TCM: The Essentials Volume 2, 52 More Must-See Movies and Why They Matter by Jeremy Arnold and Foreword by Ben Mankiewicz

Films from Volume I included a foreword by TCM Host Robert Osborne and highlighted the following selections:

The pleasure of knowing that TCM’s and Robert Osborne’s personal selections for classic films essential to the aficionados of national and international cinema circles would begin to be chronicled in book form, a physical media of which I am indeed fond, delighted me as well as many other friends of TCM.

Jeremy Arnold, an author awarded the honor of chronicling the first edition, also has taken the helm for the second edition, which includes a forward by Ben Mankiewicz, now a focal point of hosting responsibilities on the network since the death of TCM’s original host, Robert Osborne.

Mankiewicz also moonlights (or daylights) on CBS Sunday Morning with interviews of industry professionals like Mel Brooks, Elliot Gould, and most recently director of Mank, David Fincher, and star Amanda Seyfried.

Cohosts of TCM also include Noir Alley kingpin Eddie Muller, Writer Alicia Malone, Red Carpet Veteran Dave Karger, and Professor Jacqueline Stewart.

Stirred by my initial glance at the contents, I was pleased to discover more of my favorites appeared in Volume II than I recalled from Volume I. An added list of all films appearing on TCM’s Essentials programs is also included, which had not been added to Volume I, certainly a plus for the serious TCM fan who has been relatively faithful to the series.

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, a personal favorite of mine, and one that fans often claim for a top ten list, is highlighted with one of Robert Osborne’s quotes that seems unusually poignant considering how Tierney was one of Osborne’s delights. He even had the portrait of Tierney as Laura in his personal memorabilia collection:

“I’m a great, great, Gene Tierney fan; she can do no wrong. She had played a successful business woman in Laura and [was] strong in Leave Her to Heaven, and here she was, the number one dramatic sar at Twentieth CenturyFox, cast against type as a very gentle, very kind [and]compassionate woman….”

I was indeed happy that the low-budget, high-quality of Ride The High Country with Joel McCrea and Randolph Scott was featured in this book and garnered the recognition it deserves as the coda to two high-profile careers in the Western genre. The quote from Mariette Hartley is also a nice summary of her experiences with the two old pros. Is it a genre that actually deserves its own “Western Essentials” volume, Running Press?

Author Jeremy Arnold with Wyatt McCrea at the TCM Film Festival in 2018….

As for the addition of Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), I would have much rather have seen Auntie Mame, Stalag 17, Rebecca, The Blue Dahlia, Gilda, Meet John Doe, The African Queen, Gigi, The Bad and The Beautiful, or A Letter to Three Wives make Volume II. I’ve always been kind of “Meh” about Hannah and Her Sisters. A man disrespecting personal or emotional boundaries unsettles me and just sits a little to close to Allen’s own issues, personal or professional, even though I’ve enjoyed many of his other films.

But I must be grateful for A Face In The Crowd‘s inclusion with Andy Griffith’s stunningly attention-grabbing performance. TCM Remembers even though the Academy left Griffith out of their Oscar’s In Memoriam telecast sequence after his death. Night Of The Hunter‘s inclusion should also delight cinephiles and critics who enjoy Charles Laughton’s only directorial offering. The addition of William Wyler’s Dodsworth is also a highlight, a nod and a wave to Robert Osborne’s personal favorite. Another reason to cherish this edition is a photo of Thelma Ritter with Doris Day from Pillow Talk.

Former Essential Hosts Molly Haskell, Sally Field, Alec Baldwin, Rose McGowan, William Friedkin, Sydney Pollack, Carrie Fisher, Drew Barrymore, and current Essential Host Brad Bird have relevant comments sprinkled throughout the entries, as well as Robert Osborne’s archived mentions. The What To Look For feature is also included with all the entries with this edition.

I couldn’t have been so discerning about what I enjoyed and did appreciate with Volume II unless author Jeremy Arnold and the editors had added the full Essentials films list. I appreciate that inclusion in this volume as a complete reference list is a nicely added tool for readers.

If you have always been a fan of TCM’s The Essentials, Volume II should be added to your personal film collection bookshelf.

Today’s TCM Roundtable Discussion with General Manager Pola Changnon, Vice President of Programming Charlie Tabesh, and Host Ben Mankiewicz

Today’s TCM Roundtable Discussion with General Manager Pola Changnon, Vice President of Programming Charlie Tabesh, and Host Ben Mankiewicz

The logo for this year’s #TCMFF 2020….

In lieu of the traditional Meet TCM or our annual credentialed media informative sessions this year, TCM administrators have invited journalists to participate in a roundtable discussion with Pola Changnon, Charlie Tabesh, and Ben Mankiewicz.

Questions posed were asked by journalists in our audio conference call. As I am unsure if I have permission to post the names of the journalists, I will highlight or summarize their questions and the responses from administrators. My notes include only a portion of today’s comments, questions, and responses.

Question #1: The current emergency has affected many AMC has already hired counsel to discuss bankruptcy. Does TCM have any strategic ideas that they are working on to get people to go back into the movie theatres? Have you talked to Fathom or any other organizations you’ve worked with?

Pola Changnon: Thank you for that questions about the theaters. Obviously that is of paramount interest to us as well. The film festival reflects our interest in making sure people have an interest in seeing films in theaters with a community of people who love them and enjoy them. It’s concerning. As fans are concerned, we are absolutely in conversation with our Fathom partners. When people start going back to the theaters, how can we contribute to that by including programming for families, for example. We are absolutely looking at some of that because we know that while this is an incredibly difficult time for folks, we know that it is not going to be forever.

Question #2: How did this idea of the Special Home Edition come about? Does it involved any special introductions you are putting into it or are you taking older programming and programming it like you would normally program for TCM?  

