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Happy Birthday, John Waters!

John Waters as William Castle and Jessica Lange as Joan Crawford on FX's FEUD

William Castle (John Waters) addressing the crowd at STRAIT-JACKET’s (1964) premiere as Joan Crawford (Jessica Lange) listens on FEUD (2017) episode HAGSPLOITATION

I grew up in a John Waters household, so when I caught up with FEUD (2017), I was delighted to watch his cameo as shockmeister William Castle. My parents went to Waters’ movies, and my mom owns an ODODRAMA card gotten at a first run screening of POLYESTER (1981). Living in Massachusetts close enough to The Cape that Provincetown could be a day jaunt, she thinks she shopped in Dreamlander Divine‘s thrift shop, which he ran in his poor, pre-fame days. It was only a matter of time until we shared some of Waters’ movies together. I’ve now seen most of his films and read most of his books.

Which is how I know it was an honor for him to play Castle. Physically, the two men were very different. Waters has remained trim while Castle was heavier in comparison and thicker haired. FEUD show creator Ryan Murphy didn’t want Waters costumed to resemble Castle. No, fat suit as Waters said. Murphy was aware those in this know would delight in how meta it would be for Castle disciple Waters to appear as himself when portraying the other director.

If you haven’t read Castle’s memoir STEP RIGHT UP! I’M GOING TO SCARE THE PANTS OFF AMERICA, you need to. Waters wrote a loving and nostalgic introduction on how seeing Castle’s gimmicky movies as a kid inspired a love of cinema and the outrageous. There’s a joy in both directors’ works at defying convention to pursue their own visions. Keep on reading after the introduction, and you’ll learn a lot about B-movie making on shoestring budgets, including what it was like to work with Joan Crawford on STRAIT-JACKET (1964).

Happy birthday to John Waters, who doesn’t think he’s ever topped William Castle, but got to be him for a day! That must have been his best early birthday present.

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Let’s fight the Monday Mehs with THE TAP AWAKENS!

Let’s fight the Monday Mehs together! I guarantee THE TAP AWAKENS by Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox will bring a smile to almost anyone’s face. The group rearranges famous STAR WARS songs into a jazz medley, complete with a tap dancer to add percussive elements.

You don’t have to be a huge STAR WARS fan to enjoy the band’s performance. I consumed the original trilogy as a kid; I owned merchandise like action figures and slept in branded bed sheets; and I played STAR WARS instead of cops and robbers with friends, but I can’t claim they’re what turned me into a film fanatic, even with Han Solo being my first cinematic crush.

Awareness of and exposure to STAR WARS are hard to avoid. The movies are part of our shared cultural consciousness. They’ve been rereleased for home and theatre viewing repeatedly, which has allowed these fan favorites to be passed down to multiple movie-going generations. The songs will be familiar to you.

What’ll be new is seeing their performance turned into an vaudeville-style number and envisioning gold-clad, high energy Sarah Reich as a dancing, female C-3PO. If her enthusiasm or that image doesn’t bring a smile to your face, you might need more caffeine to get you through the rest of today!

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TCMFF 2017 Diary: Pre-Fest Day One

If you ever attend the TCM Classic Film Festival, try flying in at least a day early. Even if you’re not travelling far and don’t need recuperation time, the Los Angeles area offers a lot for classic film fans to see and do. This year I flew in two days early. I arrived on Tuesday when the film festival starts on Friday.

Pann's Neon Sign

The first thing my hostess, Karie Bible, did after picking me up from LAX was to whisk me off to Pann‘s. It’s a diner offering hearty food at relatively inexpensive prices. Best of all, it’s a a functional landmark. It opened in 1958, and inside and out it remains a fifties wonder. It’s a chance to nosh in Googie architecture! The eaterie’s 1950s sign is iconic, and the restaurant’s been featured in movies and TV, like PULP FICTION (1994).

Besame Cosmetics's Lipsticks

After that, we picked up our friend Kaci and drove to Burbank’s Retro Row AKA Magnolia Boulevard. This street is full of vintage and reproduction vintage shops. First stop was Bésame Cosmetics to pick up the gift cards for Spellbound’s TCMFFGlamour contest and for personal shopping. The gift cards weren’t ready, but after looking, touching, and sampling, I left with goodies. I’ll be sporting their new lip color Wild Orchid at TCMFF’s opening night. We wandered over to Pinup Girl Clothing and tried on some of their fashions and stopped in What Katie Did to look at shoes and lingerie. It was Audrey K that cause me to splash more cash on a pair of green ombre cat eye sunglasses.

