The New Year means an end to my blogging break! I’m very excited to share with you details on Spellbound By Movies’ first event! Even if you live far from me, you’ll have an opportunity to participate virtually.
By msbethg in 20th Century Fox, 21st Century Fox, Fox Film, Fox Film Corporation, Jeffrey Paul Thompson, Michael Troyan, Movie Moguls, Movie Studios, Series, Spellbound Events, Vanda Krefft, William Fox No Comments Tags: 20th Century Fox, 21st Century Fox, biograpy, book, books, California, classic film, discussion, film archivist, film historian, film history, Fox, Fox Film, Fox Film Corporation, history, Jeffrey Paul Thompson, Jeffrey Thompson, Lamorinda, Michael Troyan, movie mogul, new, Orinda, Orinda Books, releases, signing, Silent Film, The Man Who Made the Movies, Vanda Krefft, William Fox
The New Year means an end to my blogging break! I’m very excited to share with you details on Spellbound By Movies’ first event! Even if you live far from me, you’ll have an opportunity to participate virtually.
By msbethg in 1900s, 1910s, 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, Alice Guy Blaché, Claire Parker, Classic Film, Contests, Directors, Documentaries, Dorothy Arzner, Drama, Era, Experimental, Foreign, French, Genres, Germaine Dulac, Leni Riefenstahl, Lois Weber, Lotte Reiniger, Mabel Normand, Madeline Brandeis, Marie-Louise Iribe, Mary Ellen Bute, Maya Deren, Mrs. Wallace Reid, Olga Preobrazhenskaia, Series, Silent Film, Women Film Directors 4 Comments Tags: #52FilmsByWomen, Alice Guy Blaché, American, An International Anthology, animation, anthology, Blu-ray, cinema, Claire Parker, classic, commercial, contest, director, directors, doc, documentaries, documentary, Dorothy Arzner, Dorothy Davenport, dvd, Early Women Filmmakers, experimental, experimental film, feature, feature films, features, female, film, film history, filmmaker, filmmakers, filmmaking, films, Flicker Alley, Frederick Hodges, French, Germaine Dulac, German, international, Judith Rosenberg, Kate Saccone, Leni Riefenstahl, live-action, Lois Weber, Lotte Reiniger, Mabel Normand, Madeline Brandeis, Marie-Louise Iribe, Mary Ellen Bute, Maya Deren, Milestone Film, Milestone Film and Video, Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra, movie, movies, Mrs. Wallace Reid, narrative, narratives, new releases, Olga Preobrazhenskaia, rare, restoration, restored, Rodney Sauer, Russian, Sergei Dreznin, set, Shelley Stamp, short, shorts, silent, Silent Film, silents, Tamar Muskal, TCM, Trailblazing Women, Turner Classic Movies, woman, women, Women Film Pioneers Project, World
Flicker Alley, a boutique distributor of classic and rare films, contacted me about another great contest they’re running. Of course, I said yes to spread the word of their brand new release I thoroughly believe in, and I’m going to give you a chance to win a copy. It’s called EARLY WOMEN FILMMAKERS: AN INTERNATIONAL ANTHOLOGY.
Projects like #52FilmsByWomen and TCM‘s TRAILBLAZING WOMEN have drawn attention to the often forgotten, neglected, underpromoted, and underseen works of women directors. These are contemporary problems. Women were involved in every aspect of the nascent film industry. Early women filmmakers made product intended to be consumed by an audience comprised largely of female peers, and stars of their movies were usually women, who were paid higher salaries than their male acting counterparts.
Despite their achievements, many early women filmmakers have been written out of film history, and their contributions have been undervalued or misattributed. As in the case of Alice Guy-Blaché, their “firsts” may have been given away to now more famous males. Flicker Alley’s new release EARLY WOMEN FILMMAKERS: AN INTERNATIONAL ANTHOLOGY will be a resource for those wanting to learn more about the talented women of world cinema. New audiences, no matter where they live, will have a way to see and experience these movies, which is much better than possessing only academic knowledge of them. Restoring films to the canon requires accessibility.
