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.

Birthday Blogathon: Film #3 To Kill a Mockingbird 1962

This is part of the 2nd Annual Birthday mini-blogathon, sharing my favorite movies leading up to my birthday.

Early Thursday evening was characterized with screeching tires.

I was running late for the TCM screening of “To Kill a Mockingbird” (1962) in Charlotte, N.C., showing in movie theaters all over the United States for one day. I had already planned on trying to see the movie, and then was fortunate enough to win tickets from True Classics blog in a contest.

Now I’m not sure I would categorize it as a favorite classic film like other movies I have written about in the past, but I do really enjoy it.

It had been a long time since I had seen the film, probably since the first time I watched it in Miss Presley’s freshman English class at Eastside High School. Watching a classic film in a high school classroom ruins the experience; kids talking and laughing at the movie, the teacher pausing to discuss literary elements.

There I was on the front row, up close and personal with Gregory Peck. Seeing the film on a movie screen for probably the first time since I was 14 was unreal.

Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch defending Brock Peters as Tom Robinson in “To Kill a Mockingbird” (1962)

Starring: Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch, Brock Peters as Tom Robinson, Paul Fix as Judge Taylor, Robert Duval as Boo Radley, James Anderson as Bob Ewell, Mary Badham as Scout, Phillip Alford as Jem

Brief Plot: Set in the 1930s and based off of the 1960s book, the film follows children growing up in Alabama and their lawyer father, Atticus Finch, as he defends a black man who has been accused of rape.

Key moments in the film: 

Scout (dressed as a ham) and Jem walking home from an agricultural pageant.

“To Kill a Mockingbird,” in my opinion, is a flawless film with several scenes that stick with you:

-Atticus Finch shooting the rabid dog.

-Scout’s friend Walter putting syrup on his dinner.

-Rev. Sykes telling Scout, Jem and Dill to stand up after Tom Robinson was found guilty, because their “Father is Passing.”

-Scout running walking through the woods in a ham costume.

-The way Boo Radley presses against the wall when they see him behind the door, and Scout looks at him closely and says, “Hey Boo.”

Performances:

Children: The children who play Dill, Jem and Scout have great comedic timing and also act with a lot of heart. I think my favorite thing about the children is that they act like regular kids: Running out the door as fast as they can to school, spitting on hinges so they won’t squeak, believing in rumors

Atticus Finch shooting a rabid dog

Gregory Peck: Of course, the performance that stands out the most is Gregory Peck’s as Atticus Finch. The 1963 Academy Awards are one of those years that you wish every Actor in a Leading Role could have won.  There have been times when I think, “Why didn’t Jack Lemmon when the Oscar for ‘Days of Wine and Roses’?” or “Why didn’t Peter O’Toole win for ‘Lawrence of Arabia’?” And then I see that Gregory Peck won for his role in “To Kill a Mockingbird” and see why they didn’t. Peck plays the role with so much heart and integrity. From defending a man who was innocent to saying goodnight to his children, he is believable as a father and citizen.

Obviously, several people remember Peck’s speech in the courtroom. But for me, it’s the little moments that really make the part, such as when he’s talking to Scout about his pocket watch and how she would get her mother’s pearl necklace, struggling with his glasses as he tries to shoot the dog or when he reacts to Bob Ewell spitting in his face.

Atticus telling Scout how she will receive her mother’s pearl necklace and a ring.

Supporting Characters: The supporting character’s make the film as well. James Anderson plays a loathsome Bob Ewell, Paul Fix is the epitome of a Southern judge who also seems sympathetic for Tom Robinson and Estelle Evans as Calpurnia shows compassion for the children that she’s cared for since their mother died. But most of all, Brock Peters as Tom Robinson. He isn’t in the movie very much but the scene of him testifying in court about how he supposedly raped Mayella Ewell is perfect.

To Review: The film of “To Kill a Mockingbird” may be considered thin compared to the book, it leaves out a lot of coming of age experiences that Scout and Jim encounter. However, compared to many film adaptations of novels, I think the film highlights important issues while still addressing the racial issues and children growing up in the 1930s South. Seeing it on the big screen was by far my best classic film screening of the three I have attended (the others being “West Side Story” and “Strangers on a Train”). No one was talking around me-no quoting allowed of quotes or singing aloud. It’s a wonderful feeling to sit in a theater packed with other classic film fans. One last thing, I have to admit that I teared up when Scout said, “Hey there, Boo.”

The end

This concludes Day 3 of Birthday Blogathon Week. Have to admit, I got a little behind. Please stop by again tomorrow for another favorite film of mine!

Check out the Comet Over Hollywood Facebook page .

Random from Comet: Now Playing Guides and moving

Comet Over Hollywood has been moving and Cary Grant helped!

I wanted to apologize for the lack of posts lately.

A year ago, Comet moved to Elkin, N.C. to work at my first reporting job at the Elkin Tribune, which I discussed in a the post Jessica Pickens: Girl Reporter.