Exotica Center Stage

On to FIDM! Its museum is hosting two events sure to appeal to film fans, EXOTICA: FASHION & FILM COSTUME OF THE 1920s and 25TH ANNUAL ART OF MOTION PICTURE COSTUME DESIGN. I loved seeing the costumes in person to catch details that flick by in seconds on film. Sometimes the costumes gave me an idea of the figures that wore them, how tall or not and how slight or full. In one case, the illusion beneath the costume was revealed when a piece of padded shapewear got its own case. Of the two, EXOTICA was my favorite. It was one room full of gorgeous, fantasy wear. I wanted to see more!

Fashion in Film of TCMFF 2017

Next we rushed off to pick up Kelly and Mark of the Facebook group Going to the TCM Classic Film Festival. Our destination was the Annenberg Community Beach House for a TCMFF perfect lecture. Kimberly Truhler of GlamAmor discussed Fashion in Film of TCMFF 2017: Sophisticated Comedies 1930s-50s. It was a great crash course or review on great actresses what they wore and who designed their costumes, often former couturiers. Like the movies they were featured in, iconic Hollywood costumes have had a lasting impact. Their influences can be seen in fashions on and off the screen.

Miceli's Neon Sign
We capped the night off with a late dinner at Miceli’s, another food institution in the LA area. The food was tasty. Growing up on the East Coast, I’m a pizza snob, and I was very happy with mine. It wasn’t quite as thin a crust as I usually go for, but it wasn’t too thick either. My friends’ lasagnas looked fantastic with extra sauce piled on tip. Maybe the entertainment realized we were in town for TCMFF, because the pianist keep putting movie themes into his ongoing medley. The only wrong note was when our friendly waiter turned gruff when we asked for split checks. Maybe that’s to be expected from a place with three brass plates listing house rules on its door.

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I’m bringing #TCMFFGlamour Back!

Linda winning Besame Cosmetics Face Powder as part of #TCMFFGlamour

One of last year’s #TCMFFGlamour winners, Linda. She and her daughter came stylishly and classically attired, like they had stepped out of one of the films screened.

 

Well, technically I need the help of other TCM Classic Film Festival attendees to bring the glamour. Last year Bésame Cosmetics entered into a co-promotion with me. You may have seen their red lipsticks featured in FEUD (2017). They gave me lipsticks and powders to feature in a contest for 2016 festival attendees, and the response was good. It was fun making women happy and talking with them about the glamour of movies we love. This year the contest returns in a new variation with new prizes.

Instead of having people discuss movie star glamour or answer trivia questions via Twitter, I’m going to seek out the stylishly attired to feature in my social media and on my blog. Like a lot of classic film fans, I’m fascinated by and attracted to the glamour the era brought to the silver screen. My style’s been influenced by the movies I love, and I see that trait reflected in other classic film fans in how they present themselves, especially at TCM’s festival. This year’s contest will explore and share that expression of fandom.

After the fest ends, I’m going to create a post featuring all of the stylishly attired I’ve featured during the festival. On that post, readers will be able to vote for their favorite looks. The top three winners will win prizes from Bésame and Unique Vintage. Whoever comes in first place will get her first choice prize and so on.

Besame Cosmetics Logo

I’m excited that Bésame has returned as a contest sponsor. I personally use their products, particularly their lipsticks, but I love and wear two of their perfumes. They’ve donated two gift certificates for $25 each. Winners will be able to use those gift certificates to select an item from the entire line.

Unique Vintage Logo

Unique Vintage is a new partner. They sell reproduction vintage clothing and accessories designed for today’s bodies in a wide range of sizes. They sell other companies’ clothing, and they have their own line. They have offered an in-stock Unique Vintage brand dress, separate, or swim item (excluding their flapper line)–winner’s choice!

In the goal of being transparent, I want to thank Unique Vintage for giving me a media discount on three of the frocks I’ll be wearing at the fest, which you’ll see featured in my social media. I’ve packed a fourth dress bought from them previously at full price, too.

If you’re attending the festival, and you’re glammed up, feel free to reach out to me! I’d love to hear from you why you chose your outfit and if you were thinking of any specific films when you did.

