Showing posts with label Leonard Maltin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Leonard Maltin. Show all posts

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Leonard Maltin interviews Stanley Rubin at the screening of River of No Return (1954)

Press Photo

On Friday April 26th, 2013, Carlos and I attended a special screening of River of No Return (1954) at the Chinese Multiplex in Hollywood. You can see both of us in the photograph above (note TCM marked this photo as being a shot of the audience of Voyage to Italy but it was indeed River of No Return. Neither of us went to the Voyage to Italy screening and I even remember those 3 young adults in the row in front of us recording something for a video podcast at the River of No Return screening).

This experience was probably the most emotional one for me during my time at the TCM Classic Film Festival. Every time I revisit this I get really emotional. Here is what I wrote in my Recap post for that day:

River of No Return (1954) is the second Robert Mitchum film I ever saw with Out of the Past (1947) being the first. And as most of you know, Robert Mitchum is my favorite actor. I have always been a fan of Marilyn Monroe too and have seen almost all of her films. Also, I've been to the river in the film. The movie was shot on the Athabasca River in Alberta, Canada and I have very happy memories visiting the river and the Rocky Mountain town Jasper which is situated alongside the river. River of No Return isn't a perfect film but it's one I have loved for as long as I have been a classic film fan. It has a special place in my heart and to see the producer of the film up on stage talking about the movie, sharing his stories and talking about Mitchum and Monroe was truly an honor.  Not only that, Rubin stayed to watch the film with us. 
Then it hit me. This is truly amazing. Truly fucking amazing. And then the tears just flowed. Wow.

We had to leave this screening early to attend another event which was some distance aways. This bothered me immensely. I feel like I didn't get closure with this experience because I didn't see it all the way through. While the following event was great, I don't think it was worth leaving this one early to go to that one. Carlos had never seen the film before and even though I had, I think it would have been best for both of us to had stayed through the whole thing. I felt so bad, that when I got home from the festival I immediately purchased the Blu-Ray of the film so we can watch it at home together (I had a bad DVD copy of it so I felt upgrading was worth it). If I go to the festival again, I want to make sure never to leave anything before it ends. It's just not worth it.

Before the screening, Leonard Maltin interviewed River of No Return's producer Stanley Rubin and Rubin's wife, actress Kathleen Hughes.

Press Photo

I will do my best to transcribe the interview. It's not word-for-word and I use a lot of paraphrasing.

Leonard Maltin asked the audience how many of them had seen River of No Return (1954) on the big screen. Very few hands went up. I had never seen it before on the big screen, just the little one.

Maltin: Stanley Rubin started as a screenwriter in the 1940s and worked his way up the ladder. He was promoted from screenwriter to producer in the early 1950s. River of No Return was his biggest assignment to date. Rubin was accompanied by his wife Kathleen Hughes. Folks might recognize Hughes from It Came From Outer Space (1953). You can date the marriage of Rubin and Hughes from this film (they've been married since 1954).

While Rubin and Hughes are making their way to the stage, he notes that Hughes' image is very iconic and linked to 1950s Sci-Fi genre.

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Rubin notes that he's incapable of remembering to speak into the microphone. His wife and Maltin help him several times during the interview.

Maltin: Maltin hadn't seen Rubin in a while and noted that it was nice to meet up with a fellow college graduate and let's Rubin explain.

Rubin: Rubin entered UCLA in 1933 and got his degree in 2005. He had other business to accomplish in between but he was very happy to go back. Rubin had very dear memories of UCLA where he was the editor of the Daily Bruin.

Maltin: Maltin asks Hughes about her first date with Rubin.

Hughes: They were both under contract for Fox. Rubin kept asking her out and she kept turning him down for months and months. Then one day he invited her to have dinner with him and see a print of The River of No Return. She thought that sounded like a picture that she would enjoy. So they went to dinner and to the screening, Hughes enjoyed the movie very much. Then two months later they were married. (awww)

Rubin: He's glad that relationship still exists.

Maltin: At this point he notes they can date their relationship to River of No Return and that's very special. (I agree!)

Maltin: Maltin notes that Rubin had already produced a couple of pictures before River of No Return, including The Narrow Margin (1952) which was also being screened at the festival. River of No Return was a much bigger picture though than Rubin had tackled before. There were challenges. Rubin was off on location in Canada, with a large crew, a rather imperious director Otto Preminger, a strong-willed leading man Robert Mitchum and a sometimes difficult leading lady Marilyn Monroe. He asks Rub, what were your biggest challenges?

