Garnering: The Best

James Garner always had that kind of optimistic cynicism that let the audience know he had the score, he felt like there was no point to all this nonsense, but that he was sticking around to see how everything was going to turn out. Such an attitude made viewers want to linger in front of the screen, whether television or silver, just to see what would happen, too.

This article is part of the Summer Under the Stars Blogathon on Journeys in Classic Film:

Garner first appeared in my orbit in episodes of Maverick on our bulky black and white entertainment center, and the cocky way he would push back his Gambler-style Stetson made me realize that I was as skeptical as his character was, but I was also sticking around to see what would transpire. Garner’s ability to shape shift, beginning on television, switching to film, and going back and forth between the medium for decades reveals his everlasting appeal as a performer and his undeniable versatility for decades. Since I am a cinephile and TCM enthusiast, I feel assured that everyone will find at least a few of their favorite Garner films on TCM today. 

What are my favorites? I always enjoy his films with Doris Day, and even Day remarked during her TCM interstitial that since she and Garner appeared so compatible with each other during The Thrill of It All and Move Over, Darling, fan actually thought Day and Garner were married. But my absolute delight over “The Americanization of Emily” always brings me hope that this film will be screened at a TCM Film Festival. Focusing on the D-Day invasion of Normandy, and other initiative in the European Theatre during World War II, the scenario, by ace scribe Paddy Chayefsky, reveals another tour-de-force performance by Melvyn Douglas, grandfather of TCM host Illeana Douglas. The palpable chemistry between Julie Andrews and Garner makes Chayefsky dialogue sizzle in Garner’s most romantic adult collaboration.

If you enjoy James Garner, here’s a viewer’s opportunity to revel in his good looks, his characterizations, and his ability to relate to the absurdities of life. TCM’s Summer Under The Stars Celebration has chosen to honor James Garner on Saturday, August, 27, with a special selection of Garner’s films, both serious, comical, and farcical with selections appearing from the website:

A man suffering from amnesia confronts a series of women in his search for his memory.

Dir: Delbert Mann Cast: James Garner , Jean Simmons , Suzanne Pleshette .

This short film focuses on how the production team for the movie “Mister Buddwing” (1966) scouted for filming locations in New York City


A married couple’s working vacation in Paris turns into a battle to stay faithful.

Dir: Jerry Paris Cast: James Garner , Debbie Reynolds , Maurice Ronet .


This behind-the-scenes short offers a look at the D-Day special effects created in filming “The Americanization of Emily” (1964).

 A British war widow falls for an opportunistic American sailor during World War II.

Dir: Arthur Hiller Cast: James Garner , Julie Andrews , Melvyn Douglas .

 A doctor tries to cope with his wife’s newfound stardom as an advertising pitch woman.

Dir: Norman Jewison Cast: Doris Day , James Garner , Arlene Francis .

36 HOURS (1964)

Nazis kidnap a key American intelligence officer and try to convince him that World War II is over.

Dir: George Seaton Cast: James Garner , Rod Taylor , Eva Marie Saint .

 Wyatt Earp tracks down the survivors of the Clanton Gang after the gunfight at the O.K. Corral.

Dir: John Sturges Cast: James Garner , Jason Robards Jr. , Robert Ryan 

A cowboy drifts into a lawless town and brings things back together.

Dir: Burt Kennedy Cast: James Garner , Joan Hackett , Walter Brennan .


Thrown together by the Germans, a group of captive Allied troublemakers plot a daring escape.

Dir: John Sturges Cast: Robert Graf , Nigel Stock , Angus Lennie .

Auto racers find danger and romance at the legendary European road race.

Dir: John Frankenheimer Cast: James Garner , Eva Marie Saint , Yves Montand .

SKIN GAME (1971)
Two western con artists team with a lady card shark to take on slavers.

Dir: Paul Bogart Cast: James Garner , Lou Gossett , Susan Clark .

MARLOWE (1969)

Detective Philip Marlowe probes the seedy underbelly of Los Angeles in search of a woman’s missing sister.

Dir: Paul Bogart Cast: James Garner , Gayle Hunnicutt , Carroll O’Connor .

“Action on the Beach” is an informative interstitial with special effects and creative recreations that highlights the one-of-a-kind D-Day sequences for “The Americanization of Emily.” 

If you miss any of these films highlighted today, check out TCM Mobile for a replay. Read James Garner’s autobiography with Jon Winokur, The Garner Files, published in 2011.

More boffo blogosphere background :
A Shroud of Thoughts:

TCM’s Summer Under The Stars biography of that “lovable rogue:”

Classic Film Observations and Obsessions:
Outspoken and Freckled:
A Person in the Dark:

Mary Mallory / Hollywood Heights: 2016 S.F. Film Festival Offers Appetizing Selection

Nice festival play-by-play!

Beggars of Life.Glass Slide WEB“Beggars of Life,” courtesy of the San Francisco Silent Film Festival.

The just concluded Twenty First Annual San Francisco Silent Film Festival featured a strong weekend of thoughtful and powerful films and music from all over the world. The diverse lineup revealed the deep emotional impact of well made, visually impressive silent films, motion pictures that still speak to the spirit today.

The Louise Brooks classic “Beggars of Life” opened the Festival Thursday, June 3. This spare but compelling William Wellman film speaks as much to today as it did the late 1920s, particularly with its hobos desperately looking for food and work. A simple line of dialogue gives the film its apt and effective title, describing how we all are “beggars of life.”

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Mysterious Island (1961)


I’m happy to be included in BLOG OF THE DARNED’S Sci-fi marathon, BLOGATHON FROM ANOTHER WORLD!

Mysterious Island
(1961) reverberates in some ways with Disney influences from Swiss Family Robinson, future references in popular television programs, and the frightful, but ever-mesmerizing special effects of stop-motion animation hero Ray Harryhausen.  

