on the big screen
Some of these films haven't been shown on the big screen since the decade they were released. Others screen regularly. Either way, watching these movies decades later in the way they were originally intended, in a dark theater with strangers, brings a sense of community, nostalgia, and potential new perspectives. Also, there can be a high rate of unintentional laughter.
February 24, 2020
This year, Noir City Hollywood is going all out – and international! In the past, fans were usually treated to two movies per night across the 10-day extravaganza, sometimes with a triple or quadruple feature throw in for max noir effect. But this year’s calendar blows that out of the water.
December 18, 2019
Cinecon bestowed their esteemed Legacy Award to three actresses at this year’s festival: Ann Robinson, Gigi Perreau and Barbara Rush. I had the grand opportunity to be present for all three awards and Q&As, two of which I’ve already covered, Robinson's and Perreau's. That leaves Rush.
November 19, 2019
If I could listen to one classic film star tell me stories for a day, it would be Ann Robinson, who was one of three recipients of the Cinecon Legacy Award at this year’s Cinecon Classic Film Festival. I’ve heard her speak a few times before, interviewed her on the TCMFF red carpet, and I would now like to be her best friend, please.
October 18, 2019
This past September, Gigi Perreau was honored with the 2019 Cinecon Legacy Award along with Ann Robinson and Barbara Rush.
Cinecon programmed Perreau’s 1950 film For Heaven’s Sake to pay tribute to the actress, a quirky comedy I had never heard of before.
September 13, 2019
This year, I had the opportunity to attend all five days of Cinecon, which is always exhilarating... and very tiring.
Last week I shared my recap of the first two days, which you can read here. Now it's time to wrap this review up with the final three days of the fest, Saturday-Monday.
September 5, 2019
Cinecon Classic Film Festival #55 hit two milestones this year: They celebrated 30 consecutive years in LA (prior to that the locations varied) and their 20th anniversary at the American Cinematheque. I’m always amazed at how five days of nonstop cinema race by so fast. My personal schedule for the fest this year was extremely ambitious. How’d I do? Well...
August 19, 2019
Labor Day weekend is almost upon us, and in the classic movie world, that signals one thing: Cinecon! For the last two years, out of town weddings have prohibited my full attendance at the fest, but this year I am FREE! (Well, save for work on Friday.) Cinecon 55 will present 46 programs, with many of the films projected on 35mm. I’ve only heard of about 5 of those selections, which is roughly 10%.
August 1, 2019
The Cinecon Classic Film Festival returns to Hollywood August 29 through September 2 with close to 50 rare shorts and features, special celebrity guests, and an outstanding memorabilia show.
I had the chance to ask Cinecon President Stan Taffel a few questions about the festival as they gear up for another exciting year celebrating unusual and overlooked classic movies.
June 28, 2019
The Bad Seed is one of the earliest classic films I saw. So, as you can imagine, a huge thrill of TCMFF 2019 was talking to the star herself, Patty McCormack, on the red carpet. Heck, I even had the chance to tell her about the time my friend dressed as her character from The Bad Seed for Halloween! I unfortunately didn’t make the poolside screening, but I did swing by for McCormack’s conversation with Eddie Muller beforehand. Below are some highlights from what I caught.
May 10, 2019
For the 4th (!) year in a row, I had the privilege of covering the red carpet at the opening night of TCMFF. While it’s always an honor to speak with the festival’s special guests, the occasion this year was particularly meaningful because 2019 marks the 10th year of the festival and the 25th anniversary of TCM; though I haven’t been a fan of TCM all 25 years (I was a child when the network debuted, so I get a pass), I’m a proud TCMFF 10-time attendee.
April 23, 2019
I woke up Sunday not believing it was the final day of TCMFF. Seriously, how can 60 hours fly by so fast? This morning presented a big decision: Holiday (1938), one of my gateways to classic film, or Mad Love (1935), which I’ve never seen before. Mad Love it was! Luckily, I took another glance at the schedule before leaving my apartment and noticed the movie was playing at the Egyptian, which was a good call, because the theater was packed.
April 20, 2019
Less than six hours of sleep on Friday night didn’t stop me from jumping out of bed early to hit the road for Saturday’s packed day of programming! I made it in plenty of time to catch When Worlds Collide, a 1951 sci-fi flick I thought I hadn’t seen before. (The jury’s still out—the spaceship looked very familiar, but this is a 1950s science fiction picture we’re talking about.)
April 18, 2019
I had a full schedule Friday and tried to hit the ground running, but that didn’t quite happen. Somehow, I thought it would be acceptable to roll up to a 9am pre-Code (1932’s Merrily We Go to Hell) at about 8:20 but... no. I knew it was going to present a difficulty when I woke up at 7:20, looked at Twitter, and found that people were in line before 7am.
April 16, 2019
Though I spend weeks preparing for TCM's Classic Film Festival, it always seems to rush in like a cinematic tornado—sweeping in quickly and catching all us film fans up in 3.5 days of movie madness, just to drop us back in the real world on Monday, which is where I am right now. Click below for a recap of the first day of TCMFF #10.
April 10, 2019
One of the two movies playing for TCMFF’s late-night crowd this year is 1961’s Santo contra el cerebro del mal (Santo vs. the Evil Brain). TCM has brought in two special guests for this screening, film archivists/restorationists Viviana Garcia Besne and Peter Conheim, both of whom worked to restore the movie. I had the opportunity to ask Besne some questions, not only about this film and the Santo series, but also about the archive she founded, Permanencia Voluntaria.
