Thursday, April 17, 2014

The 2014 TCM Classic Film Festival: Day Two

The first official day of the 2014 TCM Classic Film Festival began bright and early with a press conference at the Chinese Multiplex on Thursday, April 10th.


Robert Osborne was first to speak to us. He particularly addressed that TCM would have loved to have Olivia de Havilland attend the festival, but she finds adjusting to the time changes when traveling to and from California too arduous at this stage of her life. He said the last time she visited her daughter in Southern California it took her a year to recover.

Mr. Osborne also said that he had traveled to Paris at one point to film a PRIVATE SCREENINGS interview with Miss de Havilland, but when the TCM team arrived she was ill in the hospital, and a later attempt to connect in New York was also thwarted due to illness.


 Osborne listed his favorite films for us: THE RAZOR'S EDGE (1946), SUNSET BLVD. (1950), A PLACE IN THE SUN (1951), and THIS IS SPINAL TAP (1984).


Ben Mankiewicz joined us next. He spoke of his gratitude for his job at TCM and of the bond that TCM has with its audience. He reminisced about spending one-on-one time with Mickey Rooney on the TCM Classic Film Cruise and shared the names of people he felt starstruck to interview, Peter Bogdanovich and Max von Sydow. He also mentioned the work that goes into preparing for the many introductions and interviews which take place in a short time frame at the festival.


Last up were TCM's programming director, Charlie Tabesh, and festival director Genevieve McGillicuddy. Among the topics they covered were TCM being a community beyond the channel itself, including social media and the film festival, and they particularly mentioned paying attention to opinions about the channel shared via social media.


Tabesh also said it's a thrill for him when someone at the festival enjoys a film they've never seen before or perhaps never even heard of.

I wish that Terry Teachout, who just wrote a sadly uniformed piece on TCM's 20th anniversary for the Wall Street Journal, had been present for the press conference. Teachout erroneously assumes "under-30 moviegoers [are] reflexively tuning out black-and-white films because they look old fashioned" and that TCM has "aging viewers."


The reality, as described by Robert Osborne in the press conference, is that over 60% of TCM viewers are in the 18-49 age range; additionally, roughly half of festival attendees are under the age of 30. This year the festival drew more attendees in their 20s and 30s than ever before, all lured by TCM and their love for classic films. Osborne said when he took the job he thought TCM would be a "nostalgia channel" but instead it's developed a very robust audience of younger people who love the channel. All of the speakers emphasized there was no need for TCM to do anything special to court younger viewers as it already has them.

Referring back to the Wall Street Journal article, Teachout also seems completely unaware of the fact that TCM offers on demand streaming via Watch TCM. TCM is to be admired for the cutting edge way it combines "old" (classic films) and "new" (embracing social media, bloggers, and streaming).

The Chinese Theatre being readied for the festival's opening night:


Following the press conference I was happy to meet several more bloggers for the first time in front of the Chinese Theatre, a lovely group of young ladies from all over the country which included Millie and Kate.

Then it was time to check in at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. Here's a view looking down on the lobby; interviews are regularly filmed in the upper righthand corner and the TCM Boutique is in the upper lefthand corner.


After lunch I was invited to film a short interview with TCM, where I was asked questions about what TCM and the festival mean to me. Raquel went along with me for moral support, and she was filmed as well! (There's a photo from the filming at her blog.) We had the chance to share how, after knowing each other online for years, we were able to enjoy meeting at the festival for the first time last year. I haven't seen any of the footage used to date but we may well show up in retrospective videos or other promotional footage in the future.

Thursday was also credential time! I loved the photo from THE WOMEN used for the Media passes!


Members of the media also received a nifty tote bag depicting the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, a set of notecards, and a journal.


The notecards were based on a set of paintings inspired by classic films, painted by several celebrities in honor of TCM's 20th anniversary.  Some of the artists were present for the opening of Club TCM. I was thrilled to have great close-up looks at Kim Novak, the beautiful star of so many films I've enjoyed...


...and lovely Jane Seymour. I've admired Seymour for many years, particularly in SOMEWHERE IN TIME (1980) and EAST OF EDEN (1981), so I really appreciated the opportunity to see her, even though she's not a classic film era actress.


Following the opening of Club TCM, I enjoyed dinner at Baja Fresh with Joel, Aurora, Paula, and Kellee, and then it was off to the first line of the night, for CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN (1950)! That was followed by Ginger Rogers in BACHELOR MOTHER (1939), a terrific double bill.


