TCM Film Fest 2017- Day 1: Jean Harlow, Love Crazy, and The Man Who Knew Too Much

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Day one of the TCM Film Festival is definitely the least stressful/busy day of them all. This year, there were several different rounds of trivia going on during the day. . .which is always a good time (even if you lose)! The first thing on the schedule was the First-Timers Meetup followed by the Hitchcock Fans Meetup, both great ways to meet new friends! Next was a “Remembering Robert” celebration as this was the first festival following his passing. Robert Osborne may not have been there in person, but he was most definitely there in spirit throughout the entire festival.

With the opening night party, that officially begins the festival (unless you have one of the higher level passes), not beginning until 5pm, there is plenty of time to explore Hollywood beforehand, so I did!

To begin the day, my friends and I had breakfast at the famous Mel’s Diner. Just next door to Mel’s is another famous Hollywood spot, the Hollywood Museum in the old Max Factor building. Only one person in the group had ever been to the museum before, so it was a great treat. So much history is packed into this one building, there was a lot to take in! A little on the Max Factor building. . .Max Factor was who the studios would send their actors to to be “transformed” into the glamorous stars we know and love. He essentially invented makeup as we know it and won an Oscar for his skills. (For more on Max Factor, visit their website here.) The Jean Harlow exhibit was fascinating. They had everything from letters she wrote to even one of her cars. I learned a great deal about the woman she was compared to the woman Hollywood portrayed her to be and definitely want to learn more. There was so much to this exhibit that I may have to make another post specifically for that!

Following the museum, a couple of us ventured downtown to visit some of our favorite stars at the Westwood Cemetery. Afterward, we spruced up a bit then found ourselves in Blossom Room at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel for the opening night festivities. You most likely won’t see the end of the party, though, because here are where the tough decisions begin. . .

My first two films of the festival were ones I had never seen before. The first film, following the festival theme (Comedy in the Movies), was Love Crazy (1941). Love Crazy stars one of my absolute favorite onscreen couples, William Powell and Myrna Loy (who I definitely thought were married in real life when I first saw them in The Thin Man). It is a story of a married couple, Steve and Susan Ireland, whose fourth wedding anniversary festivities lead to many misunderstandings (by people who should most definitely NOT be involved…yes, I’m looking at you Myrna Loy’s mother!), lead to them splitting up. Steve (Powell), being so hurt and upset by the split, does everything in his power to win Susan (Loy) back. He even shaves off his famous mustache (I’ll let you watch to find out why)! This fun Romantic Comedy, also featuring Jack Carson and Gail Patrick, will have you rolling with laughter.

 

The second film of the festival was quite the opposite of the first one, it was Hitchcock. One of Hitch’s earlier films, The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934), was a treat as it was not only my first time viewing it, but my first time experiencing a nitrate film. Also, with a surprise last minute announcement of an introduction by Martin Scorsese, who could miss it? I was also informed that I HAD to see at least one nitrate in black and white and one in color, so this was my black and white choice. This film was very different for me, not only because of the nitrate, but because I typically don’t see movies with no leading actors whose name I recognize.

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The Man Who Knew Too Much was made while Hitchcock was still making films in England, so there were no well-known Hollywood actors involved. The only names I knew were Hitchcock and Peter Lorre, and if I remember correctly, this was also one of Lorre’s first English-speaking roles. This is a story of a couple who receive a note warning them of an impending assassination attempt, and find that their daughter has been kidnapped to keep them from saying anything to the police. As in true Hitchcock form, this film will have you on edge wondering what could happen next. While, to me, it did not seem like Hitch had some of his signature directing in place just yet, I was still pleased with the picture and would recommend it to any Hitchcock or Lorre fan.

So concludes my first day at the festival. Keep checking back for the rest of my festival adventures!

 

TCM Film Festival 2017-Pre-Fest

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The Turner Classic Movie Film Festival. . .what brings me back to Hollywood, CA every year. Before jumping into the festival, though, here are some of the highlights of my two days in Hollywood BEFORE fest.

Tuesday:

I decided to fly into CA a day early this year, and I am really glad I did. Doing so allowed me to spend some quality time with two of my friends, Karie and Beth. We spent much of the day on “Vintage Row” to do some shopping at the local stores in Burbank, and then off to FIDM for their Art of Motion Picture Costume Design exhibit.

