Saturday, April 20, 2019

Blog Posts on the 10th Annual Turner Clasic Movies Classic Film Festival

This year the 10th Annual Turner Classic Movies Classic Film Festival took place in Hollywood from April 11 to April 14. The theme this year was "Follow Your Heart: Love at the Movies". As usual I did not attend, but I did follow coverage of TCMFF (as both TCM and TCM fans often refer to it) closely on social media. For those of you, like me, who did not attend this year's film festival, there are no shortage of social media posts and blog posts that can make one feel like he or she was there. Turner Classic Movies has posted several videos to both their YouTube channel, their Facebook page, and TCM Backlot. And, of course, bloggers who were there posted about the festival. Here is a list of blog posts dedicated to the 10th Annual TCM Classic Film Festival. I will update it as more blog posts are published!

"TCMFF Day 1: The Umbrellas of Cherbourg"
"TCMFF Day 2: The Power of the Pre-Codes"
"TCMFF Day 3: The Festival Audience"

Blog of the Darned:
"TCMFF 2019 – Initial Wrapup"

A Classic Movie Blog:
"TCM Classic Film Festival 2019: Mad, Sad, Crazy, Glorious Love"
"TCM Classic Film Festival 2019: The Community"
"TCM Classic Film Festival 2019: The Guests"

Classic Movie Hub Blog:
"Western Roundup: TCMFF and Winchester '73"
"TCM Classic Film Festival 2019 Red Carpet Event"

Comet Over Hollywood:
"TCMFF Musical Monday: The Dolly Sisters (1945)
"TCMFF Watching 1939: Goodbye Mr. Chips (1939)

"Out and About - Presenting FASHION IN FILM OF TCMFF 2019 at Woman's Club of Hollywood"

Hollywood Revue:
"TCMFF 2019: Kicking Off the Festival in Style" 
"TCMFF 2019: From Grace Kelly to Mexican Wrestlers"
"TCMFF 2019: Indulging My Love of Silent Films" 

Hometowns to Hollywood:
"TCM Film Festival 2019 Pre-Fest Coverage" 
"TCM Film Festival 2019 Day 1"

Journeys in Classic Film:
"TCM Classic Film Festival 2019: Day 1"
"TCM Classic Film Festival 2019: Day 2"
"TCM Classic Film Festival 2019: Day 3"
"TCM Classic Film Festival 2019: Day 4 & Wrap-Up"

 Laura's Miscellaneous Musings:
"The 2019 TCM Classic Film Festival in Review"
"The 2019 TCM Classic Film Festival: Day One"
"The 2019 TCM Classic Film Festival: Day Two"
"The 2019 TCM Classic Film Festival: Day Three"
"The 2019 TCM Classic Film Festival Day Four"

Once Upon a Screen:
 "Remembering 20th Century Fox at TCMFF"

Wonderful World of Cinema:
"My Experience at the TCM Turner Classic Film Festival 2019!"

Friday, April 19, 2019

Nancy Gates Passes On

Nancy Gates, who appeared in such films as The Spanish Main (1945), Suddenly (1954), and Some Came Running, as well as numerous guest appearances on television, died on March 24 2019 at the age of 93.

Nancy Gates was born on February 1 1926 in Dallas, Texas. She grew up in Denton, Texas. She took to entertaining while very young, performing a soft shoe number at an Easter programme at a local school when she was only about six years old. She would appear in various other local productions while she was still very young, and before she graduated from high school she had her own radio show on Dallas station WFAA.

Miss Gates was only 15 when she signed a contract with RKO. She screen tested for the role of Lucy Morgan in The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), but the part ultimately went to Anne Baxter. Her first credited role was in The Great Gildersleeve (1942), an adaptation of the radio show of the same name. In the Forties she appeared in such films as Hitler's Children (1943), This Land is Mine (1943), Gildersleeve's Bad Day (1943), A Night of Adventure (1944), The Spanish Main (1945), Cheyenne Takes Over (1947), Check Your Guns (1948), and Roll, Thunder, Roll! (1949). 

