Thursday, April 9, 2015

Lynn reviews "In the Company of Legends

Originally published on


About a month ago, I was sent a complimentary copy of a book by documentary filmmakers Joan Kramer and David Heeley, titled "In The Company of Legends," which will be published this month by Beaufort Books on April 16.

They have made several outstanding documentaries revolving around major film celebrities. TCM's Robert Osborne has been quoted on TCM's web site as saying about the book that it's, "a king's ransom of fascinating stories about colorful, bigger-than-life people we know but don't know."

I am proud that our site was chosen to review the book before it hits the book stands. Reading through it, I felt that I too was a part of the making of the films. The tenacity that the duo have in knowing how to get to those they need to speak with and their trials in doing so, made fascinating reading. The book is a tale about how they got started making documentaries and then chronicles, from their "insider's view," how they established a reputation for doing the impossible while maintaining good relationships with those they interview.

The book includes a forward by Richard Dreyfuss and sections about Elizabeth Taylor, Olivia de Havilland, Glenn Close, Danny Glover, Rudolf Nureyev, Ginger Rogers, John Garfield, Ronald and Nancy Reagan, Spencer Tracy, Stephen Spielberg, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, Peter O'Toole, Jane Fonda, Errol Flynn and Patrice Wymore, Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman and many more.

My two favorite sections of the book were those about Kate Hepburn and the making of their tribute to Spencer Tracy, but I also loved reading about the making of their documentary on Errol Flynn.  Below are my observations about those two sections from the book:

IntheCompanyofLegends_Hepburn (1)[caption id="attachment_16698" align="alignright" width="211"] David Heeley and Joan Kramer with  Katharine Hepburn - photograph by Len Tavares 1985[/caption]

Katharine Hepburn and the Spencer Tracy tribute

I always enjoy reading about my all time favorite actress, Katharine Hepburn, but other than from her biography, reading about her in this book made me feel like I was learning a lot more about her personality than I've been privileged to know before. The authors, Joan and David, tell us how they managed to contact the Great Kate and help her to realize the tribute to Spencer Tracy she wanted to do. I know and realize that getting stars to participate and enjoy that participation really requires a lot of patience and skill.  Not that Ms. Hepburn was difficult at all, it's just that knowing when to say something or when to draw the line, is a skill I wish I had more of.  Both Joan Kramer and David Heeley obviously know how to work "WITH" instead of just "FOR" those they play tribute to.  Joan especially seems to know how to find anyone; a skill I would love to have. I learned while reading this book, that being timid is not the way to get anywhere. While it's important to gain respect and be respectful, getting that interview may be as simple as just asking and I was surprised at how helpful and friendly many stars are, and can be, when approached correctly.  For example, Joan Kramer, by instinct, knew not to go directly to Katharine Hepburn, and decided that approaching her former director, George Cukor instead, was the way in.

Errol Flynn

The duo were asked by TCM and Warners to do a tribute to Errol Flynn and while Joan revealed she hadn't been a big fan and that they both knew little about him, after doing the documentary, they certainly had changed their opinion. Most of Flynn's family members were interviewed, excluding his daughter, Rory, who has since written a biography about her father and was seen at last week's TCM Classic Film Festival. After she saw the documentary, Rory told them that she wished she had been a part of it and was sorry she had declined their invitation. They also interviewed Richard Dreyfuss and Joanne Woodward about the swashbuckler because, as fans themselves, they knew a lot about him and could speak to his acting ability. But probably, for me, the best interview I enjoyed reading about in this section of the book, had to be Olivia de Havilland, Flynn's co-star in more films than any other actress.  In the interview, Ms. de Havilland was open and honest about her feelings for Flynn saying that he was "The handsomest, most charming, most magnetic, most virile young man in the entire world." This was a real treat for me to read.

Today, April 7, TCM has scheduled the evening to recognize both Joan Kramer and David Heeley as entertainment’s greatest celebrity documentarians by featuring the book and showing five of their specials, read below:
The evening includes the TCM premiere of:
I'll will surely be watching tonight and I strongly recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn about making a documentary and what it's like to feel like you're "In the Company of Legends," too. 

Purchase the book in 

source of image:

Monday, April 6, 2015

2015 TCM Classic Film Festival: Making Heartbreaking choices

Originally published on


I've just completed all my postings about last week's 2015's TCM Classic Film Festival and I have to say this year was probably my favorite. While it cost me alot to do, I opted this year to stay at the festival's host venue, "The Roosevelt Hotel," rather than drive in each day from Santa Monica fighting the insane Los Angeles traffic.  As a result, I got to experience the festival in a much more meaningful and intimate way.

CLICK HERE to see CMF's complete coverage of the 2015 TCM Classic Film Festival

There was a huge array of films to see and events to go to, while great, this also led to lots of  frustration about the fact that you just couldn't see all you wanted to see. The waiting in line added a least an hour or more to the chunk of time it took to see any one film or event. Still I'm not really complaining about the waiting in line; once I got in, it was always well worth the wait.

However, probably the most frustrating thing about the festival was what everyone was talking about, "having to make heartbreaking choices."  For example, I longed to see Spike Lee talk about his masterpiece, "Malcolm X," but with the film itself being almost 4 hours long and with the extra hour for the discussion with Mr. Lee, and the additional time spent waiting in line, it would pretty much have taken up the full day. Instead, in those hours I was able to fit in attendance at three events, so unfortunately, that screening of Malcolm X sadly had to be eliminated from my calendar. Also, sometimes two films or events I wanted to see were scheduled at the exact same time, making it impossible to see both.  Still, how can you complain about having TOO MUCH to choose from, not me, that's for sure.

The highlights of the event for me were, being on the red carpet for Thursday nights premiere of "The Sound of Music," seeing Warner's newly restored and pristine print of Busby Berkeley's 42nd Street, seeing "The Apartment" on the big screen for the first time, and attending the many discussions that took place in Club TCM. I so wish I could have done more, but I could only be in one place at a time, hence those "heartbreaking choices."

Another fun thing I did at the festival was to walk up and down Hollywood Boulevard and take photos. TCM took over most of the boulevard and the signage was everywhere. See some of the photos I took below:

My festival bag and press pass.
My festival bag and press pass.

See more Hollywood Boulevard photos in the Photo Gallery

Monday, March 16, 2015

Interview with Peter Ford Son of Eleanor Powell

Originally published on


Originally published on "Classic Movie Favorites."

I have known Peter Ford, son of Glenn Ford and Eleanor Powell, for over ten years now as I have designed and now manage his web site “,” which was created to accompany the biography he wrote about his father “Glenn Ford: A Life” that was published in 2011. I also update his personal site and he has sanctioned my efforts here in the section devoted to his mother.

Peter Ford and his wife Lynda recently sold his father’s home in Beverly Hills, that they had lived in when Peter took care of his dad at the end of his life. The couple now travels between Burbank, CA and Montana where they are very happy living in retirement. Recently, Peter spoke with me on the phone and was kind enough to share some memories about his mother, the queen of tap dancing, Eleanor Powell.

I'd like to thank Peter for the time he took to speak with me and for sharing some of the family photos included in this interview.

Peter Ford with his wife, Lynda

[icon style="icon-link" size="small" borders="no"] Need even more Eleanor Powell? Why not visit our section devoted to her here by clicking on the banner below: