Wednesday, May 04, 2016

The 2016 TCM Classic Film Festival: Day One

The 2016 TCM Classic Film Festival officially got underway on Thursday, April 28th, but I arrived in Hollywood on the 27th for a full day of festival-related events.

Originally rain had been forecast for the weekend, but it was a beautiful day in Hollywood:

I started off Wednesday at TCM headquarters at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel...

...where I picked up my media credential.

There was a very nice gift bag which included a membership to the new TCM Backlot club, which I'll be reporting on later; a bottle of Francis Ford Coppola's Cafe Zoetrope Merlot; and Jeremy Arnold's attractive new book for TCM, THE ESSENTIALS: 52 MUST-SEE MOVIES AND WHY THEY MATTER. I later saw Arnold introducing a couple of the weekend's movies.

The 2016 program guide:

After lunch it was time for the annual TCM press conference, featuring TCM's head programmer, Charlie Tabesh...

...and (left to right) TCM General Manager Jennifer Dorian, host Ben Mankiewicz, and festival director Genevieve McGillicuddy.

The press conference is always an interesting peek into the current state of TCM. Some of the information gleaned:

*They would most like to have Doris Day as a guest but believe it's very unlikely at this point.

*Sidney Poitier is also a sought-after guest.

*The number of festival attendees was projected at 26,000, a total I found surprising; it includes those who purchase standby tickets to single screenings. I'd love to get more data on this in the future.

*Festival passes sold more quickly this year, with the high-end Spotlight and Essential passes for this year's festival selling out in 14 minutes. There are no current plans to add more screenings or passes; they want to be very careful with growth.

*On the ever-contentious question of showing 35mm vs. digital, Tabesh said that the "reality" is that the studios want them to show their digital restorations, and a beautiful digital print is often a better experience than 35mm. McGillicuddy added that if they only showed one format, it would hamper what they could show. (While I have not yet taken the time to compare this year's program guide with past festivals, I believe the number of 35mm screenings was reduced this year. One-third of the 15 films I saw were in 35mm.)

*Tabesh also said that now that the festival is established, studios are interested in having their restorations ready for the festival as a way to "launch" and call attention to new prints.

*In terms of titles shown, Tabesh said "nothing is off the table" to be shown at the fest. For instance, there's "not a limit" for foreign language films, although he acknowledges that attendees mostly come for "classic Hollywood." (During the weekend I heard reports of some "newer" films such as ROCKY and CINEMA PARADISO being relatively lightly attended; it would be interesting to get a look at all those numbers, as well as to see whether they inform next year's programming decisions.)

*TCM has looked into a screening at the Hollywood Bowl during the festival but not been able to make the calendar work.

I'll be sharing press conference information on the new TCM Backlot fan club and FilmStruck streaming service in a separate post.

For additional information on the press conference, please visit Raquel's coverage at Out of the Past.

I had reconnected with several longtime blogging friends at the press conference, after which we said hello to even more friends at a poolside "early bird" party at the Hollywood Roosevelt.

Later that evening a number of us enjoyed a relaxed, convivial meal together at Miceli's. After dinner I called it a night at that point; being a bit tired after all my recent commuting to the Noir City Film Festival, I decided to forego a post-dinner trip to the Formosa Cafe this year in favor of resting up at my hotel for the very busy next four days!

As I close this post, here's a roundup of some of the initial festival posts by other bloggers:

"TCMFF 2016 Wrap-Up" by Joel at Joel's Classic Film Passion

"The 2016 TCM Classic Film Festival" by Kristina at Speakeasy

"TCM Classic Film Festival 2016: Day 1 and 2 Recap" by Raquel at Out of the Past

"Highlights From the TCM Classic Film Festival" by Lara at Backlots

"TCMFF 2016: A Brief and Exhausted Summation (With More to Come)" by Kim at I See a Dark Theater

"Queen of Hearts (and Diamonds): Angela Lansbury Remembers the Manchurian Candidate at the TCM Classic Film Festival" by Nora at The Nitrate Diva

"TCMFF Part 1 and Part 2" by Kate at Silents and Talkies

"The 2016 Turner Classic Movies Film Festival: Even More Adventures in Paradise - Part 1" by Karen at Shadows and Satin

"Turner Classic Movies Film Festival (TCMFF) 2016 Wrap-Up" by Danny at Pre-Code.Com (lots more links at the top of the post!)

