True Classics is three years old! (!!!!!!!!) In the blogging racket, three years is an ETERNITY. I raise my bottle of Boone’s Farm to the entire True Classics crew: Brandie, Nikki, Carrie, and Sarah. Thanks for being amazing classic film ambassadors and all-around awesome-y! To celebrate the occasion, the ladies are hosting a limerick contest! Below are my entries for the event.
With vision that’s doubled and blurry
She visits Doc Brent in a hurry
Her prognosis was bleak
She’d die in 12 weeks
He withheld though, to not make her worry
Inspired by Dark Victory (1939)
Why’d Ms. Timberlake stop to think?
She should’ve been in the pink!
Before they retired
To give her That Touch of Mink
Inspired by That Touch of Mink (1962)
Sheriff Bart took the job no one wanted
The townspeople, their hatred was flaunted
With a tip of his hat
“Where the white women at?”
With his cunning and wit, he taunted
Inspired by Blazing Saddles (1974)
Macaulay was quite a swell guy
He stuttered uh…uh well… I…
He’s the voice of doom
The drunk in the room
Sipping champagne and rye
Inspired by The Philadelphia Story (1940)
Alicia was loose and unfit
Uncle Sam, for she’d commit
With a tinge of hate
“Alex is my playmate”
Jealous, said Dev, “just skip it.”
Inspired by Notorious (1946)
Two “friends” named Randy and Cary
Many women they courted to marry
On the beach in their socks
Shorts tight on their cocks
Of women, claimed Hedda, they’re wary
Inspired by Hollywood tabloid trash and salacious “biographies”
(For the record: I love Hollywood tabloid trash and salacious “biographies”)
The man Kelly was known for his class
for women he bowed when he’d pass
When he yelled “Gotta Dance!”
All fell in a trance
Admiring his luscious firm ass
Inspired by Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
(and every other Gene Kelly performance)
Count me now on the list of jerks who’s been to the TCM Classic Film Festival. To say that my experience was incredible is a complete understatement.
I arrived in California on Wednesday evening. After a lovely, relaxing dinner with some close friends, I traveled up to Hollywood from Orange County to check into my hotel. Little did I know, that meal would be the last one for quite a while. After finally meeting some of my Twitter friends in person for the first time, I settled in for a good night’s sleep. It would be the last one of those too. I quickly learned there is no place for eating or sleeping at the festival. After all, “sleeping is giving in, no matter what the time is.”
Thursday, April 12th
My hotel was over a mile away from the epicenter of the festival. Although exhaustion would eventually take its toll and force me into the unpleasantness that is the Hollywood cab culture, on this day I was eager to walk. I enjoyed silently calling out all of the stars I passed on the Walk of Fame– “There’s Bette Davis, Billy Barty, Hattie McDaniel, Mack Sennett, and Errol Flynn!” I listened to Frank Sinatra as I passed Capitol Records. I soaked in the sun knowing that I would rarely see it for the next several days. Once I arrived at the Roosevelt Hotel, TCM’s official Headquarters for the festival, I met up with Will to shoot our first video.
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Cinemental Jill Blake (JB) welcomes you to the historic Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood for the third annual TCM Classic Film Festival on April 12, 2012.
That evening, I met fellow bloggers and Twitter users and relaxed. Carley Johnson and I attended the TCM Tweet-up, which was held in the Marilyn Monroe Suite at the Roosevelt. It was a wonderful time, and I enjoyed great conversation with such lovely people. Later I went to the screening of High Society (1954), which was originally scheduled to be shown at the Roosevelt’s pool. Due to windy conditions, the screening was moved inside. Although lacking in ambiance (no model of the True Love sailing in the pool), it was still great fun. Afterward, completely decked out in my Seven Year Itch-style dress, we headed over to The Cinementals opening night party, which was held in one of the marvelous Cabana suites. With the palm trees and the iconic Hotel Roosevelt sign, this was the perfect spot to kick-off the weekend’s events.
Friday, April 13th
After much talk and drink the night before, morning came too early– though nothing a bottle of water, Excedrin, and coffee couldn’t fix. The weather was rainy and cold, and the stars on the Walk of Fame were like little death traps. You see, when the polished terrazzo becomes wet, it’s like walking on a strip of banana peels. Throw in some unsavory individuals dressed as beloved cartoon characters, excited tourists, and Scientologists conducting stress tests, and it’s akin to a medieval gauntlet. I met up with friends to attend the screening of Anthony Mann’s Raw Deal (1948), introduced by Eddie Muller from the Film Noir Foundation and star Marsha Hunt. The screening was “sold out”, so we decided on Love Story with special guest Robert Evans. Prior to the festival, I made it abundantly clear to my fellow Cinementals that I am not incredibly fond of Ryan O’Neal. I believe I said something along the lines of “I hate him.” I have to admit that I had serious trepidation going into this film, given my strong feelings on O’Neal. I also have to admit that, although the film is overly sentimental and weepy, it is reminiscent of Douglas Sirk’s luscious technicolor melodramas which I love. I didn’t hate Love Story as much as I thought I would, but it wasn’t a highlight for me.
