These are some final thoughts from 2014 TCM CLASSIC FILM FESTIVAL that we were very lucky to have attended with media credentials.
TCM festival goers stay for the end credits of a film. TCM audiences will often applaud the star of the film name on screen and their first appearance in the story; especially if it is an iconic shot such as John Wayne’s entrance in STAGECOACH.
It may seem silly to some that people would flock to this place to view older films that many had seen before. Time and time again I heard then phases, “You really love film,”‘ and, “You are seeing these pictures as they are meant to be seen.” This rings true, along with the fact that you are near the source of these pictures. The studios (or what is left of them) are a bus ride or cab ride away. Not many of the eateries and party places of that time are open but some are with history just oozing at the doors.
People consistently mentioned the quality of prints as part of their enjoyment. Many were newly struck prints and/or restorations especially for this festival. Pictures suffer from time, nitrate and water damage, and sound fluctuations. That was to a minimum and often these “film blemishes” add to the charm. One film with the original aspect ratio made sitting closer to the screen a-not-so-eyeball-crushing experience. One fellow we chatted to in line mentioned to a TCM staff person about a print of a film he had seen earlier only to find it was in fact a 35mm print at its best.
We missed a few things due to crowds which happen or the inevitable cross programming that happens. So many hours in the day and so many venues make it common. I mentioned before about missing HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY screening that featured Maureen O Hara. The venues were large enough and the staff was brilliant in handling yet sometimes that is not enough especially with the throngs on Hollywood Boulevard. JERRY LEWIS being immortalized in concrete with the other stars was especially interesting when you get issued photos showing Quentin Tarrantino was the MC.
You always got some sort of surprise attending a screening such as almost most running over Juilette Lewis who was coming into the Roosevelt Hotel as we were leaving. Sitting in a screening of THE GREAT GATSBY with Alan Ladd, standing up and realizing that behind you was Robert Osbourne and David Ladd as you start to say how there was miscasting in the picture.
The last film we saw and it was rather fitting was Orson Welles’ odd masterpiece THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI with the blonde, short haired Rita Hayworth. The other choice was Hitchcock’s silent picture THE LODGER with live musical accompaniment. No bad decisions as Welles won out simply because we were already at the venue. It was a wonderful experience seeing this quirky work for the first time on large screen. It was ably introduced by Film Noir expert Eddie Mueller who defied us to follow the plot in the original cut which ran 155 minutes cut down by the studio to the present 98 minutes. It was noir, and it was irritatingly evil like wearing a shirt soaked in perspiration suddenly getting a cooling breeze.
It was brought out in the introduction that TCM are now officially, “guardians of the American film legacy.” I can see this as TCM does increase the awareness of this style of film making by its programming and events. The awareness is something that is important especially in the next generation – many even in the opening media press conference. Seek these pictures out, seek the books out, and seek the history out as I continue to find out about the Canadian legacy.
We were one of the first ones out of the screening of LADY FROM SHANGHAI. Going through the doors we were all greeted by a friendly gauntlet of TCM yellow shirted venue staff cheering and high fiving us as we left. Walking to hotel I had the Bob Hope song “Thanks for the Memories” playing in my head.