Sunday, May 06, 2018

The 2018 TCM Classic Film Festival: Day Four

Saturday was my busiest day at this year's TCM Classic Film Festival!

Though I could have used another hour of sleep, I was at the Chinese Multiplex around 8:00 a.m. to collect my queue number for my first screening of the day, a 35mm print of LOVE FINDS ANDY HARDY (1938). As a matter of fact, every one of the half-dozen films I saw that day was shown in 35mm.

The film was nicely introduced by Dave Karger and a TCM Backlot contest winner, a publicist who had met Mickey Rooney and did a nice job on the intro. Although I love MGM films, I hadn't previously caught up with this one, in which Rooney costarred with Judy Garland, Lana Turner, and Ann Rutherford. It was quite fun and also provided a sentimental tear at the end. A good start to the day!

Next up was one of the films I most wanted to see, an obscure romantic comedy called THIS THING CALLED LOVE (1940), starring Rosalind Russell and Melvyn Douglas. Illeana Douglas presented the film, clearly proud of both her grandfather's debonair style and ability to generate laughs.

In this film which somehow skirted around the Production Code, Russell plays a bride who thinks she and her new husband should remain celibate for 90 days to make sure they're compatible as a married couple. Needless to say, the groom has other ideas. This 35mm print played to a packed crowd and was one of the five films chosen to repeat on Sunday.

Then I headed to the Egyptian Theatre for the rest of the day; as soon as one movie got out, I went out front and got right back in line! First up: MGM glamour personified in WIFE VS. SECRETARY (1936) starring Clark Gable, Myrna Loy, and Jean Harlow. The film was introduced by actress Dana Delany, an enthusiastic classic film fan who I saw intro another Loy film, LOVE CRAZY (1941), at last year's fest.

Like the rest of the films screened at the Eygptian that day, it was a 35mm print. This is a film I've seen several times and always enjoy; it's a great exemplar of MGM's glamorous house style.

The theater was packed for the next film, the pre-Code GIRLS ABOUT TOWN (1931), starring Kay Francis, Joel McCrea, Lilyan Tashman, and Eugene Pallette.

Illeana Douglas interviewed McCrea's grandson, Wyatt McCrea, along with Zoe Perry, whose great-great-aunt wrote the film's story. McCrea spoke briefly of his grandfather's early years, growing up in a house right down the street on Hollywood Boulevard, and how he'd been paper boy to Cecil B. DeMille.

The plot about gold-diggers eventually becomes a little tedious, but young McCrea looked divine and Kay Francis is always fun to watch.

Leonard Maltin and blogger Lara Fowler of Backlots introduced the silent comedy SHOW PEOPLE (1929). Lara is working on a biography of star Marion Davies and shared a number of interesting anecdotes about the film, such as the set musicians in the film being Marion Davies' actual on-set musicians. I'm looking forward to her book!

The movie, with live musical accompaniment by Ben Model, was delightful. We had to endure a fire alarm, the second time that's happened to me during a film at the TCM Fest, but it was cleared up quickly and the movie resumed. The final film of the night was pushed back 15 minutes to accommodate the interruption.

Then time for my last queue number of the day! This time for Alfred Hitchcock's SPELLBOUND (1945), shown in 35mm nitrate.

SPELLBOUND is a lesser Hitchcock for me, but it has its compensations, including supporting turns by Norman Lloyd and Rhonda Fleming, who are both still with us today. The nitrate print was simply stunning; stars Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck surely never looked more glorious.

And so a very long but worthwhile day of movie viewing came to an end! Coming soon: A report on the final four films I saw at the festival, plus additional reviews.


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