About Jnpickens

Classic film lover and reporter in North Carolina.

Musical Monday: Maytime (1937)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 600. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

maytimeThis week’s musical:
Maytime (1937) – Musical #234

Studio:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director:
Robert Z. Leonard

Starring:
John Barrymore, Jeanette MacDonald, Nelson Eddy, Herman Bing, Tom Brown, Lynne Carver, Rafaela Ottiano, Charles Judels, Paul Porcasi, Sig Ruman, Walter Kingsford, Billy Gilbert (uncredited), Leonid Kinskey (uncredited),

Plot:
Marcia Mornay (MacDonald) is a rising opera star, whose climb to fame was aided and nurtured by her voice teacher and manager Nicolai Nazaroff (Barrymore). Marcia accepts a marriage proposal from Nicolai as a thanks for all that he has done for her. After becoming engaged, Marcia meets singer Paul Allison (Eddy) and the two fall in love.

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Musical Monday: Gentlemen Marry Brunettes (1955)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 600. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

This week’s musical:
Gentlemen Marry Brunettes (1955) – Musical #51

brunettes

Studio:
United Artists

Director:
Richard Sale

Starring:
Jane Russell, Jeanne Crain, Scott Brady, Alan Young, Guy Middleton,
Himself: Rudy Vallee

Plot:
Sisters Bonnie (Russell) and Connie (Crain) are performers with a problem: Bonnie can never say no to a marriage proposal. When the sisters receive an offer to perform in Paris, they head to Europe where they learn that their mothers, Mitzi and Mimi, were performers who took Paris by storm in the 1920s. Rudy Vallee tries to build the girls up to match the fame of their mothers.

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Musical Monday: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 600. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

gentleman prefer blondesThis week’s musical:
Gentleman Prefer Blondes – Musical #208

Studio:
20th Century Fox

Director:
Howard Hawks

Starring:
Marilyn Monroe, Jane Russell, Charles Coburn, Elliott Reid, Tommy Noonan, George Winslow, Marcel Dalio, Taylor Holmes, Norma Varden, Harry Carey Jr. (uncredited), George Chakiris (uncredited), Robert Fuller (uncredited), Matt Mattox (uncredited), Julie Newmar (uncredited)

Plot:
Lorelei Lee (Monroe) is engaged to a wealthy man (Noonan), whose father disapproves; believing she’s a gold digger. Lorelei and her friend Dorothy Shaw (Russell) travel to Paris, followed by a private detective (Reid), who is watching Lorelei on behalf of her fiancé. Along the way, they look for wealthy men and love.

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Musical Monday: Lovely to Look At (1952)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 600. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

lovely to look at2This week’s musical:
Lovely to Look At (1952) – Musical #705

Studio:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director:
Mervyn LeRoy

Starring:
Howard Keel, Kathryn Grayson, Red Skelton, Marge Champion, Gower Champion, Ann Miller, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Kurt Kasznar, Marcel Dalio

Plot:
Broadway producers — Al Marsh (Skelton), Tony Naylor (Keel) and Jerry Ralby (Gower Champion) — are trying to raise capital for their new show. Just as they are about to give up, Marsh learns that he inherits a fashion house in France after his Aunt Roberta passes away. The three travel to France, to sell Marsh’s portion of the fashion house to earn capital for their show. The plan backfires when they learn the business is financially not doing well. The three stay on to help Stephanie (Grayson) and Clarisse (Marge Champion) get the business back up on its feet.

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TCMFF highlights and genuine happiness

The last few months I’ve been restless. Nothing made me happy, and the things that generally lifted my spirits didn’t.

I’m not unique. For all of us, the last few years have been tough. For some reason, the start of 2022 felt harder than the rest. I needed a change; some respite.

Enter 10 days off work and a week in Hollywood. This is probably the longest I’ve taken off work … ever. And while I knew I missed traveling to places further than driving distance and desperately wanted to hug my online friends (who I hadn’t seen since 2019), I don’t think I realized just how much I needed the trip to Hollywood for the Turner Classic Movies Classic Film Festival (TCMFF).

Someone commented that I was smiling so big in all of my photos. And they’re right. For the first time in quite a while, I was genuinely happy.

“Come Together Now” was the perfect theme for the festival as I was able to laugh with my friends in person for the first time since 2019. Seeing friends, watching movies in a theater together, interviewing stars. It was a busy week and I didn’t get a lot of sleep … but the hugs and joy and laughter were energizing. I was fueled by happiness.

When I returned home and friends asked how my trip was, I could say with sincerity, “I had the best time.”

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TCMFF Musical Monday: It’s Always Fair Weather (1955)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 600. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

This week’s musical:
It’s Always Fair Weather – Musical #150

Studio:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director:
Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly

Starring:
Gene Kelly, Dan Dailey, Cyd Charisse, Michael Kidd, Dolores Gray, David Burns, Jay C. Flippen, Madge Blake (uncredited)

Plot:
After serving in World War II, three Army pals — Ted Riley (Kelly), Doug Hallerton (Dailey) and Angie Valentine (Kidd) — promise to continue to stay friends and meet 10 years later. When they meet again, they find themselves changed and living entirely different lives. Doug and Angie have settled down with families, and Ted is living a fast life with gambling and women.

