Showing posts with label Brattle Theater. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Brattle Theater. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

TCM Road to Hollywood - Jane Powell and Leonard Maltin present Royal Wedding (1951)

Yesterday we had the pleasure of attending the TCM Road to Hollywood event at the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, MA. Presented by Turner Classic Movies, hosted by Leonard Maltin and featuring special guest Jane Powell, last night’s event was nothing short of spectacular.

I have been excited about this special event ever since it was announced as part of the TCM Road to Hollywood lineup. As soon as tickets became available, I snatched two up as quick as I could and waited anxiously for the day to arrive.

Carlos and I arrived about an hour early to the event and there was already a line waiting to get in.

We didn’t have to wait long in the rain to get in. Once we entered, we handed over our tickets and picked up our complimentary TCM Film Festival postcards and TCM Now Playing Guide. There was a photographer taking pictures of us as we entered and this cool signage greeted us.

This event was sold out and the place was packed.

Tickets were compliments of TCM and the event was geared towards promoting the TCM Film Festival.

 A representative from TCM spoke to us about the Road to Hollywood series and the Film Festival encouraging us to go. I thank TCM for being so generous and hosting these events across the country and allowing us to attend for free! Not only that but allowing us to be in the presence of a classic film star.

After the rep from TCM did her talk, Ned Hinkle, Creative Director of the Brattle, also spoke encouraging folks to go to the TCM Film Festival if they could and thanking TCM, Leonard Maltin and Jane Powell for making this amazing event happen. He also spoke some really kind words about Leonard Maltin and all he’s done for movie buffs over the years, especially in the days before the internet when a lot of us relied on his movie guides for information and film discovery.

Leonard Maltin came out and talked a bit about the TCM Film Festival some more before Special Guest Jane Powell. He referred to it as Movie Buff Camp and said that the energy at the festival was really wonderful. I also remember him saying that people from over 45 states attended the festival. Woah!

Maltin introduced Jane Powell and she was received by the audience with a standing ovation and an enthusiastic roar of applause. She looked really good! She had a lovely blue dress on and black high heel pumps and looked absolutely lovely. The talk lasted about 30 minutes and Maltin was a gracious and helpful host and Jane Powell was witty and charming and effervescent. You could tell the crowd was hanging on to her every word and were really excited to see her. There was lots of applause and laughter. A positive experience overall. Maltin also took a few questions from the audience.

Here are some of the anecdotes that Jane Powell shared with us:

  • She referred to her younger self as a “country bumpkin from Portland, Oregon”
  • She got her start tap-dancing for a radio broadcast. Yes, radio.
  • She found out that MGM had changed her name from Suzanne Burce to Jane Powell from a phone call. She thought the name was boring and noted that other actors already had the surname Powell.
  • She liked the Studio system, always thought of herself as an employee of MGM. She went to school at the MGM lot with Elizabeth Taylor and Margaret O’Brien.
  • She never turned down roles. Her only regrets were roles that were never offered to her. One of the roles she regrets not getting is Love Me or Leave Me which eventually starred Doris Day.
  • She wishes she could have been offered more dramatic roles.
  • The first time she met Clark Gable she was so star-struck she forgot his name.
  • She remembers Fred Astaire as a very private person and felt she never really knew him. She described him as unique, kind and a rarity.
  • The movie studio suffered from competing with TV. She remembered that if she had her picture taken that a TV set could not be included in the shot.
  • She used to be on the road a lot and always took her 3 kids and 3 dogs.
  • She always worked independently. Never had a secretary and still doesn’t.
  • She had a good relationship with Louis B. Mayer and described it as a father-daughter sort of bond.
  • She says she was never “chased around the desk” like other actresses were.
  • She was a bridesmaid at Elizabeth Taylor’s first wedding and Taylor was a bridesmaid at her first wedding too.
  • After leaving MGM, she went on to perform in theaters and night clubs.
  • Her husband, actor Dickie Moore, isn’t doing very well health-wise so she has taken on the role of caretaker. She lives a very quiet life and refers to herself as a homebody.
  • She thoroughly enjoyed everything she did with her career and sincerely loves people.

Something I noticed about Jane Powell was how appreciative she is about her career and the people she worked with. She only had nice things to say about everybody. She shared a sad memory she had of Louis B. Mayer’s final days at MGM, but otherwise she had a lot of happy memories to share.

