WHAT PRICE HOLLYWOOD? PART TWO

In the first part of this series I took a capsule look at the Studio System with a nod to the use of drugs in order to produce and package the huge amount of product. It was not a complete look as many smaller operations such as PARAMOUNT PICTURES, RKO and the Poverty Row companies such as PRC, and REPUBLIC were not mentioned.  No doubt these studios fell into the same practice; however, having not many stars the public awareness would not have had much effect.

I turn now to METRO GOLDWYN MAYER and its famous studio school.  During the thirties, it was California law that every screen actor of school age was to spend four hours a day at their studies. It was not practical to have an actor leave the studio grounds during filming so a school house was built for them to attend.  Among those that attended were Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney, Jackie Cooper, Lana Turner, Freddie Bartholomew, Suzanne Larson, Cosmo Millardi, Ronald Sinclair, Frieda Starr, Elena Quirici, and Betty Jaynes.   Lessons were given, recess was granted, and lunch was taken – all in an effort to maintain a regular routine.

Louis B. Mayer had an obsession with what he thought was the correct attitude for the films produced by MGM.  This was the studio that gave us the ANDY HARDY series of pictures, along with musicals that made millions making Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland the fresh faces of American Youth.  The ANDY HARDY series glorified the family as it was in pre-war and later wartime America with the father figure- Judge Hardy – dispensing words of wisdom to Andy, who would realize the error of his ways and come home or sort out some predicament such as having two dates with different girls on the same night.  It was light hearted fare all summed up with smiles and the comfort of home in the final reel.  The connection between this and the studio school was that both of these were enclosed worlds. The films were escapist products which is what pictures of this nature did very well. The studio school was part of the life one led on the lot of MGM if you were in pictures.  In some cases a very sheltered existence, protected by physical walls and people of the outside world preserving the sense of make believe.  This is acceptable in motion pictures as you sell dreams but in actual life being sheltered can have dire consequences.

MGM had what was called the ‘SPECIAL SERVICES’ Department, which took care of matters for stars and studio personnel.  It has been written it was this department that was involved in a potential cover up of Jean Harlow’s husband Paul Bern in 1932. Mayer and others from the studio were on the crime scene before the police had arrived to tamper with evidence and plant a ‘suicide’ note.  This department of the studio could not have done this on its own – it needed complicity with police forces. It had sweeping powers.

SPECIAL SERVICES provided a cushion from everyday life for those that worked at MGM; including those attending the studio school.  Other studios had versions of this department, often with newspaper people and the evolution of the gossip columnist, who were given exclusive stories by meeting, talking to or ferreting out stories for the public’s insatiable appetite for Hollywood stars and the studio that employed them.  These people would cover up peccadillos by providing ‘medical leave from exhaustion’ to a female star, extra, or script girl. It wouldn’t look good if the star of your latest picture about homespun American life with Mom and apple pie was seen in a drunk tank or as Johnny Weismuller was found to have lifted a starlet up so high of the ground that her footprints were found next morning on the ceiling of a living room after a night’s frolic.

The studio school took care of you had a pimple – there would be five people to rush it and eliminate it as it was not to be seen.  If you were sick or hung over you were given rest. In short, everything that people of the outside world meaning the public did for themselves if they had the resources.  It created a sheltered existence that had consequences later in life for several of the people that came into contact with it.

I speak in particular of the much publicized life and addiction troubles of Judy Garland.   The relationship troubles of Mickey Rooney and Lana Turner.  You cannot protect someone from all that life can visit upon them.  The studio school was one part of the finishing school of the MGM system, where the chosen learned to be worthy of the studio’s reputation of having, “More stars than in the heavens.” The MGM way was something without choice; often contracts were terminated or not renewed for non- compliance.

To work at MGM was to be in a controlled environment ruled by an autocratic hand, except those in New York who controlled the purse strings.   This was a price these people paid in later life. Some would not argue with results of this control as we have a legacy of brilliant performances from many MGM films. Some choose to ignore the methods used and glamourize the era. No doubt behind the tinsel and champagne is lot of hard work, sleepless nights, pressure and broken hearts. For the few there are the dreams that are fulfilled.  I choose to look at the pictures of this era with admiration for the system as a whole that produced them while still understanding that there was and still is a price for entertainment.

