Wednesday, April 26, 2017

TCM Classic Film Festival 2017 - Making Us Laugh

Charlie Chaplin once said, "A day without laughter is a day wasted." If this is the case, then there was not a day wasted at this year's TCM Classic Film Festival (TCMFF). The theme was Make 'Em Laugh: Comedy in the Movies and the programming - which delivered comedies from every era and everything from the low brow to the high - brought our greater classic cinema family together once again. They did indeed make us laugh and often made us cry as well. Of course there were more than just comedies, including some of my favorites in both the Pre-Code and film noir genres.

This year was extra special for me because the whole week kicked off with my own talk related to the festival - Fashion in Film of TCMFF: Sophisticated Comedies 1930s-1950s. It was held at the Annenberg Beach House, the former beachfront estate of Marion Davies and William Randolph Hearst, and many of the people I know and love from years together at the festival were there. Despite multiple accidents on the LA freeways, we still had a packed house and a wonderful evening that started with flowers and ended with a standing ovation. After my Q&A, several of us then had a chance to say hello and catch up a bit before Thursday's opening day at the festival.

Opening day is always like being shot out of a cannon. It's a rush of activity at the Roosevelt Hotel, the headquarters of the festival, seeing who you can before events and screenings take all of your time. Though there were already a few events earlier that day, the first one I attended was "Remembering Robert Osborne." It was a moving tribute to the beloved TCM host who recently passed away. After a video that showed clips of him over the years, including some charming goofs behind the scenes, the heads of TCM lead a discussion about his life and legacy. Others who were close to Robert also contributed their own memories, such as his close friend actress Diane Baker.

After a couple more hours of meeting and greeting friends, I was off to my first movie - 1959's Some Like It Hot. Seeing those Orry-Kelly costumes on the big screen was incredible. Since the Production Code was still technically in effect, it's remarkable to me that those illusion dresses somehow got the studio's stamp of approval. Then after that screening, I dashed to two opening night parties - one at the Roosevelt and another that was co-hosted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). This one was quite the event - held around the rooftop pool at the W Hotel in Hollywood. The heads of TCM were there, including GM Jennifer Dorian, Creative Director Pola Chagnon, and Programming head Charlie Tabesh. TCM hosts Ben Mankiewicz and Eddie Muller were there along with guest hosts like Illeana Douglas. Celebrities from Martin Landau to Ruta Lee were also there. And I got to spend time with friends Monika Henreid, Alison Martino, and Sony's restoration queen Rita Belda. I was so busy talking with everyone that you'll see I only got a picture of the pool.

After about 3.5 hours of sleep -  a regular occurrence for me at this year's festival - I was up bright at early for one of my favorite movies of all time. 1941's The Maltese Falcon was introduced by my friend Eddie Muller, who is the president of the Film Noir Foundation and also TCM's newest host with their Noir Alley series. This was my first time seeing The Maltese Falcon on the big screen and I saw so many new details in those costumes on the big screen. Interesting that these costumes were also by Orry-Kelly, but this was the style he was really known for while at Warner Brothers rather than Marilyn Monroe's risqué costumes in Some Like It Hot.

Some Like It Hot was one of the movies I covered in my talk, and I was able to see several others I included at the festival. They were all something to behold on the big screen and each proved how rewarding it is to see these movies with other fans. 1950's Born Yesterday, 1934's Twentieth Century, and 1942's The Palm Beach Story, which several of us saw together at the historic Chinese Theatre, were one big party. It was also thrilling to bump into people who attended my talk that were still raving about it. I even overheard people discussing what they had learned from me and seen in those movies as a result. It doesn't get any better than that.

The festival's Red-Headed Woman was another film whose backstory and costume design was included my talk, and I managed to get myself second place in line for its screening at the historic Egyptian Theatre. That 1932 Jean Harlow Pre-Code classic played to a full house and a crowd that absolutely LOVED it. It was so popular that it became one of the TBDs on Sunday - movies that TCM picks to show again that were sold out during their first run at the festival.

My last hours of the festival were spent at the mighty Chinese Theatre starting Saturday night with The Graduate. Ben Mankiewicz interviewed Buck Henry before the screening, and they discussed the casting as well as the scripted and unscripted moments of the 1967 film. Of course it was stunningly beautiful on that huge screen, but I was also extremely impressed by the sound. When it started, the sound was so good it made you feel like you were inside the airport with him.

1942's The Palm Beach Story was my first film Sunday morning at the Chinese, which started in the forecourt and I was lucky enough to meet some of Mary Astor's relatives. Historian Cari Beauchamp recognized them in the audience before going on to interview Joel McCrea's grandson Wyatt on stage. Then came 1952's Singin' in the Rain at the Chinese, which was special because it was filmed on the MGM lot (where I now work, owned by Sony/Columbia Pictures) and because some of it was set at the Chinese Theatre. It was made even more special by Todd Fisher and Ruta Lee paying tribute to their mother and friend Debbie Reynolds on stage beforehand.

Closing the festival this year was what many consider the best movie of all time - 1942's Casablanca. I've seen the iconic film many times, including on the big screen, but seeing it at the Chinese Theatre in celebration of its 75th anniversary was really something. I also got to sit with friend Monika Henreid, who was recognized by Ben during his introduction to the classic and the entire theater applauded her. Then it was off to the closing night party.

