3rd Day of the TCM Film Fest
Saturday, April 24th:
"Bring me some kleenex, I think I'm going to cry." Nancy Olson to her daughter, Liza, at the standing ovation she receives at Sunset Blvd.
Out of bed early in the morning and across the street to the Chinese where I anticipate a crowd for Billy Wilder's masterpiece and classic film fans don't prove me wrong. The film is screening in the medium-sized Chinese 6 and there seats are hard to come by for late arrivals.
Noted film historian and author Cari Beauchamp introduces the film but first reminds us to turn off our cell phones, no texting, no talking, etc. Then she introduces Nancy Olson. Ms. Olson comes out and looks splendid in her fitted purple suit. She is using a cane having recently had knee surgery (ha! we are sisters in arms without knowing it!)
She mentions off-handedly about watching too much news while recovering. Ms. Beauchamp tells her "she should stop watching less MSNBC and more TCM." The crowd agrees.
Ms. Olson talks about her early career and making Canadian Pacific. "Here I am a Swedish-Norwegian girl from Wisconsin playing a half-breed from Canada with Randy (cue chorus, my addition) who is old enough to be my father."
On Sunset Blvd:
Billy Wilder kept taking her to lunch until she agreed to be in the film.
Edith Head, the famous costume designer was assigned to the film. She had a hard time designing for Ms. Olson's character, Betty Schaefer and Ms. Olson ended up wearing many of her own clothes including the off-the-shoulder cocktail dress in the New Year's Eve scene at Artie's where she meets Joe Gillis again. That dress was from her wardrobe and was forest green. The cameo she wears in that scene was a gift from her father.
On her love scene with Bill Holden. It was shot at Paramount, on one of the second floor balconies. Wilder had invited a number of people to the set including Holden's wife, Brenda. When it came to film the scene, Wilder said to hold the kiss until he called 'cut'. Holden and Olson acted the scene and kissed, they held the kiss as Wilder instructed. They kept expecting to hear Wilder say 'cut' but the kiss went on and on, finally they did hear someone yell "Cut, god-da**it, Cut!". It was Holden's wife, Brenda.
It was a 35mm print shown and looked beautiful! I ducked out just before the final reel to head over to the Grauman's Chinese auditorium for the Q&A with Anjelica and Danny Huston.
The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of." The Huston's: A Hollywood Dynasty
The tribute to John Huston kicks off with a wonderful tribute to the Huston family compiled and edited by TCM's Scott McGee, of the On-Air Promotions team. Afterwards, Robert Osborne introduces Anjelica and Danny Huston.
"Is it tough being a Huston?" he asks
"Not this morning." they reply. The crowd is in the palm of their hands.
Danny Huston's voice sounds a great deal like the family patriarch, John. Talking about growing up in Ireland, Anjelica says,"I thought I had died and gone to heaven."
They used to watch Treasure of Sierra Madre on " a deliriously noisy little projector. They've seen the movie somewhere between 50-75 times.
They thank Robert O for "being a champion of these films".
When he asks what they miss most about their father, they both reply they miss his voice. (I'm in total agreement with them on that one!)
They appreciate Dodsworth and Treasure for the performances of their grandfather and they both feel that watching his films makes him more real to them.
They end with Anjelica calling Robert O a "rock star" and a new print of Treasure begins to unspool.
I run for the Chinese 6 again and the screening of Leave Her to Heaven.
"I'm not sure Ms. Tierney liked me." Dwayne Hickman
The theater is packed. Shawnn Belstone, Head of Restoration at 20th-Century Fox introduces the film and talks about the difficulty and joy of restoring a movie shot in Technicolor. There is also a wonderfully edited piece for the Film Foundation (who paid for the restoration) by the TCM On-Air Promo department.
The film is beautiful to behold. I am sitting right behind Dwayne Hickman and his wife. About 15 minutes into the film, I notice a man walk up to the top of the ramp that leads into the theater. It is Robert O. I wait for him to walk across the sight line and sit next to the Hickmans.
But he doesn't. He stands there for the remainder of the film, hears the audience gasp at the appropriate moments and sniffle at the end. The man is a God because I am 30 years younger and could not have stood there as he did.
When the film concludes, he comes on stage and introduces the forever-young looking Dwayne Hickman. The audience provides a standing ovation.
Robert O asks about working with Gene Tierney and Dwayne replies that it was a difficult shoot and he thought Ms. Tierney didn't like him. Robert O offered the idea that it was the first real out of character dramatic role for Ms. Tierney and she may have been trying to stay in character. By the time the discussion is done, Hickman has been convinced that was the case.
I join the crowd leaving and manage to see my old film professor, Rick Jewell with his wife who were in the audience and say hello. Then I run for Grauman's and North by Northwest
We love you." An audience member to Robert O.
I love you, too." Robert O responds.
Before the screening of North, Robert O introduces Eva Marie Saint and Martin Landau. Eva calls Robert O "a rock star" and the crowd goes wild.
It's hard for Landau to get a word in while Eva is talking but he finally manages to talk about how he wanted to play his character, Leonard, as gay and how Hitch encouraged him to work with the screenwriter, Ernest Lehman to make it so.
