The Comet goes to the TCM Film Festival

image001

Today, the Comet really will be over Hollywood.

Today I’m flying out from North Carolina to Los Angeles, CA for the fifth annual Turner Classic Movies Film Festival.

After attending the festival for my first time last year, I knew I wasn’t going to miss it when it rolled around the next spring.

The main difference this year is I am going to the film festival with press credentials.

I’ll be flexing my reporting muscles I use on a daily basis as a reporter at the Shelby Star in Shelby, NC and covering the different events and films I attend.

It will be a perfect mix of the two things I love: reporting and classic films. Folks at work even call me Torchy Blane.

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

How can you follow me? 
Twitter: @HollywoodComet or @StarJPickens
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cometoverhollywood
Instagram: @HollywoodComet
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfaDOeIsKQhOJcPXUaHg98g
Or here! CometOverHollywood.com

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.

Comet Over Hollywood owner Jessica Pickens with TCM host Robert Osborne at TCMFF 2013.

Comet Over Hollywood owner Jessica Pickens with TCM host Robert Osborne at TCMFF 2013.

Take a look at last year’s festival: https://cometoverhollywood.com/category/turner-classic-movie-film-festival-2/

Check out the Comet Over Hollywood Facebook page for the latest updates or follow on Twitter at @HollywoodComet.

Advertisements

Turner Classic Movies Film Festival: the Disney World of classic movies

It’s like Disney World for classic film fans.

Rushing from place to place and waiting in lines for entertainment.

Robert Osborne introducing "Desert Song" (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica Pickens)

Robert Osborne introducing “Desert Song” (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica Pickens)

Turner Classics Movie’s Robert Osborne could be considered the “Walt Disney” of the whole event.

Yes for classic film fans, the Turner Classic Film Festival (TCMFF) may be considered the “happiest place on Earth,” where thousands of people spend four days doing nothing but watching classic films and enjoying each other’s company.

Since this was my first year attending TCMFF, I can’t compare it to past years but several have said it was the best year ever, and I would believe it. After three years of wanting to go to TCMFF, I was not disappointed. I had a ball.
There were several times- riding on the plane, sitting in a movie theater, walking down Hollywood Blvd.- that I thought “Am I really here?”

I visited Hollywood once before in 2006 on a family vacation and was left rather dismayed by the disregard of history and confused by the odd people dressed like Marilyn Monroe and Shrek outside of Graumann’s Chinese Theater (now TCL Chinese).

But even those people desperate for attention in their costumes and passing out their CDs didn’t cheapen TCMFF.

Typical me. Photo bombing a TCM picture outside the Egyptian (there I am on the left in the green)

Typical me. Photo bombing a TCM picture outside the Egyptian (there I am on the left in the green)

In fact I felt like I excitedly drifted along on a cloud of old Hollywood splendor; only thinking about which movie I would watch next.

And after years of being a classic film fan I was finally with people who understood what I was talking about. I could toss around names like Van Johnson, Edward Everett Horton or mention the slang “pre-code” and every one knew exactly what I meant.

It’s an uncanny feeling to be sitting in an audience waiting to watch “Libeled Lady” and have the audience applaud when stars Jean Harlow and William Powell enter on screen.

I haven’t seen many classic films on the big screen and it’s a special experience. Not only did I realize how much I liked some films, but I noticed more. Facial expressions and shifting of eyes that you may miss on the small screen.

Though I blogged each night on my phone, I wanted to do one last review of the festival.

Films viewed during the festival:

France Nuyen, Ben Mankiewiczi and Mitzi Gaynor poolside at the Roosevelt Hotel

France Nuyen, Ben Mankiewicz and Mitzi Gaynor poolside at the Roosevelt Hotel (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica Pickens)

Thursday, April 25:
-South Pacific (1958)
Starring Mitzi Gaynor, Rossano Brazzi, John Kerr, Juanita Hall and France Nuyen
With guests Mitzi Gaynor and France Nuyen
The film was shown poolside at the Roosevelt Hotel and hula dancers performed before the film.

For more on Thursday: https://cometoverhollywood.com/2013/04/26/turner-classic-film-festival-mitzi-gaynor-and-south-pacific/

Friday, April 26:
-Libeled Lady (1936)
Starring Jean Harlow, William Powell, Myrna Loy, Spencer Tracy
“Screwball comedy is a lost art,” said TCM’s Scott McGee before the film.
The whole audience also cheered as McGee said he was a huge fan of William Powell’s.

