The LA Diaries 2019 #6: TCMFF weekend

As I am taking so long to write these posts, and a huge chunk of time has passed, I figure I best get a move on and tell you all about the final two days of the fest.


TCMFF weekend started with the fabulous Double Wedding (1937), a raucously zany comedy reuniting Myra Loy and Willaim Powell as sparring partners who obviously become intensely attracted to one another. The ending was an absolute scream — I have never seen anything quite like it to be honest! A pleasure from start to finish. It set the day up quite nicely — plus, Marya bought a Pink Panda!


Then it was onto Blood Money (1933), a Pre-Code that ticked the boxes in stylish fair as Bondsman George Bankcroft becomes embroiled with the clients he is helping. By then it was midnight, and wanting to attend the midnight film, The Student Nurses (1970), my friend Millie and I literally climbed under the rail next to our seats to dash into the theatre. We literally escaped from Escape from New York! But it was worth dashing because Student Nurses was hugely enjoyable: a group of four young women studying in 1970s Los Angeles find their paths go in four very different ways. I loved it.


Then it was Sunday, the final day of the festival. The day, once again, started fabulously, with Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant in Holiday (1938), a movie I had seen numerous times will rewatch at any opportunity. The chemistry between them is delightful, the gowns and hats are gorgeous, and the movie is delightful — a whole heap of joy.

I usually refer to this say as “Sirk Sunday” because I always watch a Douglas Sirk movie at the festival. This time it was Magnificent Obsession (1954), where Rock Hudson woos widow Jane Wyman without realizing he is somewhat unintentionally responsible for her late husband’s death. Gimme all the melodrama, I love it.

The final movie before the closing party was The Dolly Sisters (1945), a musical with more FANTASTIC surrealistic costumes, is how many of us chose to end our festival, and while this one was not necessarily my favourite, it was a great deal of fun. THE COSTUMES! I’m hoping to write more on this aspect of the movie. at some point so this is all I will say for now about that angle but YES WOW.



We always close the festival in style at The Roosevelt to drink and chat and say our goodbyes, and later to grab fries at In-N-Out as per tradition.


The group of us staying up late to make the most of the festival shrinks every year, but it doesn’t matter, that’s not the point. It’s about enjoying the final minutes of the festival before we say goodbye for another year, about having one last laugh with friends and memories and shared experiences. And that’s what it’s all about.


Noirvember – Out of the Darkness…(It’s Over and I Messed Up)


It’s 30 November, the last day of November – and Noirvember – and it’s safe to say that I messed up. I overestimated this self-imposed task to post something everyday and follow Noirvember to the letter. I did not anticipate the sheer volume activity that would flood my way and make this month one of my busiest of the year.

It’s started slowly and surely, but a combination of minor health niggles and research activity soon put my intentions to rest. May it was this task – the incentive to become more active on here – that kickstarted my hunger for something that I’ve been missing and craving for a very long time. It got me back into a much-missed circle, asking questions of myself and critiquing my current situation and general career plan. It gave me a much-needed kick to use my site more and to post whatever I wanted to at that particular moment, be it a photo, quote, anecdote or whatever. I wanted to do more in-depth reviews, analysis and wittily constructed posts but there’s always time – maybe I’ll do a mini Noir celebration in the year?

Let’s just see where this site takes us, shall we? Out of the Noirvember darkness and into the light…

Noirvember – Day 20 (Running)


My first viewing of He Ran All The Way was at this year’s TCM Classic Film Festival. What follows is an extract of my original post:


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 John 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.

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.

Noirvember – Day 12 (Beat the Devil, 1953)


John Huston’s Beat the Devil is not easy to categorise. Part comedy, tongue-in-cheek, and rarely dramatic, Bogart described the film as “a sort of satire on the Maltese Falcon private detective,” while for John Huston it was “more a lark than a satirical story…It made no points about anything in particular, we just had a good time”. ‘We’ being the film’s star-studded cast including Humphrey Bogart, Gina Lollobrigida, Jennifer Jones and Peter Lorre.

While waiting in an Italian port to board a boat for Mombasa, a group of completely random people – two couples, a shifty-looking International trio and various other oddballs – connive to claim land rich in uranium. The plot is light, but the sartorial stakes are extremely high. It is impossible to deny that Lollobrigida oozes glamour as Maria (the wife of Bogart’s character), who never breaks a sweat and maintains effortless chic throughout the film. Whatever the situation she can be trusted to be seen in tight dresses, heels and perfectly un-smudged eyeliner. She also has some very funny moments, especially when she describes herself as an honorary Brit who maintains her subscription to Town & Country Magazine and has an afternoon tea ritual. She naturally falls for the English charms of Harry Chelm (played by the very British named Edward Underdone).

Although not quite as glamourous as Lollobrigida, Jones, in her oversized shirts and headscarves, adds to the continental allure. She raises a laugh when, in a cut-glass British accent, says she doesn’t trust the men because “not one of them looked at my legs”. Unfortunately for her, her hypochondriac husband constantly moans about “a chill on his liver”, has an unhealthy attachment to his hot water bottle, and (embodying the stereotypical Brit abroad) constantly moans about the unpalatable Italian food. You can understand why she falls for Bogart’s charms, dapperly dressed in a wonderful range of cravats and bow ties. Lorre too is rather chic as Julius O’Hara – “there are a lot of O’Haras in Chile” – who elegantly puffs away on a long white cigarette holder that matches his suit.

Convoluted, fast, funny and full of famous faces. There is little to not like about Beat The Devil. For serious noir watch The Maltese Falcon. If you like your noirs a little lighter, this can’t be beaten.


*This is a modified, slightly tidier version of a post that appeared on my old website ( on 6 October 2014. I don’t use that site anymore, so please continue to follow me here instead! Thank you.