Pola Changnon: It was about a month ago that we were all looking with concern with the situations evolving about health concerns and hot that might impact our festival dates. This time a month ago, it was clear that we were going to have to cancel the festival. We didn’t feel comfortable thinking about how we would even postpone it. You can just imagine how difficult it is to check availability of venues and rearrange the talent for the festival. Fortunately, many of the key folks were together in L.A. at the time, which isn’t always the case. We started the day off with an acknowledgement that we were going to have to cancel the festival. By the end of the day, Charlie felt confident that he could organize the festival on the network. We certainly wanted to still recognize that a lot of people, pass holders and staff alike, look forward to it all year long. At the end of the way, we had already begun to formulate how to program the festival on the network. We wanted it to be special enough to stand up to people’s expectations. Charlie came up with something so robust that it was beyond my wildest expectations.

Pola Changnon, TCM General Manager, and Charlie Tabesh, TCM Senior VP of Programming on the #TCMFF RED CARPET 2019…

Charlie Tabesh: It is true. One of the considerations was how do we make it different than what’s normally on TCM. We wanted that to be special, which meant including a lot of material that we wouldn’t normally include on TCM day to day. The first idea was to play a lot of the movies that we had previously scheduled for the festival. The problem was that you don’t have the guests, the tribute pieces, the traditional segments of the actual festival that were done over the years. We could make it special by Ben doing his intros talking about previous guests, or when we were there with certain stars or filmmakers. With the question about production, there is a lot of production that has gone into the creation of the Special Home Edition, but we had been limited about how we could do that by the circumstances. Our team has done an amazing job of working remotely, using Zoom, and also pulling together a lot of material that has been created over the years and reformatting it in a way around the screening of the films to really make it a film festival that you could do virtually. It’s all come together beautifully.

Ben Mankiewicz talking with actress Meg Ryan on the #TCMFF Red Carpet 2019

Ben Mankiewicz, Shirley Jones, and TCM’s Mark Wynns…
Ben Mankiewicz with fans…

Ben Mankiewicz: We’ve filmed some segments in a way that I’ve never shot some things before. An unbelievably scaled-down crew and they didn’t come within 10 feet of me. We always write fresh intros, and these were all fresh intros related to the festival. This programming will look different because I won’t be on my set. People look forward to this all year, and that includes us. We look forward to it because of this incredibly warming connection that we offer to our fans. When Pola and Charlie and others made the decision that we couldn’t have the festival this year, they asked me to write something to say on the air. And I wrote it and filmed it one the air the next day, and in writing it and in delivering it, got very emotional. That first take I almost couldn’t get through it without crying. I didn’t expect that. But we wanted to let people know that there would be a festival next year. TCM is like all of us. We are going to get through this together.

#TCMFF Festival Fun through the years…
#TCMFF Festival Fun through the years….

A Ten-Timer Remembers the #TCMFF 2019

My trusty Super Shuttle driver from LAX was right on time on Tuesday, April 9, 2019. Juggling my Ricardo’s of Beverly Hills trunk stuffed with ensembles and my roly-poly media bag, Miguel gave them the heave-ho onto the luggage rack without even a sigh. Unfortunately, the Super Shuttles are no longer viable transportation from LAX in 2020 as other, more popular services have managed to shutter the service.

I was on my way to the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, home of exciting lobby meetups, media hounds, celebrities, bloggers, hangers-on, and classic film fans from all over the world. The excitement of meeting all my favorite valets and bell captains like Mark and Will made me realize it was another homecoming after 9 years of smooth arrivals and departures courtesy of the staff who made it all possible.

The first, most anticipated event for fans attending a 10th edition of the Turner Classic Movies Film Festival would be breakfast at Mel’s Diner on Thursday morning!

The Hole in the Wall gang would gather together for a group reunion.

TCM staff Charlie Tabesh, Scott McGee, Mark Wynns and Jennifer Dorian were surprise guests at the event organized by Connie Crump and Jay….

Purchasing passes, airfare, hotel rooms, signed books from author events, munchies, meals and liquid refreshments were all part of the price of fun with classic film-loving friends. How many films did we see in 10 years? How many celebrities did we see, talk to, or share a margarita with through the years? All ten years worth of topics were on the table.

Another Mel’s Diner meetup is in the works again. See you in April!

Check out the Ten-Timers TCM Festival group on Facebook and see what Constance Crump has planned!

Cinematic Cities: The Big Apple On The Big Screen

Say “Noo Yawk City” to someone from Texas, and it might elicit a shudder. Images of chili with beans, a dearth of longnecks, biscuits and gravy without grits, hot dogs with sauerkraut, and a grimace instead of a friendly smile might just make a visitor turn around and head for the bus station.

But for cinema devotees, classic film buffs, movie lovers, and plain ole’ fans of classic films, or cinephiles, as the ‘auteur’ crowd refers, a collection of cafes, cantinas and film locations is a treasure trove of tidbits that tantalize.

Christian Blauvelt’s new book for TCM’s Running Press, highlights haunts of the rich and famous like The Chelsea Hotel, scenes of notoriety and a place of solace. Central Park, Katz’s Delicatessen, The Statue of Liberty, the brownstone where Moonstruck was filmed and many more well-known film locations are spotlighted in this in-depth study of how New York City is silently a character in hundreds of well-known films from the drawing board of Hitchcock to Andy Warhol’s factory productions.

And it has maps for the intrepid, seasoned traveler….

Lower Manhattan, Midtown Manhattan, Uptown Manhattan, The Bronx, Queens, and Brooklyn are revealed as some of the most recognizable places from America’s collective movie memory. Stylish watering holes like Tavern On The Green and The Russian Tea Room serve the fanciest liquid refreshments and the tastiest delicacies as well as being featured on the silver screen. The setting of Times Square, also included in the book, is the perfect New Year’s Eve haunt to watch annual numbers move forward with or without a magnum of champagne.

No matter where you hail from, even the most seasoned aficionados will find a filmiliar fact or two to fascinate.

These sailors made it fashionable!

Cinematic Cities: New York is a detailed account of a popular place that would be a welcome addition to to any film lover’s library. And there are plenty of smiles to go around…

Find The Big Apple On The Big Screen here.


