Showing posts with label Classic Film Bloggers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Classic Film Bloggers. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

On Blogging for a Decade: Three Bloggers Share Their Journeys

This month I'm celebrating 10 years of blogging. Before I share the story of my own journey I thought it would fun to highlight some other classic film bloggers who've been blogging for close or more than a decade. A big thank you to Jessica, Laura and Terry for participating.

Jessica at Robert Osborne's Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

Jessica P.

How long have you been blogging?
I started in April 2009, so nearly 10 years! Fun fact: My blog was originally named Living on Velvet, but another film blogger at the time had the same name so I changed it.

Why did you start a blog?
In journalism school, my professor Larry Timbs, PhD., kept urging us in our news and featuring writing classes to start a blog. He said no newspaper would hire us if we didn't have a blog. (I'm not sure that's true now, but blogs and citizen journalism were on the rise then).

On top of that: I felt like I needed a place to voice my classic film love and share classic film information with my friends. I didn’t have that previously. Friends thought my interest was interesting or cute, but I couldn’t carry on a conversation about it. This was pre-film Twitter and I felt pretty alone in my film love and thought, "Maybe if people knew more about classic films, they would be interested." After I started writing, I began meeting others who loved films —something new to me! I don’t know if I shared any new information to film fans or converted anyone into a pre-1968 film lover, but I stopped feeling so alone in my love.

How do you approach creating content for your blog?
Other than the weekly Musical Monday features, I don’t often write standalone film reviews. I figure everyone knows what “Random Harvest” is and has their own ideas about it, so they don’t need my lengthy plot rehash and gushing thoughts.

I try to pick out unique trivia tidbits that I would like to know more about and hope others do too! For example, why did Mae West start making pop records? What did Madeleine Carroll do for the war effort? Bruce Bennett was an Olympic medalist? Sometimes I can find a great deal of information and other times there isn’t, but I hope that I’m introducing someone to new information, since I learned a lot in the process.

How has blogging changed your life?
I didn’t think any other young people liked classic films as much as I did until I started blogging. Blogging allowed me to connect with others, discuss my classic love with others who understand and learn new facts about classic movies. It also allowed me neat opportunities, like interviewing actors James Best and Dolores Hart.


Terry C.

How long have you been blogging?
I have been blogging for 13 years now. My blog just turned 13 last week, on June 4. I think June must be a very good month to start a blog!

Why did you start a blog?
I've always enjoyed writing. In fact, I decided I wanted to be a writer when I was only in junior high school. As an adult I had articles published in various small press publications. Back in 2004 I had a girlfriend who had a blog and it looked like it could be a good outlet for my writing. I then started my blog to write about what interests me, which was primarily pop culture and nostalgia.

How do you approach creating content for your blog?

I really don't have a single approach to creating content for my blog. In most cases I think of an idea for a post and then I will research the subject. Sometimes that is as simple as re-watching a movie or an old TV show episode. Other times it might mean searching through books and old newspaper and magazine articles. I have had posts that, when the research is factored in, have taken literally days to complete. A lot of times there will be an important anniversary (the birth of an classic actor or the release of a classic movie) and I'll want to write about it. Sadly, I also write a lot of tributes upon the occasions of the deaths of actors, directors, and music artists I admire. I like covering their careers in depth, so they also involve a lot of research. Other posts, such as opinion pieces, simply come about because I simply want to speak my mind about something. This seems to usually be the case when I write about social media. It seems as if social media sites are always making changes I don't like!

How has blogging changed my your life?

I think blogging has enriched my life immeasurably. It has given me the opportunity to write about what I love, which is something I might not have had the chance to do otherwise, at least not to the extent that the blog has allowed me. Blogging would even lead to the publication of my book Television: Rare & Well Done, which is comprised mostly of material from my blog. Most importantly, I have made a lot of dear friends through blogging. I haven't met any of them in person, but I would have to say I feel closer to them than many people I have met in person. Honestly, there is nothing I regret about having taken up blogging, except perhaps the title of my blog. If I had it to do all over again, I would have chosen a more fitting title than A Shroud of Thoughts!


Laura and I at the TCM Classic Film Festival

Laura G.

How long have you been blogging?
I'll celebrate my 12th anniversary as a blogger in July 2017!

Why did you start a blog?
I've always loved to write and as my children were growing older and I had more free time, blogging appealed to me as a creative outlet. I learned about blogging via political bloggers and initially my blogging topics were both more random (hence the title "Miscellaneous Musings") and current events based, but within the first three years or so I realized that I wanted to mainly focus on the topics which make me happiest, classic films and my overlapping interest in all things Disney.

How do you approach creating content for your blog?
Quite a bit of the content for my blog is driven by the calendar, whether it’s previewing the upcoming month on Turner Classic Movies, covering a film festival, celebrating an actor’s birthday, or sharing classic film photos with a holiday theme. Another significant percentage of my blog content consists of film reviews, whether it’s DVD or Blu-ray screeners or titles from my personal collection. And trips to Disneyland often result in my sharing a few photos!

I love finding new content to read at my favorite blogs, which helps inspire me to update my own blog regularly. I enjoy creating what I hope is a lively and informative blog, and I thus try to blog most days of the week, though sometimes it’s not possible due to a heavy workload. Conversely, being self-employed sometimes enables me to blog during work breaks! This is particularly helpful for posts which aren’t planned in advance; for instance, as classic film writers it’s a sad reality that we must regularly write obituaries. I’ll also sometimes be inspired to blog by something I see on Twitter, such as a mention of an actor’s birthday.

Generally speaking the only time I take notes in preparation for blogging is during introductions at film festivals, when I see so many films I’m likely to forget key points. Most of the time, though, I like to be “in the moment” and don’t use a notebook, but instead try to blog as soon as possible after seeing a film or attending an event. I find blogging is a great way to help reflect on and “process” films I’ve just watched or to remember an event. Often my blogging is done in the late evening; initially this was because it was a quiet time when I had children at home, but now that my children are older, it remains a good time due to my work schedule, plus it’s often when I’ve just finished watching a movie!

Although I don’t take notes during movies, I’m fairly methodical and organized, which helps me do as much blogging as I do. Reminders for things such as end-of-the-month TCM posts or birthday tributes are calendared in advance. I try to fill in links for my annual "Year in Review" post as the year unfolds, and as soon as I know a DVD screener is on the way to my mailbox, I’ll go ahead and set up the draft post with what I call the “boilerplate” – the cover picture, a link to the DVD company, and basic info on things like the director and running time. This helps me keep track of what’s coming up and plan my viewing and blogging schedule. When it gets really busy, such as during the spring film festival season here in Southern California, I also post a list of blogging ideas on the wall next to my computer and check off reviews and other posts as I complete them. I also keep a list of long-term ideas for future posts; I have many more ideas than I have time to write!

This may sound like a lot of work to some, but I truly enjoy it, and since it’s supposed to be fun, if I’m overwhelmed by demands on my time I may set aside something for a period of time in order to fit other things in. For instance, one of my favorite things to do as a blogger is my weekly “Around the Blogosphere” link roundups, sharing interesting news I’ve come across along with links to writing by my fellow classic film bloggers. During this year’s spring film season, when I attended four festivals in a ten-week period, something had to give, so I haven’t done one of those posts in the last three months. I’ll get back to it soon!

How has blogging changed your life?
 The most important way blogging has changed my life is the many wonderful friendships I've made -- with you being a very special friend, one of the first classic film bloggers I got to know! Some have become "in person" friendships, with the chance to spend time together at movie screenings, film festivals, and local events. I also have wonderful far-flung friends I correspond with, from as far away as Israel and the UK. So many people are supportive and have done many kindnesses for me over the years, for which I'm very grateful. I like to think of my blog as a friendly gathering place for people from varied walks of life who share similar interests.

Blogging has also led to amazing experiences I never could have anticipated when I began, whether it was interviewing a favorite actress, Coleen Gray; being invited by the family of another favorite actress, Loretta Young, to attend and write about her centennial celebration; touring the home of Joel McCrea and Frances Dee with their grandson; and the opportunity to cover a number of film festivals as a member of the media. And that's just the tip of the proverbial iceberg! It makes me very happy when readers let me know they enjoy my blog and that I’ve helped them find “good things” to enjoy -- but I'm really so fortunate in what blogging and my readers have meant in my own life.

Friday, August 26, 2016

2016 Summer Reading Challenge - Second Round-Up

I'm so proud of all of you for getting your read on this summer! There have been lots of great reviews and I'm impressed how participants are deviating from traditional bios and trying out some interesting books. Memoirs, self-help books, novels and more. Kudos to Danny of for his dedication to Barbara Stanwyck!

A friendly reminder, if you're a summer reading participant please make sure you submit links to me. If you don't want to win the final prize just let me know. I still need the links however!

Here is the second set of classic film book reviews. You can find the first review round-up here.

