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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 9, 2015

This post is part of the 3rd Annual 31 Days of Oscar Blogathon, hosted by Once Upon a ScreenOutspoken & Freckled and Paula’s Cinema Club. It runs Feb. 2-24 and there are many, many participants, so please visit any of the three sites to expand your Oscar knowledge!


Irene Dunne enjoyed a career on screen which lasted from 1930-1952. Her movie career began a bit differently and later than most: Hollywood beckoned after she had a successful career on the stage in several musicals at the ripe old age of 32.

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 31, 2015

This piece is my contribution to the 4th Annual Dueling Divas Blogathon hosted by Lara at Backlots. Please visit her site to read more of the fantastic entries.


Rags Ragland certainly had his hands full filming Whistling in Dixie (1942). After getting a taste of bad boy Sylvester in 1941's Whistling in the Dark, Ragland took on double duty in the sequel, playing Sylvester and his twin, Chester. 

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.

December 16, 2014

I have a confession to make: I have a professional crush on a French film historian and archivist named Serge Bromberg.


I've attended countless screenings that included intros or presentations by film historians/archivists/restorationists/academics/authors/etc, and generally, I've learned a good amount from every one of them. However, there are just some presenters who stand heads beyond the rest. One of those people is Serge Bromberg. 

December 5, 2014

Part of this piece was originally written for the American Cinematheque. They graciously gave me permission to re-print the section here, in a slightly edited form.


In honor of the passing of the 21st Amendment on this day 81 years ago, which repealed Prohibition in America, we're flashing back to a special presentation chef, educator, and historian Ernest Miller gave at the Egyptian Theater in January 2014 on the Prohibition in California. Miller's talk was followed by a screening of the Prohibition era classic The Roaring Twenties (1939). 

November 23, 2014

A few months ago I wrote about watching one of my favorite movies, Gun Crazy (1950) on the big screen at the Alex Theatre in Glendale (to read the piece, click here). Gun Crazy was the first film screened that evening in a Film Noir double feature bill entitled “Chrome-Plated Crime;” the other movie was The Lineup (1958), which I had never seen before.  


Noted film noir scholar Alan K. Rode returned after the screening of Gun Crazy to introduce The Lineup

November 12, 2014

The brief one line synopsis of 1949's Obsession (aka The Hidden Room) on is as follows: A jealous husband plots to dispose of his wife's lover in an acid bath.


If a logline ever prompted a must-see movie in my mind, this was it. Acid bath? How deliciously twisted! (Warning: Spoilers abound)

October 31, 2014

“How many people do you think will actually expire during the exhibition of your motion picture, Macabre?” an employee of Lloyds of London actually asked director William Castle (138). Castle replied with zero, and luckily, over the past 56 years, no one has.


2014 represents, among other things, the 100th birthday of showman William Castle, best known today for directing a variety of B-movies low on budget but high on gimmicks.

October 23, 2014

“The films you’ll see at Home Movie Day enable those of us who weren’t around at the time to visit moments like the New York World’s Fair of 1939-1940, and I for one can’t get enough of those. Documentary filmmakers build whole features around such footage, and I’m sure historians will continue to rely on amateur movies to tell them what life was like in 20th century America.” - Leonard Maltin 


Well put, Mr. Maltin. 

October 11, 2014

Fact: The most decorated costume designer in Oscar history notably possessed no real experience when she was hired by Paramount as a costume sketch artist in 1924. She even admitted to borrowing sketches for her interview.  


Ironically, Edith Head would go on to run Paramount's costume department, staying with the studio for 43 years before joining Universal in the late 1960s and working there until 1981. In total, she won eight Oscars and was nominated 35 times. 

October 2, 2014

My experience with Cinerama prior to watching this film involved snapping a photo of the Seattle Cinerama, because a friend said it was one of the last theaters of its kind left in the world. He was right, but I still had no idea what the term meant. So, for those of you like me who didn't/don't know, Cinerama is a process in which a film is displayed onto a large curved screen from three synched 35mm projectors.

September 20, 2014

This month, TCM has been devoting every Friday to one of my favorite eras in film history, Pre-Code Hollywood. The peculiar and intriguing 4-5 years that represent the roughly defined period, beginning around 1929-1930 and ending in the summer of 1934 when the Production Code Administration (PCA) announced that all films released after July 1, 1934 required a seal of approval, were highlighted by movies that pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable on-screen entertainment for the masses in regards to sex, nudity, violence, and other potentially objectionable ideas and themes.   

