Tag Archives: bing crosby

2016 TCM Classic Film Festival Schedule, SUNDAY

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I leave tomorrow for the TCM Classic Film Festival, so here is the final installment in my rundown of the 2016 TCM Classic Film Festival schedule.

Sunday will be a light day for me, because in the morning I will be going to visit an old research friend in Hollywood. However, the schedule offers some prime choices for attendees on Sunday morning, including a screening of 1961’s King of Kings at the Egyptian at 9:00, Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid at the Chinese multiplex 1 at 11:00, and Children of a Lesser God at 1:00, also at the Egyptian. TCM pulls a bit of a trick on festivalgoers at 2:30, with the simultaneous programming of the conversation with Gina Lollobrigida, and the Live From the TCM Festival interview with Faye Dunaway, which will be broadcast on the channel.

I am going to try to get back from my friend’s by 2:30, in time for the Faye Dunaway interview. Dunaway is one of the most prominent actresses of the 1970s, with starring credits in such enduring classics as Chinatown, Network (for which she won an Oscar), and Bonnie and Clyde. Her appearance at the festival comes as a pleasant surprise–the interview was originally scheduled with Burt Reynolds, but when he had to drop out due to unforeseen circumstances, Faye Dunaway stepped in at the last minute. It will be fascinating to hear what Dunaway has to say about her long career and her Oscar win for Network, playing at the TCM Festival that evening.

Sunday’s schedule includes many spots marked TBD, which is TCM’s way of accommodating movie fans whose film choices filled up quickly. In a TBD slot, TCM will program a movie shown in a previous time slot that was so hugely popular that many fans were left outside due to lack of space in the theater. It is difficult to speculate what will play in a TBD slot, but based on the length of the Faye Dunaway interview, I will likely not make any of the movies in the next time slot except the TBD one. I am looking forward to seeing what that choice will be.

The next thing on the schedule is Network, at 8:00. I changed my flight home so that I could see Network on the big screen, as I feel that it would be remiss of me to let one of the most eerily prescient movies ever to have been made fall by the wayside just for a flight.

Network is the story of Howard Beale, a veteran newsman fired from his job due to poor ratings, who threatens to kill himself on national television. His network sees the ratings value in his remarks, and builds an entire show around Beale and his pseudo-political ravings. In order to boost ratings even further, another show is developed surrounding a terrorist cell–and herein lies Beale’s downfall, and the network’s triumph. The movie won several Oscars, including one for Faye Dunaway’s portrayal of the ruthless news producer, Paddy Chayefsky’s writing, and a posthumous award for Peter

In 1976, the premise of a network manipulating ratings based on the ravings of a “manifestly irresponsible man” was considered satirical and farfetched. But screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky seemed to have a vision of what was to come–today, the basic tenets of Network drive much of our 24-hour news cycle, especially during this presidential election year. Networks know that the incendiary words uttered by certain presidential candidates invite shock and outrage, and so they broadcast those words over and over, analyze them, and discuss them, because they know that people will tune in to hear them. The symbiotic relationship between outrage and ratings is well known now. We seem to be living out what Paddy Chayefsky envisioned in his imaginary world of news cycle absurdism in Network. It is a simultaneously fascinating and extremely frightening situation.

MY SUNDAY CHOICES: Faye Dunaway interview and Network

See you in Hollywood! As usual, you can follow along with all the action right here on the blog, as I enable a live Twitter feed during the festival. To send us off, hit it Bing!

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TREASURES FROM THE WARNER ARCHIVE: Going Hollywood (1933)

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Readers, it has been an unusually busy month! I apologize profusely for my lack of posts over the past 2 weeks, but between various film-related projects and trying to work to fund them, I have been lax with my blogging. But I am back, and ready to dive back in with another installment of Treasures From the Warner Archive!

This week’s selection is one of Marion Davies’ (and Bing Crosby’s, for that matter) more bizarre films. With a subtly creepy plot and a completely haywire and inexplicable dream sequence in the middle of the film, Going Hollywood is a movie that confuses, amuses, and drives the audience to want to watch it again and again.

Marion Davies plays Sylvia Bruce, a French teacher who, fed up with the teaching life, decides to follow her singing idol (Bing Crosby) across the country in an attempt to get him to notice her. The problem is, he is involved with a rather frenetic French actress named Lily Yvonne (Fifi d’Orsay), who is jealous of Sylvia and feels threatened by her. Much of the movie revolves around Sylvia and Lily going at each other, and Bing Crosby plays the oblivious and helpless man in the middle.

The dream sequence of the movie is one of the strangest things I have ever seen on film, and I am so happy that it’s on YouTube. I find myself watching it constantly, because it is so delightfully nutty that I can’t get enough. Here are some things to watch for:

  • The scary dancing scarecrows
  • The words PINK PILLS written on the roof of the barn
  • The gigantic daisies moving in unison

Without further ado, I give you “We’ll Make Hay While the Sun Shines.”

Off the set, Marion Davies was known for her spot-on impersonations of Hollywood types. Her boss and companion, William Randolph Hearst, would often ask her to do these impersonations at parties to entertain guests and Marion would gladly oblige. This gift for mimicry became her signature around town, and was often worked into her movies both before and after sound came in. In Going Hollywood, she does a devilish impression of Fifi d’Orsay that is a real testament to her talent. I am sad to say that it is not online, but this is another reason to see the movie. It is brilliant.

Marion and Bing Crosby got along well, and often clowned together and pulled good-natured pranks on the set. A problem, though, was the fact that they were both predisposed to alcoholism and this took a toll on both of them during production. There is a moment during “We’ll Make Hay While the Sun Shines” (the “Farmer Doakes” bit) where I suspected for a time that they had been drinking. However, a few months ago, I was lucky enough to hear some outtakes from “We’ll Make Hay While the Sun Shines,” in which Marion flubs a line and reacts alertly, professionally, and soberly. She repeats the scene and nails the line, adding jokingly at the end “Can I go home now?” 100% Marion. I am now of the opinion that that scene was done without the influence of alcohol.

If there is one reason that this movie should be seen, it is for Bing Crosby’s beautiful, emotional, and heartfelt rendition of “Temptation.” Sung in a bar to Fifi d’Orsay, Bing gives this song meaning that I have never heard before. If you are a Bing Crosby fan, this is a must-see, and it shows without a doubt why Bing Crosby was as wildly popular as he was. The man could sing like no one else, and extract subtle meaning from the most obtuse lyrics. See this movie for this scene. You won’t regret it.

If you would like to order Going Hollywood, please do so here. Despite (or perhaps because of!) its bizarreness, it is great fun to watch.

See you next time!