Five years of the Turner Classic Movies Classic Film Festival

Each year when I return from the Turner Classic Movies Classic Film Festival (TCMFF), I have a hard time articulating the experience.

“How was your trip? Who did you see?”, friends and coworkers ask.

I practically stutter like Porky Pig as films I watched and classic stars I clapped for swirl in my head like a kaleidoscope, thinking “Where do I begin?” The same thing happens when I try to put into words here about this extraordinary festival. So many exciting things happen over the span of three and a half days that it can be difficult to put your arms around it to begin to describe it: Tearing up as 100-year-old Marsha Hunt was interviewed by Eddie Muller, standing inches away from former child star Claude Jarman, Jr. as I interviewed him on the red carpet, excitedly hugging and catching up with friends I only see once a year at the festival.

The 2018 TCMFF festival was my fifth time attending. The festival began in 2010, and my first year was in 2013. I have attended every year since, except I, unfortunately, was unable to attend the 2017 festival due to other obligations.

Covering the red carpet for the 2018 Turner Classic Movies Film Festival

TCMFF 2018 was full of firsts for me. It was my first year covering the red carpet arrivals (a separate post to come on this), my first time seeing a movie at the Cinerama Dome, and the first time my boyfriend, Brandon, attended the festival (and his first time in California). I even skipped all midnight screenings so I could sleep, something I generally don’t do. I also had the opportunity to visit the American Society of Cinematographers clubhouse with TCM Backlots, which was an amazing experience.

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Hooray for Hollywood: Turner Classic Movies Classic Film Festival 2018

The Turner Classic Movies Classic Film Festival is a paradise for classic film fans.

After not being able to attend the 2017 festival, I have returned for my fifth TCM Film Fest. Throughout the festival, I will be sharing photos, short videos and tweeting quotes or facts shared during film interviews. I even hope to get in a couple of blog posts during the festival.

Outside the Hollywood Roosevelt, April 2018

Here’s how you can follow me:

· Twitter: @HollywoodComet

· Instagram: @HollywoodComet

· Facebook: Facebook.com/CometOverHollywood

For my top festival picks, I’m most looking forward to:

· Seeing actress Nancy Kwan, who I have been a fan of for awhile.

· The film “None Shall Escape” (1944) with guest star Marsha Hunt. I’m a fan of Miss Hunt and have never seen this film.

· A Star is Born (1937) on Nitrate. This is my favorite version of this story and it will be gorgeous on Nitrate film.

· Seeing fellow film fans and friends and discussing classic films with them!

Turner Classic Movies Classic Film Festival 2016: The Films

It’s hard to believe that it’s been more than a week since I flew out to Los Angeles for my fifth Hollywood visit and fourth Turner Classic Movies Film Festival (TCMFF).

Ready to cover the festival on Thursday night.

Ready to cover the festival on Thursday night.

Last year, my parents joined me for the TCMFF, but this year I traveled solo for the event. I originally announced that I wouldn’t be attending TCMFF this year. Two weeks prior, I was in Washington, D.C. for a Bernard Herrmann festival and wasn’t sure if I could swing it. However, everything happily worked out and I was heading back to Cali-for-i-A again and humming “Going Hollywood.”

I arrived on the Wednesday the day before the festival started, giving me the opportunity to attend a book signing of the film fashion book “Creating the Illusion” by Jay Jorgensen and Donald Scoggins. I was most excited about this presentation because it was held at the Hollywood Heritage Museum, which is located in the Laskey-DeMille Barn. Built in 1913, the barn was one of the first studios in Hollywood. In 2006, I tried to visit the museum but it was closed.

The museum had interesting pieces of memorabilia such as Marion Davies’ doll collection, a costume from the 1925 Ben-Hur, and the Charlie Chaplin outfit Gloria Swanson wore in Sunset Blvd.

Marion Davies' doll collection at the Hollywood Heritage Museum.

Marion Davies’ doll collection at the Hollywood Heritage Museum.

