There comes a time when one must pack up and get back to actual life. If you’re lucky, you get to continue with your love of film. For some it is their full time job; for others, it can be an all- consuming hobby or Labour of Love.
We try to attend as much as we can, including trying some new things such as getting on the red carpet which was a thrill in itself. STARDUST AND SHADOWS tries to cover things from a slightly different point of view than other sites and I believe we have achieved it to an extent. The thing about festivals is that you can’t really do it all, even the stuff you want to because of crowds or sometimes venue location if you need to walk to a venue. The 2015 TCM CLASSIC FILM FESTIVAL made that all easy with most of the film venues close together, however, they had no control over the traffic lights that were required to cross the major street or the everyday crowds. It’s all part of going to one of these things.
The Christopher Plummer concrete ceremony (which we viewed from across the road along with many others) was well- handled. You could hear many of the anecdotes; including Ben Mankiewicz wondering if he had pronounced Montreal correctly (which he had). The Canadian in me wanted to shout out when referring to Montreal, simply to say the phrase, “Twenty four Stanley Cups,” and you would know.
Bill Shatner made an appearance. I somehow felt he would since both he and Christopher go way back to their days at Stratford Festival and share a Quebec heritage.
This festival shines in great part because of the people you meet. I mean not only the attendees, but the volunteers who have to stay inside these theatres in wonderful weather and answer questions, and move lines of excited film goers. They get to be strapped up on headsets, trying to coordinate audience entrances, hand out cue numbers in lines etc., all the while being calm. I can say from what I saw it worked.
In the weeks to come I will be writing more on a couple of pictures I did see as they inspired some article ideas. I managed to see WHY BE GOOD (1929), a silent picture staring Colleen Moore who is not that well known, and some of you will shake your head why not, but should have been. The picture was a restoration for the first time presented with the full sound disks of the orchestration and sound effects. The story was the disks of a print had become separated, but amazingly enough this picture was thought to be lost. WHY BE GOOD (1929) featured a wonderful performance by Neil Hamilton, who had a wonderful career as a romantic leading man in full sound films. Audiences today remember him as Commissioner Gordon from the BATMAN TV series of the 60s.
The pre- film talk was presented by Cari Beauchamp, who wrote one of my favourite books on the women from those early golden years titled Without Lying Down: Frances Marion and the Powerful Women of Early Hollywood. The print of WHY BE GOOD was excellent as it was digital, in the correct aspect ratio which I prefer for this style of film as it honours the original vision.
We managed to get into a screening of AIR MAIL (1932), directed by John Ford. I have a huge soft sport for airplane pictures and this did not disappoint. A hobbled (from a twisted ankle) Leonard Maltin honestly introduced the picture by saying it was, “… a good film not a great John Ford film.” One got to see so people like Pat O Brien as a womanizing, devil may care pilot go up against steadfast Ralph Bellamy.
I have always enjoyed the cracking dialogue of these pictures and AIR MAIL did not disappoint as Pat Obrien’s character Duke Talbot asks, “ Where do I park the body?” when asking where he was to sleep. Anne Dvorak’s real life husband Leslie Fenton was also on hand as in a small role as a disgraced flyer. AIR MAIL also had a particularly graphic sounding death by fire sequence that for me even today was disturbing but it did change the mood as the opening was light hearted. This was a fine picture to see on the big screen in a glorious 35 mm, black and white print, which for me pretty cool.
STARDUST AND SHADOWS did many other things at the festival and they will come out as time permits. It was a wonderfully hectic time that I can say if any readers have a chance to do, they should do it at least once. We feel lucky to be here in what TCM gave us in terms of access and other things that made things easier. There is nothing like seeing the stuff that dreams are made of at its point of origin.