Friday, August 21, 2015

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter: Alan Arkin Summer Under The Stars Blogathon

Today TCM is shining it's spotlight on Alan Arkin, he is the 24 hour focus today during their  Summer Under the Stars tribute. And I'm so excited to be a part of the 2015 Summer Under the Stars Blogathon.
From Journeys in Film Blogathon Page
Arkin has a career spanning just about 6 decades, he is an Academy Award winner, Tony Award winner and is still going strong.  He has worked in so many different types of films, satire, comedy, suspense, he's worked in big studio films as well as independent films.  And he has brought his wonderful talent to each of them.  His career is extremely diverse and his performances are always engaging and memorable.

If you want to see one his most dramatic and magnetic roles, do yourself a favor today and watch The Heart is a Lonely Hunter on TCM (8pm Eastern/5pm Pacific) and be sure to keep some Kleenex within arms length.
Vital Stats:
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (1968)
Starring Alan Arkin, Sondra Locke and co-starring: Stacy Keach, Chuck McCann, Percy Rodrigues, and Cicely Tyson
directed by: Robert Ellis Miller
based on the novel of the same name by Carson McCullers.

I had the pleasure of seeing this movie for the first time at the 2014 TCM Classic Film Festival as part of their tribute to Alan Arkin.  And it has stuck with me ever since.  This movie not only ripped out my heart, but then proceeded to stomp on my aforementioned heart.  When the lights came up after the movie ended I sincerely needed a moment to collect myself.  All of the performances are stunning, while also subtle.  The story/plot is poignant and really captures the human condition, gets to the root of loneliness and shows how hard it is to really connect.

Alan Arkin plays a deaf-mute, Mr. Singer, a man who moves to a new, small town to be near his best friend, Spiro, who has been institutionalized.  While adjusting to his new life he meets a wide variety of people.

His character, without the ability to speak or hear, changes the lives of almost every person that he encounters including: an aimless drunk (Stacy Keach), an extremely stubborn doctor (Percy Rodrigues), the doctor's daughter (Cicely Tyson) and a precocious 14 year old girl (Sondra Locke) who lives in the house where he's staying.  Throughout the movie he becomes a support, confidant, secret-keeper, friend, and a shoulder to cry on for everyone around him.  All the while he is silently searching and yearning for a meaningful connection and never quite getting it.

His best friend is a fellow deaf-mute, Spiro (Chuck McCann), who's one and only motivation is candy (I can relate).  While Arkin's character does have a friendly connection to Spiro, wants to look out for him, and is able to communicate with him, he isn't getting that deeper connection that he so desperately needs.  There are even moments where it looks like Singer is wishing and hoping he could just be normal, or not draw attention to himself.

Throughout the movie, Mr. Singer maintains a positive, helpful, upbeat attitude, but in many moments it is evident that he wants something more.  It's as if he yearns for someone to be there for him and to provide him with support or a shoulder to cry on when he needs it.  You can see it in the look on his face when his new friend forgets about their chess game, or when Mick doesn't have time to listen to records.

One of the most interesting lines and pretty much the crux of the movie, is said by Stacy Keach's character, he says to Mr. Singer: "I could talk to you, and you listened, you really listened.  I think you're the only one who ever did."  While he's saying this Singer is signing, "No, no, I read lips."  It's really powerful that all the characters feel this connection to him and feel like he hears and understands them, while they were unable to do the same for him.  Even still their lives are made better and changed by this person who takes the time to "listen."  This movie really embodies the old adage that actions speak louder than words.

And this spoke to me so completely.  Everyone has times in their lives when they feel alone or are looking for ways to connect.  The film really captures loneliness on a visceral level.  Singer isn't isolated or literally alone.  He does have people in his life, he has people who he interacts with and cares for and they try to care about him, but these people can't or won't provide him with the stimulation or connection that he is missing. The acting in the movie is absolutely stellar, both Arkin and Locke were nominated for Academy Awards (how Arkin didn't win is beyond me).

