Tag Archives: kendra bean

Backlots is 3!

3 years ago today, on St. Patrick’s Day of 2011, I decided to create a film blog. I was studying in Paris, and in need of a creative outlet in English that related to my love of classic film. I had no idea what it took to maintain a blog, and no idea how long it would last. But 3 years later, here we are.

What has happened in these past 3 years has been nothing short of remarkable. Backlots has won the CMBA Award, has been profiled in Slate Magazine, and has been honored to receive press credentials to some of the pre-eminent classic film festivals in the world. The blog has featured interviews with some of the key figures in the classic film world today, such as actress Joan Fontaine and authors Victoria Wilson and Kendra Bean.

Maintaining a blog for 3 years takes perseverance, stamina, and an abiding passion for what you do. I love writing this blog, and I have been blessed with the most supportive, intelligent, interactive audience I could ever have hoped for. Some of you I have had the pleasure to meet in person, and some of you I have spoken to only through comments–but my appreciation for each and every one of you is boundless, and I am proud to have you as readers. It is thanks to you that Backlots has become the site it has.

So here’s to you, dear readers, and I can’t wait to see what the next 3 years have in store!

P.S. A bit of housekeeping–stay tuned in the next couple of days for a post about the TCM Classic Film Festival in April. News is coming fast, and we’re expecting the full schedule any day now!

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2013 at Backlots–A Year in Review

A big thank you to my readers for making 2013 a true banner year for Backlots. Here are some of the things that happened on the blog this year:

My attendance at the 2013 TCM Classic Film Festival was far and away one of the highlights of the year. A true movie lover’s paradise, the TCM Festival attracts classic film aficionados from the world over, and TCM certainly delivers the goods. It was great fun interacting in person with my fellow bloggers, whose work I know so well online, and making new classic film friends. A wonderful experience!

For the second year in a row, Backlots covered the San Francisco Silent Film Festival this past summer. As usual, it was a fantastic event with presentations unparalleled in their quality. Highlights for me included a screening of the hilarious Marion Davies movie The Patsy, an interactive talk with Winsor McKay expert John Canemaker,  and the breathtaking gamelan accompaniment set to the Balinese silent film Legong: Dance of the Virgins by the Sekar Jaya Gamelan Ensemble. The San Francisco Silent Film Festival never disappoints. Stay tuned next year’s festival which will be held over Memorial Day Weekend, and on January 11 for their special celebration of The Little Tramp at 100–celebrating the 100th anniversary of the first appearance of Chaplin’s The Little Tramp. I will be at both events!

Last month, I was honored to be invited to blog for the Warner Bros. 90th Anniversary Tour. We bloggers were treated to a day of exploration at the studio, led by a professional guide, and topped off with lunch at the commissary. We had special access to the costume department and several areas off limits for regular tour members, and it was indeed a special day. Again, I met so many fellow bloggers and had such a good time. Thank you, Warner Bros., for organizing this wonderful day for us!

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The classic film community was graced with several magnificent new books this year. I had the pleasure of conducting interviews with Victoria Wilson, author of A Life of Barbara Stanwyck: Steel True 1907-1940, and Kendra Bean, who is the author of Vivien Leigh: An Intimate Portrait and a personal friend of mine. Both of these works are great monuments in and of themselves. A Life of Barbara Stanwyck is a gargantuan book that features 860 full pages of text and another 200 for source notes, and has proven to be the quintessential, definitive book on the actress. My reading of this book, though it took me less than 2 days, is one of the highlights of my year. Vivien Leigh: An Intimate Portrait is so chock full of previously unseen photos of this staggering beauty that the reader simply cannot put it down. It is displayed prominently, face forward, on my shelf so as not to obscure its beauty. I am so lucky to have had the opportunity to interview these two gifted writers, and I thank them for their interviews with me. Read Victoria Wilson’s interview here, and Kendra Bean’s here.

In what was perhaps my most meaningful personal success of 2013, I had the great privilege to interview Joan Fontaine in honor of her birthday. This was her last birthday, and her last interview. Joan was frail and her health declining, so she kept her answers short. The length of her answers does not matter to me. My interview with Joan Fontaine remains the single greatest privilege Backlots has ever had. Click here to read it. Rest in peace, dear Joan.

