Bee’s Hollywood – Part 2: Batman ’66

If a museum was built to house the contents of my working my mind, it would be not unlike the Hollywood Museum. Situated at North Highland Avenue in the old Max Factor building, the three level treasure trove is vast, winding, and appeals to all of my sensibilities. Mae West’s shoes, Hedda Hopper’s notebook, and Maila Nurmi’s gloves appear alongside costumes from Mad Men and sci-fi regalia, while four thematically lighted dressing rooms on the ground floor reveal whether you are best suited as a ‘blonde’, ‘brown’, ‘brunette’ or ‘red’. It’s a feast of a venue and essential to visit, as you will always find something new to discover. However this visit was all about the Bat.

IMG_3981

I first heard about the Batman ’66 retrospective a few months ago, but assumed the exhibition would end a few weeks prior to my visit. Image my surprise as I walked into the lobby to be met with a poster announcing it was still on—I  literally punched the air with glee. Based on the TV series which ran from 1966-1968 and starring Adam West as Bruce Wayne/Batman, the show spawned a wonderful, often quoted film (and countless accompanying memes). Joyous, camp, and innuendo laden, it’s a far cry from the moody, troubled, tortured Batman of recent years and I defy anyone not to be delighted by the feature length film and it’s memorable moments of West battling a (very fake looking) rubber shark or rope ‘climbing’ up a building with Burt Ward’s Dick Grayson/Robin in tow. West’s death in 2017 was a huge loss, but the popularity of the exhibition—which had been extended by two months due to overwhelming demand—is credit to legacy.

While gadgets, gismos, photographs, scripts, props and additional paraphernalia filled cabinets and display cases, I couldn’t get enough of the costume cabinet. As a Catwoman obsessive, seeing all the various iterations of Lee Meriweather, Eartha Kitt, and Lee Julie Newmar was an purr-fest (sorry!) treat.

And, of course, a certain car…

If you follow me on social media, you will surely know how much I am obsessed with all of the Batmobiles, with the ’66 version being a personal favourite, I couldn’t resist having a sly flirt with the car as I consumed her with my eyes until other attendees wandered in with similar intentions. (Although I strongly maintain she loved me the most).

x7QlA4B8TSq5Qbk22ECaNg

I must have spent at least an hour in that room, wandering in concentric circles and ensuring that I had taken in each and every word of descriptions. Fandom has changed a lot in recent years, and can be a toxic place—especially for women—but there was none of that here amongst the vibrant colours and the “POW” and “WHAM” captions littered about the place. I soaked in as much as I could before moving on to explore the rest of the museum, a sly glance back across my shoulder, and taking one final lingering look as I waved goodbye to the gang on my way out.

IiBIML15SZqNDeT3Vpzm6g

 

Advertisements

Bee’s Hollywood – Part 1

In April I grabbed my copy of Eve Babitz’s Eve’s Hollywood and made my annual visit (my third in as many years) to Hollywood for TCMFF for my favourite time of year. I live for this trip: so many of my favourite people in one place, fantastic movies, a great city… I always have fun but the good times were exceptional this year — a combination of staying in Los Angeles for almost three weeks, hanging out with friends, visiting exhibitions, and having more adventures. I may have seen fewer movies this year (including none on the festival’s last day, more of that to follow ) but I had a damn good time. I also caught the closing of Noir Fest (a dream!) and was witness to the Avengers: Infinity War premiere in all its exciting madness. Closed roads, the Boulevard shut down to traffic, chaos and crowds. So grand was the scale it only slightly trailed the was equivalent of the Academy Awards…and no, I was too short to see a thing. But what a joy to witness. And, in many ways, it set the tone of things to come…(Alas, I did not have the opportunity to find James Dean at the Griffin Observatory…maybe next year…)

Book Review – Picasso: The Artist and His Muses (Editor: Katharina Beisiegel)

