Wednesday, May 20, 2015

2015 Summer Reading Classic Film Book Challenge

I'm very proud to present the 2015 Summer Reading Classic Film Book Challenge! This is the third year in a row I'll be hosting this challenge.

Here are the details:

Runs June 1st to September 1st, 2015
Open internationally!

Sign up for the challenge here.
Read a classic film book
Write a review and post it on your BLOG or Goodreads profile
Submit your review link here.
Repeat until you have read and reviewed 6 books!
Review 6 and be automatically entered to win a prize.

Go to the official summer reading page for full details including rules, entry forms, prize details, a challenge button and more. 

Six books in three months. It's not as difficult as it sounds! Aim for reading two books each month. Don't procrastinate! Keep the two books a month pace or you'll fall behind. You can do it. If you need some help, check out my 10 tips for getting in more classic film reading.

If you want to read fewer than six books, that's okay too! Just set a goal that works for you. You can start reading and reviewing at any time, just make sure your reviews are up by September 1st.

If you do complete six books in the time frame given, you'll be eligible for a prize! I'll randomly select one person to receive the following prize pack:

Depending on the number of challenge finishers, I'll plan on a runner-up prize too. Note the Maltin guide doesn't come out until late September so the prize won't ship until October.

Again, all the details about the challenge are on the dedicated page which can be accessed at the header of this blog. Good luck to all participants!

Monday, May 18, 2015

New & Upcoming Classic Film Books (3)

Get your wallets ready because I have a brand new list of upcoming classic film books. Publication dates for these titles range from June to October 2015.

Are you new to my book lists? Here are the details. Books include biographies, memoirs, scholary texts, coffee table books and more from a variety of publishers. All publication dates are subject to change. Please refer to my last round-up for additional new titles that won’t be on this list.

There are quite a few Sinatra books coming out to celebrate his centennial and even more are due out in November and December.  From this list I’m particularly excited about James Curtis’ book on William Cameron Menzies, James Kaplan’s follow-up book on Sinatra, the updated Maltin guide and the reprint of the original The Night of the Hunter novel!

Did any of these books catch your eye? Tell me in the comments section below.

3rd Edition, Revised
by Leonard Maltin and presented by Turner Classic Movies
864 pages – September 2015
Notable mention!

by Luca Dotti
Harper Design
256 pages – June 2015

Camp Spectacle and Queer Style from the Silent Era to the Modern Day
by Richard A. Lindsay
209 pages – June 2015

by Deborah Cartmell
Bloomsbury Academic
176 pages – July 2015

by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson
with a foreword by Daniel H. Wilson
Vintage Books (PRH)
192 pages – July 2015

by Davis Grubb with a foreword by Julia Keller
Vintage Books (PRH)
272 pages – July 2015

edited by Cynthia Lucia, Roy Grundmann and Arthur Simon
544 pages – August 2015

Conversations with Directors, Actors and Writers of Vintage Action Movies and Television
by Tadhg Taylor
277 pages – August 2015

by Raymond Strait and Lief Henie
Welcome Rain Publishers
340 pages – August 2015

by Paul M. Edwards
277 pages – July 2015

by Michael Mallory
256 pages – September 2015

by Isabella Rossellini and Lothar Schirmer
Chronicle Books
528 pages – September 2015

by Jacqueline Reich
Indiana University Press
400 pages – September 2015

by Robert Sellers
Sidgwick & Jackson Ltd.
400 pages – September 2015

by Carl Rollyson
University Press of Mississippi
304 pages – September 2015

by Keith Elliot Greenberg
Applause Theatre & Cinema Books
288 pages – September 2015

by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac
Pushkin Vertigo
192 pages – September 2015

by Andy Tuohy
224 pages – October 2015

by John L. Williams
272 pages – October 2015

by Karin Wieland and translated by Shelley Frisch
640 pages – October 2015

by Bruce Scivally
Backbeat Books
400 pages – October 2015

by Manoah Bowman with a foreword by Anita Ekberg
Running Press
304 pages - October 2015