Alan Arkin and Ben Mankiewicz interview at 2014 TCM Classic Film Festival
I hadn't heard of this movie before it was announced as part of the festival and I really didn't know what to expect from the film.  During the pre-movie interview between Alan Arkin and Ben Mankiewicz, Ben had asked Alan if they had considered using subtitles for the film.  At the time I had no context for the question, but Mr. Arkin said that was a good question and that subtitles had been considered, but the final decision was to not use subtitles.  I think ultimately it was the right choice to forego subtitles because Arkin is able to convey so much with facial expressions, gestures, body language and his sign language (I took a sign language course a number of years ago and was able to pick up a few signs here and there).

If you don't take my advice and watch The Heart is a Lonely Hunter during Alan Arkin's special day on TCM you can find it on DVD through Amazon or  I'm also going to bet that the book is a great read, I haven't had the opportunity to read it yet, but it is also available through Amazon or I'm sure it can be found at your local library.

Have you already seen this Arkin film?  Thoughts? Which other movies are you going to enjoy during Alan Arkin's Summer Under the Stars Day? Any movies of his that you wish were screening today?  Hope you enjoy it!

Please be sure to check out the rest of the Sumer Under the Stars Blogathon over at: Journeys in Classic Film

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

"I am serious...and don't call me Shirley."--Day 3 of the 2013 TCM Classic Film Festival

Welcome back faithful readers.  As promised here is a recap of Day 3 of the 2013 TCM Classic Film Festival. Don't worry there's plenty of plutonium to keep our time machine running to get us all the way back to April 27th, 2013.
My favorite design from this year, I may have a coffee mug and a sweatshirt with the design
I ended up skipping the first block of movies, although in hindsight seeing Polly Bergen in attendance at a screening of Cape Fear probably would've been a wise decision, damn you past me.  That's what I get for commuting to the festival, the option of getting extra sleep is too tempting and something that hopefully doesn't happen again.

For my first movie of the day I went with Lady and the Tramp at the El Capitan.  I love that that theater is part of the festival and I definitely love the inclusion of Disney titles at the festival.  I grew up with Disney movies and still love them to this very day.  The theater is wonderful because they have an amazing live organ player who regales the crowd with organ versions of popular Disney songs, it's delightful.  The theater also has beautiful decorations and ornate detail.

The screening was introduced by Leonard Maltin, who is also always a delight to see.  It's so wonderful that he's been involved in the festival ever since it's inception and I'm sure he has helped to incorporate more Disney films into the festival.

He informed us that we were going to be watching the film in it's original ratio of 2:55:1, which is used for Cinemascope.  Something that I think the #AspectRatioPolice would appreciate. It was great getting to see a movie that I had probably seen over 100 times in that amazing theater on that amazing big screen.  The print looked stunning and the music was infectious.

Next up was On Golden Pond, starring Henry Fonda, Katharine Hepburn, and Jane Fonda the screening was at the Egyptian Theater.  I was very much looking forward to this screening with Jane Fonda in attendance.  It's funny writing about it now because I really love the new Netflix series Grace and Frankie, which did not yet exist in 2013, but I digress.  Before the interview and movie I caught a glimpse of Jane in the "green room" taking pictures with Robert Osbourne, I'm gonna guess that this is one of the pictures they too together.

From TCM
It was such a thrill to be in her presence and to hear her speak so candidly with Robert.  It was also so wonderful that she was honored at the festival with a handprint ceremony.

Jane's interview was extremely emotional, there were moments when she cried remembering her father and the whole experience of filming the movie.  She talked about working with Katharine Hepburn and shared a few stories about working with both of them.  She did describe Hepburn as not being that nice or perhaps Hepburn not really liking her at first.  However, it sounded like Hepburn ended up being very encouraging and even a little playful with Ms. Fonda.  Jane Fonda shared that after she had lost the Oscar and Hepburn and Henry Fonda had won theirs, Katharine said to her, "you'll never catch me now."
One big happy family
It was great to get that context before the movie and understand just how personal the movie was to the Fondas and the ups and downs of getting it made.  It was also an extremely beautiful movie to see in a theater, the beautiful landscapes and shots on the water.  Really amazing experience.

