Apr 27, 2016

TCM Classic Film Festival 2016 Coverage

This morning I am flying to Hollywood to cover the TCM Classic Film Festival for the third year. For four days sleep, food and fresh air will take a back seat to movies, and it's going to be amazing!

If you'd like to follow my cinematic adventures for the next few days, here's where to find me:

-Twitter. Follow me at @classicmovieblg. This is where you'll find me the most while the festival is in full swing.

-Instagram. To catch the various sights of the festival in the moment, follow me at kcclassic.

I am so excited to share my experiences with you all. If you can't make it to TCMFF this year, I am going to make you feel like you are there.

I'll be wearing my social media ID badge. If you see me, say hello!

Here's my original schedule for the festival. It's changed, and will likely change some more, but I'm not planning to update the post because it is essentially what I plan to see.

It's always fun to see what other festivalgoers plan to see. I've collected some lists here. Please feel free to suggest additional links in the comments:

Classic Movie Blog
Classic Film Observations and Obsessions
The Hollywood Revue
Journeys in Classic Film
Laura's Miscellaneous Musings
Mary's Monday Matinee
Movie Mania Madness
Nitrate Diva
Once Upon a Screen...
Out of the Past
Silents and Talkies

Apr 26, 2016

In Praise of Robert Osborne

The first time I saw Robert Osborne in person was at the press conference for the 2014 TCM Classic Film Festival. It was also my first year attending the event. He strode in with a gait that somehow communicated absolute confidence, elegance, modesty and accessibility simultaneously. As he sat down at the front of the room, my friend whispered to me, "hey, this is the first time you've seen him isn't it?" and I was almost astonished to remember that it was.

He seemed so familiar to me. I can get pretty star struck, but I noticed that when Robert O made his appearance, I didn't get that shot of adrenaline I usually do when faced with someone I've admired from afar in the flesh. He was like a cool uncle I'd spent time with before, but not often enough that he didn't retain a sense of mystery. I watched as he put everyone at ease in a way I've never experienced before or since.

I'm sad that I wasn't able to feel the warmth of his remarkable presence at last year's festival, and that once again he will not be joining us for the festival in 2016. Sad, but grateful that I was able to see him at all. There's nobody like Osborne, which is a shame, because we need people like him more every day.

Robert O isn't going to get in a Twitter battle or snap at a fan. He's not rude or crude. Yes, he's human, and allowed to have a bad day. But still, we know he's essentially not that kind of guy. He's got inherent grace.

For many years, that grace has served as a conduit from all of us to the artists we love. At the 2014 festival I watched him communicate that adoration to Maureen O'Hara and Kim Novak. He politely deflected their protestations and gently insisted they understand that they were amazing women who were worthy of the applause. And they knew he meant it.

Osborne is clearly one-of-a-kind. He comes from a higher place, and that's why we watch him so carefully. That's why we worry.

Sometimes it feels like he's the sole caretaker of the art of civility. It's partly why we feel such a need for him. In one respect we are fortunate though, whether he is in front of us or not, the reassuring aura of Robert Osborne seems to envelope all of TCM and perhaps classic movie fandom as well. It is a constant reminder that we must be grateful for him and do our best to emulate the man who has taught us not just to love the classics, but to also live with love and respect for others.

All photos copyright A Classic Movie Blog

Apr 25, 2016

On DVD: Cinema's Exiles: From Hitler to Hollywood

From 1933 to 1940, more than 800 film professionals fled Nazi Germany for Hollywood. Despite challenges of language, finances, lodging and assimilation, many of them found success in America and even helped to shape the film industry. 

In fact, in the years leading up to World War II, American cinema was so enriched by émigrés that is difficult to imagine classic movies without these diverse talents. The story of these artists is told with great insight and compassion in director, writer and producer Karen Thomas' documentary, Cinema's Exiles: From Hitler To Hollywood (2009), now available on DVD from Warner Archive.

Without the voices of these refugees from Hitler, some of the most beloved films would not exist, or at least in the form that audiences have come to love. There would be no High Noon (1952), Some Like it Hot (1959) or Casablanca (1942). Directors like Fritz Lang, Michael Curtiz, Billy Wilder and Robert Siodmak were already established and well-respected in Germany, but the trauma of being driven from home and the resulting displacement would affect their art, giving their films a depth and voice they may not have otherwise found. These artists worked to give opportunities to other immigrants, a fact that is powerfully presented in the film when the origins of the very international cast of Casablanca are examined in detail.
The correct pronunciation for Siodmak's name cheekily emblazoned on a jacket
The film also features writers, musicians and actors and other professions who would make an important impact on the industry, like actor Peter Lorre, composer Franz Waxman and writer Salka Viertel. Though many of the talents profiled are long gone, actress and émigré Lupita Kohner is on hand to offer valuable stories of her experiences in Germany and in Hollywood, where she found success and helped others coming to the US.

In order to get a sense of their talents and the success they left behind, much of the film is devoted to the filmmakers' lives in pre-Nazi Germany, where they had already risen to the top of the national film industry. Clips from movies like Lang's M (1931) and Josef von Sternberg's Blue Angel (1930), and Dietrich's enchantingly charismatic screen test for the latter film, show the distinctive flair these filmmakers would eventually bring to Hollywood. Perhaps they would struggle with language and culture, but these were fully-formed artists who knew their craft.
Lang and Dietrich
Cinema's Exiles explores the lives of these filmmakers with great understanding for their plight. You are reminded that they were left not only without a country to live in, but a place where they belonged. Aware that Germany was not popular in the US, they would not speak their native language on the street. To simply find work they would need to not only learn, but master English and compete for highly-valued positions. Many of them arrived with only the clothes on their backs, lacking nearly all the physical and emotional necessities of life.

The existing German community in Hollywood ensured that these refugees were not left adrift. They would offer a place to stay, money, sponsorship and aid in finding employment. Marlene Dietrich and director Ernst Lubitsch even started a sort of underground railroad for émigrés to help them enter and thrive in the US. Germans already in the industry would also donate a percentage of their salary to a sort of community chest called The European Film Fund for those who needed assistance.
Billy Wilder on the set
Because language was the primary barrier to working in Hollywood, the first émigrés to find success were composers. Franz Waxman was the first to find success writing scores and ultimately the most successful. He and other prolific composers including Erich Korngold and Frederick Hollander changed the tone of film soundtracks, giving them grandeur, sophistication and character, all drawn from the intense experiences of these men.

Cinema Exiles was originally presented on public television, the roots of which can be seen in the no frills presentation and narrative. Sigourney Weaver is a pleasant, non-distracting narrator and the format is essentially as straightforward as with other PBS documentaries. It is the content that sings: amazing home video footage of German filmmakers discovering the California sun, newer and archival interviews in which émigrés remember their experiences and an excellent narration which analyzes the plight of these artists thoughtfully and with empathy.
Peter Lorre's passport photo
On May 2-4 Turner Classic Movies will be presenting a special program which highlights the work of the filmmakers featured in Cinema Exiles. In addition to a screening of the documentary, the network will broadcast fourteen émigré-directed films, many of which will feature the talents of other German artists in the industry.

Many thanks to Warner Archive for providing a copy of the film for review. This is a Manufacture on Demand (MOD) DVD. To order, visit The Warner Archive Collection.

Apr 24, 2016

Quote of the Week: Orson Welles

Image Source

I passionately hate the idea of being "with it," I think an artist has always got to be out of step with his time.

-Orson Welles

Quote Source

Apr 22, 2016

Book Review--Citizen Kane: A Filmmaker's Journey

Citizen Kane: A Filmmaker's Journey
Harlan Lebo
Thomas Dunne Books
Release Date April 26

I had luck as no one had; afterwards, I had the worst luck in the history of cinema. But that is in the order of things. I had to pay for having had the best luck in the history of cinema. Never has a man been given so much power in the Hollywood system. And absolute power. And artistic control.

-Orson Wells, about his initial Hollywood contract

How did Orson Welles, a 24-year-old radio and Broadway man with no experience making films become the director, producer, co-writer and star of a major RKO production for his Hollywood debut? How could he win near complete creative control and corral a group of brilliant technicians and artists to teach him how to make movies?

In his new book about the production, release and legacy of Citizen Kane (1941), Harlan Lebo helps you to understand just how astounding the circumstances surrounding this legendary film were, from its filming to the controversy that surrounded its release. Welles' RKO contract gave him freedom that few filmmakers before or since have had and he also faced greater pressures when his masterful debut offended one of the most powerful men in the nation.

For all its grandeur, Kane was a surprisingly economical production, with detailed, carefully designed sets, but also with clever use of camerawork to make crowds appear larger, buildings more imposing and rooms more spacious. While Welles was notorious for his excesses, here he barely went over his budget, mostly due to the guidance of cinematographer Gregg Toland, who was his primary collaborator on the set. It was fascinating to read how the creative team used lighting, angles and special effects to create these illusions.
Kane cinematographer Gregg Toland

Lebo also notes the invaluable, and essentially forgotten role RKO president George J. Schaefer played in getting the film made while under great pressure himself to save the studio. By giving Welles the freedom to create, and steadfastly supporting the project whenever there was controversy, he was a key figure in its production. Without him, it may never have made it to the screen at all.

Lebo is a strong storyteller and he is able to go deep into technical details without losing narrative flow. This is also greatly helped by the way the book is organized. There are two major sections, followed by a well-organized series of appendices, all of which allow easy browsing and the option to skip through information or get as geeky as you please.

One of Toland's stunning deep focus shots
Part one covers the film's production, and is the most comprehensive section of the book. It profiles all the major talent working on Kane, with a strong emphasis on craftspeople, particularly the innovative cinematographer Gregg Toland, whose process for achieving his famous deep focus shots is examined, but also screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz, composer Bernard Herrmann and uncredited make-up man Maurice Seiderman, who can be credited with molding Kane's nose, in addition to crafting realistic old-age make-up.
Kane co-writer Herman Mankiewicz
This section is more slight when it comes to profiling the actors. While there is much written about the roles they played, their circumstances and the long hours they worked, the actual impact of their performances is not analyzed in great detail. Welles gets the bulk of that attention, and rightfully so, though there are certainly other intriguing performances by the Mercury Theatre players from Welles' New York enterprise who made their Hollywood debut in Kane at his insistence.
A misleadingly cheerful poster for the film
Part two is much more sensational. You are ripped from the cozy cocoon of creativity and thrown into a fascinating, if nerve-wracking, mess of bad publicity, threats and gossip that threatened to destroy Welles' carefully constructed debut. The most famous story associated with Kane is that wealthy and powerful publisher William Randolph Hearst attempted to block the film because he was told that it appeared to be essentially the story of his life and that of his mistress, beloved movie actress Marion Davies. That wasn't quite true. There were certainly similarities between his life story and that of Kane, but there were a lot of significant differences as well.
Welles flanked by Mercury players Joseph Cotten and Everett Sloane. Both actors would find further success in film
Nevertheless, ads for Citizen Kane, and for a time RKO productions were banned from Hearst publications. Hearst film gossip columnist Louella Parsons went on the warpath for her boss, followed by unaffiliated columnist Hedda Hopper who wished to show up her older rival. While Welles always believed it was Hearst's people, looking to make a few points with the boss, who had gone after his film, the book reveals that W.H. was more instrumental in essentially attempting to blackmail RKO, and the rest of the film industry into destroying the film.

While Kane was blocked from several theaters, and thus not able to become profitable in its initial release, by the fifties it was rediscovered by French film critics and it began its ascension to the adoration it enjoys today. Lebo traces the film's path to acclaim, which began with critical raves when it first hit theaters and grew as new audiences discovered it on television and in theater revivals beginning in the mid-fifties. He offers an interesting analysis of the way the meaning of Kane has changed over the years and how Welles' achievements have inspired filmmakers, even though it didn't significantly inspire studios to give directors more artistic freedom. That was a practically unique privilege, for which Orson was grateful, despite the near constant troubles he had financing his films in the following decades.
Welles as failed politician Kane
The appendices are a diverse viewer's guide to Kane, with sections about details like the cinematography, music, budget and soundstages. There's a full list of cast and production credits, a meticulously constructed scene-by-scene guide and an extensive list of further resources. This part of the book was a lot of fun to browse, and I found it useful to absorb the information there first, before reading the other two sections.

If there is any film that begs for an in-depth examination, it is Citizen Kane, and Lebo has been thorough in his research. It should please any fan of the film, Welles or the art of filmmaking, and fans of outrageous stories about the studio age. If you do read this book, have a copy of the film ready to view, because you'll be dying to see it before you get through part one.

Many thanks to Thomas Dunne Books for providing a copy of the book for review.

Apr 21, 2016

TCMFF Prefunc: 10 Reasons I Dig Anna Karina

As the announcements rolled out for TCM Classic Film Festival 2016 guests, the name that inspired my most enthusiastic squeal
was Anna Karina. The actress will be introducing a sure-to-be-packed screening of Jean-Luc Godard's Bande à part (1964). This is my must-see event for the festival, as it is for many.

