Turner Classic Movies

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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The Road to TCMFF 2017: My Wish List

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!

SPEEDY showing Harold Llloyd and Ann Christy at Coney Island

Harold Lloyd and Ann Christy in SPEEDY (1928)

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!

Alice Howell in Cinderella Cinders

Alice Howell in CINDERELLA CINDERS (1920)

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 and Buddy Rogers in GET YOUR MAN

Clara Bow and Buddy Rogers in GET YOUR MAN (1927)

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.

ZaSu Pitts and Thelma Todd Laughing in Bed

ZaSu Pitts and Thelma Todd

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!

Moonstruck Moon over Bridge Shot

MOONSTRUCK (1987)

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?

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The Road to TCMFF 2017: Early Announced Films, How Classic Are They?

TCMFF 2017 Banner

When the TCM Classic Film Festival announced a smidgen of its schedule, fans poured over the listings to see what movies were included and did they fit their definition of classic. TCM fans are vocal on social media praising the network when pleased and passionately-yet-constructively criticizing it whenever they think their definition of classic has been strayed from. From what’s been released, I see a good mix sure to make a lot of fans happy. When I was considering whether to attend this year, I definitely felt the pull of the schedule. Let’s review what’s being offered together!

Since so many TCM film fans want to see classic era (i.e. studio era) movies, here’s how the offerings break down by time period. Of the thirty-two films or programs announced so far, twenty-four of them were made before 1970. Seven are from the 1970s or later.

The silent era (1910s-1920s) has two offerings:

The 1930s has eight offerings, half of which are pre-codes:

The 1940s have five offerings:

The 1950s have six offerings:

The 1960s have four offerings:

 

The 1970s have six offerings:

The 1980s have no offerings.

The 1990s have one offering:

While the bulk of the schedule fulfills the most traditional and constrictive definition classic film, the 1970s, the post-studio era, is very strongly represented. Only the 1930s has more selections; the 1950s ties with the 1970s. Obviously later made films are more likely to have guests that can attend the festival, but I don’t see that as the single motivation for programmers to include such movies. If we go by a broader definition of classic, something that is of its time yet timeless in its ability to be enjoyed repeatedly now and for years to come, then almost all the 1970s programming can be defined as classic. THE LANDLORD sticks out as rediscovery championing.

The post featuring my TCMFF picks will go live soon! In the meantime, feel free to comment on the 2017 schedule’s classic credentials.

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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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Guest Appearance on First Time Watchers

Harold Lloyd Hanging from the Clock in Safety Last

I’d been keeping a secret for a little while, in case it fell through, but it happened! I made a guest appearance on First Time Watchers this week. It’s a movie podcast hosted by Tim Costa, Hermano DaSilva, and Walter Vinci. I want to disclose the last host is one of my cousins! Movie madness runs in my family.

The guys discuss films classic and new, and they have their own unique format. They decided to expand their coverage to include a three-part series on silent film. Dan from Geek Cast Radio started it off by reviewing The Phantom Carriage, and Fritzi Kramer from Movies, Silently talked about The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.

concluded the series with Harold Lloyd‘s Safety Last (1923). In addition, I got to speak about how I got into movies and silents in particular, my recent trip to the TCM Classic Film Festival, some of the other film festivals I’ve been lucky enough to attend (like The San Francisco Silent Film Festival and Rome, New York’s Capitolfest), and a trailer that’s got me very excited to see its movie.

I’ve not been on the air in any form in a while, excluding my holiday wishes cameo on Attaboy Clarence‘s 2015 Christmas special, but I had a lot of fun. If you listen, let me know what you think of the show in the comments below!

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TCM Classic Film Festival Media Credential Awarded to Spellbound!

TCM Classic Film Festival Logo Banner

This week has been like Christmas to me! I’ve been more excited than Ralphie discovering that last obsessively desired present–his official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle–hidden behind a desk. I was awarded my first ever media credential to cover the TCM Classic Film Festival! Attending has been a long-term goal. Expect to see pre-festival coverage, posts during the course of the event, interviews, reviews, live tweets, Instagram pics, and more. You may find my festival writings appearing outside of this blog. Friend and Hollywood historian Karie Bible runs Film Radar, a site focusing on revival and specialty films. She’s asked me about contributing additional festival content to Film Radar. This next month will be an exciting one as we head on the road to Los Angeles and to the TCM Classic Film Festival together!

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Road Trip to Cinefest 35!

Cinefest 35 Ad

Spellbound By Movies is going on a road trip this month! I’ll be flying out to Syracuse for my first and last Cinefest. I’ve always wanted to attend this film festival. Some fellow film fanatic friends have raved about the rarities and camaraderie they’ve enjoyed at Cinefest year after year. I could not miss its last year.

Cinefest was a formerly annual film festival run by Syracuse Cinephile Society. The group traces its origins back to a 1967 screening organized by a Phil Serling and a Sam Goldsman. The film festival grew out of the organization’s Monday night screening series when members decided to start a film convention. The first was held about 1980. That makes this year’s Cinefest the 35th edition.