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The Road To TCMFF 2017: Los Angeles Area Classic Film Exhibitions

Kaire Bible and Beth Ann Gallagher in Club TCM TCMFF 2016

Karie Bible and I in Club TCM at TCMFF 2016

If you’re going to the TCM Classic Film Festival, and you’re searching for ways to make the most of your visit, this list is for you! Colleague and friend Karie Bible, founder of the long-respected site covering specialty film-going in Los Angeles Film Radar, and I have compiled selective lists of activities sure to help a film fanatic fill any extra time before and after the fest. Today’s list focuses on time-limited movie-related exhibitions.

Exotica FIDM Exhibit Dramatic Back Gown and Wrap.jpg-large

Image Courtesy of FIDM Museum

EXOTICA: FASHION & FILM COSTUME OF THE 1920s
This is my must-see on our list. Organized by FIDM, EXOTICA highlights international influences on early film costumes. As silent cinema portrayed foreign lands, the requisite wardrobe established characters and settings and off-the-screen inspired real world fashions. Soon sheiks were romancing senoritas, and ladies and gentlemen were lounging in chinoiserie pajamas. Two special pieces on display are Rudolph Valentino’s bolero from BLOOD AND SAND (1922) and a dress designed by his second wife Natacha Rambova. The exhibit runs now through April 22nd and is FREE and open to the public.

LA LA LAND AT FIDM ART OF MOTION PICTURE COSTUME DESIGN

Image Courtesy of FIDM Museum

25TH ANNUAL ART OF MOTION PICTURE COSTUME DESIGN
Also at the FIDM Museum, this exhibit gathers together “more than one hundred costumes from twenty-three films.” Represented films include FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM, ALLIED, KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS, LA LA LAND, FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS, and FENCES. You’ll be able to see up close the craftsmanship that went into designing these costumes and how distinct the creations for each film are. Only one film nominated for a 2016 Academy Award for Best Costume Design is not represented by a display, JACKIE. Admission is FREE.

Jean Harlow Hollywood’s First Blonde Bombshell Exhibit

Image Courtesy of The Hollywood Museum

JEAN HARLOW: HOLLYWOOD’S FIRST BLONDE BOMBSHELL
This exhibit recently opened at the Hollywood Museum on Highland. That is within walking distance down the street from the TCMFF. The show features Harlow’s 1932 Packard, a costume from BOMBSHELL (1933), memorabilia, and other rare items. Adult admission is $15. Seniors, students, and children receive discounted entry. The exhibit will run for several months. Bonus: The museum is located in the Max Factor Building, designed by architect S. Charles Lee in the “Hollywood Regency Art Deco style.”

The Birth of Motion Pictures An Illustrated History of Silent Cinema 1910-1929 Exhibit

THE BIRTH OF THE MOTION PICTURES: AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY OF SILENT CINEMA 1910-1929
This exhibit is further away and is open for limited hours Wednesdays through Sundays, so it requires extra time and planning to visit, but if you love silent film or the art of movie poster illustration, you should try to fit it into your schedule. The show is being held in the town of Brea, California, about one hour outside of Los Angeles. It features rare silent film posters and an actual Academy Award from the silent era! Much of the material on display is rare and shown on loan from a private collector. The limited edition catalog, sure to become a collectible, has been called “a masterpiece” by Silent Film Quarterly. Admission is $3, and the exhibit closes on April 14.

Stay tuned for the  next The Road To TCMFF 2017 featuring classic film-related events!

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Win BEHIND THE DOOR (1919) on Blu-ray/DVD from Flicker Alley!

As promised, here are the details on the Flicker Alley contest this blog is participating in. You’re getting the chance to win a brand new dual-format edition Blu-ray and DVD. Flicker Alley and a group of amazing sites for fans of silent and classic film are proud to bring you this giveaway for BEHIND THE DOOR (1919).

Behind the Door Blu-ray DVD Cover

I missed the movie when it screened at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival in 2016, so here’s more on the film and set from the Flicker Alley press release:

Legendary producer Thomas H. Ince and director Irvin V. Willat made this—͞the most outspoken of all the vengeance films according to film historian Kevin Brownlow—during the period of World War I-inspired American patriotism.

