TCM Film Fest 2016: Emotions Run High

gary_tcmff_line_sketchLast week I departed from a ten day stay in Hollywood. A grand adventure of exploring the origins of Old Hollywood- both via site-seeing and serving as a Social Producer for the 2016 Turner Classic Movies Film Festival, which took place April 28-may 1. For us classic cinephile fanatics, this year’s schedule of screenings and events tapped deep into a range of emotions, appropriate to the official theme of Moving Images.

[For a full pictorial review of our discoveries into Old Hollywood, look for my pre and post fest coverage in a post coming soon. My travel companions Aurora @CitizenScreen, Annmarie @ClassicMovieHub and Jeanelle @NebraskaNellie and I spent time with pals Laura of @LauraMiscMovie, her hubby Doug, Elise of @EliseCD and Danny of @Cinephiled for unforgettable forays into site-seeing, off the typical tourist grid. ]

For a second year in a row, I was privileged to be selected to act as a Social Producer for this year’s fest. (Click here for that post.) As such, we SPs conducted a little bit of business, including attending the Press Conference, then set out to enjoy this classic movie marathon. Here are my highlights:

DAY ONE, Thursday 4/28:

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Reunited with actor James Karen after the trivia game win. (We’ve met at Buster Keaton Celebration in Iola, KS in years’ past)

“So You Think You Know The Movies” is a popular trivia game, hosted by Film Forum’s hilarious Bruce Goldstein, held annually at Club TCM. SP and media archivist Ariel Schudson (@ArchivistAriel) gathered up a group of us to form a team or two. And lo and behold, our team won! We each contributed at least one answer but Cinematically Insane’s Will McKinley (@willmckinley) saved the day via classic film trivia world domination in a nail-biting tie-breaker.

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My first screening of the fest began with a punch to the gut. Famed film historian Donald Bogle introduced director of ONE POTATO, TWO POTATO, Larry Peerce. It was a film new to me and its impression will be forever etched in my memory. The ground-breaking film on interracial marriage was simple, thoughtful yet incredibly powerful story that left me in tears. I should note that minutes prior to an emotionally raw and unconventional ending, fire alarms sounded; evacuating the entire TCL Chinese Multiplex. We were able to return to complete our screenings; but for many of us, the unfortunate timing was a pinch of salt in our open wounds of emotion.

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Czar of Noir Eddie Muller/ Photo credit: Getty Images for Turner

My second screening took an Argentinian noir twist in Fernando Ayala’s LOS TALLOS AMARGOS. Another new discovery for me, the Czar of Noir Eddie Muller introduced this rarely seen gem which was restored by UCLA’s Film and Television Archive and partially financed by his Film Noir Foundation with rich cinematography by Ricardo Younis. Knee-deep in fraud and paranoia for profit, a reporter (Carlos Cores) pairs up with a Hungarian expat (Vassili Lambrinos) and unravels down a wicked path in this tale of self-destruction.

DAY TWO, 4/29 :
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The second day started with the sumptious Pre-Code feast with Joseph von Sternberg’s SHANGHAI EXPRESS (1932). For a fashionista like me, this is a high-style feast for the eyes. Marlene Dietrich and Anna May Wong are unparallel visions in this gorgeous print. Author Jeremy Arnold introduced celebrated cinematographer and the director’s son, Nicholas von Sternberg, who contributed fun stories on Ms. Dietrich. A personal favorite, and my husband’s (aka @santaisthinking) first time viewing, this was a major highlight of the fest for both of us.

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Actress Jennifer Grant, daughter of Cary Grant

Like countless others, we were shut out of DOUBLE HARNESS so we headed over to the Roosevelt to catch a glimpse of Illeana Douglas’s (@Illeanarama) book signing, grabbed a bite (you remember food, right?) with friends before heading over to catch Cary Grant’s daughter Jennifer Grant introduce her dad’s rarely seen film, WHEN YOU’RE IN LOVE (1937). This was a silly romcom romp where we’re treated to the “Tennessee Nightingale” Grace Moore and Grant tickling the ivories. As he is my all-time favorite actor, this was a very special must-see!

Next up, we indulged in Bruce Goldstein’s Vaudeville 101, at Club TCM. This was a delightful peek at the history and some examples of the early vaudeville acts. Kept me laughing out loud and a few were snipets of the Vitaphone presentation I attended the next day.

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Actor Alec Baldwin interviews screen and stage legend Angela Lansbury/ Photo credit: Getty Images for Turner

We camped out early in front of Grauman’s TCL Chinese Theater in giddy anticipation to see charming Alec Baldwin introducing John Frankenheimer’s THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE (1962) with special guest, legendary Angela Lansbury. This dark political thriller remains relevant after all these years and while all the performances were terrific, naughty mommy Lansbury is clearly the stand-out. What a thrill to witness how energetic and razor-sharp this stage and screen icon continues to be.

DAY THREE, 4/30:
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The crowds lined up early at the majestic Egyptian venue for my first event on Saturday with Ron Hutchinson’s presentation of the 90th Anniversary of Vitaphone.  As the founder of The Vitaphone Project, Hutchinson offered the packed house with a brief history of when sound was first synchronized with film, then entertained us with a variety of shorts. Captivating songs and hilarious vaudeville routines from George Burns and Gracie Allen, Baby Rose Marie, Shaw and Lee, Molly Picon and others kept the audience in stitches. What a happy way to start the day! Between our loud laughter that morning and the fact that I can’t stop thinking about those shorts, this presentation developed into my favorite one at the fest.
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Eddie Muller introduced David Wyler with our second feature, William Wyler’s A HOUSE DIVIDED (1931). As Muller pointed out, while it is technically a Pre-Code, it has major noir tones thanks to its cinematography and Walter Huston’s acting chops of his intensely dark character. Again, it was a joy to have a member of the director’s own family, who is also a vet of the entertainment industry and an experienced producer, introduce this early talkie on film.

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TCM Wine Club tasting with dear friends… Aurora (L), Theresa (R) and me (C)

After taking quick peeks at both Alec Baldwin’s interview with Elliot Gould at Club TCM and Rita Moreno’s book signing in the Roosevelt lobby, we took a nice break at the TCM Wine Club wine tasting. Situated poolside, this was a welcome and relaxing reprieve from the fast pace of running to screenings and passing out my #TCMFFSP ribbons to enjoy a few moments of crisp and cool Chardonnay. I recommend!

Then, we settled in back at Club TCM for a more casual view into Hollywood history with Hollywood Home Movies. From movie stars at the Beverly Hills Tennis Club to the Nicolas Brothers at The Palace with special guest Tony Nicholas himself in attendance with his family, this was such a fun and intimate presentation.

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Plethora of friends gather for MIDNIGHT screening

I was pleased to end my evening with a 1930s screwball romcom with Bonnie Hunt’s introduction of Mitchell Leisen’s MIDNIGHT (1939). With dream pairing of writers Billy Wilder and Charles Bracket and a cast that included the stunning and witty Claudette Colbert, a young stached Don Ameche, and an animated John Barrymore, they lit up the screen, scene after scene. I also appreciated that Bonnie Hunt joined us in the audience, sitting in a seat close by to our large group and laughed equally as hard and loudly as we did. Big props to you, Ms. Hunt!

DAY FOUR, 5/1:

I chose to sleep in a bit instead of being included the many who were turned away from DOUBLE HARNESS a second time. Instead, we camped out early to grab a good positioning for Charlie Chaplin’s THE KID (1921). Chaplin’s first feature as director, star, writer and producer, this premiere restoration was a compelling and emotional experience, further enhanced by a detailed intro by acclaimed Parisian film archivist Serge Bromberg.

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David Steinberg, Photo credit: Getty images for Turner

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HORSE FEATHERS screening- TCM Programmer Scott McGee and family- Ethan & Shannon, Photo credit: Getty Images for Turner

We quickly dashed over to comedy great David Steinberg’s intro to Norman Z McLeod’s HORSE FEATHERS (1932).  Groucho, Harpo and Chico are joined by Thelma Todd for this hilarious college football classic. I think the only one in the audience who laughed harder than me was TCM programmer Scott McGee.

Another quick turnaround rushed us back into the same TCL Chinese Multiplex House #1 for John Ford’s grand SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON (1949). Another homage to Monument Valley, this stunning vision on the big screen was another must-see for me. At last year’s #TCMFF, I was thrilled to see Ford’s MY DARLING CLEMENTINE introduced by Peter Fonda and Keith Carradine. Carradine was on hand to honor us with an intro again.

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CINEMA PARADISO star Salvatore Cascio and TCM host Ben Mankiewicz/ Photo credit: Getty Images for Turner

My final screening of the fest was the most emotional one of the long weekend. Writer-director Giuseppe Tornatore’s CINEMA PARADISO (1988) may seem like an unconventional choice to close #TCMFF to those who have never seen it, but for those of us who know and love this film, it was the perfect choice. A foreign film made in the late eighties, this film is a beautiful and deeply emotional tribute to classic film fans. I was not alone as tears streamed down my face for the entire last ten minutes and during other segments as well. Now all grown up Salvatore Cacsio, who played the central character of young Toto, charmed the crowd at Grauman’s TCL Chinese Theatre with his translated guest intro with Ben Mankiewicz. I compliment #TCMFF programmer Charlie Tabesh for this superb pick.

The last night ended with crowded Roosevelt of attendees’ goodbyes and photo opps followed by a late supper at Mel’s Drive-In with friends. My many gratitudes include:

Thanks to Debbie Lynn Elias aka @moviesharkd for including me along with other SPs Aurora @CitizenScreen, Annmarie @ClassicMovieHub and Kristen Lopez @Journeys_Film on her LA-based radio program, BEHIND THE LENS on Adrenaline Radio, generously providing us a platform to discuss our our roles of Social Producers and the #TCMFF. And all her supportive tweets!
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Thanks to my artist hubby Gary @santaisthinking for offering up creative and witty sketches, just for fun! You can probably still find them via #sketchTCMFF on twitter.

Thanks to the entire TCM staff and crew for all their hard work on another successful fest! Spotlight and Essentials passes sold out in a record 14 minutes and the Classic Passes sold out faster than ever before. According to the Press Conference, a projected 26,000 attendees enjoyed this year’s mega event. From a past gig in trade show management of a similar show size in my past life, I can assure you this takes organized planning, countless hours and months of hard work and skilled efficiency… KUDOS, TCM team!

Special TCM staff thanks to Noralil Fiores and Marya Gates for masterfully running the Social Producer program. I can’t imagine leading these initiatives, while TCM launches FilmStruck and TCM Backlots all at the same time. Whew!

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Pals Karen, Jessica, Raquel, Carlos and Danny

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#TCMParty class picture/ Photo credit: Will McKinley

And a VERY special shout-out to all my #TCMFF friends, new and reunited alike. So many which began and continue via the #TCMparty twitter experience and via the Going To TCM Film Fest Facebook page.

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Swapping childhood stories with actress, author and TCM friend Illeana Douglas (L), myself and husband Gary Pratt (R)

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Will McKinley (L), myself (C), TCM host Ben Mankiewicz (R) at the closing party

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Actress Monika Henreid, daughter of Paul Henreid (R) and me

Overall, it was another stellar fest that included star gazing, new discoveries, a ‘family’ reunion of meaningful connections with classic film friends (or #OldMovieWeirdos as we like to call ourselves) and fully cinematic range of emotions. If you love classic movies, love TCM, and you simply want to feel right at home like never before, this is it. Hope to see you at #TCMFF in 2017!