In the Fifties she appeared in such films as At Sword's Point (1952), The Atomic City (1952), The Member of the Wedding (1952), Hell's Half Acre (1954), Suddenly (1954), Masterson of Kansas (1954), Top of the World (1955), World without End (1956), Magnificent Roughnecks (1956), The Search for Bridey Murphy (1956), The Brass Lengend (1956), The Rawhide Trail (1958), Some Came Running (1958), The Gunfight at Dodge City (1959), and Comanche Station (1960).  Nancy Gates made her television debut in an episode of The Adventures of Ellery Queen in 1952. In the Fifties she guest starred on such TV shows as Four Star Playhouse, The Pepsi-Cola Playhouse, The Lone Wolf, The Man Behind the Badge, Studio 57, Lone Wolf, The Whistler, Science Fiction Theatre, General Electric Theatre, Screen Directors Playhouse, Adventures of the Falcon, Jane Wyman Presents The Fireside Theatre, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Red Skelton Show, Lux Video Theatre, Kraft Television Theatre, The Loretta Young Show, Trackdown, Perry Mason, Wagon Train, 77 Sunset Strip, Maverick, The Millionaire, Men into Space, Bourbon Street Beat, Hawaiian Eye, and Laramie.

In the Sixties Nancy Gates guest starred on the shows Hong Kong, Zane Grey Theatre, The Detectives, Tales of Wells Fargo, Bus Stop, Adventures in Paradise, Gunsmoke, The Lloyd Bridges Show, Wagon Train, The Virginian, Kentucky Jones, Perry Mason, Rawhide, The Loner, Burke's Law, Bonanza, and The Mod Squad.

Nancy Gates was an immensely talented actress. Over the years she played everything from Princess Henriette in At Sword's Point to a mother whose family are terrorised by would-be assassins in Suddenly to the heir of a candy manufacturer in one of her episodes of Perry Mason. And while a lion's share of her films were B-Westerns, even in those oaters she played a variety of roles. In Masterson of Kansas she played a schoolmarm. In The Gunfight at Dodge City she played a saloon owner.  In Comanche Station she played a woman abducted by the Comanche. Nancy Gates was a versatile actress who could play a wide variety of roles. It is little wonder she was so much in demand in films and on television.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

The Late Great Monkey Punch

Monkey Punch, the creator of the manga series Lupin III, died on April 11 2019 at the age of 81. The cause was pneumonia.

Monkey Punch was born Katō Kazuhiko on May 26 1937 in Hamanaka, Hokkaido, Japan. He began drawing at a very young age. He began drawing manga when he was in junior high school, with his comic strips being published in the school newspaper. After graduating from high school he moved to Tokyo where he enrolled in a technical school for electronics. He continued to draw as a hobby and dōjinshi group with other artists (dōjinshi being a Japanese term for self-published works outside the mainstream publishing industry). It was while he was this dōjinshi group that he was recruited by Futabasha Publishers Ltd. to draw yonkoma (gag comic strips, usually consisting of four panels).

It was in 1965 that Katō Kazuhiko made his professional debut with the manga Playboy School, using the pen name Gamuta Eiji. He followed Playboy School with Needless Axle of Wilderness, Pink Guard Man, and The Ginza Whirlwind Child. It was an editor who suggested to Katō Kazuhiko that he use the pen name Monkey Punch. Mr. Katō did not particularly care for the name, but agreed to use it as his next work was only supposed to last for three months. As it turned out, that next project was Lupin III. Lupin III proved to be an enormous success and Katō Kazuhiko was stuck with the pen name Monkey Punch.

Lupin III centred on master thief Arsène Lupin III, the grandson of Arsène Lupin (the master thief of Maurice Leblanc's series of novels). Lupin was assisted in his various capers by expert gunman Daisuke Jigen. The two of them were often joined by Goemon Ishikawa XIII, a master swordsman whose sword could cut through any substance. Lupin was sometimes also assisted by thief and femme fatale Fujiko Mine, who was often at odds with him as well. Lupin and his compatriots were hunted by Inspector Koichi Zenigata of Interpol, who chased the group across the globe.