"TCMFF 2016 - Initial Wrapup" by Chris at Blog of the Darned

"The TCM Festival 2016: The Hollywood Experience" by Mike at Mike's Take on the Movies

2016 Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival Opens on May 12th

The Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival opens in Palm Springs, California, on May 12, 2016.

The festival will run through Sunday, May 15th. All films are shown at the Camelot Theatres.

I attended for the first time last year, and it was one of my all-time favorite festival experiences, combining plenty of great movies with a relaxed and congenial atmosphere.

Alas, I'm unable to attend this year, but it's for the best of reasons -- our son is graduating from Northern Arizona University that weekend!

I'll definitely hope to return in 2017, but in the meantime I want to encourage my readers to attend a terrific film noir festival with some very special guests.

The festival will kick off on the 12th with Joan Crawford, Jack Palance, and Bruce Bennett in a world premiere restoration of SUDDEN FEAR (1952). Yes, I'm jealous! I've never seen SUDDEN FEAR; hopefully this new print will later play at UCLA or the Egyptian.

Friday's movies are RED LIGHT (1949) with George Raft and Virginia Mayo; INTRUDER IN THE DUST (1949) with star Claude Jarman Jr. in attendance; a newly restored 35mm print of THE ACCUSED (1949) with Loretta Young and Robert Cummings; and the classic Rita Hayworth-Glenn Ford film GILDA (1946). (Click any hyperlinked title for past reviews.)

On Saturday, May 14th, attendees can look forward to Richard Carlson and Nancy Kelly in Robert Siodmak's FLY-BY-NIGHT (1942); Robert Cummings and Arlene Dahl in the classic "French Revolution noir" REIGN OF TERROR (1949), with William Cameron Menzies biographer James Curtis in attendance; Richard Basehart in the very enjoyable OUTSIDE THE WALL (1950); and Jean Peters, Joseph Cotten, and Marilyn Monroe in NIAGARA (1953).

Three films will play on the final day of the festival: one of my all-time favorites, THE HUNTED (1948), starring Preston Foster and Belita; DRAGNET (1954) with cast member Ann Robinson in attendance; and the classic WHITE HEAT (1949), starring James Cagney, Virginia Mayo, Edmond O'Brien, and Steve Cochran.

I highly recommend attending! A great time is guaranteed.

For more information on the Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival, including purchasing tickets, please visit the official festival website.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

The 2016 TCM Classic Film Festival in Review

After months of anticipation, it's hard to believe that the 2016 TCM Classic Film Festival is now over!

The festival drew to its close Sunday evening, wrapping up a truly remarkable long weekend filled with memorable experiences.

There are so many things happening simultaneously at the festival that I wish I could do it all over again, choosing some of the marvelous things I had to regretfully leave off my schedule. Lou Lumenick and Leonard Maltin provide an overview of just a small fraction of the options available at this year's festival.

Robert Osborne was again greatly missed, but TCM assembled a very fine group to introduce the films; along with TCM host Ben Mankiewicz, this year's presenters included Eddie Muller, Illeana Douglas, Leonard Maltin, William Joyce, and Jeremy Arnold.

One of the most insightful intros of the festival was provided by actress-filmmaker Bonnie Hunt, who spoke eloquently on the magic of Claudette Colbert and MIDNIGHT (1939). I was particularly moved when Hunt recounted sharing a VHS tape of MIDNIGHT to cheer patients when working in her prior career as an oncology nurse.

This year I saw 15 films, a tie with 2014; 2015 remains my top viewing year, with 16 titles. Brand-new films and personal repeats were roughly split; seven of the films were first-time viewings, while I'd seen eight of the movies before. However, a couple of the "repeat" titles I hadn't seen for a very long time -- in fact, I hadn't seen one since I was a teenager -- so they still felt new.

