Classic Cinema

Farewell to The Great Movie Ride

Another attraction is biting the dust at Disney’s Hollywood Studios park at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. The Great Movie Ride presented by TCM closed permanently yesterday. It’s making way for a new attraction called Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railcar.

The Great Movie Ride made me really happy. It’s a merger of two of my favorite things–a Disney theme park attraction and classic movies. Plus, it was housed inside the Disney theme park version of the world famous Chinese Theater (which still exists today on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles, California, and is still one of the best places in the country to see a movie; in the context of this park, the Chinese Theater served as its symbolic castle).

I was able to score a ticket to a special farewell event for the attraction sponsored by the TCM Backlot and D23 fan clubs held on Saturday, August 12, 2017, one day before the attraction’s closure. They took us into the Disney’s Hollywood Studios park early in the morning before the park’s regular opening, gave us a walking tour of the entire attraction, and then gave us one final ride.

While this attraction was a bit long in the tooth, so to speak, it was grand, it was ambitious, it was one-of-a-kind, and it was all about the love of classic Hollywood movies. Needless to say, I loved the ride and will miss it.

Here are some photos from the farewell event I attended (all photos taken by yours truly).

Our group was taken into the park at 7:00 a.m.–two hours before park opening


The Chinese Theatre — Disney World style


The ride’s marquee


The ride’s poster


Getting some instructions and some historical context before entering the ride


We’re going in


In the queue room with the great film genre intros by Robert Osborne, long-time host of Turner Classic Movies


The queue room


Load room


Walking through the attraction!


I love TCM


The Busby Berkeley girls from FOOTLIGHT PARADE (1933; the bubble machine was turned off so people wouldn’t slip on the floor)


Gene Kelly in SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN (1952)


Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke in MARY POPPINS (1964); this is only one of two Disney movies represented on the ride–not counting the movie montage at the end


James Cagney in THE PUBLIC ENEMY (1931)


The gangster film room


Clint Eastwood, from any number of films, probably one of his Spaghetti westerns


John Wayne, most likely from RIO BRAVO (1959)


The western film room


The Nostromo spaceship room from ALIEN (1979)


Signourney Weaver from ALIEN (1979)




Harrison Ford and John Rhys-Davies from RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1982)


Cheetah and Maureen O’Sullivan from one of their TARZAN movies from the 1930s (Tarzan was a no show)


The CASABLANCA scene! My favorite.


Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in CASABLANCA (1942). “We’ll always have Paris.”


Mickey Mouse in FANTASIA (1940). The second and final Disney movie represented in the ride and precursor of things to come (the new Mickey and Minnie Runaway Railcar attraction looks to be a screen-based attraction).




More of THE WIZARD OF OZ room


You know what to do


And we did


Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr, Judy Garland, and Jack Haley in THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939)


The movie montage/finale room (which nearly as fun when it’s turned off)


Have I mentioned lately how much I love TCM?

Disney hasn’t wasted any time. Today (August 14, 2017), these new signs were added at the Chinese Theater. (Photos from and; used without permission.)

I’m hoping that with the Chinese Theatre in the background, the existing facade will remain with the new attraction. Time will tell.

Classic Cinema

2017 TCM Classic Film Festival Day Four Report

The final day of the 2017 Turner Classic Movies (TCM) Classic Film Festival has come and gone. The festival has been great every day and it definitely ended on a high note for me.

I saw three films:

Postcards from the Edge (1990)

TCM programmed this film as a tribute to Carrie Fisher who died last December (TCM also paid tribute to Debbie Reynolds by screening her first film Singin’ in the Rain). The film is based on Carrie Fisher’s book of the same title; Carrie also wrote the screenplay. I loved this film in 1990 and I loved seeing it again today. Carrie’s brother Todd Fisher and Richard Dreyfus (who has a supporting role in the film) were there and gave their remarks after the screening. Sadly, I missed their commentary because I had to go get in line for the next film.

What’s Up, Doc? (1972)

Seeing this on the big screen was a total delight. Introducing the film was director Peter Bogdanovich! Such a treat.

Lady in the Dark (1944)

This was another nitrate print screening, but the film was in Technicolor. The shades of color were remarkable, unlike anything I have ever seen.