61RRaldykKL._SX398_BO1,204,203,200_

According to Naomi Segal, ‘muses stand for the eyes downcast, the body proffered somewhere around the navel, mindless, organless, giving, an inspiration at the price of being fast-frozen. No, if she darts, glances or wiggles violently, she is no muse’. [1] In my 2012 thesis, “Women Surrealists: Sexuality, Fetish, Femininity and Female Surrealism”, I argued for the women of the movement; how the art they created was more powerful and far greater than that of their mates. These women, through their presence and formidable talent, confronted preconceptions and traditional muse stereotypes, challenged masculine imposed labels and asserted their independent artistic authority:

In retrospect, however, what appears just as relevant is that this creature, as the male artist’s muse, was relied on as much by her mate as she relied on him; the male Surrealist was dependent on her presence to fuel his creativity and he would have been unable to fulfil the creative potential of the great Surrealist mission without her company. [2]

Far from being a role of condescension, muses hold great artistic power. As Patricia Allmer, in reference to Lee Miller, has stated: ‘the muses do return as outstanding artists’. [3] These women – these muses – are catalysts: they have initiated and inspired some of the greatest works of art, determined career trajectories and provided spouses with creative motivation. The career trajectory of Pablo Ruiz y Picasso would have been very different without the influence of six particular women in his life: Fernande Olivier, Olga Khokhlova, Marie-Thérèse Walter, Dora Maar, Françoise Gilot and Jacqueline Roque.

The Vancouver Art Gallery’s current exhibition,‘Picasso: The Artist and His Muses’ (11 June 2016 – 2 October 2016, created by Art Centre Basel, curated by Katharina Beisiegel and produced in collaboration with the Vancouver Art Gallery) puts these women at centre stage. Together with the accompanying book from Black Dog Publishing, essays by scholars, curators and art historians provide a chronology of Picasso’s life and art detailed through rich, densely informative academic papers in a combination of biography, art history and critical theory. The book included two forewords, an introduction and six chapters.

Picasso’s narrative begins with Fernando Olivier – ‘his first great love’ – who escaped a violent marriage and found success in Paris as an artists model. They became a couple in 1904, and her only duty was to be Picasso’s muse: no domestic chores or sitting for other artists. Together until 1912, their artist/model union kickstarted Picasso’s creativity, lifting him out of his Blue period and into his Rose period. She was the catalyst for the Cubist movement, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907) and inspired Head of a Woman (Fernande) (1909).

In 1917 Picasso met ballet dancer Olga Khokhlova. Part of the Bellet Russe, Olga had scandalised audiences when cast as an adolescent in The Rite of Spring: Pictures from Pagan Russia in 1913. They married and had a son, Paul, and he would paint her seated, in ballet pose or with their child: mother, muse and dancer, a vision of maternal femininity. Olga was a keen photographer and her thousands of images – documenting the artist at work, their family on holiday or at play – continue to provide a unique, priceless record of the artist’s private life. Dora Maar was to continue this tradition.

Picasso began his affair with Marie-Thérèse Walter, the 17 year old who he first saw standing outside a Paris department store, in 1927. Their liaison, conducted in secret at first, saw the frustrated artist lovingly include her initials in his paintings, lovingly entwined for all to see. Their late 1920/early 1930s union saw Picasso experiment with depictions of the female body while Marie-Thérèse’s youth and vigour, evident through the bright colours and rounded curves, inspired some of Picasso’s most sexual and erotic imagery, including his Bathers series and Nude, Green Leaves, and Bust (1932). Their daughter, Maya, was born in 1935.

This same year Picasso’s walked into Paris’ Les Deux Magots and set eyes on the Surrealist photographer Dora Maar. Their well-documented introduction, initiated by Paul Eluard, was the start of a passionate, volatile relationship between two brilliant artists who collaborated and influenced each others work: she dabbled in painting while he experimented with photography. Dora’s unusual beauty and temperamental personality (she suffered from depression) challenged Picasso as a portrait artist, leading him into more Surrealistic styles of painting. Picasso called her a genius yet she is often reduced to The Weeping Woman after the infamous 1936 portrait that captured her in complete mental anguish. This relationship was rooted in war – both internal and on the streets – and Picasso’s work takes on an element of violence during this time. Dora assisted with his seminal work Guernica, and she can be seen in the painting, her distorted face and tears representing both the agony of political suffering and her pain of loving a man sharing himself between lovers (Picasso continued see his ex-partners and their children). Their relationship was to end alongside the war.