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ITS ALL GREAT WITH SUPER EIGHT

 

 

 

When PVR was still the “stuff dreams are made of,” or there was a hotel chain by the name or a Steven Spielberg film with the title,  those of us that wanted to see a certain style of film had to wait for these pictures in the theatres. Read about them in various magazines which contained those studio stills. Later one would scan the TV GUIDE or equivalent publication that we would buy each week or came with the local paper for our favorite titles and stars. In between-for those lucky enough to have the resources-were companies that sold copies of films in 8 mm, 16mm and later Super 8 formats for home viewing. This was the entry point for some for which film became a serious hobby and launched careers.

Super 8 and 8 mm were available through the mail from companies such as BLACKHAWK FILMS, KEN FILMS and CASTLE FILMS.   BLACKHAWK FILMS was founded in 1927 in Galesburg, Illinois by one Ken D. Eastin who made local advertising films for businesses, shot news events for Newsreels and sold independent 35 mm prints for home projectors. When 16 mm sound happened in 1937, Eastin moved out of his parents’ house and set up shop in Davenport, Iowa.  He operated a rental business till 1957 when film slowed due to the advent of television. Eastin took on a business partner, Martin Phelan, who had a background in direct mail and management.  BLACKHAWK FILMS began producing a monthly newsprint catalogue listing its releases for purchase in 1947 and continued up to 1981.  Consumer interest grew in the products from Hal Roach studios, authorized editions of the Keystone Comedies and railroad films of the vanishing era of steam; of which Eastin was a lifelong fan.  Soon more vintage comedies, dramas, westerns, documentaries, and cartoons were added.  The staple items were always the great silent epics and stars of the day plus rare pictures made to order in the 8 mm gauge for home viewing. BLACKHAWK FILMS changed with the times when Eastin and Phelan sold to Lee Enterprises, and began selling Betamax and RCA video disk formats via mail order. The company again changed hands in 1981 to National Telefilm, and renamed REPUBLIC PICTURES. It closed completely in 1987.

 

I remember getting on the mailing list for the monthly newsprint catalogue for BLACKHAWK FILMS. Each month I would leaf through the paper, read the stories and look at the pictures; never daring to order as I recall it was around 200.00 dollars for a print of something like BIRTH OF A NATION in Super 8. The company I did have the most contact with since I was interested in horror films was CASTLE FILMS.  You could read the advertisements in the back of FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND magazine and wonder why they never would ship to Canada. One day they started shipping to my country of residence – opening up a whole new world.

CASTLE FILMS was founded in 1924 by Newsreel camera man Eugene Castle, who produced advertising and business films in California. In 1931 the office moved to New York City, branching out into 8mm and 16 mm films for home use. The first home movie Castle shot was the Hindenburg explosion, progressing to NEWS PARADE, followed by sports films, animal adventures and old time movies. In 1947 United World Films (which was related to UNIVERSAL STUDIOS) purchased a stake in CASTLE FILMS. This gave it access to its vault of pictures – the comedies of ABBOTT AND COSTELLO, THE HORROR FILMS, plus the products of Walter Lanz Animation studios (Woody woodpecker, Andy Panda, Oswald Rabbit and Chilly Willy Cartoons).  When MCA purchased UNIVERSAL in the 1960s, CASTLE FILMS gained access to the pre 1950 PARAMOUNT PICTURES sound pictures that were owned by MCA’S television division.  You had pictures like the Hopalong Cassidy series, Marx Brothers films and work by Cecil B De Mille.  Even NASA footage of space fights were available for the home projector.  My contact was the Horror pictures as I was able to get Super 8 mm prints running roughly 10 to 12 minutes of DRACULA (1931) and SON OF FRANKENSTEIN (1939).  I still have these prints in their original boxes in pretty good condition.

KEN FILMS had a different approach to selling film to the home consumer by actually having their product in department stores. KEN FILMS worked out of Fort Lee, New Jersey, which did not stop them from having film boxes for sale in Canada in places like Kmart. KEN released silent digests of American International Pictures horror films and cartoons, along with a number of Warner Brother’s titles.