When I was 9 or 10 years old, I wasn’t thinking anything about those aspects of science-fiction filmmaking and didn’t have a clue who Harryhausen was. I was too busy playing outside, riding my bicycle, reading Nancy Drew books and creating my own Barbie doll dresses. 

The synopsis, completely courtesy of Cinematic Autopsy, reveals that the film centers around Union soldiers escaping in a gas balloon from a Confederate prison camp during the American Civil War. They end up crashing in the ocean, only to find themselves washed up on an unknown island where gigantic animals abound. It would later be revealed that the animals were the result of experiments by the presumed-dead Captain Nemo. He has been an unknown benefactor to the castaways as they struggled to survive on the island. The island’s volcano threatens to erupt. After a skirmish with pirates, the stranded group manages to escape from the island on the pirates’ ship as the volcano destroys

But one dreary, rainy afternoon, I had to stay inside, and I sat down to watch television. Mysterious Island was screened on the local afternoon movie channel.Bernard Hermann, Hitchcock’s hard-driving harmonizer, created a score that grabbed me right from the beginning, and I settled in for an uneasy journey from Civil War era America to an island somewhere out in the mist (but actually on the coast of Spain).


That spooky organ music in the salon of the Nautilus….

I remember Gary Merrill in this film with his Simian-like features and edgy, liberal attitude, and now I realize those were probably some of the qualities that attracted Bette Davis to him offscreen while they made onscreen love in All About Eve. But in Mysterious Island, he was the castaway with ideas about fixing huts, making fires, conserving water, and most other duties that would eventually be assigned to The Professor on Gilligan’s Island. 

A sneaking suspicion overcomes me, and I feel that the writers on Gilligan’s Island had seen this film. There were a few too many parallels between Mysterious Island and the “Pass the Vegetables, Please” episode where the professor grows literally tons of radioactive vegetables with, what else? Radioactive seeds! Maryann’s eyesight improves 100-fold with all those carrots she’s eaten, but luckily the legumes didn’t rise up and attack the forlorn, coconut-juice swilling inhabitants of the ill-fated three-hour tour.

Ooh. Why didn’t I pay more ttention to Michael Craig as a Captain Cyrus Harding?

The characters in Mysterious Island have a different kind of luck with island fare. A giant crab, a huge, flesh-laden bird ripe for barbecuing, and menacingly bulbous-eyed bees relentlessly attack so as to keep the castaways well-fed by their tenacious, ruthless attacks on the oversized invaders. 

The film also began an early crush on scantly-clad Michael Callan which finally ended with his portrayal of an impulsive, sex-starved cowboy in Cat Ballou. (After Callan, Sean Connery assumed my attention.) Callan fights off huge bees to save the scantily-clad, ingenue-niece of Lady Mary, Elena (Beth Rogan), who has become the object of his desires.


Herbert Lom is excellent as an intense, globally-concerned Captain Nemo, evoking a bit of James Mason from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Mason’s character in Pandora and The Flying Dutchman. But the most exciting aspect of Nemo is the fact that he could scuba dive with a huge conch shell. Watching him emerge from the ocean and begin his liaison with the ship-wrecked, balloon-tossed crew increased the moment of awe for me as I pondered how such things might be possible in my adolescent cognition. If I had a huge conch shell and strapped it to my back, could I descend deep into the ocean?

Joan Greenwood plays the civilizing influence and brings her no-nonsense, aristocratic British lady to smooth over the rough edges of the wilderness. Her performance as the self-seeking Sybilla in Kind Hearts and Coronets is unrelated to her compassionate hut-living, cave-sweeping survivor in this popular sci-fi offering.

But for me, the giant crab was the most fascinating. A few years after seeing this film, we moved to Florida, and I realized how delicious boiled crab could be, and the image of a huge, delicious crustacean stayed with me. I discovered I could ride around our island on my bike with my friends, and we could actually catch crabs, cook them and eat them. And I would spend every sunny, summer day crabbing, swimming, and soaking up the sun. For me, I actually found a Mysterious Island near Tampa, Florida, where we were to live for several years.  

The synopsis, completely courtesy of Cinematic Autopsy, reveals that “the film centers around Union soldiers escaping in a gas balloon from a Confederate prison camp during the American Civil War. They end up crashing in the ocean, only to find themselves washed up on an unknown island where gigantic animals abound. It would later be revealed that the animals were the result of experiments by the presumed-dead Captain Nemo. He has been an unknown benefactor to the castaways as they struggled to survive on the island. The island’s volcano threatens to erupt. After a skirmish with pirates, the stranded group manages to escape from the island on the pirates’ ship as the volcano destroys their habitat.

Having its 55th anniversary, the film still captures my imagination, and I feel grateful to have discovered one of Ray Harryhausen’s most unusual films. I’d love to experience on a larger theater screen at the TCM Classic Film Festival.
Synopsis courtesy of….
Ken Turner on Ray Harryhausen’s legacy:
21 Essays devotion to the music of Ray Harryhausen:
Journalist Brian Sibley discusses the London exhibition celebrating Ray Harryhausen:
Selected screenshots from “Mysterious Island” highlighting Ray Harryhausen’s special effects:
Cinema Retro reviews the Blu-ray:
What Jeff Stafford said about “Mysterious Island” on the TCM Database:
 Crazy Film Guy Blogspot:


A first kiss is always memorable. It always intimates something more, of a moment of passion that has yet to be realized. But there is always a hint and a spark the first moment that lovers meet.


