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2014 TCM Classic Film Festival: Three is a Magic Number

This Monday, April 7th,  I’ll board a giant-ass Delta plane in Atlanta (we’re more than a Delta hub) and fly to Los Angeles for the 2014 TCM Classic Film Festival. This year TCM is celebrating their 20th anniversary on-air, in addition to the 5th anniversary of their annual event in Hollywood. This will be my third trip to the festival. I have no doubt that wonderful, magical things will happen. TCM never disappoints, and I believe this is the year to top them all.

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My Favorite Saturday Morning Memories

Growing up, I spent my Saturday mornings in front of the television watching pals Bugs Bunny and the rest of the Looney Tunes crew, Tom and Jerry, Droopy, Huckleberry Hound, The Flintstones, its later spin-off The Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm Show, The SmurfsThe Snorks, Scooby-Doo Where Are You?, and of course Pee-Wee’s Playhouse. Having one morning dedicated to cartoons after a long week of dealing with bullies, and shitty teachers, and pop quizzes, and that kid who always smelled like mustard (ALWAYS), was a welcomed respite. It was like cracking open a cold one after a hard day’s work. But since I was a just mere pup, let’s say it was like dunking a fresh chocolate chip cookie into a glass of cold milk (Ding! Age appropriate!). Then suddenly, cartoons were everywhere. On every channel. At any time. Hell, even a channel devoted to them 24 hours a day. This was fantastic! When Cartoon Network launched I rarely watched anything else (and honestly, other than TCM and the few channels my daughter watches, this is still true today. Read: Uncle Grandpa and Adult Swim). However, with the advent of the never-ending access to cartoons, came a quiet death to beloved Saturday morning cartoons on network television.

[Opens a cold one]

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William Wyler’s Love Letter to His Comrades in Arms: The Best Years of Our Lives

In the opening shot of William Wyler’s The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), CAPT Fred Derry walks into an airport terminal in hopes of catching a flight home to Boone City, USA. Upon reaching the clerk at the counter, Fred learns there is a several day wait for a commercial flight, even though he’s a returning war hero. A wealthy middle-aged businessman then charges up next to Fred, interrupts his conversation with the airline clerk, and confirms his seat on the next flight regardless of the extra cost. He barely acknowledges CAPT Derry, no nod or a “thank you for your service.” The air is thick with rotten apathy, and it’s this scene that signals the audience is in for a different kind of war movie. William Wyler, himself a WWII veteran, saw America’s shift in attitude immediately following the war. The wells of patriotism had been tapped dry and those keeping the fires burning on the home front were tired of making sacrifices. Once the servicemen returned home, the warm welcome was short lived. After fighting for years in the Pacific and Europe, these soldiers were expected to resume life as normal almost immediately. Definitely easier said than done. The transition back to civilian life was difficult for many of the soldiers displaced by the war, and Wiliam Wyler wanted to pay tribute to their post-war struggles.

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Beloved Infidel from Twilight Time

In 1933, British gossip columnist Sheilah Graham arrived in New York to accept a position writing for The New York Mirror and The Evening Journal. After two years establishing herself in the entertainment scene, Graham was offered her very own syndicated column, Hollywood Today, with the North American Newspaper Alliance. Graham moved to Los Angeles so she could insert herself into the Hollywood scene, putting her in with the likes the notorious gossip columnists Louella Parsons and Hedda Hopper.

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