Danny of
Barbara Stanwyck: The Miracle Woman by Dan Callahan
Showmen, Sell It Hot! Movies as Merchandise in Golden Era Hollywood by John McElwee
Stanwyck: The Untold Biography by Jane Ellen Wayne
Starring Miss Barbara Stanwyck by Ella Smith
Warren William:Magnificent Scoundrel of Pre-Code Hollywood by John Stangeland 

Erin of Always Classic

The Hustler by Walter Tevis

Grezilda of Doesn't She Ramble
The Group by Mary McCarthy

Java of Java's Journey
Elizabeth Taylor Takes Off by Elizabeth Taylor
The Moon's a Balloon by David Niven
Searching for My Father, Tyrone Power by Romina Power
Walt Disney's Peter Pan

Every Frenchman Has One by Olivia de Havilland

Kristen of Journeys in Classic Film
Conversations with Classic Film Stars

Laura of Laura's Miscellaneous Musings
Into the Dark by Mark A. Vieira

Lindsey of The Motion Pictures
The Good Stuff: A Reminiscence of My Father, Cary Grant by Jennifer Grant
LIFE Goes to the Movies 
The Real James Dean edited by Peter L. Winkler

Above Suspicion by Helen MacInnes
The Bad and the Beautiful: Hollywood in the Fifties by Sam Kashner and Jennifer MacNair

Raquel of Out of the Past
Into the Dark by Mark A. Vieira
The Dawn of Technicolor by David Pierce and James Layton

Rich of Wide Screen World
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Kate Remembered by A. Scott Berg

The 100 Greatest Looney Tunes Cartoons by Jerry Beck and Leonard Maltin
Frank: The Voice by James Kaplan

If I missed your review, send me a link via the Google form, e-mail or on social!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

2016 Summer Reading Challenge - First Round-Up

Silents and Talkies - Summer Reading Photo
Arrietty checks out Kate's summer reading stack. Photo courtesy of Silents and Talkies
I'm delightfully overwhelmed by the response to this year's classic film summer reading challenge. Forty people have signed up and we have a wealth of reviews already. Thanks so much to everyone who has participated so far.

Check out what the participants have been reading:

Bernardo of The Movie Rat
Character Actors in Horror and Science Fiction Films, 1930-1960 by Laurence Raw

Christina S.
Three Weeks by Elinor Glyn
Charles Walters: The Director Who Made Hollywood Dance by Brent Phillips
Women I've Undressed by Orry-Kelly
Edmund Goulding's Dark Victory: Hollywood's Genius Bad Boy by Matthew Kennedy
Alma Rubens, Silent Snowbird: Her Complete 1930 Memoir by Alma Rubens

Erin B.
Bendigo Art Gallery & Twentieth Century Fox Present Marilyn Monroe
Natalie Wood by Rebecca Sullivan
Double Feature by Terence Stamp

Grezilda of Doesn't She Ramble
Åke Lindman: Åke ja hänen maailmansa
Divided Heaven by Christa Wolf

Audrey and Givenchy: A Fashion Love Affair by Cindy de la Hoz

Java's Journey
You Must Remember This by Robert Wagner

Jennifer T. of Always Classic
A Rose for Mrs. Miniver: The Life of Greer Garson by Michael Troyan

Kate Gabrielle of Silents and Talkies
City Lights (BFI) by Charles Maland
More about her summer reading books as seen in the photo above.

Laura of Laura's Miscellaneous Musings
Hollywood Celebrates the Holidays: 1920-1970 by Karie Bible and Mary Mallory

Lindsey of The Motion Pictures
Scarlett O'Hara's Younger Sister by Evelyn Keyes
Laughing the Dark by Ted Sennett

Marya G.
Zachary Scott: Hollywood's Sophisticated Cad by Ronald L. Davis
Joan Crawford by Stephen Harvey
Butterfield 8 by John O'Hara

Phyllis of Phyllis Loves Classic Movies
Hollywood Legends as Fashion Icons by Patty Fox

Raquel of Out of the Past: A Classic Film Blog
The First King of Hollywood: The Life of Douglas Fairbanks by Tracey Goessel

Rich of Wide Screen World
The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett

Vanessa B.
Garbo: A Portrait by Alexander Walker
Cagney by Cagney
The Cinema Legacy of Frank Sinatra by David Wills
Marlene by C.W. Gortner

If I missed your review, make sure you added it to the review form. Full details are on the challenge home page.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Who I Met, Who I Saw and My Thoughts on the 2016 TCM Classic Film Festival

Me on the red carpet

My fourth TCMFF was by far my best. I really pushed myself to do things outside of my comfort zone like filming with TCM and doing red carpet interviews. I also gave myself a lot more wiggle room in my schedule which allowed for more sleeping and eating. Our hotel was close by which made things a lot easier. It was a good balance and for once I didn't get sick at the festival. I had great social interactions, saw lots of interesting people and went to some amazing screenings. 2016 TCMFF gets a big thumbs up from me.

