Sunday, May 2, 2010

TCM Classic Film Festival- (Part 2 of probably many)

Alright, on to Day 2 of the Film Festival.  I decided to try to take advantage of some panels and events that were going on at Club TCM in the Roosevelt Hotel on the second day.  Part of the motivation for that decision may have also been my own way of protesting having to choose between so many amazing movies on Friday morning.  So I went to the Location, Location, Location panel, which was about the trials and tribulations of shooting on location as opposed to shooting on comfortable sets.  It was held upstairs in the Roosevelt Hotel.  It was a very informational panel, with very interesting and conversational panelists...I'm blanking on their names right now, but I know one of them was a Line Producer who worked with Jerry Bruckheimer and on 'The Kingdom' with Peter Berg, another worked on Steel Magnolias and  I think his first name was Frawley and the third panelist filled in for someone who couldn't make it and he had worked with Tim Burton on Mars Attacks and Clint Eastwood on Shawshank Redemption.  Oh! Found their names on the TCM Festival Site, the first guy was Steve Saeta, a line producer, he talked about making budgets work and how he had to fight for a trip to check out a location and being challenged by Jerry Bruckheimer when he was working on 'The Island.'  He also shared with us how he got actors on top of Mount Rushmore (even Alfred Hitchcock couldn't do that) by continually asking, "well, why not?"  It was a very effective technique for him.  Frawley Becker was the location scout who had found the beautiful house for Steel Magnolias, he shared some fun stories about making handshake deals and proving himself to directors and he also promoted safety for actors and especially children on the set.  Kokayi Ampah had worked with Clint Eastwood and Tim Burton, he shared some great stories and experiences.  One of his most memorable experiences was arranging to have tanks and military storm the White House for Mars Attacks.  Overall it was a wonderful panel and I'm glad I got to hear these men talk about their jobs and hear what location shooting is all about.

After that I headed downstairs to Club TCM to check out the 'Conversation between Leonard Maltin and Peter Bogdanovich.'  I was excited to here Peter Bogdanovich speak (especially after meeting him the night before) and I was looking forward to seeing Leonard Maltin cause I had taken a class from him while I was at USC.  So double whammy (well a positive whammy).  Anyway, the interview was wonderful.  Peter Bogdanovich told so many wonderful stories and did so many great impersonations.  He did, Orson Welles, John Ford, Alfred Hitchcock...I feel like he did some others, but I can't remember them now, I should've taken notes.  And he told so many great stories, about how he went about casting 'The Last Picture Show,' what it was like to work on 'Paper Moon,' how he was able to get 'The Last Picture Show' filmed in black and white (Orson Welles helped him with that).  And he also shared his time and experiences interviewing John Ford, Jerry Lewis, Orson Welles, and Fritz Lang.
Leonard Maltin commented that it was amazing that Peter could recall all these amazing stories as if it happened yesterday and that at the time he couldn't have known that these would be momentous experiences and I have to say I fully agree with Mr. Maltin.  The way Peter recalled each phone call and each meeting.  He talked about casting Cybill Shepard in 'The Last Picture Show,' he saw her on the cover of a magazine and decided he wanted her in his movie, he interviewed her in his hotel room and knew she was right for the part by the way she flicked a flower that was in a vase.  I thought that was cute.  One story that was especially funny was when Orson Welles was staying with him and Cybill Shepard.  Cybill smelled something burning in Orson's room and went to investigate but when she knocked on the door to find out what was going on Orson insisted that she leave him alone and that everything was fine.  She kept trying, but didn't have any luck.  He didn't mention the incident again.  A few months later it was revealed that Orson had put a cigar in the pocket of his robe which caught on fire, he then put the robe in the bathroom to put it out, but instead the bathroom rug caught on fire.  There was a little more to the story, but again I should've taken notes!  It was just funny to hear him share a story like that.  I'm so glad I decided to go to this interview.  