March 28, 2019
We’re almost there—in just 14 days, TCMFF’s 10th anniversary will be upon us! The full festival schedule was unleashed last week, and as per usual, since then attendees have been feverishly plotting their plan(s) of attack. The network has some fantastic programming in store for this milestone event, and it’s always an exhilarating/nerve-wracking/melodramatic/sorrowful endeavor putting together a schedule. So with that, below are my picks for TCMFF 2019—plus an extra title or two for every time slot. My guess is that it's 59% likely I'll stick to these selections, as goes the fest!
March 18, 2019
Noir City Hollywood is finally of age! In honor of their 21st year, the fest continues a theme they’ve celebrated previously, showcasing A and B films released in the same year—this time focusing on the 1950s. The program features a hearty mix of very well-known pictures (that I haven’t yet watched) and a handful of new-to-me rarities, which I always love. That said, below is my preview of Noir City Hollywood 21!
March 11, 2019
Besides the incredible guests TCM assembles for each film festival, my favorite moments are the exceptional programs they bring to Hollywood. As we inch closer to TCMFF #10, below is a list of my top 10 favorite TCMFF special presentations from years past.
February 27, 2019
And just like that, UCLA Film and Television Archive’s Festival of Preservation is over. Attendees were treated to a marathon of 23 blocks of programming across a three-day span, and while my body generally rebels against epic day-long film events like this, I was pleased to attend nine screenings. Click below to read my highlights from the fest.
February 18, 2019
Over the past nine years, I’ve had the opportunity to engage with TCMFF from a number of different angles: I volunteered in 2010 and 2013, accessed the fest through the standby line from 2010-2014, worked as a Social Producer in 2015 and 2016, and attended as a member of the media in 2017 and 2018. As TCMFF #10 looms on the horizon, I thought I’d share more about these rich and varied festival experiences.
January 28, 2019
Every other year, the UCLA Film and Television Archive presents the Festival of Preservation, and every other year, I eagerly wait for UCLA to unveil the lineup.
In years past, the Festival of Preservation has spread over the month of March. That said, this year I was both surprised and relieved to read that the event would take place over a weekend in February… until I saw the schedule, and my relief morphed into slight apprehension.
January 11, 2019
In honor of TCM Classic Film Festival’s 10th anniversary this April, I thought I’d share my favorite experience from each of the nine events I’ve attended so far. As you’ll see, my TCMFF adventures have ranged based on the type of access I’ve had, from volunteer and standby line-attempter to Social Producer and Media passholder. I’ll be writing another article covering the different capacities from which I’ve enjoyed TCMFF, but for now, here are my most memorable fest moments from 2010-2018.
November 7, 2018
Welcome to part 2 of my Noir City Hollywood 20 recap!
Two weeks ago I covered the movies I thought were fine and dandy. Now comes the ultra-fun part: This week I’m re-visiting the inexplicable/weird/wacky selections. And they didn’t disappoint.
October 26, 2018
For Noir City Hollywood’s 20th anniversary, the team—Eddie Muller, Alan K. Rode, and Gwen Deglise—thought it appropriate to program all LA-set films as a nod to where Noir City started. Out of the 20 screenings, I was able to attend 11. As with festival #19, I’m splitting up my recap into the good and the bizarre. First up: the good—and only 6 months late!
September 26, 2018
I’ve done some crazy things for classic movies, but taking an early morning flight back home hours after a wedding probably tops my list. And while a Paramount B-picture usually wouldn’t be worth the effort, the entire event I was racing to on the final day of Cinecon 54 certainly was. Seconds after I realized Marsha Hunt’s film debut, the rarely screened The Virginia Judge (1935), was programed Monday afternoon at Cinecon—at a time I could possibly swing—I started researching ways I could make the screening.
September 21, 2018
Welcome to my Friday recap from Cinecon 54! Though Friday was the first full day of the festival, I only attended the evening screenings, as I had a nine hour workday to get through first. That meant I unfortunately missed out on the 1933 bonkers sounding sci-fi/comedy/??? pre-Code It’s Great to Be Alive and the discussion with Eva Marie Saint, BUT I was thrilled to catch Colleen Moore’s 1920 silent comedy So Long, Letty. So, it all balanced out.
September 17, 2018
Cinecon 54 was a whirlwind for me! Despite a jam-packed weekend, I fit in six features and five shorts across three days of the festival. I was fortunate to catch several rare, must-see pictures, while also discovering a few new gems, which is what Cinecon is all about to me.
First day’s first: Thursday!
August 16, 2018
Labor Day weekend is around the corner, and you know what that means: CINECON!
Basically, Cinecon is like a newly released Netflix show—this event is meant to binge, from 9am till midnight, with built in meal breaks and a few minutes respite in between movies for four and a half days.
July 12, 2018
Welcome to part 2 of my series highlighting TCMFF 2018 guests who shared stories from the past that invoked many concerns society is dealing with today. Last month I covered Q&As with Claude Jarman Jr. (Intruder in the Dust) and Nancy Kwan (The World of Suzie Wong), who discussed topics of racism and diversity.
June 21, 2018
More so than previous festivals, the past – ugliness and all – came roaring back at TCMFF 2018, particularly during introductions and Q&As. As the festival marched on, I noticed a subject popping up in numerous discussions: the present and, specifically, how many of the issues we are currently dealing with have been battled in the past both on and off camera.
May 6, 2018
Get ready for this, because it may blow your mind: On the final day of TCMFF, I only watched one - yes, one - movie in full.
Luckily, I wasn’t married to any of the 9am selections, because 1. That meant I got to sleep in, which was very much appreciated, and 2. I was able to attend a special event at Larry Edmunds Bookstore, “A Morning with Marsha.”
May 4, 2018
Saturday started off with a nice mile long walk, which may sound incredibly lengthy to those who live in LA, but really, it's not.
From one of my free parking spots on Sunset, I hoofed it to the Arclight's Cinerama Dome for a special presentation of Windjammer: The Voyage of the Christian Radich, the first - and last - picture made in the Cinemiracle process.