After that emotionally charged movie I went with some lighter faire, The Lady Eve at the Chinese Multiplex.  Directed by Preston Sturgess and starring Barbara Stanwyck and none other than Jane's father, Henry Fonda.  Definitely an interesting Henry Fonda double feature, seeing him late in his career in On Golden Pond followed by his much earlier work in The Lady Eve.  The screening was introduced by Cari Beauchamp.

Ms. Beauchamp told us some interesting tid-bits about the cast and crew.  She told us that Barbara Stanwyck always took the time to get to know everyone in the cast and on the crew.  She talked about the acting talents of Henry Fonda.  She said that he would flip a switch and become a reflector.  She also told us that Roget Ebert often referred the scene (captured in the photo above and in the poster) as one of the sexiest scenes in cinema.

To end the 3rd day of the festival I decided on a screening of Airplane! at Grauman's Chinese theater.  I had originally planned to go to the screening of Mildred Pierce with Ann Blyth in attendance, but was swayed by the 2 friends and cousin who were kind enough to join me that evening of the festival.  I gave into the peer pressure, but ultimately I was glad that we had decided on the movie Airplane, because I don't think I ever remember laughing that hard in a movie theater.  And it is always nice to share the classic movie madness with friends and family.

Before the screening, the 2 writer/directors Jim Abrahams and David Zucker and Robert Hays were interviewed by / had a discussion with Ben.  Jim and David talked about the making of the film and leading man Robert Hays talked mostly about his involvement in a show called, Angie.  He talked about it so frequently that I found it to be a bit awkward.

Jim and David talked about how the movie came to be and about their inspiration: the film Zero Hour.  They also talked about the casting process and about preview screenings.  They were worried that the film had pacing problems cause the test audiences weren't responding to the second half, but luckily the pacing was just fine.  They also talked about having to convince Robert Stack, Lloyd Bridges, and Peter Graves to take on the roles due to the fact that those actors had predominately taken on more serious roles.
Lovely cast
Whatever the difficulties, the movie just works.  The comedy is so universal and so spot on, which was evident by the entire theater cracking up the entire film.  Every joke landed and you could sense the anticipation of memorable lines.  Seeing a comedy like this one in a packed theater like Grauman's was a truly remarkable experience and I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone who likes to laugh.

Alright, so that does it for Day 3 of the 2013 TCM Classic Film festival, only a few more to go before I'm all caught up, woo hoo!

I'm also working on some posts that will be up later this month as part of the TCM Summer Under the Stars Blogathon which is being hosted by Journey's in Classic Film.

Tune in next time, same blogging time, same blogging station.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

"I coulda had class, I coulda been a contender." - Day 2 of the 2013 TCM Classic Film Festival

Thanks for sticking with me, my dear readers.  I'm finally ready to continue with the 2013 TCM Classic Film Festival updates.  Here's my post of day 1: Hello Gorgeous and we will now (swan) dive head first into Day 2 of the 2013 TCM Classic Film Festival.

Day 2 started with the very thought provoking and emotional rollercoaster, The Swimmer.

It had been a recommendation from my Dad and my friend who I was festival-ing with was interested in seeing it as well.  The movie was introduced by Marge Champion being interviewed by Allison Anders.
Marge Champion has been to numerous Film Festival and other TCM events, I spotted her in attendance at the Jane Powell event at the Lincoln Center a few years ago.  She seems to really embrace these events and enjoys sharing her stories, which is very lucky for us.  She started off by telling use that Burt (Burt Lancaster that is) had really gotten injured during filming, so they incorporated that injury into the film.  She talked about her time "hanging out" with Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh and said that they used to call themselves the Mouse Pack, which sounds adorable.  

