All too soon it was Sunday, the final day of the 2016 TCM Classic Film Festival!
I started the day with one of my most anticipated films of the festival, Douglas Sirk's ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS (1955). I've seen the movie a couple of times and loved it but had never seen it on a big screen. It was shown in a lovely digital print, introduced by filmmaker Allison Anders.
I will pause here and note that for the first time ever, I experienced some very bad cell phone behavior during a film festival, including during ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS. People were regularly lighting up their phones to check the time; I found it sad that people were apparently so worried about getting to their next film that they couldn't remain "in the moment" in their current film.
Worse, a woman sitting immediately to my right took her sweet time reading email during a Sunday movie, until she realized I was looking at her. I just can't imagine going to a film festival and then reading my email when I'm there to see movies!
However, the real jaw-dropper was people holding up their phones and taking pictures of the opening credits of both ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS and OLD YELLER. Seriously?! I was so surprised that classic film fans wouldn't care about how they were impacting other people's viewing experiences.
I don't know if I've had good luck in the past or just had some unfortunate luck at this year's festival, but I hope that some of those in the audience will rethink their choices before 2017. It's such a thrill to see movies on a big screen with an appreciative audience reacting, and it's really disheartening when others make selfish decisions to disrupt the experience.
Moving along, I not only saw BAMBI (1942) for the first time at the festival, I saw OLD YELLER (1957) for the first time as well! That's a pretty emotional pair of Disney movies which I had long put off seeing, but as it turned out, they were both highlights of the festival. OLD YELLER was my second film on Sunday, shown via DCP.
Thanks to TCM I also had a miniature Dorothy McGuire festival, seeing two key films in which she played mothers, released a dozen years apart. My review of A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN (1945) is here.
I'm happy to report that despite some initial trepidation due to the storyline, I really liked OLD YELLER. I managed not to cry, other than some misty eyes at the end in appreciation of a very good movie.
Host Illeana Douglas shared that she had previously been unable to bring herself to watch the entire movie but that she'd be staying and watching it with us!
Afterwards Douglas interviewed actress Beverly Washburn, who shared that she was so thrilled to be invited to participate in a TCM Classic Film Festival screening that she cried when she got the news. It really meant a lot to her that a project she participated in so long ago was being shown at the festival, especially as she and Tommy Kirk are now the only surviving cast members.
Although it's one of my all-time favorite movies, I wasn't especially excited about SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON (1949) because I just saw it in 35mm at UCLA last October. However, there was nothing else in that spot I particularly wanted to see which also fit into my overall schedule, and I didn't have anything else I wanted to do in that time frame, so off I went, seeing it in a theater for the second time in six months!
As it turned out, I'm so happy I did decide to watch it, as seeing it again so soon confirmed that YELLOW RIBBON will always be a good choice for me. I'm sure I enjoyed it every bit as much as I had last fall.
SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON was introduced by Keith Carradine, seen above, and shown in a restored DCP print which will soon be released on Blu-ray by the Warner Archive. It's such a rich, beautiful movie, and once again I noticed new details. After every viewing I love it more.
The "official" closing movie in the Chinese Theatre was CINEMA PARADISO (1988), but I felt the classic musical THE BAND WAGON (1953) was a more fitting festival finale, ending with the cast singing "That's Entertainment!"..."This goodbye brings a tear to the eye, the world is a stage, the stage is the world of entertainment!"
Prior to THE BAND WAGON, Illeana Douglas interviewed Tony-winning director Susan Strohman, seen above.
THE BAND WAGON is pure joy, especially when Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse do "Dancing in the Dark" and "The Girl Hunt Ballet."
After THE BAND WAGON it was time for the closing night party at Club TCM, where I reluctantly said goodbye to so many great friends, with promises to meet again in Hollywood in 2017!
Many thanks to TCM and all who work so hard to put on such an unforgettable festival!