The next day at the festival was a hot as the weather yet still pretty cool for stuff to do. You have to make some choices in these things and sometime you guess wrong. Robert Osbourne gave us the anecdote that for years he had pushed the network to acquire the rights to a remake of DESERT SONG (1943) by Director Robert Florey. When they were able to obtain them and the picture was screened, Osbourne said it was one of the worse films he had ever seen.
However there are no poor decisions at a festival Screening get filled up with eager people who hopefully understand what they are seeing and not surprised to much ina wrong way. I did see quite a few people exit the GODZILLA restoration during the picture most likely because it features sub titles which many still don’t care for. GODZILLA is in its original form is not entirely a giant creature smashing buildings.( More on this in a complete article on the film later.)
The first out of the gate was Walt Disney”s animated THE JUNGLE BOOK from 1967. This was the first time I had seen this film since I saw it with my mother on original release. To top it off we entered the EL CAPITAN Theatre to the sounds of a full organ being played. Brilliant fragments of show tunes and favourites filled the air as we slurped the coffee. It was not expected to be there neither was its exit sinking slowly beneath the floor of the theatre as Ben Mankewicz came in to set up the film. Mankewicz was refreshing vulnerable in his comments speaking how his new fatherhood had changed him. The picture he said was “eighty minutes of pure joy” even asking if there were any real kids in the audience and there were.
It was another wonderful print with beautiful colors and sound. Honestly the picture dragged a bit for me after these years but the voices of Sebastian Cabot, George Sanders and Phil Harris plus the songs brought back some moments.
Next was GODZILLA at the Egyptian down the block so you have time to grab some food, walk the friendly gauntlet of people on Hollywood boulevard to find people already cueing up in line outside. You get your number that holds your place in line giving you the option to leave but be back thirty minutes before entrance You end up talking to fans in line even some of the TCM yellow shirted staff as each venue since they have seen you before. The people that have paid for the higher end passes plus V.I.P.S and guests go in first. Eventually you get to shuffle forward ,handing your number card to person and flashing your pass to be checked. I made my way upstairs to balcony which strangely enough was partially filled up yet I found a seat.
GODZILLA or GOJIRA (1954) was everything that I had hoped and will be discussed in separate article. There was a special presentation both before and after the screening by film Historian Eddy Von Muellar and the director of the 2014 rebirth of Godzilla ,Director Gareth Edwards. The afterword consisted of highlighting the differences between the American 1956 release GODZILLA KING OF THE MONSTERS (1956) and the original Toho production we just saw. The North American release featured Canada/ New Westminster BC native Raymond Burr just before he rose to fame a PERRY MASON on TV. Burr was identified in the presentation as being American. We Canadians have a rich history in the golden age of Hollywood which included Norma Shearer from Montreal, Jack Warner from London Ontario and countless others that I try to bring out when I can.
We hustled off for another meal break and then to the 1949 rarely seen Paramount production of THE GREAT GATSBY with Alan Ladd. Interesting pre screening chat with Robert Osbourne and David Ladd who both revealed how important this role was to Alan Ladd and how each had wanted to see this picture. The film had been shelved even with drawn from circulation until now. The lights dimmed and we watched
Honestly for me Alan Ladd was just a Shane in suit. He was aloud to be stiff, little inflection in voice yet he did crack a smile. He looked at home at the end with the gun play. It happens when you see these sometimes and I wont say it was overrated. Barry Sullivan and Shelly Winters stole the show with solid performances played against am rather colourless background. Still worth a look.
Speaking of look, TCM on air host Ben Mankewicz commented on my shirt as we crossed paths going to different screenings.
Last picture of the evening was the pre-code gem HAT CHECK GIRL (1932) which was shown in restored form for the first time since 1932. The picture is noteworthy as it was early supporting role for Ginger Rodgers long before she was made into a dancer. The pictures stars were Sally Eilers and Ben Lyon. Once again a wonderful print was given as it was revealed that the negative had been found in a huge submission from 20th Century Fox studios. The running time was a mere 68 minutes of bootlegging, brazen suggestions for the day and bizarre images. One sequence at a party included Karate people tossing each other around the carpet at the party people laughed and clinked glasses. The drinkers then all begin to try the moves out, tossing each other on the carpet in fits of laughter.
The crowds were to long to get into a screening HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY (1942) which featured an appearance by Maureen O Hara. Things like this happen as you leave one film to get to next. No bad decisions
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