Both What’s Up, Doc? and Lady in the Dark were screened at the Egyptian Theatre.

That’s a wrap!

Many thanks to the folks at TCM who worked so hard to put on such an outstanding event. The film festival just worked very well in all regards (other than having to choose between so many good films; I wanted to see them all). Can’t wait to go back.

Classic Cinema

2017 TCM Classic Film Festival Day Three Report

Had another interesting and enjoyable day at the 2017 Turner Classic Movies (TCM) Classic Film Festival.

Today’s films were:

This Is Cinerama (1952)

The TCM folks worked with the Cinerama Dome folks in Hollywood (now owned and operated by ArcLight Cinemas) to screen two films in the dome-shaped theater–It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (the first theatrical release created in the format), and This Is Cinerama (a travelogue-style film that shows off the format).

Film historian and author Leonard Maltin was on hand to introduce this film and the format.

I loved seeing the Dome. And I loved seeing the film. Really a unique and wonderful experience.

The Cinerama sign on Sunset Blvd.

The Cinerama Dome designed by renowned Los Angeles-based architect Welton Beckett

The view from my seat

“This Is Cinerama” poster

Model of the theater interior (note the three projection booths)

The Jerk (1979)

Director Carl Reiner was there to introduce this film that launched Steve Martin’s movie career.

L-R: Carl Reiner and Ben Mankiewicz

King of Hearts (1966)

This French anti-war comedy film directed by Philippe de Broca was a thought-provoking delight. Actress Geneviève Bujold was there to introduce the film and she looked luminous and lovely.

L-R: Geneviève Bujold and Alicia Malone

Top Secret! (1984)

I love, love, love this crazy comedy. Directors David Zucker, Jim Abrahams,  and Jerry Zucker were there to introduce the film.

The Kentucky Fried Movie (1977)

Dirty and somewhat uneven, but when it delivers, it’s hilarious. Edgar Wright was there to interview director John Landis and the creative team of David Zucker, Jim Abrahams, and Jerry Zucker.

Classic Cinema

2017 TCM Classic Film Festival Day Two Report

Day two at the 2017 Turner Classic Movies (TCM) Classic Film Festival was enlightening and delightful. Saw films for the first time, revisited some old favorites, and saw some interesting people.

Basically, the entire day was spent either in line or in the theater.

In line

In the theatre

Today’s films were:

Animated Shorts by Ub Iwerks

First up was a screening of 10 rarely seen short films created by animator Ub Iwerks in the 1930s. It was hosted by animation expert and historian Jerry Beck and documentary filmmaker Leslie Iwerks, Ub Iwerks’ granddaughter.

Short films included:

  • Oswald the Rabbit in Hungry Hobos
  • Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse in Steamboat Willie
  • The Skeleton Dance 
  • Flip the Frog in Fiddlesticks
  • Flip the Frog in Movie Mad
  • Willie Whopper in Hell’s Fire
  • Willie Whopper in Cave Man
  • Jack and the Beanstalk (a “ComiColor” cartoon)
  • Baloonland (another “ComiColor” cartoon)
  • Merry Mannequins

Beat the Devil (1953)

Directed by John Huston and filmed on location in Italy, this comedy farce was weird but fun (it’s just always a bit unnerving for me when Humphrey Bogart is in a comedy). I particularly loved the black and white cinematography by Oswald Morris. Truman Capote was a screenwriter on the project, too.

Introducing the film were film scholar Cari Beauchamp and script supervisor for the film Angela Allen.

L-R: Angela Allen and Cari Beauchamp

The Princess Bride (1987)

Holy smokes, I was reminded of how much I love this movie. TCM host Ben Mankiewicz interviewed director Rob Reiner before the film. Cary Elwes (who played Wesley in the film) was in the house, too.

L-R: Rob Reiner and Ben Mankiewicz

Broadcast News (1987)

It was wonderful to revisit this interesting take on the decline of television news intermixed with a very compelling romantic comedy/love triangle. There to introduce the film were director James L. Brooks and actor Albert Brooks.