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TCMFF 2016 ANNOUNCEMENT: Photo Scavenger Hunt!

tcm-logo-2016The days are rapidly narrowing down to single digits until classic film fans by the thousands will converge to their silver screened Motherland. Turner Classic Movies network kicks off their film festival April 28- May 1st in Hollywood, CA. And for the 2nd year in a row, the TCM folks have brought back the Social Producer program.

Selected from across the country, the Social Producers each bring a unique way to enhance the fandom experience while attending this mega event via social media. I’m thrilled to announce that I will be included in the Social Producer program for 2016 while hosting the official TCMFF  Scavenger Hunt.

Here’s how it works…

PHOTO SCAVENGER HUNT:
Enhance your Turner Classic Movies Film Festival experience by participating in the Photo Scavenger Hunt! New clues for each day. Post it on social media (Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram) tagging TCM and you’ll receive an official TCMFF collector ribbon. Show me your posts so you can collect your official ribbons. Collect all five and you’ll receive a special “Champion” ribbon on the last day of the fest!

Clues:
Star Selfie
*Take a photo of yourself with your favorite movie star’s hand/footprints at the famous Grauman’s Theatre aka TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX and post it on social media. Be sure to tag TCM so we can like/share it too!

New Friends
*Take a photo of yourself with a NEW friend you met while waiting in line. Be sure to tag TCM in your post so we can like/share it too!

Line Selfie
*Take a photo of yourself holding your line ticket or Pass while waiting in line for your favorite screening of the day. Hashtag your the screening and be sure to tag TCM, too.

#TCMFF Squad Goals
*Take a group selfie with your friends in front of one of the official TCMFF venues. Then post it on social media and don’t forget to tag TCM. We’d love to see it!

Hanging Poolside
*Take a photo at a poolside screening. Don’t forget to tag TCM!

After you’ve collected all five, you can collect your special #TCMFF SCAVENGER HUNT  Champ ribbon on the last day of the fest! So, be on the look out each day for clues.

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Thursday, 4/28:  One clue announced
Friday, 4/29: Two clues announced
Saturday, 4/30: Two clues announced
Sunday, 5/1: a “CHAMP ribbon” to be given to all who complete all 5 clues
Each clue to be announced via Social Producer Kellee Pratt with reposts via TCM Social Media, on the following sites:

Twitter: @IrishJayhawk66 or @TCM  

Tumblr: @kelleep or @tcm

For all the best in fest goodies on social media, follow hashtags #TCMFF and #TCMFFSP to see what all the Social Producers are providing in fest fun. If you see me in line or dashing down Hollywood Blvd, show me your fun Scavenger photo or posts and I will give you a collector ribbon. Quantities are limited for this special souvenir, so look for the lady with freckles and a big smile!

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My TCM Discovery, Colleen Moore in WHY BE GOOD?

Turner Classic Movies channel has acquired a cult-like following of devoted fans who enjoy sharing their retro film nerdiness together via social media and activities like the TCM Film Festival. The network is elevating this social-meets-movie-watching experience for their fandom with the #LetsMovie campaign, as part of their overall strategy to include a broader audience.

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To reflect a slew of social sharing activities this month, such as launching new #LetsMovie emojis, @NitrateDiva joins in on the fun by hosting the TCM DISCOVERIES BLOGATHON on Saturday, 9/19. Today we classic film obsessives weigh in on our shared joy of cinema with family and friends via the blogosphere. So what films and friendships have you discovered through TCM? For me, it’s almost too many to list. But for the sake of simplicity, I’ll give a singular and recent example of William A. Seiter’s WHY BE GOOD? (1929)

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I knew of Colleen Moore, but not that well. She fashioned that same adorable, dark bob like a less sophisticated and less serious version of Louise Brooks. I was fortunate to see her on a big screen with live musical accompaniment in Alfred E. Green’s ELLA CINDERS (1926) at the 2014 Kansas Silent Film Festival. With a hilarious Cinderella aims for Hollywood twist on the ole fairy tale, I was immediately smitten with this plucky, funny lady. My chance to see her again on the big screen came along at the 2015 TCM Film Festival with the screening of WHY BE GOOD?

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[I love the catchy phrase from the poster, “she won him with her pep, but almost lost him with her rep.”]

Introduced by famed author and film historian Cari Beauchamp, I was excited to see this lovingly restored flick featuring Colleen Moore as flapper Pert Kelly. She’s a department store clerk by day and a flirty, energetic party girl by night. Also stars Neil Hamilton as the heir apparent and boss’s son. If you don’t already know Hamilton by his other PreCode roles, perhaps you recognize him as Commissioner Gordon from 1966 TV series Batman. One surprise that Cari provided us was to look out for a cameo of a young Jean Harlow in the background of a scene. Sure enough, there she was; on a bench with a man’s head in her lap.

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The story is straight forward – a working class party girl meets wealthy playboy, they fall for each other but she must prove to his father that she’s good enough for him. But there is SO much more here than what the formula suggests. It’s stylistically a rich, sweet treat to savor with all the costumes and music reflecting the jazz age, with strong nods into scintillating PreCode. What was most surprising about this film was the feminist messages and tones it reveals. Even by today’s standards, the entire audience was clapping and loudly cheering by the empowered messaging expressed by her character.

There’s a tremendous plethora to be enchanted by this film and Colleen Moore’s charming persona. But what takes it to the next level was screening this joyful event as a shared experience, with people just like me. Sitting in that darkened theater that morning in Hollywood on March 28th, 2015, it was a marvelous way to greet the day. Laughing, smiling, cheering… all together. Sure, we may come from different walks of life, work different jobs, live in different parts of the world. But in those shared cinematic moments, we are family.

