Monday, April 30, 2018

TCM Classic Film Festival 2018: Recap #3

On the start of Friday of the TCM Classic Film Festival, I was more than ready for some movies. I met up with my good friend Carley of Married at the Movies (she also recently started a new podcast) and we headed over to the Chinese Multiplex for Intruder in the Dust (1949).

Carley and I were joined by some friends including Meg, Aurora and Kellee.

TCMFF is all about the selfies.

Film historian and expert on African-American cinema Donald Bogle gave an introduction and sat down with former child star Claude Jarman Jr. I'll have a full report on this movie soon. It was a great conversation and the film really moved me. And this particular screening sold out that it was shown again on Sunday for those who missed it the first time around.

Then it was off to the Egyptian theatre to catch Witness for the Prosecution (1957). This classic court room drama has eluded me for years and I was finally able to enjoy this one with a great crowd. I got some seats with Carley and her husband Martin who met for the first time at the festival back in 2013. So if you're single and you love classic movies maybe the festival is a good place to meet your future spouse!

Ruta Lee who has a small but pivotal role in the film, regaled us with stories about how Frank Sinatra helped her career, how Billy Wilder almost didn't hire her for Witness because she wasn't a brunette and some not so PG stories about her encounters with Charles Laughton. The introduction was one of the best I've heard and Ruta said she was willing to stay for hours to chat with us and to order sandwiches and champagne. Oh how I wish that really happened!

When The Set-Up (1949) was announced early on as one of the TCMFF films I was stoked. It's one of my top favorite noirs and I've watched it many times over the years. If you read my post about my TCMFF plans you'll remember that it was in a spot in the schedule where it conflicted with me getting to see Marsha Hunt at None Shall Escape. Luckily, Larry Edmunds Bookshop was hosting a Marsha Hunt book signing on Sunday. I easily gave up my spot for that movie and headed to the Egyptian for The Set-Up. I was surprised to see my friend Jay in line! He and I spoke briefly about the film in our two-part Rocky podcast for Cinema Shame. He hadn't seen The Set-Up so I was glad we are able to sit down together for this one.

 The Noir of Czar and Noir Alley host Eddie Muller presented. It was a great introduction until it was not. He had a surprise guest in the form of a young man, whose name I didn't catch. He's a local poet, writer, rapper. Very personable and charming guy and he grew up watching classic movies so he's got cred. The Set-Up was inspired by a long form poem and the special guest was there to recite part of it. However he didn't have the poem on hand. There must have been some miscommunication to get to that point. It took way too long and we endured an uncomfortable silence until he finally found the poem. At that point I was no longer interested in it and just wanted to watch the movie already.

After The Set-Up I had drinks with Jay and hung out with some friends in the Hollywood Roosevelt lobby. I even had time for dinner. Crazy! If you go to TCMFF, it's okay to miss a programming block so you can have some down time/social time and a bite to eat.

This break also allowed me to head over to the Chinese Multiplex early to get in line for Romeo and Juliet (1968) which was my #1 must-attend event at this year's festival. There was no way I was going to miss this one.

I was quite emotional to see Leonard Whiting (Romeo), Olivia Hussey (Juliet) and Michael York (Tybalt) in conversation with TCM host Alicia Malone. It was a great interview. Unfortunately my audio recording cut out early but I'll try to get a full report up soon. The biggest takeaway is that they all loved making the film, loved working with each other and the movie did wonders for them. They remember it very fondly. I met Whiting and Hussey on the red carpet (a video will be up soon). It was a treat to see Michael York and to hear his booming deep British voice travel across the audience. Wow!

I sat with my friend Kim of I See a Dark Theater and was able to have a good one-on-one chat with her. One thing I did differently this year is ignore my spot in line if I spotted a friend further down the way. Some folks in line got annoyed with me and one time a staffer tried to get me to move. But I'd much rather be with a friend chatting in line and before the movie than by myself because I have a better number.

Stay tuned as I'll have recaps soon for the Saturday and Sunday of the TCM Classic Film Festival.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

TCM Classic Film Festival 2018: Recap #2

On the first full day of the TCM Classic Film Festival, I was furiously preparing for my red carpet interviews. This is the third year in a row that I've been able to greet and interview guests as they walk the carpet for the opening night premiere.

Before I headed over to the TCL Chinese Theatre courtyard, Jay of Cinema Shame and The #Bond_Age_ Project, Jessica of Comet Over Hollywood and I recorded a TCMFF themed episode of the Cinema Shame podcast. Stay tuned for that one! We'll also be reconvening post-fest for a follow-up episode. I didn't get a picture with both Jay and Jessica so here are selfies to commemorate.

