Saturday, May 10, 2014

"I'm Just a Girl Who Can't Say No"- Day 1 of the 2014 TCM Classic Film Festival (Part 2: The Movie)

Since my previous post ended up becoming VERY long I decided to break Day 1 of the festival into 2 parts.  After the Sons of Gods and Monsters panel I went ahead and did my annual changing of the clothes for the opening night movie.  I then ran around Hollywood Blvd to complete my final social media task in order to obtain all 7 pins and! get the prize.  I meant to tweet about it, but between changing, going to the multiplex, the Roosevelt, going back to my car and then to Grauman's I was a bit out of sorts AND to top it all off my phone died a slow and painful death.  I realized that phone battery life was going to be a problem this year.
I made my way to the Chinese Multiplex a little bit before 5:30, which is when the photo booth would open for business.  While waiting I chatted with the Genworth employees, who were very nice and another film festival attendee, we mostly talked about cats though.  When the booth was officially opened I went ahead and nabbed a picture for myself.

I then headed over to the Roosevelt Hotel Lobby to show that I had completed the task, but the crosswalk in the middle of the street was closed off, as was the sidewalk in front of Grauman's so I had to head all the way down to Hollywood and Highland.  I'll go ahead and count it as my exercise for the weekend since I would be spending the rest of the next 3 days watching movies.  I ended up claiming the final pin:
Gale Sondergaard really got a lot of face time at this year's festival.  Upon receiving the 7th and final pin I also got this cool bag:
It was a really nice prize and something that I definitely see myself using, it's quite large and kind of has a carpet bag top which of course makes me think I could run around like Mary Poppins and carry hat racks in it, but I won't.  It was hard to get a decent picture, here it is from another angle:
I then decided to head back to my car in the Hollywood and Highland parking structure, cause I didn't want to have to worry about another bag throughout the night.  So I hoofed it back down to Highland, through the mall and then over to Grauman's for the opening night movie: Oklahoma!.

I had been very undecided and had a hard time deciding whether to see Oklahoma or maybe have a Ginger Roger double feature, or see Whatever Happened to Baby Jane on the big screen.  But, after a great deal of going back and forth, I realized that I couldn't miss out on the opening night movie and red carpet experience.  Which, I have been lucky enough to be able to have for the previous 4 years.  I also thought I would possibly gain a new appreciation for the movie or at least appreciation seeing it on the big screen surrounded by excited film festival attendees. 

Right when I got on the carpet I immediately saw Robert Osborne being interviewed by Greg Proops and dared to take a picture.  I wasn't sure what kind of 'security' there would be on the red carpet this year, I was either going to be told by large men telling me to "keep moving, keep moving" or find smiling large men gently suggesting that I make my way down the carpet.  This year I was lucky enough to be greeted by some laid back security people who didn't seem to mind that I stopped to take pictures or stopped to take everything in.  As I made my way down the carpet, I spotted a few familiar faces and pretty much just said their names out loud (to myself).

Kim Novak!
Tippi Hedren! Ben Mankiewicz!  I continued down the carpet in this fashion, maybe no one bothered me cause they thought I was slightly unhinged, but then a couple asked me to take their picture on the red carpet (it wasn't Ben and Illeana again), so maybe I wasn't too scary.  And then I had a totally surreal experience, that lead to the following picture.

When I spotted Margaret O'Brien, I said"'Margaret O'Brien" out loud.  And to my surprise a woman who was helping her on the carpet turned to me and asked, "You know who she is?!"  I said, "Of course!"  The woman responded, "You're so young"  and told me to come over, so I did.  The woman told me that I could wait near the barricade until Margaret was done with her interview.  I stood there not sure what was going to happen next and constantly worrying that I was going to be told that I had to keep moving, but no one bothered me.  While I waited this wonderful woman told me that Margaret would be introducing Meet Me in St. Louis at the festival and then asked me if I had seen the movie, I said I had and that it's wonderful.  After about a minute, a man who was accompanying Margaret on the red carpet came over to the barricade and showed me the top hat that he was carrying.  He asked me if I knew where the hat was from, I hadn't, but I noticed that on the inside the name Mickey Rooney was written on it and that it had Ann Miller's signature inside of it.  The man told me that it had been Mickey's hat and that he had given it to Margaret many years ago.  He then told me that Mickey had planned to walk the carpet with her that night, but since he couldn't be there she wanted to bring a little piece of him with her.  I was so moved and thought that was such a thoughtful gesture.