In 1973, KEN signed a deal with Paramount to release a large number of 200’ and 50’ silent versions of some of their most popular features, starting with two parts of “The Greatest Show on Earth”, “The Ten Commandments” and “Samson & Delilah.” KEN FILMS made the big jump into color and sound in 1974 with 200’ versions of all 5 “Planet of the Apes” movies.  They also put out a large number of 200’ color/sound American International products during this period.  The highlight of the release of the 200’ color and sound was “Star Wars” while the film was still playing in theaters!

 

Lesser  known but no less significant was a company called AMERICOM that released super 8 and 8 mm versions of COSMIC MONSTERS, BIRTH OF FRANKENSTEIN, CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN and HORROR OF DRACULA. These came with a flexi disk soundtrack that you started projector ‘on tone’ as the instructions told you.  I edited BIRTH OF FRANKENSTEIN including the creation sequence from CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, plus the remainder of film for a 37 minute sound black and white feature.  It was the first time I saw the Hammer film with Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing; however I had to wait a few years to see it in color for the first time on VHS.  The things we do for film.

I had a super 8 camera and projector which was used to make my imitations with of Hammer and Universal monster films in silent format. I am sure many of us did this little venture of making films with our friends. Buying film cartridges that ran three and half minutes long, sent away to be processed in a week. I entered one in a local contest at the urging of friend as they were stuck for entries and was promptly destroyed with comments.  I was a young guy learning and those plus other comments by other sources and lack of support ended my filmmaking career.  I figured why create such a hassle and argument with people. I overcame that feeling and found work in television amongst other places.

BLACKHAWK FILMS. CASTLE FILMS, AMERICOM and KEN FILMS flourished in the between years of the home video revolution and the format battles between VHS and Beta.  It may seem quaint today as one can pretty much find anything on specialty channels and your personal PVR. I am sure we all have stories of trying to see film in those days before the tech.  For many, these releases were often the first time (apart from television and film society screens) that you saw the pictures you were interested in seeing.  A whole new world.

 

 

WHAT PRICE HOLLYWOOD? PART ONE

THE STUDIO GATES

This is a slightly different look at the Hollywood myth – mainly because we are going to take a ‘hardboiled” look at some of the ideas that nostalgic sites gloss over. Not all sites do yet this is an important part of the Hollywood story.  Gloss over, just as the major studios did when something reared its ugly head and effected the ‘moral clause’ in a star’s contract. In other parts, we will shine our opinion light on the censorship system and child stars growing up. First, we enter the world beyond the studio gates.

These gates would be any major studio – WARNER BROTHERS, UNIVERSAL, MGM, RKO and COLUMBIA to Poverty Row as in PRC, MONOGRAM, and REPUBLIC PICTURES. Let us examine the studio system idea more closely.

I once said in a presentation at a convention that we essentially buy back our childhood.  When one does that you tend to forget some of the poorer times we all had growing up or perhaps we compartmentalize them; yet they are still part of the our story.   Some of us do that when it comes to Classic Hollywood: it brings us a sense of comfort.  This Classic period took place during some of the most traumatic events of history such as The Depression and World War II. Was the studio system as a whole good for Hollywood? Mostly every star biography I have read said, “No.”  WARNER BROTHERS was a factory where actors and actresses went from picture to picture with little or no break.  Joan Blondell wrote that she and other performers often had to ride bicycles to different sound stages with scripts in hand in a basket. Why did stars like James Cagney, Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Clark Gable, Errol Flynn, Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn all have incidents of refusing to report for work (which resulted in suspension)?

These were people with the clout to do things. What of the performers that made their careers playing policemen, magistrates, store keepers, and dancers that were forever in the background or brief scenes?  If it was so good why rebel?  The studio moguls once thought that they had made the stars and they should be grateful.  I keep thinking as I write this of a line from the Bette Davis come back film ALL ABOUT EVE (1950) when Hugh Marlowe’s  character,  writer Lloyd Richards, says to Margo Channing, “That it’s time that the piano realizes it did not write the concerto.” Could that have been the writers speaking to the studio heads or the moguls speaking to the actors?

