an open letter of thanks

 

 

Dear Mr. Osborne, Mr. Mankiewicz, TCM Staff, Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, TCM Party and many distinguished guests:

I cannot thank you enough for your gracious hospitality and entertainment this past weekend at the 5th annual Turner Classic Film Festival. As this was only my second year to attend, I am fully confident that I will be attending every year, as this is one hell of a party.

Hosts Robert Osborne and Ben Mankiewicz, you were gracious, patient and truly engaged with all the guests, those famous and those famous in our own minds. The entire TCM staff, from producers to greeters, were genuine and really looked happy to be working. If this was not the case, perhaps you should consider work in front of the camera, because you were all very believable. Everyone received equal celebrity status treatment.

The Roosevelt staff, under pressure from the onslaught of guests requesting changes of rooms due to construction and early arrivals remained graceful and collected. The hotel itself is an homage to a more graceful and elegant era. You provided the staff to back those images up and it did feel like “Old Hollywood” rekindled.

Film screening poolside at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel
Film screening poolside at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel

Many classic and current film stars showed up to support the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Turner Classic Film channel. Every one of them looked out to our applause with humility, mutual admiration and style. They made us laugh and they made us cry. They reminded us of why we traverse from all over the country to see these classic films on the big screen.

Alec Baldwin with Don Was intro "A Hard Day's Night" Illeana Douglas interviews Richard Dreyfuss
Alec Baldwin with Don Was intro “A Hard Day’s Night”
Illeana Douglas interviews Richard Dreyfuss
Ben & Jerry (see what I did there) Ben Mankiewicz interviews the legendary Jerry Lewis
Ben & Jerry (see what I did there)
Ben Mankiewicz interviews the legendary Jerry Lewis

 Finally, I offer my full gratitude to my #TCMParty pals. I am not yet a seasoned veteran of the festival, and still easing into the marathon of movies. But, this I know is true: there is just something special between this group of “friends” that see each other once a year and are pretty damned excited about it. Some of you, I finally met after years of tweeting back and forth. We are not strangers at all, just like-minded people with a passion for old movies, the strong link in our social media friendships.  It doesn’t matter where you come from, simply hashtag tcmparty and you’re in; our secret handshake, not so secret.

@AlanHait @CitizenScreen @IrishJayhawk66 @willmckinley @joelwilliams1 @MonsterResort @NitrateDiva @TCM_Party @cinebeth
@AlanHait @TheDarkPages @CitizenScreen @IrishJayhawk66 @willmckinley @joelwilliams @MonsterResort @NitrateDiva @TCM_Party @cinebeth

There is definitely a feeling of melancholy that April 2015 is now so far away. But, in the meantime, I’ve got TCM on the television as I write and Twitter at the ready. Robert, Ben and the gang all ready to just hang-out together online, until next year. The only thing missing is my own, personal Roosevelt staff. *sigh*

 Fondly,

                                       Jackie Stallings

this is "living lola"
this is “living lola”

TCM Film Festival 2013

So, for my forty-schmismosh birthday last week, my wonderful husband treated me to my ultimate fantasy: The TCM Film Festival in Hollywood.

(Don’t even want to know what you were thinking.)

For those of you who follow me on Twitter or Instagram or are related to me or are my friends or were standing next to me in the grocery line yesterday, I apologize for showing this yet, again.

But, holy hell. THIS. HAPPENED.

photo (13)
The incomparable Robert Osborne

Don’t you just love the way he is cozied up to me? Like we’re old friends. Well, to me, he is. He will always be. I love Robert Osborne. He was as gracious and dapper as I thought he’d be. The perfect host. Lark just has to deal with it.

 I will be waiting with bated breath this fall, when tickets for next year’s film fest will go on sale. Larkin and I had the time of our lives and have vowed to go back every year.

with Larkin at the Vanity Fair party
With Larkin at the Vanity Fair party

Many of the movies I attended, I admit, I have seen numerous times. But, never on the big screen.

Some digitally remastered, some not. All amazing.

But, even more fascinating than re-watching them, as they were meant to be viewed, were the introductions.  Legendary filmmakers, actors, directors…discussing the details, the memories, the experience of taking part in creating these classics.

Tears filled my eyes, when we all gasped in surprise when Cher was introduced to kick off “Funny Girl”. (You may remember, she was one of my first mentors. See “About Lola”)

Cher introducing "Funny Girl"
Cher introducing “Funny Girl”

I heard Tippi Hedren and Norman Lloyd speak of working with Alfred Hitchcock. I was totally amazed by The Birds; a film I’ve seen many times. It sounded absolutely terrifying in the historical Grauman’s TCL Chinese Theatre. It felt like a totally different film.

I swooned over Cary Grant in Hitchcock’s Notorious. In my opinion, he is the most gorgeous, debonair male lead of all time. All these years, watching all of his movies, but finally…there he was….larger than life. I sigh, just typing this.

 Albert Maysels discussed his capturing the infamous “killing” on film while working on the Rolling Stones documentary, Gimme Shelter. The creators of Aiplane!, Jim Abrahams, David Zucker and star Robert Hayes had us all rolling in the aisles before the film even started. Laughing and reciting the lines of Airplane! with 1100 other fans is something I will never forget.

I cried along with Jane Fonda as she recalled the therapeutic making of her father’s last film, On Golden Pond; triumphantly winning Henry Fonda his first Best Actor Academy Award, at the end of his life.

Robert Osborne with Jane Fonda
Robert Osborne with Jane Fonda

So many touching stories behind the camera, enriching the 40 foot screen dramas that lit up my face for those four amazing days. It was nothing less than movie magic.

Since it was my first festival, I paced myself and actually ate meals. There are many passionate fans that survive on popcorn and protein bars and fill 12 hours a day with films. I took “Happy Hour” at the Roosevelt Hotel quite seriously. We all have our different means of survival. And, hey, it WAS my birthday weekend.

#TCMParty
#TCMParty

On a personal level, I finally met Twitter friends that follow TCM and share an affinity for classic films. Putting names to faces is nothing like putting names to avatars to Twitter handles to real names, then real faces. I kept smiling like a jack ass to people I was sure I knew. But, did I?