The festival ran from Thursday, April 28 through Sunday, May 1. TCMFF begins in the evening on Thursday with two film slots. There is also a red carpet event where the celebrities attending the festival walk the red carpet before the opening film, which was “All the President’s Men.”

This year, I skipped the first and two films to watch the red carpet attendees and was able to see:

  • Former child star, Darryl Hickman
  • Actor, producer Norman Lloyd
  • Former child star, Ted Donaldson
  • Actress Lee Meriwether
  • Actor and former TCM Essentials host, Alec Baldwin
  • Actress Katharine Houghton
  • Director Roger Corman
  • Actor Louis Gossett
  • Chris Lemmon, son of Jack Lemmon
  • Italian actress Gina Lollobrigdia
Darryl Hickman on the red carpet (Photo: Jessica Pickens)

Darryl Hickman on the red carpet (Photo: Jessica Pickens)

Gina Lollobrigdia on the red carpet (Photo: Jessica P.)

Gina Lollobrigdia on the red carpet (Photo: Jessica P.)

Lee Meriwether on the red carpet.

Lee Meriwether on the red carpet.

The films I saw during throughout the festival included:

    • Los Tallos Amargos (1956)—An Argentinian noir. The title translates to “The Bitter Stems”
    • He Ran All the Way (1951)—John Garfield’s last film before his 1952 death
    • When You’re in Love (1937)—World premiere restoration with special guest Jennifer Grant, Cary Grant’s daughter
    • Batman (1966)—with special guests Lee Meriwether and Adam West
    • Manchurian Candidate (1962)—with special guest Angela Lansbury
    • Roar (1981)—Midnight screening of Tippi Hedren Film
    • 90th anniversary of Vitaphone—A presentation on the dawn of sound and 7 shorts
    • The Long Goodbye (1972)—with special guest Elliot Gould
    • Band of Outsiders (1964)—with special guest Anna Karina
    • Gog (1953)—Midnight showing of 3D restoration
    • One Potato, Two Potato (1964)—with special guest director Larry Peerce
    • Network (1976)—with special guest Faye Dunaway

Favorites:
Of these films, my favorites were “The Long Goodbye” (1972) and “One Potato, Two Potato,” but neither of these were new discoveries for me. In fact, I just watched both in February and March 2016. However, I enjoyed so much on my television that I wanted to revisit both on the big screen, and I don’t regret it. My TV in my apartment is quite small, and when I watched “The Long Goodbye,” I felt like I missed some important nuances at the beginning. The film was gorgeous on the big screen in 35mm, and I loved seeing it with an audience, especially when they started to chuckle when a very young Arnold Schwarzenegger appears in an early role. It was equally cool to see this screening because Elliott Gould was interviewed prior to the film and I also saw him interviewed at Club TCM an hour before.

Elliott Gould interviewed by Alec Baldwin at the Roosevelt Hotel. (Photo/Jessica P.)

Elliott Gould interviewed by Alec Baldwin at the Roosevelt Hotel. (Photo/Jessica P.)

“One Potato, Two Potato” is a very simple film but has a message that’s more powerful than almost any other film I have ever seen. While I was crushed at the ending when I watched it on my TV, I was sobbing in the movie theater.

Of those new-to-me favorites, I really enjoyed “When You’re in Love” with Cary Grant and Grace Moore because it was a fun and humorous musical romp. The 90 years of Vitaphone screening is also in my top two favorite festival moments. Audiences had the opportunity to see Vitaphone shorts that hadn’t been viewed in 87 years! My favorites of the seven shorts were the comedic duo, the Beau Brummels and Baby Rose Marie (who you may know from the Dick Van Dyke Show) singing her heart out. I also really enjoyed “Roar” (1981). It was so bizarre and disturbing, but I also have never laughed so much during a film while not being certain if I should laugh or not. It’s incredibly difficult to describe how you feel while watching it, so I suggest looking it up.

