Tag Archives: classic movies

Backlots at the TCM Classic Film Festival 2017

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For the 5th year in a row, Backlots will be joining the ranks of the media in early April,  covering the TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood. In the years since its inception in 2010, the TCM Classic Film Festival has easily become the most prominent classic film festival in the country, attracting world-class speakers and attended by fans from all over the world.

The festival always has an overarching theme, and this year TCM is saluting comedy in the movies with a theme they call “Make ‘Em Laugh.”

The schedule is still in the works, but the lineup announced so far is phenomenal, even by TCM’s standards. Some of the highlights for me thus far:

  • The Palm Beach Story

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Starring Claudette Colbert, Joel McCrea, and a marvelously funny Mary Astor, The Palm Beach Story is a staple of the screwball comedy genre about a woman who divorces her husband to finance his career with the money of a millionaire she starts to date. This is a movie that we’ve been hoping to have at the festival for some time, as it’s a real crowd-pleaser and very much in the vein of The More the Merrier, which was such a big hit last year.

  • Red-Headed Woman

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In this steamy pre-code, Jean Harlow uses her feminine power to climb the ladder of success, wrecking marriages, engaging in affairs, and attempting murder along the way. With a screenplay written by Anita Loos, Red-Headed Woman is a must-see in Jean Harlow’s filmography, and a delicious example of what we think of when we think of that raw and glorious era between 1929 and 1934.

Having attended the TCM Classic Film Festival 6 times (5 as press with Backlots), I have come to recognize general trends among festivalgoers, and which movies will be sellouts. TCM has an intricate ticketing system–about an hour before the movie starts, the staff starts passing out numbers to passholders in line, starting with the Spotlight and Essential passes and then moving to the Classic and Media. Once the numbers get past the number of seats in the theater, the movie has sold out. Thus, if you hold a Classic or Media pass, it is important to get in line as early as possible, in order to avoid being shut out of a movie. The festival leaves TBA slots open on the last day of the festival to re-screen select movies that sold out, but it is left to their discretion which ones are re-screened.

Red-Headed Woman is a sellout if I’ve ever seen one. Pre-codes are immensely popular at the TCM Festival, as is Jean Harlow, as are movies from any year of the 1930s. Last year, Double Harness sold out, was re-screened, and sold out again. I would expect this event to repeat with Red-Headed Woman. If you’re attending the festival and would like to see Red-Headed Woman, I would advise you to get in line about 2 hours ahead of time. It will fill up so quickly your head will spin.

  • Twentieth Century

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Considered to be one of the first screwball comedies, Twentieth Century features Carole Lombard and John Barrymore in a zany piece filled with hilarious Carole Lombard lines and over-the-top acting by Barrymore that leaves the viewer in stitches. It’s one that I’m surprised hasn’t been shown up to now, it’s such a marvelous fit for TCM. Watch for this one being sold out too–Carole Lombard always sells well at this festival.

  • Born Yesterday

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The winner of the Best Actress Oscar of 1950 (it came as a thrilling surprise–Judy Holliday was up against Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard and Bette Davis for All About Eve), Born Yesterday is an exploration of how a newly-educated woman equips herself to leave her abusive boyfriend. While on the surface it may look like a standard 1950s comedy, the movie is really an ode to the powers of education, and to a woman’s right to her own happiness. It seems especially significant in this day and age, when both education and women’s rights are under threat. I wrote a blog post about Born Yesterday some time ago, feel free to take a look.

Stay tuned to hear more festival news as it comes in. Looking forward to reporting to you from Hollywood!

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Remembering Robert Osborne

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The classic film world has lost a monumental force, one of our preeminent modern film historians and certainly among the most visible. Robert Osborne, the beloved host of Turner Classic Movies since 1994, died on Monday at the age of 84.

Osborne had been on a long hiatus from TCM due to illness, and was absent from the past few TCM festivals in Hollywood. His death hit the classic film world hard, with posts and tributes written almost immediately and emotions running high.

