Tuesday, March 11, 2014

"It's pronounced Fronkensteen" (Day 2 of the 2012 TCM Classic Film Festival)

On to day 2 of the 2012 TCM Classic Film Festival.  It started bright and early with a screening of Cover Girl at the Chinese 6, introduced by Gene Kelly's widow, Patricia Ward Kelly and Robert Osborne.  Patricia came into the theater and introduced herself and shook hands with almost everyone in the theater.  She was very personable and seemed very excited to be there.  While walking around she mentioned that she had added 5 years to her age on their wedding license.  She also made jokes about looking like Jamie Lee Curtis and she certainly did.  She was full of energy and it was very interesting to see and hear speak.

 Robert Osborne said that he was most excited to see this movie and was happy to see a full house, and that he had wished that Rita Hayworth were alive to see this kind of reception.  He also mentioned that if he were able to stay and watch a whole movie at the festival that Cover Girl would be it.  He also discussed Gene Kelly's career and suggested that MGM didn't know what to do with Gene Kelly, since he wasn't taken care of or treated properly.  He also said that he had the chance to see Gene Kelly on his last day on an MGM set.  I'm a huge Gene Kelly fan and it's always a treat to see him on the big screen.

Up next was Funny Face at Grauman's Chinese.  There was an interview with Stanley Donen by Robert Osborne before the screening.  I always enjoy a nice Stanley Donen interview, he's very candid and doesn't sugar coat anything.  He means what he says and says what he means, shoots from the hip.  In regards to Funny Face he candidly told us that it was a challenge, he didn't have theater people, or show people, what he had was Audrey, Fred and Paris and the challenge was to fill the space and hold the interest, while also not going over budget. He also talked about his love of film and fascination with the screen.  He thinks of film as an elastic medium and that they can be so many different things.

They also surprised Stanley with a birthday cake!

We all sang Happy Birthday and Robert asked him if he found any significance in the piano design, Stanley immediately said the 88 keys for his 88th birthday.  There was also a wonderful video tribute to Stanley Donen.  Seeing Fred Astaire dance on the big screen is always a treat and it was fun to introduce my mom to another movie she hadn't seen before.  Her first comment after the movie, "wasn't Fred Astaire a little old for her?"  Yes mom, but that's when we suspend our disbelief and focus on the pretty costumes, music and dancing.

After this it was time to head back to the Chinese 6 for Nothing Sacred starring Carole Lombard and Fredric March, it was introduced by Deborah Nadoolman Landis.  Before the movie, Landis talked about the amazing Carole Lombard and the costumes and beautiful NY sets.  I believe this was the first technicolor film shot in New York.  I found this movie to be very humorous and a great showcase of Carole Lombard's talents.  This was a fun movie to get to see for the first time at the festival.

My mom and I then rushed back to Grauman's to catch the screening of Vertigo that was to be introduced with a Kim Novak interview.  I was very excited for this screening and interview.  I'm a HUGE fan of Hitchcock (in case you haven't noticed) and was so thrilled that Kim Novak who had been out of the spotlight for such a long time would be there to discuss both her career and work in the movie.

I found Kim Novak to be a little nervous and slightly guarded, while still kind and willing to discuss working with Alfred Hitchcock and the movie.  She was interviewed by Robert Osborne who, as always, was a very calming presence.  She said that she liked working with Hitchcock and that she was able to give up control when it was necessary.  Robert asked about the very famous suit that she wore throughout the movie and Kim said that it felt like a strait-jacket and that it didn't feel comfortable, but she used that discomfort and made it work.  She determined that it was good and right for the character.

 It was quite an experience to see this movie in Grauman's Chinese theater, every detail, every moment of suspense and intrigue was heightened.  About half way through the movie I noticed that Kim Novak was sitting about 2 rows diagonally in front of me, which was pretty much the most surreal experience I can imagine (thanks TCM Classic Film Festival).  Occasionally throughout the movie I would try to see her reactions to the film, she seemed to be enjoying it.

My final movie of the first full day of the festival was Young Frankenstein, co-written and directed by the one and only Mel Brooks.  He was also on hand for an interview before the movie.  I had the enormous pleasure of getting to see The Producers at the first TCM Film Festival and hear Mel Brooks speak before the screening and knew that I had to see him again.  He is so funny and engaging, he's what I always imagined a grandfather would be like (one of my grandfathers passed away before I was born and the other passed away when I was less than a year old).  He kept saying how ridiculous we all were for staying up late and paying to watch his little movie, in fact to quote him, " you're fans, you're nuts."  But I couldn't imagine a better way to end the day.

Mel started off the conversation by talking about having seen Frankenstein in 1931 when he was about 5 years old with his mother.  When he got home from the movie he was he was so terrified of the monster he wanted to close all the windows so the monster wouldn't come and bite him, eat him and kill him.  But his mother said that it was too hot to close all the windows in the apartment, and he explained again that he was scared the monster would come and bite him, so his mother sat him down and explained that, if the monster wanted to come and find him he'd have to take a train from Transylvania and find his way to Williamsburg, I guess humor ran his family.

The interview was equal parts entertaining and informative.  He talked about the meetings he had at Columbia and their reaction to wanting to film it in black and white (they were not thrilled).  He also talked about Gene Wilder having written the premise for Young Frankenstein, on the condition that he wouldn't also star in the movie (that did not come to pass).  And he also let us know that the movie is 1/2 comedy and 1/2 tribute to James Whale, it's always great to discover an amazing contributor to the film industry is himself a fan and wants to honor the past.

it's (almost) alive!
Having the opportunity to watch the movie in a PACKED theater (the Egyptian Theater, no doubt) was an amazing experience, the laughter was almost non-stop, the crowd was so into the movie and made the viewing experience that much better.  And what a cast! Gene Wilder, Madeline Kahn, Marty Feldman, Peter Boyle, Cloris Leachman, Teri Garr, Kenneth Mars, and a Gene Hackman cameo! Such a great film.
Weird to see them in color

All in all this was another fabulous day at the TCM Classic Film festival. Going back through the pictures and trying to remember everything that happened is so wonderful and makes me even more excited (if that's even possible) for the next TCMFF. 
Up next: Day 3 which includes: Auntie Mame, first thing in the morning, Snow White and Seven Dwarfs, Counsellor at Law, Singing in the Rain, and Marathon Man!

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