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!

Olympics to Hollywood: Bruce Bennett/Herman Brix

Bruce Bennett or Herman Brix? He went by either name

You may know him as actor Bruce Bennett who played Joan Crawford’s ex-husband in Mildred Pierce (1945) or perhaps as yet another actor who played Tarzan. Others know him by his birth name Herman Brix, which he was using when he won an Olympic silver medalist.

Before the Olympics and Hollywood, Bennett played football for the University of Washington when they competed in 1926 Rose Bowl Game against the University of Alabama. In that game he played against future actor Johnny Mack Brown, who was half back for Alabama. Alabama won the game 20-19.

In 1928, Herman Brix competed on the United States team in the Summer Olympic games in Amsterdam—also attended by Johnny Weissmuller and Buster Crabbe—and won a silver medal for men’s shot put in the track and field portion of the games. Brix threw the shot put 15.75 meters, breaking the world shot put record with his toss. But  then his teammate John Kuck followed with a throw that set a new world record. Kuck won the gold.

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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

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

Upcoming Comet blogathon: Child Stars

Hello folks,

No, this isn’t an April Fools joke.  Comet Over Hollywood is hosting it’s second blogathon.

It’s been nearly a year since I held my first blogathon: “Gone Too Soon” honoring actors who passed away before the age of 50.

Child stars in "Our Gang"

Child stars in “Our Gang”

My sophomore blogathon effort will be recognizing child stars.

This includes any child actor or actress who performed in films or on television. Topics can vary from a specific individual, non-profits who help young actors or to general treatment of children in the Golden Era.

This post is to gauge interest, but if you would like to go ahead and reserve your topic, feel free to leave a comment doing so.

I’m scheduling the blogathon Friday, May 24 through Sunday, May 26, 2013.

I look forward to hearing your post ideas and will post blog banners in mid-April. Thank you all for reading Comet Over Hollywood.

Love,

Jessica

Those interested so far:

Comet Over Hollywood– Review of Dickie Moore’s book “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (And Don’t Have Sex or Take the Car) and review of Annette Funicello’s book “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes”

My Love of Old Hollywood- Freddie Bartholomew

Journeys in Classic Films-Natalie Wood or Sandra Dee

Hollywood Revue Blog – Baby Peggy

A Person in the Dark– Hayley Mills

The Motion Pictures– Skippy Homeier

The Filmelist 

Portraits by Jenni – Jane Withers

Girls Do Film– Jackie Coogan

Critica Retro– Dean Stockwell and Roddy MacDowall

Aurora’s Gin Joint– George Winslow

Silver Screenings– Billy Chaplin

The Lady Eve– Tommy Kirk

Check out the Comet Over Hollywood Facebook page for the latest updates.

Easter at the Hollywood Bowl

The Hollywood Bowl has held historic performances from Olivia de Havilland and Mickey Rooney in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in 1934 to the Beatles in 1964 and 1965.

It also holds an Easter sunrise service every year.

The tradition started in 1919 when silent film stars held a sunrise service near the area of the Hollywood Bowl. The service was then moved to the site in 1921, when the Bowl was basically a rocky, weedy hillside that had excellent natural acoustics, according to the Hollywood Bowl’s website.

Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl in 1921.

Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl in 1921.

At the 1921 service, the Los Angeles Philharmonic performed and over 800 people attended.

In 1922, the Los Angeles Philharmonic performed for 50,000 at the Easter Service and the Hollywood Bowl officially opened four months later on July 11, 1922.

Easter Service in 1922 with 50,000 people in attendance.

Easter Service in 1922 with 50,000 people in attendance.

The shell on the stage at the Hollywood Bowl was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright’s son, Lloyd Wright, in 1928 but seems to have been removed for the service.

Hollywood Bowl Easter service in 1928

Hollywood Bowl Easter service in 1928

The Hollywood Bowl Easter Sunrise Service is held every year but has been canceled at least three times in recent years: in the mid-1990s for renovations, 2010 due to lack of funding and 2012 for maintenance on the Hollywood Bowl, according to a Los Angeles Times article.

Ariel view of the 1929 Easter service

Ariel view of the 1929 Easter service

Mary Pickford attends the Hollywood Bowl Easter Service in 1953 on her 61 birthday. She is recites the "Salutation to the Dawn."

Mary Pickford recites “Salutation to the Dawn” in 1953 on her 61 birthday.

17,000 attend the service in 1956

17,000 attend the service in 1956

Easter service in 1962

Easter service in 1962

Happy Easter everyone!

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