Saturday, May 7, 2016

TCM Classic Film Festival: Day #5 Recap



The Saturday of the TCM Classic Film Festival was packed with amazing events and movies. I still had plenty of energy and by sheer luck made it to everything on my schedule.

I got up early and headed to Grauman's Egyptian Theater for the 90th Anniversary of Vitaphone presentation.

Me and Joel of TCM Party
This was the only time I got to see Joel during the festival. Sometimes the chaotic schedule prevents you from seeing the people you want to see and that's where waiting in line comes in handy. You can spot familiar faces in the crowd. Joel and I took a selfie for Vanessa of Stardust who wasn't at the festival but was there in spirit. While waiting in line I also met Ray, one of the TCMFF volunteers who regaled me with stories of Robert Mitchum.

My only TCMFF Snapchat. Me at the Vitaphone screening.
The Vitaphone presentation was hosted by Ron Hutchinson, co-founder of the Vitaphone Project. It included a 30 minute lecture with slideshow on the history of Vitaphone, the technology and the films and soundtracks too. Then Hutchinson screened 7 Vitaphone shorts, one of which was my favorite short of all time Shaw and Lee's The Beau Brummels (1928).

The Beau Brummels at Grauman's Egyptian
All seven shorts were a hit but the most talked about after the festival was The Beau Brummels. It was also the one short out of the bunch that received the most laughs. I'll have a full report on the experience here soon. If you want to watch this short, it's available on Vimeo and also as an extra on The Jazz Singer (1927) Blu-Ray set. I was so excited to watch The Beau Brummels on the Egyptian's giant screen that I discreetly took the above photo to memorialize the event (if you must take a photo during a screening keep your phone to your chest, turn off the volume and make sure the brightness is at it's lowest setting). I really wanted to sing along with Shaw and Lee but held back so as to not annoy my neighbors.

There was a Q&A after the films but I had to skip out early to grab a unch. And I'm glad I did because my stinky McDonald's meal (sorry Jay!) ended up keeping me full until late in the evening. Making time for food is always an issue at these festivals and I was very lucky to fit in meals when I could. As I said before, luck was on my side during this trip!

The line for An Afternoon with Carl Reiner and featured screening of Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1982) at the TCL Chinese Theater was already super long. It snaked all the way from the courtyard, through the Hollywood and Highland mall and around to the other side of Madame Tussaud's. I was in line with Jay and we had a good long chat. We were so engrossed in conversation that we forgot to take a picture. He's a fascinating guy, very intelligent and your go-to expert if you have any questions about the James Bond series.

Carl Reiner and Ileana Douglas in conversation
TCL Chinese Theater was packed with eager fans excited to see Carl Reiner. Once we got our seats I headed to the bathroom and of courses who did I see? Carl Reiner himself! Previous TCMFF bathroom trips have put me in the vicinity of stars such as Mickey Rooney, Margaret O'Brien, Tippi Hedren and producer Walter Mirisch among others. I now use the hashtag #alwaysgotothebathroom when I tweet about these encounters!

I'll have a full report about this event soon but what I'll say for now is that it did not disappoint. Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid was hilarious, the tribute video was great and I loved Ileana Douglas' 45 minute interview with Carl Reiner himself. But the best part was...

Karen shaking hands with Carl Reiner

The book signing! It was held in the foyer of the TCL Chinese Theater which probably wasn't the best choice. I stood in line for a while, even though I had already purchased my book, and was worried I'd miss my next screening. Those of us at the beginning of the line got to take pictures with Carl Reiner. 


Millie taking a selfie with Carl Reiner
Carl Reiner autographed my copy of his memoir I Remember Me (which I read on audio shortly before heading to TCMFF). I asked him for a selfie and he was eager to take one. He said "get in closer!". I told him how much I enjoyed listening to the audiobook version of I Remember Me and he thanked me for that. I shared my selfie on Twitter and Facebook and it was my most popular social media share. Millie wrote to me on Facebook saying that everything before this moment should be labeled BC (Before Carl). It really was a life changing moment.

Raquel Stecher and Carl Reiner
My selfie with Carl Reiner
I met a really nice lady from Boston while in the book signing line and we had a good chat. She's been to all seven festivals! I gave her my card at the closing night party and I hope she contacts me soon.

I hoofed it over to the Chinese Multiplex to get in line for Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story (2015). I had 20 minutes to spare and they were already seating passholders. I got there just in time and even proclaimed to one of the TCMFF volunteers "this is my number one pick!".


And guess what. I had to go to the bathroom again. And I had another #alwaysgotothebathroom moment. On my way back I saw director Daniel Raim, producer Jennifer Raim, film researcher Lillian Michelson and actor and executive producer Danny DeVito at the entrance of the theater. DeVito was a surprise guest and he introduced the documentary.

Danny DeVito introducing Harold and Lillian at TCMFF

Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story is one I've seen before when I reviewed it for my blog. But seeing it on the big screen with an audience was magical. At the end of the documentary there was nary a dry eye in the house. We were all wiping away our tears when director Daniel Raim and film researcher Lillian Michelson came out onto the stage for an interview and brief Q&A. And of course there was a standing ovation.

Director Daniel Raim and film researcher Lillian Michelson at TCMFF
I'll have a more detailed report about this screening soon. Watch the Harold and Lillian website for details on upcoming screenings. If you have a chance to see this, do so. You'll thank me later.



The Chinese Multiplex was my home base for the rest of the evening. I got in line for
another documentary The Endless Summer (1966) which is a new-to-me favorite. I had seen it for the first time a few weeks before the festival and was happy for an excuse to watch it again and hear more about the film from director Bruce Brown.  It happens to be a personal favorite of TCM staffer Marya and it was fun to hear her wax poetic about the film and what it meant to her.

Raquel Stecher and Endless Summer director Bruce Brown
Me with Bruce Brown, director of Endless Summer
After the screening Bruce Brown was kind enough to hang around in the lobby of the Chinese Multiplex for a meet-and-greet with fans. I got my picture taken with him and congratulated him on making such a wonderful film. He replied "it's old!". And I said, "it doesn't seem old. It's timeless." I don't think he believed me but seemed to appreciate what I said. Besides some comments made in the film that were deeply rooted in the period (price of gas, references to race and sex, etc.), the film really does transcend time. More on my experience to come!



When I thought the day couldn't get any better, it was time to see actress Anna Karina and The Band of Outsiders (1964). Karina superfan Kate Gabrielle had camped out at the multiplex hoping to get the #1 queue ticket. Some rude passholders beat her to it even though that number should have been hers.

I really did think that this screening would sell out but it didn't. It was about 75-80% full at the largest of the multiplex' theaters which was still a good turnout. Kate Gabrielle, KC, Jandy and I sat in front for the interview then moved to the far back to join Jessica, Angela and others for a better view of the screen.

Anna Karina and Ben Mankiewicz at TCMFF
Again, luck was on my side and I was able to say "we love you Anna!" to her as she was getting a standing ovation from the audience. I thought I had dreamed it but she looked right at me and said thank you. I didn't quite believe it had happened until Kate confirmed it to me later. Much more on this special screening to come.

One last TCMFF recap, my opinion post as well as in-depth coverage of specific events are coming soon!

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