Least Favorites:

Anna Karina with Ben Mankiewicz

Anna Karina with Ben Mankiewicz

Of all the films I watched, I wasn’t a fan of “Band of Outsiders,” which is probably an unpopular opinion. Of the French New Wave filmmakers, I’m a François Truffaut fan (who also used Bernard Herrmann as a composer) and not so much Jean-Luc Godard. It was awesome to see Anna Karina but the film to me dragged. I guess some people would automatically say “It’s because you didn’t get it” because I feel like it’s one of those films people say they liked just to sound smart. But I fell asleep and didn’t feel like I missed much. I also was pretty surprised when Anna Karina said it took three weeks for her male co-stars to learn “The Madison” dance. Maybe it’s because I’m a dancer, but it looked like a dance that anyone could learn in a day.

Films I Regret Not seeing:
There are some time slots that I regret eating during. I most regret missing “Private Property” (1960) because I was eating lunch. Other films landed during films or presentations I was attending. I hate that I missed “A House Divided” (1931), Bulldog Drummond Strikes Back (1934), Buena Sera, Mrs. Campbell (1968), the documentary “Harold and Lillian,” “I’ve Always Loved You” (1946) and “Repeat Performance” (1947).

Many TCMFF fans missed the 1933 pre-code “Double Harness” starring William Powell and Ann Harding and I was almost shocked by the popularity. It’s a great film and has been shown frequently on TCM since it was restored in April 2007 with several other presumed to be lost films such as Rafter Romance, One Man’s Journey and Stingaree. I guess I figured most TCM viewers had watched it in the past, especially because it aired a few months back during the pre-code festival on TCM. FYI: It’s airing Friday, May 27, at 11 a.m. ET.

Director Francis Ford Coppola during his hand and foot print ceremony. (Photo/Jessica P.)

Director Francis Ford Coppola during his hand and foot print ceremony. (Photo/Jessica P.)

This year I saw the least amount of films I have ever watched at TCMFF. This is partially because I opted for some of the special events like director Francis Ford Coppola’s hand and foot print ceremony (which was attended by director Peter Bogdanovitch), an interview with Elliott Gould held in Club TCM at the Roosevelt Hotel, a presentation on the Art of Film Scores by Academy Award-winning composer Michael Giacchino, and “My First Time in Hollywood” with presentations by Nancy Olson and David Ladd.

Met an old friend in Hollywood

Met an old friend in Hollywood

I also took some time to stop and eat at least one meal a day. For those of you who have never attended, you have to make a difficult decision: Do I eat? Or do I see this really cool film that I’ve never seen before? Since I got sick the last two years, I decided to take a few breaks and not push myself too hard. For example, at my first festival in 2013 (when I was a few years younger), I watched 16 films with no meal breaks. This year I watched 11.

And even while not booking ever slot with a film, it was still an outstanding time. I’ll be back next year, and most likely with my parents.

Check out the Comet Over Hollywood Facebook page, follow on Twitter at @HollywoodComet or e-mail at cometoverhollywood@gmail.com

TCM Classic Film Festival Musical Monday: When You’re in Love (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 500. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

love2This week’s musical:
“When You’re in Love” (1937)– Musical #547

Studio:
Columbia Pictures

Director:
Robert Riskin

Starring:
Grace Moore, Cary Grant, Aline MacMahon, Henry Stephenson, Thomas Mitchell, Catherine Doucet, Luis Alberni, Gerald Oliver Smith, Emma Dunn, George C. Pearce, Scotty Beckett (uncreditd)

Plot:
Opera singer Louise Fuller (Moore) who is stuck in Mexico and needs to get back so she can hold a music festival that she promised her uncle (Stephenson), but she can’t get back into the U.S. Jimmy Hudson (Grant) is unable to pay his hotel bill in Mexico. Fuller and Hudson’s lawyer’s decide the two should get married so they can get home, Fuller pays Hudson’s debts and they could divorce after six months. Though they start off fighting, love blossoms.