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TCM has a unique fan base, and Osborne was the face of the network. Many of us grew up with him, his soothing voice becoming synonymous with evenings in front of the television watching a classic movie. More than just a representative of TCM, however, Osborne transcended the network. His knowledge of movie history, and of the stars and directors who made it, was staggeringly detailed, nuanced, and deep. Always polished and dapper on air, Osborne’s presence on the network was representative of a different era of television–one that seems to have otherwise disappeared. His sophistication and elegance harkened back to the news programs of Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite, as he informed us respectfully, intelligently, and passionately, about the movies he loved as we did.

Osborne began his career as an actor with Desilu, and it was Lucille Ball, in her infinite wisdom, who first noticed Osborne’s talent for journalism when he was still a young actor. He published his first book in 1965, then became a longstanding columnist for The Hollywood Reporter. Osborne enjoyed relating the story of his first major interview, for which his subject was Natalie Wood. Osborne told of the incident in an article for a Natalie Wood tribute on TCM:

By the time I met her in 1965, she was already a Hollywood veteran at the age of 27. And along with her determination and brilliance, she also turned out to be incredibly kind, especially to an admittedly novice journalist like me. She was, in fact, my first major celebrity interview and when I arrived at her home, with those beautiful brown eyes looking at me, waiting for me to begin, I realized just how much of a beginner I was. My questions had no rhythm to them, and my notes were, I realized too late, completely disorganized. Looking back, she could have stopped that interview then and there, or quickly answered my questions and ended it almost as soon as it had begun. But she didn’t. Instead, Natalie ended up sitting down on the floor with me and giving me suggestions on how to best organize the interview to get the most interesting story.

That day she became my mentor and, more importantly, my friend.

He went on to be one of the great classic Hollywood interviewers and the author of several books, including a series on the Academy Awards. The series began in 1965 with The Academy Awards Illustrated, and culminated in 85 Years of the Oscar, published in 2013. He was a respected and sought-after co-author, with credits on a seemingly endless list of classic film books.

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Osborne was a dear friend of many classic Hollywood stars, including Lucille Ball, Bette Davis, and particularly Olivia de Havilland, with whom Osborne spoke every Sunday. It was de Havilland who introduced him to Bette Davis, and the two became fast friends. When he was looking for an apartment in Manhattan in the late 1980s and had finally found one he liked, he called Bette Davis to come see it with him, to get her opinion. Davis liked it, and Osborne took it. The building, serendipitously enough, was called the Osborne, and he lived there for the rest of his life.

I had the great fortune to meet Robert Osborne at the TCM Classic Film Festival in 2012. It wasn’t a very formal meeting, but it was incredibly memorable for me. I related to him my love of Rita Hayworth, and we chatted for a few minutes about her. I feel so fortunate to have met a scholar and man of his stature, and to be able to talk about a mutual love.

Here he is introducing Cover Girl, one of his favorite Rita Hayworth movies. Robert Osborne’s loss is immeasurable, and will be felt forever in the classic film community. He is and will continue to be greatly missed.

Remembering Mary Tyler Moore: ORDINARY PEOPLE (1980)

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Mary Tyler Moore’s death on Wednesday was an enormous loss for the entertainment industry. It is hard to overstate the importance of Mary Tyler Moore’s influence in shaping how women are portrayed in media, and in paving the way for more nuanced female characters. Onscreen, Moore took the standard portrayal of a woman as a housewife and mother, subservient to her husband, and turned it on its head. As capri-wearing, outspoken Laura Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show, she was an equal to her husband and was often portrayed as the more level-headed of the two. As single working woman Mary Richards on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, she broke ground as a female executive in a newsroom, unafraid to stand up to her boss and stick up for herself. The barriers she broke for women on television have not gone unnoticed, as words of gratitude have come pouring in from women in the industry today, from Oprah Winfrey to Samantha Bee. Offscreen, she was one of the first female studio heads, founding MTM Enterprises with husband Grant Tinker in 1968, a studio that produced The Mary Tyler Moore Show and its spinoffs, as well as such shows as Hill Street Blues and St. Elsewhere.