The tints and shades of the vibrant images in The Quiet Man also promise deep passion, and the ethereal blues and fleshly reds of Mary Kate Danaher’s shepherdess ensemble evoke images of Madonnas reposing in cathedrals and churches, but Mary Kate evokes the promise of the flesh with the dedication of fealty to her heritage, her church, and her own convictions. When Sean Thornton is stricken by the vision of Mary Kate in the meadow tending to the sheep, her gaze promises that her “Walls of Jericho” eventually will crumble in dedication and in response equal to the flood of Sean Thornton’s emotions.

The first kiss:

Sean is searching in the dark, confused and unsure of his feelings. He knows something has changed in the cottage. He realizes something is different. The undulating rhythm of the wind ignites passion like the fire burning in the center of the frame at the beginning of the scene, like the fire burning in the hearts of the lovers. They both  recognize the passion.  It initiates, approaches, retreats, and finally resolves into the physical manifestation of Mary Kate’s slap, revealing how she still struggles with the strength of her desires for Sean Thornton.

In The Quiet Man, the first kiss between Mary Kate Danaher and Sean Thornton, does just that. It reveals a tempestuousness, a desire, and an incomparable yet incomplete passion, and  viewers recognize that unrequited passion, either from their own lives, or in the lives of others. The yearning and desire from the first kiss in The Quiet Man between Mary Kate and Sean reveals expectation, but once the initial kiss is rebuffed by Mary Kate’s slap, viewers are strapped in for the desperate buggy ride to the final moment of  The Quiet Man‘s fully-realized passion later in the film.


In the cemetery, Mary Kate and Sean both reveal they don’t want to wait for the “walking out together” or the “thrashing parties.” Their first embrace, however, elicits a bolt of lightening and a clap of thunder, and Mary Kate immediately makes the sign of the cross over her heart, revealing her fear that her love for a man has superseded the desires of her loyalty to her God and her church. She seeks a divine protection from the unbridled passion in her soul.

Mary Kate then looks at Sean with a fear in her eyes, and retreats to the safety of the arch of a long-disintegrated church or chapel, bringing Sean into her imagined comfort zone.  Sean follows her, and they release the desire they have felt since Sean first saw the vision of the shepherdess in the verdant meadow. Mary Kate doesn’t retreat from Sean’s attentions anymore.

The second kiss:

Surrounded by a storm and weathering the drops of rain anointing their love, they commit to each other’s desires and passions under the arch that represents an accepting embrace of their fleshly plea for each other.

Maureen O’Hara, in her 2004 autobiography with John Nicoletti, ‘Tis Herself, revealed her explanation for the lasting nature of the popularity of those scenes: “Why is the scene so erotic? Why were Duke and I so electric in our love scenes together? I was the only leading lady big enough and tough enough for John Wayne. Duke’s presence was so strong that when audiences saw him finally meet a woman of equal hell and fire, it was exciting and thrilling” and during “those moments  of tenderness, when the lovemaking was about to begin, audiences saw  for a half-second that he had finally tamed me–but only for that half-second.”


In light of the Pope’s visit to this hemisphere this week, it is fitting that such a film be discussed on such a historic day and in conjunction with St. Valentine’s Day. The struggles allowed to voice themselves in John Ford’s The Quiet Man reveal how closely, in some respects, the film adheres to Catholic precepts of proper behavior in the 1950s. Mary Kate Danaher exemplifies chastity before marriage, acquiescing to her religious beliefs, but the worldly Sean Thornton brings all the disregard of tradition expected of a worldly-wise pugilist. His resolve to win the heart of the woman he loves forces him to reevaluate his attitude toward local Irish traditions, Catholic religious beliefs, and the village that raises his inner child, as well as the woman who ignites his soul.

Do real life experiences ever approach the passion in this film? They obviously do, or at least viewers of this film hope they do. To find such a passion, experience it, and accept it is what makes our existence thrive and resonate with our own desires.

Here’s hoping all visitors to the Kissathon have such a kiss in your future!

Read more about what people have said about The Quiet Man…

Link to article and official trailer for “Discovering The Quiet Man” Documentary:

Leonard Maltin discusses the “Discovering The Quiet Man” Documentary:

Malachy McCourt and his disdain for The Quiet Man:

Aurora roars about The Quiet Man:

The official TCM comments:

I would be remiss in my duties to fans of Miss O’Hara if I did not reiterate Miss O’Hara’s urging to audiences at the TCM Film Festival in 2014 that her religious beliefs played a very important part in her life and the decisions she made during her introduction to How Green Was My Valley with Robert Osborne.

“It is wonderful to be the age I am, and still have God unable to put up with me”:

Scorsese on the smooch:


This post was created in conjunction with Second Sight Cinema for “A Kiss is Just a Kiss Blogathon” here:

Check out all the fabulous blog posts about kisses!

Gena Rowlands and John Cassavetes: Each Other’s Muse…

As I was unsure of what “symbiotic” meant in the context of actors and directors,  I began to travel to the land of the “lexicons,” a green, fertile place found only in the imagination. Sometimes there’s a pot of gold, and sometimes there is a cold, hard fact that cannot be ignored.

Biologically speaking, symbiotic refers to any diverse organisms that live together, but in some cases, the relationship is not necessarily beneficial to both. Symbiosis, the living together of two dissimilar organisms in more or less intimate association or close union, and often in a mutually beneficial relationship, is obviously a more positive description. Cinematically speaking, a successful collaboration in a more or less intimate association or close union might apply to Gena* Rowlands and John Cassavetes because an “intimate association” can’t become much closer than a married couple. Their “symbiotic” professional relationship involved the creation of 10 movies together; their personal union, three children.


“When I started making films, I wanted to make Frank Capra pictures. But I’ve never been able to make anything but these crazy, tough pictures. You are what you are.”