I could never adequately express why I love and admire this woman so much, but here are a few random things that come to mind:

1. This quote from an a profile of the actress in The Guardian in early 2016:

I am the old story. L’histoire ancienne. But an old story can still be a good story, no?

Read the whole thing. It's amazing. She has such a healthy outlook on life.

2. The famous Madison dance scene from Jean-Luc Godard's Bande à part (1964). She's having so much fun that she doesn't want it to end! I could watch it on a loop forever myself:

We will never be this hip. This is why we must watch movies.

3. I love the artless way Karina belts out a song. She's had the chance to show off her pipes in several movies. Music comes out of her in the most matter-of-fact way, as if the tunes are just an extension of her speech. Listen to how she growls her way through Roller Girl in Anna (1967). This is timeless cool. She knows what to do with a Serge Gainsbourg song. Also, only Karina and Harold Lloyd could make those glasses look so cool:

4. She communicates so much just by her presence. Godard in particular loved taking long close-ups of a silent Karina, and these shots are endlessly exciting. She is motionless, but there is a lot happening here:

You lose some of the effect in a screenshot, but look at the boldness of her gaze. She is meant to be on camera.

5. She's brave. Karina was seventeen when she came to Paris from her native Denmark. The actress had very little money, no prospects and could barely speak French. Her courage paid off. Before she was out of her teens, she had become a successful model and actress. And then she met that fellow named Godard.

6. She's career savvy. Of course Karina was lucky to find a director like Godard who was dedicated to creating strong roles for her to play, as lucky as he was to find her. But it's what she did with the fame that their collaboration brought her that is so admirable. Once she had a taste of quality, she stuck with it, and she has continued to play strong roles throughout her career. Though she is a film legend, she does not often consent to appearing in small or cameo parts that simply trade on her fame.

7. One major exception was her appearance as a nightclub singer in the otherwise forgettable The Truth About Charlie (2002). The film isn't very good, but her scene is perfect. Without expecting to see her, I knew immediately who she was the moment I saw her. Decades after the birth of her career, she still had that much star power.

8. She has what I like to call "the Joan Blondell effect". What I mean is that just like the eternally reliable Blondell, she is always good, no matter the film. Karina is excellent in the winners, like her charming performance as a Greek immigrant in Bread and Chocolate (1974), but even in the not-so-great flicks like Vadim's lumbering remake of La Ronde (1964), she is deeply moving.

9. Her confidence. Even playing an insecure character, as with her school girl in Bande à part (1964) or as a vulnerable prostitute in Vivre Sa Vie (1962), she carries herself with a certain self-possession. Whatever their fears, her characters don't shrink away from life, and it appears she doesn't in real life as well.

10. This is a really random one, but I love the way she pulled off those crazy outfits she wore in Made in USA (1966). How does one avoid avoid looking like a clown in the bright colors and bold patterns in these dresses? By owning it. She's a queen:

Apr 17, 2016

Quote of the Week: George Cukor on Greta Garbo

Garbo in 1931

She had a talent that few actresses or actors possess. In close-ups she gave the impression, the illusion of great movement. She would move her head just a little bit and the whole screen would come alive, like a strong breeze that made itself felt.

-Director George Cukor, about Greta Garbo

Apr 14, 2016

On DVD: A Trio of Charmers Starring Marion Davies

I know it's unkind to assume that a hardworking actress is simply being herself on the screen, but I've always felt that way about Marion Davies. Perhaps it is because I knew a lot more about her personality, and her popularity in Hollywood, before I saw her in a movie. She was never going to be an acting powerhouse, but Davies was meant to perform and made for the glimmering glamour of the silver screen. She is effortlessly charismatic, playful and lovable. In a trio of new releases from Warner Archive, the actress demonstrates her charms and the development of her talents as a talkie actress.

Based on a stage play, and directed by King Vidor, Not So Dumb (1930) stars Davies as Dulcy, a wealthy young woman who means well, but drives everyone crazy. This includes her fiancé's grumpy boss, who comes to visit her country estate and nearly goes mad surviving her efforts to keep him happy. With eccentric house guests like future screenwriter Donald Ogden Stewart as a lunatic golf addict and Franklin Pangborn as a melodramatic movie scenarist, there's not a chance that all will go as planned.