Moore was modest about her status as a trailblazer, and downplayed her role as a feminist icon. She was timid about participating in the feminist movements that defined the 1970s, and remained somewhat more traditional offscreen than her beloved onscreen characters would lead us to believe. The role with which she identified most, she once said, was her Oscar-nominated performance as the distant, emotionless Beth Jarrett in the movie Ordinary People.

Coming after the likable, fun roles of Laura Petrie and Mary Richards, it is startling to see Moore playing a character so different. Director Robert Redford had seen something in Moore’s previous roles, a hint of sadness or vulnerability, that led him to believe that she could play the role, and he wanted her for it. The story of a family coming to terms with the drowning death of their son and the suicide attempt of their other son, Ordinary People is stark and raw, filled with inner rage under a meditative surface, and featuring spectacular performances from Moore, Donald Sutherland, and Timothy Hutton.

Ordinary People came at a difficult time in Moore’s life. Her much younger sister had just recently died of a drug overdose, and her son was troubled with drugs as well (he would die later that year). Thus, it is not difficult to imagine Moore living the role of Beth Jarrett, a mother going through the hardest time in her life. Beth emotionally distances herself from her surviving son, and comes off stone cold, uncaring and heartless.

Moore said later in an interview with the Archive of American Television that an interpretation of Beth Jarrett as heartless and brittle was not seeing the character at all. She was a victim, she said, and a woman “who wanted to do the right thing and was taught ‘how to do the right thing,’ and never let it spontaneously erupt.”

While starkly different from her groundbreaking roles on television, Ordinary People is very much a continuation of Mary Tyler Moore’s trend of empowering female characters. With her nuanced performance, she turns a woman who could, on the surface, be written off as an emotionless person, into a powerful examination into the complex emotions surrounding motherhood, death, mourning, and fear.

Ordinary People is often difficult to watch due to the built-in tension, but it is a triumph of acting prowess. If you would like to watch it, it is available on Netflix and to rent on Amazon. This is truly Mary Tyler Moore at her best and most vulnerable. She was a force of good for women in the entertainment world, and will be painfully missed.

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At the Academy Awards with Jack Lemmon, where she was nominated for Ordinary People.

Trailblazing Women to be Highlighted on Turner Classic Movies in October

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For the second year in a row, Turner Classic Movies will pay tribute to significant contributions to the film industry by women, through their Trailblazing Women series in partnership with Women in Film. Last year’s programming was a huge success, with a spotlight on female directors in what has become a crushingly male-dominated industry. This year’s theme will be “Actresses Who Made a Difference,” focusing on those women who contributed to issues outside of acting, and made waves that are still felt today in the film world and beyond.

The month-long Tuesday/Thursday night programming is hosted by Illeana Douglas, joined by a different female guest each night who will discuss the actresses, why they were chosen, and introduce a film made during a significant period in their life. On the first night, October 4, Douglas will be joined by the leading expert on women in early Hollywood, Cari Beauchamp, author of Without Lying Down: Frances Marion and the Powerful Women of Early Hollywood. The subjects on the first night will be three actresses who seized the idea of the traditionally male studio executive and turned it on its head.

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Mary Pickford was one of the most prominent figures in early Hollywood, both on and off the screen. While moviegoing audiences knew her as “Little Mary,” a perpetual little girl in curls even at the age of 30, in reality she was a woman with an steel will and iron constitution, a shrewd businesswoman and a savvy investor who knew the industry inside and out. In 1919, she founded United Artists with Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, and D.W. Griffith, and subsequently founded the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Motion Picture Relief Fund, which (now operating as the Motion Picture and Television Fund) still serves those in need in the industry. She will be discussed and profiled in conjunction with Little Annie Rooney, a movie she produced and performed in at the height of her position as a head of United Artists Studio in 1925.

