Navigate / search

Sneak Preview: Carson on TCM

Last Fall, Turner Classic Movies announced it had acquired the rights to air select guest interviews from The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Repackaged as hour-long episodes and hosted by Conan O’Brien (Conan, TBS), Carson on TCM will feature interviews with many of the stars viewers see on the network every day: Tony Curtis, Doris Day, Gregory Peck, Elizabeth Taylor, and even Robert Osborne’s Essentials co-host Drew Barrymore…when she was only 7 years old.
Read more

2013 TCM Classic Film Festival: No Sleep, Some Food, the Best Times

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.

Read more

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…

Read more

2012 Holiday Gift Guide

Happy Holidays from The Fence!


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
MSRP $50.00

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.

You can order Harlow in Hollywood directly through Angel City Press or for bit cheaper on


Silhouettes From Popular Culture
by Olly Moss
Titan Books
MSRP $16.95

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
Running Press
MSRP $30.00

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


Mary Pickford: Queen of the Movies
by Christel Schmidt
University Press of Kentucky
MSRP $45.00

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:


Criterion Collection

Terry Gilliam’s Brazil (1985) on DVD and Blu-ray
MSRP: $49.95






Powell and Pressburger’s Black Narcissus (1947) on DVD/Blu
MSRP: $39.95






Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times (1936) on DVD/Blu
MSRP: $39.95






Ernst Lubitsch’s Design for Living (1933) on DVD/Blu
MSRP: $39.95





* All of these Criterion titles and others are on sale at


Kino Classics

The Ultimate Buster Keaton Collection on Blu-ray
MSRP: $299.95






William A. Wellman’s A Star is Born (1937) on DVD and Blu
MSRP: $29.95






Josef von Sternberg’s The Blue Angel (1930): Remastered Standard Edition on DVD and Blu
MSRP: $29.95






Warner Archive

W.S. Van Dyke’s Rage in Heaven (1941)
MSRP: $19.95







Jean Harlow Collection
MSRP: $64.99





Conflict (1945)
MSRP: $26.99






Forbidden Hollywood Collection, Volume 4
MSRP $49.99





Forbidden Hollywood Collection, Volume 5
MSRP $49.99






Fox Home Entertainment

Bond 50: The Complete 22 Film Collection DVD/Blu-ray
MSRP $299.99





Princess Bride: 25th Anniversary Edition DVD/Blu-ray
MSRP: $19.99





Patton (1970) Blu-ray

MSRP: $24.99





Can’t miss bargains

The Complete Thin Man Collection
This retails for $60.00. Right now on Amazon it is only $17.99! If you don’t have this set, it’s a must!





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.





Tracy & Hepburn: The Definitive Collection
This set includes every single film Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn made together. It’s under $25.00. Need I say more?





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…


Other classic film goodies

  • Love Charlie Chaplin? Then you definitely need to check out this lovely canvas print of The Little Tramp over at Ikea. There’s an Audrey Hepburn version, too.
  • 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.


TCM Classic Film Festival: No Sleep, No Food, Good Times

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.”

Read more

Wonderful Day in Atlanta

On Thursday night the TCM Road to Hollywood Tour made a stop in the network’s hometown of Atlanta, GA, with a screening of Stanley Donen’s Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954). The event was held in the Rich Theatre at Woodruff Arts Center in Midtown Atlanta. Thanks to TCM I received two VIP tickets which guaranteed me a reserved seat at the free event. My guest for the evening was Tony Dayoub, owner of the film blog Cinema Viewfinder. Confession: neither Tony nor I had seen Seven Brides for Seven Brothers prior to this special event. What a way to see it for the first time!

The Richard H. Rich Theatre is a small venue, seating approximately 420 patrons. Although I would have much preferred the palatial setting of The Fox Theatre for this event, I appreciated the small and intimate atmosphere for a first time viewing of a beloved musical. The space was filled to capacity and the excitement was at a high. Promptly at 7:30 the adored and revered Robert Osborne took the stage amidst a roar of applause to introduce the film and the evening’s special guest Jane Powell.

Mr. Osborne graciously thanked the audience for their enthusiasm and began highlighting some of the most anticipated events for the 3rd Annual TCM Classic Film Festival in April: the opening night gala screening of Cabaret (1972) featuring co-stars Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey, the rare presentation of How the West Was Won (1962) at the Cinerama Dome, and Disney’s first full length animated feature Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). Osborne accidentally spilled the beans when he announced director Mel Brooks as a featured guest at the Festival. He stopped short of naming the film Brooks is scheduled to introduce saying “Oops! That hasn’t been announced yet!” The audience gasped, and everyone had a good laugh.