For more on this day, particularly regarding the press conference, please visit additional reports from Lindsay's Movie Musings, Out of the Past, The Hollywood Revue, and Classic Movies.

There have been many wonderful things written about the festival. A small selection of favorite pieces:

"Movie Heaven, Courtesy of TCM" by Leonard Maltin

"My TCM Film Fest Family Album" by Will McKinley at Cinematically Insane

"Who I Met, Who I Saw and My Thoughts on the 2014 TCM Classic Film Festival" by Raquel at Out of the Past -- and be sure to check out all of Raquel's daily recaps!

"2014 TCM Film Festival Summary" by Joel Williams at Joel's Classic Film Passion

"TCM Film Festival 2014: The Stars" by KC at Classic Movies

"TCMFF: Days 1 and 2 Recap" by Lindsay at Lindsay's Movie Musings

"2014 TCM Classic Film Festival Quick Recap" by Chris Sturhann at Blog of the Darned

"The 2014 TCM Classic Film Festival: A Bridge Between Past and Present" by Daniel Schindel at Los Angeles Magazine

There are many more great blog posts and articles on the festival, so don't stop with this list -- I'm trying to read them all!


Coming soon: A review of the first film I saw at the festival, CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN (1950), and a recap of Day Three, with much more still to follow!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The 2014 TCM Classic Film Festival: Day One

The first official day of this year's TCM Classic Film Festival was on Thursday, April 10th, but for me it really began the day before, on Wednesday, the 9th.


The fun started when I met "KC" of the blog Classic Movies for lunch at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. KC and I have known each other online for years, and it was such fun to finally get to know each other in person! Having her at the festival made this year even more special.


We shopped in the TCM Boutique, and then my husband joined us for sodas in the historic Pig 'n Whistle.  Later on we met up with Raquel and her husband Carlos to enjoy shopping at Larry Edmunds Bookshop, a favorite destination of film fans for decades.

I left Larry Edmunds with two great new additions to my library of books on film, UNIVERSAL-INTERNATIONAL WESTERNS 1947-1963: THE COMPLETE FILMOGRAPHY by Gene Blottner and LOS ANGELES'S BUNKER HILL: PULP FICTION'S MEAN STREETS AND FILM NOIR'S GROUND ZERO! by Jim Dawson.

Larry Edmunds had a nice window display featuring many of the films scheduled to play at the festival:


My husband and I had never eaten at Musso & Frank so we enjoyed checking out one of Hollywood's historic restaurants...


...before moving on to the social media gathering TCM threw at Sadie Kitchen and Lounge, located next to Miceli's on Las Palmas. It was great to meet Nora, TCM's social media manager who is the "voice" of TCM on Twitter.

It was absolutely wonderful reconnecting with old friends and meeting several people in person for the first time. Despite the fact we live all over the country, we feel that we know each other well and have an instant connection, united by our love for classic films.


I was honored to be invited by TCM to speak at the gathering, along with TCM Guest Programmer contest winners Tiffany Vazquez and Peter Tubla, and Twitter's #TCMParty founders Paula Guthat and Trevor Jost.

The way things worked out, the party was such a rip-roaring social success, especially with much-appreciated appearances by Ben Mankiewicz and Illeana Douglas, that we agreed with our TCM hostess that additional entertainment wasn't really necessary, other than helping with a trivia contest. (My husband enjoyed pitching in with a question!) TCM very kindly gave each of us beautiful travel bags as a thank you.

Some of the gang with Ben and Illeana:


The whimsical caption was my husband's contribution!

There was one more stop to make that evening, a party hosted by the Warner Archive and Marya of OldFilmsFlicker at the historic Formosa Cafe. It was great fun for me to transport a bunch of my favorite people from all over the country to the party in my van!

We were packed into every inch of the little cafe, which dates from 1925. I'd never been inside before so I enjoyed the chance to check it out.


To make things even better, Matt of the Warner Archive passed out free movies, and I brought home two Marsha Hunt films: MUSIC FOR MILLIONS (1944), starring June Allyson and Margaret O'Brien, and THE PLUNDERERS (1960) with Jeff Chandler and Dolores Hart. I'll be reviewing them here in the future!


There's more on the day's events from Raquelle at Out of the Past and Kristen at Journeys in Classic Film. I'm sure there will be even more posts as bloggers gradually return home this week.