The calm era signalled the arrival of Françoise Gilot. The young art student, who became the mother of his two youngest children, would latet pen the book, “Life with Picasso”, detailing her time with the artist. During this time Picasso’s art took on a peaceful, almost serene, nature and he rediscovered his love for the lithograph technique. A family visit to Vallauris in the South of France ignited an interest in ceramics – he thought nothing of using his son, Paulo’s, toys for his assemblages – and two years later, 1948, his first ceramics exhibition was held. As a subject, Françoise is slightly cut-off and more unreadable than Picasso’s previous lovers, with an independence and steeliness separating her from the outside work (and her family). Less submissive and more determined than his previous partners, she kept something of herself hidden throughout their relationship, and never entirely relinquished herself to him. She stated: “I had known from the start that what principally appealed to him in me was the intellectuals side and my forthright, almost tomboy was of acting, my lack, in a sense, of what is called ‘femininity’”

Picasso’s final years were spent with Jacqueline Roque as the chapter examines how Picasso’s inspiration was as much from the history of art as it was from wives, mistresses and models.  Tribal masks and African art greatly influenced Picasso during this time, and the book’s concluding chapter, rooted in the theories of French ethnographer Michael Leiris, examines his various muses and inspirations during the final years of his life. Picasso’s art became transformative as he reimagined and reinterpreted of the work of old masters through contemporary art. The muse’s portrayal was also effected. Jacqueline’s identity, which would have previously been so individual and realistic, dominating the image with personality and vitality, fades into the image as she loses her individuality. It is not her story, her face on canvas; she has become absorbed into Picasso’s narrative.

Without having attended the exhibition, it is difficult for me to say how it compares to the book and vice-versa. However, this is a superb piece of work – either to be read as a companion to the exhibition or independently – demonstrating the complexity of the muse and the fluid, constant reinvention of Picasso’s work. Each of these women were responsible for unleashing a fresh creative talent within the artist. These six women, this diverse group with their own unique temperaments and personalities, inspired Picasso and kept his art relevant.

Artists and their muses is a subject that will continue to fascinate because, deep down, the muse is never who she seems. There is always more to her than her appearance. She is inspiration, yes, but her own unique person – whether artist, dancer, mother or nurturer – with a powerful artistic presence. When you look at these women, whether on gallery walls, in books or on art documentaries, when you consider them and ponder their influence, they become elevated. These are the faces and the personalities who inspired masters and created their own art. Listen and look to these muses. They are the ones with stories to tell.

 

Picasso: The Artist and His Muses is on show at Vancouver Art Gallery until October 2, 2016. The accompanying book is out now, published by Black Dog Publishing

 

[1] Naomi Segal, ‘Who Whom? Violence, Politics and the aesthetic’ in Jana Howlett and Rod Mengham (eds), The Violent Muse: Violence and the Artistic Imagination in Europe, 1910-1939 (Manchester University Press: Manchester and New York, 1994), pp. 141-149, (p. 141).

[2] Sabina Stent, Women Surrealists: Sexuality, Fetish, Femininity and Female Surrealism, Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham, (2012), p. 7.

[3] Patricia Allmer (ed.), Angels of Anarchy: Women Artists and Surrealism (Manchester: Prestel, 2009), p. 16.

 

 

 

 

 

TCMFF 2016 – Sunday 1st May: “We’ll Always Have In-N-Out Burger”

Sunday. The final day. A day to say final hellos, drawn-out goodbyes and leave our happy bubble. It took forever to get here and now it’s Sunday. How did it got so quickly? We were just gaining momentum! I know that the final day hits people hard – and that every year it does not get any easier – but I know I was not prepared for the emotional gut punch that hit everyone hard that evening.

