24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Classic Films

'SNL' funnyman Bill Hader returns as host of TCM movie series

June 1, 2012 |  7:30 am

"Saturday Night Live” funnyman Bill Hader is known for his crazy characters, such as Stefon, Weekend Update's flamboyant New York City correspondent. He also does uncanny impressions of Vincent Price, Alan Alda, Clint Eastwood and other Hollywood personalities. So it's little surprise to find that he is a serious film fan.

Last summer, he hosted TCM's 13-week series "Essentials, Jr.” which featured classic films that appeal to families. And now he’s back for his second stint beginning this Sunday with Sidney Lumet’s 1957 drama “12 Angry Men.”

Other films the series will be screening this summer include 1939’s “The Wizard of Oz”; Howard Hawks’ 1959 Western epic “Rio Bravo” and his 1941 comedy “Ball of Fire”; the 1933 musical “42nd Street”; James Whale’s 1933 horror film “The Invisible Man”; and the 1943 boy-and-his-dog classic “Lassie Come Home.”

During a break last month from rehearsing the season finale of “SNL,” Hader talked about his love of film and why “Essentials, Jr.” appeals to him.

Q: How did you become a film buff?

A: It comes from my parents. They watched a lot of movies, and watching movies became kind of our No.1 family activity. It kind of drew me to wanting to host this because I related to it.

Q: Did you have a say in what films would be programmed over the 13 weeks or does TCM just make the decision?

A: They give you a list of 20 movies and say we can do 13 of these and what do you think? I would say this will be great, but I would really like to do a W.C. Fields movie. And they would say that’s great how about ["The Bank Dick"]? I said I would like to do a Powell-Pressburger movie and they said "Thief of Bagdad." You just kind of mix and match a little bit. There were a couple of films I saw for "Essentials, Jr." like "Lassie Come Home" I hadn’t seen. They said we really want to do "Lassie Come Home" and I said, great, can you send me a copy?

Q: I haven’t seen the introductions you’ve taped. Are they geared for children?

A: It is more like if I was a kid it would be the kind of information that I would want. It is not like talking down to anyone. I lay it out for you, give you a sense of the time and give you some cool little tidbits and then after comment on some of the stuff in the movie.

Q: It would be great if "Essentials, Jr." gets families to watch movies like "12 Angry Men" and "Ball of Fire" rather than the latest "Transformers."

A: There is nothing wrong with watching "Transformers." You should watch everything. But you should get a bigger view. I don’t want these movies to go away and be unnoticed. You want a generation of people to appreciate it and also know they are good -- they are not, like, boring. The pace is not "Transformers" and what they are used to -- the pace is a little slower -- but I feel like the storytelling in these old films is so clean and so nice. It is it geared to: What’s the story? There are still great movies like that now that tell a great story. But I was never motivated to watch movies because a specific actor was in or a specific person was in the movie, it was more like: What’s the idea? What’s the story behind it?

Q: Do you think Stefon will be tuning in and watching any of these?

A: No. He’s probably asleep behind a dumpster some place.

For a list of the movies, click here.  


Turner Classic Movies Turns 15


-- Susan King

Photo: Bill Hader, left, with Seth Rogen in "Superbad," hosts TCM's "Essentials Jr." Credit: Melissa Moseley / Sony Pictures

Around Town: 'Mean Streets' pays tribute to Fellini film

May 17, 2012 |  6:00 am


 "I Vitelloni," a 1953 semi-autobiographical drama about five male friends living in a small Italian town, is considered one of the watershed moments in Federico Fellini's career. The film is screening Friday through Wednesday at the New Beverly Cinema with a variety of second features that all tip their hats to "I Vitelloni."

Martin Scorsese's 1973 "Mean Streets"  is on tap Friday and Saturday. Another coming-of-age film from 1973, George Lucas' "American Graffiti" joins the Italian drama on Sunday and Monday. And on Tuesday and Wednesday, Barry Levinson's nostalgia-tinged 1982 buddy movie "Diner," screens with the Fellini film. http://www.newbevcinema.com

The Art Directors Guild Film Society and the American Cinemathque celebrate the guild's 75th anniversary and its 2012 Film Series with 1929's "The Iron Mask," Douglas Fairbanks' last silent film, early Sunday evening at the Egyptian Theatre.