A year later, I’ve moved on to a new job. Coming full circle, I’m now working in Shelby, N.C. at the newspaper I interned during the summer of 2010 when Comet Over Hollywood was born.

Do to the moving and lack of internet, I haven’t been able to continue the Classics in the Carolinas series.

In other exciting news, Turner Classic movies spotlighted Comet on their Twitter and Facebook page! In a moment of procrastination during packing, I took this photo:

Roughly 106 Turner Classic Now Playing Guides on my apartment floor.

I first started subscribing to the Turner Classic Movie Now Playing Guide in October 2003 and am currently still a subscriber. Since then I have kept every Now Playing Guide because of the great articles and covers, that usually feature the Star of the Month.

I posted the photo on Twitter and was retweeted by TCM and then put on their Facebook page and labeled as a “Super Fan” – A welcome treat to a bittersweet move.

Do you subscribe to the TCM Now Playing Guide? Have you kept them? What is your favorite cover?

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

Classic Movies in Music Videos: Give Me All Your Luvin’ by Madonna

This is August’s edition of Comet Over Hollywood’s classic film references in music videos.

2012 marks the 50th anniversary of Marilyn Monroe’s death on August 5, 1962.  Turner Classic Movies is dedicating today to Marilyn Monroe with a whole day of her film’s during their 10th annual Summer Under the Stars Salute.

As we all know, everyone and their mother has imitated Marilyn Monroe in some shape or form. Comet has even already spotlighted two music videos where Lana Del Rey and Madonna both paid tribute to the 1950s sex symbol.

Well 27 years after Madonna dressed up like Marilyn in “Material Girl,” the singer paid tribute to her again in her 2012 single “Give Me All Your Luvin’.”

But Madonna isn’t the only one in the video who donned short blond curls and a sexy white dress. Her two famous back-up singers in the song, MIA and Nicki Minaj also dress up like Monroe.

The Marilyn moment happens at 2:08 to 2:54 minutes into the video:

Check out other posts on Marilyn Monroe during the TCM Summer Under the Stars blogathon at http://scribehardonfilm.wordpress.com/ and http://sittinonabackyardfence.com/ for the month long classic film celebration!

Check back in September for another classic film reference in music videos!

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

The day we’ve all been waiting for: Robert Osborne’s return

This is for the  Welcome Back, Bob! Blogathon celebrating Robert’s return to Turner Classic Movies on Dec. 1. Hosted by Carley (@MissCarley) from The Kitty Packard Pictorial and Will McKinley (@willmckinley).

Robert Osborne returns to TCM Dec.1

Silence always sweeps over my household whenever the prime time introduction begins on Turner Classic Movies. My family likes Robert Osborne, but they also know they might get in trouble if they talk during his words of wisdom.

Even non-classic movie fan friends know about my love for Robert. My senior year of college, I walked into Winthrop’s student newspaper office on my birthday. The desktop background of my computer had been changed to a photo of Robert Osborne saying Happy Birthday to me.

Robert Osborne birthday desk top background, thanks to my friend Devang Joshi

One of my favorite Robert Osborne moments was when he was interviewed by one of TCM’s programmers during Oscar month 2009. He told about how he went to journalism school, went to Hollywood, became friends with Lucille Ball and how that catapulted his career of film history. Ball told him to combine his journalism skills and film knowledge and write a book.  This was inspiring to me as a sophomore journalism student who also loves film.  A distant and most likely unattainable dream is to follow in his footsteps and do the same thing.

Though I haven’t had the good fortune to meet Mr. Osborne like so many other fans, his introductions are so personal, informative and sweet that you feel like you are his best friend. It’s like he’s sharing his knowledge with you and only you.  On New Year’s Eve, Dec. 31, 2009, he even wore a tuxedo and toasted a glass of champagne to the camera.

It was pretty Earth-shattering for me, as well as for all other Turner Classic Movie fans, when he announced his extended vacation. I was very upset, but honestly not very surprised. He looked tired and not quite himself. Mr. Osborne certainly deserved a rest-particularly after reading today that he hadn’t had a vacation in 17 years!

This is the closest I've ever gotten to Mr. Osborne

Jane Powell is one of my favorite actresses and I enjoyed hearing from Leonard Maltin, but none of the guest hosts came close to the personal panache Robert offers. Fortunately, I have so many movies recorded off of TCM-some dating to 2009-that I was still able to get my Robert Osborne fix during his absence.

One of my life goals is to meet Mr. Osborne but for now I’m happy enough with his return. Unfortunately, on a reporter’s salary and living on my own for the first time, I can’t afford cable and won’t be able to watch his first prime time introductions after five months on Thursday, Dec. 1, but my mother promised to record it for me.

Welcome back, Robert Osborne and thank you for all you have taught us film fans.

With much love and admiration,

Jessica Noelle Pickens

Check out the Comet Over Hollywood Facebook page .