Margaret with the hat, found at examiner.com
The next thing I knew Margaret was done with her interview and the nice woman went over to her and asked her if she would take a second to pose for a picture with me.  I was in shock and I think I said, "thank you so much, it's such a pleasure to meet you," but it's also possible I just babbled nonsense.  The woman then took my camera and snapped that photo.  I thanked them all for the experience and went on my way down the carpet in a daze.

Right before entering the theater Tom Brown introduced the TCM Mafia to the crowd.  I then got to soak in the newly renovated TCL Chinese Theater (which I keep calling Grauman's out of habit and stubbornness).  They really did a great job of maintaining the historic look on the inside and the arrangement of the seats seemed to make more sense.  I noticed that no matter where I sat I had a great view of the screen and didn't have to worry about walking out of the theater with a stiff neck.  Upon walking in I noticed that there were many, many, many reserved seats so I had to keep moving forward.  While on my hunt to find a seat I crossed paths with the lovely Jeff (@jlundenberger) and got to meet his lovely partner, Ed.

from tcm.com
I finally found an available seat and ended up next to some lovely friends of a friend that I had met at the festival last year.  Before the movie started we went over our game plans for the festival, it turned out that we had very different festivals ahead of us and they almost made me leave our row because I wasn't planning on seeing Maureen O'Hara at How Green was my Valley, but they forgave me in the end, I think.   But that's what I love about the film festival, everyone can have a completely different experience.  This is also what I've loved about blog coverage and reading about other people's experiences so that I can hear about all the fun stuff that I missed out on while I was enjoying my fun stuff.

After getting settled we were introduced to the wonderful and amazing Robert Osborne.  I'm sure many people feel this way, but just seeing him makes me happy.  He stood at a snazzy podium and welcomed us to the festival and then introduced the lovely Shirley Jones.  She looked so cute and was very energetic and seemed happy to be there.  I didn't know what to expect, since she had backed out of the festival a couple of times in the past.  But she was really quite lovely.

She talked about getting cast in Oklahoma!, her first movie role, and the audition process.  She talked about getting the phone call from Fred Zinnermann finding out that she had gotten the role.  She shared with us that she had been singing since the age of 6 and began singing in church, she also said that she didn't realize that she had such a talent, she thought everyone could sing.  She had grown up wanting to be a vet and never thought she'd act or sing professionally.  Some other fun things she shared about Oklahoma were that Shirley MacLaine wanted to be cast in the role of Ado Annie.  And that she loved singing with Gordan MacRae, who was her favorite person to duet with.  You can hear Shirley in her own words in this clip of the interview from TCM's YouTube Channel:
It's amazing that she was only 18 at the time.  She then talked about how lucky she was to have a dramatic director, Fred Zinnermann, as her first director rather than a musical one.  He was able to support and guide her in a great way.


She then talked about working with Frank Sinatra (briefly) in the movie Carousel.  He had worked on all the pre-production work and recordings, but after discovering that every scene was to be shot twice, due to the 2 different formats Sinatra left the production.  Shirley had never talked to Frank about it, but wondered if that was the real reason that he quit.  She shared with us that she learned very recently that the real reason Frank left the production was because of Ava Gardner.
He had heard that things were steaming up for Ava Gardner and Clark Gable on the set of Mogambo, so to save his marriage he left the film.  Apparently, Ava called him and told him that if he didn't get out there she was going to have an affair.  After Frank left the movie, Gordon MacRae was approached and then cast in the role, which worked out quite nicely.

All in all it was great to hear Shirley Jones speak about the early part of her career and speak candidly with Robert Osborne, it made watching the movie that much more interesting.

from latimes.com
Now onto the film.  I want to start by saying that visually it was breathtaking!  The colors were vibrant, the quality was impeccable, a great restoration.  I was entranced from the first image and also noticed that there were so many interesting angles.  It was if it were filmed as a 3-D film, there were shots through the corn fields, under wagons and interesting camera placements during some of the musical numbers.
from studiodaily.com
The songs are obviously very catchy and exciting, but there's just something about the story that doesn't do it for me.  Upon this viewing, I ended up feeling bad for Jud, who just seemed to be a sad, lost soul looking for love.  Obviously, I don't condone or support setting haystacks on fire on people's wedding days, but he was kind of jerked around by Laurey and Curly literally sang him a song encouraging him to kill himself, not very neighborly.