“I always, always wanted to be an actress. It came from reading so much.” Gena Rowlands

As for classic symbiotic relationships, the fine line between the classic era, classic films, and just plain classy collaborations is often a subject for debate among professional cinema critics, social media aficionados and gainfully employed members of the entertainment  profession. For me, though, interpretation of film is more personal. I always evaluate movies on the basis of how they resonate with me personally, and how they relate to my experiences and relationships with people and events that I have experienced. When I first knew  of Gena Rowlands, the movie actress, she immediately reminded me of my mother, who loved watching  Rowlands’ appearances on televsision’s Peyton Place.  The actress’s strength and vulnerability in Lonely Are The Brave (1962) with Kirk Douglas made that connection for me when I first saw it on the afternoon movie. I also found that one of her lesser known performances in Charms for the Easy Life (2002), a television film from HBO, was also another dimension to her range as an actress, and another personal favorite of mine. Her conventional and unconventional characterizations with and without the influence of  her husband, director, and collaborator always intrigued me.

But before the classic symbiotic collaboration occurred, Rowlands landed initial steady employment.  According to her comments to Andy Warhol in his Interview magazine in December of 1992: “My first-ever job was in New York ushering in a little art theater. I was 21, maybe. I can’t remember. I saw Marlene Dietrich 38 times in Der blaue Engel (1930)—The Blue Angel—and I just sat there and held my flashlight, or stood there and held my flashlight. But she was wonderful.”

Rowlands’ parents had been supportive. Warhol asked Rowlands if she had any regrets, but she reponded that she didn’t. “I’ve been awfully lucky. I really have. My parents were the greatest parents in the world about encouraging me to do whatever I wanted. After school and three years at university, I went home and said, ‘I would like to quit and go to New York and be an actress.’ My mother said, ‘That sounds like something very interesting.’ And I said, ‘What about Daddy?’ And she said, ‘Ask him.’ I went [to my father]: ‘Dad, would you be okay if I left school and went to New York and became an actress?’ He said, ‘I don’t care if you want to be an elephant trainer if you really want to.’ So I said, ‘Well, I don’t want to be an elephant trainer…’ I grabbed them while they were all smiling and got on an airplane and went to New York and auditioned for the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. I went there and then I was auditioning for things.”

Of Greek heritage, Cassavetes was “educated at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City, and auditioned for The Actors Studio when he was beginning his career, but was initially rejected.” In Ray Carney’s Cassavetes on Cassavetes book, Cassavetes confessed to his parents that he wanted to be an actor. His father wasn’t initially thrilled at the idea of his son being an actor, but told him that he had to work hard because he would be portraying human emotions truthfully. Cassavetes’ friend and actor Peter Falk once stated that “Every Cassavetes film is always about the same thing. Somebody said ‘Man is God in ruins,’ and John saw the ruins with a clarity that you and I could not tolerate.”

In 1954, Rowlands and Cassavetes married, and the personal and continuing professional union lasted 35 years until Cassavetes’ death in 1989. The pair had three children, Nick, Xan, and Zoe, all of whom have sought careers in the entertainment field.

Cinematically speaking, as the “successful collaboration in a more or less intimate association or close union” evolved between Rowlands and Cassavetes, they engaged in creating 10 movies together: A Child Is Waiting (1963), Faces (1968), Gloria (1980), Love Streams (1984), Minnie and Moskowitz (1971), Opening Night (1977), A Woman Under the Influence (1974), Machine Gun McCain (1969), Two-Minute Warning (1976) and Tempest (1982). Cassavetes, hailed as one of the innovators and pioneers of the independent film movement beginning in the late1950s, and Rowlands, an actress whose credits include such notable performances asThe Notebook(2004),  directed by her son Nick Cassavetes, and her Oscar-nominated portrayals in Gloria (1980) and Woman Under the Influence (1984) directed by her husband, John Cassavetes.

For writer Alex Simon, Cassavetes was “primarily known to most of the public as a veteran character actor,” but he “left behind his greatest artistic legacy as an independent filmmaker with a unique voice and vision.” in 2004, Simon interviewed Peter Falk, Ben Gazzara and Gena Rowlands, whom Simon calls Cassavetes’ “widow/muse,” for Venice Magazine.

Peter Falk, Ben Gazzara, and Cassavetes

Actor Ben Gazzara’s first colloboration with Cassavetes as his director began in 1970 on the pre-production to Husbands, also starring Peter Falk, and Rowland’s brother, David.

“John and I became dear, dear friends.” According to Simon’s discussion with Gazzara, Cassavetes had a specific approach to preparing a film. “A lot of people had the misconception that John improvised his films, which wasn’t true. We rehearsed for two or three weeks before we shot. Occasionally a scene would be completely improvised, but only occasionally. The rehearsal was in order to give the impression of it happening for the first time, and also for the purpose of rewriting. John loved to rewrite on his feet. He’d just tear things apart, and try six, seven different ways of doing things. So by the time you got on the floor, with the camera present, you were pretty secure with where you were. John’s films were made through his actors. He loved being surprised during rehearsals and wanted you find things within yourself that would even surprise you.”

Gazzara wasn’t intiimidated on his first professional collaboration with Cassavetes in Husbands as Cassavetes “wasn’t afraid of taking any trip you wanted to take. The only thing John hated was if you didn’t try, if you didn’t ‘put it up,’ as he used to say. ‘Put it up!’ So I felt right at home, because that way of working was my idea of joy: where everything is open and everything is possible and nobody can do wrong. There is no wrong. It might not be right, but it ain’t wrong.”