Finding Andy Warhol

The Dallas Docufest 32 hosted several films whose directors were in attendance at Angelika Film Center screenings on the weekend of October 4-6. Docufest artistic director Bart Weiss also secured a Dallas visit with Academy-Award Winning Director of Precious Images (1986), Writer, and Editor Chuck Workman who came to be celebrated with “An Evening With Chuck Workman” on Saturday at 8:30.

Elizabeth Coffman, Director of Flannery, Director Chuck Workman, and Artistic Director of Dallas Videofest and Dallas Docufest Bart Weis at the Dallas Docufest’s Director’s Brunch….

Shortly after the director’s brunch at the Embassy Suites, Chuck Workman spoke with Houston writer Christina Putnam.

CP: I’m excited about seeing your documentary, Superstar, about the life of Andy Warhol.

CW: Well, his name was actually Andrew Warhola. He’s from Pittsburgh, the pits of Pittsburgh. His father worked in the steel mills, and his father disappeared or left when Andy was about 5, and the mother, whom he was very close with his whole life was highly spoken of. That was kind of their world, a small, small world. Andy kind of got sick a lot. It’s the story of many artists, and a lot of filmmakers. They get sick and they have nothing to do. And they do something interesting. He started drawing.

CP: And how did he begin to progress in his professional life?

CW: He left Pittsburgh, came to New York and became an important illustrator of shoes. And he did all this work in shoes. And he started saying that he could help with more commercial fine art works. Then he eventually decided to do pop art because it was coming in, and that sort of began his career, but he never really forsook Pittsburgh. We shot for a good week there and he went to Carnegie Mellon University which was called Carnegie Tech at the time and was an art student.  He put his mother up in the Upper East Side of New York. But he never really forgot his family. He would go back there all the time.

CP: Which was sweet.

CW: Yes. People say he was very difficult with money and didn’t share it, but in those days, and there were a lot of hangers on in the art community. They went to his place to hang out and do things that they could do for nothing.

CP: Some comments have been made through the years that he was very manipulative of some of the people that went through the factory. How do you feel about that?

CW: I think there is a lot of resentment among those people. You seem them everyday, you see them now, they’re a celebrity and they want to say ‘this one made a pass at that one,” took money from me, or I really did the work but got no recognition. I think there is more of that around Andy because he was so passive a personality. He hardly talked. He would just do his work. I have a scene in Superstar, the film I made about him, with everybody getting loaded, dancing, and Andy is there …working. Right in the middle of it, he’s drawing. Boy, I said to myself, it would be really great to show that, and there was the shot. Somebody had filmed the event, and I was able to use the footage. That’s why he was fun.

CP: It seems that he would always withdraw from conflict.

CW: Of course. He didn’t want to get involved in that at all. But he was also like a fan. He met William Burroughs. * He was so excited that he wanted his autograph. I have a clip of that in the film, too. He was a very smart guy, and just cared about his work about a lot of artists. His art is very well protected. He had died a few years before and the estate was large but nothing like today. There were no 5 million-dollar paintings or anything like that. The estate was very, very careful. They wouldn’t let me shoot here, they wouldn’t let me shoot there. They thought they would do their own film, and I was just trying to make a film for someone who was a fan of Andy Warhol’s. She had the money and wanted to make a film about him. I kept chasing an exhibit of Andy Warhol’s paintings. I kept going to exhibits, and they said they wouldn’t let me shoot it. But finally found other members of the family who had donated their own material and they said, “Yes, go shoot it.” They didn’t have any financial stake in it or they didn’t care. I ended up finally shooting the exhibit in England. That’s where I shot most of the art. I’m glad I did. I’m glad we really stuck with it.

CP: I enjoyed seeing the documentary about Agnes Varda last night, and come to find out, Varda had connected with Andy Warhol to secure the services of the actress Viva, who was part of Warhol’s coterie of actors.

CW. I didn’t know that. I liked Viva. When we did the film with her, we shot her in the lobby of the Chelsea Hotel, people were behind her, and no one cared what was going on. She had funny things to say. Most of the people [involved in The Factory] were very articulate who were close to Andy. Andy, of course, didn’t talk as much.

CP: It seemed that people were always wanting something from him that he wasn’t ready or easily prepared to give.

CW: It was something almost a nuisance to him, although he didn’t show that. But he would just smile, and say something…

CP: Witty, urbane, or move on to the next subject?

CW: Not even as articulate as that.

CP: And we even had a stamp with Andy Warhol as the subject.

CW: I thought, great. Why not?  When I made the film, I know we premiered it in Berlin right after the wall went down and the idea of showing being a gay person in a movie even 25 or 30 years ago was difficult. I got a lot of it in there. But he was just a young gay man who wanted to do his work. Later on, I worked with someone who reminded me of Andy Warhol, and that was Michael Jackson. I was basically just dealing with his work. As far as his personal life, I didn’t know much about that.

CP: Like the controversy surrounding Jackson’s personal life…

CW: I never saw anything like that with Andy.

CP: I’m curious about your association with the Academy and all the work you’ve done with it.

CW: The Academy is interesting because the Academy supports a kind of cinema that I don’t feel comfortable being a part of, yet I’m so involved with them. How can you do a film about experimental film or artists and also work on the Oscars program. To me, it’s all work. John Ford would use the expression that “It was a job of work.”

CP: On of your “jobs of work” is that you teach experimental filmmaking.

CW: (smiling) I do. I teach at a school that eastern people and midwestern people don’t know about, but everybody in the west knows about Chapman University which is in Orange County, south of LA. They have a wonderful film school. It’s very highly rated. It’s 5th or 6th in the country in various ratings, called Dodge College. They attract a lot of Hollywood people. Almost everyone on the faculty lives in Los Angeles. I remember that there was some function at the academy and there was a whole meeting of all the faculty at Chapman. And someone asked if anyone had tickets to the Academy event, and about twenty of us raised our hands, so there are quite a few Academy members at Chapman. They had never had an experimental film class. They were mostly interested in Hollywood films. They weren’t interested in the artistic side of filmmaking. They had just recently come to documentary films, and I offered to teach the experimental class to one of the deans and he thought I was crazy, but one of the other deans was interested in experimental filmmaking and liked the idea, and the students like it.