Kate MacMurray introducing "Suddenly It's Spring"

Kate MacMurray introducing “Suddenly It’s Spring” (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica Pickens)

-Suddenly, It’s Spring (1947)*
Starring Paulette Goddard, Fred MacMurray, MacDonald Carey. Introduced by MacMurray’s daughter Kate.
MacMurray’s daughter shared wonderful stories about her father including: MacMurray, a saxophonist and also once a singer for a jazz band, played the saxophone for the My Three Sons TV show theme song.
-Notorious (1946) starring Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant. Introduced by Rose McGowan
It (1927) starring Clara Bow
This was my first silent film with a live orchestra accompaniment.
“Clara was a great natural talent of movies,” said Bow biographer David Stenn.
-Hondo (1954) starring John Wayne and Geraldine Page Introduced by Leonard Maltin.
This was my FIRST EVER 3D film.
For more on Friday: https://cometoverhollywood.com/2013/04/27/turner-classic-film-festival-macmurray-harlow-hitchcock-bow-and-wayne/

Saturday, April 27:
-Bugs Bunny Cartoons for his 75th birthday
Very clever of TCM to start a Saturday with cartoons. Leonard Maltin introduced the cartoons saying how Warner Brother’s cartoons were the first to have the characters talk at the screen.

(Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica Pickens)


-Alfred Hitchcock’s A Lady Vanishes (1936) Introduced by 98-year-old actor Norman Lloyd.
Lloyd gave up a tennis game to speak before the film and said A Lady Vanishes and 39 Steps were the last two English films Hitchcock made and were both perfection.
“I tell film students, don’t go to film school. Just watch 39 Steps,” Lloyd said.

-Desert Song (1943)* starring Dennis Morgan, Irene Manning, Bruce Cabot. Introduced by Robert Osborne
A film that had not been shown over 50 years due to copyright, this was my 500th musical that I’ve seen.
It seems fitting that my 500th musical would end with me meeting Robert Osborne afterwards.

Robert Osborne and Ann Blyth introducing Mildred Pierce (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica Pickens)

Robert Osborne and Ann Blyth introducing Mildred Pierce (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica Pickens)

-Mildred Pierce (1945) starring Joan Crawford, Ann Blyth, Zachary Scott, Jack Carson, Eve Arden
Introduced by Robert Osborne and Ann Blyth
“I have nothing but wonderful memories of Joan,” Blyth said.
-Island of Lost Souls (1932) starring Charles Laughton, Lelia Hyams, Richard Arlen
I love that TCM also ended nights with a horror film at midnight.
For more on Saturday: https://cometoverhollywood.com/2013/04/28/i-have-nothing-but-wonderful-memories-of-joan-mildred-pierce-and-ann-blyth/

Sunday, April 28
-Come September (1961) starring Rock Hudson, Gina Lollabrigida, Bobby Daren, Sandra Dee
Introduced by Vanity Fair correspondent Matt Tyrnauer
-I Am Suzanne (1933)* starring Lilian Harvey and Gene Raymond. Introduced by MoMa archivist Katie Trainor
Though this film was very odd (the plot revolved around marionette puppets), it was worth seeing. Trainor said the film had not been seen in 80 years. This was also my 501st musical
-It Happened One Night (1934) starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert.
The General (1926) and One Week (1920) starring Buster Keaton. Introduced by Robert Osborne
A special screening because it was the second to last film to be shown in Graumann’s before being remodeled to IMAX. The crowd booed when Osborne announced this.
For more on Sunday: https://cometoverhollywood.com/2013/04/29/and-so-it-ends-review-of-the-last-day-of-the-tcm-film-festival/

Along with the films it was a pleasure to meet so many fellow bloggers and Twitter pals in person. Especially since I have talked to many of you for three years. There were screams of excitement and embracing as we kindred classic film souls finally met in person.

IMG_6069

With knees shaking, I met my favorite person in the whole world, Robert Osborne

IMG_6081

With another favorite, Ben Mankiewicz

IMG_6083

Sad to be returning home, I ran into TCM’s Scott McGee who was on my flight home!

My favorite film of the festival: “Suddenly, It’s Spring” (1947). I had never seen it and it was wonderful. MacMurray’s daughter also gave one of my favorite talks during the festival

My favorite day of the Festival was Friday since it held so many firsts for me.
Now, as I sit on my couch back in North Carolina, I can only count the days until next year.

Check out the Comet Over Hollywood Facebook page for the latest updates or follow on Twitter at @HollywoodComet.