Allan Dwan helmed this sequel to "The Three Musketeers," which features the production design of Maurice Leloir. Fairbanks went to Paris to cajole the then-74-year-old Leloir to come to Hollywood to do the film. The only 35-millimeter print known to exist, restored by Kevin Brownlow, is being flown in from London for the event. http://www.americancinematheque.com

On Thursday evening, Film Independent at LACMA's monthly "100 Years of Paramount Pictures" presents two films starring a young Michael Caine: the original 1969 version of the caper flick "The Italian Job" and 1966's "Funeral in Berlin," which marked the British actor's second outing as British spy Harry Palmer. And on Sunday, Film Independent is presenting a sneak preview of Wes Anderson's latest film, "Moonrise Kingdom." This event is sold out, but there will be a stand-by line. http://www.lacma.org

Though critics and audiences weren't exactly enthused about the Tim Burton-Johnny Depp version of "Dark Shadows," the director and actor have hit pay dirt with a number of their collaborations. Screenwriters Larry Karaszewski and Scott Alexander will be chatting about their experiences working with Burton and Depp on the 1994 charmer "Ed Wood," after a screening of the film Thursday evening at the Egyptian Theatre. Their discussion is followed by a screening of the first collaboration between Burton and Depp -- 1990's "Edward Scissorhands."

The intimate Spielberg Theatre at the Egyptian Theatre presents the 1917 silent serial "The Mystery of the Double Cross" this weekend. The first eight chapters will be shown on Friday evening, the remaining seven on Saturday evening. "Double Cross"  is one of just a few serials from the silent era that still exist in complete form. 

The Cinematheque's Aero Theatre continues its "The Poetry of Precision: A Robert Bresson Retrospective." Two of his earliest films screen Saturday evening: 1943's "Les Anges du Peche," based on the Diderot novel, and 1945's "Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne," which was penned by Jean Cocteau. http://www.americancinematheque.com

The Echo Park Film Center presents "PXL: This 21" Thursday night. The 21st annual toy camera film festival features Pixelvision films made with the Fisher-Price PXL 2000 camcorder.http://www.echoparkfilmcenter.org.

A traveling exhibition of new Czech films is visiting Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theatre. The opening night program Thursday evening is 2010's "Walking Too Fast." Director Radim Spacek will do a Q&A after the screening of the movie, followed by "Collected Shorts of Jan Svankmajer." http://www.cinefamily.org

Historian and author Miles Kruger will chat about the 1936 version of the Oscar Hammerstein II-Jerome Kern musical "Showboat" on Sunday afternoon at the Billy Wilder Theater as part of the UCLA Film & Television Archive's centennial celebration of Universal. Irene Dunne, Allan Jones, Paul Robeson and Helen Morgan star. James Whale of "Frankenstein" fame directed.

The archive's Wednesday evening programming at the Million Dollar Theater in downtown Los Angeles presents two collaborations between director Nicholas Ray and Humphrey Bogart: 1949's "Knock on Any Day" and the 1950 film noir classic "In a Lonely Place," with Gloria Grahame and Frank Lovejoy. http://cinema.ucla.edu

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presents "The Development of the Digital Animator" on Monday evening at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater. The 18th Marc Davis Celebration of Animation evening will be moderated by animator and historian Tom Sisto.  http://www.oscars.org

REDCAT presents "New Day at 40: A Community's Celebration" on Monday evening. The program honors the 40th anniversary of indie New Day Films with a screening of work by two of its L.A. members: Anayansi Prado and Adele Horne. http://www.redcat.org


"Douglas Fairbanks' 'Thief of Bagdad," "Iron Mask" to screen at Samuel Goldwyn Theater"


 -- Susan King

Photo: Robert DeNiro (left) and Harvey Keitel star in "Mean Streets" Credit: Warner Bros.

'Casablanca' to screen on Facebook Wednesday

May 15, 2012 | 11:28 am


As part of the 70th birthday celebration for "Casablanca," Warner Bros. Digital Distribution will sponsor a free screening of the Oscar-winning World War II melodrama on the movie's Facebook page on Wednesday at 7 p.m. Eastern and Pacific times.

One must begin watching the film before 9 p.m. Pacific time and only one screening per Facebook account is allowed.

Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid and Claude Rains star in the classic that features such beloved  lines as "Here's looking at you kid" and that made a memorable hit of the 1931 tune "As Time Goes By." Besides the best film Oscar, "Casablanca" also won Academy Awards for director Michael Curtiz and screenwriters Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein and Howard Koch.


PHOTOS: Johnny Carson through the years

'Inside the Script' offers illustrated ebooks about films

Classic Hollywood: Gene Kelly tribute includes famous fans

-- Susan King

Photo: "Casablanca," with Dooley Wilson, left, Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. Credit: Warner Bros., First National Pictures.

