Monday, December 14, 2015

TCM Remembers 2015

Here's a list of all the folks listed in the 2015 TCM Remembers memorial clip along with a link to Wiki info:

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Una O'Connor

I’m writing this brief post as part of the fourth ‘What A Character’ blogathon. Many thanks to Paula, Aurora and Kellee for doing this again this year and putting in the work to promote beforehand and during the ‘push week’. 

Character actors are often the glue the holds a film together. Without them, there’d be a hole in many films.

There’s a reason I proudly proclaim ‘UNA!’ on twitter whenever this fair maiden of scream appears on my TCM screen: She’s delightfully charming and slightly off-key. And while--at five foot, two inches--she’s slight in stature, she makes up for it with a unique voice, great facial expressions and (last but not least) a great high-pitched screech of a scream.

Young Una O'Connor

The New York Times biography aptly describes her as having “...the body of a scarecrow, the contemptuous stare of a house detective, and the voice of an air-raid siren…”

I’d be remiss if I only talked about her elastic face and screeching voice, because there were performances that were quieter. Take for example her role as Mrs. Wilson in Ernst Lubitsch’s Cluny Brown (1946). In this film she gives a subtle performance without one line of dialog.

Cavalcade w/Herbert Mundin

Una O’Connor was born in Belfast, Ireland in 1880 as Agnes Teresa McGlade. Her early career began on the stage in Ireland and England. Appearing in productions like “The Starlight Express” and “Autumn Fire”. In fact her work on the stage continued through her entire career. On the screen she was frequently cast as the meddlesome housekeeper and was frequently used for comic relief.

Let’s look at some of the amazing films and stars she worked with:

That’s an impressive list of talent to be working with.

Like many actors, her later career included a lot of television roles including shows like “Martin Kane”, “Hopalong Cassidy” and “Tales of Tomorrow”.

Witness For The Prosecution

In Witness for the Prosecution, O’Connor reprised her role from the stage. ‘Witness’ was her final film, she retired after making this film in her 70s and died two years later in New York City having never married and having no children.

The next time you're watching a classic film and see Ms. O'Connor in the film...don't be shy.  Shout out to the Twitter world "UNA!" :)

Friday, September 18, 2015

I'll Be Seeing You

I want to take a moment to tell you all about a great film that I first saw on TCM on Christmas Day in 2013.  The film is I'll Be Seeing You (1944), directed by William Dieterle.  He's a director I'll admit that I don't know a lot about.  He directed The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939) and a handful of other films I've seen.

Since then I've seen the film a total of five times.  Here's my complete watch list for this film if you're curious.  

Before I dive into the details of this film, I need to say this post is being written as part of the "TCM Discoveries Blogathon" hosted by the passionate 'The Nitrate Diva' who for years I thought was blonde and smoked.  She may not know this, but she's an inspiration to me.  Young and so very knowledgeable about classic film.  Quick with a smile or a kind's a pleasure to call her a friend.

Enough mush...onto the film!

This isn't grand cinema by any's a small film about two people who meet and fall in love.  A 'nice little romance' if I had to sum it up.

The film has three stars in it:
  • Joseph Cotten, who plays Zach, a WWII soldier who's returning home on a ten day leave from an Army hospital where he's recovering from 'combat fatigue' (what we'd today call Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.)
  • Ginger Rogers, who plays Mary, a woman who's in prison for homicide and is on a ten day furlough for the Christmas holiday.
  • Shirley Temple, who plays Mary's younger cousin, Barbara.

Along with these are the wonderful Spring Byington who plays Ginger's aunt.  A quick word about Ms. Byington...she's one of my favorite character actors and usually plays a slightly offbeat character, but here she's the solid rock that Mary needs.

Shirley Temple is quite good in this, too.  One of her great adolescent roles, I'd say.  There's an interesting story about how George Cukor was brought in to pull a performance out of Temple in the most dramatic scene in the film.  Cukor was tough on her.  They shot the scene twelve times.  In the end, Cukor got what he wanted...emotion.  But the experience rattled Temple.

Many folks know I'm a huge Ginger Rogers fan.  I like her dance films, but I particularly like her dramatic films like this one.  A few others to check out (if you've never seen them) are Stage Door (1937), Bachelor Mother (1939) and Kitty Foyle (1940).  