Falk, Gazzara, Cassavetes, and Rowland’s  brother David in a scene from Husbands…

Peter Falk, best known as television’s Columbo, wearing a beleagured trenchcoast and an attitude of perseverance, also collaboraed with Cassavetes first, in Husbands, and then in A Woman Under the Influence, playing Gena Rowlands’ beleaguered spouse. Falk and Cassavetes remained close friends after Husbands (along with Ben Gazzara). In the interview, Simon stated that he felt Cassavetes’ films were like “jazz,” and Falk responded candidly:

“That’s very interesting, because Elaine May once said that the difference between ad-libbing and improvisation is that when jazz musicians improvise, they do so off a pre-existing theme. So if you are ad-libbing, and you’re just throwing out words that aren’t in the script, you’re not improvising off any kind of theme. So true improvisation has to do with improvising off something that exists. And that’s the difference between boring, realistic ad-libbing, which is spontaneous, but it has no shape. It has no form. But real improvisation, the kind you see in Cassavetes films, is related to a pre-existing theme.”


Cassavetes on Cassavetes…


“There’s a difference between ad-libbing and improvising. And there’s a difference between not knowing what to do and just saying something. Or making choices as an actor. As a writer also, as a person who’s making a film, as a cameraman, everything is a choice. And it seems to me I don’t really have to direct anyone or write down that somebody’s getting drunk; all I have to do is say that there’s a bottle there and put a bottle there and then they’re going to get drunk. I don’t want to tell them how they’re going to get drunk. I don’t want to tell them how they’re going to get drunk, or what they would do, and I don’t want to restrict them in being able to carry out a beat, to fulfill an action. You can’t say somebody’s drunk, or in love.”  John Cassavetes

During Rowlands’ discussion with Simon, the writer revealed  that Gazzara felt he’d been “set free”  when he began to work with Cassavetes, and Rowlands agreed.  “I think that’s very true for all of us. There was such freedom. The way other pictures are set up, there isn’t quite that freedom. They’re set up in a much more businesslike way.”


Rowlands went on to explain how Cassavetes process was different. “For example, most films are shot out of sequence, usually scheduled according to cost. John would always shoot his films in sequence with the script, and that made such a big difference for the actors. You never felt as though someone was about to come down on you when you were working with John. He would never let you stop yourself during a scene.” For me, all of Rowlands on screen performances have meaning, but her collaborations with her husband elicited a depth that didn’t seem apparent in some of her other characerizations, and perhaps the freedom she felt with his guidance settled into her soulful appearances in her later work after Cassavetes passing in 1989. Her give and take with James Garner in  The Notebook and her women who march to the beat of a different drummer in her films and  her made-for-television movies unabashadely force the viewer to experience her point of view. The freedom Cassavetes gave her, like the freedom he gave Falk and Gazzara, filtered through her interpretations like snowdrops on a touchstone, crystallizing moments in time.

Simon’s article also revealed how Cassavetes’ intense focus would affect a production.. “Oftentimes,” Rowlands claimed, ” a plane will go overhead during a shot, and the actor will just stop, because he or she knows that they’re going to cut. John insisted that you keep going always, until he said “cut.” What happened was that you kept your concentration and pretty soon, you didn’t hear the plane, or the fire engine, or whatever it was. It was a very valuable way of working. He did so many things that were unique. His use of body mikes for sound were great because you didn’t have to hit any marks, you could just go more or less where you wanted. And the lighting was such also that you could move quite freely. He lit in a very flat way that was more natural. You didn’t get to have a good light or a bad light, and most actors know what that means. We all had to work in the same light.”

In trying to elicit a more definitive comment from Rowlands, Simon found he couldn’t budge her from a committed perspective on her husband’s process when she revealed that “John always said ‘Don’t give interviews about what I was thinking, or what I was doing. If anybody wants to know me, let them look at my work. That’s it.'”

The most effective method of experiencing the Rowlands/Cassavetes symbiosis is to “look at” the work, like Cassavetes cautioned Rowlands. Viewers won’t be disappointed at the smooth, organic connection between actress  and director, or husband and wife.


Reuben Guevara’s article for Thompson on Hollywood:

“What Movies Mean to Me,” Gena Rowlands for Academy Originals:

IMDb-Gena Rowlands:

IMDb-John Cassavetes:

Q & Andy: Andy Warhol interviews Gena Rowlands in 1992 for Interview Magazine:

John Cassavetes–An Appreciation by Alex Simon:

John Cassavetes and Gena Rowland Make Movies the Hard Way–With Their Own Money!;,,20088841,00.html

A thirteen-year-old girl from Argentina has also been inspired by the symbiotic relationship between John Cassavetes and Gena Rowlands. Here’s a link to her blog, Silver Velvet Sky:

This article has been prepared specifically to celebrate Classic Symbiotic Collaborations: The Star-Director Blogathon. Go to CineMaven’s Essays From The Couch to read more fabulous entries!

Follow me  on Twitter: @suesueapplegate



I had a few moments to update an earlier article concerning the TCM Film Festival, pass history, and updates for annoucnements, special guests, and films.

This is not a comprehensive list, and there may be errors, but it’s definitely a loose guideline timeline, and accompanying photos are not necessarily linked by the years in which they were initially created.

2010        2010         2010         2010        2010          2010           2010           2010             

The First TCM Film Festival was originally announced on September 9, 2009.

With Mrs. Peter Fonda, the man himself, Shirlee Fonda, and Robert Wolders on April 27, 2013….

Pass sales began 11-18, early incentive of $100 discount if passed purchased before 12-18 -2010

Films announced March 9, 2010.

Panel topics and panel guests March 18, 2010.

Christopher Plummer in 2015….

Spotlight Pass Contest began in March ….

Spotlight Passes sold out on February 18

Behind the scenes with Robert Osborne at the Hand and Footprint ceremony for Jerry Lewis in 2014….

2011      2011       2011        2011       2011      2011       2011       2011     2011       

Tippi Hedren and The Birds, selected films announcement on 12-11-2010

Film updates on 12-20-2010

Film festival update on 1-31-11

Social media fans with TCM Host Ben Mankiewicz at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in 2014….