L-R: Albert Brooks, James L. Brooks, and Ben Mankiewicz

High Anxiety (1977)

Mel Brooks was on hand to introduce his spoof/homage to Alfred Hitchcock. Such an unbelievable treat to see/hear Mel Brooks in person.

L-R: Mel Brooks and Ben Mankiewicz

Zardoz (1974)

The TCM Classic Film Festival is carrying on its tradition of midnight screenings of cult classics. Day two’s midnight movie was the horrible Zardoz which features Sean Connery running around in only a red diaper for the entire film. Weird and hilarious. A fellow film goer brought these Zardoz-inspired cookies.

Classic Cinema

2017 TCM Classic Film Festival Day One Report

Greetings from Hollywood, California. I’m attending this year’s Turner Classic Movies (TCM) Classic Film Festival. The festival runs from April 6-9, 2017. The theme is “Make ‘Em Laugh: Comedy in the Movies” (although there are films from many genres represented).

Great signage is all around the festival area. 

Billboard on top of a building on Hollywood Blvd.; sorry that I couldn’t move the tree

Billboard on the Hollywood & Highland Center

Windows at the Roosevelt Hotel

Banner hanging in the Egyptian Theatre entrance courtyard

The TCL Chinese Theatre is the symbolic home of the festival–and is still one of the greatest movie theatres in the U.S.A.

Classic Hollywood, baby!

The great ceiling of the TCL Chinese Theatre

I attended three TCM Classic Film Festival events today:

Remembering Robert Osborne

While the entire festival this year is dedicated to Robert Osborne, the original host of TCM who passed away on March 6, 2017 at the age of 84, this event was a 90-minute tribute panel hosted by TCM host Ben Mankiewicz with many of Robert’s TCM team members talking about what it was like working with him. 

Robert Osborne was such a pro; it was great to hear such kind words from his colleagues at TCM

Everyone unanimously recounted what a consummate professional and gentleman he was and how he treated his co-workers and fans with the utmost kindness and respect. 

Probably what was most interesting to me was the emotional connection so many had with classic cinema and with Robert (myself included). I know that watching old movies with my mom, including many on TCM, was a true bonding experience. Other people in attendance reported the same thing–the classic movies shown on TCM and introduced by Robert Osborne helped connect to our past and bring comfort to the present.

Love Crazy (1941)

I loved, loved, loved, this romantic screwball comedy. Starring William Powell and Myrna Loy, it was a total delight. The screening was introduced by actress Dana Delaney.

That really is Dana Delaney

The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934)

A scary and beautiful film and one of Alfred Hitchcock’s first films made in the UK. The TCM folks screened a nitrate print of the film and director Martin Scorese was on hand to introduce it.

And that really is Martin Scorsese

Classic Cinema

“Singin’ in the Rain” 65th Anniversary 

Singin’ in the Rain (MGM, 1952), one of my all-time favorite movies, just celebrated its 65th anniversary. Turner Classic Movies (TCM) did a special screening of the film as part of their fantastic Big Screen Classics series. It was such a delight to see this film again on the big screen. 

Check out these great publicity photos (all photos © MGM).

And here’s my little Instagram tribute.

Classic Cinema

“Fantastic Voyage”

(© 20th Century Fox)

I watched the debut on Turner Classic Movies of the sci-fi adventure film Fantastic Voyage (20th Century Fox, 1966) this month. While it’s definitely a period piece and a bit kitschy, I was impressed with the film’s visual effects and its unique story.

Set in the heart of the Cold War between the U.S. and Russia, the film tells the story of five scientists who, along with a fancy customized submarine, are miniaturized and placed within the body of an injured man who possesses valuable and timely military secrets. The scientists have only 60 minutes to remove a blood clot in the man’s brain before they return back to normal size. 

What follows is an adventure against time within the human body. As the miniaturized submarine travels through the blood stream and human organs, the filmmakers have a bold interpretation of what the inside of the human body would look like from the perspective of a teeny tiny person. And there are many challenges and intrigues along the way to keep the plot mostly interesting and moving along.

Original theatrical poster (© 20th Century Fox)

Directed by Richard Fleischer and starring Stephen Boyd, Raquel Welch, Donald Pleasance, and Edmond O’Brien, Fantastic Voyage is an enjoyable 1960s-style sci-fi adventure.

