Monday, April 30, 2018

TCM Classic Film Festival 2018: Recap #3

On the start of Friday of the TCM Classic Film Festival, I was more than ready for some movies. I met up with my good friend Carley of Married at the Movies (she also recently started a new podcast) and we headed over to the Chinese Multiplex for Intruder in the Dust (1949).

Carley and I were joined by some friends including Meg, Aurora and Kellee.

TCMFF is all about the selfies.

Film historian and expert on African-American cinema Donald Bogle gave an introduction and sat down with former child star Claude Jarman Jr. I'll have a full report on this movie soon. It was a great conversation and the film really moved me. And this particular screening sold out that it was shown again on Sunday for those who missed it the first time around.

Then it was off to the Egyptian theatre to catch Witness for the Prosecution (1957). This classic court room drama has eluded me for years and I was finally able to enjoy this one with a great crowd. I got some seats with Carley and her husband Martin who met for the first time at the festival back in 2013. So if you're single and you love classic movies maybe the festival is a good place to meet your future spouse!

Ruta Lee who has a small but pivotal role in the film, regaled us with stories about how Frank Sinatra helped her career, how Billy Wilder almost didn't hire her for Witness because she wasn't a brunette and some not so PG stories about her encounters with Charles Laughton. The introduction was one of the best I've heard and Ruta said she was willing to stay for hours to chat with us and to order sandwiches and champagne. Oh how I wish that really happened!

When The Set-Up (1949) was announced early on as one of the TCMFF films I was stoked. It's one of my top favorite noirs and I've watched it many times over the years. If you read my post about my TCMFF plans you'll remember that it was in a spot in the schedule where it conflicted with me getting to see Marsha Hunt at None Shall Escape. Luckily, Larry Edmunds Bookshop was hosting a Marsha Hunt book signing on Sunday. I easily gave up my spot for that movie and headed to the Egyptian for The Set-Up. I was surprised to see my friend Jay in line! He and I spoke briefly about the film in our two-part Rocky podcast for Cinema Shame. He hadn't seen The Set-Up so I was glad we are able to sit down together for this one.

 The Noir of Czar and Noir Alley host Eddie Muller presented. It was a great introduction until it was not. He had a surprise guest in the form of a young man, whose name I didn't catch. He's a local poet, writer, rapper. Very personable and charming guy and he grew up watching classic movies so he's got cred. The Set-Up was inspired by a long form poem and the special guest was there to recite part of it. However he didn't have the poem on hand. There must have been some miscommunication to get to that point. It took way too long and we endured an uncomfortable silence until he finally found the poem. At that point I was no longer interested in it and just wanted to watch the movie already.

After The Set-Up I had drinks with Jay and hung out with some friends in the Hollywood Roosevelt lobby. I even had time for dinner. Crazy! If you go to TCMFF, it's okay to miss a programming block so you can have some down time/social time and a bite to eat.

This break also allowed me to head over to the Chinese Multiplex early to get in line for Romeo and Juliet (1968) which was my #1 must-attend event at this year's festival. There was no way I was going to miss this one.

I was quite emotional to see Leonard Whiting (Romeo), Olivia Hussey (Juliet) and Michael York (Tybalt) in conversation with TCM host Alicia Malone. It was a great interview. Unfortunately my audio recording cut out early but I'll try to get a full report up soon. The biggest takeaway is that they all loved making the film, loved working with each other and the movie did wonders for them. They remember it very fondly. I met Whiting and Hussey on the red carpet (a video will be up soon). It was a treat to see Michael York and to hear his booming deep British voice travel across the audience. Wow!

I sat with my friend Kim of I See a Dark Theater and was able to have a good one-on-one chat with her. One thing I did differently this year is ignore my spot in line if I spotted a friend further down the way. Some folks in line got annoyed with me and one time a staffer tried to get me to move. But I'd much rather be with a friend chatting in line and before the movie than by myself because I have a better number.

Stay tuned as I'll have recaps soon for the Saturday and Sunday of the TCM Classic Film Festival.

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