While Davies' ditzy delivery can be a bit too arch, she has the cadence of a screwball heroine down before anyone ever thought of such a thing. Floating around in perfect flapper dresses, her fluffy blonde bob bouncing cheerfully, she's as irresistible as she is maddening. You have to wonder if future screwball matron Alice Brady was taking notes.

There's a bit of that early talkie awkwardness to contend with: strange pauses, odd jumps between group shots and close-ups, that unsettling "sound of silence" on the music-free soundtrack. These elements can make the film feel a bit longer that its 76 minutes, but the sprightly performances help to keep things moving. The jokes usually hit the mark and there's a bit of well-executed slapstick to liven things up as well.

As I watched The Floradora Girl (1930), I kept thinking that this "Story of the Gay Nineties" featured a time period as close to 1930s moviegoers as the 1970s is today. Perhaps this is why the era was the setting for so many films in the thirties and forties. Here the period details are immensely satisfying, with gorgeous costumes and stage sets, and a funny scene with an uncooperative horseless carriage.

In a less-mannered performance than in Not So Dumb, Davies is Daisy, a showgirl who finds herself without a serious beau while her fellow performers easily snatch up rich husbands. She finds comfort in a sometime boyfriend who carts her around on a double bicycle (he's too poor and goofy to be marriage material), well-meaning friends who impede her romantic life, despite their loyalty, and her rumpled father, who in a sweet moment scratches her head when she asks him. She is pursued by playboy millionaire Jack Vibart (Lawrence Gray), but he is looking for fun, not marriage and she is in jeopardy as she falls for him.

Here Davies is at her best when she is playful and in the midst of silly chaos. It's fun to watch her sing and prance around. Despite good comedic chops, her greatest appeal is that she is simply a presence to be enjoyed. It's easy to see why she was so popular in Hollywood; her natural playful exuberance comes through on the screen. Though sympathetic, she is less assured in her dramatic moments.

There's a smattering of music and dance numbers, including a lovely two-strip Technicolor finale that is deliciously bathed in shades of pink. At moments there seemed to be a slight blurriness at the edges of the picture; otherwise the picture is clean and in good condition. The soundtrack is particularly good for an early talkie, without that low grade hissing sound so common for the era.

Davies was at her best in Peg O' My Heart (1933), which was adapted from the stage play by silent scenario superstar Frances Marion. You can see the progression she made from a roughly charming performer in the previous two titles, to a more self-assured and polished actress. Again the picture was a bit blurry in spots, and there were some scratches, but the image was mostly clean and clear.

Here Davies is Peg, a humble Irish lass who inherits two million pounds from her mother's family on the condition that she live with an elegantly snobby, but destitute British family to supposedly class up her act. Her mother has left the family long ago, and she lives happily with her kindly fisherman father. What she doesn't know is that the terms of the will also stipulate that she never see her father again.

But of course once Peg is settled in the mansion, she is the one who already has it together. She doesn't belong in this world of elitism, aimlessness and adultery. Inexplicably, she falls for the bland and rigid Sir Gerald Markham (Onslow Stevens), who is in love with the daughter of her hostess, who is having her own affair on the side. The whole film is essentially Peg's journey back to her roots. 

Davies is an amusing sight in the opening scenes: an impoverished Irish teenager with perfectly-plucked brows and thick eyeliner. It doesn't matter though she's always fun to watch, doing an Irish jig, belting out a song or jumping rope with her little, white dog. It's a shame she was nearing the end of her career, because she was clearly developing her craft and she would have been a perfect star for the screwball age if only she'd gotten the right roles.

In fact, this trio of films left me with the feeling that while Marion Davies starred in some great films, she could have done so much more, perhaps with the interest of a strong director who could have created projects tailored to her strengths. While it's fun to watch her develop her skill, it's hard not to pine for what could have been had she continued.

Many thanks to Warner Archive for providing a copies of the films for review. These are Manufacture on Demand (MOD) DVDs. To order, visit The Warner Archive Collection.

Apr 12, 2016

The TCM Classic Film Festival 2016 Schedule: I'm Giddy! I Have a Headache! My Tentative Choices

Oh TCM. First there's the agony of waiting for you to release the schedule for the TCM Classic Film Festival, then there's the continued agony of deciding what to see. But I'll take the latter. As Mae West once quipped, too much of a good thing can be wonderful.

This is my first pass at deciding what to see for TCMFF 2016. As those who have attended the festival before know, there can be all sorts of reasons to change your schedule, be it a sold-out house, a change of heart or the desperate need to eat something besides popcorn.