Official TCM photo
Marge and Allison also talked about Joan Rivers' role in the film, apparently she was told to play the role as though her character wanted to sleep with Burt Lancaster or that they were having an affair, then told to play it as though there wasn't any sexual tension and that confusion came across on the screen because she didn't know if she wanted to jump Burt Lancaster's bones or not.  Just to clarify most women, myself included, probably do want to jump Burt Lancaster's bones.

The movie was very interesting, definitely a soul searching trek as Burt Lancaster's character attempts to get back home by swimming through various pools.  It's definitely a metaphor for life and an opportunity to see Mr. Lancaster in a subtle, quiet role.

Next up was Voyage to Italy, aka Journey to Italy, aka Viaggio in Italia directed by Roberto Rossellini and starring Ingrid Bergman and George Sanders.

It's always a treat to see George Sanders and Ingrid Bergman on the big screen, the movie was enjoyable.  The movie was introduced by Matt Tyrnauer, who is a special correspondent with Vanity Fair.  He talked about the literary devices of traveling and the idea of adapting European ideals.  It was a good movie and a fun way to spend a Saturday morning.

After spending the morning in the Chinese Multiplex it was time to trek down to the Egyptian Theater and meet up with another one of my friends.  He was attending a grad program at UCLA at the time and was lucky enough to get a film fest pass through them.  We decided on seeing
Notorious, who can pass up a chance to see Hitchcock on the big screen.  

The movie was introduced by Rose McGowan and the only thing I wrote in my notes was: Blonde Hair, so that's helpful past Me, thanks for that.

Rose McGowan with her Blonde hair
As always, it was great to see the wonderful Ingrid Bergman and the devilishly handsome Cary Grant on the big screen.  The tension and intrigue play so well in a packed theater.

I decided to follow up Notorious with The Great Escape.  I walked back up Hollywood Blvd. with my friend to Grauman's Chinese theater.

The screening was introduced first by Sean Cameron and he then introduced Ben and then Ben interviewed Walter Mirsch.

Walter Mirsch talked about making the film on a budget and trying to save money.  He also talked a bit about Steve McQueen, he said that he just had a certain 'je ne sais quoi' and that he could say more with a baseball than with a monologue.

Sometimes you have to tie your shoe during an interview
The film looked glorious, it was great seeing Steve McQueen in his natural element and it certainly did not feel like a three hour movie at all.
Steve and his baseball
After The Great Escape, I decided to stay in Grauman's for my last movie of the day, the phenomenal On the Waterfront, directed by Elia Kazan, starring Marlon Brando, Eva Marie Saint, Karl Malden, and Rod Steiger, with very special guest Eva Marie Saint.

One of my most embarrassing moments happened while waiting in line for this movie.  I had decided to get a beverage before The Great Escape, but ended up not finishing it because I was so engaged with the movie.  While waiting outside of Grauman's the bottom of my cup fell out and an abundance of cherry ice-e covered the section of Hollywood Blvd that I was standing on.  I was mortified, and felt very bad for whoever's star I had now slushied.  I tried to clean up what I could, but it was a very lost cause.  Sorry Hollywood Blvd.
Now, back to the festivities.  Tom Brown introduced Ben Mank and Ben Mank intro'd the lovely and talented Eva Marie Saint.
And sometimes you take your jeans off in an interview
At the start of the interview Ms. Saint complimented Ben for being 1/2 dressed nicely and he ended up taking of his jeans to reveal dress pants underneath.  Eva was certainly shocked and asked Ben if he was trying to give her a heart attack.

The rest of the interview was sweet, they talked about her 60+ year marriage and her experience of working on this film, which was her film debut!  It's so wonderful that Eva attends all these wonderful events and makes the time to talk about the exceptional movies that she's made.  The movie looked impeccable, it was a new 4K restoration.  Marlon Brando was beyond larger than life in that theater.  One minor comment, I didn't love the prosthetics over his eyelids, I definitely understand that they were part of his character and who he was, but I just found them distracting, especially on the huge screen at Grauman's.