May 2, 2018
This year, I told myself to take it easy at TCMFF... well that went out the window on Friday morning.
After prying myself out of bed, I hustled over to the Chinese Multiplex for Intruder in the Dust (1949), introduced by Donald Bogle and Claude Jarman Jr, an incredibly skilled child actor who co-starred in the picture.
April 30, 2018
How can four days fly by in the blink of an eye? The 9th annual TCM Classic Film Festival wrapped yesterday (technically, it ended around 1am this morning at In-N-Out for me) and in a way, it feels like it was all a dream. An incredibly long, blissful reverie, at that. In my opinion, TCMFF is adopting cues from San Diego Comic Con: Though officially the program kicks off Thursday, press events begin the day before and many unofficial TCM fan groups organize meet-ups in the days leading up to opening night.
April 11, 2018
The full schedule for the 9th annual TCM Classic Film Festival was unleashed upon the world one week ago, and as usual, it was immediately embraced, scrutinized, and agonized over with fervor from fans across the globe. Below is my tentative game plan. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed/fretted/pulled my hair out compiling it.
April 2, 2018
2018 is a milestone year for Noir City Hollywood, with the festival celebrating its 20th edition in Los Angeles. To commemorate two decades in the City of Angels, Noir City 20’s theme is – surprise! – the city itself. Having grown up in northern New Jersey where my first urban interaction was the hustle and bustle of Manhattan, I've never come to think of Los Angeles as a city, but rather a series of interconnected suburbs, save for downtown.
February 26, 2018
“This story has been sitting in Van Nuys for 90 years,” Jason Wise, director of Wait for Your Laugh, declared of his subject, Rose Marie, at a Q&A at the Egyptian Theater on November 18, 2017. I for one am certainly glad that the almost century-long story was captured on film (actual film – both 35mm and 16mm) and even more so that Marie was able to witness its release and appreciate all the lovely praise the movie received before she passed away on December 28, 2017.
February 1, 2018
Welcome to part 3 of my recap from UCLA Film and Television Archive's series Recuerdos de un cine en español: Latin American Cinema in Los Angeles, 1930-1960. In my first review, I explored two daring 1934 titles, La mujer del puerto (Mexico) and Nada más que una mujer (US), and last week, I covered two suspenseful Mexican productions, La otra (1946) and El vampiro (1957). To conclude my series recap, I'm going to shift focus to a trio of lighter entries, all produced in the US: ¡Asegure a su mujer! (1935), No dejes la puerta abierta (1933), and Castillos en el aire (1938).
January 24, 2018
Welcome to part 2 of my recap from UCLA Film and Television Archive's series Recuerdos de un cine en español: Latin American Cinema in Los Angeles, 1930-1960. Last week, in addition to marveling at the fact that downtown Los Angeles was the center of a booming Spanish-language cinema culture from the 1930s-1950s, I explored two daring titles from the series, both from 1934: La mujer del puerto (Mexico) and Nada más que una mujer (US). This week I continue the dark streak with two suspenseful Mexican productions, La otra (1946) and El vampiro (1957).
January 16, 2018
From September 23-December 10, 2017, the UCLA Film and Television Archive presented the series Recuerdos de un cine en español: Latin American Cinema in Los Angeles, 1930-1960 as part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA. The event boasted an eclectic mix of entries varying in both genre and country of origin.
I only caught about one quarter of almost 40 titles that screened during the series. First up in my recap: two of the darker entries I saw, La mujer del puerto and Nada más que una mujer, both from 1934.
November 22, 2017
Welcome to part 2 of my UCLA Festival of Preservation 2017 review! Last week, I covered the good. This week, I'll tackle the ugly, which ranges from strange to disappointing to WTF and beyond. Regrettably, this edition failed to uncover a gem as outlandish as 2015 entry Ouanga (1933/35/36/41?), but I will say, some of these movies come close to rivaling Ouanga's ludicrous tale.
Before we begin, catch up with part 1 of my recap. Then brace yourselves for something sort of different...
November 13, 2017
Well, another successful UCLA Festival of Preservation wrapped... over seven months ago. (Better late than never, right?) Of the movies I saw, I'd call roughly one quarter of them gems and another quarter thoroughly entertaining. The rest? Some were so screwy that I found it hard to suppress my unintentional laughter, while others were simply, well, lackluster. So this year I decided to break my recap down into the good, the bad and the ugly/oddly compelling messes. Yup, just two. First up: the good!
September 14, 2017
Well, more accurately shook things up, because the noir-tastic fest wrapped its 19th year at the Egyptian Theater in LA over five months ago, at the beginning of April. (What can I say? I've been busy!) This article's tardiness aside, the slate for #19 indeed appeared different, as A-B titles from the same year were scheduled every evening for 10 consecutive nights, starting with 1942 and running through 1953 with a few years absent in between.
August 15, 2017
Cinecon returns to the Egyptian Theater for round 53 on August 31! Worlds apart from TCMFF, Cinecon delights by presenting mostly obscure, forgotten features and shorts; some titles are so rare I have little doubt their programming will satisfy the most hardcore film fan. I noted on Twitter that I hadn't heard of 3/4 of the pictures scheduled for this year, but upon closer inspection, that number lowers to about 7/8; out of 40 movies on this year's slate, not counting programs that don't list the individual shorts or clips, I'd only heard of 5, and of those, I've only seen 2.
June 27, 2017
Welcome to my final piece (I promise) on TCMFF 2017's Special Presentations! If you'd like to catch up on my previous musings, here they are: This is Cinerama, It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, and Republic Preserved.
Glancing over the program I received when I walked into The Great Nickelodeon Show, I could tell this would be an event unlike any other I'd attended at TCMFF.