And right out of the gate I am undecided. Dark Victory (1939) is an important film for me. It's the movie that truly got me into classic film. As I watched Bette Davis swoosh her way through an oddly-colorized television broadcast of the movie, I knew I was seeing something special. She had me hooked.

I'm not sure I want to start the festival with a crying movie though, though honestly, I think those are my choices unless I want to see The Freshman (1925) by the Hollywood Roosevelt pool. And I don't, too chilly.

The rare screening of One, Potato, Two Potato (1964) also sounds intriguing, if perhaps downbeat and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945) might be a crying movie, but it is a hopeful kind of sadness. So I'm undecided and will probably go with my mood for that first film of the festival.

Brief Encounter (1945) is one of my favorite films. I think it's perfect. I've seen it so many times I could probably quote it from memory. It is yet another crying movie, and yes it's the best kind of devastating movie crying, but I don't know if I want to spend the first night of the festival in a puddle. I'm also determined to see more new-to-me films this year, so I might go with Argentinian noir Los Tallos Amargos (1956).


Though I hate to miss two blocks of film programming, I love covering the handprint ceremony in the forecourt of the Chinese Theatre and it will be great to see director Francis Ford Coppola get his due. 

The ceremony is a unique chance to gawk at film legends up close; and you never know who will show up. I certainly never could have guessed I'd ever see Alex Trebek and William Shatner joke with each other as they did at the Christopher Plummer tribute last year, and at the Jerry Lewis ceremony in 2014, Quentin Tarantino unexpectedly walked up to the crowd and gave us all handshakes.

At the 2014 Jerry Lewis handprint ceremony. I'm in the blue sweater, excited and anxious about the approach of QT.

Next time block I'm intrigued by the Chinese Theater screening of The Conversation (1974) a film that horrifies and fascinates me. It would also be amazing to see Gina Lollobrigida in her first official festival appearance before Trapeze (1956), though I don't remember being too fond of that movie. Another possibility: the Amazing Film Discoveries presentation by Serge Bromberg of Lobster Films. Bromberg is a charming and entertaining presenter and I enjoyed an archival program that he presented at last year's Seattle International Film Festival.

I'll probably check out Pleasure Cruise (1933) after that, because it sounds naughty and I'll see any pre-code at least once.

Then I am so excited to see The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) at the Egyptian Theatre. A live orchestra will be performing the 1994 Richard Einhorn oratorio Voices of Light, which was composed to accompany the film. This is a festival must-sees for me. The major silent film presentations have been TCMFF highlights for me over the past two years and while I haven't seen this film for many years, I remember that it moved me deeply. 

I'm hoping I'll be able to dash down Hollywood Boulevard in time to get good place in line at the Chinese Theatre for The Manchurian Candidate (1962). I have to at least try to see Angela Lansbury, and this film is one of her best. I love Angie when she is calculating.

I already own Roar (1981) on Blu-ray, and I'll miss the beginning of the midnight screening, but it would be amazing to see this crazy flick with an audience. Crazy is actually an inadequate word to describe it. It is beyond description. I'm still clenched from the last time I watched it.

Anna Karina

Seeing Bambi (1942) on the schedule tugged at me. It was one of the first films I saw in the theatre, probably the first to make me sob uncontrollably, but the 90th Anniversary of Vitaphone presentation sounds like a unique opportunity. After taking a gamble on the hand-cranked films presentation last year and being blown away, I feel encouraged to try similar programs.

The next time block is pretty amazing: Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1982) with an appearance by Carl Reiner, A Face in the Crowd (1957) and One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest (1975) would all be great to see on the big screen. 

I'm thinking of going with another new-to-me pre-code though, A House Divided (1931), the second talkie directed by William Wyler, and with an appearance from David Wyler, the director's son. Catching that shorter film will give me a chance to eat (gotta schedule that too!).

Then off to the Chinese Theatre to see Gina Lollobrigida appear before a screening of Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell (1968). Of Italian legend's three festival appearances, this is the one that I will most likely attend.

After that, I'll hop right back in line again to see The King and I (1956), again at the Chinese Theatre. No way am I missing Rita Moreno. I've loved her since The Electric Company.

Rita Moreno channels Cecil B. DeMille on The Electric Company
I'll probably have to leave that screening early though if I want to make sure to get in to see Anna Karina introduce a screening of Jean-Luc Godard's Band of Outsiders (1964). I admire Karina so much, and this is one of my favorites of her movies. She is the guest I am most excited to see at the festival, and I'm a bit nervous that she will be appearing in one of the smaller venues. They really couldn't have her at the Egyptian? Am I overestimating her popularity?