The studio system turned into a double edged sword. It produced some of the most endearing myths and new Gods for people to look up to in darkened theatres.  It unleased dreams and imagination that flourish today and are constantly being given life to new generations.  The film makers, and Hollywood style of that time will never be forgotten as it is often referenced (even if unknowingly) by popular culture and future film makers. It brings a sense of nostalgia and stability to those that dip into it as the work with repeated viewings becomes like a visit from an old friend. The standards for morality were less graphic in terms of images; often disguised in clever dialogue or situations that took skill and finesse to do.

The salary of Hollywood people as we all know was astronomical compared to the average working family. Men and women saw the fashions, jewelry; the lifestyle of clubs, cars, and food that were beyond their reach. Was this a bad thing?  It happens today, but audiences now have more access to fashion and nightlife as manufactured by merchandising. The difference being that we don’t hear of actors fighting studios because they have done too many films in a row, and are on the verge of collapse.  The emphasis has moved to the actors and the directors with the ever present agent or deal maker in the middle.

The side light to the studio system was the use of wake up and sleeping pills for many performers.  How could one perform at such a pace of production and remain at your peak? Some pictures required dance training, horsemanship, or fire arms training for the role, so how could this all be poured into the performers?  Many a bio I have read has mentioned the use of these pills to the point of addiction in later life.  I look no further than Judy Garland who was introduced to these items at MGM early in her career. Garland was required to dance, to sing, to perform in these very strenuous pictures without break. The contract with the studio stated that if you were unable to perform in a role for whatever reason (even refusal), a contract could be terminated or the length of time you were off was added to the contract.  This was before the Screen Actors Guild and other unions were formed. It amounted to indentured servitude.

It is important to note that the studios were not evil, drug pushing businesses because the use of these pharmaceuticals was accepted behavior. The knowledge of addiction was not as well-known as today.  Many Hollywood people would succumb to opium, morphine, cocaine and, of course, alcohol.  The military in the war years and after permitted pilots and soldiers in the field to use wake up pills for night duties or tasks requiring long hours of attentiveness.  Elvis Presley was introduced to sanctioned stimulants when serving in the military as part of guard duties. Some blame this for his later drug troubles.  One had a regime of pills to get to the studio and to rest afterward so one could get up early to be on set at your best.  Not to mention the press duties, trips, photo sessions, and loaning out to other studios for roles. I am not saying every person in Hollywood used these to do their job, but the use was rampant.

The positives that come out of the studio system are undeniable in their scope and depth.  You have an entire generation of people discovering the stories and stars every day. You have film makers who were directly influenced by the classic studio system in their career choice. The tiered studio system with A features to B movies and below created a training ground for actors, directors and technicians to learn their craft.  Not to mention the publicity departments and other industries associated with picture making at that time.

Kevin Spacey once said at an Academy Award ceremony something to the effect that, “You think this is glamourous. It’s the only time we get dressed up and are together. We get up early to be on sets, etc.” Well, a lot of other people get up early to be somewhere like work.  Classic Hollywood has a legacy of love and hate; even indifference to some people but never the public.  Everything really does have a price. We all enjoy the dreams.

 

THE JEFFREY LYNN TYPE

Hollywood was and still is filled with types – be they on the screen or not.  In fact, it was often remarked that you can expect anything to happen on Hollywood Blvd.  I remember making an inquiry in a bookshop only to have a person dressed in a red wool suit with Elvis side burns and glasses standing to my left near the till in over 80 degree heat. There are those that have unmistakable quality of “it,” who can carry a film and enthrall the audience.  Then there are those that, for some reason, are known only to a few.  They somehow do not have that star quality, yet deliver performance after performance, never quite getting there.  I speak of the Lyle Talbots of the world, or, in this case, Mr. Jeffery Lynn.

Jeffrey Lynn was born Ragnar Lynn in 1909 in Auburn, Massachusetts.  He had a BA degree from Bates College in Maine.  The stage beckoned.   He toured in a stage stock company production of the military farce BROTHER RAT that, was a curious foreshadowing of what to come in his life of having stardom allude him. The play BROTHER RAT was brought to Hollywood to be filmed by Warner Brothers without Lynn who was given a role in another short film.