Rubin: Preminger and Monroe didn't hit it off very well. Monroe took that as an open door to establish a relationship with Rubin. That helped Rubin a great deal because they became really good friends. Rubin clarifies that Monroe and he were good friends not Preminger and him.

Maltin: Did you lock horns with Otto Preminger?

Rubin: Not really. They got along. Preminger was a diplomat from the word "go".

Maltin: What was the toughest sequence to get on film?

Rubin: The toughest sequence was getting Monroe onto the raft. Because the first day she tried she slipped on a rock and fell into the river. Despite all the help that they had there, they had safety boats, safety swimmers, but Monroe still slipped right off the rock into the fast-flowing river. (Interjection: The Athabasca River is no measly little stream. It is one strong river and you don't want to mess with it!). That accident taught them a big lesson instantly.

Maltin: Did you manage to proceed on time and on schedule? Did things get held up at all?

Rubin: Rubin jokes - Because Marilyn fell into the river? (Audiences laughs at this point.) Rubin doesn't want to dissemble or make things seem rosier than it was. They worked very hard and sometimes they would slip off of schedule. But in the end they made it up and they were on schedule.

Maltin: Maltin notes that they were far away from the studio 20th Century Fox and the boss Darryl F. Zanuck when filming. Did the studio keep a close eye on what was going on?

Rubin: No, there was a grace period and they took advantage of it. Zanuck was a surprisingly friendly and good-natured and accommodating boss.

Maltin: Zanuck definitely understood story-telling.

Rubin: Yes he did and had a long background in it. Even before he became the head of the studio. And that background was at Warner Bros.

Maltin: People are fascinated all these years laters with Marilyn Monroe. How would you describe her?

Rubin: They became good friends because of Monroe's issues with Preminger. Rubin and Monroe became very warm and very friendly. Rubin had turned down Monroe before. She had come in on an audition, a year or two before River of No Return. Rubin was nervous on meeting her for this movie because he turned her down the first time they met. He remembers wondering how friendly she would be after being rejected by him or whether she would bring up what happened before. But she never did. She was a perfect lady.

Hughes: Hughes reminds Rubin that he turned Monroe down because he didn't think she had enough experience. But it was just a couple of years later, that Rubin was begging Zanuck for Monroe to be in one of their films.

Rubin: Rubin says, what a difference a couple of years make!

Maltin: Robert Mitchum liked to give the impression that he didn't really care that much about acting and that it was just a job. That seems to have not been the case because he was a very dedicated professional. How would Rubin assess that?

Rubin: Rubin agrees with Maltin. Mitchum cared a great deal but hid that because that wouldn't keep him cool. Rubin found out later that Mitchum had done a lot of questioning and probing about what was going on behind the scenes of the film to see how good the preparation was. Mitchum was totally dedicated on everything he did to conceal the fact that he wanted it to go well.

Maltin: Did Mitchum and Monroe hit it off okay?

Rubin: They became very good friends. But that was it. A very pleasant, good, cool relationship.

Maltin: That makes for a great team to make a great movie. And now we get to see the results.

Rubin: Rubin said he hopes everyone likes it.

Maltin: Maltin asked Rubin if he'll stay to watch it again.

Rubin: Rubin said yes and remarked that he hadn't seen it in years and was very interested in seeing it again.

Press Photo

Out of all the interviewers at the festival, I have to say I think Leonard Maltin was my favorite. Osborne  and Mankiewicz were great too but I think Maltin asked the best questions that solicited really great responses. Stanley Rubin was struggling to remember things and Maltin was very patient and asked a lot of good questions which helped move along the interview. Maltin was very gentle with Rubin and I think that helped quite a bit.

This is by far my favorite out of all the screenings at the festival just because of the emotional connection I have with the movie and how grateful I was to have the chance to hear Stanley Rubin talk about it. It was a great experience and River of No Return (1954) will now forever hold a special place in my heart.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Leonard Maltin Interviews Norman Lloyd at The Lady Vanishes (1938) Screening

On Saturday April 27th, 2013 I attended a screening of the Alfred Hitchcock film The Lady Vanishes (1938). Leonard Maltin hosted and started off with asking the audience if any of us had never seen the film before. I was one of the people who raised their hands. This film has been on my to-be-seen list for as long as I can remember and I'm so glad that my first time watching it was at this screening.