Trivia:
-The world premiere of the film’s restoration was at the 2016 Turner Classic Movies Classic Film Festival.
-Director Robert Riskin wrote and directed the film. It was a very loose retailoring of “It Happened One Night” for Moore, The Merchant Prince of Poverty Row: Harry Cohn of Columbia Pictures by Bernard F. Dick
-Writer Robert Riskin’s only try at directing

Grace Moore and Cary Grant in "When You're in Love"

Grace Moore and Cary Grant in “When You’re in Love”

Highlights:
-Grace Moore performing Minnie the Moocher

Notable Songs:
-“Minnie the Moocher” performed by Grace Moore
-“Our Song” performed by Grace Moore
-“The Whistling Boy” performed by Grace Moore
-“Vissi D’Arte” performed by Grace Moore

My review:
I’ve seen all of Cary Grant’s films–except for some of his early 1930s movies. Not only was it a treat to finally see this rare film, it was even more amazing to see it on the big screen and in all it’s newly restored glory, thanks to the Turner Classic Movies Classic Film Festival. I didn’t even arrive at the festival, thinking I would be getting a Musical Monday post out of it.

I really enjoyed “When You’re in Love.” While everyone knows Cary Grant as a huge star, at the time of this film he wasn’t as famous as his operatic leading lady: Grace Moore, a name many people don’t remember today. As I’ve watched musicals over the years, I’ve seen almost all of Miss Moore’s nine films made during her brief Hollywood career and I find her likeable. She’s beautiful and has a gorgeous voice.

Nicknamed the “Tennessee Nightingale,” Moore was a Ziegfeld Girl in the Ziegfeld Follies and had 16 seasons with the Metropolitan Opera. Her Hollywood films helped make opera popular with mainstream audiences. Sadly, Moore died in 1947 at age 48 in a plane crash near Copenhagen.

While watching this movie with an audience, I realized few of them were familiar with Grace Moore. When I saw that “When You’re in Love” paired Cary Grant and Grace Moore, I automatically knew it was a musical. But when leaving the theater, I heard some grumblings of “I didn’t know that was going to be a musical” from fans who only wanted to see Cary Grant.

Grant and Moore are both very funny, and there is a fun scene with Grace Moore performing Cab Calloway’s “Minnie the Moocher” while Grant plays the piano. Another favorite scene of mine involves Moore singing with a group of children and little uncredited Scotty Beckett is on her lap. There are close-ups of the various children’s faces and some of their reactions were hilarious.

But you can’t give all the credit for this film’s charm to the lead actors. The supporting cast is what really makes the film special, especially Aline MacMahon and Henry Stephenson who are always fantastic. One character actor, elderly George C. Pearce, had what I think was the funniest moment in the film: He answers the phone, asks them to hold on, puts on his glasses, and tells them to go ahead. Funny, because relevant to everyone’s life.

If you have the opportunity to every catch this film, do. It’s great fun and one that we haven’t been able to really enjoy for a long time.

Check out the Comet Over Hollywood Facebook page, follow on Twitter at @HollywoodComet or e-mail at cometoverhollywood@gmail.com

Comet in Hollywood: Turner Classic Movies Classic Film Festival 2016

tcmff16

Comet will be in Hollywood this week!

We’ll be attending our fourth Turner Classic Movies Film Festival, which is Thursday, April 28, through Sunday, May 1.

For those who have never attended, this is like a film 10k — no running (you may power walk between film — but equally as exhausting. From 9 a.m. to after 12 a.m., you watch classic film after classic film with other fans who know and love Cary Grant or Roland Young as much as you do.

Though you are sleep and food deprived (you either watch films, pack snacks or skip a film to eat) the TCM Film Festival is truly Walt Disney World for classic film fans.

There isn’t a great deal of downtime, but I’ll do my best to post while I’m in Hollywood. In addition to this page, here are other ways to follow me:
Twitter: @HollywoodComet
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cometoverhollywood
Instagram: @HollywoodComet
Or here! CometOverHollywood.com

Travels with My Parents: TCMFF Through New Eyes

I returned to Hollywood by way of North Carolina last week for my third Turner Classic Movies Classic Film Festival (TCMFF). I was excited to visit with my fellow film lovers and bloggers, hear classic film stars discuss their careers, and watch films on the big screen- the way they should be seen.