by Tracey Goessel
Chicago Review Press
560 pages – October 2015

by John Brady
Thomas Dunne Books
320 pages – October 2015

by Richard A. Lertzman and William J. Birnes
Gallery Books
576 pages – October 2015

by Ian Haydn Smith
Firefly Books
576 pages – October 2015

by Barbara Young
Rowman and Littlefield Publishers
240 pages - October 2015

by Scott Curtis
Columbia University Press
416 pages – October 2015

by Charles Pignone with afterwords by Nancy Sinatra, Frank Sinatra Jr, Tina Sinatra and forewords by Tony Bennett and Steve Wynn
Thames & Hudson
288 pages – October 2015

by James Kaplan
992 pages – October 2015

by Andrew Howick with a foreword by Barbara Sinatra
224 pages – October 2015

by David Lehman
224 pages – October 2015

by Jeffrey Lyons
Abbeville Press
352 pages – October 2015

by Patrick McGilligan
352 pages – October 2015

Coming in November!

by James Curtis
384 pages - November 2015

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Christopher Plummer's Hand and Footprint Ceremony

TCL Chinese Theatre

On a bright and sunny Hollywood morning, a crowd gathered at the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre courtyard for a very special event. Veteran actor Christopher Plummer’s hand and footprints were to be enshrined forever in cement, a tribute to the lasting legacy of Hollywood and the enduring magic of the movies.

Jessica, Nora, me and KC!
This year’s ceremony felt like a reunion of sorts. The same classic film blogger crew was there from last year; Nora of Nitrate Diva, KC of A Classic Movie Blog and Jessica of Comet Over Hollywood. The only person we were missing was Daniel of Celebrity Cafe.

As we waited for the ceremony to start, we watched as friends and family took their seats. Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek, a fellow Canadian and good friend of Christopher Plummer was the first big name to arrive. In fact all the major celebrity guests were Canadian. Christopher Plummer and William Shatner are both from Quebec, Alex Trebek from Ontario and Shirley MacLaine joked that she was part Canadian when she said “[Plummer is] whole Canadian. I’m just half. I’m the top half, not the bottom half.” Americans often forget how many wonderful entertainers hail from the land up north and this event was a good reminder that Canada is an intrinsic part of our entertainment industry.

Alex Trebek arrives for the ceremony
Shirley MacLaine makes her grand entrance
The man of the hour, Christopher Plummer, bearing his signature smile.

William Shatner is ready and caffeinated for his speech.

This event was hosted by the TCL Chinese Theatre and TCM as part of the TCM Classic Film Festival. Robert Osborne usually gives the opening speech at the imprint ceremonies but he was away this year attending to his health. Ben Mankiewicz stepped in and delivered a speech that was dripping with praise for Plummer’s extensive acting career.

Ben Mankiewicz, who was clearly in awe of all of the special guests.

Ben Mankiewicz delivering the opening speech of the event.

Mankiewicz methodically went through all the highlights of Plummer’s various roles over the years. Plummer’s early start consisted of a high school stage production of Pride and Prejudice, he played Mr. Darcy. Mankiewicz went on to say, “since then, Christopher Plummer has enjoyed more than six decades with theater’s and Hollywood’s most respected actors. He has starred in more than 100 movies. Giving some of the signature performances of the last half century.” Plummer has performed in French and English on stage and on radio in Canada. He went on to do dozens of productions on Broadway in New York City and in London’s West End. For his stage work he’s won two Tony Awards and 7 Tony nominations.

Plummer’s transition to Hollywood began with his movie debut in Sidney Lumet’s Stagestruck (1958). He’s still working today with a couple of films currently in production and Elsa & Fred, co-starring Shirley MacLaine, having been released last year. At this year’s festival we were celebrating the 50th anniversary of The Sound of Music (1965) as well as two other Plummer films The Man Who Would Be King (1975) and Malcolm X (1992). Oscars would elude Plummer for years until he finally received his first nomination in 2010 for his role in The Last Station (2009). It wasn’t until 2012 that he won for best supporting actor for his performance in Beginners. His acceptance speech is one of the most charming ones I’ve ever watched. I tend to dislike acceptance speeches but this is a big exception and one I can watch over and over again. If you’ve never seen it, take a moment to watch it here:

Mankiewicz mentioned other important people in Plummer’s life including Plummer’s talented daughter Amanda Plummer and special guests William Shatner and Shirley MacLaine. He went on to say, “TCM is awfully proud to be part of this special day as Christopher’s hand and footprints are enshrined in this magnificent Hollywood setting.”