On May 9, Flicker Alley releases EARLY WOMEN FILMMAKERS: AN INTERNATIONAL ANTHOLOGY on dual-Format edition Blu-ray/DVD. The set showcases fourteen of early cinema’s most innovative and influential women directors, rewriting and celebrating their rightful place in film history. The directors are Alice Guy-Blaché, Lois Weber, Mabel Normand, Madeline Brandeis, Germaine Dulac, Olga Preobrazhenskaia, Marie-Louise Iribe, Lotte Reiniger, Claire Parker, Mrs. Wallace Reid (Dorothy Davenport), Leni Riefenstahl, Mary Ellen Bute, Dorothy Arzner, and Maya Deren.
The directors are represented by ten hours of material restored to high definition. Their twenty-five films span four decades (1902-1943). Many are rare titles not widely available until now. Expect shorts to feature films, live-action to animation, and commercial narratives to experimental works. These women’s technical and stylistic innovations pushed boundaries of subject matter, narrative, aesthetics, and genre. For a complete list of films included on the set, please visit Flicker Alley here.
Bonus Materials include:
One lucky winner will receive a copy of EARLY WOMEN FILMMAKERS: AN INTERNATIONAL ANTHOLOGY from Flicker Alley! The giveaway is open to residents of US and Canada, and the contest ends on May 22, 2017. To enter, comment on this post and then fill-out the form below. Tell me which early woman filmmaker you admire or want to learn more about!
By msbethg in 1920s, Actresses, Cecil B. DeMille, Chicago (1927), Directors, Era, Film Festivals, Frank Urson, Genres, Movies, Phyllis Haver, Silent Film, Toronto Silent Film Festival Tags: 1920s, 1927, 20s, Beulah Annan, Bobby Franks, Canada, Cecil B. DeMille, Chicago, Chicago Tribune, drunk, drunks, Eugene O'Neill, film fest, film festival film festivals, film fests, flapper, flappers, Flicker Alley, Fox Theatre, Frank Urson, George Pierce Baker, Jordan Klapman, Leopold and Loeb, lover, Maurine Dallas Watkins, Maurine Watkins, murder, Murderess Row, Nathan Freudenthal Leopold Jr., Nathan Leopold, newspaper, Phyllis Haver, Prohibition, reporter, reporters, Richard Albert Loeb, Richard Loeb, Roxie Hart, shooting, shot, silent, Silent Film, silent films, silents, Toronto, Toronto Silent Film Festival
A newspaper photographer poses a pretty flapper with platinum curls wearing not much more than a peignoir over a man’s lifeless body. Don’t worry. He’s not really dead. He’s playing her real victim, who’s lying cold elsewhere. Welcome to CHICAGO where a girl gunner gets priority in print over her victim! She was the one who was going to sell papers, and she did. In the movie, her name is Roxie Hart, but in real life her name was Beulah Annan, and she would take her place on “Murderess Row” where she awaited trial and attempted to maximize her beauty and newfound fame into an acquittal. Reporter Maurine Dallas Watkins covered Annan’s case. If Annan was an angel of death, then Watkins wanted to be an avenging angel with her words as her weapon.
Watkins didn’t start out wanting to be a reporter. She intended to live a quiet academic life of language and religious studies, but she changed her mind after her short stories earned her a place in George Pierce Baker‘s prestigious playwriting workshop. Baker, a mentor of Eugene O’Neill, encouraged Watkins to go out and experience life for her work. Suddenly her purpose crystallized for her; she felt called to engage evil, and she’d do it through her writing. Like O’Neill, she became a reporter, and she chose to work in Chicago since she saw it as a hotbed of sin, and she applied to the CHICAGO TRIBUNE because it was “a real hanging paper—out for conviction always.”
