Sunday, September 28, 2008

John Wayne Weekend, Part 2

Last night I wrote about our wonderful evening at USC's John Wayne celebration.

This afternoon and evening were even more enjoyable. We arrived during a lovely catered reception outside the theater which was available free of charge to all of the event's guests:

During the reception we had the opportunity to chat for a few minutes with Leonard Maltin, which was a very special experience for both my husband and myself. His movie rating books have been part of our lives since we were teenagers!

We let Leonard -- who wears a Disney pin on his jacket -- know how much we enjoy the Disney Treasures sets and asked about the chances for future releases of the Jiminy Cricket "I'm No Fool" cartoons and another season of SPIN AND MARTY. He said he hopes to bring them out someday as Disney Treasures, but it is very difficult to convince the powers-that-be about approving each release and that it's also difficult to convince higher-ups that the DVDs are being enjoyed by families like ours, with viewers of all ages, and not just by Disney collectors.

It was fun to spot familiar faces such as Aissa Wayne, Lee Meriwether, and Stefanie Powers as they arrived. (I had seen Stefanie Powers once before, when she played Roxanne in a theatrical production of CYRANO DE BERGERAC opposite Stacy Keach in Long Beach in the late '70s.) Later in the evening we had the chance to say hello to Batjac President Gretchen Wayne, Michael Wayne's widow. I asked her about whether there was any chance of Wayne's production BULLFIGHTER AND THE LADY (reviewed here) coming to DVD in a special edition similar to the release of SEVEN MEN FROM NOW, but she didn't seem too hopeful; her company owns the negative but she thought offhand that Paramount is also mixed up in the rights. She is a very gracious, knowledgeable lady who is an excellent representative for Batjac and the Wayne family.

Maltin moderated a very enjoyable panel discussion with Gretchen Wayne, Powers, Meriwether, director Mark Rydell (THE COWBOYS) and screenwriter Miles Swarthout (THE SHOOTIST) sharing their memories of John Wayne.

Following the panel discussion and an intermission, we were all asked to don our 3-D glasses so a photographer could attempt to duplicate the famous Life Magazine photo from the '50s.

There was also a trivia contest preceding the movie; I won a t-shirt for correctly answering how many of Wayne's children were in THE QUIET I wrote here just last night, the answer is four. I was then asked if I was able to name the children...and yes, I'm enough of a movie trivia geek and John Wayne fan that I could successfully name all four, though it was a bit nerve-wracking with a couple rows of Wayne's children and grandchildren sitting behind me!

Dr. Rick Jewell then introduced HONDO, which was shown in 3-D; I'll be writing about the film in a separate post. Suffice it to say that it was a spectacular print, the best-looking 3-D movie we've ever seen. Watching it with Leonard Maltin sitting five seats down in the next row was pretty cool for serious movie buffs like us. Stefanie Powers and Lee Meriwether stayed to watch the film as well, sitting front row center.

Batjac had prepared a special tribute featurette honoring Wayne especially for the evening, which included photos of Wayne in his USC days. It was really lovely and would make a wonderful extra on a DVD one day.

As I have shared here before, I have been fortunate to see many classic movies shown in theaters in years past, during the pre-video, pre-cable era in the late '70s and early '80s when Los Angeles was home to many revival theaters. Such opportunities still exist in Los Angeles, at places such as USC, UCLA, and the Los Angeles County Art Museum, but there are not nearly as many "big screen" options as there used to be, and our busy schedules haven't allowed us to take advantage of nearly as many experiences as we'd like. It was really wonderful to not only enjoy a terrific "movie weekend" but to share it with our children.


Blogger J.C. Loophole said...

Sounds like you guys had a great weekend! I would have loved to have been there! And that is awesome that you got to talk to Leonard Maltin -kudos for getting another I'm No Fool request to him! I can appreciate what he said- it must be difficult for the suits in admin and marketing to see how much these sets are very much treasured by families and not just taking up space on a collector's shelf. Still, I never would have thought they would release Annette or even the Alice Comedies on DVD - so I'm crossing my fingers that Leonard will be able to convice them. Perhaps a write-in campaign supporting the idea is in order.
By the way- way to represent the movie bloggers out there during the trivia challenge. You'll have to post a pic of the shirt!

6:55 AM  

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