My thoughts:

I had luck on my side because I got into everything I wanted to and only ended up skipping two events on Sunday. Overall this was fantastic considering how much I had to miss last year. If I go again next year I'll make sure not to skip movies just to get in line for something else. It's really not worth it. I regret not going to the midnight screenings of Roar and Gog which seemed to benefit from a social experience unlike other festival screenings. I watched Roar on my own and it just wasn't the same.

The special guests were a delightful mix of stars and personalities including several former child actors. This festival fest very intimate because of the additional access I got. The highlights for me were interviewing Gina Lollobrigida and Darry Hickman and several others, taking a selfie with Carl Reiner, flirting with Norman Lloyd, meeting Lillian Michelson and chatting with director Bruce Brown.

The social aspect was mixed. I had a blast hanging out with my social media friends and meeting a few folks for the first time. Passholders were more aggressive this time around. There was lots of bad theater behavior. The TCM volunteers were great and kept everything in order. I had fun chatting with a couple of them.

I do wonder about the social culture of the festival overall. Bloggers and social media folks already have a built-in network of people to socialize with. What about everyone else? Do they stick to their festival partner or go at it alone? Is the festival a lonely experience for some? When you're in line with a couple hundred other passholders, chances are you'll strike up a conversation with someone else orr you wait in line with your friends. Is being in the VIP/spotlight line different because you don't line up for as long and there are fewer people there with you? 

I love the theme of moving pictures and the sub-themes too (sports movies, discoveries, religious movies, etc.). Discovery seemed to be a big hit at the festival and many people prioritized seeing 35mm film over DCP. The pre-code Double Harness got sold out twice which didn't surprise some but did surprise me. This is a film that's been available in full and for free on TCM's website for years (they took it down some time ago). I guess you can never underestimate the draw of pre-codes and William Powell! I was disappointed that TCM programmed the Harold and Lillian documentary in a difficult time slot. They should have put it on Sunday or an early morning screening.

I made a point of spending more time at the closing night party and I'm so glad I did. I had such a fun time and got to see a lot of people. Our post-party In-N-Out burger jaunt was a blast.

New-to-me films I saw at the festival included Los Tallos Amargos (1956), Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1982), Pleasure Cruise (1933), several Vitaphone shorts and Band of Outsiders (1964).

Films I've seen before included Tea and Sympathy (1956), The Manchurian Candidate (1962), The Beau Brummels (1928), Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story (2015), Endless Summer (1966) and Network (1976).

Ben Mankiewicz had a big role to play at the festival and I thought he did a fantastic job. I wish Osborne's not being there would have been addressed in some way because his absence was definitely the elephant in the room.

Kudos to TCM for hosting 7 book signings and partnering with Larry Edmunds Bookshop. The lobby interviews were missed. I hope they bring them back next year. I didn't find anything I wanted in the TCM boutique but was more than happy just to buy a bunch of books instead.

Remember when I talked about my top 5 picks for TCMFF? Here is my follow-up video:

Now on to who I saw at TCMFF:

Jessica and Me. The festival just wouldn't be the same without her.

Me and Danny
Me and Jill
Millie, Kate and me

Daniel and me

Jackie and me

Sabina and me
Me and Casey (we kinda match)

Casey, Kate, Millie, Lindsay, KC, Laura and me

Warner Archive's Matt Patterson on the red carpet. AKA best TCMFF photo ever. Photo credit: Jessica. 

Kate, Sabina, Angela, Raquel, Danny Jessica, Kristen,
Lindsay, Nikki, Millie, Pete, Carlos, Jill, Casey, KC, Kim and Matt

Special Guests:
Alec Baldwin
Peter Bogdanovich
Bruce Brown
Francis Ford Coppola
Danny DeVito
Illeana Douglas
Faye Dunaway
Darryl Hickman
Anna Karina
Chris Lemmon
Norman Lloyd
Gina Lollobrigida
Leonard Maltin
Lillian Michelson
Eddie Muller
Margaret O'Brien
Sr. Rose Pacatte
Daniel Raim
Jennifer Raim
Carl Reiner
and more

TCM Staff: Ben Mankiewicz, Charlie Tabesh, Jennifer Dorian, Genevieve McGillicuddy, Scott McGee, Sean Cameron, David Byrne, Chuck Moore, Coleman Breland, Marya Gates, Noralil Fores and many more. These people are rock stars.