Sometimes there are 100 of us watching an old film together via Twitter, sometimes just a handful. With one hashtag, we connect in some sort of modern, technical, pen pal, friends from camp that you only see once a year, kind of way. We assemble from all over the country and beyond, sharing trivia, tidbits and stories. And, with no one shhh-ing us. It’s pretty damn cool.

I treasure my true, real-life, talk-on the phone, “help me bury the body” friends; they know everything about me and still love me. (And politely gloss over my TCM obsession.)

I have Twitter friends that share like-minded interests and know nothing about me except what I tell them in 140 characters or less. I love the daily banter, links, recipes and revelry that fill my time line.

My TCM Twitter friends and I share a true love of classic films that will live forever.

And, that is a love that will outlive us all.

Kind of like my love for my husband. And, Robert Osborne.

 For a true classic film education, I highly suggest the following blogs:

 Cinematically Insane

Once Upon a Screen

 Outspoken and Freckled

Joel’s Classic Film Passion

Comet Over Hollywood

 Paula’s Cinema Club

The Tao of Hepburn

 TCM’s Summer Under The Stars celebrates Katharine Hepburn.  This post is inspired by the Summer Under the Stars Blogathon hosted by two fabulous classic film blogs Sittin’ on a Backyard Fence and ScribeHard on Film.  TCM will be airing a day of Hepburn’s films on Friday, August 17th.

 As my loyal Living Lola readers know, Ms. Hepburn is one of my personal heroes because of how she lived her life. She represents all I hope to convey in my little blog of big living. I have reviewed several of her films here on the blog and a few of my favorites are airing today, including Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, Adam’s Rib and The Lion in Winter.

 

When I was gathering my thoughts in regards to writing a tribute piece for her and her films, it occurred to me in re-reading my highlighted parts of her autobiography, ME, that all we really need to know, we can learn from Katharine Hepburn. So, instead of film reviews or a profile of her life, I have compiled ten of her quotes that really speak to pursuing your own well-lived life, without reservation. Although her attitude and personality were considered “spirited” and “headstrong” for a woman making her way in the early days of Hollywood, her ideas still resonate boldly today.

 

The Tao of Hepburn~ 10 Life Lessons from Katharine Hepburn 

“If you always do what interests you, at least one person is pleased.” Finding your passion and making it your life’s work is a choice, your choice.

“Life is to be lived. If you have to support yourself, you had bloody well better find some way that is going to be interesting. And you don’t do that by sitting around.” Do not stand on the sidelines and wait for someone to put you in the game. You are the quarterback of your life.

“I never lose sight of the fact that just being is fun.” Every day, every minute, each mundane moment is a chance to create. You can conjure up boredom and complacency or you can make magic. It is all on you.

“Being a housewife and a mother is the biggest job in the world, but if it doesn’t interest you, don’t do it – I would have made a terrible mother.” If you choose the mission, then give it your all without demanding anything in return. Grow respect by mothering from a place of love, not expectation. Nurture, guide and teach by example, without criticism. If you choose to forgo motherhood, see the following….

“Never complain. Never explain.” Do not ever give someone the power to make you feel guilty for your choices. You are on your path, living your life. Stand tall by your convictions and let your actions define your character.

“We are taught you must blame your father, your sisters, your brothers, the school, the teachers – but never blame yourself. It’s never your fault. But it’s always your fault, because if you wanted to change you’re the one who has got to change.” Go ahead and pay the therapist your hard-earned $300 to hear how your parents screwed you up. Now, get over it. Parents do the best they can with what they have. It is called the past for a reason. It has passed. Kick it into high gear and move forward. It didn’t kill you, it made you stronger.

“Without discipline, there’s no life at all.” Either you do it or you don’t. If you cannot apply discipline to your studies, your workout, your health, your screenplay, your marriage, your child rearing, your job, your finances, your blog, your novel, then, you will never achieve the success that will create happiness and security which, in turn, will cause you to feel doubt, fear and depression and, yes, that is “no life at all.”

“If you want to change attitudes, start with a change in behavior.” Your attitude is your superpower. You choose good or evil. Positive behavior creates a magical life, negative behavior fills your days with chaos and drama. Again, it is your choice.

“If you need a helping hand, you can find one at the end of your arm.” Roll up your sleeves and get it done. Especially if you want it done right. Nothing worth anything is easy, remember…

“Life is hard, after all, it kills you.” As long as you draw breath, draw breadth. Leave this earth knowing you worked hard, you played hard, you loved hard and you lived hard. This is your one life. Don’t hold back.

 

Be like Katharine.

TCM Tuesday 7/24

Summertime in Texas is guaranteed hot temperatures and crazy, out of nowhere, thunderstorms. Both, ideal reasons to head indoors for some classic movies on Turner Classic.

via Boston.com/AP

However, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the events in Aurora, Colorado last Friday. We are a movie family. We always have been. In my May 29th post, I wrote that going to a theater to watch a movie was where “all is right in the world for 120 minutes.” How wrong does that sound for the victims of that early Friday morning massacre?

My daughter Jordan, an aspiring filmmaker in Boston, got right back on the horse and went to see a movie, alone. She was not giving that perpetrator the power to take her passion and have it jaded it with fear or anger. She saw Wes Anderson’s “Moonrise Kingdom”, which we all highly recommend, by the way.

Magic happens in movies theaters. You are transported to a different place and time. You relate to a hero or heroine. You can be inspired. You get swept away with the score. You can have your heart-broken. You can be driven to eruption of out loud laughter.  You root for the little guy. You boo the bad guy.

And, that was one, bad guy in Colorado.

We probably won’t ever sit in a theater again and NOT think about Aurora. But, we will still go. We will still go and have our 120 minutes of magic, where all is right in the world.

Now, for this week’s DVR alerts; movie magic from long ago.

 

Thursday July 24

6:00 AM

DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES (1962)

A husband and wife fight to conquer alcoholism.