2012      2012     2012      2012     2012     2012    2012    2012    2012     2012   

Film update on 1-31

Kim Novak announcement 3-6

Film and Special Guest updates on 3-8

Panel updates 3-19

Richard Lewis, Jerry Lewis, Illeana Douglas and celebrity fan crack smiles in 2014…

2013      2013      2013     2013       2013     2013      2013      2013     2013      2013         

Dates announced 10-10-2012

Spotlight Passes sold out on November 16

(Earliest on record and one day after sales began.)

Films and panels update on 1-17-14 Special Guests announcement on 4-17-13

Social media fans with TCM Host Ben Mankiewicz in 2012,,,,,

2014     2014      2014    2014    2014    2014     2014     2014     2014     2014    2014   The 20TH Anniversary Party!

Dates announced on October 2, 2013.

Festival promo video released on 10-2-2013

Quincy Jones announcement on 12-5-2013

Oklahoma! and Special Guests announced on 2-13-2013

Maureen O’Hara and other special guests announced on 2-5-13  Classic passes sold out before the festival.   Gone With The Wind, Why Worry? and The Wizard of Oz announced as screenings on 10-29

Essential passes sold out on 11-4-2013

Panel updates on Thursday, 3-13-2014 


Popular Bay Area fan Paula, Mr. Osborne’s first cousin Susan, and Senior TCM researcher Alexa Foreman prior to Robert Osborne’s surprise tribute in 2014…

2015      2015    2015     2015     2015    2015   2015    2015    2015    

TCM’s Scott McGee visits the Hollywood Time Machine on 9-27-14 and announces that a festival update is coming “soon.”

Hollywood Roosevelt sold out on 10-2-14

Announcement of festival theme and 4 Restorations coming to the festival on 11-4-14

Pass sales begin on 11-11-14

Upates on 3-13-15

Kim Novak and TCM Host Robert Osborne at the closing night party in Club TCM 2012…

2016?             2016?               2016?               2016?

Dates announced for TCMFF 2016 on Wednesday, August 28 for April 28-May 1

(The earliest announcement date of record.)

And we are all anxiously awaiting updates for the coming  year’s celebrations. Update: ESSENTIAL AND SPOTLIGHT PASSES SOLD OUT AT THE CITIBANK PRESALE ON 11-17-2015.

See you in 2016!

Gary Cooper: “Peaches and Champagne in the middle of the day!”

This post may see me in hot water; however, I hope it’s sprinkled with shrimp boil and fresh lemon juice following an afternoon of busy deveining and chopping okra to prepare the gumbo and jambalaya of my memory.

I often understood Anne Rice’s choice of New Orleans as the setting for her vampire novels, and the Southern Gothic tradition still lingers in film, books, novels, and music. But since I lived in and around New Orleans for a few of my formative years, the allure of the sights, sounds, and smells of the French Quarter are continually lingering somewhere in my soul. One of the films so evocative of the languid but volatile nature of the people grabbed my fear by it’s hinges and shook it around in my core.
The opening scenes of Saratoga Trunk, even though they were filmed on the back lot of Warner Brothers’ Studios, coalesced and complimented my memories of walking along the brick-lined streets with gas lamp replicas and wrought iron balustrades as merchants hawked their wares to tourists with phrases like “Fresh pralines, fresh as New Orleans.” The forbidden lairs of the voodoo queen, Marie Laveaux, still beckon and tempt, and the stories of the ghosts of tortured slaves and murdered innocents perpetuate my nightmarish memories of childhood anxiety.

The varied characters and events equalled my experiences of the actual people and places I’d seen and heard. I’d walked on Rampart Street, just like Clio Dulaine did in the film. I’d seen the traffic up and down the Mississippi as it flowed out to the Gulf, and a visit to the Madame Tussaud’s in the Quarter is still white-hot in my memory with the beating heart of Abraham Lincoln on his deathbed and the torture chambers created by madmen who imprisoned their slaves for imagined slights. Jazz music floated everywhere and a funeral cortege with a marching band of somber players made me stop dead in my own tracks, mesmerized by the notes and the spectacle.

As I walked through the uneven streets and looked in the shops, I was given a small sack of herbs to ward off the evil eye so others wouldn’t be tempted to send evil thoughts my way, and as I found myself drinking a cup of chickory coffee and delighting in three beignets dusted with a lightening streak of confectioner’s sugar, I looked skyward and saw the Cabildo guarding the plaza like a fortress.


For all it’s character-driven dialogue, Saratoga Trunk still might be considered the bastard sister of Gone With The Wind (Max Steiner also did the music for Saratoga Trunk), but for me, it’s characters seem more real because of the part of my life lived in New Orleans. Ferber’s book arrived in 1941, but Margaret Mitchell’s had preceded it by several years. When Saratoga Trunk was filmed in 1943 (but not released until 1945), war-rationing made the fresh vegetables unavailable, so most of the produce viewers see in the market are fakes. What isn’t fake is the singing voice of Ingrid Bergman, which enchants us as well as Gary Cooper in his role as gambler Clint Maroon. Bergman’s vocals in this film are also one of its rarities. And every dimestore cowboy as well as Governor Goodhair, or former Texas politician Rick Perry, has done some form of imitation of the Texas cowboy Cooper portrayed in Saratoga Trunk, but none can compare.
Flora Robson, who was honored with an Oscar nomination for her role as Angelique Pluton, had also played Queen Elizabeth I in The Sea Hawk, and was adept at many kinds or roles, but she was one of many actors through the ages who have portrayed characters of other races. Her language and phrasing reminded me of the language I’d heard spoken as a child. French phrases and inflections peppered with a verbal sauce spicy as a bottle of Evangeline perpetualy floated like curious clouds of conversations all through the French Quarter of my childhood. (In Saratoga Trunk, it was the first time I’d ever heard the word “zumba!” on the silver screen.) The French phrases and Cajun intonations made Robson’s interpretation easier to believe, even though her eyebrows were some of the severest ones Max Factor, or in this case, Perc Westmore, ever created. Bergman’s eyebrows were also darker than in most of her other roles, and if scrutinied closely, a continuity issue exits from scene to scene. (Westmore touched up Bette Davis in Elizabeth and Essex, created the makeup for Quasimodo portrayed by Charles Laughton in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Robson’s own look as Queen Elizabeth I in The Sea Hawk.) Angelique, a creation of Ferber’s and screenwriter’s Casey Petersen’s design, was ultimately an exotic persona crafted by the talents of Flora Robson, who evinced a complicated soul of a former slave, and mother of a son who was afflicted with dwarfism, but was nonetheless beloved.