Friends and Bloggers
Anne Marie of Classic Movie Hub
Aurora of Aurora's Gin Joint
Beth of Spellbound by Movies
Carrie of Classic Film Fan
Casey of Noir Girl
Chris of Blog of the Darned
Daniel of Movie Mania Madness
Danny of
Diane of Classic Movie Blog
Eric of Classic Era Movies
Jackie aka @Jaxbra
Jay of The James Bond Social Media Project
Jessica of Comet Over Hollywood
Jill of The Retro Set
Jocelyn of Classic Film Observations and Obsessions
Joel of TCM Party
Karen of Shadows and Satin
Kate Gabrielle of Silents and Talkies
Kellee of Outspoken and Freckled
and her husband Gary!
KC of Classic Movie Blog
Kim of I See a Dark Theater
Kristen of Journey in Classic Film
Kristina of Speakeasy
Lara of Backlots
Laura of Laura's Miscellaneous Musings
Lindsay of Lindsay's Movie Musings
Lou of New York Post
Marya of TCM
Matt of Warner Archive
Millie of Classic Forever
Nikki of A Midwest Blog
Nora of Nitrate Diva
Noralil of TCM
Pam aka @fallonthornley
Paula of TCM Party
Robby of Dear Old Hollywood
Sabina AKA @SabinaStent 
Stephen of Classic Movie Man
Will of Cinematically Insane
and more.

Drop me a line if I missed adding you to my lists. Hope you enjoyed my recaps. Stay tuned for more detailed posts about individual events!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

TCM Classic Film Festival: Day #6 Recap

Raquel Stecher at the 2016 TCM Classic Film Festival
Raquel at the 2016 TCM Classic Film Festival
By Sunday morning I was really exhausted. I always try to keep my Sunday TCMFF schedule pretty light to conserve my energy. By the end of the festival I was also sick of festival-goers misbehaving. Smelly people leaning on me, people using their tablets, phones and cameras in disruptive ways, seat kicking, post-interview evacuations and rude people trying to save front row seats at Club TCM. Knowing that the Spotlight and Essential passes sold out in 14 minutes, it's inevitable that more aggressive types make it to the festival.  There seemed to be more VIPs this year too which made for some uncomfortable situations. There is already a bit of a class system at TCMFF but it was more prominent this year than previous years. With all that said, it's really difficult to complain when this was the best festival of the four I attended. I had been very lucky this time around. And best of all, I didn't get sick!

I sacrificed going to Holiday in Spain at the Cinerama Dome (shown with Smell-O-Vision!) to have breakfast with by Robby of Dear Old Hollywood and his lovely family. 

Me and Carlos with Robby, Zinnia and their daughters

Then I met Noralil and Marya of TCM and Jessica of Comet Over Hollywood for a chat. This social time was worth sacrificing a few screenings. The biggest draw of TCMFF for me is the opportunity to socialize with friends who share my passion for classic film and live far away from me. This is my one chance to see them.

Jessica, me, Noralil and Marya

The first event I went to was The Art of the Film Score: Creating Memories in the Movies presented by composer Michael Giacchino. I won't lie. I went to this as an excuse to camp out at Club TCM for a good seat for Conversation with Gina Lollobrigida which was immediately after. It proved to be a really good presentation and I'm glad I attended. I know next to nothing about music in film so it was definitely an education. It was interesting to learn how music can alter an audience's reaction to particular scenes.

Club TCM in the Blossom Room

After several issues getting seats for the Conversation with Gina Lollobrigida, I managed to get a spot. I should have stood towards the back because the seating area was not ideal. If you weren't towards the front, you couldn't see Lollobrigida at all. I hope TCM considers elevating the stage so more people can see. Lollobrigida is a fascinating woman and Leonard Maltin's interview with her did not disappoint. More on that soon.

Gina Lollobrigida showing us her portraits of Fidel Castro

I was going to see The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming (1966) but didn't feel like sitting in a crowded theater. I opted instead for a meal at the historic Pig N Whistle restaurant and spent some time at Larry Edmunds Bookshop chatting with the Jeff and Sean.

 I met Jill and her friend Sean in front of the Egyptian before the screening of Network (1976). I got to spend much more time with Jill this year and for that I'm truly grateful. I also met up with Angela, Jessica and some others (sorry if I forgot you!). I was telling folks how Robert Mitchum's grandson Bentley once told me that my husband Carlos looked like Kevin Spacey. Ever since then I cannot unsee the resemblance. Jessica took this funny Snapchat while we were waiting to get in. It was inspired by my comment and my series "Carlos hates Snapchat".