The conversation wrapped up and Jane Powell thanked everyone and she and Leonard Maltin received another standing ovation. They took a photograph by the poster and we’re off. I wish the talk lasted an hour rather than 30 minutes or that perhaps there would have been a follow up after the movie. Oh well! I was at least happy to be sitting in a good seat (second row on the left with no one really blocking me!) and to have been able to experience what I did.

Royal Wedding (1951) came up on the screen and we were treated to a showing. The film stars Jane Powell and Fred Astaire as Ellen and Tom Bowen (respectively), a brother-sister singing and dancing duo. They are a big success in the states and were offered an opportunity to perform in London and to attend the royal wedding of Queen Elizabeth II. The Bowens set off on a vessel across the Atlantic. On the boat she meets Lord John Brindale (Peter Lawford) and they find that they both share a propensity for leaving behind multiple love interests and that they both enjoy each others attention. A romance between them blossoms. While in London, Tom (Fred Astaire) accidentally meets Anne (Sarah Churchill – Winston Churchill’s daughter) a dancer who is auditioning for his show. There isn’t much of a conflict to drive the plot along but the movie moves at a very satisfying clip. It’s a fun movie to watch for various reasons. There are the amazing musical numbers. I especially loved the How Could You Believe Me When I Said I Love You When You Know I’ve Been a Liar All My Life (phew!) number: 


 It was really fun to watch Jane Powell as a sassy brunette! Then there are the famous Fred Astaire solo numbers, including Sunday Jumps in which he dances with a hatstand and the You’re All the World to Me number in which Astaire dances on the walls and ceiling of a rotating room (although it doesn’t look to be rotating!). Then there are the costumes, the comedy and the cultural musings of London circa 1950s.

The audience’s reaction to the movie was wonderful. We were all still feeling the energy from having just seen Jane Powell in person. There were applauses after most of the musical and dance numbers and an applause when Jane Powell’s name came up on the screen. I have been to many film screenings and I have to say I have never been to one with an audience as enthusiastic and as appreciative as this one. It was just hands down a wonderful experience.

Thank you so much to TCM, the Brattle, Leonard Maltin, Jane Powell and everyone else who helped make this amazing event happen!

Friday, October 12, 2012

North by Northwest (1959) at the Brattle Theatre

Shot of Cambridge Common in Cambridge, MA

On Columbus Day, I had the day off from work so I decided to make my way to Harvard Square in Cambridge, MA to go to the Brattle Theatre to watch the Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest (1959) on the big screen. I was going to go with my good friend Kevin but he wasn't feeling well (I hope he's feeling better! Hi Kevin!). Carlos convinced me to go out on my own and I'm really glad I did.

I decided to drive to and park in Harvard Square which is no easy task. Even at 1pm on a Monday, it was still technically a holiday which means people come out to Harvard Square in droves. After circling the square several times I finally found a single parking spot.

Just a fun bit of information, the park in the picture above is the Cambridge Common. When Carlos and I were dating, before we became engaged and got married, I would be terrified of walking through this park with him. The reason for my fear was because every time we would go to this park he would always scream out at the top of his lungs "I LOVE MY GIRLFRIEND" in front of a bunch of confused strangers and a very embarrassed girlfriend. He hasn't done it in a long time and I hope he won't again!

The interior of L.A. Burdick - Homemade Chocolate in Harvard Square Cambrdige, MA

It was a chilly day, so I stopped by L.A. Burdick for a hot drink and a pastry. L.A. Burdick is known for their homemade chocolates, hot chocolates, delicious pastries and coffee and tea drinks. If you are in Harvard Square on a cold day, it's imperative that you stop by L.A. Burdick for a sweet treat and a hot beverage.

Interior shot of L.A. Burdick - Homemade Chocolates in Harvard Square Cambridge, MA

I got one of their Melange Tea Lattes and a Chocolate Madeleine Cookie and headed over to the Brattle Theatre which was only about a block away. (Sorry for the out-of-focus photo! Never drink, walk and photograph).

Exterior shot of The Brattle Theatre in Harvard Square Cambridge, MA

As you see, the Brattle is tucked away and is off of the main street. Downstairs there used to be a restaurant called Casablanca but after over half of a century of being in business the owners decided to close it down. It's all very sad. Carlos, my friends and I had a wonderful experience watching Casablanca (1942) at the Brattle then having dinner and drinks at Casablanca restaurant later that same evening. A happy memory indeed.