Maltin noted that many Hitchcock fans tend to focus on his later American films but his sentimental favorites are Hitchcock's British films from the 1930s. Maltin introduced Norman Lloyd calling him a "rare individual", one of the few people who can speak about a long working relationship with notable figures including Charlie Chaplin, Jean Renoir, Martin Scorcese, cast and crew of St. Elsewhere and Alfred Hitchcock. Maltin said Lloyd was one of the producers of the long running Alfred Hitchcock TV series. He also noted that the only unfortunate thing about Norman Lloyd being there that day was that he was missing his daily tennis match. Maltin referred to him as the "ever eternally young, 98 year old Norman Lloyd".

As I had said before in a previous post, Norman Lloyd was one of the oldest guests at the TCM Classic Film Festival but he was in the best shape. Several stars required wheelchairs or assistance walking. Lloyd at 98 years old needed no help whatsoever and seemed the epitome of health. God bless that man!

Lloyd was greeted with a standing ovation. Maltin joked that he would have to work hard to bring Lloyd out of his shell because he is very shy. Lloyd was by the far the most entertaining guest I saw interviewed at the festival.

I will do my best to transcribe the interview. It's not word-for-word and I use a lot of paraphrasing.

Maltin kicked off the interview by asking Lloyd by noting Hitchcock was able to blend the thrilling and suspenseful elements of film with humor.

Maltin - Tell us about Hitchcock's sense of humor.

Lloyd - Hitchcock said about his humor that the moment he got a new script, he threw out all logic. Lloyd notes that Hitchcock was the one who made famous the term "MacGuffin". When asked for a definition of the MacGuffin, Hitchcock would say that it was a plot point that has nothing to do with the plot. The MacGuffin was used to hunt lions in the Scottish Highlands. So Lloyd replied, but there are no lions in the Scottish Highlands! And Hitchcock replied, there's no MacGuffin. When asked to define it, Hitchcock said it's what the actors talk about at great length and has nothing to do with the story. He notes that it propels the story but no one knows what it is. Maybe that's accounts for how movies achieve their fame.

Maltin - One of the examples of Hitchcock's sense of humor, something Lloyd had a lot to do with, were the introductions to the Alfred Hitchcock Presents TV show. Hitchcock became well-known to many generations visually and through his droll wit. Hitchcock always said something snide about the commercial sponsor. How did you, the producer and Hitchcock arrive at the idea and executing Hitchcock's intros and interruptions.

Lloyd - Lloyd notes that he wasn't there on the show when Lew Wasserman got the idea to have Hitchcock appear in that manner. Even having a television show with Hitchcock was an extraordinary coup for the agency MCA because Hitchcock was only connected with films. (Interjection: I read that Hitchcock was very reluctant to do the TV show at all because he wasn't sure it would work). Comedy writer James Allerdice found in Hitchcock a vessel for Allerdice to voice his views about the world and a ready collaborator. Joan Harrison was the producer of the show, was once Hitchcock's secretary and Lloyd remembers her fondly. James Allerdice's imagination ran wild so much so that he'd put Hitch in a bottle, in golf knickers (Lloyd notes "that's quite a sight!"), have him play his own brother with a mustache, etc. Allerdice would send in the intro ideas to Lloyd and the producer and Lloyd would think, Hitch would never do that! But Hitch always did. Lloyd shares an anecdote of how Allerdice once had a lion sent in for an intro and the lion had his head in Hitch's lap and Hitch kept talking the whole time. Hitchcock did every intro Allerdice wrote and Lloyd notes that it was an amazing collaboration that went on for 10 years. Hitchcock became a real star, a world-wide figure. Hitch particularly loved that they showed the program in Japan especially because the captions were perpendicular and that seemed to amuse Hitch. Hitchcock would come up to Lloyd in the morning and would say "You sent for me?". Lloyd would reply, no no! Hitch was the boss, you don't send for the boss. Hitch loved that surprise element that caught people off their guard.
Lloyd remembers cameraman Joe Valentine on the set of Saboteur (1942) laying out a whole shot and asking Hitch if he wanted to look at it. Hitch responded "oh no, I've looked through a camera before."