 

I was up and about early for Douglas Sirk’s lush and heartrending All That Heaven Allows (1955) which was to be introduced by the director Allison Anders and TCM Film Programmer Millie De Chirico. I had already met Allison at The Formosa – she is the sweetest person – and and we had another chat after the film. Her introduction highlighted the relationships between single parents and their grown up children; how in the film Jane Wyman’s son and daughter are determined to keep their widowed mother in their childhood home, glued to a TV screen, and alone while she should be out having fun and enjoying her life with Rock Hudson. It’s a beautiful, heartbreaking film and screened DCP was stunning. I have never seen the film on the big screen but the colours were extraordinary – the red dress, the greenery, the snow…everything looked so luxuriant.

DSCN0430

It was nice to walk out of the theatre and into Laura, Aurora and Kellee – aka the festival’s designated ‘Ribbon Lady’ – who kindly showered me with many collectable ribbons. I stayed around the TCL for Horse Feathers (1932) in the early afternoon. Most of you already know that I am slightly nutty about a certain troop of brothers and equally adore their tragic co-star Thelma Todd. The Marx Bothers are always more fun in a crowd and it was great to chat to Danny and watch him sketch before the film started. Kristen gave out masks and we posed alongside Anne and Peter to mark this gathering (thanks to Emily for capturing this moment!) My only gripe was that the restored print was a little scratchy and the scenes with Thelma appeared to have either been cut or they jumped in a very distracting way. This was pity as they are amongst my highlights of the film. Nevertheless, Chico’s piano scene was perfect and I could not take my eyes off Thelma as she watched on, mesmerised as we all as by Chico’s extradorinaiy talent.

After the film I found Beth and was able to procure a lovely red lipstick from the Besame Cosmetics range that she was giving away at the festival as part of her “find Beth, get a lipstick or a powder!” giveaway. She was an in demand lady and I had not seen her around since the Wednesday night. We chatted for a bit in a group then I ran to catch my friend Ben for a nice long chat at Starbucks. It seemed fitting after the film as we talked a lot about British comedy – Ben, I hope I did not bore you with show recommendations and general chat!

DSCN0422

Thema and Groucho would appear before every TCMFF screening (obviously they were not blurred).

I was very tempted to end TCMFF with Network (1976), especially as Faye Dunaway would be in attendance and I had visited Peter Finch’s grave at Hollywood Forever. However, the general gossip that this would be the festival’s ‘hot potato’ and you needed to be there pretty early to secure a place in line. Instead I plumped for The Bandwagon (1953).

In hindsight I cannot think of a more perfect film to have ended my festival experience. Preceded by an insightful interview between the choreographer Susan Stroman and Illeana Douglas, The Bandwagon – starring an almost retired Fred Astaire and drawing on his problems of dancing with the ‘too tall’ Cyd Charisse – utilises real, behind-the-scenes experiences in a homage to Broadway shows and Hollywood’s golden age. The in-jokes fly, it is snappy, funny, and the choreography is exquisite. As for the end number…wow, Cyd Charisse is an on-screen Goddess, vixen, vamp – the woman can do no wrong. I left the cinema on a high and vowing to continuing my ballet classes when I returned home. Final film over, it was time for The Roosevelt and the TCM closing night party.

Ah, the wrap party. Or, the night when we get a little tipsy, say hello to those we had yet to run into (looking at you Noralil and Jill!) and saying goodbyes to everyone else. I entered Club TCM to be greeted with a lovely big hug by Nora which only set the president for the night ahead. Lots of laughter, photos and promises to keep in touch (which we do anyway thanks to the beautiful gift of social media) and preventing the inevitable. I also got to chat with Peter L. and see Kim M. which was the icing on a brilliant, if bittersweet, night that saw us all trundling over to In-N-Out Burger for the definitive selfie of the festival before saying our goodbyes.

Everyone asked what was my highlight of the festival and I would always say the same thing: “seeing everyone and hanging out with friends”. As much as the films draw people to this event year after year – and yes, this is now an annual event for me, too – I think that seeing people is the bigger incentive. Sure, what other festivals will you see such an array of talented people, Hollywood legends, rare pre-codes or obscure cinematic gems, but to be surrounded by people who ‘get’ your love for a particular era and share the same enthusiasm as yourself is really the icing on the cake.