CP: What does working with the students give back to you?

CW: Sometimes you see that they are very interested in what they’re doing, sometimes they are nodding off, so, I think, OK. I’d better change the subject. It’s very tricky. I was talking to Bart Weiss about that.  In this experimental class, actually it’s very interesting to see them watch the films. Duration is a big deal in experimental films. A long, long film about the same thing. Like Andy Warhol did. And I tell my students in advance, we’re going to watch the whole film. In other classes you might just get a clip, but I want them to feel that entire experience. And they do. They sit there. It’s interesting. I also assign them to make an experimental film and they like doing that.

CP: Chuck we are so happy that you are here at the Dallas Docufest.

CW: I’m happy that the director of the festival, Bart Weiss, has chosen little films of mine. I even did a montage of Bugs Bunny for his birthday, and various films of mine that are all different. And I like that. I feel that I’m a professional, and I go from one thing to another, and I try not to ever work down to the audience.

CP: We are so glad to have you here at the Dallas Docufest. Thank you so much for coming here to share your cinematic body of work with us.

CW: I’m, glad to be here.

At 8:30 Saturday, October 5, “An Evening With Chuck Workman” began as Artistic Director Bart Weiss introduced the Academy-Award Winning Director, Writer, and Editor, Chuck Workman.  Several of his short films, known for their mesmerizing montages, screened before Workman’s documentary about Andy Warhol, entitled Superstar: The Life and Times of Andy Warhol, 1990.

With an introduction to each short film, Weiss and Workman discussed the initial ideas, difficulty of editing such vast collections of images into a single movie, and highlighted Workman’s personal motivations for crafting his creations. His Oscar-winning short film, Precious Images (1987) became the first film screened on Turner Classic Movies when the channel premiered in 1994.

Chuck Workman continues to create and develop new projects, and enjoys spending time with his family.

Workman took time out from his hectic visit to Dallas to enjoy some BBQ….

Andy Warhol had also been featured in three other documentaries at the Dallas Docufest the first weekend in October: Varda By Agnes, directed by Agnes Varda; Letter to the Editor, directed by Alan Berliner; and Cunningham 3D, directed by Alla Kovgan.

Dallas Publicity whiz Kelly Kitchens Wickersham and Writer, Christy Putnam, author of Thelma Ritter: Hollywood’s Favorite New Yorker, to be published by University Press of Mississippi in late 2020….

To view Chuck Workman’s Precious Images (1986), visit here.

The First 100 Years: A Celebration of American Movies (1995) screened on Turner Classic Movies.



*An American writer and visual artist who influenced art and literature, and was a primary figure of the Beat Generation.

THE OPPOSITE SEX: Are You Going To Sydney’s?

img_6134Are You Going to Sydney’s?

In 1956’s The Opposite Sex, Sydney’s is the spa salon standing in for New York’s Elizabeth Arden, when miracles occur and ladies transform themselves into carbon copies of the latest style icons….


Olga, played by Bewitched’s Alice Pearce, is the nail filer who dips her brush into a vat of poisoned Jungle Red. She sets off the sexy series of events with her gossipy updates for nosy clients whose sideline is undermining the status quo of the sanctioned social set.


Clients come to Sydney’s be coiffed, patted, massaged and dried in the upscale haven for hellions on heels. Like everyone’s favorite Maleficent,* Sylvia is ready to spread dirt like a dragster at a tractor pull and  doesn’t disappoint. Stepping out of Roz Russell’s role in the original The Women, Dolores Gray rebirths the part as the Marvel Comics version of the evil twin, more stylish and more venomous than originally conceived. Hiding behind slick crepe de chine, chilly chiffon, and Belgian Lace helps the naughty keep the haughty.

IMG_0597Ann Miller, in a role where she doesn’t dance or sing, manages to enthrall us anyway with her snappy dialogue delivery and her winsome, well-dressed ways. Agnes Moorehead connects with her love of lavender and lilac in her Helen Rose creations and doesn’t see such colorful ensembles again until she greets Samantha as Endora.


Agnes Moorehead gown…


The singing, dancing June Allyson elicits our pity as Kay, and Leslie Nielsen plays it straight as her wandering Broadway-producer husband long before his comedic successes in Airplane and The Naked Gun films. Joan Collins creates her first cold-hearted, sexy vamp, which she revealed to Robert Osborne became the precursor to her Alexis iteration in Dynasty during her introduction to The Opposite Sex on TCM.


Don’t miss that “Yellow Gold” number!

Three New York ladies hop the train to Reno, Nevada, one of the few places in the 1950’s where a six-week divorce can be granted for those women who need to move on with their lives, their wardrobes and their new sparklers. Charlotte Greenwood makes her final screen appearance in The Opposite Sex as the owner of the guest ranch where divorcees go to stow away for the waiting period. It ain’t easy keepin’ them gals from derailing their locomotives, leaving behind a memento, or keeping their gloves off of a handsome, singing ranch hand, like Buck Winston, played by former baseballer Jeff Richards.

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Ooh. Jeff Richards!


Ooh! Look! A Bananyanaire!


Screenwriter Fay Kanin, who scripted such films as Rhapsody (1954) and Teacher’s Pet (1958), also crafted award-winning television movies like Heartsounds (1979) , Friendly Fire (1979) and Hustling (1975) to her credit. Kanin, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences from 1979-1983, reportedly didn’t much care for the final film of The Opposite Sex, but made an appropriate update of Clare Booth Luce’s play for the attitudes of 1950’s. An activist for film preservation and a leader of the cinema community, her legacy as a woman of conviction and an arbiter of good taste lives on.


Comparing this film with 1939’s The Women is an easy exercise in sharpening a reviewer’s more critical sense, but enjoying the musical romps, the flouncy Helen Rose creations, and the landscapes of Leslie Nielsen and Jeff Richards allows viewers to accept The Opposite Sex on its own terms, the only way to unabashedly relish this film. Stylish back-biting, shiny, red nails, and the underbelly of the upper crust always contrasts well with mermaid gowns, cowboys, and well-dressed redemption.