September 10, 2014

Choosing to watch The Unholy Night (1929) had 100% to do with the title and nothing else.


I did not notice that Lionel Barrymore directed it. I did not know it was an early horror/suspense talkie with sci-fi and comedy twists. Nor did I know Boris Karloff would crash the party.  Of course, given these facts, I would've totally watched the movie regardless, because it sounded like a rollicking good time. 

August 29, 2014

On April 27, 2014, the Aero Theater in Santa Monica presented two rarely screened early works of Alfred Hitchcock, both from 1931: Mary, a German film, and The Skin Game, as part of their program "Beyond the Hitchcock 9." As if watching these two movies in a theater wasn't enough, the Cinematheque also treated the audience to an excerpt of François Truffaut interviewing Hitchcock in the 60s for what would later become the basis for Truffaut's famed work Hitchcock. 

August 20, 2014

I'm a sucker for crazy movie storylines and/or titles, and once again, the UCLA Film and Television Archive delivered during their "Dark City, Open Country: The Films of Anthony Mann" retrospective. The director's film noir-ish drama, 1946's Strange Impersonation, played on February 21, 2014 and promised a "wacky and frenzied plot," according to UCLA's synopsis. "Wacky and frenzied" may be a bit of an understatement. 

August 11, 2014

For those who don't know, a movie exists in which Elizabeth Bennett/Madame Curie/Mrs. Miniver/Mrs. Parkington makes her entrance in a bath tub, dons a leotard for a musical number, AND shamelessly flirts with a number of men while legally married. Those reasons alone make Julia Misbehaves a must see for any Greer Garson fan, but beware: this isn't your grandmother's Greer Garson. It's 1948's, very much a reflection of that time in Garson's career and personal life.

August 1, 2014

Some of the classic film screenings I attend in Los Angeles take place in theaters just as old - and sometimes older - than the movies they project.  


While I've had the chance to watch movies inside famous theaters such as the Orpheum and the Egyptian, there's still several I've yet to venture inside. Until this past Saturday, the Alex Theatre, which originally opened in 1925, was one of them.

July 19, 2014

On Saturday July 12, 2014, as part of the Beverly Hills Centennial, the Academy opened the Fairbanks Center for Motion Picture Study to public tours for the first time in its history. Nine groups were treated to a free behind-the-scenes trip through the historic building for a small glimpse at the impressively substantial and varied cinematic riches the Margaret Herrick Library houses.

July 10, 2014

In August 2013, writer, actor, and director Henry Jaglom, a personal friend of Orson Welles in the 1970s and 1980s, appeared at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood to introduce two of Welles' most famous films, Citizen Kane (1941) and The Magnificent Ambersons (1942). During his intro, Jaglom reminisced on some of his memories of Welles, which he collected in his book, appropriately titled My Lunches with Orson.  

June 23, 2014

Speaking from her home in California, Ms. Hunt graciously shared memories of her MGM days, which she calls the "happiest years" of her career. During our conversation, she discussed a variety of topics, including what it was like working at the famous studio, the types of roles she played while under contract, the one MGM movie she wished she'd been cast in but wasn't, and what crowd she hung out with most on the lot (hint: it wasn't her fellow actors).    

June 20, 2014

Scene: Weekday, presumably a little after 5pm. Cars pull into driveways. Husbands and fathers return home from a long day at work.  A conductor makes his way to the top of a hill overlooking a pleasant suburban neighborhood and raises his arms as if to start a symphony.


Which one of these doesn't belong?    

June 5, 2014

This article was originally written for the American Cinematheque, and they graciously gave me permission to re-print it here.


Douglas Fairbanks' epic The Thief of Bagdad premiered on March 23, 1924. On the film's 90th anniversary (to the day!), March 23, 2014, the American Cinematheque hosted Fairbanks historian Tracey Goessel for an illustrated discussion on Fairbanks and a look behind the scenes of the film's production, followed by a screening of the movie. 

May 28, 2014

When I read the following phrase in On Approval's description on the TCM Classic Film Festival website: "the escapades of two couples sharing a platonic trial marriage to see if they’re suited to each other," and I saw the year (1944), I was sold. On Approval - whatever that was - instantly earned must-see status.  

May 19, 2014

Harry Mork: You get a kick out of people, don’t you?

Evie Jackson: As much as they let me.


Note: I got a BIG kick out of this delightful movie, and the word count reflects that. Spoilers may also abound.