Then I headed to the red carpet for probably the most hectic and energetic premiere I've attended. Between Martin Scorsese zipping down the red carpet, Paul Sorvino singing opera to the crowd, Mel Brooks cracking jokes and Norman Lloyd charming the pants off of everybody, there was much to enjoy.

I got quite a good number of interviews. Some short ones but some longer ones too. I'll be doing a full recap of my red carpet experience with lots of great photos and will be posting video interviews on my YouTube channel very soon.

I only had time for one just one of the two movies. I went to the cold war drama Fail-Safe (1964). Lillian Michelson did the research for this one! I was exhausted after red carpet so I had to bail early. Will be watching the full thing at home and will report back. Screenwriter Walter Bernstein couldn't be there but Ben Mankiewicz stepped in with a wonderfully detailed introduction and short audience Q&A.

I'll have more recaps and full in-depth posts coming your way.

Friday, April 27, 2018

TCM Classic Film Festival 2018: Recap #1

My trip to California started off at lightning speed and I'm only now just able to catch my breath. I'm here in Hollywood for the 2018 TCM Classic Film Festival. This is my sixth fest and it's always a surreal feeling when I'm actually here. I take a moment to appreciate it when I'm standing in line for a movie otherwise all the amazing moments fight for my attention and I don't stop to appreciate where I am.

First stop in Los Angeles is always In-n-Out Burger. We pick up our car rental and head straight to the one just outside the LAX.

Later that evening we headed to Burbank for a dinner with Robby of Dear Old Hollywood and his adorable family. We ate at Pinocchio's and had a great casual Italian meal.

On Wednesday we had a full day. I picked up my badge and goodie bag at the Hollywood Roosevelt hotel before the start of the festival. Here's a look at what I got!

We traveled to the Motion Picture and Television Fund home in Woodland Hills for a very special visit. When we arrived we took a gander at the Roddy McDowall rose garden and sculpture.

The reason for our visit was to have lunch with Daniel Raim, Jennifer Raim and Lillian Michelson all of the documentary Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story. All of you know how much I gush about this movie. I've reviewed it, interviewed Daniel Raim, hosted a Twitter chat (that trended!) when TCM aired the doc. So it was really gracious of Lillian to host a lunch for all of us at the MPTF home. And I'll tell you right now, this was a day I will never forget. We talked for hours and I didn't want to leave. In fact I had such a great time that if we had flown back that night and not done anything else I would have said that was an amazing trip to be remembered forever.

I'm grateful for Daniel, Jennifer and Lillian for being so gracious and welcoming Carlos and I! And a special thanks to Lillian for hosting the lunch.

After peeling myself away from that amazing experience, I headed back to Hollywood for a TCMFF press event. We mingled with lots of press and bloggers and TCM staffers and TCM general manager Jennifer Dorian kicked off the event with a speech. She spoke to some of the highlights of the festival this year and I got so excited more so than I have been which is saying a lot.

Then we headed to Kitchen 24 for a dinner with some of my blogger friends.

And even more friends were waiting for us at the Hollywood Roosevelt hotel for TCM's Social Influencers Mixer. Thanks to Marya for hosting us! I got to chat with lots of friends and colleagues and got to take a ridiculous amount of selfies.

Carlos, Jessica, Matt from Warner Archive and me!

Raquel and Rachel

Joel and me!

Casey, Meg, Carlos and me

Raquel and Karen of The Dark Pages

Stay tuned as I'll have more recaps for when the festival kicks off including Thursday's red carpet!


Tuesday, April 17, 2018

My Top Picks for the 2018 TCM Classic Film Festival

This time next week I'll be in Hollywood for the TCM Classic Film Festival. It'll be the sixth year attending the festival and also my sixth covering the event as press. Stay tuned as I'll have lots of posts coming up including daily recaps and in-depth looks at individual screenings and panel discussions.

Last year I scaled my TCMFF schedule back a bit and had more fun than I had ever had in the previous 4 festivals. I'm taking that approach this year as well. Leaving time for food, shopping at Larry Edmund's Bookshop, hanging out at Club TCM and having drinks with friends. Most of all it will let me appreciate the events I do go to, take care to take notes, record audio and report back. Last year my reporting was better for it so I'm excited to take a similar approach.

Below is my tentative schedule. I left room for some free time but also for some last minute decisions. Flexibility is key. No one's TCMFF ever goes according to plan! Also, because I live near a city where classic films are shown on the big screen on a regular basis, my focus in planning is always on the special guests. These are people I don't get access to here but do get to see at TCMFF!

Are you going to TCM Film Festival? If so what are you planning to see?