Robert Osborne speaks to the audience before the screening. Photo by Jill Blake
Robert Osborne speaks to the audience before the screening. Photo by Jill Blake

After Osborne’s brief plug for the Festival, he welcomed Jane Powell to the stage. Entering the theatre to a standing ovation, Ms. Powell skipped down the aisle with the same energy and grace that made her famous in the MGM days. Upon her arrival to the stage, an audience member on the front row handed Powell a bouquet of flowers. During their pre-film chat, Osborne asked his good friend of her time as a contract star at MGM. Powell noted that she was incredibly lonely, as much of her family back in Oregon turned her away because of her stardom. Luckily Powell had the love and support of her parents, who she happily credits for much of her success. Powell also talked about her relationship with Elizabeth Taylor. When Powell married her first husband Geary Steffen in 1949, Taylor was a bridesmaid. In 1950 Powell returned the favor when Taylor married first husband Conrad “Nicky” Hilton. Powell laughed and said, “I’m glad we stopped being each other’s bridesmaids. We would have done it for our whole careers!” During a brief Q&A session with the audience, Osborne and Powell talked about the filming of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Powell said the budget for the film was very small because MGM placed all its focus on the filming of Brigadoon (1954). When it was time for its release, Seven Brides premiered at Radio City Music Hall, in the spot originally set for Brigadoon. In addition to questions about the film, one audience member asked Powell what was on every single mind in the room:  ”You look fantastic! How do you stay so young?’  Powell replied,  ”Pilates. Every day. And lots of walking.” Note to self: start Pilates immediately.

Like many of the TCM screenings I have attended, the print shown was 35mm. To be honest, it wasn’t the greatest quality print; the color was quite dull in spots and there was noticeable wear. That said, I savor every chance I get to see a film in its original medium, especially alongside other classic film fans. The audience was engaged in the presentation from start to finish. Some sang along or hummed, tapped their feet, clapped after each number. Although I had not seen the film before, I was familiar with many of the songs including “Goin’ Courtin’,” “Sobbin’ Women,” and the famous  ”Barn-Raising Dance” scene. I thoroughly enjoyed the film, despite the brides’ apparent Stockholm Syndrome. Watching Seven Brides for Seven Brothers with an appreciative and respectful audience enhanced the experience for this first time viewer.

The Road to Hollywood is a brilliant way to bring a tiny piece of the TCM Classic Film Festival to cities across the country. By making these events free and open to the public, TCM has opened the door for all to enjoy. I hope this touring festival continues to grow and the network considers the possibility of hosting other events throughout the year.

Here are some photos from the event, courtesy of TCM Public Relations:


Robert Osborne Returns!

This is my submission for the Welcome Back, Bob! Blogathon/tribute hosted by Carley (@MissCarley) from The Kitty Packard Pictorial and Will McKinley (@willmckinley). Thanks to both for inviting me to participate. 

For the past several months I have been lost without the dapper, distinguished, most knowledgeable Robert Osborne, host of Turner Classic Movies. He is more than just a host– he is a teacher. And in my ongoing education in classic film, Robert Osborne is essential.

Believe it or not, living in Atlanta does have its advantages. For instance, I can pay $16 to drink all the Coca-Cola I want at the World of Coke, or party hard with T.I. in between prison sentences. I can stand behind Jim Cantore of The Weather Channel, and act like an idiot while he reports live from Piedmont Park. I can be an extra in Tyler Perry Presents Tyler Perry’s Tyler Perry movie or be a zombie in The Walking Dead. Most importantly (and seriously), I live in Turner country. Turner Classic Movie country, that is.

Although I wish there were more special events sponsored by TCM here in Atlanta, I can’t complain. I’ve had the opportunity to attend some wonderful screenings with all of them being introduced by either Robert Osborne or Ben Mankiewicz. One of the first I attended was Gone with the Wind at The Fox Theatre. Osborne introduced the film along with Molly Haskell and Michael Sragow. As much as I love GWTW, I was more excited to see Robert. The theatre was completely sold out (4,768 seats) and the audience was loud and disrespectful. I actually heard someone say “who is this guy? I want to see Scarlett!” when Robert walked out. Die hard southern GWTW fans are an odd bunch. Many came to see an “accurate depiction” of “the good ol’ days,” wearing bedazzled denim jackets with airbrushed renditions of Tara on the back (non-ironically, mind you. And no, I’m not kidding). While some old biddy sitting behind me talked about how southern whites were really nice to their slaves (as later “confirmed” by Ashley Wilkes), I sat on the edge of my seat, clinging to every word coming out of Robert’s mouth.

In 2010 I finally had the opportunity to attend the Robert Osborne Classic Film Festival in Athens, GA. Fantastic films, introductions and Q&As by Robert, and fellow classic film fans under one roof made for an excellent experience. I was determined to finally meet Robert at the festival’s brunch. Unfortunately morning sickness got the best of me, and eggs benedict and mimosas somehow didn’t sound all that appealing–with or without Robert. Although I missed the Silver Fox, my disappointment quickly turned to delight when he himself, in the flesh, shining like a beacon of movie knowledge, chose the seat in front of me for the festival’s screening of Buster Keaton’s Steamboat Bill, Jr. I know Robert would disapprove, but at times I found myself watching him watching Keaton, instead of watching Keaton directly.

I won’t speak for the rest of TCM’s fans, but I know that I’m guilty of taking Robert Osborne for granted. During the last five months I have realized how important he is for the appreciation and preservation of classic film. He is irreplaceable and a true classic himself. On December 1st I will be sitting on the edge of my seat, listening to his every word–thankfully without the old biddy.

Welcome back, Mr. Osborne.