I first saw Jeffrey Lynn in the role of Lloyd Hart in the James Cagney gangster picture THE ROARING TWENTIES (1939).  Lynn played the college man soon to be lawyer who eventually woos Jean Sherman played by blonde, smiley Priscilla Lane away from James Cagney’s character Eddie Barlett, who has been waiting for her to grow older than in the film’s beginning.  Lynn’s role was good solid work for an actor who gets to play a younger version of himself as he grows from a soldier in the trenches to a polished man of the law.

The one that really showed his skill in my opinion was the 1939 Lloyd Bacon directed Warner Brothers picture ‘A CHILD IS BORN’.  I have always enjoyed pictures about occupations such as the medical profession, MEN IN WHITE (1934), NIGHT NURSE (1931), steel workers, MEN OF IRON (1935), truck drivers, THEY DRIVE BY NIGHT (1940) and THE VIOLENT ROAD (1958).   Jeffrey Lynn’s role as Jed Sutton, the husband of convicted murderer Grace Sutton (Geraldine Fitzgerald), who is about to give birth is interesting to watch as he fights frustration of not being able to see his pregnant wife.  It was a role that was similar of some early Clark Gable performances, particularly in MANHATTAN MELODRAMA (1934).     While Lynn’s Jed Sutton is on the right side of the law and Gable’s Blackie Gallagher is a grinning rogue, both show texturing and humor in their brushes with the law with different resolutions.  You could argue that it was a variation on the ‘good guy’ roles Lynn played so well and I would agree. Yet he carried it off so well. He was ably supported by Fitzgerald as his wife and the long neglected Gladys George as a show business dancer whose career in stalled because of a baby.

Lynn did go on to bigger roles in FOUR WIVES (1939)  and  FOUR MOTHERS (1941) which featured  expanded part of Felix Dietz that he had  done in the previous  FOUR  DAUGHTERS (1938).  Lynn went on to a huge career ending in 1990 with an appearance on the TV show KNOTS LANDING.  Lynn also has writing credits, music credits and hosting credits, just not the full stardom of having his name above the title which to me is a shame. The lucky actors who don’t mind playing typecast roles could make whole careers out of playing policemen, bankers, henchman, and doctors.  There are those that dislike it, fight the system for what they think are different roles; unfortunately, most do not gain that all important public acceptance.   Boris Karloff once remarked when asked later in his life if he ever tired of playing monsters and madmen to which he replied no that he was blessed to be an always working actor.

Such were the Lyle Talbots, Jeffrey Lynns and the David Manners the Golden Age. They had the looks, the voice, the stories, the directors and careers in supporting others. Some were happy about it. Others may have carried a secret bitterness that is forever silent. John Garfield’s cynical character of the chain smoking, unshaven piano playing Mickey Bordon articulated it so well in a towards the end of this clip from FOUR DAUGHTERS (1938); ironically with Jeffrey Lynn in the cast. He talks of God rolling the dice, life’s choice and in the best part not seen here remarks of “having just enough talent to make someone else look good but not yourself.”

 

 

Window dressing for people to play off of, perhaps yes, always capable of course. Whatever their feelings, we shall never know. It is still wonderful to see them on the screen. For that we thank them.

 

GOODBYE TO ALL OF THIS

 

There comes a time when one must pack up and get back to actual life. If you’re lucky, you get to continue with your love of film.   For some it is their full time job; for others, it can be an all- consuming hobby or Labour of Love.

We try to attend as much as we can, including trying some new things such as getting on the red carpet which was a thrill in itself.  STARDUST AND SHADOWS tries to cover things from a slightly different point of view than other sites and I believe we have achieved it to an extent.   The thing about festivals is that you can’t really do it all, even the stuff you want to because of crowds or sometimes venue location if you need to walk to a venue.   The 2015 TCM CLASSIC FILM FESTIVAL made that all easy with most of the film venues close together, however, they had no control over the traffic lights that were required to cross the major street or the everyday crowds.  It’s all part of going to one of these things.

The Christopher Plummer concrete ceremony (which we viewed from across the road along with many others) was well- handled.  You could hear many of the anecdotes; including Ben Mankiewicz wondering if he had pronounced Montreal correctly (which he had). The Canadian in me wanted to shout out when referring to Montreal, simply to say the phrase, “Twenty four Stanley Cups,” and you would know.

