Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Automat in the Movies

It's 1934, the worst year of the Great Depression, and Joan Crawford goes to the Automat in Sadie McKee because she can't afford better.  She can't even afford the Automat, scraping just enough nickels for a cup of coffee.

But The Little King, who is rich, and a king, also goes to the Automat in 1934 in Sultan Pepper, just for a lark, for the fun of it.

The Horn and Hardart Automat of New York City seems to bear the dual reputation of being a place of stark frugality and also a place of playful ingenuity.  It was nothing if not egalitarian.

It's fun to see it pop up in classic films from time to time.  Jean Arthur, down on her luck as Joan Crawford was, visits the Automat in 1937 for Easy Living, but finds rich boy Ray Milland slumming there, not unlike The Little King.  She determinedly tries to eat in the middle of riotous food fight.

By 1950, in Mister 880, which we discussed in this previous post, Burt Lancaster and the feds are trying to track Edmund Gwenn down for counterfeiting, and the Automat here seems less stylish, and more utilitarian.  A place where counterfeiters might hang out.

By 1956 and The Catered Affair, a serious young couple played by Debbie Reynolds and Rod Taylor discuss marriage.  Again, the Automat seems even more dour in this setting than it did for poor Joan Crawford in the depths of the Depression.  Perhaps it was no longer novelty and just another cheap cafeteria?

In 1962 in That Touch of Mink, Doris Day has a conversation with Audrey Meadows through the open food service slot, and because Doris is unemployed, pal Audrey, who works there, slips her food.  Here the Automat is fun again, and we don't take the hunger pangs seriously. 

For more on the Automat have a look at this brief documentary on YouTube.  Someone also put up a series of movie automat scenes, starting here.  Apparently one of the first, if not the first, was The Early Bird (1925).  The Automat had been around since 1912.  It closed in 1991.

Come back next Thursday for part six of our year-long monthly series on the classic film fan, and we'll have a look at John Greco's new book, Lessons in the Dark, a collection of essays from his blog Twenty-Four Frames.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Cinevent - Another Gathering of the Clan in June

Today we take note of another classic film festival: Cinevent.

Cinevent takes place in Columbus, Ohio, and this year marks the 48th edition of this annual gathering of fans of silent and early sound films, and of collectors of motion pictures and related items.  The dates are Thursday June 2nd through Sunday June 5th, at the Renaissance Columbus Downtown Hotel at 50 North Third Street in downtown Columbus, Ohio.

Movies are screened nearly continually, and dealers fill over a hundred tables full of film, video, sound recordings, posters, stills, lobby cards, books, and autographs, and the annual Hollywood Poster Auction!—run by Morris Everett of The Last Moving Picture Company in Cleveland.

The event annually attracts over 600 participants, including from other countries.   Truly a home-grown festival by and for film buffs, movie screenings are all 16mm, gleaned from collectors and archives across the U.S. 

Have a look at the Cinevent website for info on registering, where to stay, and more info on how to enjoy this fun festival for the classic film fan. 

Special thanks to Mr. Michael Haynes for information on Cinevent.  His father, the late Steven Haynes, was one of the founders.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Audio Book Update - Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star.

I marvel at the textures—hard, biting, soft, tender—of the human voice.

This is to update you a bit on the progress of my forthcoming audio book version of Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star.

As part of the production process, I recently listened to the audio tracks to provide notes and suggestions to the narrator and producer, Toni Lewis.  She will polish the narration and edit the tracks.  Ms. Lewis, a Los Angeles-based actress whom I introduced to you in this previous post, is a marvel.

First, the audio book is some eighteen hours long.  Yeah, big ol’ book.  Her task was nothing short of Herculean, and she sails through the obstacle course of my often clunky prose brilliantly. (Some sentences are so long I should be jailed for writing them.  Really, I’m not a long-winded talker.  I’m actually a rather quiet person.  But put a blank piece of paper (or word processing program) in front of me, and I lose my head.  It’s like I’m the only person in the room.  Oh, wait, I am.)

What she does with this narrative is astonishing.  Those of you who might have read the book (or skimmed through some of the blog posts which began this project), know that I used a lot of quotes.  They are from interviews, or from old newspapers, magazines, reviews from long ago and these quotes provide voices to the story of Ann Blyth’s career.  Ms. Lewis, being an actress, provides “voices” to the voices.