June 13, 2017
I know I reported that my final piece on TCMFF 2017's Special Presentations would cover both Republic Preserved and The Great Nickelodeon Show, but I'm splitting the last two up for easier reading purposes, aka a sane word count.
The archiving/preservation admirer in me found TCMFF's Republic Preserved presentation, consisting of a clip reel and Q&A, thoroughly compelling.
May 30, 2017
As I’ve mentioned previously, I didn’t stay for the screening of It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1963) at TCMFF, but I couldn’t resist a Ben Burtt and Craig Barron production. With a total of three Oscars in between the team for sound effects editing (Burtt: 2) and visual effects (Barron: 1), I assumed the discussion would center around the technology behind Cinerama, but I was wrong. With their signature banter and lighthearted zest, the duo gave those of us who made it out of bed for a 9am start time a whirlwind introduction to the “Unsung Heroes” of IAMMMMW.
May 18, 2017
TCMFF special presentations, programs I generally consider unique to TCMFF, normally rank as my top priorities at the fest, and this year was no different. From Ben Burtt and Craig Barron's discussion before It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1963) and The Great Nickelodeon Show to This is Cinerama (1952) and Republic Preserved, these shows definitely landed among my festival highlights. I'll be splitting my coverage up into three separate pieces, the first one focusing on This is Cinerama.
April 28, 2017
There was a new - well, old - kid in town at TCMFF this year: nitrate. TCM programmed one nitrate selection at the Egyptian Theater each evening of the festival, two in black and white and two in color: The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934), Laura (1944), Black Narcissus (1947) and Lady in the Dark (1944). Of the four titles, I caught all but Laura - not too shabby, if I do say so myself.
April 14, 2017
Day 4: Sunday 4/9
As Cock of the Air (1932) is rather rare, my original plan for the final day of TCMFF was to attempt another viewing. But the more I thought about it, the more I really didn't want to get up at 7am to battle crowds at 8 for a 9 o'clock start.
April 13, 2017
Day 3: Saturday 4/8
This is Cinerama (1952)
Cinerama: 2, Kim: 0.5. Another morning, another trip to the Cinerama Dome. Whereas the Dome was built for It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1963), This is Cinerama was also a landmark: it was the first Cinerama film produced. So I couldn't miss it - well, I actually could miss part of it, and I did.
April 12, 2017
Welcome to my recap of the first full day of TCMFF 2017 programming! To read my rundown of day 1, please click here.
Day 2: Friday 4/7
It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1963)
Fest surprise #1 of the day. In my TCMFF 2017 preview, my first choice for this slot was Beyond the Mouse, and my second preference was Rafter Romance (1933). Well, I threw both of those ideas out the window and instead trekked over to the Cinerama Dome for It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, the movie the Cinerama Dome was literally built for.
April 11, 2017
Now that the buzz has (barely) simmered down and the parade has packed up and left town, it's time to take a look back at the classic film bonanza that was the 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival.
Though fest programming officially begins on Thursday, the last few years my TCMFF-related activities have kicked off a day or two prior; this time, it was Wednesday night.
April 10, 2017
Another TCM Classic Film Festival has come and gone! At the closing night party, the most common question asked was: "What were your favorite screenings and festival highlights?" I haven't had the time to reflect on the experience as a whole, but a few revelations popped up as I navigated the fest. So before I dive into my more comprehensive recap, below are some more immediate takeaways and surprises from TCMFF 2017.
March 30, 2017
As expected, the TCMFF schedule release on March 20th sent me into a flutter. Upon discovering a flurry of tweets, I hopped on the TCMFF site and commenced with my schedule scrutiny. I posted my fest preview last week, but as I've had the chance to settle in with the full agenda, here's my broader reflection on the program as a whole.
March 22, 2017
Every year, thousands congregate in Hollywood to celebrate the classics over four non-stop, filled-to-the-brim days of movies, Q&As and special events at TCMFF. This isn't the first rodeo for many fest-goers; we know the entire program is usually unleashed 2.5-3 weeks before opening night, and this past Monday TCM published the full festival schedule online. Despite the expectation, I'm 98% sure the announcement flung many classic film aficionados' daily agendas into disarray!
March 10, 2017
I am very proud to announce that for the first time I See A Dark Theater will be covering the TCM Classic Film Festival as a member of the media! As I noted two years ago in a post discussing my experience at each TCMFF, I've had the good fortune to live in LA since the festival's debut in 2010. Every year, I've attended in one capacity or another - volunteering for two years, battling the standby lines for a few more and working as a Social Producer in 2015 and 2016.
March 7, 2017
It's almost time for Noir City Hollywood 19! This year, the dark and devious extravaganza is sandwiched between UCLA Film and Television Archive's Festival of Preservation (they actually overlap two evenings) and the TCM Classic Film Festival.
After reviewing the Noir City Hollywood 19 schedule, I came to the conclusion that I wanted to see pretty much everything programmed this year, which is rather astounding for me, because I am quite picky with what I watch.
February 23, 2017
At a UCLA Film and Television Archive nitrate screening of Road House (1948) this past January, I noticed the Archive's programming guides in the lobby only read January-February 2017, when they usually cover three calendar months. Programmer Paul Malcolm explained the oversight wasn't actually one at all: a special occasion in March, the Festival of Preservation, would warrant a guide devoted entirely to that celebration. As one of my favorite events in the city, I can't imagine how I could have forgotten that it was time for the Festival of Preservation again!
February 13, 2017
I can always count on TCM to throw some rare gem(s) almost no one knows about into their TCMFF schedule: at the 2014 festival, it was On Approval (1944); in 2015, Why Be Good? (1929) and in 2016, One Potato, Two Potato (1964).
