What I Won’t Be Seeing At The TCM Classic Film Festival 2017…

Since this is my eighth TCM Film Festival, I’ve come to expect certain things. I always love the excitement and the Wednesday get-togethers with dear friends the night before the festival begins. That won’t change.  Seeing familiar faces, opening the flood gates on my  cinephiliac stream-of-consciousness to dear friends I’ve known since April of 2010, and friends I’ve known even before the first festival. We chatted on the TCM Message Boards and The Slver Screen Oasis. That won’t change, either.


I know I won’t be able to see In The Heat of the Night with Lee Grant, Norman Jewison, Quincy Jones, Walter Mirisch, and Sidney Poitier in attendance, and I would have enjoyed seeing this ground-breaking film. Since I am credentialed media with many of my fellow writers, bloggers, photographers, and journalists from the Fourth Estate, I am only able to attend events that Classic pass holders have access to.  I might be visiting with TCM Film Festival Special Guests on the Red Carpet, or writing about the historic Hand and Footprint ceremony, the first time a father and a son (Carl and Rob Reiner!) will be honored in the forecourt of the TCM Chinese Theatre. Incidentally, the famous theatre was once owned by that flaming-haired actress Rhonda Fleming’s husband, Ted Mann.

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Fleming will be featured in a 3D presentation of Paramount’s Those Redheads From Seattle with Agnes Moorehead, and Teresa Brewer.  I’ll probably be there at the Friday night screening at the Chinese Multiplex 6. My other choice? Laura. Nitrate. ‘Nuff said.


I won’t be seeing anything but The Incident Saturday night. Martin Sheen made his screen debut in director Larry Peerce’s UK-banned drama of terrorized passenger on a subway ride from hell. Both Peerce and Bruce Goldstein will be in attendance. Sheen has been dropped from or hasn’t been added to the Special Guest list, so I probably won’t be seeing him there, but he had been previously announced in an email from TCM. (I checked again right before posting this article.) There just might be a special guest or two in the audience. 

UPDATE: Martin Sheen is listed on the official TCM Schedule as in attendance for the film, but still hasn’t been added to the Special Guest list.

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Rarely seen performances by Ruby Dee, Brock Peters, Jack Gilford, Martin Sheen, Beau Bridges, Ed McMahon, Donna Mills, and Thelma Ritter make The Incident a TCM Film Festival rarity.

What I won’t be seeing is Black Narcissus in nitrate. This conflict on my personal radar last screened at the festival with Thelma Schoonmaker. This season, its the nitrate version. Not sure who will be introducing this film on Friday at 9:30 in The Egyptian. But Black Narcissus is the film where Stewart Granger first spotted Jean Simmons and decided to seek her out.

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Kathleen Byron is witchy-spooky in this visual feast where Deborah Kerr first dons the nun’s habit with sincerity.

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I also won’t be seeing The Art of Subtitling, The Awful Truth, David and Lisa, or  The Great Dictator, and not because I don’t want to. I am seriously agonizing over this emotional slot in my “fest sked.” I find I am nervously vacillating and dithering over that Saturday afternoon nachtmahr:  The Last Picture Show, Rear Window, or the Michael Douglas interview.

All the other films I won’t see sort of pale in comparison to the tough choices. Laura in nitrate seems a must. So does Dr. Strangelove, Stalag 17, and The Jerk because I have a family member in attendance for these screenings. Festival presenters, besides the popular Ben Mankiewicz and Illeana Douglas, like author and historian Jeremy Arnold (Some Like It Hot) and author, historian, and documentarian Cari Beauchamp (Red-Headed Woman, The Palm Beach Story, Beat The Devil, David and Lisa, So This Is Paris) make the pre-screening intros fascinating and worth our undivided attention. Australian Alicia Malone is someone I have not seen present at the festival yet, but I predict  Dana Delany will be a popular guest for her intro to Love Crazy. There seem to be more historians, preservationists, and esteemed authors in attendance than ever before. Pass holders are fortunate. Fabulous celebrities and special guests make the screenings an exciting event every hour of the long-awaited-for schedule.

The most emotionally wrenching aspect of this TCM Film Festival is that we will not see TCM Host Robert Osborne. But pass holders will be able to “group-grieve”and attend a special memorial tribute to the man that gave his passion to his viewers and classic film lovers through his affiliation with Turner Classic Movies. Memorial tributes to Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds have also been planned.

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It is indeed serendipitous that Debbie Reynolds, who advised Robert Osborne to choose a cable channel hosting position with TCM, and Osborne, who ultimately steered TCM to its 20th Anniversary in 2014, left their fans in the same year.

What will I be seeing? The tribute to Robert Osborne on Thursday.

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Let’s just pretend Debbie and Robert are waiting in the Green Room, preparing their opening lines, and checking their makeup.

Tribute to Robert Osborne: Thursday, 12:30 p.m., Chinese Multiplex House 1

Tribute screening to Debbie Reynolds with Todd Fisher in attendance: Singin’In The Rain, Sunday, 4:30, Chinese Theatre IMAX

Tribute screening to Carrie Fisher: Postcards from the Edge, Sunday, 2 p.m., Chinese Multiplex House 1

TCM Film Festival pass holders will be toasting and raising a glass or two to Robert, Debbie, and Carrie all over town. Join them in remembrance at Musso & Franks, or the Pig N’Whistle, or wherever you happen to be with friends during our annual time to  celebrate the classics. They would want us to “Sing In The Sunshine.”

 

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TCM Film Festival Memories Entice Pass Holders To Return In Larger Numbers Every Year…

TCM Film Festival Pass Holders always find the last two months before a festival begins to be anxiety-driven. What other films will be screened? Who will our special guests be? What kind of panels will be organized for club TCM? Which film will be the opening night Gala Premiere on Thursday? 


This year, festival fun unofficially begins with arriving passholders from all over the country and the world on Tuesday and Wednesday. Pass holders coming to the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel and other nearby accommodations eventually populate all the  lodgings,  restaurants, and entertainment venues near the center of activity on Hollywood Boulevard.


Social media bloggers and tweeters start spreading the news about their arrival, their planned screenings, and their friends before they even touch down at LAX.


Will pass holders experience some of the glory from previous festivals, like interviews with Betty Garrett and Esther Williams (with the Aqualillies) in 2010?


Will we run into anyone who actually attended Hollywood High and went on to have a high profile career in the entertainment industry?


Will we reconnect with our earlier values concerning The Bill of Rights and The Constitution once we watch a screening of Born Yesterday with Bill Holden and Billie Holliday? 

What screening will prove to be the sleeper hit of the festival? 

Will we unexpectedly find friends attending a Film Noir Festival event at The Egyptian?

Will we meet new friends while we watch the Red Carpet Guests?


Will me make new contacts while lining up for our favorite films?

Will Club TCM be where we meet that special someone?

Will we learn about new film books we want to read? Will there be some new book signings?



How many folks coming to the festival have never been there before? How many have been every year?

All that and more will soon be revealed in less than two months!
What do we know for sure?  


We’ve got a Peter Bogdanovich tribute and The Last Picture Show, as well as What’s Up Doc!
We’ve got Genevieve Bujold and King of Hearts!
Wonderful Kate MacMurray returns to introduce her father’s film with Claudette Colbert, The Egg & I.

“The fest also will showcase several world premiere restoration screenings, anniversary screenings and live music events.
Oscar nominees Peter Bogdanovich and Genevieve Bujold will be among the special guests. The fest will take place in Hollywood April 6-9.