Well, that does it for Day 2 of the 2013 TCM Classic Film Festival, hope you enjoyed this little time travel back in time.  Tune in next time for day 3.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

"I have a goat...I have a goat" Day One of the 2015 TCM Classic Film Festival

A little ditty about...

Before diving into a total Film Festival overview I just want to share how absolutely wonderful it was to get to share this experience with my dad.  I'd been trying to get him to come to the festival since the first year.  Each year he would make wonderful recommendations (The Pawnbroker in 2014, The Swimmer in 2013) and get excited about all of the movies, but would never bite the bullet and commit to coming to the festival.  This year he finally did it and it was all kinds of wonderful.  It made being a Social Producer that much more enjoyable, which isn't an easy task considering that the social producer group was filled with so many friendly, kind and knowledgable people. I really hope he decides to go again next year.

Thursday, March 26th

Brunch, Meeting, Lunch, Hotel Check-in

Thursday morning started very early, around 6am to be exact.  This was due to the fact that one of us was on east coast time and the other of us one was clearly just too excited to sleep.  I'll let you determine which was which :).  The early start allowed us to finish packing up for the relocation to Hollywood.  Even though I only live about 15 minutes away from Hollywood staying in a hotel seemed to make the most sense and it ended up being a wonderful decision and made it easier to make it to our 8 am meetings.  We also decided to grab some brunch on the way, we stopped at my usual/favorite brunch place Quality, where the waiter noted that I had a new date and asked what our plans were for my Dad's visit.  We told him we were heading to the TCM Classic Film Festival, he then asked if I had a movie in the festival...clearly he either misunderstood or didn't hear me, but I clarified and he said, oh yeah you wouldn't have a movie in that festival unless you were Myrna Loy.  And with that comment he may have become one of my favorite people.  He then asked which movies we were planning to see, we ended up telling him which ones were trying to decide between and he then shared a tidbit about the ending of Queen Christina.  A real quality experience.  Oh and we celebrity spotted Marlon Wayans, so we knew our weekend was off to an excellent start.

The next few hours were a whirlwind of information, meeting new people, eating some food and checking into the hotel.  It was so wonderful to reconnect with friends from last year, like Jeff (@jeffllundenberger), Kellee (@IrishJayhawk66), Kristen (@salesonfilm), and AnnMarie (@ClassicMovieHub) and to meet people that I had only ever followed or seen on twitter or Tumblr.  My dad bonded with Kristen (@journeys_film) over Armageddon.  It was also really great getting to meet other LA locals, Kim (@kimbo3200) and Emily (@vintagecameos).  I always forget that there are people in the real world who I can actually talk to about old movies without worrying about boring to tears.

We then headed back to the Roosevelt in hopes of checking out the Meet TCM Panel, but it was beyond crowded and we decided to see if we could check-in to our hotel instead.  Lucky for us our room was ready.  We checked in, relaxed for a few moments and then headed back to the Roosevelt in hopes of participating in the trivia contest.  Unfortunately they weren't accepting anymore teams, however quite fortunately I spotted Will (@willmckinley) at Club TCM and we got to chat for awhile.  I got to introduce him to my dad and we had a great conversation about our Social Producer assignment.  He was hoping for some blood and fights, I think we may have kept things too clean for his liking.  But we did give it our best effort.  After being rejected by the trivia contest we decided to try to get some water and had another fortunate run-in with Raquel! (@quellelove)  She had spotted me from across the bar and we got to have a lovely reunion.  We then joined her and a group that consisted of Laura (@LaurasMiscMovie), KC (@classicmovieblg) and others to wait in line for the red carpet bleachers.

Red Carpet

Our first line of the festival was in the blistering sun, I ran into the Roosevelt to buy a hat and we reapplied our sunscreen.  But it was all worth it.  We got to watch so many lovely guests arrive on the Red Carpet for The Sound of Music at Graumans (I still refuse to call it TCL, sorry, I'm not sorry).  The previous festivals I have been lucky enough to walk the red carpet so it was really interesting and exciting to watch it this year.  We caught glimpses of the 2 big stars, Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, but we got to see some other wonderful stars stop for pictures and talk to Sean Cameron on the red carpet.  Here are some of our pictures.