The result is an audio book like none I have ever heard.  Most narrators will adopt a suitable vocal tone and personality and use it throughout the book, and it is a voice usually, of necessity, general, nondescript, objective, and omniscient. 

Toni acts out the book.

She's gossip columnist Hedda Hopper.  She's Roddy McDowell.  She's the co-stars, the agent, the critic from the Midwest.  She's Ann Blyth.  If you provided a quote for the book, she's you.

She does many voices, and accents, and I’ve lost count.  There are some line readings that sent chills up my spine.  She has brought warmth and depth, color, and the promise of possibly the most entertaining audio book you ever heard.  Indeed, it seems more like listening to a radio play than a book reading.  Her narration is touching, funny, often thrilling, and always imaginative.

I don’t know yet when the publication date will be for the audio book, as there is still some production work to be done and much of that is out of my hands, but I’ll keep you posted.

You will marvel at the textures—hard, biting, soft, tender—of her voice.

As mentioned in the previous post, there are a few ways to obtain a free Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star. audio book:

1)  I plan to raffle off FREE copies of the audio book to five winners who subscribe to my email newsletter. 

   2)  I will also raffle off one FREE copy of the audio book to a reader of my blog based on the book – Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star., and also one FREE copy to a reader of Another Old Movie Blog.  

3)  I will give a FREE copy of the audio book to the first five people who agree to review the book on its Amazon page here.  Just email me with your name.  I will email you when the audio book is ready for release and at that time I will ask if you prefer a CD or a download.  If you prefer a CD, I will need the address where I may send it. 

The audio book will be sold through Amazon, Audible, and iTunes.


"Lynch’s book is organized and well-written – and has plenty of amusing observations – but when it comes to describing Blyth’s movies, Lynch’s writing sparkles." - Ruth Kerr, Silver Screenings

"Jacqueline T. Lynch creates a poignant and thoroughly-researched mosaic of memories of a fine, upstanding human being who also happens to be a legendary entertainer." - Deborah Thomas, Java's Journey

"One of the great strengths of Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star. is that Lynch not only gives an excellent overview of Blyth's career -- she offers detailed analyses of each of Blyth's roles -- but she puts them in the context of the larger issues of the day."- Amanda Garrett, Old Hollywood Films

"Jacqueline's book will hopefully cause many more people to take a look at this multitalented woman whose career encompassed just about every possible aspect of 20th Century entertainment." - Laura Grieve, Laura's Miscellaneous Musings

"Jacqueline T. Lynch’s Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star. is an extremely well researched undertaking that is a must for all Blyth fans." - Annette Bochenek, Hometowns to Hollywood

Ann Blyth: Actress. Singer. Star.
by Jacqueline T. Lynch

The first book on the career of actress Ann Blyth. Multitalented and remarkably versatile, Blyth began on radio as a child, appeared on Broadway at the age of twelve in Lillian Hellman's Watch on the Rhine, and enjoyed a long and diverse career in films, theatre, television, and concerts. A sensitive dramatic actress, the youngest at the time to be nominated for her role in Mildred Pierce (1945), she also displayed a gift for comedy, and was especially endeared to fans for her expressive and exquisite lyric soprano, which was showcased in many film and stage musicals. Still a popular guest at film festivals, lovely Ms. Blyth remains a treasure of the Hollywood's golden age.

The eBook and paperback are available from Amazon and CreateSpace, which is the printer.  You can also order it from my Etsy shop. It is also available at the Broadside Bookshop, 247 Main Street, Northampton, Massachusetts.

If you wish a signed copy, then email me at and I'll get back to you with the details.

My new syndicated column SILVER SCREEN, GOLDEN YEARS, on classic film is up at Go60  or check with your local paper.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Gathering of the Clan - at Classic Film Festivals - Classic Film Fans series Part 5

 What do you get when you gather thousands of classic film fans together?

Go ahead.  Think about a punch line.  Because I don’t have one.