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The exhibit covered modern designs from movies such as La La Land and Suicide Squad to Valentino’s “Suit of Lights” from Blood and Sand (1922). A very interesting (and free!) venture.

After rushing back to Hollywood to pick up a couple of our friends, we made a mad dash to Santa Monica for Kimberly Truhler’s “Fashion in Film of TCMFF 2017: Sophisticated Comedies 1930s-50s” talk. This talk covered some of the comedies being shown at this year’s TCM Film Festival, some from past fests, and more. If you ever have an opportunity to attend one of her talks, I highly recommend it. . .they are very informative, enjoyable, and fun I learned a lot (This lady really knows her stuff)!

Before the talk, I was able to stop in the Marian Davies Guest House for a few minutes. Unfortunately, they were getting ready to close up shop, so we couldn’t stay long. I plan on going back at some point to tour the entire home, though.

To end the evening, my friends and I had dinner at Miceli’s (which included some lovely live music).

Wednesday:

Day two was probably the most exciting, and nerve-wracking, day of my whole trip. . .for a very good reason, I was surprising my friend, Amelia, whom I had never met in person. To start the day, though, my friend Danny and I went to the Hollywood Forever Cemetery to take a tour given by the lovely, Karie Bible (aka Cemetery Tour Guide). Karie is very passionate about what she does, and it shows! On the tour, you’ll see stars such as Tyrone Power, John Huston, DeMille, Estelle Getty and more! If you’re into classic films, history, and cemeteries. . .this is definitely for you.

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Following the cemetery tour, we made our way over to Warner Bros. to surprise my friend, and take a tour of course. I had kept my going to the festival completely secret from her and it was great (though stressful). The surprise worked out perfectly and we all had a fantastic time on the tour.

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Amelia and I at WB after I surprised her (obviously).

We then went back to the Roosevelt for drinks and our annual pre-fest get together with the Going to TCMFF Facebook group. In attendance were two great actresses, Barbara Rush and Miss Cora Sue Collins. Afterward, we walked over to Mel’s for dinner.

The evening concluded with bowling in the Roosevelt’s Spare Room with great friends, including Illeana Douglas.

 

FESTIVAL TIME!

Stay tuned for my day-by-day festival reviews!

 

Sunset Boulevard, (1950)

Tonight I watched Sunset Boulevard for the first time ever and let me tell you. . .it was amazing. I have known of this movie for as long as I can remember, always knew the name, but never actually sat down to watch it. The only time I ever came remotely close to watching it was Carol Burnett’s “Nora Desmond” skits. While hilarious, not quite the same at all. Luckily, I went into watching the movie with a very open mind, not really sure of what was to come. The way the film started seemed simple, a young writer looking for a job. . .he was probably going to write something that Norma Desmond would somehow come to star in, right? Wrong, very wrong.

Skipping ahead, and trying to avoid spoilers, when William Holden’s character firsts arrives at Ms. Desmond’s residence, it is very spooky. (Hey, if you want to know the middle, you should watch the movie). The way the camera pans through the garden and everything, the way he is describing it all, is really quite depressing. An empty pool, a run down tennis court. . .it was in that moment that I came to the realization that this movie could have very well hit close to home with a lot of the silent film stars who faded out when talkies came in. I can only imagine what it must have been like, one minute you’re the biggest thing to ever hit the screen, the next, it’s like you never existed. Throughout the movie, I couldn’t help but get lost in the whole thing, trying to put myself in Norma’s shoes. As crazy as it may sound, I felt a sort of sympathy toward her. She is insane, yes, but wouldn’t you be if your career was swept out from under your feet?

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“I am big! It’s the pictures that got small.”-Norma Desmond, Sunset Blvd. (1950)

I’m not really sure if the movie was made in a way to try and make you either like or dislike Norma, but I didn’t really feel either of those emotions toward her. I mainly just felt sad for her. On the other hand, I was a little concerned for Bill Holden’s character, Joe. Here he is, just kind of trapped in this crazy silent film star’s home while all he wanted was a place to hide his car (again, gotta see the whole movie). She buys him all kinds of expensive things and pampers him like no one’s business. That is one thing I will give her. . .finding a way to stay filthy stinking rich even after fading out of the limelight.