Lupin III was written for adults as a hard-boiled, crime spoof with explicit portrayals of both sex and violence, as well as a very dark sense of humour. The manga often broke the fourth wall. This combination fuelled the manga's success, so that it would soon be adapted to other media. The first anime series aired for 23 episodes in 1971. It would be followed by anime series in 1977 and several more (the most recent having aired in 2018). Lupin III has also been adapted to animated feature films, the most famous in the West being The Castle of Cagliostro (1979), directed by Hayao Miyazaki. A live action feature film was released in 1974, followed by a more recent feature film in 2014. There has also been a live-action Filipino TV drama that aired in 2007, animated television specials, animated OVA series, and games. Unlike the manga, the various anime series have been family friendly.

At the time Lupin III was created, Japan did not enforce trade copyrights. For this reason Monkey Punch did not ask to use the name "Arsène Lupin". As a result the various releases in the West bore the name Rupan  or Wolf.  It was in 2012 that Arsène Lupin entered into public domain in France, 70 years having passed since the death of Maurice Leblanc. Since then all releases have borne the name Lupin.

Over the years Monkey Punch has worked on several other manga beyond Lupin III, including Western Samurai and Pandora in the Sixties, The Siamese Cat and Little Dracula in the Seventies, Space Adventure Team Mechabunger and Roller Boy in the Eighties, and many, many others. Monkey Punch was very prolific.

In addition to his work as a manga artist, Monkey Punch was also aprofessor of Manga Animation at Otemae University, in their Faculty of Media and Arts, and a visiting professor at Tokyo University of Technology.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Godspeed Georgia Engel

Georgia Engel, best known for playing Georgette on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, died on April 12 2019. She was 70 years old.

Georgia Engel was born on July 28 1948 in Washington, D.C. She attended Walter Johnson High School and the Academy of the Washington Ballet. She received a degree in theatre from University of Hawaii at Manoa in Honolulu. Once she had graduated she appeared in productions by the American Light Opera Company. She appeared in the off-Broadway play Lend an Ear. Miss Engel made her Broadway debut in 1969 in Hello Dolly.

Georgia Engel made her film debut in Taking Off in 1971. In 1972 she made her television debut on The Mary Tyler Moore Show in the recurring role of Georgette Franklin. She would appear on the show for the rest of its run. She also had regular roles on The Betty White Show and Goodtime Girls. She guest starred on the TV shows Rhoda (playing Georgette), The Associates, and Mork & Mindy. She appeared in the film Un homme est mort (1972).

In the Eighties Miss Engel had regular roles on the TV show Jennifer Slept Here. She guest starred on the shows The Love Boat and Fantasy Island. She appeared in the films Papa Was a Preacher (1985) and Signs of Life (1989). She appeared on Broadway in My One and Only.

In the Nineties Georgia Engel had a recurring role on the TV show Coach. She guest starred on Working. She was a guest voice on the animated shows Hercules and Hey Arnold. In the Naughts she she had a recurring role on Everybody Loves Raymond and Passions. She appeared in the films Dr. Dolittle 2 (2001) and The Sweetest Thing (2002). She was the voice of Bobbie in the animated films Open Season (2006) and Open Season 2 (2010). She appeared on Broadway in The Boys from Syracuse and The Drowsy Chaperone.

In the Teens Miss Engel had a recurring role on Hot in Cleveland. She guest starred on the TV shows The Office, UnsupervisedTwo and a Half Men, and One Day at a Time. She appeared in the movie Grown Ups 2.

