Newsletter: Classic Hollywood: TCM Festival begins. Farewell to George Kennedy.

This is Kevin Crust and I am your new tour guide as we continue to write about notable birthdays and deaths, movie and TV milestones, fun events around town and the latest in DVDs, soundtracks and books every Friday in our Classic Hollywood newsletter. You can also follow us on the Classic Hollywood Los Angeles Times Facebook page, and our film staff will continue to write about historic Tinseltown.  

TCM comes to Hollywood

The theme of this year’s TCM Classic Film Festival is “Moving Pictures,” as in the type that move us to emotions, be they joy or sadness, fear, anger or disgust (wait, that’s the cast of “Inside Out”). The point is that movies, at least the good ones, move us in ways that mirror and sometimes exceed real life. We experience love and hate, we grow anxious, we exalt.

“All the President’s Men”

Dustin Hoffman, left, and Robert Redford in the 1976 film "All the President's Men."

(Warner Bros.)

And there is something special about having that experience in a big dark room, surrounded by strangers. Stream all you want, but there is nothing like seeing images projected on the big screen.   

This year’s TCM festival opens with 1976 best picture Academy Award nominee “All the President’s Men,” starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman as the journalistic dynamic duo of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. Buoyed by comparisons to this year’s Oscar winner, “Spotlight” -- yay, journalism -- the film celebrates 40 years and wears it well. Written by William Goldman and directed by Alan J. Pakula, “All the President’s Men” crackles like a thriller despite its well-known outcome. The excellent supporting cast includes Jason Robards as Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee, Jack Warden, Martin Balsam, Hal Holbrook, Jane Alexander and Ned Beatty. 

While the festival is jam-packed with the type of classic films you would expect, many in restored versions with new prints, it’s also resplendent with special events. These are the type of one-shot offerings that people travel from all over the world to attend. 

You want stars? Faye Dunaway will be at the Montalban Theatre May 1 at 3 p.m. taping “Live From the TCM Classic Film Festival,” a passholder-only event. You can then catch her Oscar-winning performance in “Network” at 8 p.m. at the Egyptian Theatre. If Angela Lansbury is more your cup of tea (or should I say pot), she will be in conversation with Alec Baldwin for a screening of “The Manchurian Candidate” (1962) on April 29, 9:30 p.m. at the TCL Chinese Theatre.    


You want spectacle? “The Passion of Joan of Arc” (1928) screens with a full chorus and orchestra, April 29, 7:30 p.m. at the Egyptian. You want something new school? Can you believe that “Boyz N the Hood” is 25? Writer-director John Singleton will attend the April 29, 6 p.m. screening at the Chinese Multiplex.   

You want strange? How about Smell-O-Vision? If you like scratch ‘n’ sniff, you’ll love Smell-O-Vision. A 1960 experiment in which appropriate scents -- roses, wine, cigar smoke and perfume -- were pumped into movie theaters to accompany the thriller “Scent of Mystery,” starring Denholm Elliott and Peter Lorre. The movie flopped but was shortened by 16 minutes and retitled “Holiday in Spain.” This is the version screening Sunday, May 1, at 10 a.m. at the Cinerama Dome, with co-star Beverly Bentley in attendance.

‘He’s a natural born world-shaker’

We were saddened by the news that movie tough guy George Kennedy passed away at the age of 91 in February. An Academy Award winner for “Cool Hand Luke” (1967), Kennedy was one hard-hitter (check out how many movie stills feature him punching someone) with a sense of humor.

The American Cinematheque pays tribute to the actor through April 30 at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica. Among the films showing, in addition to “Cool Hand Luke,” are “The Eiger Sanction” (1975) and “Thunderbolt and Lightfoot” (1974), both opposite Clint Eastwood, plus marathons devoted to the “Airport” and “Naked Gun” franchises.   

Women Using their Influence, Part II

Not long after Ziegfeld girl Ruby Stevens became Broadway star Barbara Stanwyck, she shipped to California and quickly became a top-liner. As one of the women highlighted in the UCLA Film & Television Archive’s “Independent Stardom Onscreen” series, she’s featured in the 1933 film “Baby Face,” about a young woman using her wiles to advance her social standing. 


