Live From the TCM Film Festival–Day 3

*Dear Readers–I am SO SORRY this got to you so late! I’ve been working on this post for about a week, because Day 3 was so full. Enjoy!*

The TCM Film Festival ended on Sunday, and now that I am back home and back into the swing of things, I feel more able to reflect on my experiences from a distance. I recapped Day 4 a few days ago, and telling you I was going to work backwards, let you know that I would be writing about Day 3 at a later date.

I am now ready to do so!

Day 3 began with great excitement, as I anticipated my interview with TCM producer David Byrne. It would be held at 2:30 at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, and I needed to program my schedule around it. But first, another showing of one of my all-time favorites, the raucous Auntie Mame. The character of Auntie Mame is one of my personal heroes, and to see her on the big screen, appreciated by an entire audience of laughing, joyous moviegoers, is a real treat. I have seen it on the big screen a few times before, but this is one movie of which I never tire. Instead of telling a regular story, it rather advocates a lifestyle–a lifestyle of seizing the day, taking nothing for granted, and treating life as if it were “a banquet–and most poor suckers are starving to death!” I feel many people in this day and age could take a lesson from Auntie Mame and her love of life, and though Rosalind Russell lost the 1958 Oscar to Joanne Woodward in The Three Faces of Eve, this was the defining role of her career and I believe she had much of Auntie Mame in herself.

Click here to read my Star of the Week post on Rosalind Russell, the star of Auntie Mame.

Auntie Mame was followed by a showing of Casablanca, a movie that, surprisingly, I have some issues with. It’s not the movie itself, per se, but more the attention it gets. I think there are plenty of other, better classic films that should be getting as much or more attention than Casablanca. I decided to go only because my friend Christina is a Casablanca fan, and I was slightly restless during the film. There is, however, one scene in the film that I think is absolutely stellar, and when that came on, I became appreciative of the opportunity to see it on the big screen.

We so take for granted the outcome of WWII in the modern day, and coming from a movie at the height of the war, this scene is immensely powerful and eerily prophetic.

After Casablanca, it was time for my interview. I waited for David in the Hollywood Roosevelt lobby, and he showed up around 2:45 with a rather large camera crew! We headed to the pool to shoot the interview–David, myself, and about 5 sound and lighting men. I was stationed by the pool and asked questions like “What have you seen so far?” “What is your favorite thing about TCM?” “What do classic films mean to you?” Questions that were pretty standard. I never got to bust out with “Yeah, I’ve been to the Maureen O’Hara Classic Film Festival in Ireland and the Vivien Leigh/Laurence Olivier weekend in London and have met all these awesome celebrities…” Nope. None of that. I was a little disappointed, but he seemed to like what I gave him, so if you see my awkward face on TCM this August or September, you’ll know why.

After the interview Marissa and I got in line for Singin’ In the Rain at Grauman’s. Christina decided to see something else instead, but Marissa and I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to see Debbie Reynolds, so we got in the line that by that time was forming around the block. We ate dinner in line (Baja Fresh for the win…but looking at the menu, who knew that those taco salads were like, an entire day’s worth of calories?? Surprised me…), and when we got inside, we were lucky enough to get stellar seats, right in the center! Patricia Ward Kelly, Gene Kelly’s widow, was there again, introducing herself to as many people as she could get to in the gigantic Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. I came up to her and got her autograph on my festival pass, which was nice, and by that time it was time for the interview to start. Robert Osborne was introduced to the audience, and Osborne in turn introduced Debbie Reynolds, who came out looking EXACTLY the way I expected her to look. If you’ve seen Debbie recently, you know what her sort of “later life” look is:

 

Et cetera.

Anyway, she came out looking exactly like that, doing her signature hand gestures and looking all-around great for her age. The interview was hilarious. Here is a quote that basically sums up the interview:

Audience member: YOU HAVE GREAT LEGS!

Debbie: Oh thank you–*hikes skirt up* I have great tits too!