Hobart Bosworth stars as Oscar Krug, a working-class American, who is persecuted for his German ancestry after war is declared. Driven by patriotism, Krug enlists and goes to sea. However, tragedy strikes when his wife (Jane Novak) sneaks aboard his ship and is captured following a German U-boat attack. Krug’s single-minded quest for vengeance against the sadistic German submarine commander (played with villainous fervor by Wallace Beery) leads to the film’s shocking and brutal climax.

This newly restored edition represents the most complete version of the film available since 1919, thanks to the collaboration of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, the Library of Congress, and Gosfilmofond of Russia.

Sourced from the only two known remaining prints and referencing a copy of Willat’s original continuity script, this edition recreates the original color tinting scheme and features a new score composed and performed by Stephen Horne. Flicker Alley is honored to present BEHIND THE DOOR on Blu-ray and DVD for the first time ever.

Bonus Materials Include:

  • Original Russian version of BEHIND THE DOOR: The re-edited and re-titled version of the film that was distributed in Russia, with musical accompaniment by Stephen Horne.
  • Original Production Outtakes: Featuring music composed and performed by Stephen Horne.
  • RESTORING IRVIN WILLAT’S BEHIND THE DOOR: An inside look at the restoration process with the restoration team.
  • KEVIN BROWNLOW, REMEMBERING IRVIN WILLAT: Directed by Patrick Stanbury, an in-depth interview with renowned historian and honorary Academy Award® winner Kevin Brownlow on the career of director Irvin Willat.
  • Slideshow Gallery: Original lobby cards, production stills, and promotional material.
  • 12-page Booklet: Featuring rare photographs and essays by film historian Jay Weissburg, film restorer Robert Byrne, and composer Stephen Horne.

The set’s official release date is April 4, 2017. Readers of this blog who pre-order now using this link receive a special sale price of $29.95 for a limited time!

Here’s the film’s trailer:

Giveaway Hosted By: Flicker Alley

Co-Hosted By:

To enter, comment on this blog what is your favorite revenge movie or cinematic scene of revenge, and then submit your contact information to Flicker Alley using the form below.

Special Screening Alert: JAMAICA INN (1939)

Maureen O'Hara in JAMAICA INN (1939)

Sharing a black and white picture of Maureen O’Hara after and not on St. Patrick’s day might seem like a mistake. The Irish-born actress’s trademark was her flame red hair crowning her head in glory in technicolor pictures, so sharing a color photo of her to celebrate the holiday would’ve been festive, but that’s not what I’m celebrating today.

Tonight I’m in Los Angeles to watch JAMAICA INN (1939) for the first time. I’ve been invited as press to cover a special screening organized by KCETLink, the Cohen Media Group, and BAFTA LA. It celebrates KCET and Link TV’s broadcast premiere of the movie, the last one Alfred Hitchcock shot in the United Kingdom.

As part of the festivities, there’ll be a red carpet, which I’ve been credentialed for, so that marks a first for this film writer and her blog. Celebrity guests include Norman Lloyd (SABOTUERSPELLBOUND, and ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS) and Fred Willard (BEST IN SHOW and A Mighty Wind). There’ll be an exhibition of behind-the-scenes photographs of Hitchcock organized by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and SciencesMargaret Herrick Library. All three of the director’s granddaughters will be in attendance, and they’ll participate in a panel discussion moderated by host of the COHEN FILM CLASSICS series Charles S. Cohen.

When I heard that last fact, I had to rearrange my schedule to attend. I’m not sure how often his granddaughters (Tere Carrubba, Katie Fiala and Mary Stone) are in one place, and I can’t wait to hear what they share about their grandfather. I’ll be sure to share what live experiences I can on my Instagram and Twitter accounts, and you’ll definitely find more in-depth coverage here at a later date.

For now enjoy this picture of O’Hara as JAMAICA INN’s Mary Yellen. Even after a sub-par screen test, its male lead and producer Charles Laughton insisted she be cast as his co-star. He was bewitched by her eyes, and it’s easy to see why.

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You Know You’re a Film Fanatic When–This is Your Gym Tee!

Spellbound by Movie's Beth Ann Gallagher in Rock Rebel's Universal Monsters Collage Tee

I can’t resist showing my movie love when at my new gym. Since I’m only a beginner, its circuit training sessions are grueling, but I keep myself peppy by wearing film-related tees. Today’s reflected my lifelong enjoyment of the Universal Monsters series.

