Illeana Douglas

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PIONEERS: FIRST WOMEN FILMMAKERS

Indie distributor Kino Lorber is partnering with actress Illeana Douglas to restore the early films of American women directors. 

  • Ruth Ann Baldwin: 49-’17
  • Alice Guy Blaché: Canned Harmony, A House Divided, The Ocean Waif
  • Grace Cunard: The Purple Mask serial (misc. episodes)
  • Dorothy Davenport Reid: The Red Kimona
  • Gene Gauntier: A Girl Spy Before Vicksburg, Further Adventures of the Girl Spy
  • Helen Holmes: The Hazards of Helen serial (misc. episodes)
  • Cleo Madison: Her Defiance, Eleanor’s Catch
  • Frances Marion: Just Around the Corner
  • Mabel Normand: Caught in a Cabaret, Mabel’s Blunder
  • Ida May Park: Bread
  • Nell Shipman: Something New
  • Lois Weber: Fine Feathers, From Death to Life, The Rosary, Suspense, Hypocrites,Where Are My Children?
  • Elsie Jane Wilson: The Dream Lady

Crowdfunding until November 17th, 2016. Donate HERE.

TCM Programmer Stephanie Thames watches Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid (1982) and enjoys an interview with Carl Reiner.

Here we are at TCMFF day #3 already! Today I’ll be hitting a couple of the big name interviews at the TCL Chinese. First up, I’m excited to watch the noir homage-spoof Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid. I’ll admit that it’s been years since I’ve seen this one. As always, it was great fun to see Steve Martin wind his way through (and get shot in) scenes from classic movies like The Killers (1946), The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946), and White Heat (1949) among so many others – and to receive a little help solving the crime from Bogart’s Philip Marlowe. My personal favorite scenes are the just for laughs bits – Barbara Stanwyck from Sorry, Wrong Number (1948) and the Bette Davis choking scene in Deception (1946) (cleaning woman!). Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid is entertaining for any moviegoer, but it’s really perfect for a TCMFF audience – folks who know the movies, love the noirs and get the inside jokes.

Writer-director Carl Reiner came out for an interview with Illeana Douglas following the film. To sum up, he may be a near perfect human being. He was hilarious (as expected), proud of and bragging appropriately on his children, he’s still best friends with Mel Brooks (they see each other 5-6 times a week, eat dinner and watch TV at night together), and he’s the most modern nonagenarian you’re likely to meet. How many 94 year olds are all over Twitter?

Reiner also told several stories about the making of Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid. He recalled watching noirs for about six months, making notes on characters and dialogue and pasting these together into what he called a “labor of love” that became the Dead Men script. He said they paid about $10,000 a minute for the classic footage used in Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, but because of residual laws, actors in the films received no compensation. He remembered getting a call from Tarzan star Johnny Weissmuller, who’d heard they might be using footage from one of his films. When Weissmuller admitted that he couldn’t pay his rent, Reiner sent him $2,000 from the film’s budget, even though none of Weissmuller’s footage made it into the movie.

Reiner also briefly discussed the creation of The Dick Van Dyke Show – the subject of his latest book, Why & When The Dick Van Dyke Show Was Born. A book signing was held in the lobby following the event.

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Right now every law enforcement officer in the south west is looking for you. But no-one is looking for a cake-eating pageant-producing midget-tailoring gay couple in Happy, Texas. 

If I ever do a top ten tried-and-tested happyplace films list, this one is going in there. Sheer joy from start to finish. 

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Dinner for Five: Louis C.K., Will Ferrell, Eddie Izzard, Illeana Douglas (2003)

By: Jennifer Dorian, General Manager, Turner Classic Movies

This month TCM is proud to shine a Spotlight on the achievements of women in film with our programming event Trailblazing Women, a multi-year initiative created to raise awareness about the historical contributions of women working behind the camera. Hosted by actress, producer and director Illeana Douglas, programming premieres October 1 and airs every Tuesday and Thursday throughout the entire month, and will focus on cinema’s greatest female filmmakers and women who challenged gender stereotypes while carving out successful careers in an industry where men hold the bulk of the power. 

