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 Philip desired 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
Note: You will NOT see the word “Bromance” mentioned in this post. I find it to be the most ridiculous term ever. I will also go on record to say that I strongly dislike “Chick-flick”, “Bromcom”, “Romcom”. You will see the words “man”, “manly” and “dude” maybe even “dudely.”
Ah, the buddy flick. Two guys (sometimes more) out to take on the world. It doesn’t matter when, where, and how their journey takes place, it’s about their friendship and how they deal with adversity and triumph. Women may come and go, and there may even be a fight between them over the same woman. Yet almost always, the friendship will prevail–even in death. Using the mechanism of the buddy film, Hollywood is able to appeal to men’s emotional side. In classic film, a vast majority of the buddy films appear to be dramas. In the gangster genre I immediately think of James Cagney and Pat O’Brien. These two were close friends in real life, and although they made all kinds of films (and frequently collaborated Frank McHugh, another close pal), I always think of their roles in Angels with Dirty Faces. Another pairing is that of William Powell and Clark Gable. Theirs was in Manhattan Melodrama, one of my favorites, and a similar story line to that of Angels with Dirty Faces: two young friends grow up together on the wrong side of the tracks. One makes it to the right side and lives an honorable and decent life, while the other continues in a life of crime. Despite their differences, they remain friends and can always pick up where they left off.
In the action/adventure genre there is only one teaming that comes to mind: Errol Flynn and Alan Hale. Although Hale was very much a supporting character to Flynn’s leading roles, it’s hard to think of one without the other. Flynn is charming and handsome, and Hale is the sidekick with all the funny quips. They get along so well because there is no competition over women. They each know their place and are friends until the very end. There are some classic comedies with best pals. First are the Road pictures starring Bob Hope and Bing Crosby. In the silent era, Buster Keaton and Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle made quite the team. Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello, The Marx Brothers are all perfect examples. There are even buddies in musicals, with Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra starring in three films (Anchors Aweigh, On the Town, and Take Me Out to the Ballgame) immediately coming to mind.
Of all the genres, the two that are the fullest of testosterone and strong male friendships, are war stories and westerns. From Battleground to Ride the High Country, these films always feature two friends dealing with the toughest of circumstances.
In the 1980′s and early 1990′s, theaters were inundated with action-packed, testosterone-fueled BFF adventures: 48 Hours, Beverly Hills Cop, Lethal Weapon, and their respective sequels (and threequels and fourquels). These films definitely appealed to a very male audience, but frequently cast the current luscious beefcake to help draw in the ladies. At the time many of these films were considered edgy. By today’s standards, the “raunchy” language of 1980s Eddie Murphy is a distant memory (after all, he is Donkey, Doctor Dolittle and runs Daddy Day Care…oh and he occasionally gives car rides to needy transvestite hookers). In recent years the buddy flick has become an exposition for the raunchiest language, random and pointless nudity (each film appears to compete for the most hideous nude scene or most graphic discussions about bodily functions), and general caveman-like behavior. Their masculinity is worn not on their sleeve, but on a t-shirt three sizes too small and positioned squarely on their chest. Underneath is a tagline that says “I love boobies and I’m absolutely and positively NOT GAY!.” Some of these newer films are quite funny, despite their overt attempts at pure manly manliness (I give Judd Apatow a lot of credit because his films have heart, sometimes too much. They also appear to be a little insecure about acknowledging love between two friends, re: constant gay jokes).
Going back to classics, I have to admit that I love a lot of the “manly” genres. Some of my favorite films feature two male friends. Sure there might be a love interest, but the friendship is always a main attraction. When thinking about the films for this blogathon, I turned to my husband. The two of us compared our list of quintessential male buddy films and we had a lot of duplicates. However, he had several listed that I did not consider. A few of them are highlighted below.
Cool Hand Luke
My husband is very adamant over Cool Hand Luke being the essential buddy flick. There are no women (unless you consider the big bosomed car wash lady), thus no traditional romance. The “romance” is between the two main characters Luke (Paul Newman) and Dragline (George Kennedy). It is Luke’s strength and determination (and Messiah-like presence) to find a way out that has Dragline and the whole chain gang admiring him. Dragline’s devotion to Luke is so strong and he risks his life just to be around him. Call it hero worship. They are a mismatched duo, but they have each other’s back right to the end. No women, no fortune, no prospects– just brought together by incredibly horrendous circumstances. How does Cool Hand Luke appeal to women? I don’t think I should have to answer that one.