And so it ends: Review of the last day of the TCM Film Festival

As I sit waiting for my flight to Atlanta, GA from Los Angeles, CA, here is a recap of the last day (Sunday, April 28) of the TCM Film Festival. Tomorrow I’ll write a review of the overall experience.

Come September (1961) starring Rock Hudson, Sandra Dee, Bobby Darin and Gina Lollobrigida. I started the last day of the festival with the frothy, fun romantic comedy set in Italy. Though other great films such as Gilda, Badlands and Yankee Doodle Dandy were also showing, I was in the mood for the familiar and colorful film after a late night. According Vanity Fair correspondent Matt Tyrnauer this wealthy “white telephone” aristocrat film was filmed during a time that Italian films had more socialist themes so this film was slightly behind its time.

I Am Suzanne (1933) starring Lilian Harvey and Gene Raymond.
This is one of those movies that I sat there through the majority of the movie thinking, “What the heck?”
It was an odd film but worth seeing.
I considered going to see Ann Blyth talk before Kismet (1955). However, though I love Blyth, I don’t like Kismet so I chose a film I had never seen before.
“I Am Suzanne” was introduced by Museum of Modern Art film archivist Katie Trainor, she said the film had not been seen in 80 years.
The oddness of the film is due to the fact that the plot revolves around puppets. Marionette puppets.
Raymond is a puppeteer and Harvey is a (very bad) dancer. Raymond is so entranced by Harvey that he wants to model a puppet of her. Harvey’s issue is that though Raymond loves her, she feels he loves the puppet version more than her. The film ends with a 10 minute puppet and dance performance. I plan on doing a full post on this film so stay tuned.

It Happened One Night (1934) starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert. I considered going to see a more serious movie during this film block but decided “Hey, it’s the last day. I’m going to have fun.” It’s terrific watching a 1930s comedy and hearing an audience erupt in laughter. You notice the subtle comedic glances and moments more on the big screen.

image

The General (1926)- This was the big finale of the night shown in Graumann’s Chinese (or now called TCL Chinese). The crowded screening started with the 1920 Keaton short “One Week” and both films were accompanied by the Alloy Orchestra. I had seen both the General and One Week before, but it’s an amazing experience to watch it on the big screen with live music.
But even more special, it’s the second to last film shown in Graumann’s before the historic theater will be remodeled to IMAX. The crowd boo-ed as Robert Osborne said that but told everyone to take in the architecture before it’s gone. So above is a photo of the ceiling of the theater

Overall, it was a wonderful trip and I hope to return next year. I hope you have enjoyed my updates as well.

“I have nothing but wonderful memories of Joan”-Mildred Pierce and Ann Blyth

A packed house at the Egyptian Theater rose to their feet, cheering like Freddie Mercury was entering the building.
But the applause was for a petite, doll-like and lovely actress: Ann Blyth.
Blyth introduced Mildred Pierce (1945), a film that she plays Joan Crawford’s spoiled daughter, Veda.
Robert Osborne interviewed her, pointing out that it was lucky Blyth wasn’t typecasted as bad girls after this film. In fact, her roles were usually sweet after this.
He also pointed out that she tried to dispel negative Joan Crawford rumors.
“I have nothing but wonderful memories of Joan,” Blyth said.
Blyth also told about attractive men she worked with such as Tyrone Power who had beautiful brown eyes.
When she went on to MGM to be in musicals she said “It was a heavenly experience and I had the opportunity to sing beautiful music.”
She quit acting because she didn’t like the direction films were going in but later found that was a mistake because she had been considered for “The Three Faces of Eve.”
She also said she still sees friends such as Jane Powell, Jane Withers and Joan Leslie at least three times a year.
The best part of Mildred Pierce was when the whole audience cheered when Joan Crawford slapped Ann Blyth.

Saturday morning I saw:
-Bugs Bunny Cartoons for his 75th birthday: Leonard Maltin introduced the cartoons saying how Warner Brothers cartoons were the first to have the characters talk at the screen. I’ll admit I had a bit of a moment while watching, thinking about my childhood. Classical music and old actors were also introduced to me by classic cartoons.

image

-A Lady Vanishes (1938): Introduced by Leonard Maltin and 98 year old Saboteur actor, Norman Lloyd. He gave up a tennis game to speak. He said A Lady Vanishes and 39 Steps were the last two English films Hitchcock made and were both perfection.
“I tell film students, don’t go to film school. Just watch 39 Steps,” said Lloyd.

image

Desert Song (1943) starring Dennis Morgan. Robert Osborne introduced the film so I sat in the front like a nerd so I could get a close picture. Osborne said this movie hadn’t been seen in 50 years because of copyright problems. As a musical fan and Dennis Morgan lover, I have always wanted to see this movie. I have also seen the 1953 remake with Kathryn Grayson and Gordon MacRea so I was comparing the two as I watched it. The 9143 version was colorful and beautiful, but I enjoyed the leading lady and plot better in the 1953 version. Osborne stayed and watched the film as well because he said this was the film he was most looking forward to. After the film I waited outside and got a photo with him.