My first TCMFF was about putting friends and fun before films. And you know what? I wouldn’t change a damn thing.

ps. Everyone in this photo – everyone who was not in this photo – THANK YOU. I HAD THE BEST TIME!!! Until we see each other again – whether next year in Hollywood or hopefully before – I will leave you with this quote. To paraphrase Rick from Casablanca: “We’ll always have In-N-Out Burger”.

TCMFF 2016 – Saturday 30th April: Perfect Waves

Saturday already?

With two days left, it was time to step up a gear. There were still friends to see – those I kept missing during the festival and others who would not be attending – so a little strategic planning was in order. As previously stated, viewing priorities change on a daily, if not hourly, basis. Intentions to The Big Sleep (1948) and The Long Goodbye (1973) fell by the wayside but my original priority remained and I excitedly joined the queue for ‘An Afternoon With Carl Reiner’/Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid (1982).

DSCN0421.JPG

I cannot recall the first time I saw Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid but I do know that it was at home, it was during the nineties and it was very likely on VHS. I have always been surrounded by Film Noir and was spoon fed the images of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall since I was born. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I was the only girl in school whose Dad had movie stills of Bogart, Bacall and James Dean tacked up in his wardrobe. The photos were there before I was born and, almost forty years later, they are still hanging up there on their original sticky tabs from the seventies. (Hi Dad!)

The beauty of Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid is how it draws out everything that we love about Noir and gently pokes at elements we overlook or take for granted. It’s a funny film but we are not laughing at the Noir genre itself: we laugh because these are elements so recognisable – the slaps around the face, copious amounts of coffee and liquor, the midnight phone calls, the shoot-outs in offices. This was reciprocated by Eddie Muller – aka “The Czar of Noir” – whose introduction specified that some of his first experiences of the genre came from this film and opened them up to a whole new, younger, audience.

After the film we had the pleasure of seeing Illeana Douglas interview the film’s writer and director Carl Reiner. Such a treat – I could have listened to them talk all day. Aged ninety-four, Reiner is still as sharp as a tack, and his “oyster in a slot machine story” anecdote (use your imagination) had the audience in stitches. He gave plenty of context to the film – describing the writing/selecting the relevant scenes process as akin to a puzzle, and how its star Steve Martin (who co-wrote the film) stayed away from Noirs beforehand lest it influenced his portrayal. I learnt (and loved) the part about his crew being assembled of many individuals who had worked on some of the original films, for example composer Miklós Rózsa (Double Indemnity, 1944; The Lost Weekend, 1945) and the renowned costume designer Edith Head (winner of eight Academy Awards, including All About Eve, 1951; Roman Holiday, 1954; To Catch a Thief, 1956). It was to be Heads’s final film, an appropriate finale to a career spent dressing some of Noirs most infamous characters.

DSCN0424

I did not stay for Reiner’s book signing but took a brief pause to catch up with friends Larry and Emily, who had texted to say that they were just around the corner. Although I had only talked with Larry prior to meeting we had a great chat and they were super nice and gracious of their time. Again, felt privileged to finally meet and talk face-to-face with people who I admire and respect after many years.

Then it was back over to Club TCM at The Roosevelt for A Conversation with Elliot Gould and to grab some Warner Archive DVD’s off Matt. Alec Baldwin was hosting and the camaraderie was lively, fun and funny. The only problem was the room itself. You know the Rior Grrl mantra “Girls to the Front”? Well, the same should have applied in Club TCM – especially “Small Girls to the Front” – as I, and many of my friends, stand at 5’0 and struggle to see a thing apart from people’s backs. Matt was struggling too. Here’s the proof. (And yes, we found humour in this and were probably the ones being shushed).

Then it was back to the TCL to see Craig and ‘Becca from This Cinematic Life. One of my favourite couples, we seem to have known each other for years and it was baffling that this would be another first. That’s the trouble with the Internet: we often forget that we are living in separate countries are not minutes away from each other. As I was going to The Endless Summer (1966) and they were seeing The King and I (1956) we basically spent the hour looking and trying the footprints outside the theatre. Very little time but a pleasure nonetheless.