Maltin - At this point, Maltin informs the audience that Norman Lloyd was in Saboteur (1942) and he's the one hanging off of the Statue of Liberty in that famous scene. So if you weren't impressed before...

Maltin - He asks Lloyd whether he remembers Hitchcock talking about his British films.

Lloyd - Lloyd says that Hitchcock never talked about The Lady Vanishes and 39 Steps, which Lloyd refers to as "two perfect films" which helped Hitchcock become the most famous director in England. Lloyd goes on to say that Hitchcock never topped the perfection of these two films in his opinion. The Lady Vanishes was made under the most difficult conditions. The stage was only 90 feet long and everything was happening on that set. All the trains you see in the film were toy ones. Lloyd asked Hitchcock, didn't that worry him about the trains being fake. Hitchcock replied that it didn't matter. He knew in telling his story that he could convince the audience otherwise.

Maltin - Maltin notes that because the story is so good that audiences tend to forgive rear projection and miniatures. He then brings up the two amusing Greek chorus characters Caldecott (Naunton Wayne) and Charters (Basil Radford) which became so popular that they appeared in future films, even ones that Hitchcock wasn't involved with.

Lloyd - Lloyd says that this was an example of Hitchcock's humor. Wayne and Radford were straight actors and not comics. Hitchcock was the one that put them together and made a comedy team out of them.

Maltin - What do you think is the appeal of The Lady Vanishes and Hitchcock's other British films?

Lloyd - There was a technical mastery in these films. If you want to know how to shoot a film, Lloyd advises watching the 39 Steps. Every shot, every camera set, every movement is perfection. Hitch had a saying "camera logic", when asked about what that meant Hitch said the camera logic is when the camera is exactly where it should be to tell the story. Lloyd shared an anecdote of a particularly difficult shot that Hitchcock was filming in Saboteur. Hitchcock believed that the shot had to tell a story and every close-up should move the story along. Lloyd was on a balcony, standing on a railing and Hitchcock asked him if he would do a backflip over the railing (Lloyd notes he was much younger then and would do anything for art). Lloyd did the backflip in lieu of a stunt double because Hitchcock was shooting it as a close-up and didn't want to go right with Lloyd as he did the flip. With a stunt double the camera would have had to move away and back and away and back so as to hide the stuntman. But Hitchcock thought it crucial for storytelling and wanted to maintain the close-up. Hitchcock knew how to tell a story. Hitchcock once said, if you can tell a story you can shoot it, if you cannot tell it, you cannot shoot it.

This was such an amazing event. I'm very grateful to Norman Lloyd, Leonard Maltin and the folks at TCM for putting this together! And I enjoyed The Lady Vanishes (1938) very much and was glad to see it on the big screen alongside other grateful festival attendees and Norman Lloyd himself. Even Marvin Kaplan was there to watch the film!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

TCM Classic Film Festival Day #4 Recap

Saturday was the third official day of the festival but my fourth day of TCM Classic Film Festival festivities. It started off with a bit of a disappointment. We got there a bit late to check-in to the Jane Fonda Handprint Footprint Ceremony at the Grauman's Chinese Theatre. I didn't realize that I had to RSVP as a member of the press to attend so I couldn't get press access. Carlos and I ended up going across the street and watched a bit of it from afar. A lot of celebs were there. Eva Longoria, Jim Carrey, Maria Shriver, Jane's son Troy Garrity, Lily Tomlin and Jane's brother Peter Fonda. I didn't really care about any of them except for Jane and Peter Fonda to be honest. Robert Osborne introduced and mentioned that Jane Fonda's hand and footprints would be placed next to her father Henry Fonda's hand and footprints. Later Jane thanked TCM for all that they do for classic films and also recalled that her father told her not to let anyone in Hollywood walk all over her and now they will both have everyone in Hollywood walking all over them. From what I heard later, Jane Fonda did a peace sign with one hand when she did her handprints. The rest of the day was so incredibly amazing that not being close enough to the ceremony didn't end up mattering at all.

After seeing the Handprint Footprint ceremony from afar, I headed to the Chinese Multiplex next door for my first movie of the day. The festival had a great power station at the Multiplex. It was sponsored by Delta Airlines and at the station you could plug in your cell phone, laptop or any other electronic device in order to charge up. It was a fantastic service and one I wish were available at the other locations of the festival. While I was charging up my iPhone, I got a chance to speak to speak to TCM's executive producer Tom Brown. He was waiting to go pick up Burt Reynolds for an event.