Overall, I really enjoyed this film. It was well made and had a great story. It helped me to realize and remember a lot of things, one being why I love these older movies. Another being that, nothing and no one lasts forever. Which is why, as the next generation of filmmakers and historians, we must make it our duty to not let them be lost or forgotten. So, while the people may pass on, their legacy will not.

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“Alright, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up.”-Norma Desmond, Sunset Blvd. (1950)

Prepare to Festival-Going to TCMFF

With only ten days left before hundreds of classic film fans make the journey to Hollywood for the TCM Classic Film Festival, there is much preparation to be done.

The release of the full festival schedule last week has had everyone (myself included) going mad trying to decide what films to see and events to attend. With screenings such as It’s a Wonderful Life, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, and many, many more. . .the decisions are many and difficult. Does one go see Chris Lemmon, son of the great Jack Lemmon, or Angela Lansbury? The choice is obvious if for just the people introducing the films. . .Angela, but what about the film itself?? My Sister Eileen is being introduced by Lemmon, while a film I have personally never heard of, The Manchurian Candidate, is being introduced by Lansbury. Tough choices my friends.

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Besides the making of ones itinerary, there is also the matter of what to pack. This is one of my least favorite parts of traveling because I always feel like I am going to forget something. Fitting everything you need for 5-7 days in one carry-on size bag can be tricky. . .especially when you’re not sure what you might need. Of course, you can’t forget to leave some space for souvenirs! One good thing I have found about being female is I can wear dresses, and they don’t take up as much space (#win). Something I never travel without, whether I have room or not, is my journal. Gotta be sure to jot down those awesome memories you’re making! And can’t forget that sunscreen! The California sun be a bright one. 

Here’s my prep checklist:

-Make schedule

-Start my packing list

-Shopping list

-Start shopping (Haaaate shopping)

When the time comes. . .

-Check shopping list for any last minute items

-Pack (and pray I didn’t forget anything)

What are some of the things you all are doing to prepare for this year’s festival?

Can’t wait to see you all in Hollywood! Just a few more days!!

 

Looking Forward to TCMFF 2016

Every year, classic film fans look forward to an experience like no other. . . the Turner Classic Film Festival in Hollywood, CA. 2016 will be my third time attending (if all works out). Each year there’s something new and exciting to look forward to. Whether it be a film you have never seen or an actor/actress you have always wanted to see. Last year, the selling point for me was the fact that Julie Andrews would be in attendance. Honestly, this year none of the special guests have really jumped out at me, but there are still plenty more announcements to come.

Another part of the festival that I always get excited for is getting to see my friends from all over the country. . . world even. Not only do you get to see old friends, but meet and make new ones. It is almost impossible to be bored or lonely during this classic film-filled weekend.

  
One thing I’m looking forward to most this year is the chance to see It’s a Wonderful Life on the big screen. It’s not even just about the film itself, necessarily, but the feelings that come with watching them with other like-minded people. Watching a classic film with a theater full of people who love them just as much as you do is an experience you do not want to miss. It is one of the greatest selling points to this festival, for me. One of my fondest memories from last year’s festival is getting to watch The Apartment after it was introduced by Shirley MacLaine herself. The film already had a great effect on me just from watching at home on my television, but to be sitting in a theater with the star herself and then get to watch the film again after hearing her talk about it was something I will not soon forget. 

It is also interesting to see what new theme TCM comes up with every year and what they do with it; how they bring it to life with the films they choose. This year’s theme is very broad with it being “moving pictures,” so I’m interested to see how they bring everything together. 

I will be posting more frequently with the more announcements that are released. Stay tuned! Also keep an eye on TCM’s festival site for more news here

My Ride on the African Queen

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While it has been well over a year since my ventures all over the country for film festivals, there are many stories I never got around to telling. After seeing a post on Facebook, and Will McKinley’s “subtle” encouragement, I decided to write about my experience on the African Queen.

May 2-5, 2013 was the weekend of the first annual Humphrey Bogart Film Festival in Key Largo, FL. I was lucky enough to be able to attend, even after just being in Hollywood, CA for the Turner Classic Film Festival the week before. While I had tickets for several movies and the Bogart Ball, the thing I was most excited for was getting to ride on THE African Queen. Yes ladies and gentlemen, I got to ride AND steer the actual boat used in the famous film starring Kate the Great (Katharine Hepburn) and Humphrey Bogart.