So go enjoy your #LetsMovie moments. Be moved, laugh, cry, cheer, or even applaud if you feel it. We’re all one in the ‘TCM Tribe’.

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HOLLYWOOD HIGHLIGHTS: The “Fake” Studio Tour

Beyond the incredible four days packed with screenings and awe-inspiring events, my recent trip to Tinseltown for the TCM Film Festival included much more. I traveled out to Hollywood and bookended my trip with a couple of extra days to take in more than just the mad dash of the official fest (…like the mad dash of sightseeing!) Perhaps if I squeezed in more time to explore the sacred hallowed grounds of Old Hollywood along with my fellow TCM pals, my post-fest melancholy would be less painful? Yeah right, but nice thought.

WARNER BROTHERS STUDIO, aka the “FAKE” TOUR:

Our pal Matt Patterson of Warner Archives is a generous soul who agreed to give my good friend Aurora aka @CitizenScreen a private tour of the Warner Brothers Studio campus/backlots. Annmarie of @ClassicMovieHub, Jeannelle of @NebraskaNellie and I happily tagged along, on my very first day in Hollywood.

This was my first-ever film studio tour. I was in awe. I clung to every word Matt said and even in a few instances when he didn’t immediately recall to mind all the films and/or TV shows that a particular building or front purposed, I carefully squinted my eyes and envisioned its history.

That infamous Warner Brothers water tower...

That infamous Warner Brothers water tower…

a row of various 'store fronts'

a row of various ‘store fronts’

Barely seen as a backdrop and window shadow via a flashback, La Belle Aurore in CASABLANCA

Barely seen as a backdrop and window shadow via a flashback, La Belle Aurore in CASABLANCA

 

 

 

La Belle Aurore today- with Jeanelle, Kellee, Aurora, Annmarie from left to right

La Belle Aurore today- with Jeanelle, Kellee, Aurora, Annmarie from left to right

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As we walked all over this vast sprawl of buildings of every make and style, I took in all the sights and smells. The building front of what was once Cafe Bella from CASABLANCA looked quite different now but it made me goosepimply all over to ponder its former face. The formal building with wide cascade of steps and large roman columns was once Comissioner Gordon’s HQ in the 1966 Batman. The “Embassy building” with white stone blocks and a regal black iron fence was Daddy Warbuck’s ‘mansion’ in ANNIE. A sparse area of grass with a simple, curving sidewalk and a backdrop of trees was Central Park?? There was a fake ‘L train’ that looked more like a rusted and abdoned project and a fake subway entrance with boxed-in concrete walls that greet you at the bottom of the stairs.

Can you picture 1966 Batman & Robin sprinting up these steps to see Commissioner Gordon?

Can you picture 1966 Batman & Robin sprinting up these steps to see Commissioner Gordon?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An El train that goes... nowhere. Nowhere but cool movie stardom, that is.

An El train that goes… nowhere. Nowhere but cool movie stardom, that is.

Bet your bottom dollar this "The Embassy" building allowed Annie to dream this set could be a Daddy Warbucks mansion

Bet your bottom dollar this “The Embassy” building allowed Annie to dream this set could be a Daddy Warbucks mansion

Who knew 'Central Park' was so tiny? And in Burbank??

Who knew ‘Central Park’ was so tiny? And in Burbank??

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The subway that goes... you guessed it, nowhere.

The subway that goes… you guessed it, nowhere.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aurora (left), Kellee (center), and Matt (silliness on the right)

Aurora (left), Kellee (center), and Matt (silliness on the right)

Jeanelle, Ammarie, Kellee & Matt (left to right) on the 'faux brownstone steps'

Jeanelle, Ammarie, Kellee & Matt (left to right) on the ‘faux brownstone steps’

With faux brownstones we paused to rest on the steps for a ‘Bronx via Hollywood’ moment. At one point I grinned as I couldn’t help but picture that infamous scene from BLAZING SADDLES as I peered across a row of many false store fronts like an empty ghost town, built to decieve us onlookers.

As we peeked around (ever so carefully) inside a few of these hollowed buildings, I deeply took in the smell. I was transported back in time to the same smell of the Kansas City Museum I visited as a child. It was an “old smell” of aged wood, antiques and grand ole dame homes forever frozen in time. You could imagine all of these false structures being used in countless films and TV shows. The fronts and the productions may have changed countless times over the years, but that vintage scent revealed its ‘good bones.’

Warner Bros. Cafeteria

Warner Bros. Cafeteria

But there was more. The WB cafeteria. The recording studios for shows like Conan and Ellen. A memorial to all the WB folks who served in WWII. Rows and rows of enormous sound stages with a plaque on each massive hangar indicating its pedigree of filmography from its earliest days onward. These simple yet gigantic buildings are where the magic happended. Films like… all within the same footprint of where I stood. Again, I shuddered to think.

After a quick review of the WB employee ‘shop’ where you could buy anything from a logoed teeshirt to hardware, we ended our tour with the Warner Brothers Museum. This was a hodgepodge mix of new and old movie relics. Hats from MY FAIR LADY, sheet music from CASABLANCA, and a vast collection of costumes from the various and multiple BATMAN films just to name a few. Apparently the theme rotates the collections out from vault to this mini museum periodically and we just happen to visit during a Batman phase.

Many thanks to my pal Aurora for including us in her invite and special gratitude to Matt from Warner Archives for the tour and GENEROUS donation of his time. I’ve never been so thrilled to be “faked out”!

TCM Film Festival ANNOUNCEMENT! Look Out for new Social Producers

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As we swiftly inch closer to next week’s Turner Classic Movies Film Festival, more news emerges, reflecting what may be the most interesting fest to date. With a diverse assortment of film and events crammed into a full 4 day day schedule, passholders are also chattering about the highly anticipated list of mega stars such as Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Sophia Loren, Ann-Margret, Dustin Hoffman, and Alec Baldwin. Which barely scratches the surface of how the good folks at TCM are ‘making history’ with this year’s installment of classic film nerd nirvana.