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Lucille Ball, former contract player at RKO and “Queen of the Bs,” decided in 1950 to join with her husband Desi Arnaz to form their own production company, Desilu, in order to pitch a series based on Ball’s radio program My Favorite Wife. The series eventually became I Love Lucy, the production company became one of the most formidable forces in the business, and Lucille Ball became one of the most influential figures in movies and television. In 1960, she became the sole owner of Desilu and was directly responsible for shows such as Star Trek and The Untouchables getting to air. The movie Yours, Mine, and Ours was made in 1968, while Lucille Ball was serving as the powerful president of Desilu.

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Following directly in Lucille Ball’s footsteps was Mary Tyler Moore. 3 years out of her debut hit series The Dick Van Dyke Show (in which she broke significant ground for women on television in her own right), Moore created MTM Enterprises with husband Grant Tinker in order to pitch The Mary Tyler Moore Show in 1969. The show premiered the following year and lasted for 7 phenomenal seasons, during which time MTM Enterprises grew and produced not only the show’s spinoffs, Rhoda, Phyllis, and Lou Grant, but also the popular  The Bob Newhart Show, Hill Street Blues, and St. Elsewhere. The movie Thoroughly Modern Millie, chosen to represent Mary Tyler Moore this first evening, was made in 1967, in the in-between time just after Moore’s run on The Dick Van Dyke Show ended, and MTM Enterprises began.

Other nights to watch with significant women profiled:

Bette Midler, discussing women who controlled their own destiny, including:

  • Olivia de Havilland, the first person to make a major dent in the studio system by winning a contract case against Warner Bros. The ruling, the De Havilland Decision, is still cited often in entertainment law cases. She will be profiled in conjunction with Devotion (1946), filmed in 1943 but unable to be released until after she won the lawsuit.

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  • Marilyn Monroe, who left her Twentieth Century Fox contract behind to study at the Actor’s Studio in New York, only to return and demand director approval on all her projects–then form Marilyn Monroe Productions in 1956 in which she had full control over her work. Her work will be discussed with The Prince and the Showgirl (1956), produced by Marilyn Monroe Productions, as an example.

Jane Fonda, discussing women activists, including:

  • Myrna Loy, who served as the co-chair on the Advisory Council of the National Committee Against Discrimination in Housing, campaigned actively against McCarthyism and the Vietnam War, and became the first Hollywood personality appointed to U.S. National Commission for UNESCO. One of her best-loved movies, The Thin Man (1934), will be shown to profile her onscreen work.
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Dr. Emily Carman, discussing actresses’ wartime contributions, including:

  • Bette Davis, who together with John Garfield established the Hollywood Canteen, where soldiers could eat and be entertained for free while on leave. A semi-Hollywood movie, Hollywood Canteen, was made in 1944 to promote the canteen and enhance the war effort, and TCM will show it this evening.

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  • Hedy Lamarr, who developed frequency-hopping technology to help with communication between Allied forces, an invention that is still used today in cell phones, wifi networks, and Bluetooth technology. The Conspirators (1944) will be shown to highlight Hedy Lamarr’s war efforts as well as her film work.

Be sure to tune in every Tuesday/Thursday in October for what promises to be a timely and informative look at a group of women who made a difference in the betterment of their industry and their world.

Summer Under the Stars Blogathon: LUCILLE BALL

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On August 1, TCM began its annual summer tradition of Summer Under the Stars, a full month of specialized programming that honors one classic film star per day. Yesterday was devoted to the films of Edward G. Robinson, and the rest of the month will see days dedicated to such stars as Esther Williams, Ruby Keeler, Karl Malden, and Cyd Charisse. TCM fans look forward to Summer Under the Stars all year, and the announcement of the lineup is always a popular topic of discussion in the online classic film world.

Today we are watching movies starring a very familiar face–but those more versed in television may be surprised to see it on TCM. Before Lucy Ricardo, before the founding of Desilu and the immortal show that cemented Lucille Ball in our collective conscience, she was a rising star at RKO and later MGM, starring with all the big names of both studios and creating a reputation for herself as the “Queen of the B’s.”