May 14, 2014

The Strangers in the Night screening at the Billy Wilder Theater I attended on February 5 of this year took me by surprise - I found out the film was playing hours before as part of UCLA Film and Television Archive's Dark City, Open Country: The Films of Anthony Mann retrospective.UCLA's summary of the film, featuring the words "inky noir style" and "deadly psychological nightmare," was on point, and with a brisk 56 minute runtime, Strangers in the Night did not let down. 

May 9, 2014

There was a lot of talk - and representation - of youth at this year’s TCM Classic Film Festival from festival patrons, TCM staff, and even special guests. Personally, I overheard and/or took part in several conversations remarking upon the number of young people waiting in standby lines, and several writers and bloggers also noted the trend.

May 2, 2014

If you look up a plot description for 1945’s Over 21, you aren't likely to see the word 'romance' mentioned – only comedy. If this were a regular post, I wouldn't mention this detail, but since I’m writing this piece as part of Backlots and Carole & Co's Romantic Comedy Blogathon, I thought the issue should be addressed. That being said, the number of times Irene Dunne and Alexander Knox are in each other's arms in Over 21 should automatically qualify it for the romance category.

April 25, 2014

For 2013's TCM Classic Film Festival, the network brought in a pair of Oscar winners, sound editor Ben Burtt (Star Wars, ET, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade) and visual effects supervisor Craig Barron (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), for a behind the scenes look at the technology used in MGM's Tarzan series (which I wrote about here). Burtt and Barron were welcomed back for a similar discussion at this year's festival on The Adventures of Robin Hood.

April 21, 2014

“The children are possessed. They live...and know...and share this hell.” So believes Miss Giddens (Deborah Kerr) in Jack Clayton’s 1961 psychological thriller The Innocents. Anthony J. Mazzella, in his wonderful piece on the film in Henry James Goes to the Movies, remarked that The Innocents is “a never-ending nightmare” (29). If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll know he means that in more ways than one. If you haven’t, proceed with caution (and then see the movie).

April 17, 2014

After spending about five hours with my bed on Friday night, my original Saturday morning plan included catching Barbara Stanwyck in Stella Dallas, but when it came down to it, I was tired and felt like laughter would be my best bet to stay awake, and it was, in the form of Chaplin's 1931 masterpiece City Lights, in which his Little Tramp wrestles (almost literally) to help a blind flower girl he's in love with.

April 15, 2014

Well, another TCM Classic Film Festival has come and gone. 2014 marked the festival's 5th anniversary, and though I've attended all 5 years, by the time Sunday evening rolls around, the famous Dr. Seuss quote always begins to echo in my head: "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened."


That may sound a bit dramatic, but it's true.

April 11, 2014

For me, the TCM Film Festival experience is usually a bit different than other bloggers and accounts I read. Since I’m arriving late to the blogging party, I have no media pass, nor do I possess a pass of any other kind. As a non-pass holder, I get into films - or not - by waiting in standby lines for individual ticket sales.

April 9, 2014

TCM kicks off its 5th Annual Classic Film Festival tomorrow in Hollywood. I've been lucky enough to attend and/or volunteer every year of the festival, but I've never been a passholder, so, as usual, I'm gonna need some assistance and good vibes in getting into some of the movies.

April 3, 2014

Turner Classic Movie's 4th Annual Film Festival in 2013 programmed 1939's Tarzan Finds a Son!, which I attended.


Being TCM, the network brought in not one, but TWO Oscar winners, sound designer Ben Burtt (ET) and visual effects supervisor Craig Barron (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) to give a presentation on the technology used in the MGM Tarzan movies.

March 31, 2014

I See a Dark Stranger is a British movie made in 1946 starring Scottish actress Deborah Kerr as a naïve Irish girl who grew up hating the British so much that she accidently becomes a Nazi spy during WWII.


In case you were wondering, yes, it is a comedy.

March 31, 2014

The ads for Frank Capra's first "all talkie" boasted that you could "See and Hear The Donovan Affair...The screen's most amazing 100% Talking Picture."


Sadly, that's not the case anymore.

thanks for stopping by!

I See a Dark Theater is a website dedicated to classic movie-going—and loving—in the City of Angels. Whether it's coverage on screenings, special presentations, or Q&As around Los Angeles that you're looking for, or commentary on the wonderful and sometimes wacky world of classic cinema, you've come to the right place for a variety of pieces written with zeal, awe, and (occasionally) wit. Enjoy.

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