In tune with the knowledge that TCM fans are a uniquely loyal and die-hard throng of fans, the network has amped up their social media marketing with a brand new program, Social Producers. I recently discovered that I had been selected, along with a small group of like-minded social media mavens who eat, breathe and drink in TCM, to launch this new role during the last weekend of March in Hollywood.

Here’s what you can expect…

Not unlike a fun game of scavenger hunt, be on the look out for us Social Producers. Whether you’re waiting in line for a screening or walking down Hollwood Blvd. on your way to the next fun-filled event, if you see a Social Producer, be sure to say hello and they might have a fun treat for you! Each of us have come up with an engaging proposal to share our mutual love of TCM with others at the fest. And for our friends who are unable to make it to this year’s TCMFF, we’ll be broadcasting this on multiple social media platforms so they can feel a part of the experience, too. Trust me, if this doesn’t convince you to save and pinch those pennies to make it your number one priority for next year, I don’t know what will!

TCMFF TRIVIA! Who doesn’t just LOVE to show off your classic film knowledge? When I pitched this to TCM, they enthusiastically agreed. When you see me at the fest, I will have a trivia question for you. If you get it right- you will get one of the slick buttons made exclusively for TCMFF passholders! (No worries- if you get the answer wrong, we’re happy to give you a button just for playing.)

BUSTER BUTTONS! Each Social Producer has their own distinct button. The TCMFF Trivia button is Buster Keaton (silent film genius, native to my own home state who can be seen in Friday’s schedule in STEAMBOAT BILL, JR.!)  Can you collect all of them? Heck yeah, you’ve got 4 days- you bet you can!

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AN IRISH & CUBAN VERSION OF TINA FEY & AMY POEHLER…

If you see these smiling mugs, stop and say hello!

If you see these smiling mugs, stop and say hello!

But when I pitched this idea to TCM, I wanted to partner up with my good pal, Aurora aka @CitizenScreen. Because who better to have fun chatting trivia with fellow passionate TCM festers, right?! Again, they agreed. Be sure to look out for both of us- sometimes together, sometimes at different screenings but we will both happily play TCMFF Trivia with you!

So look for all of the Social Producers. We will all be posting on social media throughout the day, for all 4 days, so everyone can feel part of this mega experience. Like some of my fellow Social Producers, we will also be capturing this on video to really enhance the moment. Your 15 minutes of TCM fame is coming, folks… see you in Hollywood!

TCM TRIVIA tweets on @Irishjayhawk66 & @CitizenScreen

TCM TRIVIA tweets on @Irishjayhawk66 & @CitizenScreen

50 Reasons Why I LOVED TCM Film Festival 2014

On April 9th, 2014 I embarked upon an unforgettable journey to Tinseltown. And I loved the experience so much I just had to share fifty reasons why. “Wait… did she say FIFTY?!” Yes, fifty. But don’t be alarmed, this is not quite a War and Peace version of the 5th annual Turner Classic Movies Film Festival. Fifty reasons to love TCMFF is an easy and quick list when there’s SO much to love. So much in multiple screenings, events and incredible opportunities taking place all at once that a majority of this fest is generally missed. I know I missed out on many, many things I would have equally cherished. But without cloning or time travel, one can only take pleasure in the path chosen. That’s exactly what I did…

1. This was my very first trip to Hollywood (and for a lifelong classic film fan this is a BIG deal!) Specifically, this was my VERY FIRST TCM Film Festival!
2. In actuality, this was my first trip by myself, for myself. Oh sure, I’ve traveled by myself loads of times, on business. But this was my very first vacation without kids (yes I have four teenagers), without the hubby, and without any agenda other than unadulterated cinematic fun.
3. Robert Osborne, in the flesh! (okay, so I haven’t officially met him yet, but I got close by- which is pretty amazing for this TCMFF newbie. Perhaps next time, I’ll get the chance)
4. Speaking of amazing TCM hosts… Ben Mankewitz and Ileana Douglas. That’s right, I DID get to experience meeting Ben and Ileana -both charming and fabulous and both Hollywood ancestral legends in their own time.

5. TCMFF Tweetup. This took place the evening prior to the opening day at a modern speakeasy, “Sadie’s.” I was lucky enough (or rather chatty enough) to be included in the TCMFF Social Crew. Meeting all the fellow tweetaholics was a treat because I already knew most of them via twitterverse!

Lindsay @angelnumber25, Jessica @HollywoodComet and Raquel @QuelleLove… these cinematic beauties made me feel young again!

Laura of @LaurasMiscMovies and TCM’s Scott McGee… some of the nicest folks you’ll ever meet!

Annemarie of @ClassicMovieHub, Aurora of @citizenscreen, Cindy of @Cindybugz and Laura of @LaurasMiscMovies at the TCM Tweetup, repose before the party started hopping

Will aka @WillMcKinley and me. It was like meeting a long lost brother. #FilmFamily

CINEMA SISTERS! Hanging with Aurora aka @citizenscreen at the Egyptian.

 6. Meeting my #TCM and #TCMparty friends– IN PERSON! I was both excited and nervous leading up to the moments of meeting these ‘modern pen pals.’ As a friendly Midwestern type, I was worried my overzealous persona may be off-putting up close. Happily, or so it seemed, my worries proved to be unwarranted. I immediately felt at home with my #TCMparty pals. Within minutes, it’s as though we had all known each other for decades. Like a family reunion; picking up where we left off.
  