Coming soon: An overview of the festival's official opening day, including a TCM press conference and personal appearances at Club TCM by two beautiful ladies, Kim Novak and Jane Seymour. Also in the works for the near future: a review of the first of the 14 films I saw at the festival, CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN (1950), with Clifton Webb, Myrna Loy, and Jeanne Crain.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The 2014 TCM Classic Film Festival in Review

The 2014 TCM Classic Film Festival came to a conclusion last night, and I think everyone who attended would have been happy if the festival could have gone on much, much longer -- if only things like eating, sleeping, and earning a living weren't necessary!


Last year's festival was wonderful, and if anything the 2014 edition was even better. To say that this year's festival was a memorably happy experience is an understatement. It was pure joy from start to finish.


This year even more classic film bloggers and Twitter users attended the festival, and between reconnecting with friends met last year and meeting some people in person for the very first time, the festival had the feel of a big reunion.

There are friendly, familiar faces around every corner -- in line, in the theaters, even in Starbucks! Spending time enjoying wonderful movies with friends is the best part of the festival for me.


TCM puts on a very classy operation; as my Twitter pal Lou Lumenick Tweeted, "Some other film festivals I've been to could learn a lot about how to treat audiences from TCMFF."


I also particularly appreciate that TCM acknowledges the role bloggers and Twitter users play in covering and supporting the network and the festival, including providing many of us with credentials which allow us to cover the entire festival.


This year TCM even invited a number of bloggers and Tweeters to a small "Tweet-up" party the evening before the festival, and both Ben Mankiewicz and Illeana Douglas stopped by to visit with us.


The festival closed out last night with Robert Osborne and Ben Mankiewicz giving the network a 20th anniversary toast at the Club TCM party, after which many bloggers convened poolside for final photos and goodbyes.


This year I was able to catch the early morning screenings and increase the number of films seen in the festival's 3-1/2 days to 14, up from 11 in 2013. Four of the films were brand-new to me, and seeing THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939) in 3D felt like a brand-new experience in some ways as well!


As was the case last year, I'll be breaking down my coverage into an overview of each day, along with individual reviews of films which have not been reviewed here previously. This year I saw twice as many never-reviewed films as last year, so this will take a while!


As my posts go up I plan to add links to the bottom of this introductory post, so all of the festival coverage can be easily found in one place.


I also have several non-festival posts in the works, some of which were previewed last week, so there will be lots of classic film coverage in the coming weeks!

In the meantime, here's a Los Angeles Times overview of the festival written last week by Susan King.

TCM 2014 Festival Posts: The 2014 TCM Classic Film Festival: Day One; The 2014 TCM Classic Film Festival: Day Two.

Previous 2014 coverage: Coming Soon!; The TCM Classic Film Festival 2014 Schedule; Film Festival Coverage Coming to Laura's Miscellaneous Musings.

Related: The 2013 TCM Classic Film Festival in Review.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Coming Soon!

It's been a busy few days here, between attending the closing weekend of the Noir City Film Festival and preparing to take extended time off for this week's TCM Classic Film Festival.

The TCM Festival gets unofficially underway for me on Wednesday, with a full agenda of pre-festival social activities.

My favorite thing about last year's festival was the chance to enjoy movies with some great people I've been corresponding with online for years, so I'm excited to reconnect with friends I met in person last year, as well as meeting some in person for the very first time.

I spent last Sunday having a wonderful time with Aurora, Robby, and Lindsay, and tomorrow, after knowing each other solely online for years, I get to have lunch with KC of Classic Movies! I'm also looking forward to seeing Raquel, Jessica, Will, Karen, Jill and so many other friends coming from out of town!

Thursday I'll be attending media interviews with Robert Osborne, Ben Mankiewicz, and others, and then the festival gets underway in earnest that evening.

I'll have complete festival coverage here beginning next week, and in the meantime, you can follow me on Twitter!

My top choices from the festival schedule can be found here.

In addition to extensive TCM Festival coverage, in the coming weeks I'll also have reviews of a great closing night at Noir City seeing M (1951) and THE HITCH-HIKER (1953); a tribute to Mickey Rooney; a look at a couple of interesting Los Angeles cemeteries which are the final resting places of many famed filmmakers; a Disney News roundup; reviews of books on Vivien Leigh, Anthony Mann, and John Wayne; and a preview of the July schedule at Turner Classic Movies.

As the saying goes, stay tuned!

Saturday, April 05, 2014

The TCM Classic Film Festival 2014 Schedule

It's almost time for the 2014 TCM Classic Film Festival!