Schedule of films for The Brattle Theatre in Harvard Square Cambridge, MA

The North by Northwest (1959) screening was part of The Brattle's Cloak & Dagger: Spies on Screen series. It was a double bill with the Fritz Lang film Ministry of Fear (1944). Unfortunately, I only had time to stay for the North by Northwest screening. Two films for $7.75 matinee is a pretty good deal.

A "please silence your cellphones" poster featuring Alfred Hitchcock from the Brattle Theatre in Harvard Square.

Alfred Hitchcock says SHHHH.

The managing director of the Lucas Theatre in Savannah, GA tells me she has this same poster in her theater too!

North by Northwest 1959 showing on the big screen at The Brattle Theatre.

I love to sit in the balcony of the Brattle. You don't have the best view and the screen seems pretty small at that distance but it's the coziest. The balcony feels tucked away and private and it stays pretty warm too. Most theaters are cold but the Brattle is (almost) always at a good temperature. Another interesting note about the Brattle is that they do rear projection rather than the traditional front projection. So the projection comes from behind the stage rather than behind the audience.

There were about 50 people in the audience for the screening of North by Northwest. It's not the first time I had seen this film on the big screen but it had been a couple years since I had seen it so this was definitely a treat. It's amazing how many things I had forgotten about the film and what I had remembered. I forgot almost the entire beginning up until the assassination of Mr. Townsend.

A few observations on this viewing: I noticed that the film does a really good job blending humor and drama. And Cary Grant is good at both so he's the perfect actor to deliver this suspenseful and entertaining film. Also, I now really appreciate how much chemistry there is between Cary Grant's Roger Thornhill and Eva Marie Saint's Eve Kendall. When they meet on the train for the first time, their flirtation is electric. The dialogue is sharp, witty and downright sexy. And their prolonged kissing scene with lots of pecks and caresses is a Hitchcock trademark to get around the Code's limit on the length of time a kiss lasts on screen. It's a long scene that feels like one continuous kiss but is in fact a lot of little kisses (Hitchcock does the same thing in To Catch a Thief). The romantic connection between Thornhill and Kendall is important to the plot. It adds more tension as Thornhill cares more about Kendall as the spy who is putting herself in a lot of danger. His affection for her determines his actions as he goes on a wild north by northwest chase. The film was very satisfying to watch and a lot of fun. I'm glad I made the trek out to the Brattle to see it.

I feel very privileged to have access to repertory theaters which show amazing classic films!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Summer of Classic Films in Boston ~ August 2011

Why would I ever leave this great city of mine? Look at the amazing selection of classic films being shown in Boston this month!


Tickets are $9, $7 for Students and Senior Citizens. Some screenings are $12 or even free (check the website)! Cash only folks. Don't bring the credit card. And you can NOT buy in advance so show up early.

Ride in the Whirlwind (1965)
August 5th (Friday) - 9:00 pm

Back Door to Hell (1964) 
August 7th (Sunday) - 5:00 pm

The Shooting (1968) 
August 7th (Sunday) - 7:00 pm
Special Event price of $12.00
Director Monte Hellman in attendance

Flight to Fury (1964)
August 15th (Monday) - 7:00 pm

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947)
August 19th (Friday) 7:00 pm
August 21st (Sunday) - 5:00 pm

Dragonwyck (1946)
August 19th (Friday) - 9:15 pm

Cleopatra (1963)
August 20th (Saturday) - 7:00 pm

5 Fingers (1952) 
August 21st (Sunday) - 7:00 pm

House of Strangers (1949) 
August 22nd (Monday) - 7:00 pm

A Letter to Three Wives (1949)
August 26th (Friday) - 7:00 pm
August 28th (Sunday) - 5:00 pm

The Quiet American (1958)
August 26th (Friday) - 9:00 pm

Julius Caesar (1953) 
August 29th (Monday) - 7:00 pm


Brattle Theater - Cambridge

Tickets are $9.75, Matinees before 5 pm are $7.75. Students $7.75 with ID. Seniors $6.75. Children under 12 $6.75. You can also purchase one of many different membership packages.