Some of the highlights of today’s programming are windows into Lucille Ball’s career as few people know it–that of a talented dramatic actress whose foray into comedy was simply one of the many roads her career could have taken. Ball herself once said “I’m not funny. My writers were funny. My direction was funny. I am not funny. What I am is brave.” Her comedy was a manifestation of a woman driven not toward being funny, but toward perfection and success. Movies like The Big Street and The Dark Corner give us a glimpse into what Ball’s career could have been like had she chosen drama rather than comedy.

In The Big Street, Ball plays a singer who becomes disabled after being pushed down a flight of stairs by her jealous lover, and takes refuge with Pinks (played by Henry Fonda). After a series of circumstances that include being rejected by a former lover for being in a wheelchair, she lashes out at Pinks in a scene that merits Ball an Oscar for her raw, nuanced performance. Unfortunately, the clip does not exist online.

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The Dark Corner features Lucille Ball in a film noir, one that is so steeped in the noir trope that it almost seems a parody of itself. Ball is the femme fatale, the beautiful secretary who unwittingly becomes involved in an intricate murder plot. Starring with Mark Stevens and Clifton Webb in a delightful thriller, this is Lucy as you’ve never seen her. She is a convincing and attractive femme fatale, possessing an energy that holds your eyes on her whenever she is onscreen. I first saw this movie at Noir City this past year, and it was a wonderful experience to see it on the big screen for the first time with hundreds of other fans.

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Other programming choices today like Best Foot Forward and The Long, Long Trailer show Lucille Ball in roles familiar to the I Love Lucy-loving public–involving raucous comedy and situational humor. But even here, the carefree nature of Ball’s comedy that has become her trademark is carefully planned and calculated to appear so.

The Long, Long Trailer, co-starring none other than Desi Arnaz, was filmed and released during the fourth season of I Love Lucy, and the influence of the show’s characters is clear in Lucy and Desi’s portrayals of their characters in this movie (in a less-than-subtle move, Desi’s character is even named “Nicky”). Talking with a friend of mine about this The Long, Long Trailer the other day, we came to the conclusion that The Long, Long Trailer is really just one big, extended episode of I Love Lucy, with similar characterizations and even similar gags used in each.

I was slightly surprised to see that TCM hadn’t programmed Dance, Girl, Dance this year for Lucille Ball day. It is one of my favorite roles of hers, and a marvelous example of how filmmakers circumvented the code to make the movies they wanted to make. Ball’s character of Bubbles in Dance, Girl, Dance is clearly a “kept woman,” in view of the massive amounts of furs, jewels, and fancy clothes that accompany her wherever she goes. And it features Lucy doing the hula, just about the most seductive dance that could ever have made it past the censors. It also sums up how Lucille Ball, despite her legacy as a comedic genius, was a woman whose genuine talent in many arenas and drive for success defied categorization.

I leave you with Lucille Ball doing the hula in Dance, Girl, Dance. Happy watching, readers!

This is an entry for the Summer Under the Stars blogathon, hosted by my friend Kristen Lopez. Check out the other entries at http://www.journeysinclassicfilm.com

Marilyn Monroe’s 90th Birthday–Celebrated With a Worthy Cause

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Norma Jeane Baker (Mortensen on her birth certificate), who would grow up to become Marilyn Monroe. Pictured here around the time when she lived at the Los Angeles Orphan’s Home Society, now known as EMQ FamiliesFirst Hollygrove.

June 1, 2016 marks what would have been Marilyn Monroe’s 90th birthday. Her early death has frozen her in time, making it difficult to fathom the idea of Marilyn Monroe being 90 years old at all–and further, while it is confounding to think of Marilyn Monroe as a 90-year-old, 90 is young enough that she might still have been alive today, if that night on August 4, 1962 had gone differently.