Bogdanovich, the legendary writer, director and film historian, will appear at screenings of his films The Last Picture Show (1971) and What’s Up, Doc? (1972), while Bujold will introduce the U.S. restoration of King of Hearts (1966) in which she stars. Also in attendance at the fest will be Kate MacMurray, the daughter of the late actor Fred MacMurray, who will be part of the festivities surrounding the 70th anniversary world premiere of a restored version of her father’s film The Egg and I (1947).

Other special offerings include world premiere restoration screenings of The Court Jester (1955) and, in 3D, Those Redheads From Seattle (1955); 75th anniversary screenings of Arsenic and Old Lace (1944) and The Palm Beach Story (1942); screenings of pre-Code classics The Front Page (1931), Red-Headed Woman (1932) and Twentieth Century (1934); and two special presentations: The Great Nickelodeon Show and Beyond the Mouse: The 1930s Cartoons of UB IWerks.
Additionally, there will be special live music events: the Alloy Orchestra will return to the fest to accompany a screening of the Harold Lloyd classic Speedy (1928), while composer-musician Stephen Horne and musician Diana Rowan will accompany a screening of Stella Dallas (1925).

And don’t forget about upcoming Fathom Events on Sunday, February 12, and Wednesday, February 15, with Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr in Leo McCarey’s An Affair to Remember.

Australian Classic Film Superfan John Sambuco Visits TCM Studios in Atlanta!

Australian classic film superfan John Sambuco spent the day of September 27 as a special international guest in the TCM Studios in Atlanta. Sambuco had been on an extended visit to the U.S.A. during the month of September, and when TCM staff heard he would be in Atlanta, he was invited to spend the day touring the studios with TCM staffers.

When did you first find out that you would be able to visit the TCM Studios?

About a week before I arrived in Atlanta. At the time I was visiting Washington, D.C.

Was the studio anything like you expected?
The studio was a lot bigger than I expected it to be. It was so exciting so to see so many people in one place, who are so passionate about classic film. Everyone had classic film posters and books around their desk. I found it to be such an inspiring working environment.

Did you get to have lunch with the staff?



Yes, I had lunch in the canteen with some of the staff members. During lunch, I tried sweet potato pie for the first time. This is something which isn’t commonly found in Australia.


John Sambuco outside Turner Studios in late September

Who met you and greeted you for the tour?
Two wonderful members of the social media team, Noralil Fores & Marya Gates. They both took me on an insightful tour of the office and studio.

Turner Studios, Atlanta….

Did you have a chance to meet TCM Host Ben Mankiewicz?
Ben was in the studio filming some introductions for the up-coming Christopher Lee star of the month. During a short break on the set, Ben introduced himself to me.

Did you meet the director?
Yes, briefly. The director was very kind allowing me to watch the filming shoot.

What are some of your favorite classic films? Genres?
My favorite genres are MGM musicals, film noir, and screwball comedies. I have so many favorite classic films. I’ll list a few which are:

Meet Me In St. Louis(1944) – One of very few films which I would describe as “flawless”. Everything is perfect. The pacing, the direction, the cast. Margaret O’Brien literally steals every scene she is in.
The Wizard of Oz (1939) – the film which I think I’ve seen the most. As a child, I literally watched this a few times each week. Almost 80 years later, adults and children are still enjoying this brilliant film. This film truly exemplifies the word “Timeless.”
Gone With The Wind (1939) – Possibly the greatest example of storytelling on film. I’ve seen this film more than 30 times, and continue to be entertained with each viewing. Vivien Leigh, Hattie McDaniel & Olivia de Havilland were all perfectly cast. On my visit to Atlanta, I also visited the Margaret Mitchell House, where Margaret Mitchell wrote most of the novel. Inside there are exhibits about the making of the movie as well as the film’s  premiere in Atlanta.
Kiss Me, Kate (1953) – In my opinion, this is the most underrated MGM musical. The film introduced me to the magic of Ann Miller, who soon became (and still is) my favourite classic movie star. Ann Miller literally steals the film from the rest of the cast. The Cole Porter songs are all wonderful. “Too Darn Hot” is my favourite musical number from a movie musical. I was fortunate enough to see the film in 3D a few months ago at ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image) in Melbourne, Australia. It was a completely different experience to the standard 2D version. If you ever have the opportunity to see this in 3D at a theatre, I cannot recommend it enough.