Next we rushed over to the Egyptian Theatre for Frankenstein (1931), with special guest John Carpenter. Although I felt the discussion to be too brief, it was a pleasure to hear Carpenter talk about how he has been influenced by the work of director James Whale. Afterward, I went to my first screening at the palatial Grauman’s Chinese Theatre: Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece Vertigo (1958) starring James Stewart and Kim Novak, the latter being in attendance for the screening. The event was completely sold out to an enthusiastic and appreciative crowd. Although I’ve always had mixed feelings on Vertigo, it was a pleasure to see on the big screen. The bright colors, the unforgettable musical score, and the grand setting made me forget all the problems I have with the film.
After Vertigo I immediately returned to the Egyptian Theatre for a nearly sold-out screening of Young Frankenstein (1974), with an introduction by Mel Brooks. Growing up, I enjoyed Brooks’ films with my dad. Watching them made me feel like I was getting away with something. Seeing Young Frankenstein in a theatre on the big screen, and with Mel Brooks in person? Perfection. This event made my entire weekend.
Closing out a most interesting Friday the 13th was the bizarre Phase IV (1974) directed by Saul Bass. There are no words for the tragic mess that is this film. I will spare you the misery we all experienced. The only highlight? Seeing the film’s reluctant star Michael Murphy in person, and witnessing his brilliant self-deprecating humor. Confused and afraid my fellow Cinementals and I went back to our Headquarters for a late night podcast. This Cinemental finally made it to bed at 5:30 am.
Saturday, April 14th
My first screening of the day was the 75th Anniversary restoration of Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. If there was only one film I had to see over the course of the festival, this was it. In 1983, Snow White was re-released in theatres. I was 3 years old and my mom took me to see it. I still remember sitting in the theatre feeling equally excited and terrified. When I found my seat at Grauman’s, I was immediately taken back to 1983. I sent my mom a text saying “I wish you were here with me” and I started blubbering. I’m sure the people next to me thought I had been dumped or was a drug addict. I assure you neither is true; I’m just a mama’s girl. It’s amazing how a single film can elicit such a powerful emotional response. As for the quality of the print, I’ve never seen Snow White look or sound better.
After Snow White, I took a field trip to the courtyard in front of Grauman’s Chinese for quick photo op. Although the area was filled with passholders on line for the next screening and tourists fawning all over the Twilight footprints, we were able to take a few shots for The Cinementals family albumn.
The next film I attended was Harold Lloyd’s Girl Shy (1924). I have seen many of Lloyd’s films, but this was a first time viewing for me. The screening was introduced by Leonard Maltin and Lloyd’s granddaughter. The main attraction was live accompaniment by the Robert Israel Orchestra. The score was light and fun, and the nerdy and handsome Lloyd filled the screen with his larger than life personality. I sat on the edge of my seat in the Egyptian’s balcony enjoying every single minute. A truly unforgettable experience.
I left the Egyptian, only to immediately return for Gun Crazy (1950), starring John Dall and Peggy Cummins, another first time viewing for me. The film was introduced by Eddie Muller and the lovely Ms. Cummins, who is, contrary to popular belief, not at all gun crazy. I cannot think of a better way to see this movie for the first time. The theatre was packed and the audience response to the sometimes humorous dialogue and blatant sexual undertones really enhanced the experience. At the end of the movie, I met the lovely Laura from Laura’s Miscellaneous Musings.
One of the things I quickly learned is that food is a luxury. If you want to make the most out of the festival, there isn’t time for insignificant things such as basic sustenance. Protein bars, peanut butter crackers, and almonds were a staple for me. And lots and lots of coffee. After Gun Crazy I was feeling a bit peckish. Luckily, friends Drew and Nicole felt the same way. The three of us decided to skip the next block of screenings and venture over to West Hollywood to enjoy some delicious Mexican fare at El Coyote. Before you criticize us for doing something non-film related, hold on: El Coyote is infamous for being the last meal of actress Sharon Tate, then wife of director Roman Polanski. With a now full stomach, I met my friend Carley at the Egyptian for a midnight screening of The Marx Bros’ Duck Soup (1933). The film was introduced by TCM senior writer/producer and our good friend Scott McGee. Although the crowd was sparse with a snore or two (seriously), it was a fun time.
Sunday, April 15th
This day did not go as originally planned.