The movie also has a wonderful cast, including Rod Steiger as Jud, Gloria Grahame and Eddie Albert as the comic relief, Ado Annie and Ali Hakim and the young, but made to look old, James Whitmore, Gene Nelson as Will Parker, and Charlotte Greenwood as Aunt Eller.






All throughout the movie I was blown away by how much Shirley Jones looked like Marilyn Monroe in some shots, it was really unbelievable.  I was planning on sharing that observation with my friends at intermission, but before I could say anything, my friend said the exact same thing. What do you think?
In the end I was glad that I decided to see Oklahoma as my first movie of the festival.  However, it ended a little later than scheduled and I was unable to get over to the Chinese Multiplex in time for Bachelor Mother.  At the time I was upset, but in a way I was grateful to have a relatively early first night.  I also decided to figure out a solution for my phone battery problem.  Since it was before 11, I was able to stop by Target on the way home and picked up a portable charger which ended up being a lifesaver for the rest of the festival.

Alright, that does it for day 1, part 2: The Movie.  Tune in next time for: Day 2, which will include- The Thin Man, Touch of Evil, A Matter of Life and Death, Double Indemnity, and Blazing Saddles


Monday, April 21, 2014

"I'm Just a Girl Who Can't Say No"- Day 1 of the 2014 TCM Classic Film Festival (Part 1:The Panels)

I've been meaning to write a few posts over the last couple of days, but instead I wind up reading other recaps from other bloggers and getting lost in the pictures and reliving the whole experience. But I did buckle down and manage to get a Pre-Festival post up.  Now it's time to dive into Thursday of the Festival!  It's so funny how you can look forward to something SO much and then in a blink of an eye, it's over.  I can't believe that a little over a week ago I was surrounded by 100s if not 1000s of classic film fans on Hollywood Blvd and now it's back to real life.

Anyway! I started my Thursday of the Festival by getting to Club TCM around 10am.  I wanted to soak in the experience and I ended up getting the insider information about getting all the social media buttons.  I'm kind of a nut when it comes to collecting things.  I was able to get the first 6 right away, I even did a Vine video! Which I had never done before, you can check it out, if you'd like:


I really enjoyed all the signage this year.  I then headed over to the Chinese Multiplex, to see what was going on there and was delighted to see the marquee. 
 A few wonderful posters:

And there was a little living room set-up along from Genworth with a great installation for TCM's 20th Anniversary, which was also used for a fun photo booth area, complete with accessories.

I then headed back over to the Roosevelt hoping to catch a glimpse of some of the interviews Robert Osborne was going to do in the lobby and Ben Mankiewicz was going to do poolside.  It proved to be a bit too hot for me poolside, so I stayed in the lobby.



It also gave me another opportunity to peruse the Boutique.  I contemplated purchasing this for my friend's baby, but ultimately decided against it.

 Also during this time I finally spotted the fabulous billboard that featured the cast of The Women with their director George Cukor, it was right there on Hollywood Blvd. the whole time!

I then got my first Robert Osborne spotting of the festival, I love seeing him around, he's always so kind and generous.  I watched as he interviewed Ira Wohl and Paula Prentiss and found out that all of his suit jacket are outfitted with a little button in the back so he can sit and stand with it on more easily, the more you know.  I couldn't get great pictures of the button or either interview, but in the crowd for the interviews were: 

 Greg Proops, I'm so sad that I missed Bachelor Mother and his introduction.

And Paula's husband, Richard Benjamin

Meet TCM

After this, I headed over to the Egyptian Theater for the Meet TCM Panel.  This was similar to the panel last year.  But there were more TCM employee participants and they focused more on their talent relations, research and the Watch TCM App.  This year the panel included:
Tom Brown, VP of Original Productions, Dennis Adamovich, Senior VP of Brand and Digital Distribution, Jeff Gregor, General Manager of TCM

Charlie Tabesh, Senior VP of Programing, Dennis Millay, Director of Programing, Darcy Hettrich, VP of Talent

Alexa Foreman, Senior Researcher and Producer and Richard Steiner, VP of Digital Activation
The panel was emceed by the lovely Scott McGee and was very informative and engaging.  The panel kicked off with Scott reading an excerpt from the Kitty Packard Pictoral that encapsulated what it means to be a classic film fan and a fan of the network.  One of the interesting things that they discussed this year was the nurturing of the relationships with the celebrities/talent.  Darcy talked about the evolution of getting celebs on board.  She said that it took awhile, probably about 5 years to get people to come to them.  A very cute story that was shared was about Anne Bancroft.  She was an early fan of the network.  She didn't even have the channel, so what she would do was look in the TV Guide and then call her neighbor and ask them to tape the channel for her.  

