Thirty Hertz Rumble

A bl-g about movies, music and nostalgia by James David Patrick

Tag: tcmff

hollywood sign tcm film festival

3rd Time’s a Charm – My 2017 TCM Film Festival Preview

2017 TCM Film Festival preview ScheduleOn my 2016 Turner Classic Movie Film Festival preview post, I showcased a picture of my tentative schedule. It featured more irregular and irrational lines than the roadmap to China I drew up when I was six years old. This year I’m older. It’s my third festival and therefore I must be wiser. That’s the logic. I’m not sure logic holds with reference to these 2017 TCM Film Festival previews, however. It is, after all a four-day film festival. Movies scheduled from 9:00am until 2:00am. While scurrying between theaters and queue lines you have just enough to scavenge for sustenance. This means a Baja Fresh burrito and/or a bag of popcorn.

Pro tip: Buy a large popcorn so you can carry it around with you for days! Offer it to friends! 

The uninitiated are reading this with more than a small amount of skepticism. Burritos? Popcorn? When do you sleep? Wait. Do you sleep? If you’re thinking this sounds #amazeballs and you haven’t been to the TCM Film Festival, you owe it to yourself to set aside time one of these years to make the trip happen. The only thing you might regret is catching the bug thereby requiring a trip every year. Because it’s not just the movies. It’s the people you meet. The conversations you have. These are not ordinary people. These are movie people. They are your people.

For my 2017 TCM Film Festival preview, I attacked the printout with far more reserve. Just a green highlighter, a green pen and a whole lot of indecision.

Fun fact: I took all my notes in college with green pens.  

Previewing trips to the Turner Classic Movie Film Festival is the epitome of solipsism. This is what I’m doing with four days of my life and you probably can’t join me! Fun! Yet it’s an honored attendee/blogger (in this case bl-gger) tradition. What’s the reason for this phenomenon? First, it’s a fun way to share your schedule with fellow attendees. We’ll earmark screenings and plan a quick meet up beforehand — it’s also a handy way to see who might save you a seat at a buzzy event. Second, and this is probably the important part, we like to share our passion with those that won’t be in attendance. Maybe it’ll provide the necessary kick in the ass to plan for next year.


Three Quick Impressions of the 2017 Festival Schedule

 

The TCM Film Festival boasts the equivalent of the Sedgewick Hotel’s 12th Floor. At best it’s merely a minor disturbance. At worst it’s Thunderdome. It’s called Chinese Multiplex House 4. Traditionally, TCM has shown many pre-codes and rarities in the smallish Theater 4. The 2016 Fest will linger in memory as “the Double Harness Festival,” referencing the twice sold out screening for an average William Powell pre-code comedy.

This year, it seems that TCM has learned from their repeat mistakes. Finally recognizing that most attendees gravitate toward these harder-to-find rarities, they’ve moved many of them to the much larger Egyptian Theater. As a result I’ve only noted a few films that will lure me back to the Theater 4 Thunderdome. While I’m relieved TCM has taken steps to ameliorate the Theater 4 crush, I’m going to miss the war stories and battle scars.

Fun fact: I was one of the select few that witnessed the very first Double Harness screening at the 2016 fest. I’m in the process of stitching my own merit badge.

There isn’t one screening at the 2017 TCM Film Festival that I’ll fight you to see. 2015 had George Lazenby introducing On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. 2016 had Elliott Gould introducing The Long Goodbye and Angela Lansbury introducing Manchurian Candidate. Sure, I’m jazzed about Peter Bogdanovich (more about this in a minute) and Michael Douglas and The Jerk, but I also didn’t plan my entire day around any individual screening. This year I’m charting my course through the movies offered on film.

 

Despite one screening not ruling my festival, I’m faced with no fewer of those “Sophie’s Choice” scenarios where I’m staring down three, four or even five (!) movies I want to see that are all playing at the same time. Look no further than the Friday night conundrum.

Pro tip: Eliminate potential conflicts by watching widely available and tempting movies at home before the festival.

All that said…

My 2017 Turner Classic Movie Film Festival Preview

2017 TCM Film Festival preview image


 

The non-stop from Pittsburgh arrives slightly later than in past years, so I won’t be able to participate in the “Remembering Robert Osborne” session at 12:30, but I’ll be there in spirit. I’ll also miss out on my 2pm power nap, which could have dire consequences. My filmgoing schedule meanwhile won’t begin until 6pm. While the big spenders dance the night away with Sidney Poitier and the 50th Anniversary of In the Heat of the Night, I’ll begin my evening at the Egyptian… with one of those movies that probably would have played at the Chinese Multiplex 4 in past years.

2017 TCM Film Festival preview Joker

This year’s theme is “Comedy” — I hear TCM’s awarding a special prize for the attendee who’s face most resembles The Joker by the end of the festival. The 2017 TCM Film Festival preview proper begins now.

 

Thursday, April 6thlove crazy 2017 TCM Film Festival preview

6:00pm – Love Crazy – Egyptian Theater

Not the best of the Powell/Loy collaborations, but Dana Delany’s been chosen for introduction duties. I don’t really need to see Some Like It Hot again. Jezebel, William Wyler’s 1938 “fearless feminine” picture, holds some sway as something I’ve never seen… but even a lesser William Powell and Myrna Loy lark is a lark worth revisiting.

Fun fact: Dana Delany in China Beach, you guys.