Shirley MacLaine delivering a heartfelt speech but not forgetting to through in some humor for good measure.

 Up next was actress Shirley MacLaine who happily detailed the long friendship and working career she has shared with Plummer. She peppered her speech with funny anecdotes and jokes. MacLaine credits Plummer with teaching her “how to drink one whole bottle of wine in 15 minutes.” Plummer is supportive of the often quirky MacLaine. He adores her dogs, they regularly have long conversations about deeply personal topics and Plummer has read MacLaine's books and discussed them with her. MacLaine said “he’s really open to the otherness of it all.” She had much praise for Plummer’s one man stage show, A Word or Two, saying “it’s absolutely brilliant that this guy can get up on the stage for two and half hours alone and not miss a beat.” MacLaine’s speech ended with the following:

Shirley MacLaine speaking to Christopher Plummer from the stage.

“Except for all the Jacks I’ve worked with, he’s my favorite screen partner. We have talked and shared many many things together and I will always be grateful for knowing you and working with such an extraordinarily intelligent and sometimes funny partner. I’m here not only to honor that you’re putting your hands and your feet I guess in the cement but I’m here to see how the hell you get up."

William Shatner

Up next was actor William Shatner whose speech was short and to the point. It’s theme: Shatner follows Plummer until they both make it big. Here’s the speech (with some edits):

William Shatner followed in Christopher Plummer's footsteps and now he's here to watch him make footprints in cement.
“Chris... I followed you into the world of Montreal. You were before me, you’re seven years older than I am... I followed you into Canadian radio, CBC in Montreal. We performed in French and English in radio. I followed you... to the Mountain Playhouse in Montreal. I followed you to Ottawa and the Canadian Repertory Theater. I followed you to Toronto where we performed in Canadian radio and won awards... I followed you to New York. I followed to Los Angeles to Hollywood. That means I would follow you anywhere. I WOULD follow you anywhere. But you have to go first. Thank you.“

Christopher Plummer at his imprint ceremony

The man of the hour, Christopher Plummer, delivered a short speech before setting his hand and footprints in cement. He started with some jokes about Shirley MacLaine’s dogs but it quickly turned into a heartfelt and emotional speech. It was clear that Plummer was deeply moved to be honored with this ceremony. As he wiped away a few tears he said,

Christopher Plummer delivering his speech. What an intoxicating smile that man has.
 “I’m immensely, immensely touched that I am part of this glorious history. To Turner Classic Movies I give my sincerest thanks. Please don’t ever stop bringing us joy and enriching our lives as you do. To the TCL Chinese Theatre my eternal gratitude for this amazing stroke of generosity. You’re all living proof that there can never be a future without a past. And lastly to my new found brothers and sisters in arms. My talented new neighbors through life and through death. And those wonderful artists whose grand achievements are forever carved into memory. I promise I won’t spoil the party. Thank you.”

Could someone please give Christopher Plummer an award for best acceptance and ceremony speeches? Because he deserves one. Plummer’s speech made me realize something. The art of speech, the vocal training, the fine tuned language, the poetry and beauty of it all is slipping away from us. Is this something we need to preserve or is this something that will fall away as our culture evolves and changes?

Christopher Plummer setting his footprints in cement.
After Plummer’s eloquent speech, it was time for the grand moment. First were the hand prints and then the footprints.Then it was time to pose for pictures.

Alex Trebek, Shirley MacLaine, Christopher Plummer and William Shatner
Christopher Plummer's hand and footprints before the cement hardened.

Plummer wrote his name in the cement but forgot to put the date. It was Friday March 27th, 2015 but I wonder if future generations will look at the imprints and ponder the date they were made. Or if Plummer’s hand and footprints will be timeless in more ways than one.

Self-portrait, i.e. proof I was there.

Thank you so much to TCM for allowing me special access to cover this wonderful event!

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