There were even more moments and experiences of the festival - including a fascinating interview between Ben and writer/director/producer/film historian Peter Bogdanovich. I've tried to capture as many as I could to share with you here. But many times I was simply caught up in the moment of being with my TCM family and celebrating classic Hollywood.

Until next year, my friends...

People filing in at the Annenberg Beach House before I started my talk
Fashion in Film of TCMFF 2017: Sophisticated Comedies 1930s-1950s

"Always riveting, wildly entertaining, and educational,
I could listen to Kimberly talk about fashion in the movies all day long." --Danny Miller

The Roosevelt Hotel in its earliest days

Entering the Roosevelt Hotel - the center of all festival activities -
for the first day of TCMFF 2017

Two from my arrival at the Roosevelt Hotel day one with several of my TCM family -
including our first group selfie (of many) at the festival

More from opening day at TCMFF
"Remembering Robert Osborne" with heads of TCM and actress Diane Baker

After my first festival movie Some Like It Hot, it was off to opening night party #1 at the Roosevelt -
with fellow vintage lovers Beth Ann Gallagher and Karie Bible (above)
and TCM's Jeremy Arnold (below)

Then off to the big gala after party at the W Hotel in Hollywood
including heads of TCM, friends like Monika Henreid and Sony Restoration queen Rita Belda,
and celebrities that included everyone from Martin Landau to Ruta Lee

Day 2 of TCMFF started bright and early with The Maltese Falcon -
great intro by Film Noir Foundation founder/TCM host/friend Eddie Muller 
and had such fun sharing it with Noir Girl's Casey

TCMFF day 2 continued with Born Yesterday -
funny intro to the intro from TCM's VP of Studio Production Sean Cameron (above)
and a blast seeing it with friends, including birthday girl Karin Mustvedt-Plüss (below)

The Blossom Room in the Roosevelt Hotel, which was home to the first Academy Awards,
was the location of Club TCM events including a great Peter Bogdanovich interview

After Born Yesterday, Ben Mankiewicz spoke with Peter Bogdanovich at Club TCM 
about directors like Orson WellesHoward HawksJohn Ford, and Alfred Hitchcock

Bonus was spending time (front row, no less) with friend Alison Martino of Vintage Los Angeles
I love how the Getty photographer caught her taking pictures (as always)

Also always love spending time with Jeff from the Larry Edmunds Bookshop (below) -
 Mad Men creator Matt Weiner and Daniel Selznick are right behind us

At the Egyptian Theatre for the first time at this year's TCMFF

Day 2 at TCMFF continues - #2 in line at the Egyptian Theatre with good buddy Kellee Pratt
for the Jean Harlow Pre-Code Red-Headed Woman

Thanks Gary Pratt for photos

My TCMFF day 2 outfit has a Cinema Connection - when I saw it, I immediately thought of
one of the Yves Saint Laurent costumes for Catherine Deneuve in 1967's Belle de Jour

Day 3 started at the historic Montalban Theatre for Ben's 2-hour interview with Michael Douglas -
many fans took photos of Robert Osborne's Hollywood Walk of Fame star in front of theater

 Michael was charming - animated in his answers and frequently engaged with the audience

Thanks Alison Martino for photo below

Then I went to see Eddie Muller introduce Dan Duryea's The Underworld Story at the Egyptian -
great fun watching this film noir with friends Aurora and Monica

A departure for me at this year's TCMFF was checking out a more modern film in this year's comedy theme -
Best in Show was made even more hilarious by cast members talking with Ben before its screening

To prove how much we love this movie, 
Kevin and I bought our German Shepherd Ava (Gardner) a bee toy just like Parker Posey's

On day 3, I saw my first movie at the mighty Chinese Theatre -
you can read all about the theater's history from my past visit there for GlamAmor

Closing out day 3 for me at TCMFF was the 50th anniversary screening of The Graduate -
Ben talks to the always funny Buck Henry before the film (below)

At the Chinese Theatre to begin day 4 of TCMFF 2017 with The Palm Beach Story -
nothing better than starting the final day with good friends, including Kellee and Karin

Thanks to Peter Gong and Gary Pratt for photos

Mary Astor's relatives were in attendance at The Palm Beach Story -
(left to right) Andrew Yang (great grandson), Krystin Nihei (granddaughter), and Michael del Campo (grandson)

Thanks to Karin Mustvedt-Plüss (below left) for photos

With buddies Aurora and Kellee at The Palm Beach Story -
Cari Beauchamp interviewed Joel McCrea's grandson Wyatt before screening

I stayed at the Chinese Theatre for much of day 4 and next up was Singin' in the Rain -
 Debbie Reynolds' son and Carrie Fisher's brother Todd Fisher 
shared stories along with family friend Ruta Lee before the movie

After Casablanca at the Chinese Theatre, my final film of the festival,
Monika Henreid and I walked back to the Roosevelt for the closing night party

The big closing night party at the Roosevelt is always a mix of laughter and tears -
Kellee's husband Gary captured us taking one of our many festival selfies

With TCM's Jeremy Arnold and Sean Cameron

Thanks Sara Henriksson for photo

Last but not least, a moment with a couple of my favorite guys from TCM -
hosts Ben Mankiewicz and Eddie Muller

Thanks Aurora Bugallo and Kaci Kielmar for photos

Monday morning I was back at work at my office on the former MGM lot (now Sony/Columbia)

Until next year, my friends!

1 comment:

Silver Screenings said...

Wonderful memories and photos. Thanks for sharing these!

It was lovely to meet you, if only briefly, at the festival this year. It was such a busy time!

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