The movies seen were a diverse group which included pre-Codes, a Western, film noir, sci-fi, a musical, a Christmas perennial, Disney classics, screwball comedy, romantic melodrama, and a British film. About all that was missing was a silent film; hopefully I'll see one at next year's festival!

I saw the majority of my original picks, although sellouts and the reality of schedule constraints caused me to make some modifications. However, I'm sure I was just as happy with last-minute schedule additions such as HE RAN ALL THE WAY (1951) and IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946) as I would have been with the original choices!

One-third of the films were viewed in 35mm, which is interesting, as roughly one-third of the films shown at this year's festival were in 35mm. The ten digital prints included SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON (1949), which I saw in 35mm six months ago.

The very best part of the festival continues to be the chance to reconnect with friends from the classic film blogging and Twitter community, who come together at TCMFF each year from across the country -- indeed, the world!

This annual reunion brings together people of varied ages and backgrounds, all united by our deep love and appreciation of classic films. It's safe to say that with every passing year we all value the chance to spend this special time together more deeply. It continues to be a very happy, joyful occasion.

As far as movies, my single favorite experience of this year's festival was a screening of BAMBI (1942), which I have shied away from watching in the past; in fact, BAMBI might have been my all-time favorite festival experience.

The film was preceded by an exceptionally moving talk with Donnie Dunagan, who was the voice of Bambi as a child; his eloquence had the audience in tears before the movie ever began! The exquisite beauty of the movie found my eyes misting more than once. I'll be writing more about BAMBI at a future date.

I'll be following my usual practice of providing an overview of each day of the festival, interspersed with individual posts on some of the films seen which have not been reviewed here previously.

As I've done in years past, as my posts go up I will add each link to the bottom of this introductory overview, so that all of this year's festival coverage may be easily found in one place.

TCM also broke big news during festival week, the upcoming launch of their new streaming service FilmStruck and the brand-new TCM Backlot fan club, which appears in some ways to be emulating Disney's D23 fan club. I'll be reporting on both ventures in the coming days, as time permits.

I also have a number of non-festival posts coming soon, some of which I previewed before the festival.

TCM 2016 Festival Posts: The 2016 TCM Classic Film Festival: Day One.

Previously reviewed films seen at the 2016 TCM Classic Film Festival: REPEAT PERFORMANCE (1947), THE WAR OF THE WORLDS (1953), MIDNIGHT (1939), ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS (1955), and SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON (1949).

Previous 2016 Coverage: TCM Announces 2016 Festival Dates and Theme (August 28, 2015); TCM Classic Film Festival Announcements (November 17, 2015); The Latest TCM Classic Film Festival Announcements (February 2, 2016); The 2016 TCM Classic Film Festival Schedule; Coming Soon!

Roundups containing all links to past festival coverage: The 2013 TCM Classic Film Festival in Review, The 2014 TCM Classic Film Festival in Review, and The 2015 TCM Classic Film Festival in Review.

Friday, April 29, 2016

TCM in May: Highlights

April has flown by and before we know it, it will be summertime!

First, though, it's time for a look at the May schedule on Turner Classic Movies!

Right off the top, a reminder that the TCM Classic Film Festival runs through Sunday, May 1st. Tune in throughout the weekend for interviews and other festival coverage in between the movies! (Update: It was announced during the festival that interviews would not be recorded this year to play during the weekend on TCM.)

The TCM Star of the Month is Robert Ryan. Over three dozen Ryan films will be shown on Fridays in May, beginning on May 6th; in a break from TCM's typical pattern with Star of the Month films, the movies will air starting during daytime hours and continuing into prime time. I'll be sharing more about this month's Robert Ryan movies in a separate post prior to the 6th.

The TCM Spotlight will focus on American International Pictures each Thursday evening in May.

