Tag Archives: Vivien Leigh

TCMFF 2015 – Day 2

Thursday, March 26

casey_roDuring my stay in LA, I shared a room with two of the kindest ladies you could ever hope to meet: Laura and Kendhal. Staying with them afforded an opportunity to get to know them better and I cherish our times together. Thursday morning, Laura and I met Kristina for breakfast and spent the morning together making sure she learned her way around. Kristina designed and sewed her own formal dress for The Sound of Music red carpet event and we enjoyed several fabric and sewing discussions in our travels while I attempted to contain my glee in discovering a fellow fabric-nerd. You know you’ve found a friend when she reads the look on your face and asks “You have a big collection of fabric, don’t you?”

olivia tcmboutiqueAfter a stop at the TCL Theatre to marvel over the petiteness of Olivia de Havilland (my HANDS are bigger than her feet), we headed over to the Roosevelt Hotel for a mandatory saunter through the TCM Boutique. Last year, I did not purchase an official festival tote bag and regretted it ever since, so my mission this year was to secure one as soon as humanly possible. I almost ordered the taxi from the airport to take me straight to The Roosevelt just to make sure I’d get one. (Exhaustion and hunger prevailed on that occasion…)

larryedsNext, we made a beeline for Larry Edmund’s Bookshop down the street. It was only my second visit there, but the gentlemen graciously remembered me (or at least they pretended to!). One of my favorite aspects of popping in to the shop is chatting with them. We heard all about Rory Flynn’s republication of her book and how she recently lowered the price to make it more accessible for a larger base of her father’s fans. Rory introduced The Sea Hawk later that evening and signed books in The Roosevelt Hotel over the weekend.

In the weeks leading up to the festival, when Kendra Bean announced on Twitter her intention of attending this year, I grabbed my copy of Vivien Leigh: An Intimate Portrait and added it to the top of my To Pack stack. Thursday afternoon, Laura, Kristina and I met her for an unconventional In-n-Out Burger book signing. We asked about how she was able to make the connections to Vivien’s friends for the book. Kendra explained the intricate vetting process she experienced before contacts would even speak to her because the network around Vivien maintained their commitment to shield and protect her, even today. Thank you so much for spending time with us, Kendra. It was a great honor!

After lunch, we headed back to The Roosevelt with Kendra and ran into Joel and his lovely wife transporting luggage down a back alley like Broderick Crawford and Ed Brophy in Larceny, Inc. As they stopped and chatted with us for the better part of 15 minutes in the scorching heat, it became clear they were merely switching hotels and not looking for somewhere to dump illicitly acquired dirt. But hey – you never know.

The Roosevelt played host to the Meet TCM event at which the TCM executives and Ben Mankiewicz fielded questions from the audience about TCM matters. Laura compared it to the press event she had attended the day before and explained how much of the information shared there was a repeat of the previous meeting. The fun aspect for me came with the first question asked out of the audience: Why the trend towards “newer” films at this year’s fest?” This question created drama and intrigue online for weeks before the event and it was a relief to many (including Ben M., I thought) to have it out of the way first thing. The answer provided made sense, pointing to the broad definition of what makes a classic and revealing how the decision to screen Out of Sight (1998) stemmed from the wishes of Anne V. Coates. This, paired with an assurance of maintaining the focus on what us die-hards like to call “true classics” satisfied the question and closed the issue. You know, in the end, TCM will show whatever they deem will appeal to the broadest audience. I think we all understand that. They know the core fan base cares mostly about the films made before 1970. And to that end, let me point out this fact. I saw 17 films at the festival (only 1 away from the maximum possible) and the newest I attended was made in 1968. The earliest was made in 1898. The newer films were not my reason for being there, so having them in the line-up only served to assist in narrowing my selections. (*ducks from the onslaught of tomatoes*)

Anne Marie and I taking selfies for our social media pins in the Roosevelt lobby.

Anne Marie and I taking selfies for our social media pins in the Roosevelt lobby.

I stuck around and watched the So You Think You Know Movies trivia game at Club TCM with Anne Marie and Trevor but thankfully did not participate. The questions were obscure and it became clear that success would only be awarded to a diverse team of fast thinking analyticals.

toolatefortearsFinally, the time for the first screening arrived and it happened to be the film I looked forward to most: Too Late for Tears (1949) with Lizabeth Scott, Dan Duryea and Arthur Kennedy. I jumped into the line with Lindsay and Chris full of anticipation. You can see my excitement first hand in this quick interview shot by Chris and his hilarious daughter Jasmine.

Too Late For Tears did not disappoint and I’m aiming to do a separate post on it later. (*fingers crossed!*)

errolflynn_seahawkThe Sea Hawk (1940) was my final selection on Thursday for two reasons: the dashing charm of Errol Flynn in 35mm and an appearance by his daughter Rory. Before the film, Rory gave a short talk about the print of the film we saw, explaining how it had been created for a re-release in 1949. She introduced us to her son Sean who calmly sat in the audience next to Jessica during the film. Jessica was just a bit excited about the experience.

At TCMFF, even films you’ve seen 100 times are transformed into new special moments because you are seeing them in a theatre with like-minded fans. Clapping when favorite stars appear on screen, cheers when battles are won, applause when the bad guy is bested and half the room tearing up, just because the music swells at the end. It can’t be beat.

Up next, a full day of films AND LUNCH! (Imagine that!)

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Book Review: Bring on the Empty Horses

david and me cropped

Bring on the Empty Horses

By: David Niven

©1975 G.P. Putnam’s Sons, New York

David Niven‘s 336 page collection of written sketches is a veritable goldmine of Hollywood tidbits:  A classic film fan’s dream text. It’s one of those books which takes over your life and forces you to read it cover to cover asap. Every task falls by the wayside in its path…David Niven’s tales come first.