Dir: Blake Edwards Cast:  Jack Lemmon, Lee Remick, Charles Bickford

BW-117 mins, TV-14, CC, Letterbox Format

The official tag line for this film says it all: “This, in its own terrifying way, is a love story.” Lemmon and Remick were both nominated for Oscars for their brilliant performances as raging alcoholics, in love. Hailed as one of the first movies to introduce AA as a realistic option for struggling alcoholics. Edwards also earned esteem for his groundbreaking portrayal of alcoholism as a disease. While the synopsis has “bleak” written all over, the performances will keep you riveted and sympathetic for these two broken souls. (Probably shouldn’t include a cocktail recipe with this post.)

Saturday July 28

The Essentials with Robert Osborne 

8:00 PM

WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? (1962)

A crazed, aging star torments her sister in a decaying Hollywood mansion.

Dir: Robert Aldrich Cast:  Bette Davis , Joan Crawford , Victor Buono

BW-134 mins, TV-PG, CC, Letterbox Format

As per the above, this is simply terrifying! Period. Incredible performances by two of the greatest actresses of all time, Davis and Crawford. They apparently enjoyed an off-screen, career long feud with each other. In one fight scene, Davis kicked Crawford so hard that she required stitches. In a turn of fair play, Crawford filled her pockets with weights so that when Davis had to drag her body, she threw out her back.  This film was a box office hit, initially grossing $9 million dollars. Today, that would mean an opening weekend of roughly $65 million. Not too bad for watching, as Jack Warner referred to them, “two old broads” slugging it out. I guess the equivalent of that today would be…hmmm…..Dame Judi Dench and Maggie Smith going at it?

3:30 AM

JOAN CRAWFORD: THE ULTIMATE MOVIE STAR (2002)

A TCM original documentary that examines Crawford’s life and unparalleled movie career. Narrated by Angelica Huston.

C-87 mins, TV-14, CC

A great biography of the infamous actress without the emphasis on her “Mommie Dearest” parenting skills.

Sunday July 29

7:15 AM

PAINTED VEIL, THE (1934)

A wife strays, then fights to redeem herself to her husband.

Dir: Richard Boleslawski Cast:  Greta Garbo, Herbert Marshall, George Brent

BW-85 mins, TV-G, CC

This is classic romantic drama with the ever-elusive Garbo. Most Garbo fans agree that this is one of their favorites as it shows her acting depth and because she actually smiles in this film…a rarity. The film was not a success here in the U.S. but very popular in the UK. The Somerset Maugham story received more acclaim in 2006, when it was remade with Naomi Watts and Edward Norton. I would categorize this in to the rainy Sunday afternoon file. When the NFL isn’t on, of course.

1:45 PM

ROOM FOR ONE MORE (1952)

A family with three children takes in troubled orphans.

Dir: Norman Taurog Cast:  Cary Grant, Betsy Drake, Lurene Tuttle

BW-95 mins, TV-G

This is a great little romantic comedy with real life husband and wife, Grant and Drake, giving sweet, uncomplicated performances. All you have to do is kick back and enjoy. Full of 1950’s idealism, this movie feels like a pilot for a long running early television sitcom. With Cary Grant as the dad! Can you imagine? Some of the narratives and lessons depicted in this film are very “Cosby”-ish. I think we could all use a little of that, this week.

Enjoy.

 

.

Quintessential TCM

 The Essentials on TCM this Saturday, July 21, is a must-see.

To Have and Have Not is quintessentially classic.

There is nothing quite like watching Humphrey Bogart fall in love with his wife, Lauren Bacall. She is absolutely disarming, holding nothing back from seducing Bogart on-screen. They literally fall in love on-screen. This is legendary Hollywood at it’s best.

Betty Joan Perske had been a model and was invited to do a screen test for this film in 1944. Betty would soon become Lauren Bacall.

“I just saw your screen test,” Bogart said to Bacall. “I think we’re going to have a lot of fun together.”

And so it began.

 This film is more than just a movie.

This is Sexy Cool 101.

 Keep it on your DVR, add a little rum cocktail and you are set for a vintage sublime date night.

“Vieux”Martinque Cocktail
In a small glass
1/4 simple syrup
3/4 aged rum
small piece of lime squeezed

photos via Saveur.com, IMDB.com

 To my daughters (who have heard it all before), friends of my daughters and young women everywhere, at any mall, please take note:

Watch Bacall and learn the art of the saunter.  You can’t do that in flip-flops, ladies.

You can be crazy loud to get attention or you can be smoldering. Guess what wins every time?

Bacall was 19 years old when she filmed this. NINETEEN. Young women today know so much more at 19. How did we get so far from this?

Call me old-fashioned? Thank you. I’ll take it.

Enjoy!

8:00 PM

TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT (1944)

A skipper-for-hire’s romance with a beautiful drifter is complicated by his growing involvement with the French resistance.
Dir: Howard Hawks Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Walter Brennan, Lauren Bacall
BW-100 mins, TV-G, CC

“…Oh, maybe just whistle. You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together and… blow.”                 -Slim                


TCM Tuesday 6/19

Some Like It Hot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hello, all! Hope you’re enjoying a fabulous summer week. We’ve been having some cool New England days, but it looks like a few warm beach days are heading our way. If your trying to beat the heat by staying indoors, here are my picks for this week on Turner Classic…including one of our family favorites, Some Like It Hot. (Sorry, Texans. No pun intended.) Enjoy!

Friday June 22

8:00 AM

SEVEN YEAR ITCH, THE (1955)

A married man whose wife is on vacation falls for the blonde bombshell upstairs.

Dir: Billy Wilder Cast:  Marilyn Monroe, Tommy Ewell, Evelyn Keyes

BW-104 mins, TV-PG, CC, Letterbox Format

I appreciate Marilyn Monroe, but I wouldn’t consider myself a devoted fan. I guess I just didn’t relate to her dark and troubled life or her whole blonde bombshell thing.  (I’m a dark-skinned Latina; I didn’t even play with Barbies.) If you have always wanted to see the infamous white dress, billowing up around her legs, then here is your chance. The iconic scene was shot on Lexington Avenue at 1 am with over 5000 onlookers, including her husband, Joe Di Maggio. Monroe was really battling a bout of depression and self-medication during the making of this film and was having trouble taking direction, remembering lines and her cues. She had to shoot the scene many times, with the crowd cheering and clamoring each time her dress blew up. Di Maggio was not pleased. Neither was Wilder since he couldn’t use any of the footage due to the noise from the crazed fans. He recreated the street on a studio lot to finally achieve the scene he envisioned, but only after over 40 takes, as Monroe still could not remember her lines. In 2011, the white dress was auctioned at Sotheby’s for 4.6 million dollars.