Starting as a tot, I’d tune in to local station WLVI for The Creature Double Feature every Saturday. The show didn’t have the typical costumed horror host, but the announcer was enthusiastic, and he never talked down about the material. The program’s introductory sequences built anticipation of what was to come by containing horror clips, sometimes altered in psychedelic ways, accompanied by electronic music and vocal effects.

I credit The Creature Double Feature as one of the influences that turned me into a film fanatic. It was pure cinema of entertainment until commercials temporarily interrupted whatever was onscreen. Besides Universal, the program showcased Toho Studio‘s giant monster movies, American International Pictures‘ fifties films, Hammer Studios, and Roger Corman‘s sixties horror flicks.

Mention The Creature Double feature to anyone who grew up watching it, and you’ll get a smile from someone eager to chat. The name acts like a secret handshake. If you search the web, you’ll find fan pages and a message board run by people nostalgic for the show. I even found a list of every movie it ever played. That’s a great help because I know I’ve watched Hammer movies, but sometimes I can’t remember which ones. I enjoyed them, but the melancholy monsters of Universal Studios stuck with me.

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The Road to TCMFF 2017: Spellbound Awarded Official Media Credential!

Beth Ann Gallagher with Alice Faye's Hollywood Walk of Fame Star

Me paying tribute to Alice Faye during last year’s TCMFF. Photograph by Karie Bible.

Wonderful news! For the second year in a row, I’ve been awarded an official media credential to the TCM Classic Film Festival. I’m excited to return to the premiere classic film gathering in the United States. I can’t wait to meet up with fellow film fanatics to experience the camaraderie, special guests, movies, and other events TCM is organizing. Prior to the festival, I’ll be releasing more The Road to TCMFF 2017 pieces. Once the festival goes live, I’ll have daily diaries on this blog; I’ve invested in a digital recorder for on-site interviews; and I’ll be sharing live reactions on Twitter and Instagram. Post-event coverage will include detailed reviews. Prepare to be inundated with updates!

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Remembering Robert Osborne

Beth Ann Gallagher, Karie Bible, Annie Coulter, and Deborah Rush with Robert Osborne at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival

Late Monday morning I was crying. A quick look at Twitter let me know something I hoped wouldn’t happen yet had. TCM host and film historian Robert Osborne had died. He’d been on extended medical leave, so I knew he wasn’t well, that he must have been seriously ill to stay away from the network and the job that meant so much to him. He was the rare person who created his own career around what he loved, film. Since he was the even rarer public person who kept his personal life private, fans didn’t know more about his condition than that. I wished like many he’d rebound.

I’m not the sort of person who jumps on the celebrity mourning bandwagon. I don’t write about someone’s passing simply to get blog hits. When I feel the loss of someone like Robert, and I’m going to be presumptuous and call him by his first name since he’s been in my living room many times, I really feel it. Chief among his many gifts was being able to connect and engage with an audience. He made me feel like he was excited to share what he knew and thought about a film because he cared–and he truly did. He wanted to pass on the knowledge and the joy of classic film. Whether you met him in person or watched him on TV, he gave you a personal experience.

I was lucky enough to meet Robert at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival in 2007. He was there to accept an award from the festival for TCM for its contributions “to the preservation, restoration and exhibition of silent film.” He, also, introduced CAMILLE (1921). I didn’t approach him when I saw him in the Castro Theatre‘s auditorium. I don’t think he would’ve minded, but I try to be considerate of famous people’s moments of downtime. My friends and I made sure to go up to the theatre’s mezzanine for his book signing, and that’s the first and last time I met him.

Some of us bought his book, and some didn’t, but that didn’t seem to matter to him. He was friendly and chatted with all of us, and he quickly and happily said yes to a group picture. While we started posing for the picture,  I wanted to let him know how much I appreciated him and his work. I don’t remember what I said to him, but whatever I said and how I said it, he paused for a moment and tilted his head, and then he responded with something nice back. I’m sorry to be vague, but I remember the quality of the moment and my emotions more than the words used by either of us.

Robert exemplified generosity. He was a consummate gentleman to all who approached him. He left people feeling good after they interacted with him. He wasn’t only an ambassador for TCM or classic film. He was someone who radiated happiness at his good fortune at being able to live the life he wanted, and he shared that happiness by making himself available until he wasn’t able to anymore.

Thank you, Robert, for giving more than you took, for being an educator and an inspiration, and for being you. You leave behind a rich legacy.

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