Georgia Engel was a remarkable actress with a particular gift for comedy. She will always be remembered best as the sweet natured, if at times clueless Georgette on The Mary Tyler Moore. If one needed no further proof of how sweet Georgette was, she married egomaniacal newsman Ted Baxter (it would take a saint to be married to Ted). Miss Engel had a knack for delivering lines in such a way as to maximise their comedy. In her many roles on television it was not unusual for her to play the funniest character in any given episode. It should be little wonder that she had regular or recurring roles on so many TV shows.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

The 25th Anniversary of Turner Classic Movies

It was 25 years ago today, on April 14 1994, that Turner Classic Movies was launched in a ceremony at Times Square in New York City. It was at this ceremony that Ted Turner, then head of Turner Broadcasting, flipped a switch and Turner Classic Movies (now commonly referred to by its initials, TCM) went live. Present at the ceremony were such classic movie stars as Arlene Dahl, Jane Powell, Celeste Holm, and Van Johnson, as well as the channel's host Robert Osborne.The first film it showed was the 1939 classic (and still highest grossing film of all time when adjusted for inflation) Gone with the Wind. Since that time TCM has become the most successful classic film cable channel in the United States and perhaps even the world. I wrote a detailed history of Turner Classic Movies upon the occasion of its 20th anniversary (you can read it here).  The channel has certainly touched the lives of many, and it is how TCM has touched my life that I will be addressing in this blog post.

Contrary to what those fans who would prefer Turner Classic Movies only showed films made before 1960 might think, from the beginning it was planned for TCM to show films from the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, something confirmed by both the channel's promotional materials prior to its launch and its schedules from its earliest days. This suited me just fine, as my loose definition of a "classic" has always been any film that has been around for at least thirty years and is regarded by many to be of high quality.

Here it must be kept in mind that prior to the launch of Turner Classic Movies there was already a cable channel devoted to classic films. The cable channel now known simply as AMC began its life as American Movie Classics. American Movie Classics focused primarily on movies from the Thirties, Forties, and Fifties. Regardless, I was still excited when I first heard about TCM. For one thing, Turner Classic Movies would have access to movies that AMC did not. In 1986 Ted Turner had acquired the pre-1986 MGM library and the Associated Artists Productions library (which included Warner Bros. films made before 1950), as well as the U.S. and Canadian distribution rights to the RKO Pictures library. For another thing, TCM would show movies from the Sixties and Seventies, the former actually being my favourite decade for film. I was then predisposed to like TCM even before it even began airing.

Unfortunately I did not have access to TCM when it first launched. To watch Turner Classic Movies, I would have to visit my best friend Brian's house in a neighbouring town. Fortunately I visited Brian often, so that I would get to see movies on TCM even in its first year of existence. I wish I could remember what the first movie I ever watched on TCM was, but sadly I cannot. If I had known how important TCM would become in my life, I am sure that I would have made more of an effort to remember it! We finally got TCM about a year after its launch, so at last I was able to watch it at home. It quickly became my favourite channel. Never mind that it showed many of my favourite films, but I also enjoyed the intros and outros by Robert Osborne. I was already familiar with Mr. Osborne from his stint as a host on The Movie Channel, as well as his books on the Academy Awards.

As the Nineties progressed, TCM would only get better. It was in 1996 that the Turner Broadcasting System merged with Time Warner. This gave TCM access to even more movies, including the Warner Bros. library, and libraries that Time Warner had acquired, such as the Saul Zaentz and National General Pictures libraries. Over time Turner Classic Movies also added programming of interest to me, such as The Essentials, Private Screenings, and Silent Sunday. Still later they would add TCM Underground and Noir Alley.

I cannot say that Turner Classic Movies introduced me to most of the best known classics. Being of a certain age I had already seen Gone with the Wind (1939), Citizen Kane (1941), Casablanca (1942), Singin' in the Rain (1952), and many others prior to TCM's launch. That having been said, TCM introduced me to many of the lesser known classics, as well as many silent movies I had not yet seen. TCM would be where I would first see Pandora's Box (1929), Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931), Out of the Past (1947), The Bad and the Beautiful (1952), and many others. While I had seen pre-code films and film noirs well before I started watching TCM, the channel would expand the number of pre-code films and film noirs I have seen by a good deal.