I have to admit that George Stevens’s classic is one of my all time favorites. In my opinion it is one of the greatest action/adventure films ever made. The friendship between Cutter (Cary Grant), MacChesney (Victor McLaglen), and Ballantine (Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.) is unwavering. That’s not to say they do not have their differences. Cutter is a bit of a handful with his pipe dreams about finding hidden treasures and golden palaces, and often agitates his comrades. MacChesney is the highest ranked officer of the trio and tries to maintain straight military protocol. Ballantine struggles over starting his life with the woman he loves, or continuing the adventures with his best friends. In addition to the strong friendship between the three, Cutter forms an unlikely bond with the regiment’s water boy, Gunga Din (Sam Jaffe). The two have a mutual admiration and both set out to find their fortunes. Although there is a female character, Ballantine’s fiancee Emmy (Joan Fontaine), she is negatively portrayed as needy and generally whiny. Not great for female viewers, but it helps reinforce the unbreakable bond between the best friends. Despite this, I still love the story and the main characters. Although it ends on a bittersweet note, Gunga Din is also quite a funny film at times.
I realize that Blazing Saddles does not fall under the traditional “classic film” label because it was made after the 1969 cut-off, but it would be flat out wrong to dismiss it strictly based on when it was made. Mel Brooks is a master and Blazing Saddles is his finest masterpiece. Sure it is off-color at times, but it all comes from a good place. Brooks took the typical western (and the musical) and turned it upside down. The Ballad of Rock Ridge is a parody of the main theme in the film High Noon, Madeline Kahn is in full Marlene Dietrich mode with her stage performances, and the hero is…black. Whoa! A western with a black hero? And his sidekick is white? Obviously this arrangement makes way for a endless amount of jokes, but also serves as a commentary on racism. Sheriff Bart (Cleavon Little) and Jim (Gene Wilder) form a fast friendship. They are both social outcasts– Bart because he is black, and Jim because he’s a drunk, and fallen from his glory days as sharpshooter The Waco Kid. The pair team up to save the town of Rock Ridge against the evil forces of Hedley “That’s Hed-ley” Lamarr (Harvey Korman). Underneath the sometimes gross humor (the farting scene) and colorful language, is a story about two best friends…who ride into the sunset not on their horses, but in a limousine.
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
For my husband, Cool Hand Luke is the ultimate buddy film. For me, I look no further than Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. From start to tragic finish, it is a beautiful film. Butch (Paul Newman) and Sundance (Robert Redford) rob trains and banks. They are really good at it too. Although criminals, they are loved from the first moment. The two are partners through and through right until the bloody end. Butch and Sundance are truly living an outlaw’s life, but having loads of fun in the process. They are also fortunate enough to keep company with the beautiful Etta Place (Katharine Ross), who loves them both. She teaches them manners and Spanish, and goes along with their schemes for a time. She doesn’t overstay her welcome though. This is one of the few male geared films that has a positive female role.
Only Angels Have Wings
Although heavy on the adventure and romance, Only Angels Have Wings features a strong friendship between two men: Geoff Carter (Cary Grant) and Kid Dabb (Thomas Mitchell) and they absolutely adore one another. Each would walk through fire for the other, and both value honesty, even when the truth hurts. Geoff has his problems with commitment to women, although Bonnie Lee (Jean Arthur) is making quite the impression. When Geoff grounds Kid from flying, the decision is not an easy one. Geoff knows how much it bruises Kid’s ego, but it’s the right decision to keep everyone safe. That is what a true friend does– makes a hard decision to save a life, even if it damages the friendship.
There are several more films that need an honorable mention. The Lord of the Rings trilogy is the ultimate buddy epic. Two best friends, Frodo and Sam literally going to the ends of the earth knowing they may never make it back. Not only do they have each other, but they have the support of many others from their original band of brothers. The Big Lebowski features two friends (three if you count poor Donny) that couldn’t be more different. The Dude (Jeff Bridges) is a burned out hippie who lives for bowling, Creedence, White Russians, and his rug (which really tied the room together). Walter (John Goodman) is a Vietnam vet with major anger issues, who often babysits his ex-wife’s dog (“It’s a f*cking show dog with f*cking papers”). This mismatched duo, with their sad little friend Donny, encounter the most bizarre of situations. Although The Dude is often disgusted with Walter’s behavior, he ultimately enjoys his company.
To close out this entry on a testosterone fueled note, here are BFF’s Roddy Piper and Keith David beating the shit out of each other.
Note: The video features fantastic shit-kickery and some bad language, so don’t watch at work, church, or around the kiddies.
“Either put on these glasses, or start eating that trash can.”