 

the man who knew too much 2017 TCM Film Festival preview

9:30pm – The Man Who Knew Too Much – Egyptian Theater

Here’s a tough one. I’ve seen The Man Who Knew Too Much. Quite a few times. I even just picked up the Criterion Blu-ray at the last Barnes and Noble sale. But it’s shown on Nitrate film stock — a rare treat. Meanwhile at the Chinese Multiplex, Harold and Maude, Requiem for a Heavyweight and I’m All Right Jack battle it out for supremacy. Of all of the films in this slot, I’ve only not seen Requiem for a Heavyweight. The “Czar of Noir” Eddie Muller introduces, and that might be enough to cause a last-minute disruption in plans.


 

Friday, April 7th

 

The first full day begins. So do the tough decisions.

 

rafter romance 2017 TCM Film Festival preview

9:00am – Rafter Romance – Egyptian Theater

The Ginger Rogers 1933 romantic comedy is being presented in 35mm and introduced by Leonard Maltin, which gives it the edge over the “Beyond the Mouse” presentation. I’d still love to see the shorts from early Disney animator Ub Iwerks on the big screen, but I own most of these through the numerous Disney collections that have been released. Even though I own three different articles of clothing featuring Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, I’ll defer to Ginger on film, which sounds a little bit like a pornography. Bonus points.

The funny thing about this festival and this time slot in particular is that The Maltese Falcon is being shown in Multiplex 1, and I didn’t even circle it as a possibility. Films achieve higher priority by excelling in the following three categories: 1. Unseen; 2. Film; 3. Special presenter/presentation. If you meet all three criteria, that’s a must see event.

The necessary exclusion that drives me crazy is It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World at the Cinerama Dome. My trip to see Holiday in Spain in Smell-o-vision at the Dome last year unexpectedly became my favorite experience at the festival. Seeing IaMMMMW in Cinerama would be something special, but it would sacrifice two time slots… and I’d really like to see…

 

beat the devil 2017 TCM Film Festival preview

11:15am – Beat the Devil – Chinese Multiplex 6

John Huston’s crime spoof has regretfully eluded my eyes for years. I once began watching a DVD of Beat the Devil but the print quality was so poor I couldn’t continue. Bogart and Lorre. Script by Truman Capote. I’ll gladly take this opportunity to scratch another film off my Cinema Shame list. This comes at the expense of the Lubitsch musical One Hour With You and Born Yesterday, both of which I’ve seen. Not recently and not on the big screen, of course. Temptation remains.

Fun fact: This will be the first TCMFF at which I’ve not seen a Lubitsch musical starring Maurice Chevalier.

 

monkey business 2017 TCM Film Festival preview

2:00pm – Monkey Business – Egyptian Theater

Panique looks interesting over in Multiplex 6, but this is out of my hands. Dick Cavett’s introducing a Marx Brothers favorite and I’m going to be there. This renders other options null. Apologies also to Rob Reiner and The Princess Bride, which I’m sure would be a blast on the big screen, especially with this audience.

 

so this is paris 2017 TCM Film Festival preview

4:30pm – So This is Paris – Egyptian Theater

I’ll just go ahead and start paying rent at the Egyptian. I atone for not seeing the other Lubitsch with the silent rarity So This is Paris on 35mm. Sure, I could go see old familiars The Bridge on the River Kwai introduced by Alex Trebek (?) or Broadcast News with James L. Brooks in attendance. I could also partake of W.C. Fields in Never Give a Sucker an Even Break. But I return to the three checkboxes presented above. So This is Paris checks off all requirements. Unseen. 35mm. Live piano accompaniment.

The brevity of So This is Paris will allow me plenty of time to head out into the evening air and return immediately to the Egyptian for…

Pro tip: There’s a very nice breakfast place on the street perpendicular to the Egyptian. Decent coffee. Egg sandwiches to go.

 

red-headed woman 2017 TCM Film Festival preview

7:00pm – Red-Headed Woman – Egyptian Theater

This isn’t my favorite Harlowe, but it’s a 35mm presentation. I could be persuaded to venture back to the Multiplex for a change of scenery and “The Great Nickelodeon Show” which will recreate the Nickelodeon experience of early 20th century. The Vitaphone and hand-cranked silent presentations of past years rekindled that juicy film school nostalgia.

 

high anxiety 2017 TCM Film Festival preview

9:15pm – High Anxiety – TCL Chinese Theater

So. This slot takes no prisoners. I would love to be five places at once. Over at the Egyptian, viewers will be treated to Laura on Nitrate film stock. Howard Hawks’ first sound comedy, Twentieth Century at Multiplex 1. Cat People in 35mm at Multiplex 4. And then there’s Those Redheads from Seattle in 3D at Multiplex 6.

It’s. Not. Fair. But it’s the best kind of not fair.

Fun fact: Festival attendees love to complain about their conflicts, but goddammit they thrive on these decisions.

How much do I love thee, Mel Brooks? A lot. Mel Brooks introduces his Hitchcock spoof and I wouldn’t be anywhere else.

 

zardoz 2017 TCM Film Festival preview

12:00am – Zardoz – Chinese Multiplex 1

Sean Connery. In a red banana hammock. At midnight. Be there.

Even though we just live tweeted this on #Bond_age_ not too long ago, there’s nothing like a live audience for the insanity that is Zardoz.

 


Saturday, April 8th

You’d rather be hungover than get up at 7:45am to get in line for your first movie of the morning, but it only gets worse on Sunday morning so suck it up, shower off the Zardoz and get back in the game.

 

china syndrome 2017 TCM Film Festival preview

9:00am – The China Syndrome – Chinese Multiplex 1

I’ll go for Michael Douglas who’ll be there in person. But I’ll have a They Live-style fisticuffs with myself over not seeing Arsenic and Old Lace in 35mm next door at the Multiplex 4. Meanwhile Alex Trebek is over introducing Stalag 17 for some reason. This festival is full of surprises.