Tony Curtis documentary to open the L.A. Jewish Film Festival

May 2, 2012 |  8:30 am


"Tony Curtis: Driven to Stardom," a new documentary on the late actor born Bernie Schwartz in the Bronx, opens the 7th annual Jewish Film Festival on Thursday evening at the Writers Guild Theater in Beverly Hills.

Several participants in the documentary, including actresses Theresa Russell, Mamie Van Doren and Sally Kellerman, and Curtis' widow, Jill Vandenberg Curtis, will participate in a discussion at the screening. 

The festival, which attracts some 4,000 people, will screen 26 features, documentaries and shorts through May 10 at various locations.

"There is something for everyone and in every area," said Hilary Helstein, executive director of the festival.

She admitted that people often confuse the L.A. Jewish Film Festival and the Israel Film Festival, which took place in L.A. in March.

"The Israel Film Festival showcases works from Israel. Our mission is to showcase works that deal with Jewish subjects, Jewish issues, Jewish culture, Jewish matters," she said. "They can come from anywhere."

But she said her goal is to program films that will be of interest not only to a Jewish audience but also to a broad group of filmgoers.

One of the anticipated films in the festival -- at least for cineastes -- is Michael Curtiz's 1924 silent Austrian epic on the exodus of Jews from Egypt, "The Moon of Israel." The director came to Hollywood shortly after making the film and went on to make such classics as "Casablanca," for which he won the Oscar. Penelope Ann Miller of "The Artist" will introduce the film Sunday evening at the Saban in Beverly Hills.

Other films of note are "Shoah: The Unseen Interview," which features interviews and outtakes not featured in Claude Lanzmann's nine-hour epic documentary "Shoah"; the documentaries "The Price of Kings: Shimon Peres" and "Follow Me: The Yoni Netanyahu Story"; and the drama "Wunderkinder," about gifted young musicians during World War II.

There will also be comedies, including 2009's "OSS-117: Lost in Rio," (from "The Artist's" Oscar-winning team of director Michel Hazanavicius and actor Jean Dujardin), and "Dorfman" with Sara Rue and Elliott Gould, which closes the festival.

For more information on screenings and venues go to lajfilmfest.org.


Tony Curtis' ever-hot career

Elliott Gould on Groucho Marx, Ingmar Bergman and acting

--  Susan King

Photo: Tony Curtis, left, appears with Sidney Poitier in a scene from "The Defiant Ones." Curtis is the subject of a new documentary opening the L.A. Jewish Film Festival.

Around Town: Legendary films and Herb Ritts photos

April 26, 2012 |  6:00 am

In conjunction with its current photography exhibition, "Herb Ritts: L.A. Style," the Getty presents a new film series, "What Becomes a Legend," which opens Saturday afternoon with the famed 1921 romance "The Sheik," starring silent screen heartthrob Rudolph Valentino in one of his seminal roles.

Another iconic figure from the silent era, Louise Brooks, headlines the evening's feature, G.W. Pabst's 1929 classic, "Pandora's Box," in which Brooks plays the sexual gadfly Lulu.

Sunday afternoon's offering is 1930's romantic melodrama "Morocco," Josef von Sternberg's first film in the U.S. with his muse, Marlene Dietrich. She received her first and only best actress Oscar nomination for the film, which also stars Gary Cooper.

The evening screening is the 1946 film noir "Gilda," starring Rita Hayworth and Glenn Ford. The series continues May 5-6.  http://www.gettyedu.

The American Cinematheque's Aero Theatre celebrates "Midnight in Paris: A Tribute to Jacques Prevert and Marcel Carne." Screenwriter Prevert and director Carne introduced "poetic realism" to French cinema in the 1930s. The three-film festival opens Friday with the 1960 short film "Paris la belle," co-written by Prevert and directed by his brother Pierre, and one of Prevert and Carne's memorable collaborations, 1938's "Le Jour Se Leve," starring Jean Gabin as a foundry employee who ends up committing murder.

Saturday evening the Aero presents the L.A. premiere of the newly restored 1945 "Children of Paradise," which is Prevert and Carne's best-known work. "Paradise" is a three-hour plus epic set in 19th century France about a theater troupe. Jean-Louis Barrault stars as an ill-fated mime named Baptiste. http://www.americancinematheque.com

The New Beverly Cinema celebrates the comedic genius of Peter Sellers on Sunday and Monday with two comedies he made in 1968: Blake Edwards' "The Party" and "I Love You, Alice B. Toklas," which was written by Paul Mazursky & Larry Tucker.


It's animation domination this weekend at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Film Independent at LACMA at the Leo S. Bing Theater continues its "100 Years of Paramount Pictures" retrospective with a look at the studio's animation division. First up is the Oscar-nominated 1999 comedy "South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut," followed by several shorts, from the Fleischer Studios' "Betty Boop" cartoons to George Pal's Puppetoons.

