Saturday, April 30, 2022

2022 TCM Classic Film Festival: Day #3 Recap

 The Flame and the Arrow (1950)

My day started with an impossible time block. There were so many good events happening at the same time and it was difficult to chose. It came down to one person: Gordon Gebert, the child star of one of my all-time favorite movies of all time, Holiday Affair (1949). It was imperative that I see him in person! And he was going to be at the special screening of The Flame and the Arrow (1950). 

This swashbuckler starring Burt Lancaster, Virginia Mayo, Nick Cravat, Norman Lloyd and of course Gordon Gebert, was being screened at the Hollywood Legion Theatre. Ahead of the film there was a special presentation by visual effects artist Craig Barron and sound designer Ben Burtt in which they discussed the film's use of color, forced perspective and painted backgrounds and the various sound effects. They also shared the story of Lancaster and Cravat's working relationship as acrobats turned actors and their lifelong friendship and we were treated to some rare home video clips of the two palling around.

The presentation was followed by an interview with Gordon Gebert who delighted us with all sorts of stories about being a child actor working for Warner Bros. and RKO, being on set of The Flame and the Arrow, his stunts in the film and learning archery and ballet for certain key scenes. After the presentation and interview we were treated with a 1960s Technicolor print of the film. It was a fun movie made better by the amazing cast and Jacques Tourneur's direction. 

The French Way (1940)

The next block was a difficult one too. I had to choose between several amazing options, including seeing The Hustler (1961) with Piper Laurie in attendance. But I opted for the Josephine Baker film The French Way which was made in 1940 but released in 1945 due to the war. Film historian Donald Bogle gave a presentation which included lots of background information about Josephine Baker herself. We were also treated with an archival interview of Baker on a cruise ship and a beautiful restoration of the film by Jeff Joseph of SabuCat Productions. International films are few and far between at the festival and I'm always delighted to catch at least one during my festival experience. 

Donald Bogle

The French Way was a beautiful little film. Baker shines despite the fact she's given limited screen time and no love interest. Micheline Presle is also in the film playing a young French woman debating whether to elope with her beau. Filmed during the French occupation, the story includes the characters preparing for air raids including a scene where Josephine Baker of hobo Leon (Lucien Baroux) to help tape up her windows and several scenes in bomb shelters.

Blue Hawaii (1961)

My goal at this year's festival was to attend all three of the poolside screenings, even if I didn't stay for the whole movie. The third and final screening was the Elvis movie Blue Hawaii (1961) which is quite perfect for the poolside setting. Attendees dressed up Hawaiian shirts, wore leis and sipped on Blue Hawaiian cocktails. I was planning on leaving early to attend to attend the special screening of Drunken Master II (1994) but alas after having a few of those cocktails I was quite literally too drunk to go see the other film. After a couple of really tough years, this was just the sort of evening I needed.

Stay tuned for more TCMFF coverage!

Thursday, April 28, 2022

2022 TCM Classic Film Festival: Day #2 Recap


Lily Tomlin Hand and Footprint Ceremony

Festivities on the second day of the TCM Classic Film Festival kicked off with a hand and footprint ceremony honoring actress Lily Tomlin. Hosted by TCM and held on the courtyard of the TCL Chinese Theatre (formerly Grauman's Chinese Theatre), the event began with introductions by TCM host Ben Mankiewicz and actress Jane Fonda as well as a speech by Lily Tomlin herself. Special guests included producer George Schlatter, actress Rita Moreno and fellow Grace and Frankie star June Diane Raphael. In addition to her hand and footprints, Lily Tomlin added small footprints and signature commemorating her character Edith Ann from Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In.

Check out my YouTube video of the ceremony below (and make sure to subscribe to my channel!). 