Red Carpet - Over the past three years, the opening night red carpet has been the #1 highlight of the entire festival. And for the last two years I've been on the red carpet interviewing and photographing some of the special guests! This year I'll either be reporting from the red carpet or being a spectator on the bleachers. Either way this is not something I'll want to miss. This year's opening night picture is The Producers (1968) with special guest Mel Brooks. There will also a ceremony to honor director Martin Scorsese for the inaugural Robert Osborne Award. I won't be able to attend either the ceremony or the film but it will be a blast to see all the guests saunter on the red carpet!

Fail-Safe (1964) - This Cold War drama starring Henry Fonda piqued my interest recently. I'm glad I haven't watched it yet because TCMFF is an ideal way to watch a film for the first time. 98 year old screenwriter Walter Bernstein, who worked on numerous movies and TV shows and was blacklisted during the HUAC era, will be on hand to discuss the film. I can't miss this opportunity!


Intruder in the Dust (1949) - Usually I attend the Hand and Footprint Ceremony at TCMFF but I decided to do something different this year. I'll be heading over early in the AM to catch this William Faulkner adaptation starring Juano Hernandez and David Brian. Former child actor Claude Jarman Jr. will be on hand to discuss the film and the discussion will be moderated by Donald Bogle Jr., one of the top experts on African-American film history.

Witness for the Prosecution (1957) - Another first for me! I look for those when I peruse the schedule. This courtroom drama will be playing on the big screen at the Egyptian and actress Ruta Lee will be discussing her role in the film. The discussion will be moderated by The Hollywood Report journalist Scott Feinberg.

None Shall Escape (1944) - This was a tough block. I would love to see the Pigeon Sisters at The Odd Couple screening, to see The Set-Up on the big screen at the Egyptian or to see the 1 hour interview at Club TCM with James Ivory. But seeing Marsha Hunt in person has been a dream of mine for years and all of those events put that dream in danger. So I'm blocking out as much time as possible to make this dream a reality.

Romeo and Juliet (1968) - This adaptation of Shakespeare's famous play is one of the first classic films I ever watched. It had a profound affect on me in my teen years and I still hold it dear to my heart. The stars Olivia Hussey, Leonard Whiting and Michael York will all be on hand to discuss. This is my #1 pick for the festival. It will be the 50th anniversary of the film and I just can't wait for this screening.


Bullitt (1968) - I love Steve McQueen. After seeing The Great Escape at the TCL Chinese Theater back in 2013 (when it was still Grauman's) I knew I had to repeat with another McQueen movie. Seeing the King of Cool race down the streets of San Francisco on that gigantic screen will be EPIC. Actress Jacqueline Bisset will be on hand to discuss the film beforehand.

Maurice (1987) - Before I fell in love with classic movies, I was an angst-ridden teen who lived for period pieces. The Merchant-Ivory films of the 1980s and 1990s and the other adaptations of that era fueled me. Maurice was a recent discovery for me. I watched it after I was quite moved by Call Me By Your Name (2017). James Ivory wrote the script for CMBYN and directed Maurice and he'll be on hand to discuss the film.

Scarface (1932) - This classic gangster film has eluded me for years and I'm going to finally watch it. TCMFF will be a perfect venue for this! Legendary director John Carpenter will be on hand to discuss the film. How can I miss that?

Note: This is only three films on a packed Saturday but I'm leaving room for a last-minute choice. Wish I could see the only Robert Mitchum film (the first they've played since 2013!), The Story of G.I. Joe but it conflicts with Maurice. Darn.


I take it easy on Sundays because TCMFF exhaustion will have kicked in and I'll need some time to pack. I might be able to sneak in a TBA, which would be a TCMFF first for me, or I might use the time to do some writing and browse the TCM gift shop before it closes.

Places in the Heart (1984) - Is it terrible that I'm going to this because I want to see Robert Benton and Sally Field? Because that's all I got and it works for me.

Mostly Lost at Club TCM - It's not TCMFF without going to one of the fascinating panels or presentations at Club TCM. I might only be able to fit in one and this is a goodie! Rachel Del Gaudio and Rob Stone of the Library of Congress will be on hand to discuss unknown films that have yet to be identified. Silent film accompanist Ben Model, who I had the pleasure of meeting at CineFest back in 2015!, will be on hand to play music to the screened clips.

Animal House (1978) - I've never seen Animal House and I would love a get a chance to see this with my husband Carlos who adores the film. Last year Best in Show had an impressive special guest list and this year it's Animal House. On hand to discuss the film are Stephen Bishop, John Landis, Tim Matheson, Bruce McGill, Mark Metcalf, Martha Smith and James Widdoes.

Closing Night Party at Club TCM - This will be a somber moment to drink to the end of TCMFF and say goodbye to friends.


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