[UL: Karen of @TheDarkPages UR: Joel of @JoelrWilliams1, Nora of @NitrateDiva, Fussy of @MiddParent LL: Miguel of @MonsterResort LR: Alan of @alanhait]

7. The FORMOSA CAFE – after the Tweetup many of us headed over to this historic establishment. I had heard of the many stories from the Golden Age of Hollywood that took place at this cozy venue. I couldn’t have been any more thrilled to socialize with my chums in the same space as where stars like Bogie, Gable and Sinatra dined.
8. TCMFF Red Carpet. Okay, so I didn’t actually attend this event. I merely peeked at all the glamorous celebrities as I walked across the street. But what I did see from curious passing and from my friends’ photo sharings that positioned a closer view, it was a glorious spectacle. Perhaps next year I’ll work out the timing to claim a spot on the bleachers.
9. 5th AVENUE GIRL (1939) on the big screen. While I’ve seen this film a couple of times before, this screening was special. This was my first viewing on the big screen and my first screening at TCM Film Festival. Somehow Ginger Rogers conveyed an extra dose of sardonic charm this time.
10. BACHELOR MOTHER (1939) on the big screen. A Ginger Rogers double feature?! How can a gal be so lucky on the initial day of this wondrous fest?!

11. Comedian Greg Proops introduction to BACHELOR MOTHER. This veteran comic was a pro… sharp, witty, and fast-paced. Besides being very funny, I was also impressed by his mastery of detail on this film and the background stories. Yet this celeb of comedy was also just like us- a passionate fan.
12. Bumping into actor James Karen and his wife, Alba Francesca. I have chatted casually with Jim Karen during my attendance at the last two year’s of the Buster Keaton Celebration in Iola, Kansas. So when I stumbled upon this couple while rushing into a screening, I will so thrilled to see their familiar faces that I bowled them both over with exuberant hugs, immediately followed by my apologies for my bold familiarity. I reminded them of our chats at the Buster Keaton Celebration (like we were just the oldest of Kansas pals) and the two were kind enough to state they distinctly remembered me. I doubt they actually did, but I appreciated their kindness for my benefit.
13. Waking up to THE THIN MAN (1934). On Friday morning at 9am, I enjoyed a screening of this favorite classic while exchanging gasps of delight at Myrna Loy’s exquisite fashions and chuckles with Kimberly of @GlamAmor, Aurora of @CitizenScreen and Lara of @backlotsfilm.

 

14. The famed EGYPTIAN THEATRE. Screening THE THIN MAN was my initial visit to this restored 1922 movie showcase. What a fun example of ancient Egyptian themed architecture.

15. TOUCH OF EVIL (1958). Introduced by Charleton Heston’s son, producer and director Fraser Heston, we were treated with a BEAUTIFULLY restored version of this film noir classic. The imagery was breathtaking. You could see every dirty bead of sweat on Orson Welle’s bloated face and I couldn’t have been more thrilled.
16. Buttons. So many fun buttons! The good folks at TCMFF conceived this brilliant idea to reward us with a variety of social media buttons, with the ability to earn each unique button via a different social media experience. I really commend the folks at TCM for creating outstanding design work for this year’s festival. I chatted with a gal named Katie as we waited for the crosswalk light one early morning. I noticed her TCMFF lanyard and initiated a conversation on how much I admired the design work on the many banners displayed. It turns out she not only works for TCM but was responsible for those designs. Great job!
17. More buttons! Additionally, we met a gentleman, Mark (aka ‘the button guy’) who created and brought an inventory of his own buttons, many representing the various featured films from this year’s cinematic line-up. He was an all around sweet guy and generous with his buttons- happily giving these away to any and all who asked.

18. The BEST button of them all. Speaking of fun buttons, my hubby created a magnificent button of my own to wear at the TCMFF. It represents my love of classic film and specifically Cary Grant, plus it states my twitter handle for the pragmatic purpose of identifying me via my twitter presence. He did a heck of a job with it because I received countless comments of praise. Well done, honey!
19. Margaret O’Brien introducing MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS (1944). I had heard that this legendary child star of the silver screen, now 77 years old and as energetic as ever, was seen sporting blue hair and nose ring on the Red Carpet the night prior. (How cool is that?!) Engaging us with witty anecdotes, Ms. O’Brien hadn’t lost her touch to capture our attention. And the film itself? The experience can only be described as a joyful toe-tapping, technicolor dream with a tear or two shed by yours truly.
20. Shaking Margaret O’Brien’s hand. While ordering a quick bite as carry-out, we spotted Ms. O’Brien in the Roosevelt diner, the “25 Degrees” restaurant. Trying to keep our wits about us, Aurora of @citizenscreen and I made the decision to act swiftly and introduce ourselves. Upon gently and respectfully taking her hand, she politely returned a greeting then turned to her seated companion and asked us if “we had met Judy Garland’s son.” Gobsmacked, we smiled and shook his hand as well.
21. The GRAUMAN’S CHINESE THEATER. Yeah, I know it’s actually called TCL Chinese Theatre Imax. But hey, it will always be Grauman’s to me. This jewel of a movie house was amazing. And while I heard its recent restoration eliminated more than 200 seats, the seating was very comfortable and the architectural details remain astounding.
22. Mel Brooks introducing BLAZING SADDLES (1974). This was my #1 pick of all the anticipated screenings. I’m a huge Mel Brooks fan and the very thought of seeing this hilarious comedy classic, up on the big screen, introduced directly by Brooks himself, at the very same theater (Grauman’s) that is featured in this film… well, it was almost too surreal to process. As anticipated, I laughed myself silly.
23. Hand and Foot Prints of Legends at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. If you’ve ever seen BLAZING SADDLES, you understand the significance of these…