-Island of Lost Souls (1932) starring Lelia Hyams, Richard Arlen and Charles Laughton. I went to the midnight showing of this film. I’d seen it before last summer but it was awesome to watch this freaky film so late at night. I think several of the viewers fell asleep. Running around and watching movies all day is very tiring!

Apologies in advanced for any typos. I’m using WordPress on my phone which is slightly cumbersome.

Now its the last day and I’m waiting to go in to Come September. Follow me @HollywoodComet or @StarJPickens.

Turner Classic Film Festival: MacMurray, Harlow, Hitchcock, Bow and Wayne

image

image

Friday (April 26) is the first full day of the Turner Classic Film Festival and it has been amazing.
Above is a photo of Kate MacMurray, daughter of Fred MacMurray and June Haver introducing “Suddenly It’s Spring” (1947).
The next photo is the ceiling of the Egyptian Theater where I saw “Notorious” (1946) and “It” (1927).
Today’s films that I saw:
-Libeled Lady (1936) starring Jean Harlow, William Powell, Spencer Tracy and Myrna Loy. I’ve seen it several times and can say its a favorite comedy of mine.
TCM’s Scott McGee introduced the film and said, “Screwball comedy is a lost art” which I would agree with.
Libeled Lady was advertised the first “all-star cast” since Dinner at Eight, McGee said.
It’s really amazing to sit in a theater where people applaud when Harlow comes on screen and die with laughter during Powell’s trout fishing scene.
-Suddenly It’s Spring (1947) starring Paulette Goddard and Fred MacMurray.
I LOVED this one. A really fun comedy about a couple who decides to get a divorce in 1941 but both serve during WW2. When they return, Goddard, who’s career as a WAC is giving marriage advice, isn’t so sure about the divorce but MacMurray already has a new bride picked out.
MacMurray’s daughter Kate spoke before the movie and told wonderful stories such as:
-John Wayne set up her parents June Haver and Fred MacMurray at a costume party. MacMurray’s previous wife had passed away as did Haver’s boyfriend.
“Mother was dressed as a saloon girl, maybe that’s what did it,” MacMurray said.
-MacMurray, a saxophonist and also once a singer for a jazz band, played the saxophone for the My Three Sons TV show theme song.
-After making The Apartment-where he plays a cad-the MacMurray family was at DisneyLand. A woman approached him and hit him with her purse because she had taken her family to see the movie. “That wasn’t a Disney movie,” she told him. MacMurray felt uncomfortable playing his roles in Billy Wilder films “The Apartment” and “Double Indemnity” since they weren’t his customary nice guy, comedic roles.
-Carole Lombard got him a raise at Paramount
-Haver met MacMurray before the costume party while making a film. Haver said he was so sweet and would bring his lunch, usually a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

-Notorious (1946) starring Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant. Rose McGowan spoke before the film and said it was a favorite of her’s. Hitchcock’s creative shots looked excellent on the big screen, but I must confess I dozed off. Not because I was bored but the 3 hour time change and lack of food (there’s literally no time to eat) made me tired.

-It (1927) starring Clara Bow. This was the first time I had seen a silent film with a live orchestra accompanying and it was AMAZING. Biographer David Stenn who wrote “Clara Bow: Running Wild” spoke before the film and called her a “great natural talent of movies.”
It is a really fun silent film, which coined Bow as the “It” girl. But as a dachshund owner, my favorite line is “I feel so low I could walk underneath a dachshund on stilts.”

-Hondo (1954): starring John Wayne and Geraldine Page. This was the first 3D movie I’ve EVER seen. It was amazing. I’ve always said She Wore a Yellow Ribbon was my favorite Wayne film but seeing Hondo for a second time may have changed my mind. The film is a perfect example of Wayne’s ruggedness and western appeal as he fights off the Apaches. In short, John Wayne is my ideal man.