It’s a party!


See you at the poolside screening of The Opposite Sex on Friday night 8 p.m. on April 11. Illeana Douglas and Dennis Miller are scheduled to introduce the film.

“The smog will be so refreshing!”

*SLEEPING BEAUTY  (1959) is screening at the #TCMFF2019 at noon on Friday in the Egyptian, too!

Learn more about The Opposite Sex (1956) and That Darn Smack from Christy’s Inkwells here.

More about the fabulous Fay Kanin here.

The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York compares and contrasts the 1939 and 1956 films, the designers and the stars here. 

Still A Giant

The long awaited chronicle of the personal and professional journey of a 20th Century template for quintessential Hollywood male has arrived. The quest of Rock Hudson for acceptance and recognition has long since ceased, but the fascination with such a “gorgeous hunk of man” continues. All That Heaven Allows, the ultimate biography of Hudson by Mark Griffin and the title of one of Hudson’s more successful Hollywood films, is just the solution for readers and fans who still happen to be hoarding those Christmas and Valentine’s day gift cards. Those fans seeking a delicious read to fill those boring moments between the latest social media frenzy and a visit from the Sandman is just a click away on Amazon or a jaunt to the local page proprietor.

In-depth interviews with Hollywood insiders, friends and family of Hudson, and historians hold court to tell a tale of the rise to the summit of world-wide fame. Like one of the Rocky mountains of Colorado, Hudson’s professional summit was well-served by his own physical height and personal magnetism. Griffin’s research and details remind us of Rock’s charisma with onscreen partners like Doris Day, Elizabeth Taylor, and colleague John Wayne, and explores his more difficult moments on screen with the queen of clean, Julie Andrews. Detailed research and polished prose float the reader along the waves of Hudson’s peaks-and-valleys existence in the forefront of media hype and behind closed doors.

Hudson’s difficult childhood, his burgeoning, complicated sexuality, and his private life peopled with sybaritic sycophants spurred the late TCM host and friend Robert Osborne to frankly comment about Hudson’s final years. Piper Laurie, a close friend of Hudson’s for many years, reveals aspects of Hudson’s character to endear him even further to his fans.

In George Stevens’ film of Edna Ferber’s Giant, Bick Benedict, a thinly veiled alter ego of the larger-than-life Houston wildcatter Glenn McCarthy, lived large, but espoused a more traditional family man’s attitude, tempered with more acceptance by his wife Leslie, portrayed by future long-time friend Elizabeth Taylor. James Dean, as Jett Rink, played the darker, more emotionally plagued persona embedded in McCarthy’s complex personality.

It was no fluke that Hudson aligned with Benedict in the collective mind of Hollywood casting as he also lived large, albeit in varied social circles. Hudson initially charmed all he met, yet he continually struggled to become a success and stay one. At the end of his life, he still worried about his career, and refused to accept his own infallibility, just like any other traditional American hero.


Mark Griffin is the author of A Hundred or More Hidden Things: The Life and Films of Vincente Minnelli.  Griffin, whose writing has appeared in scores of publications, including The Boston Globe, recently appeared in the documentary Gene Kelly: To Live and Dance.  He lives in Maine.


Mark Griffin’s website.

Interview with Mark Griffin on Vincent Minelli…

Interview with Mark Griffin on Rock Hudson and All That Heaven Allows on PBS’ Fresh Air….

All That Heaven Allows is soon to be a major motion picture!

Handsome Johnny

If you’ve been waiting for a fascinating mob saga, an erotic Hollywood expose, or a political thriller to occupy your reading pleasure, the good news is that you’ll only need one book, Handsome Johnny: The Life and Death of Johnny Rosselli: Gentleman Gangster, Hollywood Producer, CIA Assassin by New York Times Bestselling Author, Lee Server.


(Server’s previous biographical home runs include Robert Mitchum: Baby, I Don’t Care and Ava Gardner: Love is Nothing.)

Tracking down the actual name, origin, and early years of Johnny Rosselli, as well as following his rise through the ranks of the Capone organization, and becoming a fixer to Hollywood gold mines occupied hours of valuable G-Men time as well as several years of author Server’s detective skills interviewing eyewitnesses to the Italian opera which evolved into his latest publication.

Collaboration between “lawmakers and lawbreakers” made for strange bedfellows, and Handsome Johnny takes us behind all the bedroom doors, backrooms filled with cigar smoke, and even to the crooked cardgames in the Friar’s Club in Beverly Hills.

Harry Cohn, Jimmy “The Weasel” Fratianno, Fidel Castro, Howard Hughes, Harry Karl, Sam Giancana, The Kennedys, Frank Sinatra—name a player in Hollywood, Chicago, New York, D. C., Miami, or Cuba and he might be mentioned in this book. As for the women in this book, some are treated well, some are treated swell, and some are not so lucky. Oh, did I mentioned Lucky? Luciano, that is. He makes a few appearances, too.

Assassination theories, covert operations, CIA and FBI involvement, crossed swords of government agencies, and more untaxed cash than you can shake a Federal Reserve at. Ancestry DNA might mark this book with a family crest of a “crossed dagger and gun,” a “pinprick of blood,” and a Sicilian oath.

Publication of Server’s last book occurred in 2006, and the years justified the wait for Handsome Johnny. How long will fans have to wait for the Netflix or HBO Series? It’ll run longer than The Sopranos!