So what makes this film so special?  Two things:

First, it's one of the first films about men returning home from war...some in a delicate condition...all with their lives having been changed forever.  It was released two years before that sub-genre's ultimate film: The Best Years of Our Lives (1946).  I think it must have given the movie-going public an idea of the horrors of war and what can do to a man's psyche.

Next, it's a story of two people, each with a secret that they're trying to keep from each other (and the world at large.)  Each whose lives have been altered...maybe permanently.  Sadly...while they try to keep their secrets in, what they really need is to share their struggles and offer their support and empathy of the other person.

The two of them slowly fall in love, but I won't give away how it turns out (I have a strict no spoiler policy on this blog...ha!)

If you've never seen it, try to catch it when it airs on TCM...usually around Christmas.  Or just watch it on YouTube here.

Happy viewing!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Thoughts on the 2015 TCM Classic Film Festival

Photo courtesy TCM / by Edward M. Pio Roda

Things that stood out to me:

The good
  • I’d easily say this was my favorite of the three TCM Film Festivals that I've attended so far. Why? Because of all the new people I got to meet this year. There were a lot of first-timers that I met, but also a lot of folks that have been coming for years, that follow me on twitter that I just hadn't had the opportunity to visit with previously.
  • Lines for the Chinese Theater were better managed by moving most of the line up into the mall on the 2nd level (vs. having the line fill the courtyard of the theater and run up the steps.) Great idea from TCMFF management to do this: 1) more of the line is in the shade, 2) less obstruction with visitors who are looking at hand and footprints in front of the Chinese Theater.  (Also kudos for water being passed out for outside this the first time they've done that?  It was very welcome.)
  • Social Producers! Huge thanks to all who participated, and a special shout out to Social Producer Manager Noralil Ryan Fores (a TCM employee and about the kindest person you've ever met.)  This was a big hit...people loved doing the activities while waiting on line and getting buttons.  I, myself came down with a case of 'button fever'.  Keep this going for made many of the waits seem faster. Only suggestion I’d make is do something more than a white ribbon on the pass to identify the Social Producer folks. We heard a lot of “Who are these people? How do I find them?” type questions.  Maybe brightly colored t-shirts or hats with ‘Social Producer’ on them?
  • Midnight screenings.  Big thanks to TCM’s Millie De Chirico who programmed this years midnight screenings. BOOM! was the film I was most looking forward to seeing at the fest (believe it or not.)  It was deliciously terrible with laugh-out-loud lines delivered in over-the-top style.  It was a terrific fun sitting with Fussy, Nora, Jay, Miguel, Will (and many other folks.)  Fussy and I kept exchanging glances at each shocking line uttered in the film with expressions that could only be translated as "Can you even believe what is happening here?!"  NOTHING LASTS FOREVER was a rare treat...and what an interesting film.  My eyes were drooping during the first 30 minutes, but I really perked up when the seniors were taking their bus trip to the moon. Bizarre and lovely.  (More on this screening below....)
  • Ending the fest with an Italian film was wonderful for me. I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I love foreign film and have a special place in my heart for Italian films (especially Italian neo-realism films.) Though this wasn't a neo-realism film, it was directed by the great neo-realism director Vittorio De Sica. Also Sophia Loren and Ben Mankiewicz had such a great interview before the film. Aurora and I were verklempt after the interview.
  • TCM staff, family and volunteers. This is a huge part of the festival.  The logistics it takes to pull this off each year boggle my mind.  Slow clap for:
    • The folks that work for TCM (that I feel comfortable on a first-name basis: Scott, Millie, Noralil, Ben, etc.)
    • The familial guests they bring in each year that help with the pre-film interviews and introductions (Eddie Muller, Illeana Douglas, Leonard Maltin, Bruce Goldstein, etc.)
    • The countless staff and volunteers who were managing the lines, answering questions, passing out water bottles, etc. Everyone had a smile on their face...they were all happy to answer questions or point the way to the end of the line.  I tried to make a special point of thanking them for their service, especially on the final day.
  • Festival Guests.  How many times will I be able to sit 15 feet from 100 year old Normal Lloyd as he spins a yarn that has the audience laughing and applauding.  The discussions and interviews with stars past and present are things you can't find anywhere else and are the icing on the cake at the festival.