 

2:45 PM

SOME LIKE IT HOT (1959)

Two musicians on the run from gangsters masquerade as members of an all-girl band.

Dir: Billy Wilder Cast:  Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon

BW-121 mins, TV-PG, CC, Letterbox Format

When my children were quite young, they became enamored with this hilarious film. They would pop in the DVD like a Disney flick, and watch it over and over. They also loved “Tootsie” and “The Birdcage”. I used to wonder if cross-dressing would be in their futures. Nope, just savvy taste in movies. Voted #1 on the American Film Institute’s list of 100 Funniest Movies. This is comedy at its best. Four years after “The Seven Year Itch”, Monroe was still such a mess. You can see her eyes tracking, reading her lines from a chalk board that Wilder brought in to help get the film completed. Many of her scenes took upwards of 30 takes. By the end, she had alienated many of her fellow actors on set and was not invited to the wrap party hosted by Wilder. Her personal destruction, however, did not affect the amazing performances of Lemmon and Curtis. Later, when Tony Curtis told Cary Grant that he was, indeed, impersonating him in this role, Grant replied, “I don’t talk like that!” And, Lemmon’s tango scene: pure brilliance.

 

11:00 PM

STAND BY ME (1986)

Four friends share a rite of passage on a long walk to view a dead body.

Dir: Rob Reiner Cast:  Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman

C-89 mins, TV-MA, CC, Letterbox Format

Ummmm….1986. I saw this at the theatre. It is on TCM. It’s official: I am old.

 A fabulous movie that had that “real” feel; like peering in on these four boys lives. The movie is based on a short story called “The Body” by Stephen King from a book of short stories called “Different Seasons”. Nominated for an Oscar for Best Screenplay. Reiner won a Golden Globe for Best Director. This was Jerry Connelly’s film debut. Watch the boys faces in the train scene, as they are truly scared and crying. Reiner had such a time getting them to act realistically, that he finally lost his temper and really yelled at them. They were so upset, Reiner called “action” and got it all on film. 

 Did I mention that I saw this in the theatre?

 

Saturday June 23

1:15 PM

BAD SEED, THE (1956)

A woman suspects that her perfect little girl is a ruthless killer.

Dir: Mervyn LeRoy Cast:  Gage Clarke, Jesse White, Joan Croyden

C-129 mins, TV-PG, CC

Freaking creepy! You can put this right up there, with all of your modern thrillers and it still holds up.  Three different endings were written and the end of the film was kept secret, with the last five pages of the script undistributed until they were ready to shoot. Patty McCormick was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar and Golden Globe at the age of 11. She is THAT “bad”! Eerily, you will be humming “Au Claire de la Lune” for the rest of the day. *high voice* Cr-e-e-e-py

 

Sunday June 24

4:00 PM

BORN YESTERDAY (1950)

A newspaper reporter takes on the task of educating a crooked businessman’s girlfriend.

Dir: George Cukor Cast:  Judy Holliday, Broderick Crawford, William Holden

BW-102 mins, TV-PG, CC

I wrote about Judy Holliday in a post about “Adam’s Rib.” I believe her to be one of the most underrated comedic actresses of classic film. Holliday had created this role on Broadway. Cukor wanted to capture her comedic timing on film, so he had the three main actors rehearse as a play, inevitably bringing in an audience to react so that he could time for laughter. Katharine Hepburn purposely created a “buzz” for Holliday during the filming of “Adam’s Rib”, stating she was “stealing scenes” from she and Spencer Tracy, just so that Judy was sure to get the “Born Yesterday” role. Holliday sadly succumbed to cancer at the age of 43, having only made a dozen movies. She did, however, win the Oscar for Best Actress for this fabulous performance.

 

 

TCM Tuesday June 5th

It is a very blustery evening as I write. The wind is howling and there has been an unrelenting light rain all day. This is the weather forecast for the island for the next few days. I have plenty of food and provisions. And, I have plenty of DVR material to catch up on. I actually love this weather and I am looking forward to writing and catching up with the blog.

Here are my picks for this week, including one of my favorite films of all time, “Jezebel” with Bette Davis. It is the feature this week on TCM’s The Essentials. It’s going to be a good week.

 

Tuesday June 5th

(EST)

2:00 AM

IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT (1967)

A black police detective from the North forces a bigoted Southern sheriff to accept his help with a murder investigation.

Dir: Norman Jewison Cast: Sidney Poitier, Rod Steiger, Warren Oates

C-110 mins, TV-14, CC, Letterbox Format

While many movies attempt to show an honest narrative of racism in our modern history, they fall short when trying to appease a PC status quo. This Oscar-winning screenplay is brilliant for showing that racial tensions could be more than one-sided. Released in 1967, many viewed this as a timely film. But, let’s be honest, it is still timely today. This movie still stands as a timeless classic. Steiger won the Best Actor Oscar; the film, Best Picture. The Oscars were actually postponed that year for several days, due to the assassination of Martin Luther King. Sidney Poitier has often said this is his favorite movie. “They call me Mr. Tibbs!” is 16th in AFI’s greatest movie lines.

Thursday June 7th

8:00 PM

JAILHOUSE ROCK (1957)

After learning to play the guitar in prison, a young man becomes a rock ‘n roll sensation.

Dir: Richard Thorpe Cast:  Elvis Presley, Judy Tyler, Mickey Shaughnessy

BW-96 mins, TV-G, CC, Letterbox Format

Dance Alert! Elvis’ un-credited choreography for the song “Jailhouse Rock” is absolutely brilliant. He made it up on the spot, after the film’s choreographer realized that Elvis was not a professionally trained classical dancer. Gene Kelley was on set to watch Elvis film his most famous dance number. Sadly, Elvis refused to watch this movie because of the tragic death of Judy Tyler, just three days after filming was completed.

Friday June 8th

8:00 PM

SPIRAL STAIRCASE, THE (1945)

A serial killer stalks a mute servant girl in a remote mansion.

Dir: Robert Siodmak Cast:  Dorothy McGuire, George Brent, Ethel Barrymore .

