TCM Fest Diary: Day 1

This post summarizes the events of my first full day at the 2014 TCM Classic Film Festival on Thursday, April 10. Check out my introductory post about the festival here.

Ok, so I’m already contradicting myself with the title of this post, but for me, the festival actually began a day before “Day 1,” on Wednesday, when I attended two of the pre-opening night parties. Although not an official part of the Fest, these were an important part of the process for me, as many of the blogs that I’ve come to known and love don’t use a personal photo for their Twitter feeds or bios, so often times I have no idea who this person is whom I’ve been interacting with for so long—I know they’re funny and quick and love Robert Taylor, but none of the biographical details people usually lead with in real life. So, meeting people in person, and getting to connect face to name to blog was a real thrill, and everyone I met was completely kind and charming, even though at times I felt a bit like the new kid in class. Continue Reading →


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James Stewart in Born to Dance (1936)

Before Vertigo, before The Philadelphia Story, and before Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, James Stewart was, like so many actors of the time, an MGM contract player, toiling away in quickly churned-out comedies and romances for $350 a week.  Though he’d ultimately garner more acclaim for his later dramatic roles, Stewart also appeared in a handful of musicals in these early days—sometimes in smaller supporting roles, like as the fugitive brother in Rose Marie—but MGM was also testing him out as a leading man, harnessing his talents in musical features like Born to Dance. It’s a bit of a strange situation seeing Stewart hoofing it and belting out Cole Porter tunes, but with a cast that also includes Eleanor Powell, Una Merkel, and Buddy Ebsen, it’s a fun flick—albeit, perhaps, indicative of why Stewart didn’t ultimately pan out as a musical star. Continue Reading →


(Photo by John Sciulli/WireImage)

TCM Fest Diary: The Big Picture

Well, I’m sadly back in the “real world” after four days of classic films and fun, thanks to the TCM Film Festival in Hollywood, California. This was the fifth year of the festival, which celebrates all things classic, and was leading up to the 20th anniversary of the channel, so there were a lot of fun surprises and celebrations to be had. Throughout (hopefully) today/this week, I’ll be posting my “diary” entries for each day of the fest. They’re a bit late, perhaps to the point that they’re no longer relevant… but I’m doing them anyway! I’m starting here with my general impressions of the festival, to give some background if you’ve never been to the festival, as well as some feelings and tips for myself to remember should I be able to return in coming years. Continue Reading →


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Jerry Lewis Honored at Chinese Theatre

After what seemed to be an excessively long wait considering his lengthy career, comedy icon Jerry Lewis was honored today with a cement imprint in the courtyard of the TCL Chinese Theater (née Grauman), where his newly pressed hand and footprints will join the likes of everyone from Joe E. Brown to Marilyn Monroe. The short ceremony, held in the shadow of the famous Chinese facade, featured introductions from TCM’s own Robert Osborne and director Quentin Tarantino, who expressed an entire generation’s worth of respect for the star.  Lewis took the stage last, sharp as ever, cracking loving jokes at the expense of the staff, fans, and photographers, and getting his hands and feet caked in cement for the sake of Hollywood immortality. He was also a special hero for the crowd of mostly fans in the bleacher area, repeatedly asking his personal friends in the front rows to sit down so the adoring crowd could see him. What a guy! Continue Reading →


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Gloria Swanson: After Sunset

When Patricia at Caftan Woman posed the idea of the Diamonds and Gold blogathon, my immediate thought was to cover Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard, as it’s one of the meatiest roles ever for a woman “of a certain age” in classic film, and one of my favorite and most endlessly rewatched films. However, when I realized I couldn’t quite place anything Swanson had done after that film in my memory, and saw that there weren’t a ton of quantifiable entries in the all-knowing eyes of IMDb, I became a bit concerned that she had embodied her performance as the misanthropic Norma Desmond a little too fully, and that I’d have to write an epilogue about how she’d frittered away the rest of her life unhappily attempting to further pursue an acting career. A bit more research revealed, though, that that worrisome scenario was far from the actual case. Despite not appearing in many more films after Sunset, Swanson lived in an incredibly full life throughout her 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s, and was a fascinatingly unique, well-rounded woman all the way up to the end. Continue Reading →


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Take Me Out to the Ball Game (1949)

Baseball’s back in full swing, and as part of Forgotten Films‘ baseball blogathon, I’ve chosen to cover a very fun baseball movie that, admittedly, is perhaps not the most stellar example of actual gameplay: 1949′s Take Me Out to the Ball Game. It’s a fun, somewhat historical counterpoint to many baseball movies that choose to focus on real ball players or, you know, real ball games. But no matter, because what this one may lack in authenticity of sport, it more than makes up for in movie musical cred: it’s directed by Busby Berkeley, produced by Arthur Freed, with a story by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, and choreography by Gene himself. It’s also one of three glorious instances where we see Gene teamed up with Frank Sinatra, so, really, there’s not too much to complain about. Continue Reading →


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The Fleet’s In (1942)

There’s something so inherently charming about the classic, sailor musical. For the American public, World War 2 had become such a part of their daily lives that it even began to infiltrate the typically happy world of musicals. It’s a subgenre that’s essentially impossible to recreate at any other moment in history—they’re inherently of their time, and I love the sweet kind of optimism and escapism that typically exist, despite the aspects of reality encroaching in. TCM focused on a specific subset of “sailors on leave” pictures a few nights ago, and I caught one that I had never seen: The Fleet’s In, starring Dorothy Lamour and William Holden. Continue Reading →


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Rare Musicals on TCM: April 2014

There are some nice treats this month on TCM, musical-wise, including some fantastic mainstream stuff both on TCM’s “Essential” birthday celebration (April 14), as well as a full two days celebrating MGM’s 90th anniversary (April 17-18). On the more obscure side, the programming also includes some rare treats featuring stars like Eleanor Powell, Nelson Eddy, Donald O’Connor, Leslie Caron, and more. For my That’s Entertainment-ing purposes, I’m also pleased to see Rosalie will be airing this month, as it’s one of the few remaining titles I’ve yet to track down. Continue Reading →


Nobody does "disgruntled citizen" quite like Keaton

Buster Keaton on “The Twilight Zone”

Looking back with the benefit of a half-century’s worth of media history, the original run of The Twilight Zone seems like it was a breeding ground for soon-to-be-famous stars: it featured early-career appearances from actors like Robert Duvall, William Shatner, Martin Landau, and many more. But The Twilight Zone also provided a home for well-established film actors to do something a little different than their typical bread-and-butter movie roles. That’s certainly the case for a Season 3 episode called “Once Upon a Time,” which aired in 1961 and starred one of silent film’s greatest stars: Buster Keaton. Continue Reading →


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Sleuthathon: The Thin Man (1934)

The Thin Man is one of cinema’s most enduring and beloved series, stemming from Dashiell Hemmett’s original novel from 1934. The delightful film series would ultimately span six movies, from 1934 to 1947, and starred William Powell and Myrna Loy as Nick and Nora Charles, and, of course, canine actor Skippy as their dog Asta. Though I could write endless words on Nick and Nora’s witty repartee, this post is written in the context of Movies Silently‘s very clever Sleuthathon blogathon, so I’ll focus specifically on the detective story—and the detective—we see depicted in the first film in the series, The Thin Man. Continue Reading →