As I noted in one of my wrap-up posts, a fire alarm interrupted the final few minutes of One Potato, Two Potato. Though the emotional impact of the uninterrupted picture would have arguably packed a stronger punch, the gut-wrenching ending nonetheless hit hard.
January 20, 2017
I live within walking distance of the Cinefamily, but for some reason I don’t browse their calendar as often as I peruse other venues'. Their eclectic programming in general skews more peculiar than my selective tastes, but their special tributes and series draw me in multiple times a year.
Last week, the Cinefamily screened Jean Renoir's La Grande Illusion (1937), followed by a Q&A with actor/director/film historian Peter Bogdanovich and author Pascal Mérigeau, whose 2012 French work Jean Renoir: A Biography has just been translated into English.
December 22, 2016
This article was originally written for the American Cinematheque. They graciously let me re-print it here, in edited form.
The below is a throwback post from April 2013, when Debbie Reynolds spoke in between screenings of Singin’ in the Rain (1952) and The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964) at the Egyptian Theater.
November 23, 2016
From January-March 2016, the UCLA Film and Television Archive hosted "Out of the Ether: Radio Mysteries and Thrillers on Screen." Classic thrillers are a rather beloved genre of mine, but the radio mysteries part - that really intrigued me. As explained on UCLA's site: "Lesser known is the movement of radio programs to film," a statement I certainly agree with.
October 28, 2016
Welcome to I See A Dark Theater's Halloween favorites, part 2! Herein you will find three more season-friendly picks that are not intense, gory horror flicks but rather slightly creepy, totally bizarre and oftentimes psychologically manipulative films. For the most part, they are just as alarming as your run-of-the-mill suspense tale, albeit in different ways.
October 21, 2016
It's October, which appears to have morphed into everyone's favorite month seemingly because 1. fall, 2. pumpkin everything and 3. Halloween and scares galore.
By and large, I am not a fan of horror. Modern shock films that contain as much gore as war movies do not interest me. Some of the effects and frights in thrillers rocket me completely out of my seat. Put simply, I don't like to be scared. But I like films that make me think, or even ones that creep me out (only slightly though).
September 20, 2016
Welcome to part 2 of my Cinecon 52 coverage! If you missed my first post a week and a half ago, you can find it right here. This is a roundup of the films and programs I caught during the last three days of the festival.
Espionage, 1920s style. Diplomacy is a very rare, well-made spy mystery starring Neil Hamilton. "Rare," "Neil Hamilton" and "mystery" were the deciding factors for me.
September 9, 2016
As per usual, Labor Day weekend 2016 in Los Angeles was warm and (mostly) sunny. Or so I've been told. I spent a good chunk of my four and a half day weekend indoors, taking in rarity after rarity in the Egyptian Theater at Cinecon 52.
This is the second year I've been able to experience Cinecon. (If you're so inclined, take a look at my wrap-up piece from 2015.)
August 26, 2016
Outside of a festival like TCMFF, Cinecon or Noir City, I am rarely in a theater every evening. That's why I was struck by a week recently which found me gazing at movies on the big screen - well, at least a screen bigger than my TV, though not always in a theater - six nights in a row. In particular, three of those evenings involved unique, memorable cinematic experiences.
August 16, 2016
Labor Day is fast approaching, and that means it’s almost time for the Cinecon Classic Film Festival in Hollywood. I usually jet off somewhere over the long weekend, but last year I stayed in LA and got my very first taste of Cinecon. Now I can’t seem to justify leaving and missing out on the festival's one-of-a-kind slate of "rare, unusual and unjustly forgotten" films.
July 26, 2016
My admiration of Marsha Hunt is no secret on this site. So, when it was announced that she would participate in a Q&A before a 75th anniversary screening of 1940's Pride and Prejudice at the Laemmle in West LA, I jumped on the site to purchase a ticket...before they even went on sale.
July 7, 2016
As I noted in my last post, even though TCMFF 2016 wrapped over 2 months ago, I still have a lot of content to share, and I figure this blog is a better outlet than my phone's internal storage.
This time around, I have snippets from discussions with two cinema legends who hail from Europe: Anna Karina (who was in from France for a screening of 1964's Band of Outsiders) and Gina Lollobrigida (who was a festival special guest, attending screenings of 1956's Trapeze and 1968's Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell and participating in a Club TCM conversation with Leonard Maltin).
June 23, 2016
Yes, I know it's been almost two months since TCMFF 2016, and the bulk of my pieces published since then have focused on the festival. I still have a huge amount of content to share and figure this is a better outlet than my phone's internal storage.
Below are highlights from two very different Q&As, both of which accompanied movies celebrating 50th anniversaries this year. The first was with Bruce Brown, director of The Endless Summer ('66), and the second was with Eva Marie Saint, star of The Russians Are Coming the Russians Are Coming ('66).
June 14, 2016
Angela Lansbury reminds me of two very different people: my boss and my maternal grandmother.
My boss, because of their closeness in age (yes, you read that right, and my boss is actually older) and their longevity, persistence and enormous work ethic.
May 24, 2016
This past February and March, the UCLA Film and Television Archive hosted a series entitled "Action, Anarchy, and Audacity: A Seijun Suzuki Retrospective," overseen by Tom Vick, curator of film, Freer and Sackler Galleries, Smithsonian Institution, and co-organized with the Japan Foundation.
For once, I'm not posting abnormally late (read: a year) with a review or post, and that's because Seijun Suzuki celebrates his 93rd birthday today. I figured it would fitting to share this piece for the occasion.
May 10, 2016
Here's a recap of my 3rd and 4th days at TCMFF 2016. For my review of the first two days of the fest, click here.
Day 3: Saturday 4/30
90th Anniversary of Vitaphone
After collapsing into bed around 1am Friday night and not falling asleep easily - thank you, last 20 minutes of The Manchurian Candidate (1962) - I knew Saturday morning would be rough. And it was.