24. Patton Oswalt, introducing a midnight screening of ERASERHEAD (1977). Oswalt was a riot. I loved hanging with my #TCMparty friends as we got punchy from the long day. I had never seen this David Lynch cult classic so I wasn’t sure what to expect. But I can honestly say it was the strangest, most bizarre film I’ve ever seen with no redeeming qualities to speak of. To each their own though.
25. An enormous serving of a ‘laughter breakfast’ with CITY LIGHTS (1931). That Saturday morning, a group of us #TCMparty peeps (including Joel of @joelrwilliams1, Kay of @KayStarStyle and Aurora of @citizenscreen) laughed until we cried while taking in this silent classic. If you’ve never seen this film, and especially if you ever are in need of a ‘pick me up’, I encourage you to see it pronto.
26. Shaking hands with actor Jason Lee. Lee introduced the screening of CITY LIGHTS as a passionate fan of this iconic classic and of the genius behind it, Charlie Chaplin. Afterwards as we filed out of the theater, I stole a quick moment to shake his hand, thanking him for his heart-felt intro. I’m a huge fan of Chaplin’s masterpiece, too. Jason Lee came across as a very genuine and down-to-earth in person. Later that day as many of us took turns posing for silly pics in the TCM photo booth, I saw Lee with what appeared to be his entire family doing the same. Fun to see a whole family get involved in this classic film experience.
27. Another opportunity to see silent films on the big screen. I am spoiled in my home state with more than a few opportunities to see silent films in the way they were meant to be seen- on the big screen, with an engaged audience surrounding you. While CITY LIGHTS did not have a live musical accompaniment, there were a couple more choices to see a grand silent. Harold Lloyd’s supersized fun silent WHY WORRY? (1923) was introduced with a new score by maestro Carl Davis and granddaughter Suzanne Lloyd. Additionally, Hitchcock’s early chiller THE LODGER (1927) was screened the way a silent REALLY should be seen, in tandem with the live performance of the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra.
28. Eggs Benedict at the 25 Degrees restaurant. This diner housed at the front entrance of the Roosevelt hotel is a relatively speedy and yummy option for grabbing nourishment on the run between events. And you’re almost guaranteed to bump into fellow TCMFF pals and celebrities, too. Personally, I recommend the eggs benedict or turkey burger.
29. Often standing in long lines. I realize this would normally be a negative thing. But at the TCM Film Festival, this is truly a very positive experience. This was the perfect opportunity to strike up conversations with fellow ole movie fans. You’ll be pleasantly surprised to discover what bonds you can create in these lines, chatting with folks from all over the country.

30. Strategizing to get the lowest # possible for your spot in line. This process of snagging a spot as early as possible allowed for priority seating. For any screening or event that you absolutely, positively must see, the goal and bragging rights was to secure the lowest number for your position in line. This involved sometimes skipping an event in the time slot prior. Hey, this fest isn’t for amateurs!
31. The popcorn only diet. For those like myself who want to get the most bang for your buck, there is very little time for actual eating of food that comes in the form of a square meal. I was advised to bring snacks. But otherwise, the most accessible snack is popcorn at the concession stand. Where else is it acceptable to eat popcorn for breakfast, minus the good ole college days? No problems here.
32. The “Capture the Flag Movie Screening Game”… is the best exercise. Worried about that concession stand diet affecting your waistline while hob-nobbing with celebs at the TCM Fest? No worries! With the mad dash strategy involved to race to each screening or event, combined with little time to eat more than a handful of popcorn every few hours, you are in better shape than you might think.

33. Mel Brooks Interview with Bob Osborne. Here was my chance to see Mel Brooks up close. Earlier in the day, we got the inside scoop about this taping for a special one on one interview at the Roosevelt. There wasn’t a moment’s hesitation that this was a must-see event. Squeezing in to the front row yet off to the far side of the stage in hopes to get a better view of his face, rather than his back; we hung on to every word. He told several stories about the making of BLAZING SADDLES including what it was like to work with writer Richard Pryor and how Cleavon Little was chosen for the lead; how ERASERHEAD led him to David Lynch as his director for THE ELEPHANT MAN (1980) and a hilarious bit about meeting Cary Grant at the Commissary. He also spoke sweetly about his wife Anne Bancroft. There was a subtle yet notable pause to take a drink of water just before he spoke her name. She passed nearly nine years ago and there’s no doubt in my heart she is very much still and always with him.

[from left to right: Paula aka @Paula_Guthat, Aurora of @CitizenScreen, Will aka @WillMcKinley, Alan aka @AlanHait, Kimberly of @GlamAmor, me, Elise of @EliseCD, Fussy of @MiddParent and just off camera: Nora of @NitrateDiva and Kay of @KayStarStyle is taking this fun pic!]

35. Chicken Pot Pie at infamous, The Musso & Frank Grill. Proudly serving Hollywood since 1919, here was another Hollywood landmark that seemed untouched by the passage of time. From the waiters to the classic menu selections that appeared unchanged for decades, to my heavenly chicken pot pie, this was a special treat. Steeped rich in Hollywood history, as I looked around I could imagine the stars like Chaplin and Fairbanks as regulars dining at the softly worn leather booths or Bogie and Bacall sharing a drink at the bar. But my greatest source of enjoyment for that lunch was the company of my #TCMparty friends.
36. The stars on Hollywood Walk of Fame. I suppose these sidewalk stars seem hum-drum to a Hollywood or LA area resident. The most eccentric crowds of folks that were either selling or demonstrating their wares and often festooned in outrageous costumes certainly paid no attention to the famous names permanently displayed underfoot. But for me, this was yet another hallmark of Hollywood history. From the fantasy to the reality, there was much for me to take in.
37. Judy Garland: A Legendary Film Career @ Club TCM. This was a wonderful presentation by award winning producer and author John Fricke of clips and intimate tales of Judy Garland. I got misty more than once. What an unparalleled talent she was. There will never be anyone else like her.
38. TCM at 20: Inspired By Classics. This was a packed house event at Club TCM, which was set up beautifully at the Roosevelt. The panel of guests reflected a sampling of the artists commissioned to create works of art to celebrate TCM’s 20th anniversary. The panel included Jane Seymour (my GAWD this woman does not age), and the legendary talent and beauty Kim Novak.