 

david and lisa 2017 TCM Film Festival preview

12:00pm – David and Lisa – Chinese Multiplex 4

My first trip to the Thunderdome takes place on Day 3. I won’t even need to put up a fight. Lame. This is another brutal time slot, however. The Awful Truth, Rear Window, The Great Dictator and The Last Picture Show with Peter Bogdanovich in attendance all happen concurrently. That’s four amazing films… and then the one I’m seeing. David and Lisa is in fact the only one I haven’t seen. It’s on 35mm with star Keir Dullea in the house. I might shift gears and see Peter Bogdanovich because I’ll miss out on his chat before What’s Up Doc? on Sunday. The problem with The Last Picture Show is timing. David and Lisa gets out much earlier, which allows me to head over to the TCL Chinese Theater to get a good seat for…

 

the jerk 2017 TCM Film Festival preview

2:45pm – The Jerk – TCL Chinese Theater

So I’ve seen The Jerk a few times. Seeing The Jerk on the big screen prefaced with a Carl Reiner chat might by my special purpose of the festival. I saw Reiner and Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid last year, but Carl Reiner chats are the best kind of chats, full of wisdom, humor and optimism. I’ll gladly double dip.

 

theodora goes wild 2017 TCM Film Festival preview

6:30pm – Theodora Goes Wild or King of Hearts – Egyptian / Multiplex 6

Toss up. An unseen Irene Dunn screwball in 35mm or Genevieve Bujold in an unseen anti-war comedy. I’ll do some research on home video availability and watch one of these (if possible) before the festival to alleviate any lingering doubts about my choice here. Stay tuned for updates.

Fun fact: I know you will.

 

black narcissus 2017 TCM Film Festival preview

9:30pm – Black Narcissus – Egyptian Theater

Scratch another Shame off the list. I’ve long meant to watch Black Narcissus. On Nitrate stock in the grand Egyptian? Doesn’t get much better for a first time viewing. This comes at the expense of personal favorite Top Secret! introduced by the Zucker brothers and the unseen The Incident introduced by Martin Sheen. Also worth noting here is that I didn’t even consider The Graduate or Unfaithfully Yours. I’ll resort to the “I have those on Criterion DVD” defense.

kentucky fried movie 2017 TCM Film Festival preview

12:00am – The Kentucky Fried Movie – Chinese Multiplex 1

And here’s the reason I’m okay with missing Top Secret! Not only do I get the Zuckers and Jim Abrahams, but also John Landis chatting before a screening of the legendary Kentucky Fried Movie. The crowd will be locked and loaded for this one. John Landis!!

Fun fact: I love John Landis.


Sunday, April 9th

If getting up on Saturday morning is a hangover, getting up on Sunday morning is the equivalent of jumping in front of a moving truck on Hollywood Boulevard. Daylight is your punishment. Mind over sleep deprivation.

Pro tip: Hydrate whenever possible. It’s too easy to forget. Especially when you’re loading up on salty food throughout the day. Upon arriving, pick up a few big bottles of water. Keep them with you.

My abbreviated final day. I must depart the festival a touch early to return home, to return to daily life and function as a real, live human on Monday morning. The only way to do that is a mid-afternoon non-stop. The past two years I’ve taken the midnight red-eye. A regular red-eye is brutal. A sleep-deprived red-eye is banned by the Geneva Convention.

cock of the air 2017 TCM Film Festival preview

9:00am – Cock of the Air – Chinese Multiplex 6

If there’s a Double Harness of the 2017 TCMFF it’s this little pre-code Howard Hughes ditty. Originally censored by the Hayes Office, the original cut of the print was thought lost. Until 2007 — when it was found, except without the soundtrack. The original cut has been restored using voice actors and new sound effects and music. I’ll be in line early to make sure I get prime real estate.

Pro tip: You know the old saying… the early bird gets to see Cock of the Air.

lured 2017 TCM Film Festival preview

11:15am – Lured – Chinese Multiplex 6

My final screening of the festival before departure. Also not a comedy. Film noir-esque drama directed by Douglas Sirk and starring Lucille Ball, George Sanders and Boris Karloff (?!?). I know nothing about this movie, but the creative minds involved requires a viewing. I have no problem sacrificing The Front Page for this one because, say it with me, “Criterion DVD.” Technically, it’s just a bonus on the recently-released His Girl Friday Blu-ray.

I’m not especially happy about missing Peter Bogdanovich and What’s Up Doc? Sunday afternoon, but thems the breaks. The reward for leaving mid-afternoon is a non-stop flight and my own bed instead of a 90-minute layover in San Francisco followed still by the upright seat of a cramped airliner for 5+ hours. This will also result in a far happier wife who gets to return to her regularly scheduled Monday activities rather than worrying herself with my ability to function in the real world. She takes days off work to permit me this brief dalliance.

I look forward to seeing the old familiar TCM Festival faces and sharing all that movie talk and queue standing. I’m still lobbying for built in cocktail hours and a full bar in the Multiplex.

 

2016 TCM Film Festival Post-Mortem

I used this image as a lead-in to my 2015 TCMFF Post-Mortem, and I’ve got to be honest, there’s really no better way to summarize the experience. So here it is again, primed and ready for my recap of the 2016 TCM Film Festival:

TCM Film Festival

Last year I also arrived at the airport for my midnight flight home with time to spare. Enough time, in fact, to eat some ill-advised Korean barbecue and write a rather inspired email to my family about the experience. I’d planned to do the same this year (minus the Korean barbecue), except I found myself hornswaggled by the LAX TSA Security Check. One of the security agents kept yelling at us like high school delinquents in a heavy-handed teen drama. “I’m here to help you,” he caterwauled, “If you guys don’t start listening and don’t want to be helped we’ll be here all night! I’ve got nowhere else to be. You do!” He must have said this a dozen times as I waited in the winding, interminable queue. I sought solace in my Twitter feed, many of whom remained at the closing festivities.