BW-84 mins, TV-14, CC

Grab a cozy throw and settle in for an excellent psychological thriller. Along with an excellent ensemble cast, the Victorian mansion, that most of the film takes place, is a character itself. (A quality I adore, as I am a huge Nancy Myers fan.)  This film is a masterful work of black and white photography.  It is also a lesson in cinematography and the ability to convey atmosphere on film.  

Saturday June 9th

8:00 PM

JEZEBEL (1938)

A tempestuous Southern belle’s willfulness threatens to destroy all who care for her.

Dir: William Wyler Cast:  Bette Davis, Henry Fonda, George Brent

BW-104 mins, TV-PG, CC

Woot! One of my favorites! Grab the Maker’s Mark, stir up a pitcher of mint juleps and get ready for one melodramatic trip to the South. Davis deservedly won the Best Actress Oscar for her role as stubborn, spoiled “Julie”. Wow. She nails it!  Some of the “traditions” and culture of the south may have you scratching your head, but just think of it as a history lesson or a “we’ve come a long way, baby” moment. Hell, just have another mint julep and enjoy classic Bette Davis.

BONUS: This is part of TCM’s The Essentials line-up and will be introduced by Robert Osborne and Drew Barrymore in their special series. Another good reason to make a night of it. Cheers!

Sunday June 10th

7:00 PM

WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ, THE: 50 YEARS OF MAGIC (1990)

The story of how MGM created one of the most beloved family films of all time.

Dir: Jack Haley Jr. Cast:  Angela Lansbury, John Lahr, Liza Minnelli

C-51 mins, TV-G, CC

8:00 PM

WIZARD OF OZ, THE (1939)

A Kansas farm girl dreams herself into a magical land where she must fight a wicked witch to escape.

Dir: Victor Fleming Cast:  Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger

C-102 mins, TV-G, CC

I recommend this to everyone EXCEPT Jeffrey, and Larkin. (They really hate those flying monkeys.)

If you were a kid in the 70’s, doesn’t this movie remind you of getting fed and bathed early so our parents could set you in front of the TV to watch the ANNUAL airing of “The Wizard of Oz?” That’s right, all you kids with your fancy technology and your DVD’s and your Hulu and your Netflix. We had to WAIT for that ONE time of the year. And, we loved it.

It is summertime, so if you have little kids or just love this movie, I highly recommend tuning into The Essentials Jr. on Sunday nights, hosted by Bill Hader from Saturday Night Live. He will introduce this masterpiece that has been the inspiration for so many re-makes, adaptations, art, books and songs for over 60 years.

And, you can give your kids a little glimpse into the “olden days” when you had to watch a movie when it was actually ON. Regardless, it is a beautiful film with more poignant “finding your true self” metaphors than there are….well, FLYING MONKEYS….hee! hee! hee! hee!

 Enjoy!

TCM, Classic Continuity

Spring has truly sprung on Martha’s Vineyard. One of the things I love most about New England is the changing of four actual seasons. When I arrived 3 weeks ago, it was still cold and the leaves and flowers were still waiting for their cue, holed up in their tight buds. With a beautiful Memorial weekend, the island joined in on a resounding, “TA DAA”!

When I am here, there is always something to do to keep up this 135 year old house. It is a job I relish. This summer, I have plans to re-finish furniture, convert the shed into a Pilates studio and maybe, just maybe, build a small deck. It’s a hammer and nails and measuring tape, wood planks, right? I’m sure there is a YouTube for that.

When I retire for the evening, watching old familiar movies is comforting. Especially since my dear husband is in Texas right now.  There are some movies I can watch over and over again. Currently, however, I am all about ‘The Avengers”. I saw it again this weekend with my kids, my second time, my daughter’s third. We are hooked. (I want Tony Stark to be real and in my life.) There is something about the familiarity of knowing the lines and what’s coming next that I find reassuring. It is like all is right in the world for 120 minutes. To be honest, we watched Star Wars on Friday night for the, hmmm, 237th time? (It WAS the 35th anniversary!) And, I could still watch again. Continuity can be extremely comforting.

Today, it’s back to work around the Red Door cottage. It is garden day. There are flowers to prune and arrange. And, after a weekend with the kids here, I’m sure a trip to the market is in order, as well. Before I head out, here are my TCM picks for this week. There won’t be as many in the coming weeks since it’s summertime and I hope you are out enjoying it. But, it is nice to have a couple of sure things waiting on the DVR after a long day outside, at the beach or wherever you summer days take you. Enjoy!

 

(EST)

Thursday May 31

10:00 PM

BONNIE AND CLYDE (1967)   The legendary bank robbers run riot in the South of the 1930s. Dir: Arthur Penn Cast:  Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, Michael J. Pollard. C-111 mins, TV-14, CC, Letterbox Format

Warren Beatty had wanted to only produce this film, with Bob Dylan as his first choice to play Clyde.  Warner Bros. had little faith in this violent picture and was given a “B movie” release. After it began to receive critical acclaim, it was re-released with better promotion. The sale of berets soared after Dunaway wore them in this film. Roger Ebert labeled this as the first masterpiece of his then, 6 month old career as a film critic. After Beatty agreed to also star in the title role, he desperately wanted his girlfriend Natalie Wood to co-star as Bonnie. She was going through depression and declined. This is the film debut of Gene Wilder.

I am not usually one for over the top violence, but while the last scene of the film is harrowing and excessive, it is both historically accurate and historic cinematically. Creative gadgets were rigged and the make-up department tested new approaches to making the blood and grisly death scene look very real. AFI #42 Greatest Film of All Time. Filmed in the great state of Texas!

 

 Friday June 1

6:00 AM

CACTUS FLOWER (1969)   A philandering dentist asks his assistant to help him deal with his latest girlfriend. Dir: Gene Saks Cast:  Walter Matthau, Ingrid Bergman, Goldie Hawn. C-104 mins, TV-14, CC, Letterbox Format

My dear Goldie’s first major film role and she hit it out of the park, winning the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her portrayal of Toni. It had been over 25 years since Bergman had been on a Hollywood soundstage. All of her films had been made in Europe. The film was an adaptation of the 1965 Broadway production that starred Lauren Bacall, Barry Nelson and Brenda Vaccaro as Toni. The movie has a very “Three’s Company” kind of plot, but the chemistry amongst the characters set in 1969 make this a fun, swingin’, easy comedy. Bonus: you’ll celebrate a little redemption if you sat, painfully, through the 2011 remake, “Just Go With It” with Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston.