Watkins was sure Annan was guilty. She had shot her lover in the back after drinking two quarts of wine with him, so her defense of preventing dishonor didn’t seem believable. Watkins wrote biting and acerbic pieces mocking Annan and the attitudes that might free her. Annan would be audacious enough to claim to be pregnant, but cynical Watkins feared Annan’s being a woman was enough to avoid conviction. Juries were only composed of men, who held Victorian views of women. As a youthful and beautiful woman, Annan might walk away from her crime. The prosecutor entreated the jury not “to let another pretty woman go out and say ‘I got away with it!’” Since Annan and Hart received the same verdict, you’ll have to watch them film to find out what it was!
Watkins covered crime for six months. Her last case was the Bobby Franks murder. She interviewed Leopold and Loeb and provided pre-trial coverage of the pair. She suddenly switched to movie reviews. She may have burnt out on covering murders, but she definitely was biding time until she could reunite with Baker to work on a play she had started, one ultimately called CHICAGO. Watkins distanced herself from her newspaper work, and no mention of it was made to promote her play. Her play was a hit, and when the offer came in to adapt it for the screen, her services were declined. She wrote other plays and eventually screenplays, including LIBELED LADY (1936).
By msbethg in Film Festivals, Series, TCM Film Festival 2 Comments Tags: #TCMFFGlamour, Annenberg Community Beach House, architecture, Audrey K, Bésame, Bésame Cosmetics, classic, classic film, classic films, classic movie, classic movies, clothes, clothing, couturiers, dark, eateries, eatery, expression, Fashion, Fashion in Film of TCMFF 2017: Sophisticated Comedies 1930s-50s, film, film exhibition, film fanatics, film fans, film fest, film festival, film festivals, film fests, films, food, glam, GlamAmor, glamor, glamour, Googie, Googie architecture, Hollywood, Kimberly Truhler, LA, look, Los Angeles, Miceli's, movie, movies, outfit, outfits, Pann's, Pinup Girl Clothing, PULP FICTION, restaurant, restaurants, self-expression, silent, Silent Film, silent films, silents, style, stylish, TCM, TCM Classic Film Fest, TCM Classic Film Festival, TCMFF, TCMFF 2017, TCMFF17, TCMFF2017, Turner Classic Movies, Turner Classic Movies Film Fest, Turner Classic Movies Film Festival, What Katie Did, Wild Orchid
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.
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).
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.
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!
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.
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.
By msbethg in #TCMFFGlamour, Contests, Film Festivals, Series, TCM Film Festival 1 Comment Tags: #TCMFFGlamour, 2017, accessories, Bésame, Bésame Cosmetics, classic, classic film, classic films, classic movie, classic movies, clothes, clothing, contest, contests, cosmetics, expression, fan, fandom, fans, Fashion, Feud, film, film fanatics, film fans, film fest, film festival, film festivals, film fests, films, glam, glamor, glamour, Hollywood, LA, lipstick, lipsticks, look, looks, Los Angeles, make-up, movie, movie star, movies, outfit, outfits, perfume, perfumes, red lipstick, red lipsticks, repro vintage, reproduction vintage, self-expression, silent, Silent Film, silent films, silents, style, stylish, TCM, TCM Classic Film Fest, TCM Classic Film Festival, TCMFF, TCMFF 2017, TCMFF17, TCMFF2017, Turner Classic Movies, Turner Classic Movies Film Fest, Turner Classic Movies Film Festival, Unique Vintage, vintage
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.
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 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.
