Posts Categorized: Friday, April 11

Warren William on the Prowl!

“Oh, it’s you. I didn’t know you with all your clothes on.”  That’s Warren William speaking to Alice White in the salacious EMPLOYEES’ ENTRANCE (1933), and it’s one of many “pre-Code” lines in a very, VERY pre-Code picture. In fact, EMPLOYEES’ ENTRANCE is one of those pre-Coders that movie fans especially revere for its wall-to-wall sexiness and astonishing impact. A packed house of TCM festivalgoers certainly loved it Friday night. Warren William plays Kurt Anderson, a tyrannical, ruthless, uncompromising New York City department store manager — “kind of like Mussolini running Macy’s,” joked film historian Bruce Goldstein in his introduction…. Read more »

THE LION IN WINTER: Ultimate Family Dysfunction

Family units — good, bad and ugly — have been popping up on screen every day at this year’s family-themed film festival. But is there any more dysfunctional movie family than the Plantagenets depicted in THE LION IN WINTER (1968)?  King Henry II gathers his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine (whom he has kept imprisoned for ten years), and their sons Richard, Geoffrey and John, at Christmas-time in 1183. Also on hand: Henry’s mistress, Alais. But this is no cheery holiday gathering. Henry wants to determine who his successor will be after his death, and the result is that these people… Read more »

Rosalind Russell Really Rocks

A sold-out festival audience was treated to a delightfully breezy Rosalind Russell comedy on Friday afternoon: MY SISTER EILEEN (1942).  For some reason, this movie is not often shown or seen these days, which is peculiar considering it was perhaps Russell’s definitive role during her lifetime. After playing Ruth Sherwood in this Columbia film, she reprised the part for a radio adaptation in 1943, in a hit Broadway musical version (entitled Wonderful Town) in 1953, and even in a live television production of Wonderful Town in 1958. So in one way or another she performed the role on the big… Read more »

A Conversation with Quincy Jones

Day one of the Club TCM discussions has wrapped up on a high note with a great conversation between legendary producer, composer, conductor and musician Quincy Jones, being interviewed by film critic Leonard Maltin. Yet another full house in Club TCM with an audience that was as engaged and enthralled by Jones as you can imagine. Below are a few highlights: “Each culture has its food, its music, and its language that keeps the culture together. That’s why I’m such a hard bargain driver for America to have a minister of culture. We’re the only country in the world that… Read more »

In Heaven, everything is fine… David Lynch’s ERASERHEAD

What the deuce did people ever do at midnight before ERASERHEAD (1977)? Perhaps the most perfect late night movie ever made, David Lynch’s feature film debut (funded in part by actress Sissy Spacek, then a rising star whose art director husband Jack Fisk was on Lynch’s crew) gets props from the black tee shirt crowd for being among the weirdest movies ever made… and yet so much of what goes on between its fade in and fade out is drawn so palpably from everyday life. Inspired by his anxieties about being a father (Lynch’s daughter Jennifer is now a filmmaker in… Read more »

Nervous in the service… William Wyler’s THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES (1946)

With scheduled guest Mark Harris unable to attend the TCMFF this year and, it follows, unavailable to introduce tonight’s screening of William Wyler’s THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES (1946), it fell to film historian Eddie Muller to step into the breach, with a little assist from Wyler’s son David. The youngest of Wyler’s five children, David was not yet born when THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES went into production (he was a ROMAN HOLIDAY baby) but shared several stories about the film’s production, which had been passed down to him through the Wyler family. David cited that the three… Read more »

MAKE WAY FOR TOMORROW… and for Tears

“The movie you’re about to see is transcendently painful to watch. And that’s actually a good thing,” said film historian Dennis Bartok this morning, in his introduction to MAKE WAY FOR TOMORROW (1937). Director Leo McCarey’s drama about a sweet, elderly couple who lose their home and are forced to move in with their grown children — separately, 300 miles apart — is profoundly heartbreaking. (I will go out on a limb and say that the final 26 minutes comprise the most moving extended sequence in American cinema.)  It’s also a work of sublime beauty and art that, once seen,… Read more »

THE INNOCENTS: The Kids Aren’t All Right

It’s one of life’s great pleasures to see a favorite film on the big screen, and tonight marked my third time catching one of the all-time great ghost stories, THE INNOCENTS (1961), in glorious panoramic 35mm. This is a film that absolutely demands to be seen as huge as possible with its clever peripheral shocks coming at you right out of the corner of your eyes, and judging by the gasps from the audience, it still works like a charm. Actress Illeana Douglas introduced the film, which gave her a sleepless night as a child courtesy of a TV airing,… Read more »