I know that TCM in Australia has very different programming from its counterpart in the U.S.A. What would you like the American audience to know about TCM?

The American TCM audience is so fortunate to have such a wonderful network showing such a broad spectrum of classic films, with very exciting themed programming. I wish I had the ability to access the American TCM channel from Australia.

If you could introduce a film, what would you choose and why?

The Lady Vanishes (1938) –
Alfred Hitchcock is my favourite director, and this is my favourite Alfred Hitchcock film.

Although it was filmed very early in Hitchcock’s career, I love the way Hitchcock seamlessly integrates suspense, comedy, mystery, action and romance. All would become critical elements in his later work.

Whilst I know what is going to happen next, I find I always experience the same level of suspense and tension as I did the first time I saw the film. It’s the perfect film for the repeat film viewer.

Why did you became so interested in classic films?
I first discovered classic film when I was 14 years old during the late 1990s. The Bride Came C.O.D. (1941) was the first classic film (aside from The Wizard Of Oz (1939) I had watched. It was 1998. I was 14 years old, and home unwell from school. This was being shown on TCM in Australia. I was bored, and there wasn’t much else on, so I gave it a shot. After seeing this, I became hooked on not only Bette Davis, but classic films in general. My other favourite Bette Davis films include, Now, Voyager (1942), The Letter (1940), Jezebel (1938), All About Eve (1950) & What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? (1961).

For me, classic films had a magical element which I felt was lacking in contemporary films. Classic film stars were naturally glamorous, and they knew how to act. For the first time ever, watching a film became more than just entertainment. For me, it was an experience. The fusion of music, lighting and the performances in these films gave me goosebumps, which always left me wanting more.

Do you have any theatres in your city which screen classic films?

Yes, in Melbourne, Australia (where I live), there are two theatres which regularly screen classic film:

ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image) – ACMI is a film museum and theatre complex, which celebrates the moving image and brings many wonderful film exhibits to the city. Earlier in the year, ACMI displayed a retrospective of costumes by Orry-Kelly, and also hosted a Scorsese exhibition, which I heard will be coming to the Museum of Moving Image in New York next year.

The Astor Theatre – The Astor Theatre is a historic art-deco theatre from the 1930s, which still regularly shows classic films as part of its repertory programming. The Astor is my favourite place to watch movies, and over the years it’s given me the opportunity to see many of my favourite films on the big screen.

 

Do you enjoy classic Italian cinema?

I am Italian-Australian, so I have also have a big interest in classic Italian cinema. My favourite Italian film is Federico Fellini’s Amarcord (1973). I love the way he has accurately captured all of the characters from a typical Italian village, and respectfully presented them in a comedic form. The score by Nino Rota is one of my favourite film scores. I have shown the film to my grandparents who immigrated from Italy, and they indicated it is a very accurate portrayal of life in an Italian village during the 1940s.

Some of my other favourite Italian films include Il Decameron (1971), Rocco And His Brothers (1960), La Dolce Vita (1960), Pane, Amore e Fantasia (Bread, Love and Dreams) (1953) and Tenebrae (1982).

A Cinecittá studios photo of John Sambuco from Rome, Italy. The sculpture in the background is a prop from the opening sequence of Fellini’s Casanova

On a recent trip to Rome, I was lucky enough to visit the classic Cinecittà film studios, which was very interesting. They have exhibits on the history of the Italian film industry, as well as a room dedicated to Fellini. Benito Mussolini originally built Cinecittà as a means to communicate fascist propaganda to the Italians, many of whom were illiterate during the 1930s. Popularity with the medium of film led to the growth of the industry, and the eventual development of the neorealist movement.
John visited the Margaret Mitchell House…

Zoo Atlanta…


The Aquarium…..