 

By the time I reached the gate, I didn’t even have enough time for a much needed libation at the bar, let alone a heartfelt composition on my phone notepad. Just as my flight began to board, I hastily grabbed a bottle of water and a bag of Peanut M&Ms from a woman of the finest brand of occupational disinterest. She reluctantly accepted my $5 bill (she wasn’t “supposed to,” you see) like she were doing me a favor. Apparently cash is preferred currency… except in the Delta terminal at LAX.

I tried channeling that weary, loopy state of mind yesterday as I assimilated to everyday life, but sleep deprivation (something less than 10 hours in three nights) had firmly taken hold. No longer was I loopy; I was walking dead. Instead of writing, I unpacked, went for a short run, consumed a large green smoothie called the “Turmeric Cleanser” (which I recommend highly for gastrointestinal recovery after mass popcorn and Baja Fresh consumption) and managed a 90-minute nap before running my daughter over to gymnastics. (I also have a recommended smoothie for immune boosting that I drank every day before departure. They come from this book, which I treat like a bible… but I digress.)

Still, let’s give that letter a shot, now 36 hours removed from my final screening at the 2016 TCM Film Festival. Hopefully, the unsheathed nerve of sleepless delirium and festering emotion remains raw. Unless you want to talk more about my daily green smoothie regimen.

No?

Okay. Back to the movie thing.

tcmff ticket 2016 TCM Film Festival

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30/007Hz 2015 TCM Film Festival Post-Mortem

If I were to summarize my experience at the 2015 TCM Film Festival in an image…

TCM Film Festival

[I typed this up on my phone from the airport terminal before my red eye flight home on Sunday night. I wrote it as an email to my family, many of whom had not heard from me in days.]

 

I’ve arrived at the airport. Currently sipping a $15 Tanqueray martini next to my gate with some Korean barbecue that was far better in theory. The American Airlines gate is reserved apparently for second-rate flyers. There was nobody in my security line despite the heinous traffic jam getting into the airport. The TSA agents were cracking jokes about not having anything to do.

I’m coming down off the high from an amazing four day movie experience. This festival is a test of your meddle and cinematic fortitude. Even the most ardent cinephiliacs are winding down on Day Four. I spent no more than 2-3 waking hours in the hotel room. I lived like a nomad on Hollywood Blvd. for 16 hours each day, shuttling back and forth between 4 different theaters.My four day total: 16 1/2 movies (I had to leave Marriage Italian Style to get to the airport) and 1 seminar (the Art of the Title, about title credit sequences). I skipped only 1 time slot.

I saw conversations/film introductions with Shirley MacLaine (twice), Sophia Loren, Ann-Margret, the stuntman on Raiders of the Lost Ark, Zach Galligan (Billy Peltzer in Gremlins), Errol Flynn’s daughter, and Ileana Douglas who was here just because. I ate lunch with Lou Lumenick, the critic for the New York Post. He knew me as “the #Bond_age_ guy.” I saw two midnight movies of varying degrees of quality (both very rare and not available for public consumption) with my father-in-law. “Midnight movies with my father-in-law” sounds like a brilliant idea for a podcast. I saw a program of hand-cranked silent movies, including a piece of film that was just discovered in a film archive and made its first appearance at this festival. I met people to which I’ve been talking on Twitter for years.

This was an amazing experience. I’m extremely grateful that my wife gave me the opportunity to be a part of this. And Andy (my father-in-law) for joining me on this whirlwind tour. I sincerely hope he enjoyed himself because I enjoyed our time spent talking movies and sharing this experience.

In other news, the stewardesses for this flight are delayed and I’m still sitting here on the floor with my back against a recycling bin and regretting the Korean barbecue situation that I dispatched to the trash can after only a few bites.

In conclusion. I need sleep.

 


2015 TCM Film Festival - Shirley MacLaine The Apartment

Before the Apartment at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, Shirley MacLaine speaks with Leonard Maltin.

 

30/007Hz 2015 TCM Film Festival Post-Mortem

 

I have a B.A. in film studies and participated in my fair share of triple-features at the Cinema, but I’ve never experienced anything as cinematically intense as the gleeful 4-day grind that is the TCM Film Festival. I knew what to expect, clearly. I’d read the tweets for years now, felt my share of jealousy and monitored all the joy being had without me. I’d studied the schedule, planned my attack. All that was left was the execution… and navigating Hollywood Blvd.

I’m now reminded of this famous passage from the Robbie Burns poem “To a Mouse”

But Mousie, thou are no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men,
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!

Since this recap is taking a free-form construction, influenced likely by the only souvenir I brought back from Hollywood (a killer head cold), I’d just like to mention that enjoying Robbie Burns day in Ireland some years ago was an absolute delight. The Irish celebrate (heavily I might add) a day dedicated to the Scottish poet (his birthday, January 25th). That would sort of be like Americans celebrating a day for Bliss Carman (Canadian-born poet, Canadian poet laureate).