Snapchat by Jessica

Next up was Network (1976) with special guest Faye Dunaway. When Burt Reynolds couldn't make it to the festival, TCM recovered well by adding Dunaway to the roster. I was already planning to see Network so having Dunaway there was icing on the cake. Ben Mankiewicz interviewed her before the screening before an almost packed house. I was surprised how many laughs the film got. I've always been more traumatized than amused by this movie. Some see it as a dark comedy, others as an eery prediction of things to come. I probably won't do an in-depth post on this one because I have so many other posts to work on. But if I find some time and energy to do so I'll report back here.

Ben Mankiewicz and Faye Dunaway at the TCM Classic Film Festival
Ben Mankiewicz and Faye Dunaway in conversation TCMFF

After Network, we headed to Club TCM for the Closing Night party which is always bitter sweet. I had a couple of expensive glasses of whiskey and got a bit tipsy. I apologize if I said anything weird to you at the party. I spent a lot of time during the festival being Kate Gabrielle's make-shift publicist. I talked her up to anyone who would listen. Some folks called her the button girl and I was quick to explain to them that Kate is a very talented artist and she does more than just buttons. Many folks were interested in learning more about her art and said they would check out her website. I hope I drove some future business her way.

My TCMFF bestie Jessica, Ben Mankiewicz, me and my second glass of whiskey

I finally got to officially meet Ben Mankiewicz! I showed him my Ben Mankiewicz Fan Club button and told him that Kate Gabrielle created them. Jessica and I got our picture taken with him (many thanks to Marya for the photo!). Ben is a really sweet guy. Very down-to-earth and friendly. I always try to say hi to him at the festival when I can.

After having lots of great but short conversations at Club TCM we were all booted out to make room for TCM's exclusive staff party. A bunch of us made our way to the In-N-Out burger a few blocks away. This was great. I had a long conversation with Kate about foreign film and we all took this epic selfie thanks to Kate's selfie-stick.

Kate, Sabina, Angela, Raquel, Danny Jessica, Kristen,
Lindsay, Nikki, Millie, Pete, Carlos, Jill, Casey, KC, Kim and Matt
 My husband Carlos ended up being our social coordinator that evening. That's a role usually relegated to me but he stepped in when I was too tipsy to know what was going on. He helped corral us all to go to In-N-Out, saved us seats so we could sit together and helped orchestrate the group selfie. Thank you hun! Carlos has a fabulous time at TCMFF every year and he loves hanging out with my friends. They seem to like him too.

I was sad to leave my friends and I had a good cry in our hotel room afterwards. I love you all. Until next year!

On the Monday after the festival, Carlos and I went with Laura and her husband Doug to visit Matt
and Dan of Warner Archive. We had a nice lunch and the conversation was not nearly long enough. I could have spent hours basking in the warmth of the California sunshine talking about movie business.

Carlos, Raquel, Matt, Dan, Laura and Doug
I hope you enjoyed my TCM Classic Film Festival recaps. Please stay tuned for more festival coverage.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Who I Met, Who I Saw and My Thoughts on the 2015 TCM Classic Film Festival

This year's festival theme was History According to Hollywood but it might as well been something else. My nomination? Stars on the Red Carpet. TCM pulled out the big guns with their line-up of special guests this year. Not only that I got to see even more of my online friends at the festival than the past two years. And to me those friends are stars themselves. 

Here's who I saw at TCMFF 2015.

Friends, bloggers and social media gurus:

Alan of TCM Party
Angela of Hollywood Revue
Ariel of Sinamatic Salve-ation
Aurora of Once Upon a Screen...
Carley of 
The Black Maria
Casey of Noir Girl

Chris of Blog of the Darned
Christina Rice, author and
Danny of PreCode.Com
Diane of Classic Movie Blog

Elise of The LA Rambler
Emily of The Vintage Cameo
Eric of Classic Era Movies
Jeff of 
TCM Party
Jessica of Comet Over Hollywood and her parents!
Jill of 
The Black Maria
Joel of Joel's Classic Film Passion
K.C. of A Classic Movie Blog

Kaci of Hollywood Time Machine
Karen from The Dark Pages and Shadows and Satin
Kellee of Outspoken & Freckled and her husband!

Kendra of Viv and Larry
Kim of I See a Dark TheaterKristen of Journeys in Classic Film and ClassicFlix
Kristina of Speakeasy
Lara Gabrielle of Backlots
Laura of Laura's Miscellaneous Musings and her husband Doug!
Lindsay of Lindsay's Movie Musings
Marya of #AYearWithWomen
Matt from Warner Archive
Nora of The Nitrate Diva and her mother Colleen
Paula of TCM Party and Cinema Detroit
Robby of Dear Old Hollywood

Stephen of Classic Movie Man
Trevor of TCM Party

Vincent of Carole & Co 
Wade of The Black Maria
Will of Cinematically Insane
and more...