Double Feature!
North by Northwest (1959)
August 2nd (Tuesday) - 2:30pm and 7:30pm
Vertigo (1958)
August 2nd (Tuesday) - 5:00 pm and 10:00 pm

These Amazing Shadows (2011) Documentary
See my review of it here and more about my experience here.
August 5th (Friday) - 5:30 pm and 7:30 pm
August 6th (Saturday) - Noon and 5:00 pm
August 7th (Sunday) - 7:30 pm

Double Feature!
It's a Gift (1934)
August 7th (Sunday) - 12:30 pm and 4:00 pm
Baby Face (1933)
August 7th (Sunday) - 2:15 pm and 5:45 pm

Double Feature! With Robert Mitchum!
On Dangerous Ground (1952)
August 8th (Monday) - 3:30pm
August 9th (Tuesday) - 5:30 pm and 9:30 pm
Cape Fear (1962) (new 35mm print)
August 8th (Monday) - 5:30pm

August 9th (Tuesday) - 3:30 pm and 7:30 pm

3:10 to Yuma (1957)
August 13th (Saturday) and 14th (Sunday) - 1:30 pm, 3:30 pm, 5:30 pm, 7:30 pm
August 15th (Monday) - 7:30 pm and 9:30 pm

Double Feature!
The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958)
August 15th (Monday) - 3:00 pm
August 16th (Tuesday) - 3:00 pm and 7:15pm 
Jason and the Argonauts (1963)
August 15th (Monday) - 5:15pm
August 16th (Tuesday) - 5:00 pm and 9:15 pm

Double Feature!
Romeo and Juliet (1968)
August 18th (Thursday) - 3:15 pm and 8:30 pm
The Taming of the Shrew (1967)
August 18th (Thursday) - 6:00 pm

Double Feature!
Amarcord (1973)
August 25th (Thursday) - 2:30 pm and 7:00 pm
The Clowns (1970)
August 25th (Thursday) - 5:00 pm and 9:30 pm

Double Feature! (tentative)
Citizen Kane (1941)
August 29th (Monday) - 2:15 pm
August 30th (Tuesday) - 2:15 pm and 7:00 pm
The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941)
August 29th (Monday) - 4:45 pm
August 30th (Tuesday) - 4:45 pm and 9:30 pm


Somerville Theater - Somerville

Weekday matinees (before 5pm and not including Holidays) are $5. Saturday, Sunday and  Holiday matinees (before 6pm) are $7.00. All other times are $8.00. There are discounts for Senior Citizens and children under 12.

Jeff Rapsis - Silent Film Accompanist presents Buster Keaton with Live Music!
The High Sign (1921)
Cops (1922)
Steamboat Bill Jr. (1928)
August 7th (Sunday) - 7:00 pm
Special event pricing is $12 and $8 for students and seniors


Tickets are $9.75 for Adults and Matinees before 4 pm are $7.75. Children, Seniors (62+) and T.A.P. Card holders pay $6.75 Monday through Thursday and $7.75 Friday through Sunday. Membership is available and members pay $6.75 for all shows. $0.75 of each admission goes to the Capital Campaign Renovation fund.

August 8th (Monday) - 7:00 pm

August 15th (Monday) - 7:00 pm

August 29th (Monday) - 7:00 pm

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Summer of Classic Films in Boston - July 2011

Lots of great films for July!

Brattle Theater - Cambridge

Tickets are $9.75, Matinees before 5 pm are $7.75. Students $7.75 with ID. Seniors $6.75. Children under 12 $6.75. You can also purchase one of many different membership packages.

The Leopard (1963) 
July 8th - 10th (Friday - Sunday) - 4pm and 7:30 pm

The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)
July 11th  (Monday) - 2:30 pm and 5:00 pm
July 12th  (Tuesday) - 2:30 pm and 5:30 pm

Double Feature! Two for the price of one!
The Birds (1963) & Psycho (1960)
July 18th (Monday) - 2:30 pm (Birds) 5:00 pm (Psycho)
July 19th (Tuesday) - 2:45 pm and 7:00 pm (Birds) 5:15 pm and 9:30 pm (Psycho)

Battleship Potemkin (1925)
July 22nd (Friday) - 8:00 pm
July 23rd (Saturday) - 12:30 pm, 2:15 pm, 4:00 pm, 5:45 pm, 7:30 pm
July 24th (Sunday) - 12:30 pm, 2:15 pm, 4:00 pm, 5:45 pm, 7:30 pm

Somerville Theater - Somerville

Weekday matinees (before 5pm and not including Holidays) are $5. Saturday, Sunday and  Holiday matinees (before 6pm) are $7.00. All other times are $8.00. There are discounts for Senior Citizens and children under 12.