TCM's traditional Memorial Day Weekend war movie marathon takes place May 27th through 30th. It includes THE LONGEST DAY (1962) with Robert Mitchum, seen above.

Below are just a handful of this month's highlights; click on any hyperlinked title to read the related review.

...One of the first films showing in May is the excellent film noir THE BIG CLOCK (1948), starring Ray Milland, Charles Laughton, and Maureen O'Sullivan. The deep cast also includes Rita Johnson, Harry Morgan, and Elsa Lanchester, who provides some very funny comic relief. This taut film, directed by John Farrow, also boasts some great set design. It was a treat to revisit it last year at the Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival. THE BIG CLOCK airs early on May 1st.

...Deanna Durbin's films don't appear on TCM very regularly, as Universal movies are more expensive for TCM to license; so it's a real treat that one of her best-known early films, THREE SMART GIRLS (1936), will be shown on Monday evening, May 2nd. It's being shown as part of a series of films inspired by the documentary CINEMA'S EXILES: FROM HITLER TO HOLLYWOOD (2009). Director Henry Koster, a Jew, fled his native Germany for France after knocking out a Nazi soldier, so the story goes.

...There's more film noir on May 4th, with a showing of the iconic film THE KILLERS (1946). Burt Lancaster, Ava Gardner, Edmond O'Brien...and as I wrote of William Conrad and Charles McGraw, "In their coats and fedoras, they are film noir."

...ALL ABOUT EVE (1950) is a truly great film, with Bette Davis starring as actress Margo Channing and Anne Baxter, in the title role, as the young woman who wants to take over Margo's career. Gary Merrill, Celeste Holm, and George Sanders costar in this terrific movie, directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz. It's showing May 7th.

...The Mother's Day theme on May 8th includes the Jane Powell musicals NANCY GOES TO RIO (1950) and THREE DARING DAUGHTERS (1948), plus the Claudette Colbert version of IMITATION OF LIFE (1934), Joan Crawford in MILDRED PIERCE (1945), and Irene Dunne in I REMEMBER MAMA (1948).

...The daytime theme on May 9th is cowboys, with titles including Tim Holt in DUDE COWBOY (1941) and SIX GUN GOLD (1941) and George O'Brien in LAWLESS VALLEY (1938) and TROUBLE IN SUNDOWN (1939). The O'Brien films were recently released on DVD.

...Fred Astaire was born May 10, 1899, and TCM celebrates by shown eight terrific Astaire films. I'm particularly fond of CAREFREE (1938), a screwball comedy with Ginger Rogers and Ralph Bellamy.

...On May 11th Dick Powell stars in TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH (1948), a tough docu-noir about an opium ring.

...Loretta Young stars in the pre-Code PLAY-GIRL (1932), costarring Loretta's real-life future brother-in-law, Norman Foster. It's on May 13th.

...Every few years I cycle through watching the '30s Warner Bros. musicals choreographed by Busby Berkeley, and I'm about due to watch them again! My favorite might be FOOTLIGHT PARADE (1933), starring James Cagney. You just can't beat "By a Waterfall" for brilliantly insane excess! It's shown on May 15th.

...I enjoyed THE FALLEN SPARROW (1943) at last year's Noir City Film Festival. It stars John Garfield and a trio of great leading ladies, Maureen O'Hara, Patricia Morison, and Martha O'Driscoll. THE FALLEN SPARROW will be shown May 17th.

...CRISIS (1050) is a really interesting drama, directed by Richard Brooks, starring Cary Grant as a brain surgeon and Jose Ferrer as a dictator with a brain tumor. Since the brain surgeon has a healthy ego of his own, he's more than a match for the dictator demanding his services. It will air on May 19th.

...COVER UP (1949) was a favorite discovery last year; I liked this small-town Christmastime mystery so much I watched it twice! Dennis O'Keefe plays an insurance investigator trying to get to the bottom of the suicide of the most unpopular man in town. Barbara Britton and William Bendix costar. The air date is May 21st.