The Festival begins in Hollywood next Thursday, April 10th, and continues through Sunday evening, April 13th.

I'll have the privilege again this year of covering the festival from start to finish as a member of the credentialed media.

During the festival please watch for my updates on Twitter and also on the Twitter list created by Turner Classic Movies, the Fest Social Crew 2014. Along with my fellow classic film bloggers, we'll be bringing you all the latest news on the festival as it happens in real time.

When the festival comes to an end, I'll be presenting a series of detailed daily recaps and movie reviews.

The schedule was released a couple of weeks ago, and I've been carefully studying it and making difficult decisions.

As was the case last year, I've eliminated from consideration films I've seen in a theater in the recent past, such as FIFTH AVENUE GIRL (1937), MARY POPPINS (1964), THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD (1938), or THE GREAT GATSBY (1949). I might make an exception for THE QUIET MAN (1952), depending on the "To Be Announced" film selected for an encore showing Sunday afternoon.

Flexibility is the name of the game, and so I've marked second and sometimes third choices for each time slot. That said, last year I did end up seeing the majority of my first choice picks, so hopefully that will be the case again this year!

Here are some of the films I'm hoping to see:

Thursday, April 10th:

CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN (1950) - I'm a huge fan of Jeanne Crain -- please visit my new profile of her at ClassicFlix -- yet I've never seen a single one of her films on a big screen. This is my chance! The film was originally due to be introduced by Tim Conway but his name has disappeared from the schedule so the host will be a surprise.

Then it's a tough choice: One of my favorite comedies, Ginger Rogers in BACHELOR MOTHER (1939), or the chance to see JOHNNY GUITAR (1954) on a big screen. Since I just saw JOHNNY via DVD two months ago, I'm leaning towards BACHELOR MOTHER, but that one is playing in the smallest theater so JOHNNY may still win in the end!

Friday, April 11th:

STAGECOACH (1939) - I love John Wayne and John Ford and have never seen this on a big screen. It's even got Tim Holt! No contest for my pick in this time slot, although I'll regret not seeing the unveiling of the Charlton Heston postage stamp. (Stephanie Zimbalist is among those who will attend the ceremony, along with Heston's son Fraser.) This year I'm spending the first night of the festival in a local hotel so that I can make the early showing without having to get up and fight rush hour traffic.

TOUCH OF EVIL (1958) - Charlton Heston's son Fraser, who I saw at a screening of THE TEN COMMANDMENTS (1956) a few years ago, will be on hand at the Chinese Theatre to introduce this movie. Although I've admired the film's amazingly long opening shot a couple of times, I've never seen the movie all the way through. It sounds pretty strange, but it's something I should check out, especially given how much I admire both Heston and leading lady Janet Leigh.

MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS (1944) - This is one of my three most favorite movies, and I've seen it on a big screen an amazing seven times. The last time, however, was nearly a quarter century ago, and with Margaret O'Brien in attendance this is a "can't miss."

WHY WORRY? (1923) - A Harold Lloyd-Jobyna Ralston silent, with Carl Davis at the Egyptian Theatre conducting his world premiere score.

EMPLOYEES' ENTRANCE (1933) - I may not have time to get from the Egyptian to the Chinese Multiplex in time to catch this classic Warren William-Loretta Young pre-Code, but I'm going to try! If I don't make it then I'll have an early night.

Saturday, April 12th:

STELLA DALLAS (1937) - Not only is it classic Barbara Stanwyck, it's another movie with Tim Holt in the cast! But THE JUNGLE BOOK (1967) at the El Capitan is also a great option.

MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN (1936) - I haven't seen this Cooper-Arthur-Capra classic in years, and TCM will debut a restored print. I'd also love to see Irene Dunne in I REMEMBER MAMA (1948) in the same time slot, but that would mean cutting it a little too close for the next screening.

HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY (1941) - I just saw this for the first time at New Year's, but if Maureen O'Hara is there, I'm there. I can't miss the opportunity to see the star of some of my most favorite films, including MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET (1947), RIO GRANDE (1950), THE QUIET MAN (1952), and THE PARENT TRAP (1961). TCM wisely scheduled this in the festival's biggest venue, the El Capitan Theatre.