“Tell them there is someone on Rampart Street  now who is not afraid of them. Clio Dulaine, that’s me! I’m as good as they are.”

Jerry Austin, who plays Angelque’s son, Cupidon, was born in Russia, and had an uncredited part in Todd Browning’s Freaks, but his part in Saratoga Trunk was probably his most famous role.

Ingrid Bergman, Gary Cooper, Jerry Austin, and Flora Robson in Saratoga Trunk

Ingrid Bergman, Gary Cooper, Jerry Austin, and Flora Robson in Saratoga Trunkimage

Cupidon’s friendship with and admiration of Clint Maroon makes him endearing, and this film fascinated me because of his energetic performance and his ability to tweak the heart strings of viewers. His injuries in the film make it the peak of emotional turmoil as his death seems imminent. But there is a happy ending, and Austin is an integral part of the drama, which is unusual for character actors of his stature at the time. As one of the “little people” of classic cinema, Austin packs a powerful emotinal punch, and his moments on screen will charm you.

So for all it’s political correctness of its times, it is most probably incorrect for ours, but the unusual characters and the animal magnetism of Gary Cooper as a Texas gambler make this film one of Cooper’s most memorable because of the unique group of stock characters who defy the usual roles.

Lena Horne was seriously considered for the part of Clio Dulaine, but was ultimately unavailable as her studio would not lend her out for this part. I have no doubt she would have made Clio Dulaine as memorable a role as Ingrid Bergman did.

The 1941 novel, Saratoga Trunk, by Edna Ferber, is highly praised by Pablito Tortuguita on Amazon, and since it’s been decades since I’ve read it, I though I would share an in-depth review:

‘Saratoga Trunk’ tells a love story while evoking all the richness of three eras–Paris and New Orleans of the 1850s-1870s, the Gilded Age (or the Robber Baron period), and the early 20th century. It’s the story of Clio Dulaine and Clint Maroon, who begin an unconventional relationship in an unforgettable scene bursting with detail.

That detail–immediate and sensory as well as historical and nuanced–makes the novel as effective as the best period romances, because it supports the excellent characterization to create a believable story from improbable characters , they travel to Saratoga Springs in upstate New York and meet the movers and shakers of the Gilded Age.

Masterful prose–sparely elegant at times and incomparably lush at others–combined with sharply-drawn detail and fully rounded characters leads to a truly pleasurable experience. I completely recommend this book to anyone who wants to read a writer from the Golden Age of 20th-century American literature at the top of her form. Even So Big, for which the same author won a Pulitzer in 1924, is merely the equal of this novel.

And the film, produced in 1943 and screened for servicemen overseas, was not officially released until 1945 because the glut of WWII films had overwhelmed the cinematic marketplaces. Currently, however, the cllimate for this film may be tenuous at best because of its subject matter and how it was developed in the 1940s.
Ingrid Bergman, ever the actress seeking diverse roles to expand her repertoire and advance her career, played Clio Dulaine, an illegitimate half-black daughter of a Southern aristrocrat, and Flora Robson played Angelique, a mulatto servant, in blackface with eyebrows that would rival Margaret Hamilton’s in The Wizard of Oz. But for her valiant and effective efforts, Robson received the only Oscar nomination bestowed upon this film. The pairing of Bergman and Cooper, whose last pairing ran the Oscar nominations up to 9 in For Whom The Bell Tolls, repeated the same sort of electric chemistry that was, evidently, warmed over from their off-screen liasions.”

According to the TCM article on its website, ” In her autobiography co-authored with Alan Burgess, Ingrid Bergman: My Story, Bergman recalled being amazed at how close Cooper’s acting persona was to his real personality, though on-screen his true star potential was revealed. ‘The personality of this man was so enormous, so overpowering-and that expression in his eyes and his face, it was so delicate and so underplayed. You didn’t notice it until you saw it on the screen. I thought he was marvelous: the most underplaying and most natural actor I ever worked with.” And according to one comment Cooper made somewhere in my recollection, but as yet unverified for this article, after Cooper finished a film with Ingrid, he couldn’t get her on the phone. She just wouldn’t talk to him if they weren’t working together.

Considering the number Cooper did on Patricia Neal’s sanity, and the costumer Irene*, who committed suicide a year and a half after Cooper had died, that was a pretty savvy Swedish move.


I can still remember the sighs my mother made when I saw this film for the first time as an unsure, wobbly teenager. The camera takes a long, slow, languid persual of Gary Cooper as Clint Maroon from tip of his boots to the top of his white hat. And women of a certain age and perusasion in the 40s, right up until now, still swoon. All the major female characters in the film are in awe of his stature and handsome features, and Bergman’s manic-depressive Clio was obviously bewitched by the Maroon/Cooper electricity. Don’t believe me? Check it out. If you don’t swoon, you just ain’t human. Watch the initial meeting between Clio and Clint, and when Clint says to Clio,”Trying to teach me the English language? I’ll learn anything you say” and if your blood pressure doesn’t change, switch the channel or move on to the next entry in your DVR queue.