Centennial Park…
And many more sites of interest.
All photos provided by Australaian Superfan,  John Sambuco.

Thanks, John!

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: https://journeysinclassicfilm.com/2016/07/14/the-2016-tcm-summer-under-the-stars-blogathon/



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:
MISTER BUDDWING (1966)

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 .

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

HOW SWEET IT IS (1968)

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 .

ACTION ON THE BEACH (1964)

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

AMERICANIZATION OF EMILY, THE (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 .

THRILL OF IT ALL, THE (1963)
 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 .

HOUR OF THE GUN (1967)
 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 

SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL SHERIFF! (1969)
A cowboy drifts into a lawless town and brings things back together.

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

GREAT ESCAPE, THE (1963)

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 .

GRAND PRIX (1966)
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 .

RECOMMENDED: 
“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:
http://mercurie.blogspot.com/2014/07/the-late-great-james-garner-true.html

TCM’s Summer Under The Stars biography of that “lovable rogue:”
http://summer.tcm.com/day-27/james-garner/bio

Classic Film Observations and Obsessions: http://classicfilmobsessions.blogspot.com/2016/08/james-garner-in-hour-of-gun-western.html
Outspoken and Freckled: http://kelleepratt.blogspot.com/2014/03/james-garner-as-maverick-1957-1960.html
A Person in the Dark:
http://flickchick1953.blogspot.com/2015/03/the-cinemascope-blogathon-move-over.html

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.
SOME SUGGESTIONS FROM THE LINKDOM OF MYSTERIOUS ISLAND:
Synopsis courtesy of…. http://www.cinematicautopsy.com/2011/11/mysterious-island-1961blu-raytwilight.html
Ken Turner on Ray Harryhausen’s legacy: http://kenturner.blogspot.com/2013/05/ken-turner-blog-series-influences-and_10.html
21 Essays devotion to the music of Ray Harryhausen: http://21essays.blogspot.com/search/label/Mysterious%20Island
Journalist Brian Sibley discusses the London exhibition celebrating Ray Harryhausen: http://briansibleysblog.blogspot.com/2010_06_01_archive.html
Selected screenshots from “Mysterious Island” highlighting Ray Harryhausen’s special effects: http://ukanimation.blogspot.com/2013/06/ray-harryhausen-in-uk-mysterious-island.html
Cinema Retro reviews the Blu-ray: http://www.cinemaretro.com/index.php?/archives/6632-BLU-RAY-REVIEW-MYSTERIOUS-ISLAND-1961-TWILIGHT-TIME-LIMITED-EDITION.html
What Jeff Stafford said about “Mysterious Island” on the TCM Database: http://www.tcm.com/this-month/article/246633%7C28071/Mysterious-Island.html
 Crazy Film Guy Blogspot: http://crazyfilmguy.blogspot.com/2012/07/mysterious-island-1961.html

TCM FILM FESTIVAL PASS HISTORY—A few updates….

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!”

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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.
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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.

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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.
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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.

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“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.
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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.

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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.

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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: http://journeysinclassicfilm.com

Resources:

IMDb
Turner Classic Film Database
Ingrid Bergman, My Story

Buzzfeed ignored Flora Robson in this article: http://www.buzzfeed.com/arianelange/10-times-white-actors-played-people-of-color#.pvbEVBvXR

Scott Rollins Film and TV Trivia Blog: http://cscottrollins.blogspot.com/2015/03/flora-robson-queen-of-character-acting.html

Flora Robson, This Is Your Life, and her championing of Paul Robeson: http://www.bigredbook.info/flora_robson.html

Amazon.com reviews

Christy’s Inkwells: Florence Bates-“It’s A Grand Feeling” : https://suesueapplegate.wordpress.com/2013/11/10/florence-bates-its-a-grand-feeling/