BLAZING SADDLES: From Order Comes Chaos

Mel Brooks, legendary director-actor-producer-writer- (keep filling in the blanks and you’ll never exhaust his talents), kicked off tonight’s screening of BLAZING SADDLES (1974) by singing the film’s theme song to a full house at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre—and from there, things only got more interesting.   Brooks shared with TCM Host Robert Osborne numerous behind-the-scenes anecdotes from the making of the film—from asking to see Madeline Kahn’s “gams” before deciding to cast her as Lili Von Stupp (to which she responded, “Oh, it’s one of those auditions”), to following screenwriter Richard Pryor’s advice to cast Cleavon Little as the Sheriff (“This… Read more »

Life on the Edge: The Original IMITATION

Long before the famous Douglas Sirk / Lana Turner version was a twinkle in producer Ross Hunter’s eye, IMITATION OF LIFE first came to movie screens in 1934. The original novel by Fannie Hurst was a big bestseller, but the controversial subject matter made it a touchy subject with no less than ten writers taking a crack at it (including an uncredited Preston Sturges). Joseph Breen, head of the Production Code, objected to the theme of miscegenation which forms a crucial part of the story, and seemingly everyone else had a bone to pick including the Grand Encampment of the… Read more »

That Rhymes with ‘P’ and That Stands for Pool

TCM struck up the band to wind down night two with a poolside screening of THE MUSIC MAN (1962) under the palm trees at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. The crowd-pleasing musical had toes taping to tunes like “Ya Got Trouble” and “76 Trombones”  and “Wells Fargo Wagon.” On hand to introduce the film was TCM’s Ben Mankiewicz, who called it a “joyous affair” and one of his favorite musicals. THE MUSIC MAN features Robert Preston as con man Harold Hill, who’s out to scam an Iowa town into shelling out the dough for a fake boys band (“I say River… Read more »

DOUBLE INDEMNITY: Who Could Have Known That Murder Can Sometimes Smell Like Honeysuckle?

TCM Host Robert Osborne introduced tonight’s world premiere restoration screening of DOUBLE INDEMNITY (1944) by saying it’s “one of my all time favorites,” and characterizing the film as “a great feather in Wilder’s cap.” But he also pointed out that certain aspects of the film’s production and reception were as tough as the characters it portrays.   Director Billy Wilder had a hard time casting the leads because the characters were so “despicable.”  George Raft passed on the Walter Neff role (as he was known to pass on so many great parts) because it didn’t have a “lapel moment” when… Read more »

Right Here in St. Louis

TCM went turn-of-the-century this afternoon with a presentation of MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS (1944) at the TCL Chinese. Projected in pristine digital, the film, which marks its 60th anniversary this year, has never looked or sounded better. And the enthusiastic audience certainly agreed—they couldn’t resist humming along to the film’s now standard tunes, including “The Boy Next Door” and “The Trolley Song.” Plus, adding to an already delightful experience, Tootie herself, Margaret O’Brien, was on hand to introduce the film. O’Brien sat down with journalist and film critic Richard Corliss before the screening to reminisce about her experiences making… Read more »

A Conversation with William Friedkin

WilliamFriedkin_470x370

Yet another standing room only crowd in Club TCM for A Conversation with William Friendkin, interviewed by Film Noir Foundation President and author Eddie Muller! A veteran of live television in the 1950s, Friedkin trained in documentary filmmaking in the mid-1960s – training that led to the unnerving, you-are-there realism of The French Connection (1971) and the terrible beauty of The Exorcist (1973) and Sorcerer (1977). In 1971, his The French Connection was released to wide critical acclaim. Shot in a gritty style more suited for documentaries than Hollywood features, the film won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director.  Friedkin followed up… Read more »

What, Harold Lloyd Worry?