The festival is ending for more than one reason. Attendance has been diminishing. The event needs to generate a certain amount of revenue from a paying audience and table vendors in order to pay operating expenses, like shipping films to and from archives. The Society and the festival’s audience have been aging. Organizers haven’t found younger members to take over running the festival, while former attendees became more comfortable watching once hard to find features and shorts on Turner Classic Movies and DVDs. The loss of the event’s former venue must have been a hard hit. The movie theatre where Cinefest used to be held converted to digital projectors.

I suspect due to this being the last Cinefest, its organizers will be surprised by how many will be in attendance, especially in the under sixty set. Social media has allowed so many of us film buffs to connect and share what we’re passionate about. That includes news of regional film festivals like Cinefest, that used to be spread word-of-mouth. I’ve seen tweets and Facebook and blog posts lamenting the festival’s loss or exulting over this year’s schedule. Let’s see if some angels come forward belatedly to carry on the Cinefest tradition.

In the meantime, I’ve been pouring over the festival’s schedule. Jam-packed is an understatement. Attending will be the equivalent of binge-watching. The schedule is stuffed with back-to-back screenings of films from the teens to mostly the thirties. This is the kind of schedule that hardcore early film fanatics crave, except for its breakneck pace. I’m very relieved to see there will be time for decent meal breaks! Check out the schedule in its entirety below. A special thanks goes to Patrick J. Picking for helpfully adding these notes and links to the schedule.

 

Thursday, March 19th

9:00 am – OUT ALL NIGHT – (1933) with Zazu Pitts, Slim Summerville, and Shirley Temple
10:15 am – BEST OF MOSTLY LOST III From the Library of Congress (1)
11:05 am – YELLOW FINGERS – (1926) – starring Olive Borden and Ralph Ince. This rarely seen silent film will be screened courtesy of The Museum Of Modern Art

LUNCH BREAK

1:15 pm – TOWER OF TREASURES, RKO TRAILERS Hosted by Ray Faiola
2:15 pm – LIFE IN THE RAW – (1933) UCLA Film And Television Archives will again be loaning Cinefest several rarely seen films made by Fox from the period between 1930 and 1933. Life In The Raw (1933) stars George O’Brien and Claire Trevor (3)
3:20 pm – THE LAST MAN ON EARTH – (1924) Fox film directed by John Blystone. Starring Earle Foxe. Print is courtesy of The Museum of Modern Art. (4)
4:30 pm – THE ROAD BACK – (1937) with John “Dusty” King, Richard Cromwell, Slim Summerville

DINNER BREAK

8:00 pm – IT PAYS TO BE IGNORANT (1948) with Tom Howard
8:10 pm – KING OF THE KONGO, CHAPTER 10 (1929) With Boris Karloff
8:35 pm – LUCKY BEGINNERS (1935) Hal Roach All Stars
9:00 pm – THE RETURN OF PETER GRIMM – (1926) The Museum Of Modern Art will provide a print of the rarely revived silent version of “The Return Of Peter Grimm” (1926) produced by Fox Films and starring Alec B. Francis and Janet Gaynor. (4)
10:10 pm – CAPTAIN FLY-BY-NIGHT (1922) with Johnnie Walker, Shannon Day
11:15 pm – THE THIRD ALARM (1922) w/Johnnie Walker, Ralph Lewis, Ella Hall

Friday, March 20th

9:00 am – SERVICE STRIPES (1930) Vitaphone short with Joe Penner
9:10 am – MEN ON CALL – (1930) – stars Edmund Lowe, Mae Clarke and Warren Hymer. (courtesy of UCLA Film and Television Archives)
10:20 am – ME AND THE BOYS
10:30 am – DICK BANN’S HAL ROACH SHOW #1 – Hosted by Dick Bann. Read the notes HERE!

LUNCH BREAK

1:00 pm – STORY OF COLOR IN THE MOVIES Hosted by Eric Grayson
2:30 pm – PAINTED WOMAN (1932) with Spencer Tracy, Peggy Shannon (3)
3:40 pm – VITAGRAPH VARIETIES From the Library of Congress (1)
4:45 pm – SECOND FLOOR MYSTERY (1930) with Grant Withers, Loretta Young (3)

DINNER BREAK

8:00 pm – BRIDE OF FINKLESTEIN (2015) Hosted by Michael Schlesinger
8:20 pm – A SONG IN THE DARK, More Dangerous Rhythms by Richard Barrios
9:35 pm – HEART TO HEART (1928) with Mary Astor, Lloyd Hughes (1)
10:40 pm – LUCRETIA LOMBARD (1923) with Irene Rich, Monte Blue
11:45 pm – RISKY BUSINESS (1939) – Remember “Okay America” the 1932 Universal film starring Lew Ayres that we screened at Cinefest back in 1991? Guess what? It was remade in 1939 with George Murphy, Dorthea Kent and everybody’s favorite, El Brendel. The rarely seen remake, Risky Business (1939, Universal) will be screened at Cinefest 35 next March