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars 

Here’s the original trailer courtesy of the 20th Century Fox YouTube channel.

Classic Cinema

“Breakfast at Tiffany’s”

November’s entry in the Turner Classic Movies (TCM) Big Screen Classics series was Paramount Pictures’ 1961 dramedy Breakfast at Tiffany’s

(© Paramount Pictures)

Socialite Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn) and aspiring writer Paul Varjak (George Peppard) live in the same apartment building in New York City. Both are also involved in other relationships that are ones of convenience and/or survival–and definitely not love. Sparks (and confusion) start to fly as the two get to know each other better and begin to look realistically at who and what they really are and what they want out of life. And while the film is primarily focused on Holly G. (and those incredible Givenchy-designed clothes), both Holly and Paul have interesting character arcs and have interesting decisions to make.

Directed by Blake Edwards, the film also has an iconic score by Henry Mancini. The classic song “Moon River” makes its debut in the film (and Audrey sings it in a lovely way, too).

Seeing this classic film on the big screen was a total treat. Audrey Hepburn is luminous, as always. I learned from Tiffany Vazquez’s outstanding introduction that Truman Capote, the author of the source material, wanted Marilyn Monroe to play the role. Still, it’s difficult to picture anyone other than Hepburn as Holly Golightly. As advertised, TCM screened the beautiful digital print in its original aspect ratio. It was a happy ending for the film’s characters and for the film goers, too.

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Thanks again for the Big Screen Classics series, TCM! Keeping my fingers crossed that it will return in 2017.

Thoughts on Movies

TCM to Sponsor The Great Movie Ride at Disney’s Hollywood Studios Park

Image © TCM and Disney

Image © TCM and Disney

Finally, some good news to come out of Walt Disney World. Last month, a Disney spokesperson confirmed to the Orlando Sentinel that the giant, heinous “Sorcerer Mickey” hat that was plopped in front of the replica of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre at Disney’s Hollywood Studios park in 2001 is going bye-bye (more about my thoughts on this egregious structure are here). Then, yesterday it was announced that Turner Classic Movies (TCM) signed an agreement to sponsor The Great Movie Ride attraction, which is located inside the Chinese Theatre building and is one of the park’s original attractions. Vintage Disney movies and television programs will also be shown quarterly on TCM in a new “Treasures from the Disney Vault” programming block. TCM has put together a press release and a webpage about the new deal. I couldn’t be happier about this latest development.

Once the awful giant hat is removed and the beautiful views restored to the entrance of Disney’s Hollywood Studios park, guests will then be able to see and enjoy The Great Movie Ride with new content at the beginning and end of the ride curated by the pros at TCM. Giant hat removal is scheduled to begin in January 2015. The TCM additions to The Great Movie Ride should hopefully be in place soon thereafter.

The ride has been in need of an update for a long time and TCM is the perfect partner to make this experience great again. I’m also glad that the classic movie theme is staying as the opening act at the Disney’s Hollywood Studios park, a celebration of “the Hollywood that never was and always will be.”

Comedy Film Festival 2012

“Singin’ in the Rain”

Gene Kelly in "Singin' in the Rain" (MGM, 1952)

Gene Kelly in “Singin’ in the Rain” (MGM, 1952)

“Singin’ in the Rain” (MGM, 1952). Set in 1927, a group of silent filmmakers experience a rocky (and funny) road into making talking pictures. A delightful and charming film and one the best movie musicals ever made. Gene Kelly knocks it out of the park, especially with his unforgettable scene singing and dancing to the title track. Co-stars Donald O’Connor, Debbie Reynolds, Cyd Charisse and the great Jean Hagen as the “triple threat” (“can’t act, sing or dance”) Lina Lamont. A special thanks to Turner Classic Movies who brought it back to the big screen last week to celebrate the film’s 60th anniversary. The film will be available on Blu-ray on July 17, 2012 along with a fancy collector’s edition. Written by Adolph Green and Betty Comden. Directed by Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly. “If we bring a little joy into your humdrum lives, it makes us feel as though our hard work ain’t been in vain for nothin’.”