Back on topic.

stay-on-topic

TCMFF 2015 Final Tally: 16 1/2 movies

*denotes never before seen
**denotes previously viewed, but no memory remains

Too Late For Tears* (1949)
The Sea Hawk** (1940)
The Smiling Lieutenant* (1931)
Reign of Terror* (1949)
The Cincinnati Kid* (1965)
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)
BOOM!* (1968)
42nd Street (1933)
Air Mail* (1932)
Christmas in July* (1940)
The Apartment (1960)
Return of the Dream Machine* (1902-1913)
Nothing Lasts Forever (1984)
Don’t Bet On Women* (1931)
The Children’s Hour* (1961)
Marriage Italian Style* (1964) — had to leave halfway through to get my plane!

 


 

Best *new to me* movie(s):

 

Either Reign of Terror or The Smiling Lieutenant.

reign of terror

Reign of Terror (aka The Black Book)

Reign is Anthony Mann’s noir-style interpretation of the French Revolution. If that doesn’t interest you, this may not be a movie for you. It’s beautifully shot, with top notch chiaroscuro, black and white cinematography. There’s lot of devilish villians (one even kicks a cat to solidify his villainy) and a solid starring turn by Robert Cummings, but it’s Arnold Moss’ Fouche that steals every scene.

The Smiling Lieutenant

The Smiling Lieutenant

The Smiling Lieutenant is an essential Ernst Lubitsch musical comedy. Innuendo is never more potent than it is in the hands of Lubitsch. Maurice Chevalier, Claudette Colbert and Miriam Hopkins work wonders with a wink and a turn of phrase. Checkers will never be the same. Nor will breakfast. *nudge nudge* They both mean sex. *wink wink*

 


 

Most forgettable movie:

 

John Ford’s Airmail.

John Ford Air Mail

As Leonard Maltin said in his introduction to the movie (I’m paraphrasing), “This isn’t Ford’s best, but Ford never made a movie that wasn’t worth watching.” This is a lesser Only Angels Have Wings, but Howard Hawks clearly borrowed liberally from Ford’s 1933 film when making that 1939 masterpiece. I can’t recall ever considering Ralph Bellamy a great lead. Slim Summerville elevated the movie from a supporting role.

 


 

Most memorable moments:

 

James Bond in the house before On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

Ben Mankiewicz looking appropriately confounded by George Lazenby's interview.

Ben Mankiewicz looking appropriately confounded by George Lazenby’s interview.

 

  Adventures with Will McKinley.

 

Hand-cranked silent movies.

The Return of the Dream Machine program. Hand-cranked silents as they were originally shown in the early 20th century.

The Return of the Dream Machine program. Hand-cranked silents as they were originally shown in the early 20th century. Photo courtesy of @NitrateDiva.

BOOM!

BOOM! (1968)

The midnight screening of the infamously so bad it’s good BOOM! (1968).

At one point the editor (apparently) fell asleep and after an awkward cut Liz Taylor (now off-screen and apropos very little) screeches “WHAAAAAAT?”

BOOM! survivors at the festival quoted this line for the next two days.

Meeting folks I’ve chatted with on Twitter for years now.

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#Bond_age_ contributors @NitrateDiva and @MiddParent

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@HollywoodComet

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@CitizenScreen

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@MiddParent, me, @WillMcKinley

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@joelrwilliams1, @NitrateDiva, @MiddParent, me at Reign of Terror. (We’re waving to Will because he spent too long eating fries at Johnny Rockets and got shut out of the screening.)

@ChrisSturhann

@ChrisSturhann snapping photos of Ben Mankiewicz before On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

not pictured: Trevor and his Buster Keaton hat (@tpjost), Paula Guthat (@Paula_Guthat) and Tim Guthat (@tkguthat), @BeesKnees_pdx, @LaurasMiscMovie… and others I’m surely forgetting.

 


 

Regrets:

The Bogart’s Gin.

I’ve never tasted a gin (and I’ve had a lot of gin) that was both harsh and flowery. It was sandpaper and lilacs. Even free gin has a price.

I didn’t get to meet everyone on my Twitter list.

With so much going on and everyone taking full advantage of the festival’s offerings it’s often hard to pre-arrange a path crossing or a meetup at a movie. I bypassed the opening #TCMParty meet and greet because I opted for a power nap. I’d been up since 2:30am PST and something had to give.

Drinking too much coffee on Saturday night to stay up for Nothing Lasts Forever.

Zach Galligan introducing Nothing Lasts Forever on Saturday night.

Zach Galligan introducing Nothing Lasts Forever on Saturday night.

A midnight movie after 5 hours of sleep the night before is hard enough. Not being able to sleep at 2:30am when you’ve absolutely got to get up by 7:30 to catch the encore of Don’t Bet On Women is worse. Just let the midnight mid-movie snooze happen. See @WillMcKinley during BOOM! and J.P. (@HollywoodComet) during Nothing Lasts Forever. J.P. even found herself in an elevator with women who were talking about the girl that fell asleep at the midnighter, not knowing she was standing right next to them. Now that’s infamy.

Not being able to watch three movies at once.

The entire Friday schedule was a test of endurance and decision-making confidence. My day fell into place around On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Tough decisions were made for me so that I could get to the queue OHMSS early. I saw Raiders of the Lost Ark instead of Steamboat Bill, Jr. (with a live orchestra!) because Buster had me out of the theater only 30 minutes before Bond time. Unacceptable. Meanwhile Sunday afternoon indecision (without the benefit of a must-see) had me weighing two of my oft-watched favorites, Out of Sight and The Philadelphia Story, against The Children’s Hour, a movie that wasn’t even on my radar. I doubled down, supported Out of Sight with a flurry of tweets pre-show, got my #1 ticket (’tis a badge of honor)… and eventually went to see The Children’s Hour and some more Shirley MacLaine pre-show chatter with this crew. When in doubt, I decided, it’s best opt into the never-before-seen film. Always take the opportunity at these events to see something new or different.