...On May 23rd Robert Taylor and Richard Widmark star in a John Sturges Western, THE LAW AND JAKE WADE (1958).

...There are a particularly high number of interesting films airing on May 25th. Of those I'd particularly like to recommend GUN GLORY (1957), a very solid Western starring Stewart Granger, Rhonda Fleming, and Chill Wills.

...It's John Wayne's birthday on May 26th, and I'm always happy to have the chance to recommend one of my all-time favorite Wayne films, ANGEL AND THE BADMAN (1947), costarring Gail Russell.

...The Star of the Month and Memorial Day Weekend war movie marathon merge on Friday, May 27th, with the showing of several war films starring Robert Ryan. On May 28th the titles include what might be the best war movie ever made, John Ford's THEY WERE EXPENDABLE (1945). On the 29th the wonderful MISTER ROBERTS (1955), codirected by Ford and Mervyn LeRoy, will be shown; Henry Fonda, James Cagney, William Powell, and Jack Lemmon star. On May 30th the titles include Gary Cooper in SERGEANT YORK (1941).

...The month comes to an end on May 31st with a series of films set in Las Vegas, including PAINTING THE CLOUDS WITH SUNSHINE (1951), MEET ME IN LAS VEGAS (1956), and VIVA LAS VEGAS (1964).

For more on TCM in May, please visit the complete May schedule.

Happy viewing!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Coming Soon!

What a great couple of weeks to be a classic film fan in Southern California!

The 18th Annual Noir City Film Festival wrapped up Sunday evening, and tomorrow the TCM Classic Film Festival gets underway!

I'm heading to Hollywood bright and early this morning for a full day of pre-festival activities, including the annual TCM press conference this afternoon. The press conference will feature Ben Mankiewicz along with several key TCM executives.

The movies start rolling Thursday evening! My tentative picks from the festival schedule may be found in this post.

Please follow me on Twitter for real-time coverage of the movies, the people, and the places which combine to make up the TCM Festival.

Then look for in-depth blog coverage on the festival beginning next week!

For those not fortunate enough to be attending this year's festival, my latest ClassicFlix column has suggestions for programming a "Best of the TCM Classic Film Festival" lineup at home!

Additionally, tune in to Turner Classic Movies throughout the festival for interviews and other festival coverage which is slotted in between the films on the schedule.

My look at TCM's May schedule is set to run at the end of the week, so check back here during the festival for new content!

In addition to extensive coverage of the TCM Classic Film Festival, there's much more ahead here in the weeks to come, including:

*Coverage of the final evening of the Noir City Film Festival

*A look at TCM's May Star of the Month, Robert Ryan

*A visit to Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, the final resting place of many great filmmakers

*A photo tour of Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum on Hollywood Boulevard

*A preview of this year's Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival, being held next month in Palm Springs

*Information on FilmStruck, the new streaming venture from TCM and the Criterion Collection which was announced yesterday

*A preview of the July schedule on Turner Classic Movies


*Numerous Warner Archive DVD and Blu-ray reviews, plus a review of the new Olive Films release of TRY AND GET ME (1950)

*Reviews of the Marvel films THE AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (2015) and the new CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR (2016), which opens May 6th

*And a giant Around the Blogosphere classic film link roundup!

May will be a busy month here at Laura's Miscellaneous Musings, so please check back often!

Update: The 2016 TCM Classic Film Festival in Review.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Tonight's Movie: Deception (1946) at the Noir City Film Festival

Saturday night was an especially epic night at the Noir City Film Festival!

It was a particularly happy night as the festival was attended by several classic film blogging friends who had arrived in town early for the TCM Classic Film Festival. It was wonderful to see Aurora, Annmarie, Kellee, and Christy for the first time in over a year! Christy covered the evening for The Examiner.

The evening was sponsored by the classic film and TV channel getTV. It was revealed at the start of the evening that cards were taped underneath ten seats in the theater, and as it happened, I was sitting in one of those seats! I received a lovely gift bag with a getTV mug, a journal, and a DVD of THE BIG HEAT (1953).