The writing itself is the best out of any star book I’ve ever read.  The gorgeous language flows off the page while jokes are effortlessly and hilariously woven throughout. If you’re in need of a sophisticated, fun read to curl up with, look no further my friends – it’s here.

Among the scores of fascinating stories related in this book are vivid descriptions of Hollywood’s most famous (but, now, sadly extinct) restaurants and cafés. This book was a huge source of inspiration for me when I was working on my Trip to Hollywood project. I started looking up to see if I could find photos of these amazing places, and along the way I found the logos, which for a graphic designer, is even more thrilling than the photos. I could in no way do justice to Mr. Niven’s writings in a summary, so here are some of the restaurant description excerpts:

brown derby map

Shortly after this interlude Flynn took me to lunch with Barrymore at the Brown Derby in Beverly Hills. This restaurant was designed so that everyone could see everyone else; the tables were set at a series of semicircular brown leather banquettes, the backs of which fitted uncomfortably into one’s lumbar region. The waitresses, all would-be actresses, wore very short bell-shaped and highly starched skirts and spent much time dropping and provocatively retrieving forks and spoons before the tables of producers and directors. Barrymore caused quite a stir when he entered, and he boomingly table-hopped his way to our corner.

Chapter 6 – Errol, page 111

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lucey's 2lucey's

“Lucey’s,” he said to his chauffeur.

When he entered the small grottolike restaurant opposite Paramount Studios, it took a few seconds for his eyes to become accustomed to the gloom.

The dim lighting was not accidental. Lucey’s was the favorite rendezvous of the starlets and young actors from the nearby studios, the Italian food was inexpensive, the steaks were good, and the kidneys grilled in their own natural cradle of fat were delicious…

…The restaurant was filling up, and the discreet little alcoves around the main floor became nests of opportunity; at the exposed tables in the center, out-of-towners sat, taking their time over long drinks and trying to spot celebrities in the smoke-filled gloom.

Chapter 3 – Our Little Girl (Part 1), pages 63-64

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romanoff's

Restaurateur Mike prospered during World War II, and by 1945 he was firmly established at the owner-manager of the highly lucrative Romanoff’s in Beverly Hills. The imperial R was emblazoned on the front door. When he branched out into an even larger and more elaborate establishment, his loyal staff and clients and the imperial R made the move with him.

Chapter 8 – “The Emperor,” page 142

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Other attractions in Bring on the Empty Horses include the continuing adventures of Hedda and Louella (Chapter 4). David Niven reveals how much power these two lunatics actually had, and what they were willing to do to maintain it. I was amazed when I found out how many stars lived in fear of Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons. I have never been able to understand how either of them managed to become such famous, important figures, but according to our friend DN, they were both utterly ruthless, willing to throw anyone and everyone under the bus for their own personal gain. They were the heads of spy rings even 007 would have envied, and were in possession of every scrap of gossip as soon as it happened. Thank heaven they are safely gone, because a world with them in it sounds like a nightmare.

And last, but most certainly not least, we have Missie. DN devotes two whole chapters to the strange life of Missie, a famous Hollywood star who remains nameless because of the shocking nature of the stories DN shares about her. She is described as follows:

Her face, which was snub-nosed and pretty, was saved from being unremarkable by a pair of huge gray eyes. It was topped by a cloud of golden hair and had the great good fortune to be strategically placed above the most beautiful body in Hollywood.

She has cat-like eyes and was given her first screen appearance in a solo number in a Busby Berkeley musical. She has recently given birth to her daughter, Sharon when we first meet her.

I was racking my brains for a candidate and finally ended up guessing Lana Turner (even though her looks were far from “unremarkable”).  But, then I did some research and found that the general consensus seems to be that Missie is Vivien Leigh. All the red herrings were DN’s effort to confuse everyone as to her true identity.

This is but a tiny sampling of the wealth of classic film goodness awaiting you in Bring on the Empty Horses. You have no excuse for not obtaining your own copy, either, because Amazon has an extensive listing of used copies ranging in price from $.90 to $92. A price to fit everyone’s pocketbook. I obtained my lovely hardcover copy for a mere $5 in an antique shop. So, what are you waiting for? Get reading!

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Come to Hollywood!

I’m so excited to tell you about my latest art project!  Our assignment was to create a poster and brochure for a trip.  We had to design and put together a box to hold the brochures that attached to the poster, creating a free standing display.  We could pick any place and any time period for our trip, so (this will be a big surprise to everyone I’m sure!) I chose to take a trip back in time to 1940 Hollywood.  I picked 1940 specifically because I wanted to have my vacationers be able to see some of the charmed 1939 films in Graumans.  I looked up when these films were playing in theaters, and 1940 was when most of them were actually released.

So, here’s the finished piece:

When all the brochures are taken…

there is a small spot behind the brochures with contact information for the travel agency (fictitious in this case).

The brochure.  These are layout images, so you kind of have to use your imagination as to how they fold up.  I wanted you to be able to read the copy, so I uploaded them this way.

(Pages 3, 6, 1)

(Pages 2, 4, 5)

(Pages 2, 4, 5)

It was such a fun project to design.  I got to take my file for the poster to a professional printer and see my project come to life.  It was truly a thrilling experience (in a geeky graphic design sort of way).  :)

I’d be so grateful for any feedback you’d like to offer.  I am well prepared to take constructive criticism.  My feathers don’t ruffle easily, so don’t be afraid of offending me.

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Filed under Film Bloggers, My Art, School