I met with Laura of Laura's Miscelleanous Musings afterwards and we got in line for The Lady Vanishes (1938). I had never seen the film before and I was excited to see Norman Lloyd again. Carlos also attended and at one point, he got to shake hands with Robert Osborne. LUCKY!

The screening of The Lady Vanishes (1938) was hosted by Leonard Maltin and special guest Norman Lloyd got two standing ovations. For being 98 years old, Norman Lloyd is in really good shape. He's very mobile, Maltin told us that he plays tennis every day and his mind is very sharp. A lot of other guests needed help getting to the stage and back but Norman Lloyd needed no assistance. He was incredibly funny and charming. I will be writing a more in depth post in the future and I hope to include a little of the video I shot of the interview. And as an added bonus, Norman Lloyd watched the film with us and actor Marvin Kaplan was there to watch the film too!

After The Lady Vanishes (1938) screening, Carlos and I headed to Club TCM at the Roosevelt Hotel and attended the Conversation with Max von Sydow event which was also hosted by Leonard Maltin. Max von Sydow was fashionably late and the event lasted just under an hour. At the beginning of the event, the announcer told the audience that there would be no pictures and no autographing after the interview per Max's request. I think this should be the case for all these Club TCM interviews. I overheard someone say that the Conversation with Tippi Hedren event had gotten out of control. People started pushing and shoving to get an autograph or picture. Not cool, people! It is a privilege to see these stars, not a right.

Max von Sydow's interview was great. I plan to do an in depth post on it later. We were disappointed they didn't discuss Three Days of the Condor (1975). It was really fantastic to see Max von Sydow so up close (we were in the second row!). And to top it all off, Carlos and I got to shake hands with Leonard Maltin afterwards.

Afterwards, I went to the Club TCM lounge and stumbled upon Ann Blyth being interviewed by Robert Osborne for a TCM special. I cried. These taped interviews for TCM promos are not scheduled or announced so if you catch one it is just an added bonus.

Ann Blyth is so beautiful. I overheard that the segment will be used for an Ann Blyth Summer Under the Stars day. I'm not in the background of the interview because I was crying so I hid away from the camera. I didn't take notes on this so I won't be doing a post. I was too emotional anyways because Ann Blyth was at the top of my list of classic film stars I wanted to see at the festival. She is just so stunningly beautiful and that perfect smile of hers still dazzles to this day. Wow. She was super sweet too and would pose for pictures. Robert Osborne was totally flirting with her and kept telling her that she found the fountain of youth because she still looks so good. She's 88 years old, has 5 children, 10 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild on the way. I loved the fact that she said she exercises with a Bosu ball and does weight lifting because I do the same.

I didn't think this day could get any better but it did. After the Ann Blyth taping, we went to go play a trivia game called "What's the Score?" with Alex Trebek at Club TCM. Our team "Musical Chairs" came in 4th place. On my team was Karen from Shadows and Satin. I have no ear for music so I was pretty terrible at the trivia but everyone else on my team was great. We lost the 4 way tie-breaker. It was so much fun to do a trivia game with Alex Trebek. I am a huge Jeopardy! fan and have always dreamed of being on the show but I'm not very good at quick trivia. So if this is the closest I'll ever come to Jeopardy! then I'm okay with that. Alex Trebek was charming and a lot of fun. He was great with the audience and we just had a blast. This same game had been played on the last TCM Cruise and Trebek mentioned the cruise several times too.

TCM Photo

Darnell, Dan, myself and Carlos at the trivia game.

Afterwards, Laura of Laura's Miscellaneous Musings and Aurora of Once Upon a Screen... and I left to go wait in line for Mildred Pierce (1945) screening at the Grauman's Egyptian. We were pretty early in line. Ann Blyth was interviewed for 15 minutes by Robert Osborne. There were a couple standing ovations and lots of clapping. It was a very appreciative audience and great screening. A more in depth post to come.

Carlos got into a screening of Le Mans (1975) with special guests Chad McQueen (Steve McQueen's son) and two race car drivers Vic Elford and Derek Bell.

I loved these two pictures I took of Norman Lloyd and Max von Sydow putting their hands up in appreciation of the standing ovations they received!

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