The evening's double bill celebrated actor Paul Henreid, with his daughter Monika Henreid in attendance. She helped to introduce the first movie, DECEPTION (1946), and after the movie she sat down for a Q&A about her father with the Film Noir Foundation's Eddie Muller.

In terms of the movie, over the years I'd heard it was very good and honestly I was expecting a little more from it. A reunion for the leads of NOW VOYAGER (1942), DECEPTION is quite a lengthy talk fest; it's essentially a three-character study in which the actors talk and talk about their problems for 115 minutes.

Bette Davis plays Christine Radcliffe, a pianist who is unexpectedly reunited with her love, cellist Karel Novak (Henreid). Christine believed Karel had died in a Nazi concentration camp, and she is now the mistress of autocratic conductor-composer Alexander Hollenius (Claude Rains).

Instead of leveling with Karel -- after all, she thought he was dead! -- Christine doesn't want the jealous Karel to know she's been in a relationship with Hollenius. She describes Hollenius as a mentor and attempts to pass off the elegant artwork in her apartment as gifts from students. Bit by bit her deceptions grow, one lie leading to another.

Christine and Karel quickly marry, but the never-ending lies she must spin to keep the truth from Karel undermine their marriage, and the nasty, jealous Hollenius doesn't help matters either. Eventually he threatens to crush Karel by telling all.

Although I found the movie somewhat disappointing, there is still some very good stuff in it. One of my favorite things was the way the grandeur of Christine's apartment is gradually revealed. Initially, with the unusual approach of the exterior stairs, we expect she's living in some sort of garrett, especially as she says she's not doing well financially. The apartment is dark so we can't see much of it, and at first it seems fairly simple, though Karel notes with puzzlement the furs hanging in Christine's closet.

Bit by bit, as Christine and Karel move about the apartment and lights are turned on, it's revealed to be a stylish loft apartment, with a large piano, works of art, an elegantly designed bathroom, and a nice kitchen. Like Karel, the audience wonders: How did a struggling pianist afford this?

Another special aspect of the movie is the music, a mixture of classical pieces and compositions by Erich Wolfgang Korngold. Henreid's cello performances were dubbed by Eleanor Slatkin. Monika Henreid revealed that since her father couldn't mimick the more complicated movements accurately enough, a special coat was designed which hid a player sitting behind her father; you see Paul Henreid, but it's someone else's arms playing the cello!

Davis and Henreid believably convey their characters' longing for one another, especially in the early and closing scenes, and Rains is entertaining, with his biting line deliveries.

Ultimately, though, the movie goes on far too long; it's a relief when there's finally some action near the end of the movie, although I found the staging a bit hokey. And then...the characters talk some more!

The movie was directed by Irving Rapper. One of the interesting things that Monika said was that while Rapper was the director, in reality Davis and Henreid were experienced professionals who were essentially directing their own performances. They worked out their characters together, invented bits of business, and so on. (She also shared that it was her father who created the signature cigarette lighting moment in NOW VOYAGER, based on a suggestion by her mother.) She said that Davis was a close friend of her father's and was at their home frequently so she would hear stories about their work.

It was quite enjoyable hearing Monika's stories, and the love and respect she clearly feels for her father came through in her comments. She is working on a documentary on him which has an official Facebook page. Monika is also on Twitter at MEHenreid.

At the right, Monika is greeted before the film by the Film Noir Foundation's Alan K. Rode and getTV's Kimberly Truhler.

The supporting cast includes Benson Fong and John Abbott. Music students in the opening scenes included Richard Erdman, Patricia Barry, and Jane Harker. Bess Flowers once again turns up in an evening gown, as a guest at Christine and Karel's wedding reception.

DECEPTION was filmed in lovely black and white by Ernest Haller.

DECEPTION is available on DVD and VHS. It can be streamed via Amazon Instant Video.

We needed an early night and had to leave before the second film of the evening, HOLLOW TRIUMPH (1948). I reviewed that entertaining movie after seeing it at UCLA in 2014, and I recommend it.