were featured in the home movies or who donated them to the Academy to add to their collection come out to talk about them. This year, Jane Withers herself was there to talk about her contributions. Although there were other guests there, including Neile Adams (ex-wife of Steve McQueen), Jane Withers pretty much stole the whole show. She is an absolute riot and a real treasure; the crowd was absolutely going wild for her. Her comments were very candid and hilarious, including one moment where she shrieked, “Look how fat I was!” and then went on to talk about how she used to get so much fan mail from young girls who related to her chubbiness. She has so many stories to tell, I could have easily listened to her go on for hours.

Robert Morse Ben Mankiewicz at The Loved One

Ben Mankiewicz and Robert Morse discussing The Loved One

After a short break, it was time for 1965’s The Loved One with Robert Morse in attendance. This is a movie I had heard about before and thought it sounded like it would be right up my alley, and I was not disappointed. The movie is dark, twisted, and completely off the rails in the best possible way. This isn’t a movie that’s going to appeal to everyone, but I loved it. The Loved One is a satire of the funeral industry and features an appearance by Liberace as a coffin salesman. If you hear those statements and think, “I need this movie in my life,” you will probably like The Loved One. If you appreciate this style of humor, you’ll have a great time watching it at home, but it’s one that absolutely begs to be watched with a crowd who is totally into it (which was the case at this screening).

The whole thing was made even better by Ben Mankiweicz’s interview with Robert Morse before the movie. Robert Morse is a hugely entertaining character. He was hilarious and I don’t think he wanted to stop talking to the audience; it was clear he was having a lot of fun. As a Mad Men fan, I thought it was great that Allan Havey, who played Lou Avery in Season 7, tagged along with Robert. Havey didn’t talk to the audience, but I loved getting to see two Mad Men actors hanging around together. This was just a perfect screening for me; there wasn’t a single thing I can think of that could have gone better.

I wish I could have more to say about the final movie of the day, Nothing Lasts Forever from 1984. Nothing Lasts Forever, despite being produced by Lorne Michaels and featuring appearances by Saturday Night Live legends like Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray, was never officially released theatrically due to a multitude of reasons. It had some television screenings in Europe and never made it to DVD, but eventually turned up on TCM Underground a while back. I think I made it about halfway through the movie and fell asleep, waking up in time to catch the very end but had absolutely no idea what was going on. But I did see that this movie will be on TCM Underground again in May, so I’ll give it another shot to find out what I missed.

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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More Than a Miracle (1967)

More Than a Miracle PosterSpanish prince Rodrigo Fernandez (Omar Sharif) could have his choice of any princess his mother (Dolores del Rio) wants him to marry, but Rodrigo refuses to have anything to do with them. One day, he meets a magical monk and when Rodrigo explains who his ideal woman is, the monk gives him a sack of flour and a donkey. He is to find a woman who will make him seven dumplings with the flour and the donkey is to take him to her. As he rides along on the donkey, he meets the beautiful peasant Isabella (Sophia Loren). Isabella detests him, but he can’t resist her beauty and convinces her to make him the dumplings.

However, she gives him six dumplings, not seven — she ate the seventh one herself. To teach her a lesson for disobeying her, he plays dead, attracting the attention of the neighbors, then suddenly vanishes. In an attempt to bring him back, Isabella gets some help from some local witches, who create a spell for her. But when Isabella tries to cast the spell, she doesn’t do it right and instead casts a spell that paralyzes him and can only be broken with a magical kiss.

The prince’s guards find Isabella and bring her to the palace to break the spell and even though they have both fallen in love with each other, he still punishes her by sealing her in a barrel and sending her out to sea. That’s not enough to stand between, though, and Isabella is rescued by some children who help her get back to the palace. She gets in by working as a maid, but Rodrigo is under more pressure than ever to get married within seven days and to pick a bride, there will be a competition between the princesses. Rodrigo disguises Isabella as a princess and arranges a dishwashing competition, figuring she’d be a shoo-in to win. But when a rival sabotages Isabella’s plates, Isabella is about ready to end it all when she’s encouraged to make one last attempt to be with her true love.

More Than a Miracle isn’t a particularly noteworthy movie, but I enjoyed it just because it’s very different from the types of movies I typically go for and I was really craving something different today. It’s a cute movie; a pretty standard fairy tale fantasy story with some comedy thrown in for good measure. A pleasant little diversion that’s purely entertainment for entertainment’s sake. It’s certainly not one of the best movies Sophia Loren, Omar Sharif, or Dolores del Rio (who I was pleasantly surprised to see; until now, I don’t think I’d seen anything she made after Flying Down to Rio) ever made, but for what it is, there are far worse ways to spend a little over an hour and a half.

What’s on TCM: September 2012

Happy September, everyone!  I hope you all enjoyed this year’s edition of Summer Under the Stars.  One good thing may be coming to an end, but fear not, there are some very, very cool things to look forward to in September.

Silent film fans, rejoice!  Every Thursday night this month, TCM will be spotlighting movies produced at Mack Sennett studios, which means there will be tons of silent films being played during prime time.  83 short films will be included in this tribute, the vast majority of which have never been shown in TCM before, and will feature stars  such as Charlie Chaplin, Mabel Normand, Fatty Arbuckle, and Gloria Swanson.  I, for one, am very excited for this!

Lauren Bacall is the Star of the Month and every Wednesday night in September will be full of her movies.  September 3rd will be TCM’s annual tribute to the Telluride Film Festival

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What’s on TCM: April 2012

Happy April, everybody!  TCM has a pretty fun schedule this month, but it’s organized a little differently than usual.  Usually things like the Star of the Month nights get one night each week.  But this month, those nights are all in one week from Monday to Friday.  Doris Day is the April Star of the Month so her movies will be on every night from April 2-6.  TCM will also be doing a spring break week this month from April 16-20, so every night will be fun, beachy movies like Gidget and Frankie and Annette Beach Party movies.  Now, onto the schedule:

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What’s on TCM: September 2011

I hope everyone enjoyed Summer Under the Stars this year!  September is looking like it’s going to be a much quieter month, but there is still plenty to look forward to.  Most noteworthy, this month marks the TCM premiere of a couple long-awaited movies, The Constant Nymph and The Story of Temple Drake.  Kirk Douglas is September’s star of the month and there are some truly stellar nights of his movies to look forward to.  Laurel and Hardy fans will be happy to hear that the duo will be making a few appearances this month.  Thursday nights will be dedicated to celebrating fifty years of Merchant Ivory productions, and those nights tend to have too many modern movies for my liking.  But there are also TCM’s annual tributes to the Telluride Film Festival and the Library of Congress Film Archive, both of which have some pretty excellent stuff to look forward to.

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