Beautiful signage
We had a great view of the carpet, but the people walking down it were essentially walking directly into the sun.  Most of the red carpet walkers were cool with it, but others carried large umbrellas to shield them from the sun.

A sea of awesome-ness, Keith Carradine, Robert Morse, Leonard Maltin, Shirley Jones, Marty Ingels, and Charlie Tabesh

Some more awesome-ness, I spy some cast members of Grease, Marty Ingels, and others

Many of the red carpet walkers stopped to chat with the emcee Sean Cameron.  

Diane Baker stopped to let us know that we're the ones who make Hollywood classy.
I'm gonna pretend Keith Carradine is smiling at me 
Keith Carradine waved to us.
The many faces of Robert Morse
Robert Morse said a nice Hello.

We caught a quick glimpse of Christopher Plummer before he was whisked into the theater.

Gregg Proops showing you how very bright it was on the carpet.

Who could that be under the umbrella?  Why it's Julie Andrews of course.

Shirley Jones looking lovely.

Leonard Maltin stopped for a little chat.

Anne V. Coates (honored editor) took a load off to get out of the blazing sun.

Marty Ingels, Shirley's husband regaled us with a little stand-up routine worthy of the Catskills.

Also spotted Peter Fonda, Christine Ebersole and Illeana Douglas down the carpet.

Rory Flynn (Errol Flynn's daughter) and her son.

Here's a short clip of Norman Lloyd and Ben Mankiewicz.

We left the red carpet a smidgen early to try to make it into Too Late for Tears, but alas there were already 177 people in line ahead of us.  We thought about Queen Christina, but instead grabbed our first and only real sit down meal of the festival.  We stopped by Johnny Rockets and went over the schedule for the hundredth time.

Godfrey loves me!  He put me in the shower!

After eating we decided to head back to the hotel, I contemplated turning in for the night, but the pull of My Man Godfrey was too great.  I'm really glad I ventured back out because I knew it was going to be a great start of the festival.  I stood in line with Jeff and talked with Kim and the pin man, who's name escapes me, sorry pin man!  I also ended up sitting next to Lou Lumenick and we talked a bit about film preservation and he shared some experiences he had had in NY watching movies at revival houses and theaters.  The movie was introduced by Illeana Douglas.  The movie was so much funnier than I remembered.  It probably helped that there was an audience laughing at every joke.  But what really stood out to me during this screening were the performances of supporting cast.  I found Alice Brady's portrayal of Angelica Bullock, the Bullock family matriarch to be beyond hilarious (hence the title of this blog post).  Every line she delivered was so funny, mostly because her character wasn always genuine and never trying to be funny.  Mischa Auer as Carlo, Angelica's protege had many ridiculous moments.  And Eugene Pallette, as always, was the perfect seemingly clueless patriarch of the Bullock family.  Of course, William Powell and Carole Lombard's performances were stellar, it was just that seeing the movie in the theater, on the big screen, gave these somewhat smaller performances a chance to shine.

Well that does it for day one of the festival.  Tune in next time for Day Two, which was also known as the day that was spent entirely at the Egyptian Theater.

For other (more timely) coverage of the fest check out all of these wonderful blogs:

Out of the Past- Red Carpet Coverage

Cinematically Insane- Will was D.O.A

Laura's Miscellaneous Musings- TCMFF in Review

Outspoken and Freckled- Hollywood Dreams Come True at TCM Classic Film Fest 2015

A Classic Movie Blog (Hey!, cool blog name :) ) - All TCMFF 2015 Posts

Aurora's Gin Joint- Citizen Screen's 2015 Fest

Blog of the Darned- Days 1-3

I'll be sure to update once I come across more posts.  I know I mentioned this on Twitter, but I just can't get over the difference in social media presence and blogs this year compared to the first few years.  I remember googling in hopes of finding any posts and now it's everywhere I turn.  I love it!