Monday, May 3, 2010

TCM Classic Film Festival- (Part 3 of probably many)

Day 3 can pretty much be summed up as a very movie-ful day; I ended up seeing 5 movies in one day.  Which is quite a lot, even for me.  The day started bright and early with a screening of Sunset Blvd. at the Mann's Chinese 6 at 9:30.  I got to the theater about 45 minutes early and was surprised to find a line almost out the door, of people who were waiting to buy individual tickets for the movie.  It made me glad that I had a pass and it made me really happy to see that so many people were interested in a screening of Sunset Blvd.  Sunset Blvd. is one of my favorite movies and I was really looking forward to seeing it on the big screen (have you noticed a trend?  Major interest in seeing these movies on the big screen since I haven't really seen any classic films on the big screen, except for 'Pillow Talk,' 'Giant,' and 'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof'- Thanks to the film courses I took at USC, but that was before I was a huge classic movie fan, so they kind of don't count).  Anyway I digress.  So before the screening we were lucky enough to have Nancy Olson be interviewed.  She shared some of her memories of being cast; Billy Wilder would have conversations with her on the lot to try to determine if she could pull off sounding smart enough to be an aspiring writer, I guess she succeeded, her wardrobe; none of the clothing designed by Edith Head worked for her character, a struggling reader/future writer so they ended up letting Nancy wear her own clothes, she was a student at UCLA and seemed to "dress" the part.  Even the pretty dress in the party scene was her own and the cameo she wore in the middle of it was a gift from her father, and the day William Holden's wife visited the set; it was the day she and 'Bill' (she called him Bill) were to film their "love scene" (she called it a love scene, even though it was really just a kiss and embrace).  Before they shot the scene Billy Wilder told Nancy and Bill to hold the kiss and embrace until the heard "Cut" cause Billy Wilder hadn't decided how he was going to cut the scene, so he wanted some extra footage in case he wanted to fade out.  So, they do the scene, they embrace and kiss (she said it was a pretty great kiss and embrace) and they held it and held it and held it...waiting to hear cut! and all of a sudden they hear: "cut god-d**m it! cut!"  It was William Holden's wife none too happy about the scene.  It was great to hear from Nancy Olson before the movie it made the movie watching experience that much more exciting.

Watching the movie on the big screen was such a wonderful experience.  I had seen the movie tons of times; it's one of my favorite films, yet somehow seeing it on the big screen made me feel like I was watching it for the very first time.  Gloria Swanson was larger than life; her craziness and her crazy eyes were taken to a whole new level.  William Holden's performance became multi-dimensional, you could see every pained look in his eyes.  It was simply amazing.

After Sunset Blvd. I decided to see Leave Her to Heaven, it was being shown in the same theater and it was a movie I had never seen before, so I was excited to give that a try.  My friend John decided to meet up with me for that screening.  After Sunset Blvd. ended they had to clear the theater and had us line-up again for the next movie.  That gave me an opportunity to say Hi to John and explain how getting tickets for screenings worked.  It also gave us an opportunity to start worrying if he was going to make it in for the screening.  There was a very long line and a lot of people who showed up to buy tickets.  He ended up being one of the very last individual ticket purchasers to be let in!  I don't know what I would've done if he hadn't been let in...I guess we could've tried to see something else or grabbed lunch.  But, thankfully he got in!

So! The movie, I hadn't really heard anything about it, I just knew that Gene Tierney and Cornel Wilde were in it and I read in the film festival pamphlet that it was the highest grossing technicolor film of 1945.  It was very exciting to see Gene Tierney on the big screen and in technicolor, she was quite pretty.  The story itself was quite disturbing, but again great to see with an audience everyone gasped at just the right places.  I was very impressed with Gene Tierney and Cornel Wilde, oh and it was quite a treat to see a young Vincent Price.  I always picture him the way he looked in Edward Scissorhands.  After the screening Daryl Hickman was interviewed by Robert Osborne.

As you can see I didn't get the best picture of that, but it was interesting to see him speak, he shared that he had been in a vast number of pictures before Leave Her to Heaven.  I remember him saying 100 movies, but that seems almost impossible and according to IMDB he was in approx. 40 films before Leave Her to Heaven (still impressive) and he mentioned that Gene Tierney wasn't the nicest person to work with, which was surprising.  I couldn't stay for the whole interview because I wanted to make my way over to Grauman's for the screening of North by Northwest and interview with Eva Marie Saint and Martin Landau.  But it was interesting to hear him talk about working on the movie and his experience in Hollywood.

After saying good-bye to my friend I made it into North by Northwest.  I was thankful that I made it in, it seemed like a pretty packed screening.  Around this time I realized that I hadn't eaten anything for about 6ish hours so I had a movie theater concession lunch: popcorn, soda and goobers (the lunch of champions).  Before the movie started I chatted with the people around me, on my left were two film students from a school I can't remember, but they were thrilled to be at the festival.  I think it was so nice of TCM to provide passes to local film schools.  And on my right were two women who traveled all the way from Canada for the festival.  It was really interesting to see where all these classic film fans were coming in from.

