Friday, May 02, 2014

The 2014 TCM Classic Film Festival: Day Five

And so we finally come to an account of the very last day of the 2014 TCM Classic Film Festival!

That Sunday morning, April 13th, there were many more difficult choices. John Williams was among those in attendance at a digital screening of FIDDLER ON THE ROOF (1971) at the Chinese Theatre; that soundtrack album, with his wonderful arrangements, was how I first became aware of his name. However, since I'd seen it on a big screen years ago and have seen Mr. Williams conduct on several occasions, I let that option go.

Likewise, I skipped a digital screening of THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD (1938) at the Egyptian Theatre, since I'd just seen it in a gorgeous 35mm print at UCLA in February. The TCM screening, which was previewed by Susan King in the Los Angeles Times, was an extra-special presentation with sound effects wizard Ben Burtt and visual effects specialist Craig Barron.

I considered a digital screening of Ozu's TOKYO STORY (1953), but the title I ultimately couldn't resist was the charming romantic comedy SUNDAY IN NEW YORK (1963), which I'd last seen in 2009. It seemed like the perfect way to start off on Sunday, and indeed it was. There were quite a number of my fellow Rod Taylor fans in attendance, and I happened to watch it sitting next to Kate, who lists it as her favorite film.

Some of the charming ladies watching the film with me:

Also in attendance was Kay, who wrote a great post on the movie's fashions earlier this year. As I told Kay at the festival, I really like how her fashion posts cause me to focus on a movie from a completely different perspective.

Robert Osborne was there bright and early to introduce the film. Funnily enough, he'd never talked to festival programmer Charlie Tabesh about why the film was on this year's schedule, so he assumed perhaps it was in part because it was the film's 50th anniversary.

We had an interesting surprise in store -- the 35mm print had a card at the start that indicated it was from Britain, and it turned out to have a different ending than the U.S. version most of us had previously seen via Turner Classic Movies or the Warner Archive.

In the version we saw at the festival, the film ends with Taylor saying "I have to try" (to find the key he threw in the street), and Jane Fonda says something like "Why don't you stop trying?" Cliff Robertson walks in, sees them kissing, leaves and smiles as he gets in the elevator. The End.

The U.S. edition, which can be seen on the Warner Archive DVD, almost blips Fonda's line so that you can only make out something muffled like "try." Robertson walks in, sees them kissing, leaves and smiles as he gets in the elevator, and then there's a narration from him: "And so they were married. They went to Japan on their honeymoon, and Mike taught their three daughters..." Basically the U.S. ending wants to make sure viewers know they didn't just have an affair, but got married and lived happily ever after.

It was also fun to notice Jim Hutton's cameo this time! He got a nice round of applause when he turned up listening to a radio in a canoe.

In terms of pure enjoyment, SUNDAY IN NEW YORK was one of my favorite screenings of the festival. Seeing it on a big screen with an appreciative audience was a wonderful experience.

After SUNDAY IN NEW YORK a couple of us ran into the Film Noir Foundation's Eddie Muller in the lobby. He'd just interviewed Margaret O'Brien about Mickey Rooney at a screening of NATIONAL VELVET (1945) which was a late addition to the schedule in his honor. (There really were an amazing number of options in that Sunday morning slot!) Eddie shared with us Margaret's handwritten notes -- Kay's photo is here -- about the points she wanted to share about Mickey which helped guide Eddie's questions.

I also had the chance to congratulate Eddie on another wonderful Noir City Film Festival! It was nice of him to let me know he'd read my post on HARDLY A CRIMINAL (1949), as he was curious to know what festival goers thought of seeing an Argentinian film noir!

Next up was a 35mm screening of the rarely seen British comedy ON APPROVAL (1944), which had been a sellout earlier in the festival and thus was awarded one of the slots left open for repeat showings on Sunday. The second showing was also completely full!

ON APPROVAL, based on a play by Frederick Lonsdale, starred Clive Brook, Beatrice Lillie, Googie Withers, and Roland Culver. It was introduced by film historian Jeffrey Vance:

There were a lot of funny lines in the movie, although I confess I briefly "zoned out" partway through the film -- 14 films in 72 hours, without much food or quite enough sleep, will do that to you! -- and then found myself a bit lost. (I felt better when Will McKinley told me the identical thing happened to him!) It didn't help that I was having some trouble telling apart the two leading men, Brook and Culver.

I enjoyed the film so I hope to watch it again via last year's Blu-ray release so I can get more out of it. Here's Jeremy Arnold's account of seeing the film, posted on the festival website.

Next it was over to the lobby of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, where Robert Osborne and Maureen O'Hara conducted a brief interview surrounded by fans. I had a hard time snapping photos with such a big crowd but fortunately Raquel is taller than me and could help out!

O'Hara particularly spoke of the key role Charles Laughton had played in her life, working with her in JAMAICA INN (1939) and bringing her to America for THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME (1939). She very much wanted everyone to know he was a wonderful person and how grateful she was to him.

A photo made available to the press by TCM:

After seeing Miss O'Hara I decided to grab a quick meal in the hotel's 25 Degrees, where they serve an outstanding -- if pricey -- hamburger. While I was eating Robert Osborne entered the restaurant and applause spontaneously broke out. It was a nice moment.

