The third day of the 2013 TCM Classic Film Festival began for me at the Chinese Multiplex.
Having seen NOTORIOUS (1946) at the Egyptian the previous day, it was time for my second Hitchcock of the festival, THE LADY VANISHES (1938), starring Margaret Lockwood, whom I adore, and Michael Redgrave.
THE LADY VANISHES, which I reviewed here in 2009, must surely rank in my Top 5 Hitchcock films, and it was wonderful to experience it with a sold-out crowd. This was my first time to see it in a theater, and one of the takeaways from this viewing was that Charters (Basil Radford) and Caldicott (Naunton Wayne) are even funnier when seen with an audience!
Prior to the film Leonard Maltin interviewed the great Norman Lloyd, who appeared in Hitchcock's SABOTEUR (1942) and SPELLBOUND (1945) and was a producer on ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS. I captured the interview in a couple of photos:
This was the first of two opportunities I had during the festival to hear Maltin and Lloyd chatting. Lloyd mentioned that Basil Radford and Naunton Wayne were dramatic actors but Hitchcock had the vision to team them in comedic roles, and they were such a huge hit they continued as the same characters in other non-Hitchcock movies.
Lloyd said he asked Hitchcock if he had worried about the obvious toy trains seen in THE LADY VANISHES, but Hitchcock said they didn't matter because the audience would be sold by the good story. Which, I might add, is completely correct. In fact, I find the little model trains rather charming.
When asked about Hitchcock's sense of humor, Lloyd said that when Hitchcock received a new script, he threw out all logic!
Maltin's interview with Lloyd is in the TCM Festival video gallery under the Saturday listings. Raquel also did a great job describing the interview at length at Out of the Past.
After THE LADY VANISHES it was on to another new-to-me film noir title, THEY LIVE BY NIGHT (1948), which I enjoyed at the Chinese Multiplex while sitting with Will and Aurora.
THEY LIVE BY NIGHT was preceded by Eddie Muller of the Film Noir Foundation interviewing Susan Ray, the widow of the film's director, Nicholas Ray. This interview photo is courtesy of TCM:
Eddie's interview with Susan Ray is in the festival video gallery under the Saturday listings. Susan Ray was clearly knowledgeable about her husband's work, and I'll be sharing a little more about the screening in a separate review of that film.
Eddie Muller, incidentally, will be guest hosting the new Friday Night "Spotlight" series on Turner Classic Movies in June.
After THEY LIVE BY NIGHT, I headed over to Club TCM with Aurora, where we caught part of Alex Trebek hosting a "What's the Score?" trivia competition. Our friends Karen of Shadows and Satin and Raquel of Out of the Past were on a team that did quite well indeed, as recounted by Raquel at her blog. Later that day I finally had the chance to actually meet Karen in person; although I've written for her film noir newsletter The Dark Pages on multiple occasions, this was our first opportunity to chat face to face!
That evening I enjoyed sitting with Raquel at the packed Egyptian screening of MILDRED PIERCE (1945) with special guest Ann Blyth. The crowed treated Ann like a rock star, with standing ovations, as she richly deserved. It was a privilege to be able to honor her in that way.
Ann remains incredibly gorgeous today, as seen in this TCM photo of her interview with Robert Osborne:
Ann shared that she tested with the film's star, Joan Crawford, and said that Crawford was never anything other than incredibly kind to her, both during the making of the film and for "many, many years" afterwards.
Blyth also commented on how fortunate she was to work with so many wonderful leading men and on what a joy it was to sing in MGM musicals in the '50s. Off the screen, Blyth was married for decades to Dr. James McNulty, who passed away in 2007, and has five children.
Osborne's interview with Ann Blyth can be seen in the festival video gallery under the Saturday listings.
My own photo of the interview is here:
I previously reviewed MILDRED PIERCE when I saw it for the first time in 2010. The audience applauded the entrance of each major character, including my favorites, Eve Arden and Zachary Scott, and everyone also cheered when Mildred (Crawford) finally slaps the awful Veda (Blyth). Once again, it was a thrill to see this film on a big screen with an appreciative audience.
This photo courtesy of TCM captures what the MILDRED PIERCE crowd at the Egyptian was like. I'm in there somewhere!
There's more about this screening from Jessica at Comet Over Hollywood, Karen at Shadows and Satin, and Aurora at Once Upon a Screen.
Coming soon: A recap of Day 4 of the festival, and reviews of THEY LIVE BY NIGHT (1948), Ann Blyth in KISMET (1955), and IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT (1934).