Debbie then began to tell outlandish stories about Singin’ In the Rain and Gene Kelly’s toupée, in a way that only Debbie Reynolds can. Allegedly what had happened was that during the filming of “You Were Meant For Me,” Debbie had been instructed to take out her chewing gum, which she placed on the bottom of the ladder on which she stood. Gene, dancing around the ladder, accidentally put his head a little too close to the ladder, and his hairpiece got stuck on the gum. It was a hilarious story that had the audience in stitches.

“You Were Meant For Me” as it appears in the movie, with Gene’s toupée intact.

By the end, Robert Osborne was realizing that he had lost control of both the audience and his interviewee, and wisely cut it a bit short so the movie could start.

Robert Osborne interviewing Debbie Reynolds.

It’s always great fun watching a classic movie on the big screen with like-minded fans, because there is always a wonderful enthusiasm and euphoria in the audience that you don’t ever get in a regular movie theater, or even watching a classic movie on the big screen with a regular audience. People are truly happy to be there, excited to see their favorite stars on the big screen, and know all the trivia of the movie. For example, at the end of the Singin’ In the Rain number, a silent film actor by the name of Snub Pollard makes a brief cameo when Gene Kelly hands his umbrella to him as he passes on the street. The audience all knew this, and applauded Snub for his cameo. It’s really a fantastic feeling. So people were laughing and clapping all over the place, I so much that my hands hurt by the end of the movie! After the film’s ending, Patricia Ward Kelly was slated to speak. She has done meticulous research on Singin’ In the Rain, and brought many documents with her to show us exact things that happened on the shooting. For example, she read from a paper that documented the happenings of a particular morning, that went something like this: “9:45 AM–Gene Kelly rehearses Singin’ In the Rain. 10:15 AM–Arthur Freed arrives on set, discusses notes with Gene Kelly.” That kind of thing. So, she said, the toupée incident with Gene couldn’t have happened because it wasn’t documented in the papers. A little slap to Debbie if I ever saw one!

We had to rush out of Singin’ In the Rain to get to our next showing, A Night to Remember, a British film about the sinking of the Titanic. It was shown on the 100th anniversary of the disaster, and, as the speaker beforehand told us, the film started almost at the exact time the sinking occurred. Rather chilling.

Marissa, Christina and I had all seen the movie before, but when a certain name came onscreen for the credits, we got very excited–We (at least Christina and I) had forgotten that Jack Merivale was a featured player in this movie. For those less familiar with the life of Vivien Leigh, Jack Merivale was the man who assumed the responsibility for Vivien’s care after her divorce from Laurence Olivier. The two were romantically close and involved, and he is a major figure in Vivien Leigh’s later life. Christina and I had forgotten that he plays a role in A Night to Remember, but Marissa told us she wanted to show us his name in the credits as a surprise.

The film started late, and though it is a brilliantly well made film (the most expensive British production of the time), I found myself falling asleep due to the hour. By the time the movie was over, I was ready to go home and not stay for the lecture afterward, conducted by Don Lynch, an established scholar of the Titanic and its aftermath. However, when he began to speak, I was awestruck. This man was a walking encyclopedia! He had met nearly every survivor, and of those he did not meet, he met relatives. From talking to these people and from his own meticulous research, he knew what occurred at every single moment of the sinking, and could answer audience questions with such detail that it was almost overwhelming. He fascinated me–and I forgot about being tired until he was finished. I now know more than I ever thought I would about the Titanic!

After that, we were all tired and ready for bed. We drove home and promptly fell asleep, ready for Day 4!

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2 responses to “Live From the TCM Film Festival–Day 3

  1. Thanks for sharing all these great details. Sounds like you had an absolute blast. As for Auntie Mame, what I remember most is her comment about people who drink rum–gotta love a gin-swilling woman!

  2. SOUNDS LIKE A BALL…I WOULD LOVE TO GO NEXT YEAR BUT AM 73 AND WOULD NEED TO KNOW SOMEONE TO MEET WHEN I GET THERE…..DEBBIE REYNOLDS IS AMAZING…I SAW HER IN KANSAS CITY A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO WITH HER ONE WOMAN SHOW…WHAT ENERGY FOR AN OLD BROAD,,,,

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