By msbethg in Film Festivals, Series, TCM Film Festival, The Road to TCMFF 2017 Tags: 1920s, 1932, 2017, Academy Award, Allied, Art Deco, Art of Motion Picture Costume Design, Best Costume Design, Blonde Bombshell, Blood and Sand, Bombshell, catalog, classic, classic film, classic films, classic movie, classic movies, Club TCM, costume, costumes, costuming, design, display, displays, exhibit, exhibition, exhibitions, exhibits, exotica, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Fashion, Fences, FIDM, FIDM Museum, film, film exhibition, film fanatics, film fans, film fest, film festival, film festivals, film fests, Film Radar, films, Florence Foster Jenkins, Harlow, history, Hollywood, illustrated, illustration, Jackie, Jean Harlow, Karie Bible, Kubo and the Two Strings, LA, La La Land, list, lists, Los Angeles, Max Factor Building, motion picture, movie, movies, museum, museums, Natacha Rambova, Packard, poster, posters, Regency, Rudolph Valentino, S. Charles Lee, show, shows, silent, Silent Film, Silent Film Quarterly, silent films, silents, TCM, TCM Classic Film Fest, TCM Classic Film Festival, TCMFF, TCMFF 2017, TCMFF17, TCMFF2017, The Birth of Motion Pictures, The Hollywood Museum, The Road to TCMFF, The Road to TCMFF 2017, tourist, Turner Classic Movies, Turner Classic Movies Film Fest, Turner Classic Movies Film Festival, Valentino, visit, visitor, visitors, visits
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: 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.
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
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 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!
By msbethg in 1910s, Behind the Door, Contests, Era, Genres, Movies, Revenge, Series, Silent Film, Themes 15 Comments Tags: 1919, Academy Award, American, Behind the Door, Blu-ray, classic, classic film, classic films, contest, dual format, dvd, film, films, Flicker Alley, German, giveaway, Gosfilmofond, Gosfilmofond of Russia, Hobart Bosworth, Irvin V. Willat, Jane Novak, Jay Weissburg, Kevin Brownlow, Library of Congress, LOC, movie.movies, Oscar Krug, outtakes, Patrick Stanbury, restoration, restored, revenge, Robert Byrne, Russia, Russian, San Francisco Silent Film Festival, SF Silent Film, SF Silent Film Fest, SF Silent Film Festival, ship, silent, Silent Film, silent films, silents, Stephen Horne, submarine, Thomas H. Ince, U-boat, vengeance, Wallace Beery, World War I, WWI
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).
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:
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
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.
By msbethg in Classic Film, Film Festivals, Genres, Series, TCM Film Festival, The Road to TCMFF 2017 7 Comments Tags: 2017, blog, classic, classic film, classic films, classic movie, classic movies, critic, film, film blog, film blogger, film bloggers, film critic, film exhibition, film fanatics, film fans, film fest, film festival, film festivals, film fests, film writer, film writers, films, Hollywood, LA, Los Angeles, media credential, movie, movie blog, movie blogger, movie bloggers, movies, press, press credential, press pass, silent, Silent Film, silent films, silents, TCM, TCM Classic Film Fest, TCM Classic Film Festival, TCMFF, TCMFF 2017, TCMFF17, TCMFF2017, The Road to TCMFF, The Road to TCMFF 2017, Turner Classic Movies, Turner Classic Movies Film Fest, Turner Classic Movies Film Festival, Woman writer, women writers
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!
By msbethg in Classic Film, Film Historians, Genres, Remembrances, Robert Osborne, Series 6 Comments Tags: 2007, Beth Ann Gallagher, book, book signing, Camille, Castro, Castro Theatre, classic, classic film, classic films, classic movie, classic movies, classics, exhibition, film festival, film festivals, film historian, film writer, host, In Memoriam, journalist, Karie Bible, mezzanine, movie, movie theater, movie theaters, movie theatre, movie theatres, movies, preservation, remembrance, restoration, Robert Osborne, San Francisco, San Francisco Silent Film Festival, SF Silent Film Fest, SF Silent Film Festival, SFSFF, signing, silent, Silent Film, silent films, silents, TCM, Turner Classic, Turner Classic Movies, writer
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.
