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
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.

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.

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.
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

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