The fourth annual (and my second) TCM Classic Film Festival is over. What a wonderful experience, one that I never expected would have exceeded that of the fantastic 2012 festival. I spent time with friends new and old, sipped cocktails poolside at the historic Roosevelt Hotel, had steaks and expensive wine in the Chaplin booth at Musso & Frank Grill, had a piece of memorabilia appraised by Bonhams, and enjoyed the greatest classic films on the big screen, several of them new-to-me. I barely slept, I ate like a bird, but I had the greatest time a classic film fan can have.
Before I made my trip to Hollywood for the festival, I wrote up my picks. Just like in 2012, I wasn’t able to stick to all of them. In some cases, the screenings were “sold out” and in other cases I either changed my mind at the last minute or was persuaded by friends. In case you missed it, here is my pre-festvial piece, The Tantalus Dilemma Redux.
In 2012 I attended the 3rd Annual TCM Classic Film Festival (and my 1st). In 2010 I was unable to attend because I had a bun in the oven and in 2011 the little bun was too young for me to leave. It was hard for me to stay here, watching the commercials, seeing the live blogs and tweets, and of course the footage from the Festival itself. I honestly didn’t think it would ever be a possibility for me to go. When the opportunity arose for me to attend in 2012, everything fell into place. All of the things I worried about were non-issues and all of the things I didn’t think would be issues? Well…
Twentieth Century Fox has announced a brand new interactive campaign “Voice Your Choice” which allows fans to select films for digital restoration and Blu-ray release. In addition to this program, Fox Home Entertainment will be releasing at least one classic film title on Blu-ray each month categorized as “20th Century Fox Studio Classics.”
Call of the Wild
The Little Princess Steamboat Round the Bend Swanee River The Return of Frank James That Night in Rio
Pin Up Girl The Black Swan
The Ghost and Mrs. Muir My Gal Sal
Kiss of Death To the Shores of Tripoli
Captain From Castile My Friend Flicka
The Blue Bird Crash Drive
A Letter to Three Wives Hello, Frisco, Hello
Mother Wore Tights Don’t Bother to Knock
Cheaper by the Dozen Carmen Jones
On the Riviera Anastasia
Black Widow Broken Lance
The True Story of Jesse James Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?
The Tall Men Desk Set
The Best of Everything The River’s Edge
The Bravados The Inn of the Sixth Happiness From the Terrace
Morituri Two for the Road
North to Alaska The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
Bandolero! Let’s Make Love
Do Not Disturb The Agony and the Ecstasy
Back Door to Hell How to Steal a Million
Bedazzled (1968) The Undefeated
The 300 Spartans Can-Can
20th Century Fox Studio Classics scheduled releases on Blu-ray:
1/15 Titanic (1953) How Green Was My Valley Wild River Gentlemen’s Agreement
3/26 Panic in the Streets
4/2 Hello, Dolly!
5/7 Viva Zapata!
What titles would you like to see released on Blu-ray through this new program?
It’s never been a better time to be a classic film fan. With numerous theatre screenings across the country, the TCM Film Festival, never before released and remastered films on DVD/Blu-ray– there’s an abundance of goodies for every fan. With only two weeks until Christmas, I have put together a gift guide for the classic film fans on your list. Already done with your shopping or don’t celebrate Christmas? Then pick something out for yourself! Make sure to scroll through the entire post for some fantastic deals and enter the giveaway.
I love reviewing books here at The Fence. It’s been a while since I’ve posted a review, but I’ve been keeping an eye on new releases. There are a few must-haves for classic film fans:
Harlow in Hollywood: The Blonde Bombshell in the Glamour Capitol, 1928-1937
by Darrell Rooney and Mark A. Viera
Angel City Press
Released in March 2011, Harlow in Hollywood is quite possibly the best classic film related book in my collection. With a well-researched biography and stunning photos of Harlow all throughout her career, this is an absolute must for Jean Harlow fans. You can find my detailed review of the book here.
Silhouettes From Popular Culture
by Olly Moss
Titan Books has released a collection of Olly Moss silhouettes from the hugely popular Paper Cuts exhibition. This is a fun book for not just film fans, but pop culture buffs too! Look for a review coming soon.
You can order Silhouettes From Popular Culture from Amazon.