I'm so curious about the midnight movie presentation of Gog (1954) in 3D. Even if I'm exhausted, I'll probably go. Nothing like a nap in a movie theater in the middle of the night!


Just about everything on Sunday could change because of the late Saturday announcement of TBD films, but these are my choices for now:

I'd love to see Allison Anders speak before All That Heaven Allows (1955), because she is so passionate and knowledgeable about classic film, but when am I going to get another chance to see, and presumably inhale, a film in Smell-o-Vision in the Cinerama Dome? So Holiday in Spain (AKA Scent of Mystery) (1966) it is. If it intrigued Leonard Maltin, I'm in.

Then maybe I'll catch The Kid (1921) at the Chinese multiplex, but this is usually the point in the festival when I'm starving, so I'll probably eat instead.

My last two films of the festival: John Huston's Fat City (1972) and Cinema Paradiso (1988), both in the Chinese Theatre (so many films I want to see there this year!) The former because Stacy Keach is one of my favorite actors and I'd love to see him in person.The latter because the Chinese Theatre felt like the place to be at the close of the festival last year. It was a more satisfying experience to be there with a huge crowd than catching up with a TBD film in a half-filled theater as I did the year before. As I last saw it when it first came out, I don't remember Cinema Paradiso well, but I keep hearing how magical it is, and what better place to experience a film like that?

So that's my plan for now. It will change, but I'm happy with my choices for now.

What are you most excited to see at the festival? Or what would you see if you're not planning to attend this year? Please share in the comments! If you've written your own schedule post, I'd love to share the link here.

Update: Check out my full TCMFF 2016 coverage here.

Apr 8, 2016

Updated With Winner! Enter The TCM Classic Film Festival Button Pack Giveaway!

At the end of this month, I will be attending the TCM Classic Film Festival for the third time as a member of the media. This year I am so excited to have a head start on tricking out my passholder lanyard with a great set of buttons created by artist, film geek and festivalgoer Kate Gabrielle. 

If you'd like to win a pack of your own read on!

Kate is selling the packs (pictured above) on her website. Each set includes:

-One 2.25" social media introduction button. Personalized with Facebook or Twitter handle.

-One 2.25" button displaying how many years you've been attending the festival. Choice of Cary Grant or Bette Davis for photo.

-Two 1.5" fan club buttons: Robert Osborne and Ben Mankiewicz

-Five 1" buttons with a selection of images of the attendees and featured films at the 2016 festival

I love having an easy way to connect with all the people I have met online throughout the years. It's going to be so much easier than spelling out my Twitter handle over and over as I have in years past, and it'll be nice to have a conversation starter for those long sessions waiting in line to see movies.

In fact I like this set so much that I want to share one with all of you. I will be awarding one lucky TCM Classic Film Festivalgoer with a personalized set of Kate's buttons.

All you need to do is take my The Eyes Have It Screenshot Quiz

I have posted below eight photos of classic movie actresses, but only the top half of their faces. The challenge: try to guess the name of as many of these stars as you can.

The guidelines:

-Enter your guesses in the comments section.
-Entrants who guess at least four actresses correctly will be entered in a drawing for the button pack.
-Entrants who correctly guess the actresses in all photos will get two entries in the drawing.

The rules:

-Only US residents please.
-All entries must be made by midnight PST, Monday, April 11.
-Only guesses made in the comments below are eligible.

I will announce the winner, and share the answers in an update to this post and on my social media accounts on Tuesday, April 12. 

Good Luck!










Well you all are great! I thought I'd come up with a couple of tough ones in that quiz, but I couldn't stump you, and I love that!

This morning I had my assistant draw a name out of the hat:

and the big winner is:


Thank you to everyone who entered. Jocelyn, please send me an email at classicmovieblog (at) gmail.com with: 

-Your mailing address
-The Twitter or Facebook tag you want on your ID button
-The number of years you have gone to TCMFF and your choice of Bette Davis or Cary Grant for your other personalized button

Your prize will be coming directly from Kate Gabrielle. Enjoy!    

And now--the answers:


Barbara Stanwyck


Bette Davis


Rita Hayworth


Teresa Wright


Joan Crawford


Mae West


Jane Greer


Myrna Loy