May 6, 2016
Since I live in LA, there's generally no singular moment that signifies the start of TCMFF, like boarding a plane or checking in at a hotel in Hollywood. Though the festivities usually begin for me the evening before opening night with an unofficial gathering of TCMFF-ers at the Formosa, my 7th TCMFF actually kicked off one day earlier this year.
May 3, 2016
Once again, the hazy vortex that is TCMFF has past, leaving many utterly exhausted yet supremely satisfied classic film fans in its wake.
All in all, TCMFF 2016 goes down as another incredible and unforgettable festival. I got to interview stars on the red carpet; hear Angela Lansbury, Gina Lollobrigida, Eva Marie Saint and more speak; experience Smell-O-Vision; watch 11 new-to-me movies; help represent the brand as a Social Producer; and of course, catch up with old pals and make some new friends!
April 26, 2016
Well, the 18th edition of Noir City passed just as quickly as it stormed through Hollywood! This festival served as sort of a warm-up for TCMFF #7 for me, as it re-tested my marathon film-watching skills, which, I will confess, are still not very strong, particularly for late night double features watched after a full day of work, or a few hours at the beach, or a cocktail...or two.
That being said, I really enjoyed Noir City. In fact, it was my favorite of the noir festivals I've attended.
April 14, 2016
It's that time again - well, this year we're technically about one month overdue - but yes, I mean TCMFF!
The dates of the 7th annual TCM Classic Film Festival, April 28-May 1, align exactly with the 2011 event. Historically, TCMFF has taken over Hollywood during the last three weeks of April, with the exception being last year, when the 6th edition skipped almost one month ahead to March 26.
April 8, 2016
This year, about two weeks later than usual, Noir City will return to Hollywood for its 18th edition.
In years past, with an overall schedule spanning almost three weeks, Noir City Hollywood usually operated 4-5 nights a week from the Egyptian Theater. However, this time around, with only 10 days to spare, the Egyptian will cater to the shady world of film noir every single evening of the festival, from Friday, April 15 to Sunday, April 24.
March 29, 2016
Last March (as in 2015), UCLA Film and Television Archive's Festival of Preservation presented a handful of films featuring young Spencer Tracy. Among those were two rarely screened Fox pre-Code titles: 1932's Disorderly Conduct and 1934's Now I'll Tell.
Though I don't count myself among the biggest Tracy fans, I'm always down for a pre-Code, especially the seldom seen Fox ones. To my (non) surprise, I enjoyed both movies, and besides the shared Tracy factor, I discovered several similarities between the pictures as well.
March 19, 2016
This piece was originally written for the American Cinematheque, and they graciously gave me permission to re-print it here, in a slightly edited form.
Over the past few years, I've had the opportunity to attend a handful of events that have included introductions and/or discussions with some of classic Hollywood's centenarians.
Last year, I got to add "The Fire and Ice Girl" Patricia Morison to that list, who celebrates her 101st birthday today.
March 9, 2016
Lately, I've found myself looking back at UCLA Film and Television Archive's 2015 Festival of Preservation, which took place one year ago this month. I must say, I made pretty good use of my pass last year, spending about 9 or 10 evenings at the Billy Wilder Theater watching over 15 features and TV movies on the big screen.
By far one of the rarest and most astounding selections programmed was 1960's ultra indie Private Property, the directional debut of Leslie Stevens (later of The Outer Limits fame), which, astonishingly for its age, was thought lost until recently.
January 13, 2016
Disclosure: Peggy Cummins has mesmerized me since I first watched her in Gun Crazy (1950) years ago. Her role in that film is so entrenched in my mind that it's almost difficult to accept her in a comedy or any role where she doesn't portray a hot-blooded femme fatale.
This picture, 1957's Hell Drivers, comes kind of close to Gun Crazy. Sub trucks for guns and keep the violence and you've got a similarity. A British production from blacklisted writer/director Cy Endfield, Hell Drivers can be pretty accurately summed up by the poster to the left. Men, trucks, recklessness, and ferocity.
December 15, 2015
2015 marks the 50th Anniversary of the UCLA Film and Television Archive. The Archive celebrated with several retrospectives, one of them titled "The Greatest Showman: Cecil B. DeMille."
Two films that screened together, The Cheat and The Golden Chance, celebrated their 100th anniversaries this month.
October 28, 2015
In honor of Halloween this weekend, here's a real horror story: a movie most people probably haven't heard of, Ouanga, aka The Love Wanga, aka one of the craziest and most tragic productions in cinema history.
The film screened as part of UCLA Film and Television Archive's 2015 Festival of Preservation earlier this year. A few months ago, I shared one of my favorites from the same festival, 1932's Bachelor's Affairs, a luminous, rarely screened pre-Code comedy. Well, Ouanga, an equally rare and incredibly bizarre indie horror flick, falls on the opposite end of the spectrum.
October 13, 2015
Though I hate watching modern movies in 3-D, I've recently become fascinated with the format after attending the World 3-D Film Expo in September 2013 and watching a handful of movies that screened as part of "The Golden Age of 3-D" series at the Aero Theater.
One of the Aero's "Golden Age of 3-D" presentations a few months ago was a special evening full of 3-D Rarities. Sadly, I was out of town and couldn't attend, but luckily, the program was repeated a month later at the Downtown Independent, co-hosted by the LA 3-D Club and the Los Angeles Film Forum.
September 23, 2015
Two years ago this month, the World 3-D Film Expo took place over 10 days at the Egyptian Theater. I volunteer at the Egyptian regularly, and I love film festivals, so helping out with this one was a no-brainer.