The bad
  • A small problem with our hotel reservation at the Loews Hollywood could have been an ominous start to our trip.  For those who hadn't heard: when checking in, Loews front desk staff told us we'd been 'walked' (hotel lingo for being sent to another hotel) to a property in Universal City...a couple miles up the 101.  They were going to comp our first night and gave us a voucher for a one-way cab to the other hotel.  I tweeted my frustration at the situation but it was really my fault...we had booked through an odd third-party booking agent and I told myself to call the hotel directly and confirm the reservation about 2-3 weeks out.  I never did.  We scrambled and ended up finding a room Wednesday night at the Roosevelt (a really nice room...a really expensive room) and a room for Thursday through Sunday nights at the Holiday Inn Express...just a little further up Highland past the Loews.  It was a fine room (and I only spent four hours a night there!)
  • I noticed for the first time one or two #OldMovieWeirdos. Something that may have been there every year, but I became aware of these folks this year for the first time. There was the guy playing his belly like a drum while on line for THE PHILADELPHIA STORY, and another who was chosen to ask a question in the Q&A segment before 42ND STREET. His question wasn’t very coherent (it’s like a call-in radio show where the host has to interrupt and ask “what’s your question?”.) I felt bad for Illeana Douglas who was conducting the interview...but she handled it well. (Maybe this was the same guy, who knows.)
  • Guy falling asleep during the midnight film NOTHING LASTS FOREVER. He was snoring loudly, and normally I wouldn't think twice about this at a midnight screen, however he was two seats away from director Tom Schiller. I felt so bad for him (the director, that is.)  Our saving grace was Will McKinley’s efforts to keep the poor snoring sap awake:  shoving him, sprinkling water on him, kicking his seat.

The ugly
  • There were more ‘cell phone distractions’ during film screenings this year. At some of the film intros there was mention of people taking pictures during the film. I thought “who would do that?!” Then--while watching THE PHILADELPHIA STORY in a packed Chinese Theater--a woman about three rows in front of me brazenly was taking pictures or shooting video with her phone during the film. I wanted to throw my empty water bottle at was so distracting.
  • During 42ND STREET, a guy in the row in front of me had his phone start ringing (it wasn't silenced!) He answers it while he’s seated.  In the theater.  While the film is running.  Then he starts talking to this person while he makes his way out of his seat and down the hallway. But he doesn't exit the theater, he’s carrying on this conversation about ten feet down the hallway...I could hear most of it.

Emotional moments:

  • Definitely the end of Chaplin’s LIMELIGHT...what a great film.  I wasn't prepared to be so touched by this...but I should have been, I mean, the end of CITY LIGHTS slays me each time.
  • Watching THE APARTMENT in the Chinese Theater surrounded by a bunch of friends. Shirley MacLaine’s line “I’m so fouled up, what am I going to do?” We've all been there...and that line always gets to me.

Final thought:

Leaving the festival this year was more difficult than the past two years.  I suppose it's because of the many new faces that I met and befriended.  As I watched YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU on the flight to my layover in Houston, I marveled--like I always do--at the random, crazy cast of characters that live in that house.  Then I realized, that's us...we're each different, we each come from different places, with different jobs and we drive different cars, and listen to different music.  We're different ages and races and genders...and we're a little kooky to watch 18 films in three and half days.  But somehow it works and we genuinely care for each other no matter how different the other person is.  Just like the Vanderhof family (and their adopted members) the die is cast...we're lilies of the field.

I'm very much looking forward to next year's TCM Classic Film Festival.

OK, enough of the weepy stuff...on to...

The films:

By day (N = New, R = Rewatch):

  • Thursday
    • TOO LATE FOR TEARS (1949) - N
    • MY MAN GODFREY (1936) - R
  • Friday
    • REIGN OF TERROR (1949) - N
    • LIMELIGHT (1952) - N
    • RIFIFI (1955) - R
    • THE BANK DICK (1940) - N
    • BOOM! (1968) - N
  • Saturday
    • WHY BE GOOD? (1929) - N
    • 42ND STREET (1933) - R
    • AIR MAIL (1932) - N
    • THE APARTMENT (1960) - R
    • THE LOVED ONE (1965) - R
  • Sunday
    • NIGHTMARE ALLEY (1947) - N
    • PSYCHO (1960) - R

By decade:
  • 1910s - 0
  • 1920s - 1
  • 1930s - 3     
  • 1940s - 5
  • 1950s - 2
  • 1960s - 5
  • 1970s - 0
  • 1980s - 1

By screening type:
  • 35mm - 9
  • DCP - 8

New/Previously seen:
  • New - 10
  • Rewatch - 7

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

TCM Film Festival 2015 Streaming Options

Not going to the TCMFF this year, but you’re curious about some of the films on the schedule?