Marilyn in Fashion
by Christopher Nickens and George Zeno
There are countless books on Marilyn Monroe. Let’s face it: most of them are complete garbage. There are gems scattered throughout the trash, and Marilyn in Fashion is one of those beautiful gems. The photos alone are worth the price, but the book is so much more. With anecdotes of Monroe’s working relationship with designers and her fashion transformation throughout her career, Marilyn in Fashion is a lovely book to add to your collection. Order on Amazon.com
Mary Pickford: Queen of the Movies
by Christel Schmidt
University Press of Kentucky
I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am about this book. I just won a copy from TCM’s monthly Book Corner giveaway. I haven’t had a chance to sit down and read it yet, but have thumbed through it a bit. It is absolutely stunning.
You can order Mary Pickford: Queen of the Movies from the TCM Shop or on Amazon
Here is a collection of some of my favorite DVD/Blu-ray releases along with some can’t miss deals:
Myrna Loy and William Powell Collection
Another great deal for Powell/Loy fans (and really, who isn’t a fan of theirs?) at only $18.49. This is a great set. My personal favorites are Manhattan Melodrama and I Love You Again.
Christmas in Connecticut
One of the greatest Christmas films ever is only $4.00! You can find it at Amazon and at your local Target.
For those of you with a Costco membership, you might want to take a trip to check out their movie section. Recent finds include The Joan Crawford Collection, Warner Gangsters Collections, The Premiere Frank Capra Collection, Busby Berkeley, The Marx Bros Collection– all for under $15.00. Also in stores are numerous “Signature Collection” sets including: Bogie/Bacall, Tracy/Hepburn, James Stewart, Frank Sinatra, Cary Grant, Errol Flynn, Humphrey Bogart, and Clark Gable. Of course there are no guarantees on what is in stock, but I always find lots of goodies! I’m still kicking myself for passing on the Preston Sturges set…
Fans of TCM are all too familiar with Robert Osborne’s signature TCM bistro mug. I own two and drink my coffee out of them every single day. A must have!
If you’re a big spender, you can always go for a pass to the TCM Classic Film Festival. I can guarantee you will not be disappointed. Money well spent!
Last, but certainly not least…
My pal Cliff over at Immortal Ephemera has an amazing deal right now: Free shipping on all orders over $25.00 with additional discounts depending on your total. Cliff sells classic film related photos, postcards, tobacco cards, and other ephemera. Great selection and fantastic customer service.
It’s giveaway time!
The lovely folks over at Fox Home Entertainment are providing a copy of Patton (1970) on Blu-ray.
To enter the giveaway there are two requirements:
1) In an effort to curb spam entries, I’m requiring all entrants to subscribe to this website via email. You can do so at the very bottom of the page. Don’t worry– your email will remain private.
2) You must send an email to Contests (at) sittinonabackyardfence (dot) com. Please include “PATTON GIVEAWAY” in the subject line.
You have until Monday, December 17th at Midnight EST to enter. The winner will be chosen via random drawing and contacted during the day on the 18th.
This contest is only available to U.S. residents.
Full disclosure: Some of the links to Amazon are linked to this site’s affiliates page.
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)
One of the reasons I love classic film is the extensive number of “deep tracks”– those little hidden gems waiting to be discovered and shared. Alright, so maybe not all deep tracks are “gems”, but it’s still loads of fun to discover new-to-me old movies. A few years ago during a Robert Montgomery marathon on TCM, I managed to catch the strange psychological thriller Rage in Heaven. Released by MGM in 1941, and directed by W.S. “One-Take Woody” Van Dyke,Rage in Heaven stars Montgomery, the charming George Sanders, and the young, delightfully fresh-faced Ingrid Bergman. Discovered by David O. Selznick after seeing her performance in the Swedish film Intermezzo (1936), Bergman was immediately signed to a contract. She made her Hollywood debut in 1939 with the remake Intermezzo: A Love Story, with Leslie Howard. Bergman instantly won the affections of American moviegoers. And although her iconic role in the romantic classic Casablanca was three years away, Bergman quickly established herself as a Hollywood mainstay.