In conjunction with LACMA's "California Design 1930-1965: Living in a Modern Way" exhibition, LACMA and the Center for Visual Music present two avant-garde programs Friday evening: "Optical Poetry: An Oskar Fischinger Retrospective" and "Color and Form: Modernist Animation in California." http://www.lacma.org

The Alex Film Society's latest presentation, Alfred Hitchcock's birds-run-amok 1963 thriller "The Birds," screens Saturday afternoon and evening at the Alex Theatre in Glendale. The film's star, Tippi Hedren, will be on hand for the evening presentation. http://www.alexfilmsociety.org 

UCLA's Film & Television Archive's Wednesday programming at the Million Dollar Theater in downtown L.A. features two early Brian DePalma films -- 1973's "Sisters," a thriller starring Margot Kidder as Siamese twins separated at birth, and "Phantom of Paradise," his 1974 rock twist on "The Phantom of the Opera," starring Paul Williams.  http://www.cinema.ucla.edu



"Noir City: Hollywood, 14th Annual Festival of Film Noir," American Cinematheque's Egyptian Theatre. http://www.americancinematheque.com

"UCLA Celebration of Iranian Cinema," Billy Wilder Theater. http://www.cinema.ucla.edu

-- Susan King


 "Classic Hollywood: Getty Research Institute honors Fred Zinnemann"

Photo: Marlene Dietrich and Gary Cooper star in "Morocco," screening Sunday at the Getty. Credit: File photo


Julie Andrews on princesses, Disney and a new 'Mary Poppins' film

April 19, 2012 |  7:00 am

Julie Andrews and Hector Elizondo in "The Princess Diaries 2"Have you purchased a gift for the tiara wearer in your life? Don't worry, there's still time. The Walt Disney Co. and Target are introducing National Princess Week April 22-28. Like Secretary's Day and Grandparents Day, National Princess Week is designed to move merchandise -- with it comes a 10th anniversary Blu-ray release of “The Princess Diaries” and “The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement,” starring Julie Andrews and Anne Hathaway, as well as an array of pink-hued products.

But the week also provides a timely excuse to ponder the deeper questions of princessdom with the help of Andrews, 76. The star of "The Sound of Music" and "Mary Poppins" coauthored with her daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton, “The Very Fairy Princess” children’s book series, and she'll appear at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books on Sunday, April 22, with her latest title, “The Very Fairy Princess: Here Comes the Flower Girl!”

Andrews spoke with 24 Frames about the princess phase, Walt Disney's affection for fairies and plans for a movie about the making of "Mary Poppins."

PHOTOS: Julie Andrews' life in pictures

Some parents are bewildered when their daughters -- whom they may hope will grow up to be doctors or lawyers -- go through a princess phase. What would you say to them?

There has been a lot of discussion among child development people about the significance of imaginative play when it comes to a child's social and cognitive development. There may be a strong connection between a make-believe a child allows and their later success in life. They always come out of it. For me it’s part of loving books, getting lost in books, playing princesses, playing whatever you feel like. They usually play nurses and doctors and everything else. Princesses are usually for the little ones, I think.

Have princesses changed?

There’s a lot more to princesses these days. Their civic duties alone. Look at Kate [Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge], the new lovely princess we have in Britain right now. I think she's probably extremely hard-working and has an enormous amount of responsibility speaking for the royal family and doing her royal duties and going out to her charities. It’s a very busy and hard life.

Continue reading »

Around Town: Happy 85th to Grauman's Chinese Theatre

April 19, 2012 |  6:00 am


One of Hollywood's most venerable movie palaces, Grauman's Chinese Theatre, is celebrating its 85th birthday this year. And as part of the theater's celebrations, the Chinese is offering a "25 Cent Movie Mondays" series. The first movie screening this Monday evening is Blake Edwards' delightful 1961 romantic-comedy drama "Breakfast at Tiffany's" with Audrey Hepburn, George Peppard, Patricia Neal and Orangey the cat. http:///www.chinesetheatres.com

"Noir City: Hollywood, 14th Annual Festival of Film Noir" opens Friday at the American Cinematheque's Egyptian Theatre with a real rarity: the 1949 version of F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby," with Alan Ladd, followed by the film that made him a star -- 1942's "This Gun for Hire," which also stars Veronica Lake and Robert Preston.

Saturday's noirs are 1953's "Naked Alibi," with Gene Berry, Sterling Hayden and Glorida Grahame, and the newly restored 1954 chiller "Suddenly," with Frank Sinatra as a hired killer.