On my way into the cinema I ran into Raquel. FINALLY! We kept missing each other at the Reiner afternoon and there, with no plan in action, had run into each other for the same film! We obviously marked this momentous occasion through Instagram.

 

Marya’s affection for The Endless Summer was a large part my choosing this film. She had talked so enthusiastically over drinks the previously evening that I would have kicked myself had I missed it. Having thoughtfully saved us places, I sat with Marya, Kristen and Raquel for the Bruce Brown interview and two hours of total relaxation.

The film is pretty self-explanatory – a documentary about surfers in search of “the perfect wave”. The film had no distribution deal in place on its release yet managed to bewitch audiences and critics with its simplicity and enthusiasm. Even though I would venture back across to Club TCM that evening for some of Forbidden Planet (1956) I thought about how appropriate The Endless Summer is in the context of TCMFF: the best moments are nothing particularly flashy or fancy – sitting with friends, talking, watching films – yet in these moments find what you are really wanting and searching for: the most sought after perfect wave.

 

 

TCMFF 2016 – Friday 29th April: “Some Days You Just Can’t Get Rid of a Turkey”

As Raquel, Jessica and Kendahl covered Francis Ford Coppola’s handprint ceremony on Friday morning, I was still debating which films to see that day. I had already changed my mind dozens of times and TCM did not make things easier by pitting Double Harness (1933), a pre-code starring William Powell and Ann Harding, against He Ran All the Way (1951), a Noir where John Garfield holds a family to ransom over a Turkey dinner. This was to be a continuing dilemma as the pre-codes – always the festival’s biggest attraction – are consistently shown in the tiniest theatre (TCL House #4, capacity 177).

DSCN0401

Two very enticing titles meant that this really was a win-win situation that called for one tactic: try for Double Harness and if unsuccessful run across to the Egyptian for John Garfield. This was to be a universal plan and the very long line meant that soon I joined Ariel, Peter, Nora, Coleen, Will – and the rest of us who had tried our luck that morning – to head over the road.

He Ran All The Way was hardly a second choice and did not disappoint. A gritty, menacing Noir, we were soon being terrorised by a crooked Garfield brandishing a gun, then a large piece of poultry, into the faces of Shelley Winter’s terrified family. Furthermore, I was in awe of Galdys George’s wardrobe and her superb, very minor, role as Garfield’s mother who smoked, drank and bitched her way through barely two scenes.

DSCN0399

The sense of bleakness within He Ran All the Way is also palpable off screen. The Blacklist haunts the film – its screenplay was co-written by Dalton Trumbo and Garfield was blacklisted two months before the film’s release. It was also to be Garfield final film – he died one year later. Denis Berry, whose father John Berry (who was blacklisted after Edward Dmytruk named him as one of the Hollywood ten) directed the film, gave an affecting, personal introduction of life during this era. We can read about the time and see movies written, during and about this historical Hollywood period, but it is only when you hear it directly from someone who experienced and lived through it all that the reality truly hits home.

DSCN0397

After refuelling it was back over to the TCL for some lighter Pre-Code sauce. Pleasure Cruise (1933) was just a ticket, a fluffy film where a married couple decide to take independent holidays: Genevieve Tobin’s high flying career woman books a cruise while her stay at home/house-husband Roland Young opts for golfing holiday. However, he has secretly taken a job as the ship’s barber, watching-on jealously as Tobin tries not to succumb to Ralph Forbes’ propositions. Meanwhile, Young has to stave off the attention of a flirty passenger – eyelash-batting, giggly Ana O’ Connor – who cannot resist waving and throwing her underwear at him. Oh, the hilarity! It’s a light riot.