Marilyn Monroe is one of the most intricate and complex personalities in all of film history. I have been fascinated by her story ever since I was old enough to comprehend it. Her psychological demons consumed her, but she put forth a million dollar smile that belied her internal struggles. She was a gifted actress, but was stuck in the sex symbol roles that would bring 20th Century Fox the most profit. Childhood memories of living in an orphanage and in foster care, reminding her that she had been an unwanted child named Norma Jeane Baker, haunted her as she lived the life as the most sought-after actress on the screen. Ultimately, these dualities destroyed her.

The child who became Marilyn Monroe was born to a 24-year-old film cutter named Gladys Baker on June 1, 1926. Gladys had severe mental illness, and was unable to care for her new daughter. After living in several foster homes, she was placed at the Los Angeles Orphan’s Home Society in 1935, near the corner of Vine and Melrose. There, she lived in a girls’ residence hall that overlooked Paramount Studio alongside several dozen other children, many of whose situations were similar to hers. She stayed for 2 years before going back into foster care, living long term with the aunt of her mother’s best friend. She returned for visits several times over the course of her life, signing the guest book as “Norma Jeane Baker” on her first visit, and “Marilyn Monroe” every time after that.

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The Los Angeles Orphan’s Home as it looked in 1935.

The mission of the orphanage began to shift in the years following Norma Jeane Baker’s stay there, and became known as the Hollygrove Home For Children. It began to focus less on children who had no parents, and more on children like Norma Jeane who had parents who were unable to care for them. Its goals became more family-driven, providing resources and support to families in need of help. The home itself closed in 2005, but the organization continues to do great and needed work in the Los Angeles area.

On the anniversary of Marilyn Monroe’s 90th birthday, EMQ FamiliesFirst Hollygrove is holding a fundraising drive in her honor. The modern Hollygrove is a nonprofit organization dedicated to “the social-emotional, behavioral and mental health needs of young children, teens and their families,” and aims to “heal the whole child-and the whole family – through a full range of behavioral and mental health services.” It has thought of a lovely and fun way to participate in the fundraising drive–using the hashtag #ModernMarilyn, participants are encouraged to post a picture inspired by Marilyn Monroe, along with the link to the fundraising page.

If you are so inclined, contributing to this fundraising drive would be a wonderful way to honor Marilyn Monroe’s memory this year, and a great contribution to a vital Los Angeles institution. Please follow this link to contribute or share the page with someone who can, and honor a legend while at the same time honoring Los Angeles children and families.

Happy 90th birthday, Marilyn!

Hollywood Stars as Kids

 

2016 TCM Classic Film Festival Schedule, SATURDAY

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A recurring theme of this year’s festival is one that is familiar to anyone following current events–corruption in the media and the rise and fall of media superstars. Whether it’s the story of an unstable buffoon on the airwaves, a drifter who becomes a media sensation, or an exploration of the costs of covering a juicy news story, the theme speaks to audiences in this current political climate, as we can see similarities in each of these stories in relation to what is happening in the media today.

Ace in the Hole, playing Saturday morning at the Chinese multiplex 1, tells the story of a down-on-his-luck reporter who sees an opportunity to redeem himself via a report about a miner trapped in a collapsed cave. The public takes to it immediately, and it stays on the front pages of the paper. The bigger the story gets, the more the reporter’s life begins to disintegrate until several tragedies strike and we see the futility of greed and self-serving ambition. It is a pensive and symbolic story, and one whose message holds true over 60 years later.

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In any other time slot, Ace in the Hole would be one of the must-sees of the festival. Playing down the hall, however, is a celebration of 90 years of Vitaphone. When sound came to film for the first time in Don Juan (1926), the movie was screened alongside a bill of shorts that featured speech and song, recorded and synchronized by the Vitaphone company. Only a few survive. Since 1991, an organization called The Vitaphone Project, run by self-described “film buffs and record collectors,” has been dedicated to restoring and releasing these shorts that are so vital to understanding the history of sound on film. At the festival on Saturday morning, Ron Hutchinson of The Vitaphone Project will be on hand to discuss and screen some of the recently restored Vitaphone shorts, including some featuring George Burns and Gracie Allen, Baby Rose Marie, and Molly Picon.