Eva talked about how Hitch worked with her and though other actresses had "complicated" relationships with him, she didn't.
I wanted to stay and watch the movie in all it's mid-century modern beautiful decor but Norman Lloyd and Mr. Cutter called.
Norman Lloyd was holding a Q&A in Club TCM in the Hotel Roosevelt. He talked about working with Hitch in Sabetour, working with Welles, playing tennis with Chaplin (they were a great tennis duo) and then working with Hitch on his television shows as not only a producer but also director. He showed clips from some of his Alfred Hitchcock Presents and the Alfred Hitchcock Hour including The Jar.
Mr. Cutter showed up to take me to dinner and off we went to 25 Degrees in the Roosevelt. The hamburgers and grilled cheese sandwiches are great and you can get a mix of sweet potato and regular fries. Their Happy Hour takes the sting out of ordering more than one Sam Adams (my tribute to Danny Huston) Noble draft beer.
I'm quite happy they remember anything." Stanley Donen at Singin' in the Rain
We get to the Egyptian with time to spare but before long the line is growing and ends up going long. There are a number of what appears to be single tickets being sold and those ticket buyers talk in line about seeing the promos on TCM over the last 24 hours and wanting to be part of the fun.
The screening is sold out and Christy literally gets the last seat in the house. The Egyptian seats a little more than 1700 including the balcony and tonight they are here for their favorite musical.
Mr. Cutter has seen the films plenty of times but never on the big screen and I have seen it more than a few times on the big screen.
He is there for the film, I am there for him and Stanley Donen.
Sean Cameron, the in-house director for TCM introduces Robert O. He talks about he started out as a PA on the set, getting Robert O hot water for his tea. He would occasionally snap his fingers but almost always it was "Excuse me, Sean, can I get some hot water?".
Sean reminds the audience that Robert is not an actor hired to look good but the "real deal".
He then told the story of how a number of years ago, Robert O did an interview with one of his favorites, Barbara Stanwyck. At the end of the interview, as he was leaving, Ms. Stanwyck had this to say, "Remember, I don't walk on water." He then went on to say that Robert O was more than just a work colleague, he is "My friend, Robert Osborne."
Sean messed up the story and made it sound like Robert O had said that. When he came on stage, Robert O gently corrected Sean. You could see his cheeks turn red all the way in the back of the theater where Mr. Cutter and I were. Sean and Robert O hug. The crowd goes wild. Anjelica and Eva are right, the man is a rock star.
Our patron saint then introduces Stanley Donen who gets a standing ovation.
He reminds the audience that Rain wasn't a big hit when it was initially released. He then goes to relate a story about how Jules Dassin called him in the 1960s and talked about wanting to make a movie about the transition from silents to talkies and focus on an actress who has a problem voice. "I told him, Julie, I made that film. It's called Singin' in the Rain. Jules hadn't seen it, so I offered to fly to Paris and bring a print. Before I left, I reedited the film (what do you think he cut out?) and flew with a print to Paris. I screened it for Julie and he said, "You're right, you made the film."
Robert O also asked what Stanley Donen liked most about events like this and Mr. Donen replied, "I'm quite happy they remember anything!"
Watching the film with the audience was total fun. They laughed in all the right places and applauded after each dance number. They loved Donald O'Connor and it was exhilarating to see the film on the big screen. Whenever I looked over at Mr. Cutter he had a big smile on his face.
Watching the now iconic dance number in the rain, I suddenly found myself caught up in not only the exuberance of the number but also Kelly's enthusiasm in performing and for the first time in years, I was reminded why this dance sequence is always included in montages on the history of American films and American musicals. For a moment, it was like seeing the film on the big screen again for the first time.
After the screening, Mr. Cutter decided to head back towards the house. He's been working crazy insane hours seven days a week and this was the first weekend where he didn't have to work.
We said good-bye and I joined Kyle in line for Out of Circulation: Cartoons.
Film historian and author, Donald Bogle, curated this program of eight cartoons that haven't been seen since 1968. He explained the various stereotypes we would be experiencing in the cartoons. He told us Coal Black was so named to avoid litigation with Disney over Snow White.
The first cartoon, a Merrie Melody, was direct 'homage" to Disney's Steamboat Willie in many ways.
People were taking pictures and video with their cameras despite the warning at the beginning of the program by the Programming Maven who handles TCM Underground. At the intermission, they said if it continued, they would take phones and cameras away.
At the end of the program, I said goodnight to Kyle and headed back to the Roosevelt, running into TCM Staff along the way. By the time I got to the hotel, it was almost midnight.
I ducked into Club TCM for a nightcap. They had a band there, Mike Gurley and the Jazznotes, a quartet who played swing and jazz standards. They were on their last song, Sinatra's In the Wee, Wee Hours. Rich, our favorite staffer at Club TCM, was dancing with a TCM fan who was dying to dance at least once that evening. The band was great and I hope TCM brings them back next year as I want to have more time to listen to them!
After Club TCM called it a night, so did I. Christy was in Club TCM (along with CountessDelave and her sister) and we decided to call it a night.
The next morning was Fragments and sleep was calling.