I've next been leaning toward seeing Kim Novak in person at BELL BOOK AND CANDLE (1958), but there may be an opportunity to see her on the opening night of the festival. If I see her then, I may switch gears and go see WRITTEN ON THE WIND (1956), as I would love the chance to see Douglas Sirk's Technicolor magic on a big screen. That might also allow me the time to check out the pre-Code HAT CHECK GIRL (1932) with Sally Eilers and Ginger Rogers.

HER SISTER'S SECRET (1946) - Margaret Lindsay and Nancy Coleman in an obscure Edgar Ulmer film? Sold!

Sunday, April 13th:

SUNDAY IN NEW YORK (1963) - I really enjoyed this colorful romantic comedy a few years ago and think Rod Taylor on a big screen sounds like a great way to start the day.

The middle of the day is uncertain, depending on which films receive encore presentations, but THE QUIET MAN (1952) or EASTER PARADE (1948) are possibilities. Or I could devote the entire middle section of the day to GONE WITH THE WIND (1939)!

THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939) - It's been a long time since I last saw this, and revisiting this classic seems like the perfect emotional closing to the festival. I'm a bit skeptical about "retrofitting" films in 3D but am kind of curious about this one thanks to feedback from Will at Cinematically Insane.

Last year I saw 11 movies in three and a half days, so we'll see if I can improve on that number at this year's festival!

For enjoyable peeks at varied schedule picks by other bloggers, please check out posts by Raquel at Out of the Past, Lindsay at Lindsay's Movie Musings, Joel at Joel's Classic Film Passion, Eve at The Lady Eve's Reel Life, Jandy at The Frame, Jill at CC2K, and Aurora at Once Upon a Screen.

Update: Here's more plans from KC of Classic Movies and an epic post by Will at Cinematically Insane.

To visit coverage of last year's festival, click here.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Tonight's Movie: One Way Street (1950) at the Noir City Film Festival

Tonight's Noir City double bill paying tribute to director Hugo Fregonese began with the Argentinian film HARDLY A CRIMINAL (1949) and concluded with his first American film, ONE WAY STREET (1950).

ONE WAY STREET is a Universal film starring two powerhouse actors, James Mason and Dan Duryea, along with reliable heavies William Conrad and Jack Elam, plus lovely Marta Toren.

As was the case on the festival's opening night, Dan Duryea's son Richard was again present to watch his father onscreen in beautiful 35mm.

ONE WAY STREET has a slam-bang opening and a pretty good finish, but the middle section of this 79-minute film sags a bit.

The movie begins with an absolutely gorgeous title credit, followed by an evocative opening sequence watching beautiful Laura (Toren) staring out an apartment building window as sirens wail in the distance.

She's listening anxiously to the sirens along with John Wheeler (Duryea), who has just pulled off a heist of $200,000. Embittered physician "Doc" (Mason) is summoned to attend to wounded henchman Ollie (Conrad), then shocks the group by taking off with the $200,000. Wheeler not only loses the money, he loses Laura, who decides to leave town with Doc, her secret love.

Doc and Laura flee to Mexico, where Doc begins to experience some satisfaction helping villagers in a poor town. If he and Laura are to find happiness, though, Doc needs to return to the U.S. with the money for a final confrontation with Wheeler.

The opening of the film is quite exciting and well-plotted. Doc's plan to take the money and run is cleverly carried off, and that's followed by a disturbing sequence with Jack Elam, creepy as ever.

The middle section of the film, with Doc and Laura in Mexico, doesn't work so well. The film could have dug more deeply into Doc's unhappy past and his relationship with Laura, but their romance is on the tepid side and character motivations are left fairly vague. A series of scenes with Doc interacting with villagers and bandits aren't especially interesting either.

The final confrontation with Wheeler and Ollie is quite exciting, while the ending, which I suppose it could be called poetic, was a bit of a letdown.

While it didn't work for me completely, the film has many strong moments scattered throughout and is definitely worth seeing, especially given its fine cast. All in all, this was a solid night at the movies enjoying new discoveries.

In addition to the previously mentioned lead actors, Basil Ruysdael has a nice role as a roving priest. Rodolfo Acosta, King Donovan, and O.Z. Whitehead are also in the cast.

There are also some fun faces in bit parts. Rock Hudson has a few lines as a truck driver, and James Best appears as another driver. A cop is played by Kenneth Tobey, who would one day star with director Fregonese's wife, Faith Domergue, in IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA (1955).

ONE WAY STREET was filmed in black and white by Maury Gertsman.

On Friday I'll be heading back to the festival to revisit one of my favorite discoveries of 2013, NIGHTFALL (1957).

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