Tonight at the Egyptian the TCMCFF again welcomes bespectacled silent comedian Harold Lloyd, this time with a screening of WHY WORRY? (1923) featuring the live musical accompaniment of Carl Davis conducting the World Premiere of his new score for the film, his fourth score for a Lloyd comedy.  Harold has been a welcome presence at previous TCM Classic Film Festivals, represented by such classics as Safety Last (1923) at the first TCMCFF in 2010 and Girl Shy (1924) in 2012. It’s a truism that pre-sound films are best appreciated on the big screen with live musical accompaniment, and that silent… Read more »

A Trip to GREY GARDENS with Albert Maysles

Before reality shows like Real Housewives, Hoarders and Honey Boo Boo brought us so many crazy families that the Kardashians now seem as ordinary to us as the Cleavers – came the original tale of the eccentric family next door, GREY GARDENS (1975). TCM presented a gorgeous digital restoration of the classic documentary this morning at the Chinese Multiplex 1. Part of the festival’s overall theme of Family in the Movies, GREY GARDENS practically begged for inclusion in the Dysfunctional Families series of films. GREY GARDENS centers on the claustrophobic world of a reclusive East Hamptons mother and daughter. Both… Read more »

Pod People Invade the TCM Classic Film Festival

Don Siegel’s INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1956) is graced with one the most recognized film titles of the 1950s, known even by most non-classic movie fans.  It helps that there have been a number of remakes of the story (in 1978, 1994 and 2007), but even those who are not film fans at all have heard the term “pod people,” a phrase that has crossed over into the general lexicon. The film is also one of the key entries in the 1950s cycle of science fiction movies.  It ranks in just about anyone’s list of top five titles, along… Read more »

Happy 20th Anniversary, Robert Osborne

A favorite event from the TCM Classic Cruise came to Hollywood  for the first time on Friday afternoon, but with a gigantic surprise twist. ASK ROBERT allows fans to pose any question they like to the man who’s been with the network since the very beginning on April 14, 1994, and to mark his twentieth anniversary, an appropriate venue was chosen: The Montalbán Theatre, formerly the Doolittle Theatre, located on Vine Street in Hollywood. Osborne’s own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is located in front of the building, which originally served as the location for the popular radio… Read more »

TOUCH OF EVIL: Blowing up Film Noir

Producer, writer and director Fraser Heston—son of legendary actor Charlton Heston—was on hand today to introduce a new world premiere restoration of TOUCH OF EVIL, courtesy of Universal Pictures. The younger Heston revealed it was his father who suggested Welles helm the picture, though the director was something of a persona non grata with the studios at the time due to his reputation for being difficult to work with and his tendency to run over budget. As was plain to everyone present at today’s screening, the suggestion was brilliant, and the end result was a “textbook example of noir.” In… Read more »

The Italian Job: or, the Mini Cooper Mob

“Hang on a minute, lads …. I’ve got a great idea !”   This Michael Caine thriller hasn’t a single cinematically significant or profound moment. Isn’t that a great idea?   The heist caper crime sub-genre began as serious drama (The Asphalt Jungle, Rififi) but soon mutated into a freewheeling escapist format, with ever-more complex and preposterous robbery schemes. The brains behind the operation usually comes up with a foolproof plan that stumbles or fails due to dumb luck or the human element… remember Sterling Hayden’s shocked disbelief at the finish of Stanley Kubrick’s The Killing?  The measure of a caper… Read more »

A Conversation with Richard Dreyfuss

With an entertainment career spanning more than four decades, Academy Award- winning actor Richard Dreyfuss has been one of America’s most versatile and individualistic actors. He is a spokesperson on the issue of media informing policy, legislation, and public opinion, both speaking and writing to express his sentiments in favor of privacy, freedom of speech, democracy, and individual accountability. As a community leader, his current focus and passion is to encourage, revive, elevate and enhance the teaching of civics in American Schools. Dreyfuss was interviewed by actress, director, writer and producer Illeana Douglas. Below are a few highlights from the… Read more »

ZULU Uprising at the Egyptian

ZULU (1964) was a later entry in the Widescreen Epic historical adventure genre, a British film of Colonialism that, while it tempered the standard “White Man’s Burden” approach seen in previous movies that glorified the Empire, nevertheless has since fallen somewhat to the wayside thanks to moviegoers’ growing distaste for screen entertainment that glorified the former Empire.  It is now justly recognized as a superior example of its genre, boasting terrific action scenes on a grand scale, stunning location photography in South Africa, well-drawn performances from the able cast and one of the finest music scores from the great John… Read more »

ON APPROVAL sparkles with wit

“It’s a polarizing movie. You’re either going to love it or hate it,” predicted film historian Jeffrey Vance this morning in his introduction to ON APPROVAL (1944). But judging from the raucous audience reaction that followed over the next 80 minutes, actually no one hated it at all. ON APPROVAL is a gem of high comedy, and since it was made in England, the Production Code did not apply, resulting in a scintillating mixture of bawdiness, double entendres, and even prodigious use of the word “hell,” which would be unthinkable in an American picture of the era. ON APPROVAL feels… Read more »

A Matter of Life and Death… reborn?