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Musical Monday: Breakfast in Hollywood (1946)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 600. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

breakfast in hollywood2This week’s musical:
Breakfast in Hollywood (1946) – Musical #704

Studio:
United Artists

Director:
Harold D. Schuster

Starring:
Bonita Granville, Beaulah Bondi, Billie Burke, Raymond Walburn, Zasu Pitts, Edward Ryan,
Themselves: Tom Breneman, Hedda Hopper, Spike Jones, Andy Russell, The King Trio, Anna Le Seur, Ida Beneman, Alice Cooper

Plot:
Several people attend the “Breakfast in Hollywood” radio program, hosted by Tom Breneman (himself):
• Dorothy Larson (Granville) who is looking for her solider fiancée, who she hasn’t heard from
• Elderly Mrs. Annie Reed (Bondi), who has no one to look after her
• Plain Mrs. Frances Cartwright (Burke) who’s husband (Walburn) is stepping out on her
• Elvira Spriggens (Pitts), who desperately wants to win the radio’s crazy hat contest.
While all of seemingly only attending the program for fun, each of them has an experience that follows that alters their life.

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The kindness of strangers

I was 24 and a broke reporter.

I often could barely afford to eat after paying my rent, but I somehow saved enough money throughout the year to travel to Los Angeles, Calif. for the 2013 Turner Classic Movies Classic Film Festival. It was my first time traveling alone on a plane, and I was heading out without much of a plan. My mom was a nervous wreck, which I shrugged off. Now I understand why.

Nine years later, the night before I head out to Hollywood for the first time in three years, I can’t help but think of that first trek across the country by myself. Now, I like to be organized and well planned. But in 2013, extreme youth was on my side. I wasn’t thinking about much other than meeting Robert Osborne and online friends in person. I hadn’t considered things like how I would get into Hollywood once I landed at LAX or how I would afford to eat.

But somehow my chaotic, unplanned adventure went okay, because I floated by on the kindness of people who were strangers at the time. In a way, this is a thank you to those folks (who now are friends), who helped out a greenhorn traveler:
• One person and his wife landed in LAX around the same time I did. They invited me to ride into Hollywood with them.
• I was staying with a friend (who I hadn’t met yet), who was kind enough to open her home to some rando from Twitter.
• While I waited for my friend to get home from work, another friend let me freshen up in her hotel room.
• My cousin helped me get to the airport on the way home.

It was all such a whirlwind. I arrived in Hollywood on a Thursday, the same day the festival began, and within a matter of hours was with online friends watching SOUTH PACIFIC (1958) poolside at the Roosevelt Hotel, introduced by Ben Mankiewicz, Mitzi Gaynor and France Nuyen.

And I did meet Robert Osborne. He introduced a screening of THE DESERT SONG (1943). At that time, the film hadn’t been seen in 50 years (it’s now on DVD). Robert stayed and watched the movie, and he was kind enough to take a photo with me after, even though he was in a hurry.

See y’all in Hollywood again for the first time since 2019.

robert osborne

Though Robert Osborne can not attend the festival this year, he will be in our hearts and thoughts. #GetWellBob I’m pictured here with Mr. Osborne in 2013.

Comet in Hollywood: Turner Classic Movies Classic Film Festival 2022

2019 red carpet

At the 2019 TCMF

For the first time in two years, the Turner Classic Movies Classic Film Festival is returning to Hollywood as an in-person event.

When the 2019 film festival ended, all of us were hugging and promising to see each other next year. Of course, none of us knew what lay ahead. For two years, Turner Classic Movies kept fans engaged with an “At-Home” edition in 2020 and 2021.

Below are ways to follow my Hollywood adventures:
• Twitter: @HollywoodComet
• Instagram: @HollywoodComet
• Facebook: Facebook.com/CometOverHollywood

I’ll also be logging the films I watched on Letterboxd: https://letterboxd.com/HollywoodComet/

What I am most looking forward to for the 2022 TCM Classic Film Festival:
Reuniting with my friends. Truthfully, this is what I’m most looking forward to. Since I started this website in 2009 and since I started attending the film festival in 2013, I’ve made several friends along the way. While we have continued to keep touch online, I haven’t seen any of these friends since 2019. I am so excited to see everyone!

Paula Abdul introducing SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN (1952). I have been a Paula Abdul fan since I was two or three, hearing my sisters jam to her cassette tapes — “Forever Your Girl” is a great album. Abdul is also a talented tap dancer, so it would be interesting to hear her thoughts on one of the best dancing films ever made. If I can make this screening (it looks like I have some tough decisions to make), I’d love to see her speak.

DINER (1982). I’m most looking forward to new-to-me film experiences. And I haven’t seen this film. It should be a good time with the special guests associated — and screening at the beautiful American Legion Theater!

Film discoveries. There are some other films on the schedule I’m not familiar with, such as FLY-BY-NIGHT (1942), EVENINGS FOR SALE (1932), I, THE JURY (1953) and others.

Going to a midnight movie. The past few years, I’ve skipped the midnight screenings and gone to bed. I think I’ll reconsider that this time.

Ben Burtt and Craig Barron presentations. I’m embarrassed to say I have never attended one of their presentations! But after watching the featurette they made for the 2021 At-Home TCMFF for CHAIN LIGHTNING (1950), I knew I needed to remedy that. Hope to catch one of their screenings!

If you are attending, I look forward to seeing you in Hollywood!

tcmff22

Musical Monday: Easter Parade (1948)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 600. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

This week’s musical:
Easter Parade (1948) – Musical #31

Studio:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director:
Charles Walters

Starring:
Fred Astaire, Judy Garland, Ann Miller, Peter Lawford, Jules Munshin, Clinton Sundberg, Lola Albright (uncredited), Joi Lansing (uncredited), Jimmie Dodd (uncredited)

Plot:
When Nadine Hale (Miller) decides to leave her act with Don Hewes (Astaire), Don bets that he can find a new partner who can perform just as well as she does. Don finds Hannah Brown (Garland) performing in a pub and trains her to become a top-notch performer.

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