But this year had a new layer of excitement: My parents were joining me for their first ever TCMFF. After going to the festival on my own for two years, my travel buddies were the people who originally introduced me to classic film when I was a baby.

After we left Hollywood, I realized our only photo together was documenting their first In-N-Out Burger experience. (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica P)

After we left Hollywood, I realized our only photo together was documenting their first In-N-Out Burger experience. (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica P)

This wasn’t Mom and Dad’s first time in Hollywood. My family took a trip to Los Angeles in 2006, so they were familiar with the craziness of Hollywood Boulevard complete with people dressed in disheveled Spongebob costumes or impersonating Prince’s singing.

Since my first year at TCMFF, I knew they needed to come. After two years of care giving for my grandmother and her estate, my parents took a much needed vacation to what like to call “The Disney World of Classic Film.”

We pretty much stuck together the whole festival, because we shared similar interests in the films that we watched. These are their post festival reactions:

Julie Andrews was wisked quickly down the red carpet before "Sound of Music." (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica P)

Julie Andrews was wisked quickly down the red carpet before “Sound of Music.” (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica P)

Mom (Lisa):
I really had a good time. I enjoyed seeing a lot of the movies and meeting all of the bloggers of websites that I have been reading for so long. My favorite was the Disney film “So Dear to My Heart,” because it was such a sweet, simple story and I really enjoyed it. It would be nice if Disney would put it out on DVD. My other favorite was “Why Be Good?” with Colleen Moore. It’s almost 90 years old and it raised a lot of the same concerns that you see now, which I thought was interesting. I also really liked “Reign of Terror.” We were one of the last people in the theater and by pure accident we were on the front row, five feet away from where Norman Lloyd was going to be interviewed. Errol Flynn’s family sat beside us during “The Sea Hawk,” which was also really cool. I loved hearing Jane Withers speak during the Hollywood Homes Movies at the Roosevelt because she was a hoot. I also loved seeing Sophia Loren. We were two rows away and she looked fantastic. The overall festival was a great experience. It was very well done and everybody there was very friendly and helpful. There wasn’t anything that I didn’t enjoy, except I wish I could have seen even more films. We will definitely have to go back another year to see Robert Osborne. I hope he’s feeling better so he can be there. I would love to hear his interviews.

Actress Sophia Loren being interviewed by TCM host Ben Mankiewicz before "Marriage Italian Style" (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica P)

Actress Sophia Loren being interviewed by TCM host Ben Mankiewicz before “Marriage Italian Style” (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica P)

Dad (Bill):
The two movies I enjoyed the most were “Why Be Good?” and “Don’t Bet on Women.” I liked the earlier movies, because it was interesting to see that many of the ideas between then and now are relatively the same. Cinematically, my favorite was “Psycho.” It was really worked well on the big screen. It’s one of my favorite films, and I have never seen it on the big screen. The way it was presented was very impactful. I enjoyed all of the interviews we saw. Norman Lloyd was interesting because he is 100 years old and has amazing commentary with all of his stories. He has worked with so many different people! I enjoyed seeing Sophia Loren, because she is truly an icon. I have heard about her since I was a kid and it was amazing seeing her in person. The whole film festival was very organized. My only disappointment was there were several movies that I wanted to see all scheduled at the same time and I couldn’t see them all.

Myself:
I always love meeting and visiting with readers, film fans and fellow blogger friends. My favorite film of the whole trip was “Reign of Terror,” a new-to-me film. It was my top pick of the festival and I was thrilled that I was able to see it; I was actually the last person who got into the theater before they filled up. The cinematography by John Alton under the direction of Anthony Mann was breathtaking and innovative. I enjoy Robert Cummings as an actor and loved having the opportunity to see him in darker role. “Reign of Terror” is unique, because it is a mix of film noir set during the French Revolution with some humor mixed in; not something you come across very often. Character actor Arnold Moss was probably my favorite character in the film as the delicious snake-in-the-grass Fouché. He had all the best lines.

Robert Cummings and Arnold Moss in "Reign of Terror."

Robert Cummings and Arnold Moss in “Reign of Terror.”

