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  • Carrie Specht

Personally a GREAT Classic Film Week


I generally have a lot of classic cinema in my life, and enjoy my fair share of in-person contact with the world of old-time Hollywood, but last week may have been a personal best for me. Obviously, there’s nothing that compares to when the TCM Classic Film Festival is in town, but short of that I have to say that last week was pretty damn awesome for me.

Last Monday night I went to a press screening for the soon to be released, Amigo. I almost didn’t go due to laziness, but Amigo is the latest film by renowned independent filmmaker, John Sayles. I’ve been a big fan of Sayles’ since 1984, when I first saw The Brother From Another Planet. My admiration grew with Matewan in 1987 and Eight Men Out in 1988. In fact, there’s a possibility I may be able to interview Sayles in person next week, so I figured it was probably a good idea to see the film first. And was I glad that I did.

Besides the fact that I got to be among the first people to see the latest from such a fine filmmaker (more on that in my upcoming review at RetroSpecht.com), I also had the privilege of meeting and speaking with one of the greatest film critics alive today, Leonard Maltin. Not too long before the movie started, Maltin came in and sat down one seat away from me. To my own surprise I didn’t hesitate one moment before engaging in a good ten minute conversation about his involvement with the TCM Classic Film Festival, our previous meeting on that red carpet and his upcoming work for the classic movie channel (he’ll be covering a week for the absent Robert Osborne next month). I also asked him about the other work he does involving classic film, including his segments the Secret’s Out on the ReelzChannel, and his posts for Leonard Maltin’s Movie Crazy. This guy’s insanely busy, and incredibly nice. I will always remember that conversation for his sincere graciousness. I can’t wait to meet him again. Of course, I’ll find out how he feels about it should he turn and run the other way.

Later in the week my dear beloved, Ruben and I checked out a new hot spot in our neighborhood, The Next Door Lounge (link to website). I had spotted a discount deal at one of those social living sites, and since it was so near by, AND boasted a speak easy atmosphere with old movies playing in the background, we were really excited to see how it measured up - it is absolutely the find of the year for us! Just one door South of Lexington on Highland, next door to The Corner, The Next Door Lounge greets its guests with a swanky looking doorman complete with spats. Reservations are not required for two during the week, but we went ahead and made reservations any way, which assured us a place to sit.

Once inside we were greeted by a host who just knew where we’d like to position ourselves, and he guided us to a tall table smack dab in the middle of the room. Our vantage point gave us a great view of the entire place as well as the giant screen TV which was showing John Ford’s She Wore a Yellow Ribbon. At that very moment I knew this was going to become a regular hang out for us, even before I received the best Manhattan cocktail I’ve ever had since my Great Aunt Johnnie use to make them. I’m telling you, William Powell (Nick Charles of The Thin Man) would be very pleased with the classic presentation, complete with a brandied cherry! If you get a chance, talk to Ferris Wehbe the “Big Boss” while you’re there. He’s a great fan of classic films, and we really enjoyed our conversation with him about his new place and why he was inspired to create it. But you better check this place out soon. I have a feeling it’s going to become very popular before you know it, and then you’ll be waiting in line.

Now, that’s a pretty good week right there, but I had a couple more fun things to add before Monday rolled around again. As some of you know I’ve been working on a book to benefit the MPTF (details are on the Classic Visions page). I’ve completed some really great interviews with some impressive names, but there was one I got on the fly. I had the person’s spoken permission, but to be courteous (and certain) I sent a typed up version of what I wanted to put in the book to the individual and asked if they would sign it and send it back as an official approval. I provided the Self Addressed Stamped Envelope of course.

That was many months ago - to a second address. I had pretty much figured I was going to have to find yet another address and hope that some how, some way it would make it to him. That is, until last Friday when I opened up my mail box and immediately recognized my SASE from Ernest Borgnine. The contents were plain and simple, “Okay, E. Borgnine, and Thanks”. And thanks?! Ernest Borgnine thanked me?!. Holy cow, I couldn’t believe it! The response was just what I needed to get charged up and get back in there to request even more interviews with more stars. I was really starting to lose momentum. So, thank YOU, Mr. Borgnine.

Admittedly, the weekend was a denouement to the rest of the week, but it was fittingly apropos. I spent Saturday and Sunday morning at Raleigh Studios in Hollywood screening my short film, Breakfast Meeting at the Feel Good Film Festival (official site). Raleigh is located just across the street from Paramount Studios, and has theaters named after Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford. It was a lot of fun to present my little film on the sacred ground where the mighty stars of yesteryear once created their own highly regarded movies. And it was particularly nice of the people from the festival to treat me as if someday I might be just as revered. I really did leave there feeling good.

Of course, given the week I had, it would have been pretty difficult for me to end the week feeling any other way. I’ll be hard pressed to have another week like this anytime soon. Here’s hoping they eventually become all too common!

#JohnSayles #LeonardMaltin #TCM #NextDoorLounge #ErnestBorgnine