What’s already been written…

Praise for Handsome Johnny:
“No one knew more about the mob, Hollywood and Las Vegas than Johnny Rosselli, and Lee Server got it all in Handsome Johnny.” ―Nicholas Pileggi, author/screenwriter of Goodfellas and Casino

“No one slices and dices true tales like Lee Server. In Handsome Johnny, he cracks the vault of time to reveal long-buried secrets. Maybe even this country’s biggest secret…Fast-paced, insightful, bold, witty, and masterfully told.” ―James Gladstone, Executive V.P. Lionsgate Entertainment and author of The Man Who Seduced Hollywood

“The incredible life of Handsome Johnny, a gangster worthy of the movies….Server’s biography not only provides a window into Rosselli’s life but also contextualizes a time when Hollywood, politics and organized crime were inextricably linked.” ―The Washington Post

“Written in the snappy style of a hardboiled detective novel…an in-depth history of the growth, development and eventual decline of organized crime in America.” ―The Economist

Based upon years of research, written with compelling style and vivid detail, HANDSOME JOHNNY is a rich rollercoaster of a biography.” ― Movie News

“Server employs evocative phrasing to luridly examine the shady underbelly of movies, moguls, and politics from the 1930s through the ’60s, all through the prism of the charming Rosselli. Filled with crackerjack writing and Damon Runyonesque characters, this entertaining page-turner is a rich look at one of organized crime’s most intriguing characters.” ―Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“A definitive rags-to-riches biography… Paced like a fine piece of fiction, this is a handsomely written chronicle of an interesting mob character.” ―Kirkus Reviews

Author Lee Server has done his homework on Handsome Johnny and no stone is left un-turned. It’s a fascinating look the mob, it’s influence, it’s muscle and some of the biggest names of the day that were involved with the Mafia whether they wanted to be or not. One thing for sure is Johnny Rosselli didn’t lead a boring life.” ―Red Carpet Crash 

Lee Server does a bang-up job with this guy, not allowing endless detail to overwhelm the reader. I enjoyed the thrill ride from front cover to ending.” ―Stuff I Like blog

If the Mob history is your genre, then add this to the shelves of your library.” ―Melisende’s Library blog 

#TCMFF Festival Themes…..2010-2019

Festival themes have intrigued us since the very first festival. In the first festival programming guide, beloved TCM Host Robert Osborne dubbed the first year as “four days of…classiccinemania!” That’s pretty much what it’s been since then!

In 2010, instead of one over-arching theme, there were “Programming Listings” featuring Discoveries, Essentials, The Film Foundation, The Hustons: A Hollywood Dynasty, Hollywood on Hollywood, Imports That Influenced Hollywood, Moguls & Movie Stars, Special Presentations, and Vanity Fair’s Tales of Hollywood. Festival App for Iphone arrives.

Seeing all of these celebrities: Tony Curtis, Luise Rainer, Tab Hunter, Hayley Mills, Esther Williams, Betty Garrett, Ernest Borgnine, Curtis Hanson, Martin Landau, Eva Marie Saint, Frank Capra III, Tom Capra, Buck Henry, Leonard Maltin, Peter Bogdanovich, Suzanne Lloyd, Cari Beauchamp, Stanley Donen, Nancy Olsen, Margaret Bodde, Illeana Douglas, Casey LaLonde, Eli Wallach, Cheryl Crane, Juanita Moore, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Donald Bogle, John Badham, Norman Lloyd, Danny Huston, and Anjelica Huston were guests.

My favorite moments from all of the festivals? Meeting new friends and connecting with virtual ones. Seeing Betty Garret look wistfully at the poolside screening of Neptune’s Daughter during the “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” number and she watched from her Cabana patio. She smiled at me with tears in her eyes, turned around slowly, and went back inside her room. Sweet. Seeing Robert Osborne in person, interviewing Luise Rainer, Juanita Moore, and Susan Kohner was a joy. The Vanity Fair party rocked!

In 2011, pass holders found Discoveries, Disney’s Musical Legacy, Essentials, A Celebration of Bernard Hermann, Nice Work If You Can Get it: The Film Music of George and ira Gershwin, Happy Trails: Roy Rogers’100th Birthday, The Silent Legacy and Special Presentations. Hand and Footprint Honoree: Peter O’Toole. My favorite moment? Shaking Peter O’Toole’s hand and meeting Lesley Caron. The Vanity Fair party was exciting!

2012 brought Built By Design: Architecture in Film, Deco Design, Discoveries, Essentials, The Films of Stanley Donen, The Legendary Costumes of Travis Banton, The Noir Style, The Paramount Renaissance, Special Presentations, and Universal’s Legacy of Horror. Hand and Footprint Honoree: Kim Novak. Favorite moments: Meeting A. C. Lyles in the lobby of the Chinese after a screening of Wings;Meeting Peggy Cummins as she arrived from London at the Roosevelt.

2013, Cinematic Journeys: Travel in the Movies, gave us Discoveries, Essentials, Festival Tributes, Journeys of Self-Discovery, A Journey to Italy, Lovers On The Run, Riding The Rails, River As Road, and Special Presentations. Hand and Footprint Honoree: Jane Fonda. Seeing Shirlee Fonda, Jane Fonda, and Peter Fonda walk over to their father’s Hand and Footprints impression, and Shirlee Fonda showing me a photo from the day Henry Fonda was honored in the Chinese Forecourt. Meeting Ann Blyth in the lobby of the TCL Chinese was a dream come true!

So much is going on in this photo: Margaret O’Brien, Tippi Hedren, Kim Novak, and more!

Miss Theresa Madere Barrera on the Red Carpet 2014….

Families in the Movies, 2014, included titles relating to Single Mothers, Festival Tributes, Essentials, Discoveries, Daddy/Daughter Films, Aging Parents, Sister Acts, Dysfunctional Families, and Special Presentations. Hand and Footprint Honoree: Jerry Lewis. Meeting Maureen O’Hara for a brief moment, and hearing her interview with Robert Osborne.

Exciting lobby photo ops with media moguls and mavens….

2015 brought pass holders a Festival App. History According to Hollywood screened features focusing on History According to John Ford, Discoveries, Special Tributes, Fight The Power-Films About Revolution, History on Trial, and Herstory. Hand and Footprint Honoree: Christopher Plummer. The Peter Fonda interview in Club TCM, and The Picture Show Man, a fabulous Rod Taylor film discovery for me from Australia!

In 2016, Moving Pictures included topics like Inspirational Sports Movies, Animal Movies, Religious Films, Love and Loss, Coming-of-Age, Festival Tributes, Discoveries, Essentials. Hand and Footprint Honoree: Francis Ford Coppola. Fave moments: Meeting Carl Bernstein, Elliot Gould’s interview in Club TCM, Meeting Carl Reiner.