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'The Artist' is the buzz at the TCM Classic Film Festival

April 16, 2012 |  2:52 pm

TCM Classic Movie Festival at Grauman's Chinese Theater

The TCM Classic Film Festival highlights decades-old movies, but one of the most buzzed-about titles at the event in Hollywood over the weekend was 2012 Oscar winner "The Artist."

A silent black-and-white homage to Hollywood's early days, "The Artist" was name-checked several times at festival Q&As, in concession lines and in the lobby of the Roosevelt Hotel where attendees mingled between films.

The ubiquity of "The Artist" at the festival, which was attended by more than 25,000 people Thursday to Sunday, suggests the symbiotic relationship the movie has had from the beginning with ardent classic film fans. Outlets like TCM, which plays silent films on Sunday nights and programmed several silents at its festival, have helped stoke the fan base, while a well-funded Oscar campaign for the French movie about a silent era star (Jean Dujardin) having trouble transitioning to talkies brought newcomers into the fold.

At a sold-out screening of Douglas Fairbanks' "The Thief of Bagdad" (1924) on Sunday night at the Egyptian theater, Fairbanks' biographer Jeffrey Vance described meeting "The Artist" director Michel Hazanavicius at a party and learning that Fairbanks had inspired the character played by Jean Dujardin.

"Thanks to 'The Artist,' people are curious about Douglas Fairbanks now," Vance told the crowd, seeming almost stunned to be newly hip.

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Kim Novak says she's bipolar, regrets leaving Hollywood

April 13, 2012 |  6:31 pm

Kim novak jimmy stewart vertigo
Actress Kim Novak told an audience at the TCM Classic Film Festival Friday that she has bipolar disorder, and sometimes regrets her decision to leave Hollywood in the late 1960s at the height of her fame.

The star of such films as "Vertigo," "Pal Joey" and "Picnic," Novak was teary-eyed and emotional when she told Turner Classic Movies host Robert Osborne before an audience of about 300 people at the Avalon in Hollywood that she suffered from mental illness while making those films.

"I'm bipolar ... but there's medicine you can take for this now," Novak said. "I was not diagnosed until much later. I go through more of the depression than the mania part."

Novak, 79, is in Los Angeles to have her handprints and footprints enshrined in the forecourt at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on Saturday, a sign of the recognition she said she hungered for throughout her life.

In her conversation with Osborne, Novak was introspective, but not maudlin, laughing about a runny nose and fixing her makeup using a hand mirror she had tucked in her armchair.

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TCM Classic Film Fest: Stanley Donen on Hepburn, censors and more

April 13, 2012 |  9:00 am

Stanley donen tcm festival
When director/producer Stanley Donen took home an honorary Oscar in 1998, “in appreciation of a body of work marked by grace, elegance, wit and visual innovation,” he turned on the charm at the Academy Awards, hoofing it up and singing “Cheek to Cheek.”

A former Broadway chorus dancer, he made his mark on Hollywood co-directing and choreographing musical classics with Gene Kelly — 1949’s “On the Town,” 1952’s “Singin’ in the Rain,” and 1955’s “It’s Always Fair Weather.” Beginning with 1951’s “Royal Wedding” — best known as the film in which Fred Astaire dances on the ceiling — Donen also had great success as a solo director. He went on to helm 1954’s “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” with Jane Powell and Howard Keel; in 1957 he came out with both “Funny Face” with Astaire and Audrey Hepburn and “The Pajama Game,” starring Doris Day. In 1958 came the romantic comedy “Indiscreet,” with Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman, and later the 1963 romantic thriller “Charade” (with Hepburn and Grant) and the 1967 romantic drama “Two for the Road” (with Hepburn and Albert Finney).

Donen, who turns 88 on Friday, is appearing three times at the Turner Classic Movies Festival in Hollywood this weekend for screenings of “Funny Face,” “Charade” and “Two for the Road.” We caught up with him recently.

The TCM Film Festival is screening all three movies you did with Audrey Hepburn. She is my favorite actress. I hope you had a great time working with her.

She was wonderful.... We only had one disagreement.... On “Funny Face,” there was a scene where she danced in a black slacks and top. She said [I want to wear] black socks and I said no, white socks. She said it will ruin [the uniformity]. You can’t have white socks. I made a test with her in the white socks and she kept saying black socks. We were right up to the moment of starting the sequence. I went into her dressing room and said, “Audrey. We are never going to agree — you will have to wear the white socks.” She said all right. When the rushes came in she wrote me a little note: “Dear Stanley, you were right about the socks.” She was glorious looking. She was a lovely, lovely person. We stayed friends.

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