Robert Montgomery is Philip Monrell, heir to a British steel magnate. He’s also completely insane. After escaping a mental institution in France, Philip reunites with his best friend, or more accurately his best “frenemy”, Ward Andrews (George Sanders). Ward is unaware of Philip’s mental illness and led to believe that Philip has been on holiday in “the wilds of Africa” (imagine that line in Sanders’ distinctive voice, paired with an endearing “old boy” for good measure). The two friends travel to Philip’s home to visit his mother, who has been ill. While her son was away, Mrs. Monrell (Lucile Watson) employed Stella Bergen (Ingrid Bergman) to act as a secretary and companion. Upon their arrival, Philip and Ward are greeted by the luminous Stella. Both men are immediately struck by her beauty and innocence. There is an instant connection between Ward and Stella, causing Philip’s deeply rooted jealousy of Ward to slowly rear its head.
While Ward is called away for work, Philip aggressively courts Stella in an attempt to win her affections, and ultimately her hand in marriage. Although he succeeds in both, Philip’s growing paranoia that Ward will take Stella away from him begins to manifest into full-blown psychotic obsession. Once Ward returns to England, Philip concocts a series of elaborate situations where Ward and Stella are alone, in an attempt to catch them in an adulterous act. All of Ward and Stella’s interactions are entirely innocent, but Philip’s psychosis seriously impedes his judgment. Obviously. His perpetual mistrust torments Stella, and she seeks comfort with Ward. This only fuels Philip’s neurotic belief that Stella has been unfaithful from the start. Philip’s obsession reaches a disturbing climax, and Ward and Stella fear for their love of one another…and their lives.
Rage in Heaven is not a top-notch film, but I place some of the blame on the confinements of the Production Code, low budget, and troubled production. Although the story suffers, the performances from Montgomery, Bergman, and Sanders make up for the inadequacies. According to the esteemed Kim Morgan at Sunset Gun, Montgomery unintentionally gives a brilliantly nuanced performance as the psychotic Philip Monrell:
Reportedly, Montgomery didn’t want to make the movie, he wanted a break or vacation from his MGM contract but was forced into the role. In retaliation he delivered his lines as flat as possible within this super melodramatic milieu. Well, his angry decision worked, and he’s just so strange that we utterly believe this millionaire is a suicidal madman, one step away from the loony bin he left at the beginning of the movie.
George Sanders is superb as the kind-hearted Ward Andrews. Known more for playing a cad in films like Rebecca and All About Eve, Sanders is delightful as romantic lead. Ingrid Bergman’s seemingly effortless and natural acting style, which we all know and love, was apparent even in those early performances. Although their pairing seems odd, Bergman and Sanders make a wonderful on-screen couple.
As with other Warner Archive titles, Rage in Heaven is a manufactured on demand (MOD) disc with limited special features. The film is remastered from the best available source material. The video transfer and audio track are quite good. Rage in Heaven is a nice addition to your home library, if only to round out your “George Sanders as a lover” film collection.
Full disclosure: Sittin’ on a Backyard Fence received a copy of Rage in Heaven directly from Warner Archive.
This review is part of the 2012 TCM Summer Under the Stars Blogathon co-hosted by my friend and fellow blogger Michael Nazarewycz ofScribeHard on Film.
When thinking about men’s fashion in old Hollywood, there are two actors who immediately come to mind: Cary Grant and Gary Cooper. Both had impeccable taste and appreciated high quality, custom tailored clothing, and both had wardrobes inspired by European fashion. Although Grant looked great in everything, he didn’t always look comfortable in more casual attire. This is not the case with Gary Cooper. He somehow made a cowboy hat and jeans look attainable to the every man, yet kept a look of sophistication.
Gary Cooper: Enduring Style is a lovely collection of private family photos showcasing Cooper’s sartorial elegance, beginning from his days in a prestigious private school in England, up to and around the time of his death in 1961. The book is reminiscent of a family album, with one or two photos to a page. Images of Gary and his wife Rocky relaxing poolside, on hunting trips with Clark Gable, and skiing with Ingrid Bergman are all wonderful additions. The captions are minimal, allowing the photos to speak for themselves.
With a foreward by Ralph Lauren, a brief yet thorough biography by G. Bruce Boyer, and afterward by Cooper’s only child Maria Cooper Janis, Gary Cooper: Enduring Style is a wonderful tribute to a beloved Hollywood icon. I appreciate the artistic quality of the book in the images selected. For the serious Gary Cooper fan, Enduring Style is a must have.
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Gary Cooper: Enduring Style
Full Disclosure: I received a copy of Gary Cooper: Enduring Style for review directly from the publisher, powerHouse Books. The book is available for purchase here. I would like to thank the publisher for the opportunity to review this book.