Also, this is what happens when you try to take a picture selfie-style in a large, semi-dark theater. The flash, naturally, is on the other side of the phone so doesn’t flash. Duh. Almost pictured: @MiddParent, me, @fallonthornley, @WillMcKinley

…and this provides a segue way into one final segment…

Advice for future attendees from a 1st timer:

1. See your favorites, of course, but prioritize special or one-of-a-kind screenings, like the restoration of a film thought lost or a special exhibition, such as the hand-cranked silent films.

Taking the above example: I love Out of Sight but I saw it during it’s theatrical release. I own it on DVD and Blu-ray. The 35mm-showing of The Children’s Hour featured in introduction with Shirley MacLaine in the grand Egyptian Theatre. Of course, editor Anne V. Coates introduced Out of Sight, and Madeline Stowe introduced The Philadelphia Story in Grauman’s. It’s hard to go wrong at the TCM Film Festival.

2. Visit all the venues. One of the greatest things about the festival is the chance to see films (on film!) at some of the greatest and most storied moviehouses in the world.

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The organ grinder at the El Capitan played a selection of John Williams hits before Raiders of the Lost Ark.

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A silhouette “selfie” before The Children’s Hour that was all about the ceiling at The Egyptian Theatre.

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Grauman’s Chinese Theatre during the red carpet ceremony before The Sound of Music. Later on at the fest, I saw The Apartment and Marriage Italian Style here.

3. Find someone in the know, pick their brain early on at the festival. Chat with the six-timers who know all the tricks. These tricks, like how to manage the queues and still find time for food and the fastest paths between theaters are the keys to seeing everything you want. Befriend these people, hell… befriend all the people. You never know who will show up at one of your screenings with a higher queue number and seat-saving abilities. I was lucky enough to have the very recognizable fellows @joelrwilliams1 and @WillMcKinley line up right behind me at my very first movie, Too Late For Tears.

4. Take advantage of social media. Connect with those Twatterquaintances and keep in touch regularly during the festival so that you know who’s going where and doing what. Clearly, you’re there to see the movies, but the people on your Twitter list that you finally meet in person and the offhand conversations with complete strangers make the TCM Film Festival more than just a succession of great movies, more than just the sum of it’s parts. More than once I ended up in random conversations with people who I already followed on Twitter.

5. People love the Festival swag because they love to bedazzle their passes with buttons and flags and stickers. If you have a website bring something to promote it. I tacked on stickers to a business card order to promote my James Bond Social Media Project before the Festival. The business cards were nice, but the stickers were more memorable. If you can afford it, do buttons. It’s Pokemon syndrome up in there for buttons. (The great Paula Guthat even turned one of my stickers into a button!)

 


 

 

Final thoughts…

It’s awkward introducing yourself to people as “the #Bond_age_ guy,” especially so near Hollywood Blvd. I eventually got used to using my @007hertzrumble Twitter handle as a lead-in, but the damage had already been done by the “#Bond_age_ guy.” #Bond_age_ looks great on paper, but verbally, it’s all a bit clumsy.

The TCM staff put on a great show. I know there’s drama about calling movies released after 1980 “classics,” but it’s probably not worth the fuss. Many wouldn’t consider Apollo 13 or Out of Sight worthy of a slot at the festival. Is it worth some debate? Sure. But there’s always other options and it’s unlikely that these more modern movies are jeopardizing slots that would otherwise be occupied by anything rare or special. If it were rare or special it’d already have a slot in the lineup.

The merchandise for purchase at the festival’s TCM Shop was woefully uncreative and overpriced. Where are the movie posters with original artwork for some of the festival headliners? Or even just a music festival-style piece of artwork with all the names of the represented movies? Original, unique artwork that can only be found at the TCMFF would sell $30 t-shirts, posters, post-card sets, etc. Just slapping the name of the festival on a black t-shirt is lazy. I wanted to buy something at the shop, but there was just nothing worthwhile. (Psst, my design services are available for such an endeavor, TCM. Call me. You might have a card or two of mine sitting around Hollywood Blvd. somewhere.)

I don’t know if I can make this an every-year trip, but I’m sure going to try. Now that I have a taste of the goodness and know what I’d be missing, it’ll be damn near impossible to sit idly by and watch the barrage of pictures and stories featuring familiar faces and #TCMFF shenanigans.

…so next year (hopefully), I’ll get to come back and be known as something other than just “the #Bond_age_ guy.” “Jay,” for example, would do just fine. Hell, if I’m honest it’s still fun being called the “#Bond_age_ guy.” Carry on, either way.

 

 

TCM Film Festival 2015 @ 30/007Hz

TCMCFF_2015-Key-Art_Steamboat-Bill-Jr_8513_

For Christmas my wife shocked me with a pass to the Turner Classic Movies Film Festival. The event takes place March 26th to the 29th, which means I’ll be journeying across country to Los Angeles in just a couple of days to partake of the cinematic masochism. I’ll be meeting up with my father-in-law to be my movie buddy for the week. He has no qualms about surviving on Cherry Coke and popcorn alone. You do what you can to survive… and watch as many movies as possible. He’s got the right mentality.

Weather check:

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TCM Film Festival 2015 at the Frequency of 30/007Hz

Each year Turner Classic Movies hosts this affair, shepherding Old Movie Weirdos and Young Movie Weirdos from all across the country into a three block section of L.A. They then hold us captive, force our eyelids open and subject us to flickering images from 9am until 2am each day. Sounds amazing, right?