Another notable feature about TCMFF is you have the opportunity to see several films that either haven’t been seen in many years, because they were lost or in a restoration process, or it’s a screening of the restoration’s debut. It’s always a special experience to watch a silent film with a live accompaniment, but it was extra special to be there for Carl Davis’s premiere of the new score for “Steamboat Bill, Jr.” Live accompaniments may not be anything new for some people but that is something you seldom (or never) experience in many areas of the southeast.

Along with my parents joining, this year was a little different, because I had a few new experiences. We got into Los Angeles a little earlier and had the opportunity to do a little sight seeing. It was also my first year in the bleachers watching the red carpet events. It was fun cheering for Julie Andrews, Shirley Jones, and even the passholders, as they entered Gruaman’s Chinese Theater. I also took some time to see the handprint ceremony with Christopher Plummer, who seemed like a gentleman. It was a hilarious coincidence that I ended up sitting beside Errol Flynn’s grandson, Sean, in “The Sea Hawk.”

The 2015 TCMFF may be my favorite year so far, because nine of the 14 films I saw were new-to-me. The only downside was that TCM host Robert Osborne was unable to attend. Along with all of his other fans, I send warm wishes for a speedy recovery.

Shirley Jones on the red carpet at TCMFF. (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica P.)

Shirley Jones on the red carpet at TCMFF. (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica P.)

Films:
Queen Christina (1933)
Sea Hawk (1940)
Reign of Terror (1949)
Young Mr. Lincoln (1939)
Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928)
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)
Why Be Good? (1929)
So Dear to My Heart (1948)
Air Mail (1932)
The Loved One (1965)
Nothing Lasts Forever (1984)
Don’t Bet On Women (1931)
Psycho (1960)
Marriage Italian Style (1964)

Christopher Plummer exits Grauman's Chinese before his handprint ceremony. (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica P.)

Christopher Plummer exits Grauman’s Chinese before his handprint ceremony. (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica P.)

Special Guests:
Robert Morse- red carpet and “The Loved One”
Shirley Jones- red carpet
Marty Ingles- red carpet
Diane Baker- red carpet
Norman Lloyd- red carpet and “Reign of Terror”
Film editor, Anne V. Coates- red carpet
Julie Andrews- red carpet
Christopher Plummer- red carpet and his handprint ceremony
William Shatner – Plummer’s handprint ceremony
Shirley MacLaine – Plummer’s handprint ceremony
Alex Trebek – Plummer’s handprint ceremony
Errol Flynn’s daughter, Rory Flynn- “The Sea Hawk”
Errol Flynn’s grandson, Sean Flynn (Sean and Rory sat next to me in The Sea Hawk)
Peter Fonda- “Young Mr. Lincoln”
Film Historian, Leonard Maltin
Composer Carl Davis – “Steamboat Bill Jr.
George Lazenby- “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”
Director Tom Schiller- “Nothing Lasts Forever”
Zach Galligan- “Nothing Lasts Forever”
Director Edgar Wright- “Psycho”
Sophia Loren – “Marriage Italian Style”

 

Norman Lloyd on the red carpet at TCMFF. (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica P.)

Norman Lloyd on the red carpet at TCMFF. (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica P.)

Check out the Comet Over Hollywood Facebook page, follow on Twitter at @HollywoodComet or e-mail at cometoverhollywood@gmail.com

Comet Walking Around Hollywood: Turner Classic Film Festival 2015

tcmff2Comet Over Hollywood is covering the Turner Classic Film Festival for my third year this week. The festival runs from Thursday, March 26, through Sunday, March 30.

I arrived in Los Angeles, CA, by way of North Carolina on Tuesday for the sixth annual Turner Classic Movies Film Festival.

Once again, I will be covering various events, film screenings and interviews throughout the festival.

Classic films have been a large part of my life so it’s a pleasure to share film experiences with others equally as passionate.