Bill Shatner made an appearance.  I somehow felt he would since both he and Christopher go way back to their days at Stratford Festival and share a Quebec heritage.

This festival shines in great part because of the people you meet. I mean not only the attendees, but the volunteers who have to stay inside these theatres in wonderful weather and answer questions, and move lines of excited film goers.  They get to be strapped up on headsets, trying to coordinate audience entrances, hand out cue numbers in lines etc., all the while being calm.  I can say from what I saw it worked.

In the weeks to come I will be writing more on a couple of pictures I did see as they inspired some article ideas.  I managed to see WHY BE GOOD (1929), a silent picture staring Colleen Moore who is not that well known, and some of you will shake your head why not, but should have been.  The picture was a restoration for the first time presented with the full sound disks of the orchestration and sound effects. The story was the disks of a print had become separated, but amazingly enough this picture was thought to be lost.  WHY BE GOOD (1929) featured a wonderful performance by Neil Hamilton, who had a wonderful career as a romantic leading man in full sound films. Audiences today remember him as Commissioner Gordon from the BATMAN TV series of the 60s.

The pre- film talk was presented by Cari Beauchamp, who wrote one of my favourite books on the women from those early golden years titled Without Lying Down: Frances Marion and the Powerful Women of Early Hollywood.  The print of WHY BE GOOD was excellent as it was digital, in the correct aspect ratio which I prefer for this style of film as it honours the original vision.

We managed to get into a screening of AIR MAIL (1932), directed by John Ford. I have a huge soft sport for airplane pictures and this did not disappoint.  A hobbled (from a twisted ankle) Leonard Maltin honestly introduced the picture by saying it was, “… a good film not a great John Ford film.”  One got to see so people like Pat O Brien as a womanizing, devil may care pilot go up against steadfast Ralph Bellamy.

I have always enjoyed the cracking dialogue of these pictures and AIR MAIL did not disappoint as Pat Obrien’s character Duke Talbot asks, “ Where do I park the body?” when asking where he was to sleep. Anne Dvorak’s real life husband Leslie Fenton was also on hand as in a small role as a disgraced flyer. AIR MAIL also had a particularly graphic sounding death by fire sequence that for me even today was disturbing but it did change the mood as the opening was light hearted.  This was a fine picture to see on the big screen in a glorious 35 mm, black and white print, which for me pretty cool.

STARDUST AND SHADOWS did many other things at the festival and they will come out as time permits. It was a wonderfully hectic time that I can say if any readers have a chance to do, they should do it at least once.  We feel lucky to be here in what TCM gave us in terms of access and other things that made things easier.  There is nothing like seeing the stuff that dreams are made of at its point of origin.

 

REFLECTIONS IN AMBER

 

The consuming of liquor has been a catalyst in Classic Hollywood since they were known as the “flickers.” The liquid has brought about the downfall of many a film character both on screen and off. I am writing this post in the TCM Club lounge during the 2015 Classic film festival with a proper glass of amber liquid before me, pondering  how the act of drink has been portrayed.

There are clips running on large screen of W. C. Fields stealing a nip from a flask. You have Henry Fonda pouring a shot for Victor Mature, Tyrone Power slamming down gin from NIGHTMARE ALLEY, and James Dean drinking from a bottle of milk from REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE  because both he and his character did not touch alcohol.

Booze has been the great trigger for stories of the gangster from silent film to today. Without drink you would not have the “hood” that rises to the top during prohibition. No Cagney, no Raft, no Muni, no Eddie G. laying on the pavement clutching his chest exclaiming, “Is this the end of Rico?” in LITTLE CAESAR.

Where would Rick’s Place in CASABLANCA (1942) be without drink.  Ray Milland would not have had been on THE LOST WEEKEND (1945).

Jack Lemon and Lee Remick would not have experienced THE DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES (1962). Lee Marvin’s character Kid Shellen in CAT BALLOU (1965) would not have been as interesting.  Miriam would not have lost her mountain bar in the fire during the drinking contest in RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981).  Where would James Bond be without his knowledge of wines and Scotch whiskey?  Where would Nick, Nora and Asta (their dog) of the THIN MAN series be without potent potables?  The list goes on and on with the same conclusion of not being as fun to watch. Society is against drinking to excess yet we do enjoy watching the train wreck of alcohol and people.