Eva Marie Saint, Martin Landau, and Robert Osborne were all met with uproarious applause by the audience.  This was when Eva Marie Saint dubbed Robert Osborne as the rock star of the film festival.  They began by talking about how they were cast in the film.  Eva Marie Saint had heard that Alfred Hitchcock liked women in tan suits and white gloves and lucky for her she had plenty of tan suits and white gloves.  Martin Landau had been in a play that Alfred Hitchcock had seen and cast him in the movie.  Martin Landau shared a couple of insights into his character.  He said that he had decided to play the character as a gay man and that after he had made that decision the line "call it my women's intuition" was added to the script.  Martin Landau also shared a story (which I think I had heard before) about how after a scene Alfred Hitchcock spoke to Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint and James Mason, but didn't say a word to Martin.  He later heard from "Hitch" that if he didn't say anything to you after a scene it meant you weren't doing anything wrong.

Robert Osborne mentioned a couple of "goofs" although they aren't really goofs they're just little things to keep an eye out for, one was the little boy covering his ears in the cafeteria scene near the end BEFORE there's a gun shot.  The other is that Eva Marie Saint's line "I never discuss love on an empty stomach" was overdubbed and that if you watch her lips she's actually saying, "I never make love on an empty stomach."  These were fun little things to watch for during the screening.  Again, it was a lot of fun to see the movie on the big screen with an audience.  More clapping for big names and entrances and lots of laughter.

After North by Northwest I had to make it over to the Egyptian Theater for Singin' in the Rain.  It was my very first time at the Egyptian Theater, so I took a great many pictures:

While I waited to be let into the theater I chit-chatted with the guy in front of me in line.  Again, it was nice to pass the time chatting with another classic film fan, I don't usually get to talk about my favorite Stanley Donen movies with my friends.  Speaking of friends, my friend Tracy (Hi Trace!) stopped by the line on her way to Hotel Cafe (it's pretty close to the theater).  I tried to convince her to stay to watch Singin' in the Rain, but no dice.  I was tempted to sit very close so I could get a good view of the interview with Stanley Donen, but I don't think my neck or eyes would've ever forgiven me for sitting so close in that theater.  I ended up about half way back in the theater and still got a pretty decent view of Mr. Donen.  My camera severely failed me though:
It was still wonderful hearing Stanley Donen speak, Robert Osborne began the interview by asking if there was anything he'd want to change in Singin' in the Rain and Mr. Donen proposed that film is something fixed whereas opinions and people are the ones who change.  I thought that was very interesting.  He also talked about how when he was 8 or 9 he had seen a movie in his hometown starring Fred Astaire and in that moment he knew he wanted to be a dancer and then by the time he was 25 he was getting to work with Fred Astaire.  He said he felt very lucky and grateful for his opportunities.  After the interview he then joined the audience and watched the whole film!  I thought that was so exciting.  It was so amazing to see this colorful musical on the big screen.  Seeing Gene Kelly dance Singin' in the Rain was absolutely amazing.  I wish I had stayed after the screening to try to get Mr. Donen's autograph and tell him how much I love Indiscreet, Charade, Funny Face, Damn Yankees (pretty much all of his movies), but for some reason I didn't think of it and I had to high-tail it back to Grauman's for Saturday Night Fever with my friend Justin (Hi Justin).
I was looking forward to this screening of Saturday Night Fever because I had never seen this movie and! it's a movie from the 1001 movies you must see before you die (which is kind of a pet project of mine) and I was looking forward to hanging out with Justin.  We were pleasantly surprised by the interview of director, John Badham, there hadn't been anyone listed as being at the screening on the schedule.  He gave a very nice interview.  He talked about taking over the project after John Avildsen (director of Rocky) dropped out.  He shared some fun stories about "dressing up" the disco, he said they put aluminum foil and Christmas lights all over the wall and added the light up dance floor.  He also told us that they had two famous white jumpsuits for John Travolta and that he'd wear one, get down with his bad self, have the suit peeled off him, put on the second suit and dance again while the first suit was getting blow-dried.  It was also interesting to hear that the movie was not well received when it first came out, he said the reviews billed it as vulgar.  But, before too long the movie became very popular and turned into the classic that it is today.  It's so interesting that so many films were not appreciated during their initial release and then became very popular and ultimately "classic."

The movie was a lot of fun and the music was absolutely INFECTIOUS.  I wanted to stand up and dance so badly! but I restrained myself, and Justin may have restrained me as well.  I had a slightly different expectation for this movie, I thought it was going to just be fun! and dancing! but there were some very dark and slightly upsetting elements of the movie.  But overall I liked it and gosh darn it John Travolta was a looker and was quite the dancer!!

So that was day 3 April 24, 2010! I know long winded, but apparently that's how I recap.  My sincerest apologies, although I don't think anyone actually reads this, so apologies to myself :)  Tune in for Day 4 and a wrap-up!

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