This is the video I made in memory of Joan Fontaine. I hope you enjoy it.

Wow, readers. What a year. 2014 is already shaping up to be an equally marvelous year! Here’s to what’s to come, and to you, loyal readers, for helping to make this blog what it has become.

Alfred Hitchcock Thanks YOU for a Wonderful Hitchcock Halloween!

By Lara Gabrielle Fowler

Hello there readers, Lara here to thank you for all your fantastic submissions yesterday for Hitchcock Halloween. It was a really fun event and I think Hitch would have been proud! I hope you will join us next Halloween for another installment of what proved to be a very popular tribute to Alfred Hitchcock!

This post also closes out the month of October, which was a very fruitful one for Backlots. As a refresher, here are the things that happened this past month on the blog:

Backlots interviewed Joan Fontaine in honor of her 96th birthday.

Backlots interviewed Victoria Wilson, author of A LIFE OF BARBARA STANWYCK: STEEL-TRUE 1907-1940.

Backlots interviewed Kendra Bean, author of VIVIEN LEIGH: AN INTIMATE PORTRAIT.

The Hitchcock Halloween Blogathon.

Thank you to all my readers for making this such a memorable month at Backlots, and here’s to many more equally memorable months to come!

In about 2 weeks, Backlots will go down to Burbank to blog for the Warner Brothers’ 90th Anniversary VIP Tour, so stay tuned on November 13 for some very special coverage. More details to come!

See you next time!

October Events on the Blog

By Lara Gabrielle Fowler

Hello dear readers, Lara here to update you on what is coming in the month of October on the blog. There are a few very exciting things on the horizon, and here is what you may expect to see this month.

In my last blog update, I spoke of a special surprise to appear on the blog this month. On October 22, in celebration of Joan Fontaine’s 96th birthday, I will present a Q&A that I conducted with the legendary actress a few months ago. This is a huge honor–Miss Fontaine very rarely does interviews, and she was incredibly kind and generous to grant one to me. You will see her answers in response to questions about her childhood, her career, her life now, and her perceptions of herself as an actress and a human being.

I waited until now to let my readers know, because I want to keep the hype to a minimum and emphasize that this Q&A was conducted in honor of a very great actress’s birthday. My motive is very simply to present the reader with this wonderful gesture on the part of Miss Fontaine, and to share with you what she so graciously shared with me. So be sure to tune in on October 22 to honor, with me, the birthday of a great lady.

I am a very proud friend, because a personal friend of mine, Kendra Bean, is a first-time author and her book about Vivien Leigh, entitled Vivien Leigh: An Intimate Portrait,  has already received accolades as one of the top film biographies of Fall 2013.

Kendra has agreed to a formal interview with Backlots, and I am very much looking forward to talking with Kendra about the book, the process of which I have watched, as a friend of Kendra’s, since its inception. Stay tuned for what promises to be a very insightful interview with Kendra about Vivien Leigh: An Intimate Portrait.

Victoria Wilson, the author of the new Barbara Stanwyck biography A Life of Barbara Stanwyck, Steel-True 1907-1940 (known in classic film circles lately as simply Steel-True), has also graciously agreed to an interview. Classic film aficionados have been anxiously awaiting this book for over a decade–15 years in the making, Steel-True covers the first 33 years of Barbara Stanwyck’s life, and consists of a whopping 1056 pages. We are in for the biography of the century.

The interview will be conducted toward the end of the month, and will appear on the blog a few weeks before the book’s release on November 12.

Watch your showers and stay away from those birds, everyone, because Hitchcock Halloween is fast approaching! If you haven’t yet signed up, please do so and I will add you to the list. You can write about anything you like related to Hitchcock–his life, movies, technique–and I am quick to welcome submissions about the Alfred Hitchcock Hour as well. It will take place on October 31, for one day only, so let me know what you would like to write about and get those submissions in by the 31st!

That’s the news for October! See you soon!