Actors on screen- whether we like it or not- have taught us how to drink. Some watch the elegance of David Niven,  Franchot Tone, William Powell, Clifton, Webb .  Women get their due with Joan Crawford in RAIN (1932) , Susan Hayward in  SMASH UP THE STORY OF A WOMAN (1947)  plus Anne Dvorak in THREE ON A MATCH (1932).

Women have been portrayed as fallen or evil when booze is involved which is a double standard; witness Dvorak’s portrayal of the doomed Vivian Revere.  Women who drink and are not “good mothers” will suffer consequences from the Law or by God.

You see people at the TCM FILM FESTIVAL dressing the part of Hollywood Glamour which adds a nice touch to things.

Yes, the materials to do this have changed, fabrics have changed, and knowledge to do this has changed. Some has been lost or adapted to today’s audience.  Why try and recapture something as elusive as Hollywood Glamour when it means different things to different people?  You can see it in different looks at the Academy Awards red carpet.  We should move forward towards our own images of glamour be it in nightlife, eatery or stepping out in clothes.  The classic clothes or look, the drinks, the manners, are sometimes neglected by people of both sexes as it’s not a thing to do.  The audiences, the public is different now and so is society.

The Legendary watering holes of old Hollywood are gone replaced by newer places that seem slightly disposable or cookie cutter in approach. A club or an Eatery is just bricks, or in some cases prefab bits of wood  it is the atmosphere and more importantly the people that make it different or unique.  This not a lament for the old days more a “Things have changed” and that’s ok as well.

Fun the remember that there was grand nightlife in the town of Hollywood then.

 

 

TIME TRIP

 

I can say that you lose track of the time of day and even what day it is when you attend a film festival. I have found myself asking what day it is. You are not in the real world of whatever it is you do.  You have stepped into a existence of viewing film, making decisions about what you want to see, trying to sneak meals in, and lining up for the pictures you decide to attend.  It’s all great fun.

The 2015 TCM CLASSIC FILM FESTIVAL has been so far a whirlwind of fun, albeit hectic sometimes.  The venues for the majority of pictures are located across Hollywood Blvd at Grauman’s Chinese theatre complex of six cinemas of various sizes or down the road at Grauman’s Egyptian theatre where last year I attended GODZILLA (1954).  The Ricardo Montoban Theatre is also used which is farther down for interviews like the ones with Sophie Loren and Norman Lloyd.

There is the social aspect of the Festival where in elevators, queue lines, buying a drink or food  or  simply waiting at a stop light: someone will see your festival pass badge and strike up a conversation as to what you are seeing etc.   This has occurred for us many times as you meet people from various cities and accents all doing the same thing you are doing.  You share your stories and sometimes things that you missed for the same reasons. The cool thing is the togetherness that a good number of attendees have as you go about what your personal itinerary for viewing is.

I love the stories away from the crowds like one when we were in a local coffee shop away from the festival and a young fellow stuck up a conversation with us after we got our beverages because he saw our TCM badges.  We found out his mother was Canadian (from Prince Edward Island). He enjoyed film and did attend the festival by purchasing individual tickets, just not this year.   In contrast we stopped for some food at one of our favourite hotdog places (the hotdog can be a thing of beauty. That’s another story) and the proprietor saw our festival badges yet had no idea what it was about even though he was about three blocks away from it all.

I try to write with my voice, which sometimes I am still trying to find regarding the impressions of what we have seen or are doing. We get the pain in the feet from walking on the pavement as other do.  We have been very privileged to have been given excellent resources from the TCM staff for vantage points, pictures, and actually being on the red carpet

I would like to give a huge salute to the TCM STAFF and volunteers that are at each event. I am sure there have been incidents as there always will be when handling huge crowds of personalities and technical troubles. It’s how one handles those and so far from our end of things, it has worked with flying colours.

Some images of Canadian Christopher Plummer, Julie Andrews and the 50th Anniversary screening of THE SOUND OF MUSIC from inside Grauman’s or now its  TCL Chinese theater.  Mr Plummer’s footprints were ‘immortalized’ in special concrete along with other Hollywood legends.

 

Onward and outward we go