If I forgot you, I apologize! I'm happy to add anyone I missed. 

I also met plenty of people in line before events and I ended up having really in-depth and quite lovely conversations with them all. Where else but TCMFF could you strike up a conversation with any stranger in line and immediately bond over shared interests? Everyone I talked to was an absolute pleasure.

Special guests:
Alex Trebek - Jeopardy! (okay not really but TCMFF but still...) and the Plummer Imprint Ceremony
Ann-Margret - Club TCM and The Cincinnati Kid (1965) screening
Anne V. Coates - Red Carpet
Christopher Plummer - Red Carpet and Plummer Imprint Ceremony
Diane Baker - Red Carpet and The Diary of Anne Frank (1959) screening
George Lazenby - On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969) screening
Keith Carradine - Red Carpet
Millie Perkins - The Diary of Anne Frank (1959) screening
Norman Lloyd - Red Carpet, The Reign of Terror (1949) screening, A Conversation with Norman Lloyd filming at the Montalban Theatre. 
Peter Fonda - Red Carpet and Club TCM
Robert Morse - Red Carpet
Rory Flynn - Red Carpet and Club TCM
Scott Eyman - Club TCM
Shirley Jones - Club TCM
Shirley MacLaine - Roosevelt Hotel, Club TCM and the Plummer Imprint Ceremony
Sophia Loren - Marriage Italian Style screening
William Shatner - Plummer Imprint Ceremony
Part of the cast of Grease - Red Carpet

TCM staff/rock stars:
Noralil Flores, Ben Mankiewicz, Charlie Tabesh, Genevieve McGillicuddy, Scott McGee, David Byrne, Sean Cameron and more. We missed Robert Osborne!

My thoughts:

This year's festival was fantastic. But not without its problems.

In comparison to the two previous years, this TCMFF excelled in guests and special events where it might have disappointed some in the selection of films. 

TCM had the highest attendance on record this year but the festival still felt very intimate. There was more competition for events which made for a lot of shuffling around figuring out what to do next. I had never been shut out of a screening before but it happened this year. And waiting in line for 2 hours? Not my thing. I could easily do without that.

The execution was still very good. Few events started late and there weren't many projection issues from what I heard. The volunteers do a great job handling the lines and the social media producers often kept us entertained with photo ops, quizzes and other opportunities to earn buttons. The Chinese Multiplex lines are not great, especially when people got out of line after receiving their numbers. Handling lines of people is no easy task and I commend the TCMFF volunteers for doing what they can to keep order amongst the chaos.

Every single event I went to was amazing. No event was even remotely close to being mediocre; they were all spectacular. In fact I found myself overwhelmed by going from one amazing event straight to another without enough time to bask in the glow of the first one. These are wonderful problems to have.

The social experience at TCMFF is second to none. Classic film fans are one big family. When you arrive at the festival you feel like you found your people. The TCM staff are a friendly bunch and very approachable. I said good morning to Ben Mankiewicz, I thanked Charlie Tabesh, I met Scott McGee, I chatted with David Byrne and Sean Cameron and Jessica and I had a great talk with Noralil. TCM embraces their fans with open arms and you feel like your part of their family.

Thank you to everyone at TCM and all my friends both new and old ones for making the 2015 TCMFF an experience I'll never forget.

Now on to some pictures...

Social Media screen at Club TCM. It was plastered with familiar faces.

Aurora, Laura, myself, KC and Casey at Formosa Cafe

Marya's annual Formosa Cafe get-together

Jill, Jessica, Laura, KC, Doug, Matt and me

Fun fact: I have more TCMFF photos of Jessica than of anyone else.

Well-dressed Angela going old school by snapping away at her disposable camera

Trevor with Casey and Lindsay. I spy Nora in the background.

Trevor had some room for more ladies so Jessica and Marya jumped in.

My partner-in-crime, my husband Carlos.

Anne-Marie, social producer extraordinaire 

Jessica, Nora, myself and KC at the Plummer Imprint Ceremony. We were missing Daniel!

See you at TCMFF 2016!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Missing Reels by Farran Smith Nehme

Missing Reels
by Farran Smith Nehme
The Overlook Press
352 pages - 9781468309270
November 2014

Barnes and Nobble
IndieBound - Your local independent bookstore.

You know her as the Self-Styled Siren and film critic extraordinaire. Now Farran Smith Nehme can add “published novelist” to her resume. Nehme’s debut novel Missing Reels goes on sale in a few weeks but I had the wonderful opportunity of meeting Nehme at Book Expo America earlier this year and received a signed advance readers copy of the book.