I will say this: if you stay in a two-star hotel, you get two-star wake-up calls. Lesson? Ask family and friends on the East coast to make the call. Also, make sure to set a fast-paced, rollicking wake-up song on your phone. The Rolling Stones’ “Angie” is too sweet and quiet. The unholy mess that is Jagger and Bowie’s rendition of “Dancing in the Street” would be more appropriate, methinks. Most importantly, it helps if you actually set your alarm.
In an attempt to salvage the day, I met friends at the Chinese Multiplex for an encore screening of Anthony Mann’s Raw Deal (1948). Although Marsha Hunt was not in attendance, Eddie Muller enthusiastically introduced the film. Although I enjoyed Raw Deal, it’s a far cry from the incredible Gun Crazy. Afterward I went to the famous Larry Edmunds Bookshop on Hollywood Blvd. Owner Jeff Mantor is helpful and knowledgeable. If he doesn’t have what you’re looking for he will help you find it. I scored a book on Fredric March, Hitchcock by Francois Truffaut, and several production stills from Footlight Parade (1933) and Notorious (1946).
For the closing night film, I struggled between attending The Thief of Bagdad (1924) starring Douglas Fairbanks and Woody Allen’s Annie Hall (1977), with special guest Tony Roberts. Since I was having a generally rotten day and Hollywood was really starting to get on my nerves, I decided there’s only one person who would understand: Alvy Singer. Annie Hall is a favorite and this particular screening was the only 35mm film shown at Grauman’s Chinese. The print was fantastic, although the sound was tinny and distorted at times. Friend and fellow El Coyote patron Drew Morton attended with me. The two of us took solace in Alvy’s self-analytic and neurotic behavior.
After the film, the two of us trekked over to Club TCM at the Roosevelt for the Festival wrap party. It was lovely meeting fellow passholders, TCM staff, and special guests. I enjoyed a lovely conversation with film critic and classic film champion Leonard Maltin. Although I paid $15 for a cocktail, subsequently losing what little remaining innocence a redhead may have, I had a wonderful evening. I recorded the final podcast of the weekend and said goodbye to all of my friends.
It’s hard to imagine that just a few months ago I was not attending the TCM Classic Film Festival. Now that I have been, I’m hooked. It’s a wonderful feeling to know there are other classic film fans out there in the world. Sitting shoulder to shoulder with fellow fans was an amazing experience that I will never forget. And now that TCM has announced that the festival will be a regular annual event, maybe you, dear reader, will get to make your own wonderful memories…
This piece was originally posted on TheCinementals.org
It all began in 1954. The film was The Quatermass Xperiment, an adaptation of a BBC television production that aired in 1953. This was the first television-to-film production by Hammer Studios, and they rated it ‘X’–which proved to be successful in the marketing of this and future films. Sex, violence, and sheer terror were the common elements of the typical Hammer Horror film.The Hammer Vault: Treasure from the Archive of Hammer Films is written by the official Hammer Films historian Marcus Hearn. The book provides detailed production information on the studio’s films, from 1954 to 2010. It also briefly mentions the new Hammer release The Woman in Black (2012), starring Daniel Radcliffe.
In 1956, Hammer Studios produced the first of its Gothic horror films: The Curse of Frankenstein, starring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. This was Cushing’s first film for the studio, and before long his name became synonymous with Hammer Horror, along with Lee’s. Many of the films made for the studio featured the same actors and actresses, including Ralph Bates, Andrew Keir, Michael Ripper, Veronica Carlson, and of course Cushing and Lee. However, famous Hollywood stars contributed to the Hammer canon as well.
One of my favorite anecdotes from The Hammer Vault involves one of Hollywood’s finest. In 1967 Bette Davis made the film The Anniversary for Hammer. The production methods at the studio were much different than Hollywood’s. A living legend like Bette Davis, who was accustomed to doing things her way, could not and would not work under their typically strict filming style.
Seven Arts Productions in Hollywood had a partnership with Hammer, and were involved in Davis being cast for the film. When producer Jimmy Sangster found himself mediating a battle between Davis and the director of The Anniversary, he contacted Seven Arts for assistance. Their response was: ”The Anniversary wasn’t an Alvin Rakoff film, neither was it an Anthony Hinds or Jimmy Sangster film. And, if push came to shove, it wasn’t even a Hammer film. It was a Bette Davis film” (100).
The Hammer Vault: Treasure from the Archive of Hammer Films is an excellent guide to the horror films that made the studio so famous. Complete with colorful artwork, posters, notes from stars like Peter Cushing, and Hearn’s insights, the book is a nice film companion piece. If you are a fan, The Hammer Vault is a must have for your collection.
The Hammer Vault: Treasures from the Archive of Hammer Films
Full Disclosure: I received a copy of The Hammer Vault: Treasures from the Archive of Hammer Films directly from the publisher Titan Books. I thank the publisher for the opportunity to review this book.