By 2017, it was time to Make ‘Em Laugh: Comedy in the Movies, bringing Dark Comedies, Divorce Remorse, Movie Spoofs, Nitrate, Hey-That’s Not Funny, Special Presentations, Discoveries, Essentials, and Festival Tributes. Hand and Footprint Honorees: Carl and Rob Reiner. Seeing Stalag 17 and Dr. Strangelove with my son who lives in L.A.

Last year’s theme for 2018, Powerful Words, The Page Onscreen illuminated Christie’s Mysteries, Hardboiled Hollywood, Shakespeare in the Dark, The Poet’s Corner, The Power of the Press, Writer’s Block, Special Presentations, Nitrate Films, Discoveries, and Special Tributes. Hand and Footprint Honoree: Cicely Tyson. Fave moments: Scandal: The Trial of Mary Astor documentary, an interview I conducted at Larry Edmunds with Director Alexa Foreman, the Janes Ivory interview in Club TCM, a conversation with Gillian Armstrong, the screening of My Brilliant Career, a conversation with Robert Benton.

UPDATE AS OF August 28 at 11:15: The TCM Film Festival Theme for 2019 is…Follow Your Heart: Love At The Movies.

Inspiration For 2019–Turner Classic Movies Film Festival 2018!

The hurly-burly of hustling down Hollywood Boulevard hasn’t altered much from pass holder forays down the busiest street in LA in 2017. The hawkers and gawkers, snake-handlers and CD sellers, presenters and pass holders all navigate the obstacle course while snapping photos of their favorite star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  The haves are constantly juxtaposed against the have nots, and sometimes the have nots are not what they seem.

On my first day, Tuesday, April 25, I found that a man who appeared to be in his mid-30s had asked me for money so he could buy food. I told him I would be happy to buy him a meal at the local fast-food establishment that I was preparing to patronize. He looked at me with disgust, waved me away, and obviously wasn’t as hungry as he appeared to be.  Of course, I shrugged off the incident. It might just happen again. The first rule of Hollywood Boulevard is… “don’t talk about Hollywood Boulevard.” Stick to the movies, the presenters, the high cost of a refreshing beverage poolside. We can always talk about Hollywood Boulevard later.

Mary Astor has fans celebrating her life and struggles in interviews and a documentary film by director Alexa Foreman, Scandal:The Trial Of Mary Astor, which had its world premiere at the TCM Film Fest….(photo courtesy of Miss Paula who chose the special Mary Astor brew at a local java joint in honor of the documentary screening)

Wednesday afternoon at Larry Edmunds Bookshop, the premiere bookstore on Hollywood Boulevard, Director Foreman participated in an SRO Q & A with yours truly to celebrate the Mary Astor doc…

Andrew Yang, great grandson of Mary Astor, shared lifelike dolls of the classic film star with the audience, which are produced by his company…

Cora Sue Collins, Barbara Rush and author Meredith Ponedel wait for Kelly Kitchens’ social media party to commence. Actor Ted Donaldson also attended.

Social media garden party pass holders focus on an interview with Cora Sue Collins and Barbara Rush conducted by author Danny Miller…

Festival pass holders actually started dribbling into the Hollywood Roosevelt Lobby on Monday, and by Tuesday, the more dedicated had already plunked down their credit cards at the HRH Reservation Desk hoping they wouldn’t be charged for the entire contents of their mini-bar before they checked out. Notice the look of uncertainty and disbelief as the hotel guest signs the blank credit card authorization form the seconds before a digitized plastic room key is presented. Not only is their expression unsettling, but some of the signatures are even a little wobbly. But all fear and trepidation melts once the guest has left luggage in the room, and ridden down the elevator to greet friends schmoozing and lounging in the lobby.

Lobby love with writer and gadabout Kim Luperi and TCM’s ever effervescent Shannon Clute…

Media-fest pre-party finds TCM Backlot commercial cutie Beth Ann Gallagher and TCM Host Alicia Malone clinching before the fest frenzy…..

Host Scott McGee, Turner Portfolio 360 Brand Strategy and General Manager Jennifer Dorian, and FilmStruck Guru and Senior Vice President of Programming and Production, Charles Tabesh…

The first order of business at the TCM Film Festival is usually a Meet The TCM Panel, and this year was no different, only a few of the players changed.

Getting ready to par-tay with Julia Ricci, Priscilla’s hubby, Jeff Lundenberger, Priscilla Smith and Patrick Goff…

Chinese Multiplex Mania with Danny Reid, Joel Williams, Jessica Pickens, Kendahl Cruver, and Christy….

All anxieties disappear once pass holders greet old friends from previous festivals, reconnecting with a family of choosing instead of a group of genetic links who do not necessarily connect emotionally with classic film, travel, sitting in the dark for extended periods of time, or mountains of pre-popped popcorn and Twizzlers.

Andrew Yang, great-grandson of Mary Astor, with friend in Club TCM….

Hollywood legend Norma Weingarten Pisar, Diane Baker, actress and close friend of Robert Osborne, TCM Programmer Dennis Millay, and Kelly Brady lobbying for a photo-op. Pisar is the daughter of Jessie Marmestan, a USC/MGM doctor, goddaughter of Norma Shearer, step-daughter of Lawrence Weingarten, and ex-wife of Sam Pisar, and has been involved in many creative endeavors in LA.

Cinemaven Theresa Brown, perpetual TCMFF Florida Fan Sam Mahin, and Paula “Cinema Detroit,” #TCMParty doyenne grab a moment to pose in the Chinese Multiplex Lobby, always a popular gathering spot for fest-themed displays…

Fans ready for the Red Carpet Rumba near the entrance to the TCL Chinese Theater, formerly and always Grauman’s to classic film fans…

Credentialed Media mavens (L to R), Kim Luperi, Michelle Conte, a perky but unknown credentialed media gal, The Nitrate Diva’s Nora Fiore, and (Front) Journeys in Classic Film’s Kristen Lopez, gather for the race down the TCMFF Red Carpet 2018…

PR whiz Liz Kelly is ready for celebs!