Returning from the fest and have a film that's haunting you...something you need to see again, soon?  When the plane lands?!

Here’s a list of all the films that are available over the Internet for digital rental or via popular streaming services like Netflix or Hulu+.

Films are listed generally in chronological order.  If a film isn't listed that's because I found no online streaming options (don't some cases you can buy the DVD.)

Most sites that offer paid digital rental charge $2.99 and you can watch the film as often as you want for a 24 hour period.

S: = Streaming options
DR: = Digital rental options



DR: Google Play & YouTube


DR: Amazon & Google Play

DR: Vudu

LENNY (1974)
DR: iTunes & Vudu

DR: Amazon & Vudu

DR: iTunes, Vudu, Google Play & YouTube

S: Netflix & Amazon

DR: iTunes, Google Play, Vudu & YouTube

DR: Vudu, iTunes, Google Play & YouTube

S: Netflix

S: Hulu+
DR: iTunes

S: Hulu+
DR: Google Play

S: Netflix & YouTube

DR: Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, Google Play & YouTube

DR: iTunes, Google Play, Vudu & YouTube

APOLLO 13 (1995)
S: Amazon
DR: iTunes, Google Play & YouTube

REBECCA (1940)
DR: Amazon

DR: Google Play, Vudu & YouTube


DR: iTunes, Google Play & YouTube

DR: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, Vudu & YouTube

42ND STREET (1933)
DR: Amazon, Google Play, Vudu & YouTube

DR: iTunes, Google Play, Vudu & YouTube

DR: iTunes, Google Play, Vudu & YouTube

1776 (1972)
S: Amazon
DR: Vudu

MALCOLM X (1992)
DR: Amazon, Google Play, Vudu & YouTube

DR: Amazon, Google Play, Vudu & iTunes

DR: Google Play, Vudu & YouTube

S: Netflix
DR: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, Vudu & YouTube

DR: iTunes, Google Play, Vudu & YouTube

DR: Google Play & Vudu

DR: Google Play, Vudu & YouTube

S: Netflix
DR: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, Vudu & YouTube

DR: Amazon, Google Play & YouTube

DR: iTunes, Google Play, Vudu & YouTube


S: YouTube
DR: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, Vudu & YouTube

PATTON (1970)
S: Netflix
DR: iTunes, Google Play, Vudu & YouTube

DR: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, Vudu & YouTube

PSYCHO (1960)
DR: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play & Vudu

GUNGA DIN (1939)
DR: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, Vudu & YouTube

DESK SET (1957)
DR: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, Vudu & YouTube

DR: iTunes, Google Play, Vudu & YouTube

DR: Amazon, Google Play, Vudu & YouTube

DR: iTunes, Google Play & YouTube

DR: Vudu

HOUDINI (1953)
DR: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, Vudu & YouTube

S: Netflix, Hulu+ & Amazon
DR: Amazon & Vudu

KISS ME KATE (3D) (1953)
DR: Google Play, Vudu & YouTube (not 3D version)

Saturday, March 14, 2015

2015 TCM Classic Film Festival

It's that time of the year again!  TCM released the full schedule for this spring's Classic Film Festival early this past week and those folks who are going are poring over the schedule trying to figure out how they're going to see all the films and events and manage to eat (and sleep!)

On the initial review of the films, a few things stuck out at me:
  • BOOM! (1968) is being screened Friday at midnight.  I've been wanting to see this ever since reading about it in Robert K. Elder's book "The Best Film You've Never Seen" (which I highly easy read and a nice collection of films.)  In the book, John Waters chooses this film and is interviewed about his choice.  Great stuff.
  • No screening of The Passion Of Joan Of Arc (1928)...this was the one film I had hoped they screened at the festival.  Oh well, someday I'd like to see it on the big screen.
  • This year has a great collection of celebrity appearances...just check out this partial list:
    • Shirley MacLaine
    • Peter Fonda
    • Julie Andrews
    • Christopher Plummer
    • Keith Carradine
    • Norman Lloyd
    • Alec Baldwin
    • Dustin Hoffman
    • Ann-Margret
    • George Lazenby
    • James Lovell
    • Alex Trebek
    • Spike Lee
    • William Daniels
    • Ken Howard
    • William Friedkin
    • Robert Morse
    • Sophia Loren
    • and lest I not forget...Robert Osborne & Ben Mankiewicz
  • I was initially lukewarm about the film selections, but upon multiple passes pouring over the schedule, I'm really getting excited for a lot of these films that I haven't yet seen.