What am I most excited about this year?
-New-to-me Lizabeth Scott film “Too Late for Tears” (1949)
-New-to-me Robert Cummings film “Reign of Terror” (1949) with actor Norman Lloyd in attendance.
-“Young Mr. Lincoln” (1939) on 35mm with son of Henry Fonda, actor Peter Fonda discussing the film
-New-to-me “Don’t Bet on Women” (1931), starring Jeannette MacDonald in her only non-singing role.
-James Bond film “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” (1969) with George Lazenby in attendance.
-New-to-me hilariously terrible looking “Boom” (1968) starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.
-New-to-me rare Walt Disney film “So Dear to My Heart” (1948)
-“The Loved One” (1965) on the big screen with Robert Morse in attendance.

How can you follow me? 
Twitter: @HollywoodComet
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cometoverhollywood
Instagram: @HollywoodComet
Or here! CometOverHollywood.com

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.

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.

Are you heading to the festival? Comment below and let us know what you are most excited about at this year’s Turner Classic Movies Film Festival.

Check out the Comet Over Hollywood Facebook page, follow on Twitter at @HollywoodComet or e-mail at cometoverhollywood@gmail.com

 

The Queen of Technicolor, in person: Maureen O’Hara

Irish actress Maureen O'Hara, pictured here in the 1950s.

Irish actress Maureen O’Hara, pictured here in the 1950s.

Hundreds of people stood waiting, excitedly chattering.

A line wrapped up and down an alley at least four times and stretched out to Hollywood Boulevard.

When the doors to El Capitan Theater opened, people walked briskly, some even running, to get a good seat in the theater.

I waited in line for 2 hours and was the twentieth person in line.

The excitement was for a 93-year-old woman.

But not any woman, Irish screen legend Maureen O’Hara.

At this past April’s Turner Classic Movie (TCM) Film Festival in Los Angeles, O’Hara made a special appearance before a screening of “How Green Was My Valley” (1941).

TCM is now honoring the Irish actress as July’s Star of the Month.

Red-headed O’Hara started her film career in 1938, starred in several films directed by John Ford and was John Wayne’s most frequent leading lady.

Her red hair and green eyes dubbed O’Hara with the nickname “Queen of Technicolor.” Her film roles varied from serious dramas, swashbuckling pirate films to westerns.

In “How Green Was My Valley” (1941), the story of a Welsh mining family, O’Hara played Angharad. O’Hara’s character falls in love with the new minister, played by Walter Pidgeon.

Before the screening of O’Hara’s first John Ford film at TCMFF 2014, she was brought out onstage to discuss her life and career.

The line to see Maureen O'Hara outside the El Capitan theater in Los Angeles.

The line to see Maureen O’Hara outside the El Capitan theater in Los Angeles.

The audience exploded with applause and O’Hara was given a lengthy standing ovation. Several people around me were wiping tears from their eyes.

She modestly motioned from her wheel chair for everyone to sit down.

“I see a tear there,” said TCM primetime host Robert Osborne to O’Hara on stage.

Osborne interviewed O’Hara before the film, but kept it to 10 minutes so he would not tire her out. She was interviewed the next day in the Roosevelt Hotel lobby. The lobby of the historic hotel is transformed into “Club TCM” during the festival.

“Don’t laugh and applaud and think it means nothing,” she told the audience.

Osborne first asked about her relationship with director John Ford.

“I thought I was here to talk about me,” she said with quick wit.

Her mind was sharp and her voice sounded the same, just older. However, it was obvious O’Hara was weak in her old age. The classic actress turns 94 in August.

“I’m still here, I’m at quite an old age now,” O’Hara said. “It’s terrible thing, not to be sure of your age.”

O’Hara discussed God and religion and hoping she was able to live way beyond the years God gave us on Earth.

Maureen O'Hara interviewed by Robert Osborne at the El Capitan during the TCMFF 2014.

Maureen O’Hara interviewed by Robert Osborne at the El Capitan during the TCMFF 2014. (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica P.)

“So many of us (classic actors) have passed and are in heaven, and so many of us are looking towards heaven,” O’Hara said.

She said God is listening all the time and listening to see if he can catch you doing something you aren’t supposed to be doing.

During the interview a woman coughed or sneezed in the crowed and she asked her to stand. The embarrassed woman stood up and O’Hara simply wanted to bless her.

Though O’Hara is elderly, as film fans, we sometimes don’t think about the age of our favorite stars or silver screen heroes. We know them as they are in their films and forget just how old or frail they may be. It was a privilege to see O’Hara and some of the other classic stars in person at TCMFF. But also it was almost a little sad. It’s another reminder that the classic film lover’s reality actually fantasy.

And O’Hara reminded us of this when she told the audience that even though she was an actress, we shouldn’t be fooled into thinking she is magical.

“Don’t be fooled in to thinking I do magical things,” she said.

Though O’Hara says she doesn’t do magical things, the ethereal feeling she gives her fans when she appears on screen is nothing less than enchanted.

Robert Osborne and Maureen O'Hara (Photo courtest of Getty)

Robert Osborne and Maureen O’Hara (Photo courtesy of Getty)

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In the company of greatness

A guttural chuckle between bites of popcorn came from behind our movie theater seats.

Toes tapped to the film soundtrack.

My friends and I giggled with schoolgirl delight and amazement.

The 79 time Grammy nominated composer Quincy Jones was sitting behind us in the Egyptian Theater in Los Angeles.

Italian JobMoments before, Jones was interviewed by TCM host Ben Mankiewicz at the 2014 Turner Classic Movies Film Festival before “The Italian Job” (1969) starring Michael Caine. Jones composed the score for the film.

Jones’s music in the film is a quirky, 1960s English style with an English jig at the end.

“Nineteen year old Elton John said only a Brit could write a song like that,” Jones said. “I said, ‘Wanna bet?'”

“The Italian Job” is a British comedic caper film about a group of men stealing gold during a traffic jam in Italy. The film is also famous for it’s use of Austin Minis in the climactic heist.

“Michael Caine is one of the greatest guys,” Jones said.

Jones gave a mischievous chuckle while recalling the time he and Caine both dated actress Raquel Welch at the same time.

“That was funny,” he said. “OH that was funny.”

Other film scores Jones composed include “The Pawnbroker” (1964), “The Slender Thread” (1965),  “Walk Don’t Run” (1966) and “In Cold Blood” (1967). Along with his film work, Jones worked with musicians and performers such as Michael Jackson, Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin.

“Music in ‘In Cold Blood’ all boils down to building tension and then release,” he said. “The movie was filmed in the house where the actual murders took place. That was scary.”

Quincy Jones during an interview with Ben Mankiewicz during the TCMFF, April 11, 2014. Jones discussed his career and "The Italian Job" (Getty Images)

Quincy Jones during an interview with Ben Mankiewicz during the TCMFF, April 11, 2014. Jones discussed his career and “The Italian Job” (Getty Images)

Author of the novel Truman Capote was mad when he learned a “black guy” was composing the music to the film. Once Capote heard the score, he relented.

“Just drama–You know,” Jones said casually, waving his hand with dismissal.

Jones was approached by Steve McQueen and Ali McGraw to compose the music for “The Getaway” (1972), replacing composer Jerry Fielding at McQueen’s request.

“I composed the music for that film in 10 days,” Jones said. “You don’t let it get around Hollywood that you can compose a film in 10 days.”

His friendship with composer Henry Mancini helped him break into the business, he said.

“When composing for a film, you look at the script with the director and decide when the music stops and starts in the film,” Jones said.

Jones discussed his time in Hollywood and relationship with celebrities. Jones was good friends with singer, actor Frank Sinatra, who gave him a ring he still wears. However, Sinatra wasn’t kind to everyone.

1964: Quincy Jones and Frank Sinatra in Sinatra's dressing room.

1964: Quincy Jones and Frank Sinatra in Sinatra’s dressing room.

“He either loved you, or he would roll over you in a Mac truck while driving it in reverse,” Jones said.

After the interview, the 81-year-old walked a few rows back and sat right down behind us. He promptly received a bag of popcorn and became just another fan.

This is a follow up vignette from the 2014 Turner Classic Movies Film Festival, April 9-April 14.

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