After that I met up with my friend Ryan (Hi Ryan!).  We grabbed lunch at Mel's Diner.  It was so great to catch up with Ryan (we hadn't seen in each other in over a year).  And then we went to see The Producers and to see an interview with Mel Brooks (I just realized how funny it was that we went to Mel's and then saw Mel).  Anyway, his interview was a lot of fun, he talked about casting the film and the origin of the title for the movie.  It was originally going to be called 'Springtime for Hitler' but oddly enough everyone thought it would be too controversial.  He talked about how Dustin Hoffman was originally cast as the Nazi playwright, but was called to audition for 'The Graduate,' Mel never thought Dustin Hoffman would get the role in 'The Graduate' so they continued filming and thought they'd pick back up whenever Dustin we all know he did in fact get cast in 'The Graduate' and did not return.  Mel Brooks also talked about the studio offering him $50,000 to get rid of Gene Wilder!! Can you imagine that movie without Gene Wilder?!!  I love him in that movie, he makes me laugh so hard.  I'm glad Mr. Brooks did not take the offer to get rid of him.  He also talked about the movie initially being a flop; which is always sad to hear and very hard to imagine.  Especially after getting the experience of seeing the movie in a theater; it was so exciting, but I guess that's what happens sometimes.  I loved that everyone applauded when names like Zero Mostel, Gene Wilder and Mel Brooks came on the screen and I don't think I've ever laughed so hard in my entire life.  It's one thing to watch a movie like 'The Producers' at home, by yourself and quite another to share in the experience with a packed theater full of fans.

After 'The Producers' and bidding farewell to my friend Ryan I went back to my hotel to unwind and to get ready for 'Top Hat' at 9:30.  I also did some tourist-y sight seeing things and took pictures of the hand prints/foot prints/signatures in front of Grauman's Chinese Theater.  I was surprised that my feet were not that much smaller than Sylvester Stallone's. ------>

At this point in the festival I was very over-anxious and tried to make it to the screenings at least an hour beforehand (when I could), I was also fearful of not getting into the screenings.  So I got in line for Top Hat around 8:30 and ended up having a nice discussion about LA, roomates, and classic film with the girl in line behind me.  That's one of the things I loved about this festival; meeting people who love classic movies as much as (or more than) me.  And everyone I spoke to was so nice and genuine.  So we eventually were let into the theater, I found a seat (my line buddy ended up sitting much closer than I could stand, so I sat further back in the theater) and ended up sitting next to another nice person who worked at the Director's Guild and shared some stories with me.  Eventually the lights dimmed and we were all surprised by an introduction to the movie by none other than Robert Osborne (The Film Festival Rock Star).
He told us that we had made an excellent choice, by coming to see 'Top Hat' that evening, that seeing Fred and Ginger on the big screen is a treat.  He also told us that 'Top Hat' was the first movie where a screenplay was written intentionally for Fred and Ginger.  In the past they had just been cast in the movies, but after so much success as a pair the studio put this one together just for them.  He mentioned that this script was quite similar to 'The Gay Divorcee' but when you see Fred and Ginger dance and hear the songs you forget that the plots are similar.  He also shared a nice story about the beautiful Blue (who knew that it was blue?!) Ostrich feather dress that Ginger wore in the 'Cheek-to-Cheek' number.  Ginger had insisted on wearing the dress even though the feathers flew off and got everywhere, in the air, in Fred's mouth, on Fred's tux, because of this Fred nicknamed her 'Feathers.'  He also told a lovely story of seeing Fred and Ginger at an event in Hollywood when they were both older and Ginger was helping Fred get to his feet and walk and even then he called her 'Feathers.'

The movie was stupendous on the big screen!!  The dances were beautiful and again, it was so great seeing the movie with a crowd.  Everyone applauded when names appeared on the screen, or when actors made their entrances, everyone laughed at all the right places.  I didn't remember the movie being that funny, but there was so much laughter and so many clever lines.  And Edward Everett Horton was hilarious.  This was a wonderful way to end a wonderful day.

So there's Day 2- April 23, 2010...I'll hopefully get Day 3 posted soon.

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