That’s all for tonight! I opted to skip out on the midnight showing of Plan 9 from Outer Space to gear up for tomorrow’s films.
For updates during the day: check me out on Twitter @HollywoodComet or @StarJPickens. If you don’t have a twitter account, you should still be able to find me even by googling my name and Twitter.
Apologies in advanced for any typos. I’m using WordPress on my phone which is slightly cumbersome.

Turner Classic Film Festival: Mitzi Gaynor and South Pacific

image

Last night (Thursday, April 25) I saw my first film at the Turner Classic Film Festival: South Pacific.
The film was shown poolside at the Roosevelt Hotel and introduced by Ben Mankiewicz with France Nuyen and Mitzi Gaynor as special guests.
Nuyen told about how she got her role in the film and was a French model. She went on set with high fashion makeup and was told to wash it off for the film. She cried because she thought she would be ugly.
Gaynor was hilarious. Her feistiness and off color stories could be compared to a Debbie Reynolds interview.
Gaynor got the role of Nellie Forbush in South Pacific over actresses such as Susan Hayward, Elizabeth Taylor, June Allyson, Doris Day and several others.
While Mankiewicz was interviewing Gaynor, she demanded he bring out his new baby for everyone to see. By the end, she had taken over the interview.
Hilariously Gaynor told of how she complimented her costar Rossano Brazzi on his good looks and Brazzi said, “I know.”
During the screening of South Pacific, people clapped after each song.
The ambiance of the film by the pool was beautiful.
This is just a brief post to keep y’all updated during TCMFF.

This morning I saw Jean Harlow in Libeled Lady (1936) and am now waiting to see Suddenly It’s Spring (1947) with Fred MacMurray and Paulette Goddard introduced by MacMurray’s daughter, Kate MacMurray.

More about Friday’s events in the next post.

The Comet goes to Hollywood

image

In roughly a week, I will be leaving my familiar North Carolina, small town surroundings for a solo adventure.
I’ll be attending my first Turner Classic Film Festival (TCMFF) in Los Angeles, CA, which will involve flying alone for the first time.
Attending this festival has been something I’ve wanted to do since the festival started. But in 2010 and 2011, I was still in college and the event hit around exams.
In 2012, I was working at my first reporter job out of college-a three day a week newspaper in a small town. I was making an equally small sum of money, prohibiting me from saving enough to ever think of going to the festival.
At this same time last year I was going through a difficult personal time but not being at the festival hurt more.
As I cried real tears, watching photos of fans with Robert Osborne being posted, I vowed I would be in California in 2013. And now I’m going.
But that may be where the road to TCMFF begins but not my classic film passion.
As a small child, I thought every kid watched “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” and “Yankee Doodle Dandy” with their parents.
In middle school, I only listened to bands like the Monkees and Herman’s Hermits. I couldn’t understand why only one of my classmates had seen “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”
In high school, I accepted I was different, if not weird. As I attempted to learn steps to the mambo in “West Side Story,” or chose to stay home and watch “The Lost Weekend” or “A Date with Judy” than go party with friends, I realized I was a classic film fan.
My teenage classmates considered it uncool-not that I cared-but once I got to college, it was embraced. I would hesitantly tell people, “I love old movies” and they would exclaim how cool it was.
By sophomore year of college, I started Comet Over Hollywood and was amazed to find how many other fans there were out there who were like me. They also loved the shots during the canteen dance in “Since You; Went Away” or appreciated the child acting of Virginia Weidler-most importantly they knew what I was talking about.
They were like me, a classic movie fan.
Now, working at a daily newspaper, I have the opportunity to spread even more film love with a weekly column. Since, I’ve receieved e-mails from readers telling me how they met spouses due to film love or thank me for helping them relive memories of seeing “A Summer Place.”
And next week from April 25 to April 29, I can connect with even more fans in person.
As for the movies I’m going to see? I honestly I haven’t made a rough game plan of what movies I’ll be attending-not only does newspaper reporting keep me busy, but I hope for my trip to be rather spontaneous.
However, I do know I’m interested in the screenings of “Libeled Lady,” “South Pacific” (Mitzi Gaynor is a favorite of mine), “It” and either of the Ann Blyth films (she’s also a favorite of mine)- but honestly those are the only films I remember seeing after a first glance at the film schedule. I know there are more.
And of course, I hope to see my hero and favorite person on the planet-Robert Osborne-even if it’s from 100 feet away.
So film fans and dear readers, I look forward to seeing you soon if you are attending. And if you are, please say hello.
I’ll be the blond who will still be saying y’all, even in Hollywood.
Love,
Jessica P.
The Hollywood Comet
image