DSCN0409

The Roosevelt’s evening poolside screening of Batman (1966) was the place to be. I love this film – it remains consistently funny despite repeated viewings – and there are times when you think, “yeah, it knocks the socks off the new versions”. The icing on the cake was the pre-film interview with Adam West and Lee Meriwether hosted by TCM host Ben Mankiewicz. It was funny, lively and (I’m guessing) the only time in my life where I would get to see Batman and Catwoman together in the flesh. The crowd was putty in their hands as West delivered his famous line of dialogue, “some days you just can’t get rid of a Bomb!”. He also gained extra points for his comments on the newer masked vigilantes: “what’s an Affleck?” – Pow!.

DSCN0411

I did not stay for all of the film but managed to spot some familiar faces. I had a nice chat with Angela while Jessica talked to an older Gentleman who had met Lillian Gish in New York, 1977. There are so many interesting people at the festival…after the interview I ventured into the warmth of Club TCM. I was able to prise Marya away from her social media duties for a well-deserved chat and drink at 25 Degrees, The Roosevelt’s bar. As much as the festival is about the films, it is the moments with friends that make the time so special and such great fun. Around 10.30pm she went back to work and I called it a night, taking this great photo in the cab on the way.

 

 

 

 

 

TCMFF 2016 – Thursday 28th April: Cemetery and Splendour

Friends, films and The Formosa aside, I had a few things to check off my (imaginary) Hollywood list. My plans were not grand (or even very ambitious) and I left the hotel on Thursday morning – the day the festival would officially kick-off – intending to do two things: visit Hollywood Forever Cemetery and take the obligatory photograph of the HOLLYWOOD sign.

DSCN0294

I like visiting cemeteries. I find them peaceful, fascinating and are often filled with incredibly intricate architecture. You walk and ponder over names, dates and lives, very often finding the more unassuming the tombstones the more fascinating the epitaph.

Hollywood Forever’s resident tour guide Karie Bible (who I had met for the first time the previously evening) walked us through a history filled morning. We learned about the cemetery, how it continues to function as a final resting place, and also experienced first-hand its popularity as a filming venue for television shows and movies. Unfortunately, and without any prior warning, we were informed that certain areas would be out of bounds (including the area where the Jane Mansfield Memorial is situated). Karie skilfully worked around this inconvenience without cutting any of the tour’s length and was able to manoeuvre us out of the camera’s way. (Not easy. Our elbows/heads/feet/hats were frequently reprimanded by the production crew). We were also warned to be on our guard against the randy peacocks who have the run of the ground. Currently in mating season, they have been known to turn on visitors. Fortunately, they were in their cages. Unfortunately, the geese were not. I cannot talk for everyone but I am sure there were zero casualties.

DSCN0295

Hollywood Forever Peacocks. Beware! Mating Season!

DSCN0296

Thanks to Karie’s rich knowledge the morning was both tour and history lesson and, due to this being a TCMFF specific tour, we visited monuments and graves that may have been slightly too obscure for other visitors. Being a bid fan of Ed Wood, I took pleasure in seeing  the resting places of his wife Kathleen O’Hara Wood, and the frequent star of his films, the B Movie legend and television host Maila Nurmi, aka Vampire.

DSCN0305

Maila Nurmi aka Vampira

 

DSCN0341

Kathleen’s amazing dedication

I took many, many pictures so have tried to be selective and provide a little montage below. (I will be creating a Facebook album of this trip so please feel free to check my page over the next few days).

In the afternoon I stopped by The Roosevelt to collect the festival programme and soak up the opening night’s atmosphere. Although I originally planned to watch the red carpet arrivals and stay for the opening films, I felt the delayed tiredness creep up on me. Rather than burn out pre-festival, I decided to wander along Hollywood Boulevard. It proved very fruitful: I took photographs on the walk of fame and was complimented by ‘Marilyn Monroe’ who said that she loved my (red) lipstick. Day. Made.

Another reason I left? My hotel was having the VIP party on the roof and I had planned to sweet talk the security into letting me in. Nope, it did not work. So I had a large glass of red wine and rested up for Friday. (Also, it was probably for the best: some silly person decided to ruin the ending of Dark Victory by setting off the fire alarm in the Chinese Theatre. Everyone had to evacuate TWO MINUTES before the finale! Who does that?)

DSCN0396

ps. Thursday marked another milestone: I took the best selfie of my life.