For now:

MY CHOICE: 90 Years of Vitaphone

MY MIND MIGHT BE CHANGED BY: Ace in the Hole

The next time slot features several attractive choices. A Face in the Crowd, another timely movie fitting the theme of broadcast corruption, is showing at the Egyptian. Meanwhile, the always popular One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is playing at the Chinese multiplex 1. Intolerance, D.W. Griffith’s 3.5-hour silent masterpiece, will be at the Chinese multiplex 6 (and is recommended for dedicated fans only, as it spans several time slots). The brilliant Carl Reiner will be giving a talk at Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, in the beautiful Grauman’s Chinese Theater. But it will be at Club TCM, the gathering and lounging space at the Roosevelt Hotel for festival passholders, where many stars will gather on Saturday.

Last year, Cari Beauchamp released a book in which she assembled stories from actors, directors, and screenwriters about the first time they saw Hollywood. The book is a compelling read, and at this special presentation, the stories as presented by Beauchamp in the book will be read by such stars as Laraine Newman (Anita Loos), Nancy Olson (Colleen Moore), Bruce Goldstein (Ben Hecht), David Ladd (Robert Parrish) and Sue Lloyd (Harold Lloyd). This is my pick, as it is sure to be a meaningful glimpse into the world of classic Hollywood.

Also, if you haven’t had a chance to buy the book yet, Cari Beauchamp will be having a book signing in the Roosevelt Hotel lobby following the presentation.

MY CHOICE: My First Time in Hollywood

MY MIND MIGHT BE CHANGED BY: Nothing this time.

 

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The TCM Festival is lucky in that it attracts some of the most legendary classic Hollywood stars to the festival for appearances and interviews. Last year the major guest was Sophia Loren, who gave an interview for the festival that will air on the channel on April 28. This year the festival continues the Italian theme with Gina Lollobrigida, who will introduce Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre on Saturday at 3:30. Down the road from Gina Lollobrigida at the Chinese multiplex 1 is The Big Sleep, one of Bogart and Bacall’s biggest hits and a noir classic, while The Yearling  will play at Chinese multiplex 6 and the 1953 version of Orson Welles’ radio program War of the Worlds will be at multiplex 4. Elliott Gould will also be giving a discussion at Club TCM. This is a tough one, but I think I’m going with The Big Sleep. There are few times when I can give up Bogart and Bacall on the big screen.

MY CHOICEThe Big Sleep

MY MIND MIGHT BE CHANGED BY: I don’t think anything, at this point.

Next up is The King and I, versus Song of Bernadette, versus Hollywood Home Movies. Along with the Shanghai Express/The More the Merrier issue, this is one of the more difficult choices of the festival. Having expected to see The King and I open the festival this year (and thus not be able to see it, with my media pass), I feel that I should see it–especially since Rita Moreno is introducing. But at Club TCM during this time slot is a truly fun annual program in which the festival brings in Hollywood home movies from the Academy and shows them to the crowd, assisted by the stories and memories of the people who are in them. The home movies program is a yearly tradition for me, and I can’t see both The King and I and the home movies due to their starting times. In previous years, I have left early from movies in order to catch the next one. But I have come to the conclusion that this is not “best practices” for the TCM Festival, so I will have to make a decision. Home movies will probably win out.

MY CHOICE: Hollywood Home Movies

MY MIND MIGHT BE CHANGED BY: The King and I.

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Joan Fontaine between takes on the set of Gunga Din.

As for the last time slot of the day, I’m probably going to have to choose Midnight. I love Claudette Colbert too much for anything else there.

MY CHOICE: Midnight

MY MIND MIGHT BE CHANGED BY: Nothing.

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See you back here for a rundown of Sunday!