As this is my first trip to the event, I’m relying upon the grizzled veterans for guidance and support. Will McKinley, a notorious Old Movie Weirdo, for example, has written the TCMFF survival guide. I plan to make three copies, just in case I lose a couple. It also appears that tradition dictates, as a bl-gger of sorts, I must also post my anticipated schedule and then explain why the whole thing might blow up as I make last-minute decisions on the fly. Like whether or not to eat… or sleep. Anyway. Here we go.

 

Day 1 – Thursday, March 26th

Arrive at LAX sometime around noon. I even got a non-stopper from Pittsburgh.

I hear there’s some trivia contest happening around 3pm. Time enough to throw my stuff in the hotel room and hop over to the Hollywood Roosevelt hotel. I’ll be in need of a few pints by this point in the day (air travel and I have a troubled relationship). I’ll be excited to meet some familiar Twitter faces for the first time over movie trivia. And beer. Some of these people I’ve been chatting with for years now. Luckily I’ve been hosting my #Bond_age_ live tweets while sauced so I don’t think a little inebriation will misrepresent me.

After this the movies formally start. Right off the bat, I need to make the decision between an old favorite and a movie I’ve always meant to watch as The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance goes up against Queen Christina in the same time slot.

Ultimately, I think, Jimmy Stewart punching John Wayne will win out over Garbo.

 

6:15pm: The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)

man-who-shot-liberty-bfi-00m-ezf

After that it looks like I’ll have a break for sustenance as my presence won’t be requested until 10pm when I have to decide between a favorite William Powell/Carole Lombard comedy, My Man Godfrey, and my favorite Errol Flynn swashbuckler.

I’ve seen My Man Godfrey on the big screen a couple of times. Errol Flynn not so much. Swashbuckle me all night long, Errol.

 

10:00pm: The Sea Hawk (1940)

The Sea Hawk

End with a nightcap? Errol Flynn would have wanted it that way.

 


Day 2 – Friday, March 27th

The Festival begins in earnest at 9:00am with a battle for attention between Inherit the Wind, My Darling Clementine and The Dawn of Technicolor, a special presentation that “illustrates the development of Technicolor through the boom period of Hollywood’s early sound musicals.” True to form, I’ll roll in a little bit late and catch the 10:30, the Ernst Lubitsch-directed The Smiling Lieutenant featuring Claudette Colbert and Maurice Chevalier. Lubitsch and Colbert? Sold. Plus this one’s new to me.

Since I’m generally choosing the never-before-seen tact at the festival, this means I’m bypassing the glorious spectacle of Lawrence of Arabia, despite never having seen this OMFG epic on the big screen. It is long. And I can see like seven movies in the same amount of time. Maybe not seven, but you understand the hyperbole. Lawrence starts at 10am, which means it blocks out the entire middle of the day until 2:30pm. Sorry, Larry. Catch ya later.

 

10:30am – The Smiling Lieutenant (1931)

the smiling lieutenant 1931

After my date with Claudette Colbert, I can either hoof it over to Lenny with Dustin Hoffman and Alec Baldwin in attendance (Alec is interviewing Dustin. I hope he calls him Dusty) or enjoy a more leisurely lunch-filled stroll over to see Anthony Mann’s Reign of Terror at high noon, Woody Allen’s Purple Rose of Cairo or Michael Curtiz’s The Proud Rebel. Purple Rose is a favorite, but I just recently picked it up on Blu-ray. Terror trumps Rebel because I think I need to the French Revolution done film noir style… and it gets me out earlier to make sure I have enough time to get in line for The Cincinnati Kid with Ann-Margaret in attendance.

 

12noon: Reign of Terror (1949)

Reign of Terror

 

3:15pm: The Cincinnati Kid

the cincinnati kid

After basking in some Steve McQueen cool for a couple hours, I’ll have to face the fire. I have real life and death decisions to make. Raiders of the Lost Ark starts at the El Capitan Theatre at 5:30pm. Raiders overlaps Don’t Bet On Women, A Man for All Seasons, Norma Rae, Rififi, The Invisible Man (1933) and Buster Keaton’s Steamboat Bill, Jr. with a live performance of Carl Davis’ brand new score for the film. On one hand, it’s Raiders. On the other hand, I’ve seen Raiders in magnificent fashion at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta complete with villain-hissing and hero-cheering. But then again, it’s Raiders of the Lost m’fing Ark. Right now I have Rififi penciled into the schedule as I’ve never seen Dassin’s brilliant heist film on the big screen.

But don’t be surprised if I end up at the Capitan.

 

6:15pm: Rififi (1955)

Rififi

On second thought, Raiders might end up being the smart play here anyway. My whole weekend revolves around the next film. Sure, Roman Holiday would be swell. I’ve only seen the Peck and Hepburn classic on DVD. Apollo 13 is a no-brainer. And by no-brainer, I mean I didn’t especially care for it the first time I saw it in the theater. Even if Alex Trebek is scheduled to converse with Captain James Lovell. I just hope all these other attractions distract people from getting in line for arguably the best James Bond movie, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, with James Bond (George Lazenby) in attendance. It’s actually #2 on my list of Bond films (behind only From Russia With Love), but that would have lessened the build-up to the reveal.

9:15pm: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)

On Her Majesty's Secret Service

While OHMSS is happening, Hitchcock’s classic Rebecca also happens somewhere else, but  that’s just static and more places for people to get distracted while I can get a good seat for 007. You may or may not have heard, but I’m a wee bit of a James Bond fan.

Tired, weary and probably hungry, I will now find a double-shot of espresso, hoist my petards, and tackle the midnight showing of Boom! I’ve never seen this but I’m very much looking forward to the opportunity. This one’s a camp classic rarity with a legendarily bad (so bad it’s good?) reputation (8% on Rotten Tomatoes). A Tennessee Williams’ “adaptation” gone haywire, featuring Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton and Noel Coward.