Now for something Completely Different. The famed ‘Archers’ writing and directing team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger marked the end of WW2 by making a picture with a salient propaganda purpose. The message is surrounded by a couple of hours of outlandishly fantastic (and romantic) happenings, all filmed in Technicolor by Jack Cardiff and utilizing a battery of highly creative special effects.   Trapped with no parachute in a burning plane, British flyer Peter Carter (David Niven) radios in to report his impending death. Peter falls in love with his radio contact, June (Kim Hunter). They exchange endearments even… Read more »

THE THIN MAN: Or, How the End of the Prohibition Made a Party Out of Murder

Today’s Festival lineup is a rare treat for anyone interested in hard-boiled detective fiction and film noir, with screenings of THE THIN MAN (1934), Double Indemnity (1944) and Touch of Evil (1958).  It probably goes without saying that these films don’t constitute one of the official sub-themes of this year’s “Family in the Movies” programming, but they do provide a snapshot—or maybe a mug shot—of America’s mood swings the mid twentieth century. THE THIN MAN and Double Indemnity are adapted from the works of, arguably, the two greatest writers of hard-boiled fiction: Dashiell Hammett (his name pronounced “Da-SHE-al,” as special… Read more »

Charlton Heston… forever

I had a few possible subject headers in mind for this morning’s dedication of a first class postage stamp in honor of the late actor Charlton Heston — among them “Charlton Heston Goes Postal” and “Stamping the Terra” but somehow neither one quite fit the bill… or the man The crowd gathered this morning in the historic Grauman’s Chinese Theatre for the unveiling of the new “forever” stamp by a combined effort of the Screen Actor’s Guild (SAG-AFTRA), the American Film Institute, the Citizen’s Stamp Advisory Committee, the United States Armed Forces, and, of course, the United States Postal Service felt,… Read more »

Go East, Young Man

The TCM Classic Film Festival might be a little further south than the stomping grounds of writer John Steinbeck in the wine valleys of northern California, but it still feels appropriate kicking off a Friday morning with one of the quintessential adaptations of his work. Steinbeck has generally adapted well to the big screen with classics like The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men, with the novelist himself taking a shot at writing directly for the screen with Alfred Hitchcock’s Lifeboat and serving as on-camera host for O. Henry’s Full House. Taking a page from the Wuthering Heights school of… Read more »

A Conversation with Carl Davis

While there are too many amazing films to choose from in the Festival schedule, I always have a hard time missing the discussions held in Club TCM. I’m constantly impressed by the talent and their insights, and am thrilled to be covering the discussions the next few days. Club TCM kicked off with a bang today for A Conversation with Carl Davis. The composer, conductor, and musician was interviewed by author Jon Burlingame.  Below are a few highlights from the interview:   Speaking of conducting: “There is the buzz of a live show, you know if you’re a performer, that’s… Read more »

The World of Henry Orient: Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

(Post-screening celebrity wrap-up, below)   The movies may have discovered teenagers in the 1950s but the focus was usually on delinquency, hot rods and sex. 1964′s THE WORLD OF HENRY ORIENT is a comedy that takes the time to examine the personal lives of a pair of New York girls at an awkward age — too old for dolls but not quite ready to negotiate the tougher aspects of teen-hood. Gil (Merrie Spaeth) and Val (Tippy Walker) instead indulge the adolescent fantasy of worshiping the concert pianist Henry Orient (Peter Sellers). Playing his records isn’t enough. The girls haunt Orient’s… Read more »

Friday Re-Cap, TCM Classic Film Festival

TCM is proud to present this exciting recap of events from Thursday, April 10, day one of the 5th TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood.  To view more festival videos, check out our video gallery.   Highlights from Thursday, April 10 at the TCM Classic Film Festival   American Graffiti poolside at the Hollywood Roosevelt   Shirley Jones and Robert Osborne   Charles Busch introducing Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

All the World’s a Stagecoach, Pilgrim.

Gone with the Wind may have been 1939′s biggest picture, but the surprise hit that captured America’s heart that year was STAGECOACH, a lowly western made at a time when westerns in general were considered a down-market commodity. The show confirmed John Wayne as a star after ten years of false starts. John Ford found the experience of filming out on distant location in Monument Valley such an enjoyable experience that he would return to the genre at every opportunity just to escape the Hollywood grind. STAGECOACH immediately wins over audiences with its humor, warmth and escapist thrills; it connects… Read more »