Luckily, my schedule allowed me to catch several screenings, including I, The Jury (1953) and Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954). While I got a kick out of all the movies I saw - some admittedly more for their campiness - by far the zaniest was Robot Monster (1953). That's a title I simply can't take seriously, which naturally compelled me to watch. (It also turns out it's a movie you can't take seriously either. One peek at the poster confirms this.)
September 14, 2015
Each year, Cinecon Classic Film Festival takes place at the Egyptian Theater over Labor Day weekend. And each year, I'm out of town.
Despite this being Cinecon 51, and despite me being an American Cinematheque volunteer for the past three years (Cinecon takes place at the Cinematheque) I sadly never hear or see much marketing for the festival, which is a shame.
August 26, 2015
The 16th edition of Noir City: Hollywood in 2014 featured a tribute to Joan Fontaine, who has long been one of my favorites. Included in the lineup was Fontaine's semi-film noir soap Born to Be Bad (1950), which celebrates its 65th anniversary in 2015. As a special treat, the event also marked the big screen debut (I believe) of the film's 'alternate' ending, which was shown after the movie.
July 27, 2015
Every two years, when the UCLA Film and Television Archive hosts their Festival of Preservation, I can always count on a few rare pre-code selections. The pre-code screening I enjoyed most at the 2015 festival was 1932's Bachelor's Affairs, boasting a director I had never heard of, writers I didn't know, and a main cast consisting of actors usually billed at least 3rd or 4th in the credits.
This is a film capable of catching an audience off guard, and boy did it ever!
July 9, 2015
Helen Hunt Jackson's 1884 novel Ramona is a landmark piece of literature in many ways, one of those being that the work is generally acknowledged as the first book set in Southern California. For that reason alone, it's fitting that the film's world premiere restoration in March 2014, almost 86 years to the day of its original debut in 1928, took place in Southern California at the Billy Wilder Theater, home of the UCLA Film and Television Archive. The Archive assembled an extremely impressive and remarkably diverse group of educators and historians to highlight the different ways in which the film was groundbreaking for its time.
June 29, 2015
Obviously, it was not, but when I saw the movie, I had my suspicions.
The first time I watched Why Be Good? (original title: That's a Bad Girl) was at the 6th Annual TCM Classic Film Festival this year. Immediately after reviewing the schedule, this film made my must-see list for several reasons: 1. the film was thought lost for decades and only recently made available, 2. it was made in 1929 (you know what that means: PRE-CODE!) and 3. it's a sound/silent hybrid (no spoken dialogue but synced soundtrack and sound effects).
June 18, 2015
Back in January, “The Silent Treatment” screened William Wellman’s scarcely seen 1926 dramedy You Never Know Women. The title enticed me to read further, which was when I spotted this description on the Cinefamily’s website: “highly unusual circus romance.”
June 10, 2015
This past January, the Aero Theatre hosted the West Coast re-premiere of Arch Oboler's 1966 3D Sci-Fi classic The Bubble. This Thursday, June 11, the Aero will be hosting a free screening of the film at 9:30pm as part of the American Cinematheque's "The Golden Age of 3D" series. For more information on the screening and the series, please visit their website.
June 3, 2015
Welcome to part 2 of Noir Hollywood 17's Proto Noir wrap-up! The first two films that screened, The Ninth Guest (1934) and Let Us Live (1939), were posted last week here. Below are the two movies that rounded out the quadruplet: pre-codes Heat Lightning (1934) and Safe in Hell (1931).
And yes, they both live up to their scorching titles.
May 27, 2015
"Proto Noir" was the title of the closing evening program of Noir City Hollywood 17. I only know that because I tore hundreds of tickets labeled as such that day as a volunteer at the American Cinematheque.
An appropriately epic sendoff for the festival, the closing night featured not one, not two, not three, but FOUR films screened in a row. As did several of the selections that year, while some of these movies bordered on film noir, others were simply darker suspense tales or dramas leaning heavily on the melodramatic side.
May 11, 2015
...Well, they did bet on women. Or more accurately, woman. Just one.
As I've mentioned several times, pre-codes always register on my must-see TCMFF list.
This year, I happily had the chance to watch three pre-codes on the big screen, including 1931's Don't Bet on Women, which saw enough of a crowd for its first screening that the film was given a second one.
May 5, 2015
Authors David Pierce and James Layton spent Friday morning at the 2015 TCMFF presenting a fascinating lecture on the use of Technicolor in early movie musicals. The discussion was based in part on their book, The Dawn of Technicolor: 1915-1935, which focuses on the Technicolor company's attempts to put color on the screen during its first two decades.
Since you can't have musicals without sound, the presentation concentrated on the early sound years, in particular 1929-1930.
April 28, 2015
After acting in five Bond films, Sean Connery walked away from the iconic role. TCM's Ben Mankiewicz guessed the casting search rivaled the one for Gone with the Wind's Scarlett O'Hara decades before, but George Lazenby, the man who stepped into Connery's shoes, narrowed the number down: approximately 3000 actors were looked at and 300 tested on film.
I don't know if those numbers are true or not - I took most everything Lazenby said with a grain of salt - but by his conversation with Mankiewicz, you could definitely tell why he won the role of James Bond.
April 21, 2015
As I suspected, one of my must-see events at the 2015 TCM Classic Film Festival, "Return of the Dream Machine," turned into a festival highlight for me.
The presentation was very TCM-esque and highlighted what the network does best at their annual festival: bringing together experts to create an atmospheric, memorable evening that brought film history to life.
April 16, 2015
“I love this!” Immediately after Shirley MacLaine looked out into the audience and uttered those words, she went giddy over a man’s bald head in the front row: “Look at his head. It’s so shiny!”
(Right off the bat, I wasn't expecting this interview to stay totally focused on the film at hand, which I was initially hoping for. But Shirley did discuss the movie a fair amount, so I was satisfied in the end).
