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

 

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.

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

 

 

 

‘Movies are a necessity to our lives’ – TCM Film Festival round-up

“What are you most excited about,” several people asked when I arrived in Hollywood at the Turner Classic Film Festival last Wednesday.

I fumbled for words like Ralphie trying to tell Santa what he wants for Christmas as I thought of the best answer.

My mind turned to seeing 93-year-old actress Maureen O’Hara introduce the film “How Green is My Valley” or to watching rare films like Alan Ladd in “The Great Gatsby” on the big screen.

Robert Osborne interview Maureen O'Hara before "How Green is My Valley." (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica Pickens)

Robert Osborne interview Maureen O’Hara before “How Green is My Valley.” (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica Pickens)

Suddenly it hit me: I was happy to be around people who appreciated classic films as much as I do- if not more. People with whom you can discuss classic film topics such as character actor Donald Meek or Robert Walker and Jennifer Jones divorce.

This year’s festival was the second time I attended. I had the privilege to receive media credentials, covering the festival for my website Comet Over Hollywood and the Shelby Star newspaper.

The festival started with a question and answer portion with Turner Classic Movie’s primetime host Robert Osborne, host Ben Mankiewicz, and TCM programers Charles Tabesh and Genevieve McGillicuddy.

“Movies are a necessity to our lives,” Osborne said.

My second go at the festival was different than my first time. My first time at TCMFF, I devoured as many movies as possible. For example, last year, I watched 18 films, and this year I only saw roughly 12.

I think this year I had a richer adventure. I watched films but experienced unique events not found anywhere near me.

Where else can you see an actor like Jerry Lewis immortalized during a hand print ceremony outside of TCL (Graumann’s) Chinese Theater or wait in line for two hours to see a rare appearance made by Maureen O’Hara.

But my favorite event was “Ask Robert,” which started under the pretense of a question and answer portion for Robert Osborne.

After four questions from the audience, Osborne’s lavalier microphone supposedly stopped working. Jeopardy’s host Alex Trebek appeared to remedy the issue.

The event turned more into “This is Your Life” celebration for Osborne to celebrate 20 years of Turner Classic Movies. Celebrities such as Eva Marie Saint, Diane Baker, Alec Baldwin, Bill Cosby (on video), Cher (on video) Robert Wagner, Jill St. John, and pianist Michael Feinstein shared stories about Osborne.

The crowd and guests toasted to Robert Osborne and 20 years of TCM. (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica Pickens)

The crowd and guests toasted to Robert Osborne and 20 years of TCM. (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica Pickens)

What you see is what you get,” said Osborne’s cousin. “When he talks to you, he makes you feel like you are the only person in the world that he wants to talk to.”

I also had the privilege to hear musician Quincy Jones and actor Alan Arkin reflect on their careers, as well as former child actress Margaret O’Brien pay tribute to the late Mickey Rooney.

“He always had his ‘Mickey’ face,” O’Brien said.

Maureen O’Hara received a standing ovation and she weakly waved her hand to tell everyone to sit down.

“Don’t be fooled into thinking I do magic things,” said the 93-year-old Irish actress.

The Turner Classic Film Festival is four days filled with film watching and walking down the strangest place in America- Hollywood Boulevard. You may don’t eat much, you may sleep four hours a night and it’s wonderful.

Posing with Robert Osborne's star on the Walk of Fame in front of the Montalban Theater. (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica Pickens)

Posing with Robert Osborne’s star on the Walk of Fame in front of the Montalban Theater. (Comet Over Hollywood/Jessica Pickens)

Watch Comet Over Hollywood during the next few days for more detailed posts on different festival events including Jerry Lewis’s hand print ceremony, Maureen O’Hara’s appearance and Margaret O’Brien’s tribute to Mickey Rooney.

Which movies did I watch?
*American Graffiti (1973)
*East of Eden (1955)
*Paper Moon (1973)
*The Italian Job (1968)
*Eraserhead (1977)
*How Green Was My Valley (1941)
*Her Sister’s Secret (1946)
*National Velvet (1944)
*Gone with the Wind (1939)
*The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (1968)
*The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Which special guests did I see? 
*Candy Clark- American Graffiti
*Paul Le Mat- American Graffiti
*Bo Hopkins- American Graffiti (who is also from Greenville, SC)
*Eva Marie Saint- Ask Robert
*Alex Trebek- Ask Robert
*Diane Baker- Ask Robert
*Alec Baldwin- Ask Robert
*Jill St. John- Ask Robert
*Robert Wagner- Ask Robert
*Michael Feinstein- Ask Robert
*Quincy Jones- Italian Job
*Maureen O’Hara- How Green is my Valley
*Here Sister’s Secret- Arianne Ulmer Cipes, daughter of Edgar Ulmer
*The Heart is a Lonely Hunter- Alan Arkin
*Jerry Lewis during his hand print ceremony
*Quentin Tarantino during his hand print ceremony

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

 

The Comet goes to the TCM Film Festival

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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.

Turner Classic Film Festival: Mitzi Gaynor and South Pacific

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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.