The theme of the 2015 programming slate highlights female directors spanning the decades, ranging from the short film The Birth, the Life and the Death of Christ (1906), one of six works shown to honor French filmmaker Alice Guy-Blaché to The Hurt Locker (2008), by American director Kathryn Bigelow. Guy-Blaché is regarded as the first female writer and director of narrative films, while Bigelow became the first woman in movie history to win an Oscar® as Best Director (The Hurt Locker, a TCM premiere, also won as Best Picture.) These movies and directors stand on their own: they can and should be recognized without the “female filmmaker” label. This programming initiative weaves a new narrative, as we see the long view of female contributions to film history put together in one context: trailblazing women in film.

I’m proud to say this event was already conceived and in the works when I stepped into the role of general manager at TCM. Charlie Tabesh, head of programming at TCM, and the entire programming team do a tremendous job of curating and contextualizing the entire spectrum of film history and highlighting aspects of film history that otherwise might be lost.

While we are showcasing the tremendous work of these groundbreaking female filmmakers, I felt it was important to connect the programming to a pro social arm—especially given recent alarming research across the industry. Particularly the research of Women In Film Los Angeles, that shows only 6 percent of directors working today are women. Additionally, only 15 percent of writers working in film are women, 20 percent of editors are women and a scarce 2 percent of cinematographers are female. Linking our showcase of female pioneers to today’s gender inequality seemed an important connection and through our partnership with Women in Film Los Angeles, TCM hopes to raise awareness about the issue and point to resources to help today’s potential female filmmakers.

Personally, I’m excited to watch and share with my two teen-aged daughters these great movies and discuss the challenges that women face in the industry.  We’ll re-watch mainstream hits like A League of Their Own (1992) and Crossing Delancey (1988) with a whole new consciousness of the storytelling coming from a female filmmaker. I’m looking forward to introducing them to female documentarians and showing them The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter (1980) as I know they’ll find it shocking to see how women workers were treated in the U.S. during and after World War II.

Thank goodness my daughters experience gender equality most of the time, and they can’t imagine being blocked from consideration due to their gender. At the same time, the “invisibility” of the Hollywood gender inequality needs to be exposed to most movie viewers. I prefer my daughters, my friends and TCM viewers to see with eyes wide open who the voices are that receive the funding in Hollywood to make movies and unfortunately, 94 percent are of those voices are male voices.  

I hope TCM’s Trailblazing Women can help raise the volume of the conversation and help bring change in the industry.  The drumbeat is getting louder. As Cathy Schulman, president of Women in Film LA says, “We’ve got to go from a moment of recognition to a movement.” So, here’s to watching Trailblazing Women, recognizing the need for gender parity in the industry and supporting future female filmmakers. 

Wherein Social Media Specialist Marya E. Gates (aka @oldfilmsflicker) tells you about the San Francisco Silent Film Festival

The 21st San Francisco Silent Film Festival will be held at the Castro Theatre on June 2-5 2016. This year special guests include Illeana Douglas, Leonard Maltin, and film historian David Robinson - who just retired as the director of Giornate del Cimea Muto in Pordenone, Italy (a bucket list festival for this TCMHQ staffer). 

The opening night presentation this year will feature Louise Brooks in William A. Wellman’s BEGGARS OF LIFE (‘28) with live musical accompaniment by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra. 

Every year at the festival the AMAZING TALES FROM THE ARCHIVES panel talks with preservationists. This year Georges Mourier will talk about his work with the Cinémathèque Française and Emily Wensel will discuss her work with Universal Pictures.

SFSFF always programs films from around the globe, with films as diverse as Yasujiro Ozu’s THAT NIGHT’S WIFE (SONO YO NO TSUMA) (’30), MOMA’s restoration of A WOMAN IN THE WORLD (’25) starring Pola Negri, and THE STRONGEST (DEN STARKASTE) (’29) scheduled. 

TCMFF favorite Serge Bromberg from Lobster Films will be presenting restorations of comic films, including a long thought lost reel from Laurel and Hardy’s THE BATTLE OF THE CENTURY (’27), featuring possibly the greatest pie fight in cinematic history. 

I attended SFSFF several times when I was in grad school in San Francisco and my memories of this festival are some of my most favorite movie going experiences. By the time the event is over you’ll be dreaming with inter-titles. Plus the Castro Theatre is one of those beautiful old movie palaces that takes your breath away every time you visit.

You can find out more about this year’s San Francisco Silent Film Festival here