This is our fifth post in our monthly series this year on the current state of the classic film fan.  Today we examine the gathering of the clan—at classic film festivals.  Such events are scattered throughout the year—climate and weather are irrelevant inside a movie theater—but just in the past three weeks three of the most popular have been held: The 18th Annual Noir City Festival in Hollywood, the 2nd Nitrate Film Fest in Rochester, New York, and the 6th annual Turner Classic Movies Film Festival in Hollywood.

Hollywood, we may surmise, is not a bad place at all to hold a classic film festival.

Some festivals, like the Noir City, focus on a particular genre.  Some, like the Nitrate Film Fest at the Dryden Theater, Eastman Center, billed as The Nitrate Picture Show, the world’s first festival of film conservation, are geared more to the hardcore fan and film historian, those with a keen appreciation of “film” as opposed to digital movies.

The TCM Film Fest is a phenomenon of the modern—or we could even say younger—classic film fan’s expression of his fandom, with all the buttons and swag.  It seems, foremost, an emotional experience.

I have never been to the TCM festival, but perhaps as an outsider I can offer a few unemotional and objective observations.  I say that it is a younger festival not because there aren’t any Boomers in attendance—there most certainly are an army of them, but because I suspect that most of the some 26,000 projected attendees this year (TCM figures) are people without family constraints that prevent travel, and with disposal income to travel, and who specifically are geared to going to an “event” and being part of a event that is such a focus of social media.  I would love to know the demographics. 

The TCM fest is gloriously reported in social media, with in-depth reports by classic film bloggers (here’s a few by Raquel Stecher of Out of the Past, Kate Gabriele of Silents and Talkies, and look for an always thorough and articulate recap by Laura of Laura’s Miscellaneous Musings, as well as her look at the Noir City Festival.  Laura goes to film festivals like some people go to Wal-Mart.).  Facebook, Twitter give us in-the-moment posts on what’s going on at the fest, and I love to read them.  I suspect there are a lot of us armchair fans.

Looking forward to when Theresa Brown gets back to her Couch and does some blogging on her impressions of the festival this year.

I get a kick out of Kate Gabrielle’s statement on one blog post of the rigors of attending:

I feel like TCMFF is actually kind of like practice for the apocalypse. Everyone around me could survive anything, making do without food or water for days while they plot out a plan to get movie projectors to work in a world without electricity.

Stars from Hollywood’s Golden Age, such as the wonderful Dame Angela Lansbury this year, are a major draw for fans.  One wonders, though, as there are fewer past stars to attend in future years, and with the increasing introduction of films that are from the post-classic era, how will the TCM Film Fest hold up in the future, and will its attendee demographics change as it becomes not so much a Classic Film Festival but a Film Festival?

TCM, always mining new opportunities and tweaking its brand, is slated to introduce TCM Backlot, an official fan club. Membership is $87 per year. There will be events across the country and exclusive content for subscribers. I’m interested to hear from classic film bloggers who join the club their impressions on the benefits and value of this membership.

Fan clubs have long been a part of Old Hollywood, a way for fans back in the day to connect with their favorite stars, and a way for the studios to promote the stars in their stable.  Today, merchandizing is obviously going to be part of the mix, but it’s a delicate balance to offer your members (customers—stores and theme parks may call us “guests” but we know we’re customers) something of value beyond just buying more junk on the credit card. 

An experience they are unable to get anywhere else is the genius of the TCM Film Fest, that emotional gathering of the clan, of like-minded people who share their passion for classic film in an environment that is fun, supportive, and obviously thrilling.  Most interesting is that this community appears to be wonderfully diverse: mixed in gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, and in the movie preferences of classic film fans.  Sci-fi fans may not enjoy musicals, and not everyone goes big for noir, but they can still meet in a jubilant carnival and form lasting friendships.

What would Sam Goldwyn, L.B. Mayer, and Jack Warner think of that?

Go ahead, think of a punch line.  I don’t have one. 

I would like to thank all classic movie bloggers who attend and shared their experience.  It’s fun to see the festivities through their eyes. 

Next month, in the sixth part of this series, we’re going to visit the work of another classic film blogger, John Greco and review his latest book, Lessons in the Dark.


Part 1 of the year-long series on the current state of the classic film buff is here: A Classic Film Manifesto. 

Related Products