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I had a scheduled “cruise” on the Queen for Saturday at noon, if I remember correctly. I got ready, grabbed my camera and whatnot, and left to head to the dock. At this point, I hadn’t seen the boat yet. I get over to the little post thing (Don’t you just love my technical terminology?), take care of my ticket, and go down to wait for the captain and everyone else on the cruise to show up. There it was…THE African Queen, fully equipped with the terrible boiler, a box of Gordon’s Gin, and the torn up flags…I was in the presence of movie history.115 522

Stepping onto the boat was an experience one cannot explain. It was an awesome feeling to be walking and sitting in the same places that Bogie and Kate had been. When you step down onto the boat, to your left is the boiler that Bogie continuously has to kick throughout the film, the weather/shade umbrella, and the tiller (steering mechanism). To the right is the famous box of Gordon’s Gin with a couple bottles laying around (empty of course) and the benches where the passengers sit. The wood on the bow of the boat is worn and looks like it’s been through quite a bit. I had just watched the film the night before, so it was fresh in my mind and I kept putting myself in it with Bogie and Katharine.

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The best part came, though, when the captain said that we could steer the boat if we wanted to. “WHAT?! WE GET TO STEER THE ACTUAL BOAT?!” Needless to say, I was just a tad excited. The only thing that kept going through my head while steering was, “Holy crap Katharine Hepburn touched this.” That and don’t run into anything, of course. I was so mesmerized by the whole experience. I had entered the boat with no thoughts of being able to steer it, just riding. I think the only other surprise that could have been better would have been if Bogie and/or Katharine appeared themselves…which would have been quite frightening actually, considering they’re both passed….

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If you ever get the opportunity to ride on this piece of film history, please do so. You won’t regret it. It has definitely been a major highlight in my life and an experience I won’t soon forget.

My Classic Film Fan “Origin”

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Growing up in the 1990s, not many people my age know names like Carole Lombard or Cary Grant.

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While there are many not fortunate enough to experience such great actors, I was lucky enough to grow up with a mother who absolutely loved them. I can remember being very young and my mother watching old John Wayne, Cary Grant, and Clint Eastwood films. She tells me now that I always complained about them being in black and white, and asking her if we could “watch something with some color.” I now laugh at my younger self. I didn’t realize how much I truly loved these films, though, until my mom and I started playing a game called “TCM Scene It,” a DVD board game based around classic film. She always beat me. I got tired of losing, so I picked up one of her books on classic Hollywood and started studying. The rest is history.

P.S. I win now.

Tell us your classic Hollywood “origin” story tonight on Hollywood Time Machine with Alicia Mayer. 6PM PST/9PM EST on LA Talk Radio, channel 2.

Summer Under the Stars Day 5-Barbara Stanwyck

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With fourteen films being shown, Barbara Stanwyck, born Ruby Stevens, shines bright as TCM’s SUTS star of the day for August 5th.

barbara-640x510Stanwyck’s career, beginning with theater at a young age, movies from 1927 to 1964, and television into the 80’s, spans well over forty years. 

My first pick of the day for Stanwyck is Stella Dallas (1937). Stanwyck portrays a low-class mother who does everything in her power, even when painful to herself, to make sure her daughter lives a good life. 

More on Stanwyck to come later! 

TCM-Summer Under the Stars

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Ladies and gentlemen, it’s that time of year we’ve all been waiting for. . .Turner Classic Movie channel’s Summer Under the Stars!

Tomorrow, August 1st, starts TCM’s 12th annual month-long celebration of some of classic Hollywood’s biggest names. This year’s lineup is fantastic! I have already warned people of my disappearance for most of the month. Some of my favorite stars being highlighted this year are: Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, James Stewart, William Powell, Carole Lombard, and Barbara Stanwyck just to name a few.

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Here on Hepburnia, I will be highlighting several movies for each of my favorite stars.

The full lineup of stars that will have a day dedicated to them on TCM can be found here.

I am so excited to celebrate TCM’s Summer Under the Stars with all of you!

I’m Back!

I do apologize for my long absence. I have had a lot going on in my personal life that has kept me from being able to post. Things appear to be back on track for the time being though, so you will be seeing more posts. I have just recently created a “new to me” movie list. I intend to watch at least fifty “new to me” movies by the end of the year. I will be documenting my thoughts of some of these movies through my site. I hope you will leave thoughts and suggestions in the comments! Thanks and keep coming!