TCM’s Duchess Of Social Media Marya Gates, Raquel Stelcher, and Asbury Park, New Jersey’s Jeff Lundenberger….

And the celebs are off to the races!!

Juliet Mills and husband Maxwell Caulfield…

New TCM Host Dave Karger engages with media…

Author Alan K. Rode, Michael Curtiz: A Life In Film, greets a journalist and fan …

TCM VP and Brand Activation and Partnership whiz Genevieve McGillicuddy enjoys the cheering crowd with the RC Host…

Mario Van Peebles escorts his father, Melvin Van Peebles, who told yours truly that being at the TCMFF was ” the most love I ever had with my clothes on!”

TCM’s Jennifer Dorian reiterated the future vision for the network after Coleman Breland, President Of Turner Classic Movies and Turner Content Experiences, outlined the detailed plans for connecting with fan interests, expanding content choices and remembering the enormous impact that former TCM Host Robert Osborne had on the network…

Wyatt McCrea, grandson of classic film heartthrob Joel McCrea, laughs at a journalist’s comment..

Pola Changnon, TCM SVP Of Marketing, Creative and Brand Services, shared her excitement for this year’s special guests and screenings…

Noir Alley Kingpin Eddie Muller emotes…

Rosanna Arquette, happy about the Bill Cosby conviction earlier in the day stated, “Justice was done today!”

Writer and presenter Cari Beauchamp is interviewed by TCM’s Kristen Welch in front of the cheering fan gallery…

Actor and comedian Dennis Miller seriously readies for the next barrage of questions…

Writer, author and Treasures from the Disney Vault Host Leonard Maltin is always ready to share…

Animated Ruta Lee talked, laughed, and shared with all the journalists, the most energetic and democratic of special guests…

2018 Oscar-winning costume designer Mark Bridges introduced Gigi at the festival…

Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey shared their love for the epic Zeffirelli film, Romeo and Juliet…

First Robert Osborne Award recipient Martin Scorsese, founder of The Film Foundation and the World Cinema Project, rushes down the runway to prepare for the ceremony…

The opening night Red Carpet Gala Premiere of The Producers was preceded by a new event, heralding a memorial to an esteemed, honored man revered by all fans of Turner Classic Movies, Robert Osborne. The festival website defines the event:

Turner Classic Movies is proud to honor our late host, Robert Osborne, with the creation of the Robert Osborne Award. This annual award will be presented at the TCM Classic Film Festival to an individual whose work has helped keep the cultural heritage of classic films alive and thriving for generations to come.

The presentation of the first Robert Osborne Memorial Award, presented by Leonardo Di Caprio, went to esteemed director, writer, and film historian, Martin Scorsese. Scorsese walked down the Red Carpet quickly with an escort.

Pass holders don’t care about the drunks, the drug addicts, the beggars or the trash up and down the street. Yes, they give out money, pay for food, and generally try to be respectful of the people in the parade that they constantly wish they could pass by. Die-hard fans attending the TCM Film Festival care about having a communal, family-oriented gathering with like-minded friends who share common ideas and beliefs. Strategizing the mine field of Hollywood Boulevard is nothing when we pass holders consider what will be shared at the end of a trek to the Egyptian or back up the boulevard to the Chinese. Walk, Don’t Run the next time an opportunity is offered to be with friends from all over the world who want to share experiences like the annual spring convention on Hollywood, Boulevard.

The world premiere screening of Scandal:The Trial Of Mary Astor saw Host Gary Freedman and Director Alexa Foreman wistful as they remembered their good friend Robert Osborne ….

Java jaunt before Stage Door’s screening at The Egyptian…

Director Sean Cameron showing some pass holder passion….

And there’s always the thrill of the Hand and Footprint Ceremony at the TCL Chinese Forecourt…

Academy-Award Winner Cicely Tyson waits for her moment in the hand and footprint sunshine with director, actor, and producer Tyler Perry….

Cicely Tyson listens to fans and photogs shouting “hurrahs” as she takes time to make it right…

Closing night party huzzahs in Club TCM…. and spilling into the lobby…

Marion Davies’ biographer and fest presenter Lara Fowler with credentialed media Kristin Sales…

Canada’s Heather Dagorne, The Bay Area’s Miss Paula, and Minnesota’s Vickie “Vickster” Gleason…

Christy with Disney historian and author J.B. Kaufman….

PR gal Kelly Kitchens, Susan Godfrey, and Minnesota’s Vickie Gleason…

Everybody had to have their photo op with Sheryl Birkner…

Classic Movie Hub’s AnnMarie Gatti and cousin Doreen…

Theresa Brown, Sam Mahin, and Ana Eire…

Mark Wickersham, Kelly Kitchens Wickersham and Lawrence Kaplowitz…

TCM’s Dennis Millay and jet-setting fangirl Jackie Brady….

Authors Sloan De Forest, Must See Sci-Fi, and Jeremy Arnold, The Essentials- 52 Must See Movies. Warner’s new book about Christmas-themed films comes out soon …

Director Alexa Foreman and Dan from Florida…

Jocelyn Dunphy and good friend Lenore K…

Jasmine, Alan and Chris…

Diana Panda and yours truly…

Two Laura’s, one Mike, and one Jasmine…

Aurora Bugallo and Kaci Kielmar bookend a happy couple…

Larry and Monika Henreid dining in style…

Larry’s Brigade, almost all pals from The TCM Message Boards, The Silver Screen Oasis, and the first fest in 2010…

Beautiful Diane Baker….

Journeys in Classic Film’s Kristen Lopez and Christy….

Selfie with Karen Burroughs Hannsberry

Jeff Lundenberger, Christy, and Jeff Tambor of Larry Edmunds Bookshop …

Kelly Brady and Miss Paula….

With the ever kinetic Jack Fields…

Wendy Mahaffey and Heather Dagorne ready for next year…

Well, the party’s over for 2018. Pretty soon we’ll be partying like it’s 2019!