The story takes place in late 1980s New York. The heroine, 21-year-old Ceinwen (pronounced kine-wen), works at the vintage clothing shop Vintage Visions. She has two roommates Jim and Talmadge and her free time is consumed with all things classic film. Ceinwen is curious about Miriam, the elderly woman living in her apartment building on Avenue C in New York City. When Ceinwen finds out that Miriam is really actress Miriam Clare, the star of a long lost silent film adaptation of The Mysteries of Udolpho, she’s determined to find out more. She wants to learn everything about Miriam’s short-lived acting career and her tragic romance with director Emil Arnheim. Ceinwen gets an important clue about the existence of a director’s cut of The Mysteries of Udolpho and she becomes hell-bent on finding it. You’d think have the film’s leading lady in the same building would be an asset to Ceinwen. However, Miriam is very suspicious of Ceinwen’s motivations and offer her little help. But Miriam gives her enough information to lead Ceinwen on the chase for the lost film.

Missing Reels is a mystery and Ceinwen is the story’s detective. Her love interest, the brilliant yet romantically unavailable mathematician Matthew, is her sidekick and is integral in helping her solve the mystery of the lost film. The new-person-dynamic of Matthew coming into Ceinwen’s life is crucial to the story. He introduces her to the important people who will guide her in her quest. My favorite character is Harry, an older gentleman and mathematician at NYU where Matthew is doing his postdoc. Harry is the anti-thesis to Miriam, takes a liking to Ceinwen and opens up a lot of opportunities for her. Plus his passion for old movies will endear him to any classic film fan. I love this line from the book: “You had to find another love, if you were a mathematician, or you’d have nothing to talk about with regular people.”

There are two distinct audiences for this book: classic film enthusiasts who will understand Ceinwen’s motivations and get all the movie references and a general audience who will appreciate good story-telling and the mystery elements and might learn a few things about film history. There are a lot of movie references: titles, actors, actresses, directors, studios, etc. Folks not well-versed in film history might complain that they don't recognizes the names and titles that appear throughout the text. But I make the same case as I do with Junot Diaz and his usage of Spanish in his short stories and novels: look up what you don’t understand and maybe you'll learn something.

A note to fans of the Self-Styled Siren blog, look for the the Joan Fontaine reference towards the end of the book. Nehme is a big Fontaine fan and I knew there would be at least one reference to her in the novel.

While many of the movie references are real, the “missing reels” in question are fictional. The Brody Institute for Cinephilia and Preservation (archivists and preservationists), The Mysteries of Udolpho (film), Emil Arnheim (director), Miriam Clare/Gibson (actress), Civitas (film studio), etc. are straight from Nehme’s imagination. When you read the book though, they feel like real people and you’ll have to stop yourself from Googling the Brody Institute.

This novel really speaks to Nehme’s devotion to film preservation. When films become destroyed and lost, we lose part of our history along with them. It’s important to preserve them and to keep looking for the lost ones like Ceinwen did with The Mysteries of Udolpho. I love that nitrate is a plot device in the book. It’s flammability and the risk of deterioration adds an element of drama and urgency to the story.

True classic film enthusiasts will appreciate Ceinwen's obsession with finding the lost silent film. In a time before Turner Classic Movies, the internet, DVD, Blu-Ray, Netflix and pretty much everything else, Ceinwen indulges her passion for old movies by watching them on VHS, live broadcast TV and at repertory houses. Her research is done at universities, archives, institutes, by phone, by mail and in person. There is no IMDb, no Wikipedia, no blogs and no online archives.

One of the things I really love about the novel it demonstrates the way classic films infiltrate our lives. We compare real life events to scenes from movies. We spot resemblances between people in our lives and Hollywood stars of yesteryear or the characters they played. I also was intrigued by how many of the characters in the book pursued their interest in classic film outside of work. Ceinwen’s day job is in the realm of her interests but its in a toxic environment thanks to her horrible boss. Readers might wonder why Ceinwen devotes so much of her free time to finding the lost silent film. She devotes so much time to it it’s almost like a second job. Classic film fans, especially bloggers, will understand Ceinwen’s motivations. Very few of us make a living off of our interest in film history (in fact only a couple of the characters in the book actually do). In many cases, that’s a good thing. We are not bound by the regulations of a company and can pursue our hobby with complete independence. There is no one telling us what to watch or what to study or what to pursue. It’s the ultimate freedom.

Don’t mistake Missing Reels as just being a missive for the love cinema. It can be appreciated as a good work of straight storytelling and a fine mystery.

Kudos to Farran Smith Nehme for writing a wonderful novel that many of us classic film lovers will enjoy.

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