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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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Throwback Thursday: The Majestic Beauty of the Alabama Hills

The Alabama Hills shot by Beth Ann Gallagher

An example of how photogenic the Alabama Hills are. I captured this shot with an iPhone.

 

The Alabama Hills are a photographer’s delight. When I visited, no matter what direction I looked in, I was surrounded by majestic and extremely photogenic beauty. All around me were rock formations that varied in shape and height, even within clusters. As morning turned into afternoon and the sun changed its angle in the sky, light slid across the landscape and highlighted formations in new ways. A formerly familiar spot could feel like a fresh discovery.

It’s no wonder filmmakers from the silent era to the present have been enchanted by the hills. They’re a gorgeous, natural backdrop that requires no painting or CGI. They are scene ready. Nearby spots can bear little resemblance to each other. What looks like a long journey onscreen might only have required careful editing after a cinematographer’s camera was moved mere yards and pointed in another direction.

Because the hills are a protected habitat, they remain unchanged, except by the light and the elements. That gives the place a feeling of timelessness. If you’ve ever seen a movie shot there, it’s very easy to recognize locations. You simply have to go in search of them. If you let your imagination run while you wander, you could expect to see cowboys on horseback or hear a gun battle or stumble upon a temple.

If you ever get a chance to visit the Alabama Hills, especially during the Lone Pine Film Festival, you must! You’ll find yourself somewhere beautiful and full of film history.

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Quote: The Importance of Women Writing Their Own Stories

“I did this show called TRAILBLAZING WOMEN, and the biggest thing I’ve learned in two years of doing the show is that men write their history and that’s why they’re remembered more than women. Cecil B. DeMille made sure to write everything down, but all the other women that were working at the same time as Cecil B. DeMille and D.W. Griffith–there were women directors, they didn’t write their stories down, so they weren’t included in the history books. I think it’s really important for women to mention the things that they were a part of.”

–Illeana Douglas, co-host of the I BLAME DENNIS HOPPER podcast, episode 12/20/16

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In Memoriam

I went to the Cerrito Oscar party. Last year was my first time attending. Once I saw the Oscars on the big screen, I couldn’t go back. I love the audience interaction with the telecast. Shushers are not welcome because they’d only interrupt the communal experience. Old time audiences were not silent. They vocally shared their reactions, and the Cerrito audience didn’t disappoint.

I was disappointed with this year’s In Memoriam. That clip reel is my favorite part of the broadcast. I eagerly await the tribute, and I wish the Oscars producers would lengthen it. They could find the time if they cut a song and dance routine or dropped a bad skit.

This year Queen Latifah introduced the montage and sang over at least half the footage. Her voice overpowered the clips. She was too much at the forefront, overshadowing the departed. Worse the live music meant the editor couldn’t feature much dialogue. Film may be a visual medium, but dialogue punctuates the experience.

I plan to ask a friend who attended in person how she experienced the visuals. Even blown up on a theatre screen, the use of multiple monitors to display the deceased and their work diminished them and their moment. I was confused where to look, and the images flew by too quickly. I imagine the impact was worse for those watching on televisions at home.

One YouTube poster tried to solve this problem by editing together his or her own version of the montage:

I like to see cinema’s history honored and its participants remembered. I listen for the Academy audience’s reaction to certain individuals. Obviously there are gaps in their knowledge. A Van Johnson doesn’t get as much applause as a Paul Newman because the latter worked more recently, but the former was no less important in his day. He kept his studio afloat with big box office results.

Perhaps some actors are chilled by the fear of being forgotten. Not all want to pull a Deanna Durbin and retire when big and wealthy. Many aim for screen mortality, and a forgotten big deal hints that they too may be forgotten one day.

Worse is the exclusion of people who really contributed to film. Last year Yvonne De Carlo earned no mention, but she was a box office babe during Hollywood’s golden era. The latter part of her career as a television star (and as Lily Munster) seemed to eclipse her Hollywood contributions. The industry’s memory can be fickle, and its history constantly rewritten.

Sometimes social politics come into play. Brad Renfro wasn’t included in this or last year’s clips. He died before Heath Ledger. Both men reportedly had trouble with substance abuse; one died of illegal drugs, and one died from perscription drugs. Renfro contributed to the industry since his childhood, but he died during a career downturn. Since Ledger went out on a career high, he was the one showcased last year, while the Academy chose not to mark Renfro’s passing due to “time constraints”.

The 2009 Screen Actors Guild Awards featured a more extended reel:

Yet there are notables missing like Ann Savage. Her overall filmography may not have earned her an award or an extended career, but her work in the film noir cult favorite “Detour” immortalizes her. She will inspire others to act and to make film, and she was rediscovered in time to die a working actress, so she must have been a SAG member. I haven’t seen her last screen appearance in Guy Maddin‘s “My Winnipeg” yet, but I will.

At least Savage knew she was appreciated before she died. I found a clip of her last day on Maddin’s set where those around her devolve into fangirls and boys:

Savage is lucky another way. The Film Noir Foundation is rectifying her slight. The final day of Noir City in Los Angeles pays tribute to Savage with guest speakers, film clips, rarities, and her last film.

Someone needs to champion those behind the scenes like Irving Brecher. Despite penning many notable scripts like “Meet Me in St. Louis” and the Marx Brothers“At the Circus” , he warranted no mention, and he leaves a widow who may have felt the snub.

Tributes like the Oscars’ are enjoyed by the living, so maybe the Academy should make sure to honor Hollywood’s old timers before their actual passing, so they know they are remembered and not discarded like yesterday’s memorabilia. Maybe Hollywood would make better product if more of its denizens learned its real/reel history and extended their collective memories past less than twelve years ago.