from rogerebert.com
I can completely picture Anne Bancroft doing that. Darcy continued to talk about the struggle to get talent and celebrities early on, but their philosophy all along was to treat the talent like gold.  They also found out that many older celebrities would get a flurry of fan mail whenever one of their films were shown on TCM.  In every instance, when they talked about the stars and celebs that are featured on the channel or have a relationship with the channel were referred to as family and that they have worked to turn it into a large, happy family.  This family also includes the descendents of many classic film stars.
Charlie then talked about how the festival has changed during the last 5 years and he shared some very interesting statistics about the first year and this year:

2010
2014
Number of Films
44
77
Club TCM (hours of material)
3h
15h
Number of Restorations
1
12

It's very impressive how the festival has grown from the first year to now, that they've been able to utilize more venues around Hollywood and that they've helped support so many restorations.  Charlie also said that many of the archives and studios now approach TCM and in the past TCM used to have to go to them.
 Next, Richard talked about the Watch TCM app (which technically, as a Time Warner subscriber I don't have access to).  Richard talked about how much it's grown in less than a year and shared 2 funny stories.  One involved Alexander Payne contacting TCM to ask if they had seen the TCM app, not realizing they had been the ones who released it and the other was that Francis Ford Coppolla couldn't get the app to work so he contacted them for some troubleshooting tips. He also noted that they're working on getting the rights to more shorts for the app.
Before opening the panel up to questions Tom Brown talked about how when they first started out they could only really work with the stars they had access to based on what they had rights to, but now they're able to branch out, and do projects like the Night at the Movies series.  He also talked about being incredibly proud of the emmy nominated Moguls and Movie Stars documentary. Which is a wonderful overview of the history of the studio system and film.  He said that one thing on his wishlist would be a Moguls and Movie Stars Part II covering the 1970s-2000s.  Darcy then chimed in with her wishlist of talent, she's been working very hard to get Doris Day.

They then opened it up to questions, luckily this year there weren't as many awkward and personal questions about people's Now Playing magazine or closed caption issues, like last year.  Someone asked a follow up question about getting Doris Day for an interview and Darcy said that they have been nurturing it for 20 years and said that Doris is very shy and doesn't realize the adoration for her.  Someone asked if they plan on doing a documentary or something about Ben Mankiewicz and his Hollywood family history.  It seemed like there was some interest in that and that they did a conversation with Ben and his father on one of the cruises, so maybe one day that will be aired.  The next question was one that I think many people had, why wasn't there a festival app this year?  Richard fielded this one and said that they looked at the usage data from the previous years and it indicated that there no need for a festival and that it was redundant along with the printable schedule and the program guide.  I don't know if I agree with that choice, but I'm glad there was at least some explanation.
It was great getting to hear from the people who work so hard to make TCM the wonderful channel and brand that it is.  It was fairly evident that they care as much about the movies, fans and the network as we all do.

Sons of Gods and Monsters

Up next was the Sons of Gods and Monsters panel at the Hollywood Museum.  Which was a conversation with Rick Baker and Joe Dante, moderated by Scott McGee.  I didn't know what to expect from this discussion, since I'm not much of a horror fan, but I left with a newfound respect for both men and the genre.
Joe Dante began by speaking about how his interest in movie monsters started, he shared that he grew up with Disney movies and it wasn't a huge jump to from animated monsters to real ones.  He talked about watching classic movies on TV and how he felt that he was a loner and the only person interested in this, but then he discovered the magazine Famous Monsters.  At the time he thought it was a one shot magazine, but it took off.  Joe wrote 10 letters to the magazine over the years and at 12 years old one of his letters was featured as an article titled, Dante's Inferno.

very spooky indeed
Rick Baker also talked about his love and great interest in Famous Monsters magazine.  They both talked about feeling isolated by their love of monsters and talked about the illustrator Basil Gogos who frequently illustrated the covers of the magazine.

Rick talked about how supportive and caring his parents were.  He said he had always wanted to be a doctor but he changed his mind and became a monster maker instead 

I enjoyed listening to Joe Dante speak about how deep his love for monsters go, he made a very interesting analogy.  Scott asked why he thought kids respond so well to movie monsters and he said that as a kid you feel like a monster, other people are in control of you, there are a lot of things you don't understand.  He suggested that that's why so many children relate to and like movie monsters.