Ben Mankiewicz, Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda

Lily Tomlin, George Schlatter and Jolene Brand

Rita Moreno and Lily Tomlin

Lily Tomlin, June Diane Raphael and Paul Scheer

A Little Song, A Little Dance

Afterwards I headed over to the Chinese Multiplex to attend A Little Song, A Little Dance, a one-hour presentation hosted by Paramount archivist Andrea Kalas. We were treated to a selection of musical numbers from a variety of Paramount feature films and shorts. The highlights for me were seeing a clip of the Will Mastin Trio, including a young Sammy Davis Jr., and a sing-a-long to Dinah performed by my personal fave, The Mills Brothers!

A Conversation with Bruce Dern

I wasn't able to stay for the whole thing but I did enjoy the first half hour of TCM host Ben Mankiewicz conversation with actor Bruce Dern. The event was held at Club TCM, which is the Blossom Ballroom of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. Dern spoke at length about working with Elia Kazan and Alfred Hitchcock, his early career as a track athlete and his training as an actor. The biggest takeaway for me was that Dern equates acting to the ability to be "publicly private" something he learned during his early days in The Actor's Studio.

Soylent Green (1973)

My friend Pam and I at the poolside screening of Soylent Green.

I headed over the Tropicana Bar for a special poolside screening of Soylent Green (1973). April 22nd was Earth Day so it was fitting to screen this dystopian film especially with its powerful environmental message. Guests were treated to Soylent Green cookies (don't worry they didn't contain actual people!). Actress Leigh Taylor-Young, who stars in the film as Shirl, was interviewed by William Joyce about her experience making the film, working with actors Charlton Heston, Edward G. Robinson and Joseph Cotten and the film's ecological message and its bizarre misogyny. 

Cooley High (1975) Reunion

Left to Right: TCM host Prof. Jacqueline Stewart, actors Cynthia Davis, Garrett Morris, Steven Williams, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Glynn Turman and director Michael Schultz

I took the complimentary shuttle to the Hollywood Legion theatre to catch a very special screening of Cooley High (1975), one of the most influential black films of the 20th century. This coming-of-age story is one of my personal favorites and it was such a thrill to see the majority of the cast reunited for this screening.

TCM host Prof. Jacqueline Stewart sat down with director Michael Schultz and the cast to discuss the making of the film and its representation of black youth and its setting Chicago. This reunion was extra special because it was the first time since the making of the film that anyone had seen Cynthia Davis, who plays Brenda in the film. It was a lively conversation and I could tell there was a lot of love and respect between everyone involved. And an added bonus, Garrett Morris and Glynn Turman briefly reenacted one of the pivotal scenes from the film. What a joy! I was the most excited for this event and it did not disappoint.

Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Glynn Turman and Michael Schultz

Cynthia Davis, Garrett Morris and Steven Williams

Stay tuned for more TCMFF coverage!

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

2022 TCM Classic Film Festival: Day #1 Recap

The festivities kicked off on Wednesday, the day before the 2022 TCM Classic Film Festival began. First up:

Academy Museum of Motion Pictures

We trekked over to the Academy Museum for a pre-festival visit. I was very excited to visit as I'd heard great things since it officially opened in September of 2021. And unfortunately, it was a disappointment. I was hoping to see a rich array of artifacts from Oscar history on display. Instead the museum offers an immersive experience that is visually interesting but ultimately superficial. It focused more on the experience of the Academy Awards and also spotlighted a handful of filmmakers, both old and new. There was little by way of context and anyone not familiar with the history of the Academy Awards would leave not that much wiser. There were some elements I enjoyed including Pedro Almodovar's curated gallery, the display of Oscar statuettes (including Sidney Poitier's for Lilies of the Field), getting to see Rosebud from Citizen Kane up close and the overall focus on diversity. While the museum allows for photographs in all galleries except for one, the installations are difficult to photograph, especially since so many are active screens, so I didn't end up taking that many. There are several levels that lead to an observatory with fantastic views. And next to the museum is a dedicated theater. On the day we visited, they were preparing for the season premiere of the hit tv show Euphoria.

I have a phobia of oversized murals and installations and museums like this are incredibly triggering. While, I couldn't enter some of the rooms and I did my best to at least peak into the ones that I couldn't access and lingered in the ones that I could spend some time in. If you're sensitive to flashing lights, dark spaces and oversized installations, you may want to skip the museum.

Hollywood Boulevard

Before heading back to the Hollywood Roosevelt, the headquarters of the festival, we took a trip down the boulevard. It's gone through many changes during the pandemic, hardly any of them good. The Egyptian was closed for remodeling after Netflix acquired the property. The Pig & Whistle is no more but from what I understand the new owners plan to maintain the historic elements of the building.

While walking down the boulevard, we took a short detour to pay our respect to the late great Robert Osborne at his star.

Then we made it over to Larry Edmunds Bookshop which is a must for every TCMFF trip. They were hosting a book signing, had movie posters on displays and shelves stocked with all sorts of classic film books. I purchased a copy of Eartha & Kitt: A Daughter's Love Story in Black and White by Kitt Shapiro with Patricia Levy.

TCM Classic Film Festival Media Reception

After the bookshop, I headed over to the media room at the Hollywood Roosevelt hotel to pick up my press badge and swag bag. The clear plastic tote came with a bottle of TCM merlot in a special carrier bag, a small tumbler, a copy of Danger on the Silver Screen: 50 Films Celebrating Cinema's Greatest Stunts and an issue of Movie Maker magazine. Due to COVID protocols, I also had to submit health information in order to get a wristband for entry into any and all TCMFF events. I had to wear this through the four days of the festival.

Members of the media were treated to a reception where we heard the big announcement that actress Pam Grier will be the subject of TCM's next season of The Plot Thickens podcast.

After we mingled with media and the TCM hosts, Pam Grier made a surprise entrance towards the end of the event. The video below offers a couple of clips of her appearance and chat. It's NSFW due to the subject matter discussed so put on those headphones!

Opening Night Red Carpet

On the first official day of the festival, I spent all day preparing for the opening night red carpet. Make sure you check out my previous post where I share photos of all the special guests I got to interview or photograph. Videos coming soon!

Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982) Poolside Screening

I wasn't able to get to the screening of The Slender Thread in time. So after the red carpet, I headed over to the pool at the Hollywood Roosevelt hotel for the 40th anniversary screening of Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982). Dave Karger interviewed Topher Grace who is not only a huge fan of the movie but also was inspired by it to make his own film Take Me Home Tonight (2011). Karger and Grace's conversation was interrupted by a pizza delivery! 

Stay tuned for more coverage of the festival!

Saturday, April 23, 2022

2022 TCM Classic Film Festival: Opening Night Red Carpet Event


The 2022 TCM Classic Film Festival kicked off with the opening night red carpet event at the TCL Chinese Theatre leading up to a special presentation for the 40th anniversary of E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982). I was on hand to photograph and interview the special guests as they walked the red carpet. I'll have video clips from my interviews available on my YouTube channel and will be sharing them here too. In the meantime, here are some of the special guests who attended the event!

Actor Sean Frye who played Steve on E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

TCM host Prof. Jacqueline Stewart

TCM host Ben Mankiewicz with actor Mario Cantone

Dee Wallace who played Mary on E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial

Director Steven Spielberg and Dee Wallace 

Sound designer Ben Burtt

Jane Seymour, star of Somewhere in Time (1980)

Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, who played Cochise in Cooley High (1975)

TCM host Dave Karger

TCM host Alicia Malone

Aileen Quinn from Annie (1982)

Disney animator Floyd Norman

Film historian and TCM author Luis I. Reyes

George Stevens Jr.

Maxwell Caulfield

Pam Grier, star of Coffy (1973)

TikToker Jasmine Chiswell

Stay tuned for more coverage from the 2022 TCM Classic Film Festival!

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