 

12midnight: BOOM! (1968)

BOOM! 1968

 

….and… nightcap. Elizabeth Taylor would have wanted it that way.

 


Day 3 – Saturday, March 28th

I’m totally down for seeing silent vixen Colleen Moore in the excellent Why Be Good (1927) but this is looking like a rest and recover morning. I’m thinking brunch. As a waitress once said to me in a bed and breakfast in Cork, Ireland before just giving me a third breakfast course, “Ohhhhhh the day is long.” The Irish know how to do breakfast. If you’re going to drink at the pubs all day you’ve got to start your day with a three-hour breakfast. Maybe the same holds true for the Turner Classic Movie Film Festival.

This clears my morning. I’ll bypass Sean Connery in The Man Who Would Be King at 10am in order to let Busby Berkeley dazzle me with 42nd Street at 11:30am.

 

11:30am: 42nd Street (1933)

42nd Street

After being dazzled, I’m definitely avoiding The Miracle Worker (been there quite a few times) and 1776 and Malcolm X (both too long). That leaves time for lunch and perhaps joining a Live from the TCM Classic Film Festival conversation with Sophia Loren. Or another viewing of Rebel Without a Cause or going to a book signing… I literally have no idea. None of these events are essentials. We’ll let this sit here as a wildcard, potential nap time slot. I’ll have to get back on the wagon by 4:15pm because an unseen Preston Sturges, Christmas in July, will demand my A-game. After that it’s another full night.

 

4:15pm: Christmas in July (1940)

Christmas in July 1940

Now begins a night of wicked decisions. Shirley MacLaine stops by for the screening of The Apartment, one of the all time great Billy Wilder flicks, if not just one of the all time great movies period. Choosing The Apartment, a movie I’ve probably seen a half dozen times, means I’m ignoring a Mel Brooks favorite of mine History of the World Part One, The Wind and the Lion (more Connery) and Viva Zapata! (Brando!) All of which start at the same time. This one’s going to come down to the epic adventure vs. in-person Shirley MacLaine. I expect to crowdsource this decision, meaning The Apartment might freeze me out with a super long line. If I’m putting dollars down, The Wind and the Lion might be the underdog with the big payout. Plus I’ve never actually seen it. If a crazy line awaits me at The Apartment, I could see myself hopping over to see Slouchy Bond woo Murphy Brown.

 

6:00pm: The Apartment (1960)

the apartment 1960

Next up.

The French Connection happens at 9:15, and I do love me some Popeye Doyle, but I’ve seen this three times in the theater. Adam’s Rib would be fun with comedian Greg Proops hosting, but it’s not a big-screen essential for me. The Loved One‘s a cool flick, but I own it on DVD and watched it not entirely too long ago. Great choices all, but there’s only one that can’t be imitated elsewhere. At 9:30pm, TCM offers a collection of silent films, all hand-cranked and shown on 35mm. This is the way the earliest audiences watched movies. A rare experience that I can’t pass up. Return of the Dream Machine features Melies’ A Trip to the Moon (1902), The Great Train Robbery (1903), D.W. Griffith’s A Corner in Wheat and Suspense (1913).

 

9:30pm: Return of the Dream Machine (1903-1913)

VOYAGE DANS LA LUNE

The midnight show is another rare treat. Nothing Lasts Forever was produced in 1984 by Lorne Michaels and features the absurdly cool cast of Zach Galligan, Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Imogene Coca, and Eddie Fisher. The studio buried the picture. Presumably because MGM didn’t believe a black and white, noir-style science fiction film would sell. It’s never appeared on home video of any variety. Zach Galligan will be attending this TCM Film Festival screening. I watched it on YouTube before it was erased from the Interwebs’ collective conscious and on TCM Underground a couple months ago. (I still have it saved on my DVR. NOBODY WILL DELETE IT. EVER.)

 

12midnight: Nothing Lasts Forever (1984)

nothing lasts forever

 

 


Day 4 – Sunday, March 29th

Patton screens at 9am. Pass. The Hunchback of Notre Dame happens at 9:30am. Pass. I can’t do pre-noon weepies. This happily leads me to a noir classic. Tyrone Power in Nightmare Alley at 9:45am.

 

9:45am: Nightmare Alley (1947)

Nightmare alley

Gunga Din offers some dated adventure-time thrills. Cary Grant is always a bonus, but it lets out at 3:45pm, mere minutes before my next planned feature. All signs point to Desk Set because I had to do a shot-by-shot analysis of a large portion of Psycho in film school. I haven’t watched it since. Maybe time to revisit finally? Ehhh….. I think I need more Katharine Hepburn in my life. No offense, Hitch.

 

1:15pm: Desk Set (1957)

desk set

This brings up a moment that has my panties in a bunch. TCM has pitted me against myself. Classic Film Me is like “Of course you have to see The Philadelphia Story. Don’t be a shmuck.” Modern Film Me is like “Out of Sight is ahead of The Philadelphia Story on your Top 100, man. Just look at the numbers.” Grrr. The movie poster is on my wall.

 

4:15pm: Out of Sight (1998)

out of sight poster

I’ll get to sneak one more movie in before I need to catch that last flight out of La La. No better way to close out the Festival than with Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni in Marriage Italian Style.

7:30pm: Marriage Italian Style (1964)

Marriage Italian Style

 

Race out of the theater, hail a cab, head back to LAX for some red eye action.

 

…stay tuned for more dispatches from the 2015 TCM Film Festival in the frequency of 30/007Hz.

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