The African Queen (1951)
July 3rd (Sunday) - 11:00 am
July 4th (Monday) - 5:00 pm and 8:00 pm

Singin' in the Rain (1952)
July 10th (Sunday) - 11:00 am
July 11th (Monday) - 5:00 pm and 8:00 pm

The Wizard of Oz (1939)
July 17th (Sunday) - 11:00 am
July 18th (Monday) - 5:00 pm and 8:00 pm

Dr. Strangelove (1964)
July 24th (Sunday) - 11:00 am
July 25th  (Monday) - 5:00 pm and 8:00 pm

Ninotchka (1939)
July 31st (Sunday) - 11:00 am

Silent Film Series - Buster Keaton
Special event price $12.00, $8 for Seniors and Students
July 10th (Sunday) - 7pm
Seven Chances (1925) plus Keaton shorts Neighbors (1920) and The Goat (1921)
with live musical accompaniment

Tickets are $9, $7 for Students and Senior Citizens. Some screenings are $12 or even free (check the website)! Cash only folks. Don't bring the credit card. And you can NOT buy in advance so show up early.

July 22nd (Friday) - 7:00 pm
July 24th (Sunday) - 4:30 pm

Somewhere in the Night (1946)
July 22nd (Friday) - 9:30 pm

All About Eve (Two-Disc Special Edition)All About Eve (1950)
July 23rd (Saturday) - 7:30 pm

The Late George Apley (1947)
July 23rd (Saturday) - 9:30 pm

Guys and Dolls (1955)
July 24th (Sunday) - 7:00 pm

People Will Talk (1951)
July 25th (Monday) - 7:00 pm

Suddenly, Last Summer
Suddenly, Last Summer (1959)
July 29th (Friday) - 7:00 pm
July 31st (Sunday) - 4:30 pm

The Honey Pot (1967)
July 29th (Friday) - 9:15 pm

Escape (1948)
July 30th (Saturday) - 9:30 pm

No Way Out (Fox Film Noir)
No Way Out (1950)
July 31st (Sunday) - 9:30 pm

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The African Queen (1951) at the Brattle

This passage comes from the book Tough Without a Gun: The Life and Extraordinary Afterlife of Humphrey Bogart by Stefan Kanfer:

In the early 1950s the Brattle Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts, tried something old. Like many another venue for productions of Shakespeare, Chekhov, and Shaw, the Brattle had become a film house in the early 1950s. But it was a film house unlike any other. It had a rear-screen projector, rather than the standard setup that beamed movies on a screen above the audience. And it had owners who believed that the past could be more alluring than the present.
 In April of 1957, the Brattle screened Casablanca (1942), 15 years after it had come out and 3 months after Bogart died. Kanfer goes on to show how the posthumous cult of Bogie starts at the Brattle and spreads across the country gathering followers along the way. Having seen Casablanca (1942) at the Brattle and having seen The African Queen (1951) , another Bogie film, there too, I think this is pretty darn cool. It makes me love the Brattle more than I do already.

For a whole week, the Brattle showed a restored 35mm print of The African Queen (1951) starring Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart and directed by John Huston. In cases like these, I'm glad I haven't yet devoured all the great classics because I got to experience viewing The African Queen for the first time on the big screen. Not having seen it in its previous condition, I can't tell you how the restored print compares however I can tell you that I saw was strangely beautiful. A Technicolor film showing dirt and grime in all its glory. 

The trifecta of Huston-Hepburn-Bogie just works. The director and the two stars were a scrappy trio. Hepburn had an adventurous spirit and her natural mischievousness made her a perfect fit for playing Rose Sayers. Stefan Kanfer says that Hepburn enjoyed hanging around heavy drinkers John Huston and Humphrey Bogart. Perhaps because she was in a long-term, albeit extramarital, relationship with hard drinker Spencer Tracy and knew what to expect. Hepburn didn't drink much on set herself but maybe she should have. She believed in drinking lots of water and ended up getting very sick after ingesting contaminated water. Huston & Bogie staved off the sickness by sticking to the booze. Perhaps Bogie's portrayal of the gin-loving Charlie Allnut was easy peasy for him and perhaps the sober version of Charlie, after Rose throws away all his liquor, required a little more work. It all comes together to make one beautiful picture.

I enjoyed this film very much. I was a bit thrown off by that first scene in the church when all the native Africans are trying to mimic the sounds of an English hymn as Katharine Hepburn and Robert Morley try to sing eloquently over their drones. It did set up the comedy aspect of the movie though. While Rose and Charlie are in a lot of danger, it's a very light-hearted movie. Because there is such a strict focus on those two characters you get plenty of time to understand them, care for them and laugh at their wild antics. While this film was also screened at the Somerville Theatre, I'm glad I watched it at the Brattle, the so-called originating point of the cult of Bogie.

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