 

Saturday June 2

 3:00 PM

WILD ONE, THE (1953)   Motorcycle-riding delinquents take over a small town. Dir: Laslo Benedek Cast:  Marlon Brando, Mary Murphy, Robert Keith. BW-79 mins, TV-14, CC

This must be the “cool rider” Michelle Pfeiffer really sang about in “Grease 2.”  Brando, Harleys, Triumphs, gangs…1950’s cool.  Brando rode his own personal Triumph in the film. Lee Marvin had to learn to ride his Harley, not wanting to be shown up by the star, Brando. This was the first film that did not black out the logos of the bikes and, at first, Triumph was none too pleased about being linked with the “Black Rebel” gang, until of course, their sales increased due to the film and Brando. The film is loosely based on an actual incident that happened in Hollister, CA in 1947 and in 1997, a 50th anniversary celebration was held in the same town. This film is iconic Brando as he introduced the long sideburns that inspired Elvis and James Dean. Before there was “Be like Han.”, everyone wanted to “Be like Brando.”

 

Sunday June 3

 10:00 AM

TALK OF THE TOWN, THE (1942)   An escaped political prisoner and a stuffy law professor vie for the hand of a spirited schoolteacher.  Dir: George Stevens Cast:  Cary Grant, Jean Arthur, Ronald Coleman.  BW-117 mins, TV-G, CC

One of my personal favorites, well…it IS Cary Grant! But also, Jean Arthur is always precious and Ronald Coleman, that smooth British accent is like poetry. This is drama intersecting with screwball comedy. This film marked the first time Coleman was second billed below another male lead. 1942 proved to be a busy year for Lloyd Bridges. His minute role in this film was one of 20 small appearances he made in that year. Don’t blink or you’ll miss him!

 

12:00 PM

ANNIE (1982)  An orphan attracts the attention of a Wall Street tycoon and a con artist.  Dir: John Huston Cast:  Albert Finney, Carol Burnett, Aileen Quinn.  C-127 mins, TV-PG, CC, Letterbox Format

This is for my kids…all four of them. They loved this movie when they were little, each passing it down to the next kid. This film had a long run in the Stallings’ house. The only Annie production we enjoyed more was when our two older girls had parts in their Community Theatre production. Ah, good times, good times. Film nuggets: Jack Nicholson was originally signed to play Daddy Warbucks.  Steve Martin had to drop out of playing Rooster since he was in the middle of breaking up with Bernadette Peters and he thought it to be too painful. Drew Barrymore auditioned for the role of Annie. In total, over 8000 girls were interviewed over two years for this coveted role.

 

Monday June 4

 8:00 AM

WOMEN, THE (1939)   A happily married woman lets her catty friends talk her into divorce when her husband strays. Dir: George Cukor Cast:  Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell. BW-133 mins, TV-PG, C

A Hollywood homage to women power, with 130 roles in this film…all women. Every animal used in the film…female. All works of art seen in the background are of the female form. Cattiness over top billing, being fashionably late, playing favorites and general bickering ran amuck just under the surface of this amazing ensemble cast, although they never showed it and pretended to be fabulous friends. A great documentary would have been the making of this film with these female power houses. This is the film debut of Butterfly McQueen. As of this post, the only surviving cast member is Joan Fontaine. Again, much better than the modern 2008 remake with Meg Ryan and Annette Bening.

 

12:00 AM

STING, THE (1973)   Two con men hit the big time to take on a gangster in ’30s Chicago.  Dir: George Roy Hill Cast:  Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Eileen Brennan. C-129 mins, TV-MA, CC, Letterbox Format

Won 7 Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Edith Head won her 8th and final Oscar for Best Costume Design. The second film for the leads to play together, the first Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid.  At the time, Redford and Newman were considered the most handsome and bankable Hollywood stars. The only time Redford has been nominated for an acting Oscar. Robert Shaw had injured himself just prior to shooting and his limp was written into the script. He had to wear a leg brace during the production. The diner where Hooker meets Lonnegan is the same diner interior used in “Back to the Future”, as both movies were shot on the Universal backlot. Although Redford enjoyed his time making this film, he did not see the actual movie until 2004. This film set a standard for the fun, caper film with a smart, trick ending. The characters were so beloved that audiences didn’t feel “stung” or duped, they simply flocked to see it again and again. Comforting, classic continuity.

Kind of like me with “The Avengers.”

TCM Tuesday 5/22

It is a cool, dark, rainy day in New England, perfect for old movies. This is why I always check the TCM schedule and set my DVR for upcoming classic films. On evenings like tonight, I don’t have to lament that, even with 500 channels, there is nothing on TV!  My DVR is usually at capacity with masterpiece movies. To me, it is like having a well-stocked pantry, in case of a storm. Here are my pics for this week’s classic films.

CST

Tuesday May 22

2:00 AM   GILDA (1946) A gambler discovers an old flame in South America, but she’s married to his new boss.  Dir:  Charles Vidor  Cast: Rita Hayworth, Glenn Ford, George Macready. BW-110 mins, TV-PG, CC

Ladies, take note: THIS is a siren performance. Hayworth performing “Put the Blame on Mame” shows how sexy can be sexier without getting graphic. This is the movie that the prisoners cheer in “The Shawshank Redemption” as Hayworth does her famous hair flip. The sexual tension between Ford and Hayworth doesn’t just simmer, it boils over. This is classic, sexy 40’s noir and Hayworth is the definition of “femme fatale.” Oh, and if you’ve ever wondered why the government’s nuclear testing bomb was named “Gilda”…well, you’ll see.