39. EL CAPITAN! The architectural details on this old movie house were phenomenal. What an uniquely fun treat to watch a man skillfully playing a grand dame of a pipe organ prior to our feature. Then moments prior to our presenters, this organ, as the man continued to play to the end of his song, magically descended into the floor. Pure Hollywood magic and the show hadn’t even begun yet.
40. John Ford’s HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY (1941). Surprisingly, this was actually my first time seeing this Ford epic film. I had always caught parts of it but never had the pleasure to see it in it’s entirety. What an emotionally moving film. Visually speaking, it is a stunning Ford feast for the eyes to behold. Hard to believe I waited this long to see it. But I’m thrilled I got to experience it with my friends in the balcony, many who were just as choked up as me.

[Friendly foursome waiting in line for our favorite fiery Irish gal Maureen in HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY: Nora aka @NitrateDiva, Fussy aka @MiddParent, Aurora of @CitizenScreen and me…]

41. Maureen O’Hara’s introduction to HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY. This was the moment we had camped out in line and waited for more than an hour. My silver screen idol from my Irish American childhood was right there, in the flesh. I peered down from the balcony and could barely swallow as she appeared on stage. A highlight from her brief interview with Bob Osborne occurred as Osborne asked her what it was like working with John Ford. She raised her flat palm to the side of her mouth, looking out to the audience and mischievously responded in her distinct brogue, “I thought we were here to talk about me.” The crowd immediately with a thunderous laughter. Even at 93, this lady kept us on the edge of our seats.

42. Maureen O’Hara Interview with Bob Osborne. We were treated with yet another opportunity to see my favorite Irish lass. But this time, strategy was essential to ensure a much closer proximity to this delightful Dubliner. So Aurora of @citizenscreen, Annemarie of @classicmoviehub and I protected our territory about THREE hours early at the velvet rope in order to garner the best spot to see our beloved Ms. O’Hara. After chatting with Bob on topics such as how much she enjoyed working with Charles Laughton, it was sadly time to end the conversation. But this spitfire was not done with us just yet. Not only did she grant us the privilege of turning around so we could take photos of something other than her back, but she also welcomed a couple of questions from the audience. I stood practically at arm’s length from her. It was all too surreal for words.
43. HAT CHECK GIRL (1932). We #TCMpartiers were on board for this little PreCode gem. We were one of the lucky ones to nab a spot in this smaller venue. It was a fun lark and we enjoyed Ginger Rogers company yet again!

44. Academy Conversations: THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD (1938). Talk about a delightful time! The entertaining pair of Craig Baron and Ben Burtt were a total hoot as they donned their Sherwood Forest feather caps and educated us on the various tricks and special effects behind the scenes of this treasured American classic. Let’s face it, spending a Sunday morning watching Errol Flynn’s snug tights in all his technicolor glory ain’t have bad.
(hamming it up poolside…)

45. The Roosevelt Poolside. Simply gorgeous. It had a distinctly old Hollywood glamor look and feel with all the modern amenities.
46. THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939) This was my final film of the festival. As we stood in line, @citizenscreen and I struck up a conversation with our line neighbors (as we do..) and as a result these charming folks were media broadcasters from ABC Radio and interviewed us with mics right on the spot! Bob Osborne himself greeted the audience to close out this final film. We then watched Dorothy and the gang in a brilliant 3D restoration, back in the majestic Grauman’s Theater exactly where it premiered in Hollywood 75 years ago. It gave “there’s no place like home” a whole new meaning.

47. Treasures of the Silver Screen. Treasures were every where I looked. From the world’s most recognizable blue gingham dress of my fellow Kansas gal Dorothy, to the original piano used in CASABLANCA which is much tinier than you’d ever imagine, classic treasures abound. I wanted to capture some of this lightning in a bottle by bringing home a souvenir to extend my memories. So I purchased some beautiful jewelry in the TCM gift shop. (And as tiny as that piano was, I don’t think it would fit as a carry on.) With many of this year’s TCMFF marketing and design themes being a nod to the 75th anniversary of THE WIZARD OF OZ, I was contemplating what item to bring home to Kansas. Then my friend Elise aka @EliseCD came to the rescue by generously donating her bag of goodies including a “Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore” notebook with Dorothy’s profile standing in the shadow of Grauman’s and a stationary collection of the commissioned 20th anniversary art. Aurora of @citizenscreen also kindly gave her Dorothy notebook for me to pass on to my hubby. Aren’t #TCMparty friends the best?!
48. Closing Night Party! All dolled up, I joined my friends at the Club TCM then joined others poolside. Taking a few snapshots here and there, it started to sink in that this grand adventure was coming to a close. I didn’t want it to end.

49. Miguel’s Monster Island Resort Podcast with some #TCMparty homies. To make this moment last longer, it seemed fitting to join in on Miguel’s podcast, poolside by the fire at the end of closing night party. Discussing our various thoughts on the 5th annual TCM Film Festival, it was the perfect nightcap with dear friends. [See episode #115 at MonsterIslandResort.org]
50. My tearful goodbye. I didn’t want to leave this cinematic utopia. More importantly, now that I had connected with my TCM friends, I REALLY didn’t want to say goodbye. After the exchange of hugs, I hesitantly made my way into the backseat of the cab (Will aka @willmckinley and Aurora @citizenscreen insisted I not walk alone to my hotel on behalf of my protective hubby), I looked up at the two with tears welling up in my eyes and waved farewell.

This was an experience of a lifetime for me. So of course I plan to do this all over again next year- but this time accompanied by my sweet husband. Dorothy was right, there is no place like home. Perhaps I’m lucky enough to have two homes: with my family in Kansas and wherever my Old Movie Weirdo pals shall gather.

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