The moment I heard that Shirley MacLaine would be a guest at the 2015 TCM Classic Film Festival, I eagerly penciled one of her two films on my must-see list.
April 10, 2015
(To be honest, I don't think they live too far out of town...)
During our final Social Producers meeting on Sunday morning, we were all asked to name our personal highlight of the festival thus far. To my surprise, almost everyone mentioned a different movie or presentation, which reminded me of the sheer variety and immense quantity of movies included in this year's festival.
April 2, 2015
I don't think anyone got a full night's sleep on Friday, and even though most all of us had a coffee cup firmly planted in hand by our 8am Social Producers meeting, I think we all knew Saturday would be a very long day.
I began my morning at 9:15am with a pre-code, 1929's tantalizingly titled Why Be Good?, starring Colleen Moore and Neil Hamilton.
March 31, 2015
The 6th Annual TCM Classic Film Festival wrapped up two days ago, and I think I still need another week to fully recover. In a totally good- had way too much fun-got too little sleep way.
As I mentioned previously, this was the first year I 1. had a pass and 2. attended all four full days of the festival. People have asked me what the highlight of the event was, and to be honest, it will probably take another few days for everything to sink in. Nevertheless, I can say without a doubt that this festival was my favorite of all six I've attended simply because this was the first time I actually felt fully immersed in the experience.
March 24, 2015
In honor of the sixth annual TCM Classic Film Festival, which kicks off later this week in Hollywood, I looked back at the last five festivals I've attended in varying degrees of capacity and success.
When I first heard that TCM was planning a film festival in Hollywood in 2009, I flipped. I had just moved to LA a few months before, and my future in the city was still shaky at the point; for me, that announcement was like a sign that I had landed in the right spot. I was so excited that the festival would take place in my own (relatively new) backyard, and I'm incredibly grateful that I've been able to remain in LA for the past six years.
March 18, 2015
It seems that each year, the anticipation for the release of the TCM Film Festival schedule grows by leaps and bounds.
As my pal Jill noted on Twitter, the complete schedule for the festival is usually released three weeks beforehand, which gives attendees enough time to adequately get their ducks in order. But let's be honest. We don't really need a full three weeks; a good chunk of people already have their itinerary plotted out within hours of the schedule's release. Or at least the first of several drafts.
March 13, 2015
In 1972, Sam Fuller directed an English-language episode of a German TV detective series called Tatort. Forty-three years later, the UCLA Festival of Preservation showed a rarely seen director's cut of the picture, which was released as a feature in the US. The event was historic for a number of reasons: the version played that evening came with an additional 30 minutes not aired on TV, the film's star (and director's wife) Christa Fuller was in attendance for a Q&A, and the screening also marked the Archive's first digital restoration.
March 8, 2015
UCLA Film and Television Archive's 2015 Festival of Preservation kicked off Thursday night with a screening of Anthony Mann's 1957 combat drama Men in War.
While I usually walk into screenings at the Archive's Billy Wilder Theater a minute or two before the show starts (I really dislike those hot pink seats), I know better for big events like this.
Feburary 27, 2015
Once every month, a series entitled "Retroformat" occupies the Spielberg Theater at the American Cinematheque. Retroformat promises patrons rare silent films screened on 8mm accompanied by live music, usually performed by Cliff Retallick.
The evening I attended in April 2014 focused on D.W. Griffith Biograph shorts from 1909-1910, which was Part 3 of a series on D. W. Griffith’s work at Biograph from 1908-1913.
Feburary 17, 2015
The UCLA Festival of Preservation only comes around once every two years, usually in March, and you can bet that my March calendar has been blocked off for the past five or six months.
When the Archive unveiled the 2015 schedule in early February, I clicked the link with excitement. The event always promises a mixture of film and television rediscoveries across a multitude of genres - after all, it’s called the UCLA Film and Television Archive, the second part I sometimes forget - and this year was no different.
Feburary 2, 2015
Back in November 2014, the fine folks at Black Maria announced that they would be hosting their first ever classic film screening in Los Angeles on January 30, 2015. The movie: Libeled Lady (1936). The venue: The Silent Movie Theatre, aka The Cinefamily.
In addition to the fantastic venue and film, which happens to be one of my favorite classic comedies and one that I rarely see being screened, the Black Maria staff put together a truly wonderful evening.
January 25, 2015
Somehow, I only found out about Noir City last year. Film noir is one of my favorite genres, so I have no idea how the greatness of this festival, now in its 13th year in San Francisco, eluded me for so many years. Le sigh.
Though I missed the San Francisco event at the beginning of last year, I caught its LA counterpart at the Egyptian Theater in March and April 2014.
January 16, 2015
"I can't wait to hear what you're gonna write...I think I'm in a lot of trouble!"
If I could, I would simply list all the memorable quotes straight from the mouth of Mitzi Gaynor, who cheerfully took the stage at the Regent Theater for a vibrant Q&A with critic Stephen Farber to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of There's No Business Like Show Business in December 2014.
January 7, 2015
“As you all probably know, I was a Communist," Norma Barzman stated matter-of-factly. Silence. "Well, I thought you all knew!"
Not me. I actually knew nothing of Norma Barzman before she took the stage at the UCLA Film and Television Archive in September 2014, but that's not the case anymore.
The writer was in attendance to discuss The Locket, the 1946 movie she penned the story for with the help of her husband, screenwriter Ben Barzman.
December 27, 2014
William Randolph Hearst, already a big name in the newspaper publishing industry during the second part of the 19th century, had always been interested in new technology. Lucky for him, during the last decade of the 1800s a new medium was emerging: moving images.
Working in the business of news in paper form, Hearst realized the huge opportunity and advantage he had in the newsreel business.