Barbara Stanwyck and Donald Cook in "Baby Face" (1933), directed by Alfred E. Green.

(UCLA Film And Television Archive)

On July 1, 1933, Norbert Lusk reviewed the film for The Times out of New York:

“‘Babyface,’  Barbara Stanwyck’s current offering at the Strand, is understood to have encountered strictures of censorship prior to its release which may account for its failure to qualify as altogether satisfying entertainment.

“But it does bring forth what is perhaps Miss Stanwyck’s best performance, sure, true and curiously convincing in view of the flamboyant exploits of her heroine. The actress manages to justify the monstrous conduct of her character as a result of early environment, although the forced happy ending with the girl’s unbelievable reformation through love does not ring true nor do the last minute mechanics of the plot succeed and white washing a wife who drives her husband to attempted suicide. Incidentally, Miss Stanwyck’s transforming wig, obviously a creation of Max Factor, is as much a Triumph for her appearance as for the scale of the maker. The entire cast is excellent. George Brent and Donald Cook eliciting praise from virtually every reviewer rating of the picture is, however, not wholly enthusiastic.”

It should be noted that the archive is screening the bawdier pre-release version.

“Independent Stardom Onscreen: Freelance Women in Hollywood,” UCLA Film & Television Archive, Billy Wilder Theater, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, (310) 206-8013. “Baby Face” (1933), with “Female” (1933). 7:30 p.m. Friday.

In the Dark

“Noir City Hollywood: The 18th Annual Los Angeles Festival of Film Noir” comes to a close April 24 at the Egyptian. In “The Captive City” (1952), John Forsythe plays a crusading newspaper editor taking on a crime syndicate. Robert Wise directed. Also on the bill is “Buy Me That Town” (1941), which The Times’ Edwin Schallert called “a curious oddity among gangster tales, and a valiant sort of effort, as well, to bring them up to date.” Lloyd Nolan plays a mobster who gets stopped for speeding in a bankrupt village and decides to buy the joint and run it of his own accord.

‘I just got us into a little place called, um... Harryhausen’s’*


We are entering the heavy CG part of the movie calendar -- ah, who am I kidding? It’s almost all CG today!

Anyway, it’s a terrific time to see some classic stop-motion animation wizardry in the form of Nathan Juran’s “The 7th Voyage of Sinbad” (1958), featuring the award-winning handiwork of Ray Harryhausen, April 28, 7:30 p.m. at the Alex Theatre in Glendale. When asked if he had a favorite film among the many he was involved with, Harryhausen once replied: “I try not to because, well, the others get jealous.”

*Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) in “Monster’s, Inc.” (2001)


“The 7th Voyage of Sinbad”

Ray Harryhausen's remarkable cyclops in "The 7th Voyage of Sinbad" (1958).


From the Hollywood Star Walk

Notable births this week include Eddie Albert (April 22); Glen Campbell (April 22); Jack Nicholson (April 22); Shirley Temple (April 23); Valerie Bertinelli (April 23); George Lopez (April 23); Lee Majors (April 23); Jill Ireland (April 24); Shirley MacLaine (April 24); Barbra Streisand (April 24); Ella Fitzgerald (April 25); Renee Zellweger (April 25); Carol Burnett (April 26); Casey Kasem (April 27); and Jack Klugman (April 27).

Mr. Freeze

If you’re of a certain age, your introduction to Otto Preminger may have been as the villain Mr. Freeze on the 1960s “Batman” television series opposite Adam West. (You may also have thought Alfred Hitchcock was primarily a TV host.) However, it would not take you long to learn that Preminger was much better known as the director of such films as “Laura” (1944), “The Man With a Golden Arm” (1955), “Anatomy of a Murder” (1959) and “Exodus” (1960).


Hope Preminger, left, Otto Preminger, Jill Haworth and Sal Mineo after the presentation of "Exodus" in Cannes on May 3, 1961. 

(Associated Press)

The sometimes controversial filmmaker dismissed the notion that he was an ogre. “The truth is,” he said in a 1979 interview with The Times, “rows make good copy, so they get printed. I am not so terrible tempered. Sometimes. But not often.”

Read the Los Angeles Times obituary from April 23, 1986.  


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