Saturday, March 21st

9:00 am – SMOKING GUNS (1934) – Smoking Guns (1934, Universal) was the last film made by Ken Maynard on his contract with Universal.
10:00 am – WELCOME DANGER! (1929) – the long unseen SILENT version of Harold Lloyd’s first talkie! With Harold Lloyd, Barbara Kent
12 Noon – THE DAWN OF TECHNICOLOR Early Technicolor Musicals

LUNCH BREAK

1:10 pm – FLORIDA STUDIO FILMS From the Library of Congress (1) Rob Stone and Steve Massa will present two programs of short comedies from the archives of The Library Of Congress at Cinefest 35. One show will spotlight the FLORIDA FUN FACTORIES and highlight the comedies shot down there in the teens. The program will include:

  • AN EXPENSIVE VISIT – (1915) – Lubin starring Babe Hardy
  • A BATH TUB ELOPEMENT – (1916) – Eagle Film starring Marcel Perez, with Louise Carver & Tom Murray
  • A Vim made Pokes and Jabbs short, and others

2:15 pm – THE NEW KLONDIKE (1926) – Based on a short story by Ring Lardner and partially filmed in Florida, “The New Klondike” (1926, Paramount) was directed by Lewis Milestone and stars Thomas Meighan as a minor league ballplayer who gets mixed up with crooked land speculators in Florida. Our friends at Library of Congress will be providing the title to Cinefest 35 for screening next March. Note: the film is missing a bit of footage but those who have seen it, say that it will not effect your enjoyment of this rare title (1)
3:25 pm – SEA SORE (1933) with Arthur Tracy, Baby Rose Marie
3:45 pm – MY LIPS BETRAY (1933) – starring Lillian Harvey and John Boles.
4:50 pm – TESS OF THE STORM COUNTRY – (1914) with Mary Pickford, Harold Lockwood. New restoration.

DINNER BREAK

8:00 pm – WE! WE! MARIE! (1930) with Slim Summerville, Eddie Gribbon
8:20 pm – GERRY ORLANDO COMMENTS
8:30 pm – TEA MAKING TIPS (1941)
8:45 pm – COLLEEN MOORE HOME MOVIES (1)
8:50 pm – SYNTHETIC SIN – (1929) The recently restored Colleen Moore film. Cinefest is grateful to so many people and archives who have made this screening possible and they will all be mentioned and thanked in the program book but we would like to mention here special thanks to Ned Price, Ron Hutchinson and Joe Yranski. This screening will be a highlight of the Syracuse Cinephile Society. If you have not seen the film at one of the recent screenings around the world, you will want to be at Cinefest for this special screening!
10:05 pm – THE DANGER GAME – (1918) Film Historian Richard Koszarski will introduce a new restoration of the long unseen Goldwyn romantic comedy filmed in Ft. Lee N.J. from 1918 “The Danger Game”. The film was directed by Harry Pollard and stars Madge Kennedy and Tom Moore.
11:10 pm – BABIES, THEY’RE WONDERFUL (1947) with Patsy Kelly
11:20 pm – THREE KISSES (1955) Paramount Topper
11:35 pm – THE BACK PAGE (1933) with Peggy Shannon, Russell Hopkin

Sunday, March 22nd

9:00 am – THE BIG BROADCAST – (1932) with Bing Crosby, Burns & Allen, Stu Erwin, Sharon Lynn
10:35 am – THE AUCTION (2015) Hosted by Leonard Maltin and George Read
12:00 pm – HISTORY & DEVELOPMENT OF THE 35MM PROJECTOR
12:30 pm – ONCE A SINNER – (1931) – starring Dorothy McKaill is on the schedule courtesy of UCLA Film And Television Archives
1:40 pm – CALGARY STAMPEDE (1925) with Hoot Gibson, Virginia Brown
2:35 pm – DICK BANN’S HAL ROACH SHOW #2 – Hosted by Dick Bann. Read the notes HERE!
3:40 pm – CODE OF THE SEA (1924) with Rod LaRocque, Jacqueline Logan
4:40 pm – THE SEA LION – (1921) “The Sea Lion” might not be as rare as it was when it was the first silent feature ever screened at the first Cinefest in 1981. It was loaned to Cinefest by legendary film collector and historian Gordon Berkow who always made available any film in his collection to Cinefest. To honor the memory of Gordon, we will be presenting several films from his collection at Cinefest 35. We thought it was apt to screen the exact same print of “The Sea Lion” thirty five years later at Cinefest 35.

(1) Print Courtesy of the Library of Congress
(2) Print Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures
(3) Print Courtesy of UCLA Film Archives
(4) Print Courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art
(5) Print Courtesy of the Mary Pickford Foundation and Paramount Pictures

(Films and starting times may be subject to change.)

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