I saw Mr. Osborne again shortly thereafter, as Raquel and I had purchased the new DVD set CONVERSATIONS WITH ROBERT OSBORNE and had the opportunity to have our copies autographed in Club TCM in the Hollywood Roosevelt's Blossom Room. (How appropriate that Club TCM is at the site of the very first Academy Awards ceremony!) Here's Raquel having hers signed:

After signing my copy he spontaneously leaned over and kissed my forehead which was a lovely moment for me!

Then it was immediately back across the street for my 14th and final film of the festival, THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939). There was a huge line which went upstairs and down several hallways, but fortunately Raquel and I got in, as did many other friends who had chosen that as their last film of the festival.

I had fond memories of seeing an amazing 35mm print of THE WIZARD OF OZ at the Vagabond Theater years ago, and going in I was fairly skeptical at the prospect of seeing this film in 3D on an IMAX screen. However, it was the "official" closing film of the festival, hosted by Robert Osborne, and I felt the film would have the right emotional tone for me that evening, given how sad I was the festival was already coming to an end!

I have to say I was very pleasantly surprised by the 3D experience. While I wouldn't want to see the film this way normally, I really did see it in a whole new way. I actually felt at times that I was at the very edge of the action myself, a sensation I've never before had while watching a 3D film. It was rather remarkable. The Flying Monkeys actually made me jump in my seat at one point, the 3D action was so realistic!

While the digital print of Garland's MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS (1944) had been too fuzzy on the big screen at the Chinese, that was not at all an issue with OZ. Every sequin on Glinda's gown was distinguishable. The only problem I had was having to be careful not to tilt my head, as if I did the picture blurred and made me feel a bit seasick. I talked to others later who had the same issue. As long as I looked at the picture with my head completely straight, it looked (and felt) great.

The ending of the film was very emotional for many of us, as it also meant the end of the festival. Back to Club TCM once more for the Closing Night party! It was after midnight Eastern time, which meant that at TCM headquarters in Atlanta it was officially the network's 20th Anniversary. Champagne was passed out throughout the room and Robert Osborne and Ben Mankiewicz led everyone in an anniversary toast:

Finally, many classic film bloggers convened poolside at the Hollywood Roosevelt for final photos together and fond goodbyes, with promises to meet again at next year's festival. I am so privileged to call the wonderful people I've met through blogging friends!

Great posts by other bloggers continue to roll in, including:

"TCMFF Recap: Day 3" at Lindsay's Movie Musings

"Poolside Screening of American Graffiti (1973) at the TCM Classic Film Festival" by Raquel at Out of the Past

"How Green Was My Valley Screening and Maureen O'Hara at the TCM Classic Film Festival," also at Out of the Past (Raquel's done lots more posts so be sure to check them all out!)

"How to Navigate TCM Classic Film Festival: What I Learned in 2014" by KC at Classic Movies

"TCMFF 2014 Highlights: Why Worry?" by Aurora at Once Upon a Screen

"TCM Classic Film Festival 2014: All in the Family" by Kim at GlamAmor

"TCM Therapy: Highlights from TCMFF Press Day" by Nora, the Nitrate Diva

From newspapers: "Top 12 Reasons to Love Turner Classic Film Channel" by Lou Lumenick in the New York Post, and if you missed it prior to the festival, check out "Quincy Jones Tunes Up for TCM Classic Film Festival" by Susan King in the Los Angeles Times.

For more links to my coverage of the festival, please visit The 2014 TCM Classic Film Festival in Review.

Still to come: Reviews of individual festival screenings!


Blogger Jacqueline T. Lynch said...

Lovely post. I've really enjoyed your TCMFF posts, Laura.

I suppose you'll never wash your forehead again.

Sweet man.

4:45 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

I know, right?! I don't know what prompted his gesture but it was appreciated. :)

Thank you for letting me know you've enjoyed the posts, I'm so glad! I very much hope that you might have the chance to be there as well one day.

Best wishes,

8:37 AM  
Blogger freelulu said...

I enjoyed getting to spend the morning with you waiting for our Sunday in NY in LA. :)

8:43 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Me too, Kathy, I'm so glad we connected! The Festival was great not only for meeting up with people I'd previously gotten to know but for connecting me to new classic film friends such as yourself!

Best wishes,

8:45 AM  
Blogger DKoren said...

Have loved seeing everyone's posts and photos. What a great time everyone had, with some fabulous opportunities! Thanks so much for detailing it so well!

9:45 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks, Deb! I hope that, like Jacqueline, you can one day join us there!!

Best wishes,

9:59 AM  
Blogger Melissa Clark said...

That's so interesting about the alternate ending to "Sunday in New York"! I've always thought the voiceover was a hokey way to wrap things up, but probably necessary to calm down the censors. It reminds me of the voiceover at the end of "Love in the Afternoon," assuring audiences that Hepburn and Coop got married. I think that was added for US audiences too, and not included in overseas versions.

Robert Osborne kissing your forehead is too adorable! I'm sure that was a moment you'll never forget. :-)

- Melissa

2:51 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

MC, I've only seen LOVE IN THE AFTERNOON once and forgot there was a voiceover at the end. How interesting! I need to pull my DVD off the shelf and give it another watch.

It was definitely a special and unexpected moment.

Best wishes,

7:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just thinking about ON APPROVAL makes me sleepy.

10:17 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

LOL, Will! If you go back to it well-rested I'd love to know your additional thoughts, including if it's any easier to tell apart the lead actors the second time around. :) I'm glad it wasn't just me in that regard!

Best wishes,

10:20 AM  

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