How much of this is acting?

How much of this is acting?

Even perennial battle-axe Florence Bates as Mrs. Bellhop charms us as she is affected by his charmisma as well. “And those hips!”:

The lush costumes, period jewelry and millinery designs are credited to Leah Rhodes, and are fraught with detailed notions, lace, and ribbons. One of Bergman’s ensembles also includes one of the cutest pleated aprons I’ve ever seen on the screen.


The sexually-charged, dramatic chemistry between Bergman and Cooper was part of the impetus for their second collaboration considering the fireworks they generated on For Whom the Bell Tolls, and you can’t take your eyes off of them while they adore each other in either film.

The “New Yawk” liberals and the politically correct may fry me in a hot vat of peanut oil because I sitll enjoy this film and these characters. I just hope they make sure I’m crisp.

*According to the IMDb entry for classic-era costume designer Irene, “Doris Day wrote in her 1975 autobiography that she got to know Irene quite well. One night after Irene had a few drinks, Irene told Day that the “love of her life” was Gary Cooper. On several other occasions Irene spoke about the intensity of her love for Cooper, and Day got the feeling that Irene had never mentioned this to anyone before her. Day wrote that today she honestly could not tell if they actually had or were having an affair, or if it was a one-sided love. Irene took her own life about a year and a half after Cooper’s death from cancer.”

Saratoga Trunk was not shown during Gary Cooper’s Summer Under The Stars Celebration 2015 on August 30, but was screened during Ingrid Bergman’s on August 28.

This post was created for Kristen Lopez’s Summer Under The Stars Blogathon on Journeys in Classic Film:


Turner Classic Film Database
Ingrid Bergman, My Story

Buzzfeed ignored Flora Robson in this article:

Scott Rollins Film and TV Trivia Blog:

Flora Robson, This Is Your Life, and her championing of Paul Robeson: reviews

Christy’s Inkwells: Florence Bates-“It’s A Grand Feeling” :

Photos from “THE MAKING OF GONE WITH THE WIND” exhibit at the Harry Ransom Center…

From September 9, 2014, to January 4, 2015, The Making of Gone With The Wind exhibit graced the Harry Ransom Center in Austin Texas, and included pieces from the 500 boxes of the David O. Selznick archives.

Christy with curator of the vast exhibit, Steve Wilson, and author of the museum exhibit book, The Making of Gone With The Wind.

Christy with curator of the vast exhibit, Steve Wilson, and author of the museum exhibit book, The Making of Gone With The Wind.

Banners at the entrance...

Banners at the entrance…

Collection of major players in the action covered an entire back wall of the exhibit...

Photo collection of major players in the action of the film covered an entire back wall of the exhibit…


Hattie McDaniel receiving her Oscar…



Margaret Mitchell at the premiere…


Actress Alicia Rhett, rumored to have been close to Clark Gable during filming....

Actress Alicia Rhett, rumored to have been close to Clark Gable during filming….

Who would it be?

Who would it be?

Twin brothers originally considered to play the Tarletons...

Twin brothers originally considered to play the Tarletons…




Letter to Harry B. Warner from David O. Selznick concerning Jezebel….


Letter to George Cukor from David O. Selznick…

Letter from California KKK to the filmakers....

Letter from California KKK to the filmmakers….

Concept art….

image Bonnie’s nursery…


imageFrom the burning of Atlanta….



imageThe most evocative sketch I saw was this concept sketch of Melanie’s room in Atlanta by Dorothea Holt. Most other sketches are by William Cameron Menzies or his team…

Original Walter Plunkett costume sketches….image



imageWedding dress recreation by a Catholic order of nuns…

Original costumes restored by Cara Varnell, who also conserved the Cowardly Lion costume from The Wizard of Oz auctioned last fall…


imageimageimage image



Glass-tiled wall adorning a corner of the Harry Ransom Center....

Glass-tiled wall adorning a corner of the Harry Ransom Center….

A poster from the film that I had never seen before. The photo doesn't do justice to the colors. (Visitors weren't allowed to use flash mode.)

A poster from the film that I had never seen before. The photo doesn’t do justice to the colors. (Visitors weren’t allowed to use flash mode.)


Bill Geist and his crew lunching and chatting with Gone With the Wind superfans…


The fabulous Bill Geist, from CBS Sunday Morning, and his assistant, Sara, came to Austin to chronicle the Gone With The Wind Superfans, and the segment aired December 21, 2014.

I met with all of the Gone With the Wind Superfans in October, and many attendees from all over the world at the exhibit from many different races, creeds, and nationalities, and I have attended other GWTW events in Georgia and Texas. In light of some of the negative press created concerning Margaret Mitchell’s book and the film of Gone With The Wind itself, I didn’t encounter any disgruntled exhibition visitors or anyone in favor of censorhip, nor did I find anyone wistful about the American institution of slavery or the lack of its continual celebration.  The fans I spoke with, and there were many, stated that the enduring quality of the characters, the beauty and talent of Vivien Leigh, the inspiration of Olivia De Havilland and Hattie McDaniel, and the sex appeal of Clark Gable accounted for continued interest in the book and film.

Leonard Maltin’s preview:

TCM Host Robert Osborne’s introduction to The Making of Gone With the Wind exhibition catalog:

Christy Putnam’s article concerning popular items at the exhibit:

Further archived articles concerning the exhibit:

Many documents can be viewed in detail at the above website. The exhibition catalog is available online at the HRH Center web.

Vivien Leigh and Lawrence Olivier in Atlanta....

Vivien Leigh and Lawrence Olivier in Atlanta….(from the Margaret Mitchell House Archive)