By msbethg in Classic Film, Film Festivals, Genres, Series, Silent Film, TCM Film Festival, The Road to TCMFF 2017 Tags: Abbott and Costello, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Alice Howell, Bebe Daniels, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Bud Abbott, Buster Keaton, Carole Lombard, Clara Bow, classic, classic film, classic films, classics, comedian, comedians, comedienne, comediennes, comedies, comedy, Constance Talmadge, David Stenn, Dean Martin, duo, Elsa Lanchester, Fatty Arbuckle, film, film festival, film festivals, films, Flora Finch, Get Your Man, Gloria Swanson, Good References, Harold Lloyd, Hollywood, In the Heat of the Night, Jerry Lewis, Laurel and Hardy, Library of Congress, LOC, Los Angeles, Lou Costello, Louise Fazenda, Mabel Normand, Make 'Em Laugh, Marie Dressler, Moonstruck, movie, movies, Norman Jewison, Oliver Hardy, Patsy Kelly, Polly Moran, preservation, reconstruction, Red Hair, restorations, restored, Robert Woolsey, short, shorts, silent, Silent Film, silent films, silents, Stan Laurel, Suzanne Lloyd, TCM, TCM Classic Film Festival, TCM Film Festival, TCMFF, team, Thelma Todd, Turner Classic Movies, Wheeler and Woolsey, William "Bud" Abbott, William Abbott, Zasu Pitts
Since only a portion of the TCM Classic Film Festival offerings has been revealed, I’m going to fantasize about what else the festival programmers could schedule. In making my ideal list, I’ll pretend rights or physical print restrictions don’t exist, and I’ll stick to this year’s theme of MAKE ‘EM LAUGH: COMEDY IN THE MOVIES. I’m sure some of the programs and films I’d like to see at the festival will surprise you!
Long-term readers and Twitter followers know I’m a silent film buff, and I know the perfect gateway to introduce others to the medium is comedy. I have multiple suggestions in this category. Harold Lloyd will be shown, but due to his granddaughter Suzanne Lloyd‘s activism in preserving and promoting his work, his work screening at the fest is usually likely. I’m a fan, so I don’t object. I’d like more silents at the festival!
I’d love TCM to put together a program of silent film comediennes’ shorts. That way the audience could get exposure to or reacquaint themselves with multiple women stars from that era. There have been recent restorations, including some recently screened on the network, that could help fill the bill. Gloria Swanson, Louise Fazenda, Mabel Normand, Bebe Daniels, Flora Finch, Carole Lombard, Alice Howell, Marie Dressler, and Elsa Lanchester are all comediennes with existing silent shorts. If looking for a longer bill, shorts could be paired with Constance Talmadge‘s hour-long, recently found and restored comedy GOOD REFERENCES (1920).
Clara Bow‘s GET YOUR MAN (1927) provides the perfect excuse for a spotlight on the jazziest silent film comedienne. More exposure for Bow, especially with an introduction by her biographer David Stenn, will spotlight why America’s former favorite redhead deserves to be remembered as a talented comedienne whose onscreen naturalism belied self-aware technique. Discussion of how an incomplete film was reconstructed by the Library of Congress using “still photographs and inter-titles from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to fill in the narrative gaps” would be a mini-course in film preservation. If the program needs filling out because GET YOUR MAN is fifty-seven minutes long, short materials like the fragment of RED HAIR (1928) can be screened.
I’m divided whether I want a program of comedy duo shorts or one featuring duos whatever the length of their films. Shorts duos I’d be delighted to watch at TCMFF included Thelma Todd and ZaSu Pitts, Todd and Patsy Kelly, Buster Keaton and Fatty Arbuckle, and Laurel and Hardy. If the fest highlights comedic duos’ best moments even from longer fare, I’d want to see added Marie Dressler and Polly Moran, Abbott and Costello, and Wheeler and Woolsey. I’m sure including Bob Hope and Bing Crosby along with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis would make even more fans happy!
With Norman Jewison already in attendance for the fiftieth anniversary of IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT (1967), I hope another one of his films celebrating its thirtieth anniversary gets snuck onto the schedule–MOONSTRUCK (1987). It’s laugh out loud funny in an idiosyncratic way, and it celebrates life and the mistakes that make it interesting with no cynicism. It, also, captures an old New York City that’s been disappearing via gentrification, displacement, and the passing of the older generations.
Now that you’ve read my picks, what films or programs would you like to see at TCMFF?