They then discussed some of their favorite movie monster makers.  They both spoke highly of Jack Pierce, Jack Dawn and Jack Barron.  Rick noted that there were many make-up artists named Jack and that he was mad at his parents for not naming him Jack.  Rick also talked about his admiration for Ray Harryhausen.  He talked about how different the technology is now, back then Ray would have to wait until the film was processed to see if there were any errors, it wasn't instantaneous.  There also wasn't the luxury of fixing mistakes, because it cost too much money.

In addition to discussing movie monsters they both touched on what it was like in the 50s to be a film fan.  Joe commented, that if you didn't see a movie when it first came out, you'd have to wait 5 years for it to come on TV, then another year.  So it was hard to see all the movies you wanted and it's so much different than today.

Jack Pierce putting the finishing touches on the Wolfman
 This then led the conversation towards the evolution of movie make-up and how things have changed over the years and the importance of staying current.  Rick Baker talked about how eventhough Jack Pierce saved Universal Studios with his movie monsters, he was still using the "out of the kit" process when it was popular at the time to do applied pieces and Jack was resistant to updating.  Learning about Jack Pierce being overlooked encouraged Rick to always stay current.  He talked about embracing computers during Gremlins and that while computers did make things faster, he's not sure it actually makes the work better.  In the old days you'd present maybe 2 options for a character, but now you can offer up thousands of options.

found at comicbookmovies.com
 Scott then asked if there was still soul in the monsters of today, Rick commented that the real magic is with an actor in the make-up chair, becoming that character.  That's when you get a better performance.  He also said, just because you can have 20,000 werewolves defying gravity on the ceiling, it doesn't mean you should.  Both Joe and Rick then talked about remakes.  Joe equated remakes with "going back to the well," they can be different and a varied interpretations, but also shows a lack of creativity.  But he did also note that some our favorite movies are remakes, he gave the Maltese Falcon and The Wizard of Oz as examples.  He then talked about he new Spiderman movies and noted that the franchise was rebooted a little too soon, it wasn't as though we had all forgotten about the last interpretation.  I actually completely agree with him on this point.  He then went after the Psycho remake, which was shot for shot of the original, Rick chimed in, "I worked on that."
the least scary image associated with the movie that I could find
Scott then opened up the discussion up for questions.  Someone asked Rick about creating the werewolf in "An American Werewolf in London."  He said that the idea of making the werewolf more of a '4 legged hound from hell' was completely John Landis' idea and in fact Rick fought it and wanted the typical biped werewolf with the howling.  Rick continued, that in this case the director knew what he wanted, but also trusted Rick to do what needed to be done.  Joe then added that for Gremlins 2 he wanted mutated Gremlins so that Rick could have something to do, which also allowed all of the different Gremlins to have different personalities.

1931s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, even Fredric March is afraid
Someone then asked Rick about curating Bob Burn's Halloween House.  I had never heard about this, but it sounds both scary and amazing.  It sounds like Rick does elaborate set-ups every year.  He also shared a story about the Hells Angels coming one year and everyone thought there was going to be trouble, but instead they offered their services for crowd control.  Someone then asked which film did they find to be the most impressive film.  Joe answered with 1931's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  He went on and on about the transformation scenes and the stellar performance by Frederic March.  It was interesting to learn that the transformations were accomplished through both the lighting and the make-up.  They would use make-up with certain colors and then put on different filters depending on which make-up they wanted to show up.

The discussion then ended with both men sharing their love for The Twilight Zone.  Joe commented that the show was a phenomenon for his generation, that it made people ask, what if?  He also noted that Rod Serling was able to get away with a great deal of social commentary by changing a character into a martian, it removed the human element.

That does it for the panels.  They were very informative, engaging and interesting.  Since this ended up being MUCH longer than I anticipated, I went ahead and made this a Part 1 to the first day and I will share my red carpet experience, the Shirley Jones introduction and thoughts about the movie Oklahoma (where the winds come sweeping down the plain) in Part 2.  I hope to get that up soon.  In the meantime enjoy many, many other bloggers recaps/personal experiences/reviews of the Film Festival:

Laura's Misc. Musings

Comet over Hollywood

Out of the Past

A Classic Movie Blog

Scathingly Brilliant

Once Upon a Screen

And even a write up from Leonard Maltin