 

Wednesday May 23

6:30 AM   SAN FRANCISCO (1936) A beautiful singer and a battling priest try to reform a Barbary Coast saloon owner in the days before the big earthquake.  Dir: W. S. Van Dyke Cast: Clark Gable, Jeanette MacDonald, Spencer Tracy. BW-115 min TV-G, CC

This would be the Memorial Weekend blockbuster of its time. Star actors, lavish drama, great storyline, amazing special effects for 1936; definitely the blueprint for all of those 70’s disaster films. See if you can spot MacDonald’s opera gown that would later become Glinda’s costume in ‘The Wizard of Oz.” MacDonald and Gable are amazing in their roles, as they did not care for each other off-screen and never spoke to each other off camera.

 

8:30 AM   ALL THIS, AND HEAVEN TOO (1940) A French nobleman falls in love with his children’s governess. Dir: Anatole Litvak  Cast: Bette Davis, Charles Boyer, Jeffrey Lynn. BW-143 mins, TV-PG, CC

Not the conniving, chain-smoking Davis, but a sweet, warm and innocent Davis. Barbara O’Neil earned an Oscar nomination for the crazy jealous wife in this tragic story based on a true 1840 French scandal. Most of the budget for this film went to sets and costumes, Davis’ in particular with 37 dresses. O’Neil had just played the mother of Scarlett in “Gone With The Wind”. Davis’ bed in this film is the same bed used in “Gone With The Wind” in Scarlett’s bedroom after she marries Rhett.

 

Friday May 25

9:00 PM   MORTAL STORM, THE (1940) The Third Reich’s rise tears apart a German family. Dir: Frank Borzage  Cast: Margaret Sullavan, James Stewart, Robert Young. BW-100 mins, TV-PG, CC

A little known, total buzz-kill, downer masterpiece. But, quite possibly the most powerful war film ever made since Hitler himself banned it and all future MGM films from Nazi occupied Europe. The German ambassador to the U.S. warned Louis B. Mayer about releasing the film; the U.S. had not yet entered WWII. This film is considered to be one of the most accurate accounts of the shift in attitudes as Hitler came into power. A must for history buffs.

Too dark? Well, let’s lighten the mood, shall we, with…

2:30 AM  FAME (1980) Students at a performing arts high school struggle with personal problems. Dir: Alan Parker  Cast: Irene Cara, Lee Curreri, Ed Barth. C-133 mins, TV-MA, CC, Letterbox Format

(Talk about a shift in attitudes!)  

With the passing this week of Donna Summer and Robin Gibb, I am feeling quite nostalgic for my youth. (Irene. Irene Cara, please take care of yourself.)  Can I even express how bad I wanted to be IN this movie? Oh, God! NYC, leg warmers, plastic dance pants and busting out into “Hot Lunch Jam!”  I wasn’t the only one. Tom Cruise, Patrick Swayze. Michelle Pfeiffer and Madonna all tested for roles. Fun Fact: This was the first VHS I ever rented. Fun Fact #2: There were about 37 movies to choose from, at the time.

 

Saturday May 26

7:00 PM   DINNER AT EIGHT (1933) A high-society dinner party masks a hotbed of scandal and intrigue. Dir: George Cukor  Cast: Marie Dressler, John Barrymore, Wallace Beery. BW-111 mins, TV-PG, CC

All of 1930’s Hollywood royalty  in one film. With Cukor directing this Herman Mankiewicz screenplay, this film is considered an essential among film buffs. Listed as #85 on AFI’s 100 Funniest Movies. #85. Made in 1933. Just saying. The simple definition of a timeless classic comedy.

11:00 PM  FATHER OF THE BRIDE (1950) A doting father faces mountains of bills and endless trials when his daughter marries. Dir: Vincente Minnelli  Cast: Spencer Tracy, Joan Bennett, Elizabeth Taylor. BW-93 mins, TV-G, CC

A fun, easy, 90 minute classic film romp. Tracy is hilarious. Taylor, beautiful before she was glamorous. Tracy, of course, wanted Hepburn to play his screen wife, but the producers thought they had too much romantic chemistry to pull off playing a domesticated couple, raising children. ?!?! Exactly. The movie was released the same weekend as Taylor’s real life wedding to Nicky Conrad Hilton, Jr. How’s that for Hollywood marketing? It worked. This movie was a huge financial success and writers started on the sequel, “Father’s Little Dividend” immediately.

 

Monday May 28

4:15 PM  DIRTY DOZEN, THE (1967) A renegade officer trains a group of misfits for a crucial mission behind enemy lines. Dir: Robert Aldrich  Cast: Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, Charles Bronson. C-150 mins, TV-PG, CC, Letterbox Format

I have never seen this movie. “Sleepless in Seattle” is my only reason for listing it; simply based on Tom Hanks and Victor Garber’s emotionally hilarious reference, “…..Trini Lopez…TRINI LOPEZ!” I’ve got nothing. 

Enjoy!

 

TCM Tuesday

If you play by the rules, you miss all the fun~Katharine Hepburn

This week, we are celebrating the May 12th birthday of Katharine Hepburn and TCM is offering some of her classics along with a rare interview.  Hepburn is ranked the #1 woman in the AFI’s “50 Greatest Movie Legends”.

She has always been one of my personal favorites; playing dramatic and comedic roles in her own special way, on her own terms. She even did her own stunts since no one could stand up as straight as her; reinforcing my personal mantra to always stand tall.

CST

Tuesday May 8

3:15 PM

AMERICAN IN PARIS, AN (1951)

An American artist finds love in Paris but almost loses it to conflicting loyalties.

Dir: Vincente Minnelli Cast:  Gene Kelly, Leslie Caron, Oscar Levant

BW-114 mins, TV-PG, CC

The studio created 44 dramatic sets despite Kelly’s wanting to shoot on location in Paris. The romantic story set against Paris with fabulous choreography, combined with the general Gene Kelly casual coolness definitely make this a bucket list musical. Kelly discovered Caron while on vacation in Paris and she replaced the originally cast Cyd Charisse, who had discovered she was pregnant. At times, the numbers can seem overblown, but really, you risk that in any musical when characters suddenly burst into song and dance. Although, I sometimes think, trying life scenarios could totally be diffused with a good, choreographed number.

2:15 AM

SPARTACUS (1960)

A heroic slave leads a revolt against the corrupt Roman Empire.

Dir: Stanley Kubrick Cast:  Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier, Jean Simmons

C-197 mins, TV-PG, CC, Letterbox Format

I have to admit that I did not see this film until last summer and I was so taken with Kirk Douglas. The film was shot on a 10 acre site in Los Angeles, using about 10,500 people for battle scenes; filmmaking before CGI.  Over 180 stuntmen were actually trained in the rituals of a gladiator, battle to the death. “I am Spartacus” was voted as the #64 greatest movie line by Premiere in 2007.

 

Thursday May 10

10:30 PM

I WANT TO LIVE! (1958)

True story of the small-time lady crook who fought to escape the gas chamber.

Dir: Robert Wise Cast:  Susan Hayward, Simon Oakland, Virginia Vincent

BW-121 mins, TV-PG, CC, Letterbox Format

One of the first “old” movies I saw when I was in high school. I still remember watching it with my mom and being absolutely riveted. At that time, I was all about my 1980’s John Hughes genre; Molly Ringwald was my benchmark for dramatic acting. I held my breath as I watched Susan Hayward’s character scream, “I want to live!” A bit walk on part for this film was awarded on “The Price is Right”. Really.

Saturday May 12

 12:15 PM

BRINGING UP BABY (1938)

A madcap heiress upsets the staid existence of a straight-laced scientist.

Dir: Howard Hawks Cast:  Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, Charlie Ruggles

BW-102 mins, TV-G, CC

Hepburn was almost mauled by the leopard when she turned around too quickly, shooting a scene, saved only by the quick reaction of the trainer and his whip. Cary Grant never said “Judy, Judy, Judy” in a film, but he says, “Susan, Susan, Susan” in this one. One of four movies that Hepburn and Grant would do together. Cary Grant…*sigh*

2:00 PM

KATHARINE HEPBURN: ALL ABOUT ME (1993)

In a rare interview, Katharine Hepburn shares her memories and memorabilia.

Dir: David Heeley Cast:  Katharine Hepburn

C-70 mins, TV-G, CC

 

3:15 PM

GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER (1967)

An aging couple’s liberal principles are tested when their daughter announces her engagement to a black doctor.

Dir: Stanley Kramer Cast:  Spencer Tracy, Sidney Poitier, Katharine Hepburn

C-108 mins, TV-PG, CC, Letterbox Format

Easily, one of my all-time favorite movies.  Houghton is Hepburn’s real niece and named after her. I think you can see shades and similarities of a young Hepburn. Poitier is perfectly “Poitier”. This was Tracy’s last movie. His last monologue, at the end of the movie, was filmed 14 days before he died. Be sure to watch Hepburn’s face as she watches him deliver his lines.  She knows it’s the end. There is also a scene at the drive-in diner where director Kramer catches her wistfully looking off camera, teary eyed; but then smiles and delivers her line, back in full character. Hepburn could never watched this film.

5:15 PM

ADAM’S RIB (1949)

Husband-and-wife lawyers argue opposite sides in a sensational women’s rights case.

Dir: George Cukor Cast:  Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, Judy Holliday .

BW-101 mins, TV-G, CC

Ranked #7 on the AFI’s “Romantic Comedy” list. Mesmerized and incredibly nervous, Holliday is literally shaking in her first scene with Hepburn. Tracy ad-libs a line to Hepburn, “Oh, you’re giving me the Bryn Mawr accent.”; Hepburn’s actual alma mater. Their on-screen chemistry is visible, authentic and a bit melancholy given their real life circumstances.

Sunday May 13

Happy Mother’s Day!

5:45 AM

CATERED AFFAIR, THE (1956)

A working-class mother fights to give her daughter a big wedding whether the girl wants it or not.

Dir: Richard Brooks Cast:  Bette Davis, Ernest Borgnine, Debbie Reynolds

BW-94 mins, TV-G, CC, Letterbox Format

One of Davis’ best performances, as she doesn’t over glamorize the character.  Also, one of Reynolds few dramatic roles and she is outstanding. It is puzzling why she only continued to do bubbly, comedic musical roles. She clearly had it in her to become a dramatic actress.

 7:00 PM

STELLA DALLAS (1937)

After divorcing a society man, a small-town woman tries to build a better life for their daughter.

Dir: King Vidor Cast:  Barbara Stanwyck, John Boles, Anne Shirley

BW-106 mins, TV-G, CC

Falling in love with old movies has been an eye-opening experience for me. For instance: I grew up in the 70’s/80’s, hence “The Thorn Birds” is part of my cultural DNA. Who knew how gorgeous and cool Barbara Stanwyck was in her day?! I just knew her as the creepy old lady on” Drohgeda” that wanted Father Ralph for herself, ew.  I love her classic films, including her portrayal of “Stella”.  I had only seen Bette Midler’s milder version. Wow. Stanwyck is stellar and I consider myself a new fan.

9:00 PM

MILDRED PIERCE (1945)

A woman turns herself into a business tycoon to win her selfish daughter a place in society.

Dir: Michael Curtiz Cast:  Joan Crawford, Jack Carson, Zachary Scott .

BW-111 mins, TV-PG, CC

If you ever question your mothering skills, watch Veda in full force, then go ahead and pick out your outfit for your acceptance of your “Mother-of-the-Year” award. Crawford won the Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of the mother that never stops spoiling. But, Ann Blyth should have won an award for her portrayal of the daughter that never quits b*tching! I cannot even envision Shirley Temple playing the part of Veda and she was actually considered for the role. This was Crawford’s comeback film after a series of flops and being labeled “box office poison”. She won the Best Actress Oscar for this role.

 Monday May 14

11:00 AM

GIANT (1956)

A Texas ranching family fights to survive changing times.

Dir: George Stevens Cast:  Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, James Dean

BW-201 mins, TV-PG, CC, Letterbox Format

This was the last film James Dean made. He was killed while filming the last of “Giant”. Ironically, he filmed an anti-speeding PSA on the set, in the clothes of his character “Jett”, just two weeks before his fatal car crash. Hudson did not care for Dean and used his animosity to play up his role. When Hudson learned of Dean’s death, he was inconsolable with guilt and never forgave himself for being petty. On set, Taylor heard the news and was unable to work; as compared to “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” when she continued to work after her husband’s death. So, besides all that, a great epic drama as big as the great state of Texas!

Enjoy!