Turner Classic Movies would move from merely being a cable channel to a brand all its own. In doing so it also created an entire community of fans. It would be through this community that many TCM fans would find new friends, myself included. Initially this would be through my blogging. It is through this blog that I found such fellow TCM fans as Raquel of Out of the Past and KC of A Classic Movie Blog. Once I joined Twitter I would find even more fellow TCM fans. This would be particularly the case after TCMParty began in 2011. For those who don't know what TCMParty is, it is a collective live tweeting of movies aired on Turner Classic Movies using the hashtag #TCMParty. It would be through TCMParty that I would meet some of my closest friends. Indeed, it would be through TCMParty that I would meet my beloved Vanessa Marquez, who was both my best friend and the love of my life. Eventually on Twitter I would even connect to individuals who work for TCM and even a few of TCM's personalities. More than any other cable channel around, TCM maintains close ties with its fans.

So strong is TCM's connection with its fans that it has even featured fans introducing their favourite films with Ben Mankiewicz. This began with Fan Favourites in 2014. Essentially, through the wonders of video chat, fans would get to introduce a favourite film on TCM with Mr. Mankiewicz. I was lucky enough to be one of those fans. It was on April 11 2015 that I introduced A Hard Day's Night. It is still one of my most cherished memories.

Sadly, never having been to the Turner Classic Movies Classic Film Festival or on one of the Turner Classic Movies cruises, I never had the opportunity to meet long-time host Robert Osborne. Nevertheless, like many TCM fans it felt almost as if I knew him. After all, I had seen him introduce films on Turner Classic Movies for literally years, all while in the comfort of my own home. In many ways he was the ideal host, and I think there can be no doubt that he was responsible for much of the channel's success. Robert Osborne died on March 6 2017 at the age of 84. There was perhaps no other person ever mourned so greatly by TCM fans, not even big-name classic movie stars. I cried as if Mr. Osborne had been someone I had known personally. In fact, there are only two celebrities I have mourned more than Robert Osborne: John Lennon and, for obvious reasons, my dearest Vanessa (not only the celebrity I have mourned the most, but the person I have mourned the most in my entire life). I was not alone in the extreme grief I felt at the passing of Robert Osborne, as it seems as if every TCM fan mourned his passing as if a beloved uncle or friend had died.

Of course, since Robert Osborne has died Turner Classic Movies has introduced new hosts in addition to Ben Mankiewicz. Tiffany Vasquez started hosting on Saturday afternoons in 2016, before Robert Osborne died. Sadly, Miss Vasquez would no longer be a host in 2018. I have to confess I have missed her, as I always did enjoy her introductions. Last year Dave Karger and Alicia Malone were added as hosts. Both Mr. Karger and Miss Malone are welcome additions to TCM as far as I am concerned. Not only are their introductions informative, as one would expect a TCM host's introductions to be, but they are also very open and friendly to TCM's fans.

My one regret in my many years as a TCM fan is that I have never gotten to attend the Turner Classic Movies Classic Film Festival. Many of my friends have over the years, so that it almost feels as if I have been there. I always look forward to the Turner Classic Movies Classic Film Festival every year, as I enjoy watching the videos posted by TCM as well as the many photos and videos posted by my fellow TCM fans. I hope that I can make it to the festival one day.

Over the years Turner Classic Movies has literally changed my life. I found many of my closest friends through TCM's fan community. Indeed, if not for TCM I might never have found the most important person in my life. When she died last year, it was my friends in the TCM fan community who saw me through my darkest days. What is more I know I am not alone when it comes to Turner Classic Movies having been a life-changing experience. I know married couples who met through their mutual love of TCM. I know individuals who have found whole new careers through TCM. I even know a few people whose lives were even saved by TCM (here I am not exaggerating--in the simple act of airing classic movies TCM has given hope to those who are sick or feeling down). Long ago Turner Classic Movies went beyond being a mere cable channel. It went beyond being a mere brand. It has even gone beyond being a way of preserving classic films. Turner Classic Movies has become a means of bringing people together, of providing people a community of like-minded individuals, and even of giving people hope.