Enough jabber!  Here's my initial thoughts on what I'd like to see:

Early evening - Too Late For Tears (1949)

  • I haven't seen this, Dan Duryea in a crime/noir film sound great, though.

Late evening - My Man Godfrey (1936)

  • William Powell is in this delightful film..enough said.

Morning - Lawrence of Arabia (1962) or My Darling Clementine (1946) or The Dawn of Technicolor

  • Lawrence of Arabia is simply awesome on the big screen & Ann V. Coates who edited the film will be on hand.  The other bonus is that I've never been in the El Capitan theater.  Of course, attending this would eat up the 2nd slot of the day.
  • My Darling Clementine has Keith Carradine and Peter Fonda on hand and stars Walter Brennan in a rare role as a villain. That might be fun...and I haven't seen this before.
  • I love the tech aspect of film (aspect ratio, the physics of the zoetrope, editing techniques, etc.) so this would be a fun educational event for me.

Early afternoon - Lawrence of Arabia (1962) continued or Reign of Terror (1949)

  • Reign of Terror would have Norman Lloyd in attendance, and it would be a first viewing for me.

Late afternoon - Chimes at Midnight (1965) or Limelight (1952) or Young Mr. Lincoln (1939)

  • Chimes is a rare Orson Welles film...I think it would be interesting.
  • Limelight has Norman Lloyd in attendance, Chaplin & Keaton later in their careers, it's new to me.
  • Young Mr. Lincoln is one of my favorite portrayals of Lincoln on film.

Early evening - Rififi (1955)

  • This is the gold standard of the heist genre.  A film I think everyone should see.  I've seen it many times, but never on the big screen.  Really looking forward to this.

Late evening -The Bank Dick (1940) or Roman Holiday (1953)

  • I'll probably catch Roman Holiday, if only to get into the El Capitan Theater and see Audrey Hepburn on the big screen.
  • The Bank Dick looks like members of Fields family will be onhand.

Midnight - Boom! (1968)

  • I've been dying to see this ever since I read about it for the first time last summer.  This may be the film I'm most looking forward to seeing at the festival.

Morning - Why Be Good (1929) 42nd Street (1933)

  • I've never seen Why Be Good and what a great title.  I read that this is Colleen Moore’s last silent film?
  • I love 42nd Street...Warner Baxter’s exasperation as Julian Marsh is great...Ruby Keeler, Ginger Rogers as ‘Anytime’ much fun.

Afternoon -Air Mail (1932) The Picture Show Man (1977)

  • Air Mail will be a first time viewing for me
  • I really enjoyed the Friday Night Spotlight TCM did with Australian New Wave.  The Picture Show Man has Rod Taylor in a later role...may need to skip or leave early to queue for The Apartment.

Early evening -The Apartment (1960)

  • This is one of the most perfect films made...I’m guessing this will be the toughest ticket of the festival, especially with Shirley MacLaine onhand.

Late evening -The Loved One (1965) or Return of the Dream Machine (2015)
  • I've seen The Loved One once before on TCM and it was a scream...looking forward to a re-watch with the film's star, Robert Morse in attendance.
  • Hand-cranked early film would be cool.

Midnight - Nothing Lasts Forever (1985)

  • I’ve heard screenings of this film are fairly rare. Just look at the cast, oh my goodness! Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Imogene Coca...this should be fun.

Morning -The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939) or Nightmare Alley (1947)
  • Tough choice here...Hunchback is a great film, I've only seen it once.
  • I've never seen Nightmare Alley
  • May be a game-time decision

Afternoon - Psycho (1960) or The Diary of Anne Frank (1963)

  • I just saw Psycho recently, but I've never seen it on big screen.
  • The Diary of Anne Frank is a film I consistently hear good things about. However, maybe too tough emotionally to get through.

Early evening - The Children’s Hour (1961)

  • Shirley MacLaine, interesting/controversial (at the time) film

Late evening - Marriage Italian Style (1964)

  • Sophia Loren, foreign film & directed by Italian neo-realism filmmaker Vittorio De Sica.

Of course, seeing tons of films is great fun, but the real joy of the festival for me is meeting people who share my passion for classic film and getting to meet my online friends (some for the first time...many a reunion.)