Friday, April 29
Have you ever had one of those days where everything you did was just flat-out awesome? That was what my first full day of TCMFF 2016 activities was like. When people ask me about what the highlights were for this year’s festival, I feel like the short answer would be, “Everything I did on Friday.”
When your day starts out with seeing Marlene Dietrich on the big screen in a new restoration of Shanghai Express, you know it’s going to be a good day. This restoration was done ahead of a new blu-ray release that will be coming soon, and I think I’m going to need to buy that blu-ray when it comes out. The print is absolutely flawless and exquisite; I certainly hope other Dietrich/Von Sternberg collaborations will be getting the same treatment.
Shanghai Express was introduced by Nicholas Von Sternberg, son of Josef Von Sternberg. He talked a bit about his father’s life, his career, and how his father worked with cinematographer Lee Garmes to create the completely unforgettable look of Shangahi Express. But when asked if he had any memories of Dietrich, all Nicholas had to say was that he used to sit on her lap as a child and the crowd went absolutely wild.
After Shanghai Express, it was time for a quick Starbucks run and The Way We Were. The Way We Were isn’t one of the all-time great films, but if I’m in the mood for something super dramatic and heavy on the schmaltz, The Way We Were never fails to hit the spot for me. I’ve never seen it on the big screen before, but I’m really glad I did if only because I got so much fashion inspiration from it. I’m not typically a big fan of the 70s-does-other-decades styles of fashion, but I was really feeling the 70s-does-40s style looks in the movie. Barbara Streisand really got to wear some pretty fabulous accessories in it and I think I need to find a brooch that’s very similar to the red brooch we see her wear in the beginning of the film. She wore a lot of red accessories and red nails throughout the movie, which I’m sure was a supposed to be a callback to Katie’s communist leanings.
From The Way We Were, it was off to see a new restoration of the rarely-seen 1937 Cary Grant movie When You’re In Love. The movie certainly wasn’t one of Grant’s finest, but I still enjoyed it well enough. The movie should be getting some more attention in the near future (I know it will be airing on GET TV soon), so if you’re going to watch it, there are a couple of things you really should know about it: that it’s a musical and it’s more of a vehicle for Grace Moore than it is for Cary Grant. If you’re not a fan of operatic musicals, you’re probably not going to be a big fan of When You’re in Love and since the movie spends a lot of time showcasing Moore’s singing talents, you might be a little disappointed if you’re expecting Cary Grant in peak leading man form.
Cary Grant’s daughter Jennifer was on hand to introduce When You’re in Love. To give you an idea of how rarely seen this movie was up until recently, Jennifer hadn’t even seen it until about a week before the festival. She had nothing but warm memories to share of her father. He really seemed to set aside the movie star persona when he became a father, but she did tell a cute story of watching one of his films with him when it was on TV when she was a child. She was so young at the time that she didn’t understand that her father was acting, so when she saw Deborah Kerr kissing her father, she walked up to the screen and smacked Deborah Kerr.
If you’re a fan of Cary Grant’s classic style, Jennifer shared a little bit of news you might be interested in: a Cary Grant jewelry line will be launching soon. All the pieces will be based on pieces personally owned by Cary Grant or pieces he gave to his loved ones as gifts.
After that, Nikki, Jessica and I headed off to one of my most highly-anticipated movies of the festival — Batman by the pool at the Roosevelt with Adam West and Lee Merriwether in attendance. I wasn’t even able to stay for the whole thing since I needed to get in line for The Manchurian Candidate, but it was still one of my favorite TCMFF events I’ve ever been to. Poolside movies are meant for fun movies you can sit back and relax with your friends and enjoy and Batman was the perfect poolside movie. TCM host Ben Mankeiweicz interviewed Merriwether and West and every single minute of that interview was absolutely priceless and hilarious. West and Merriwether were completely embracing the campiness of the movie and Mankiewicz was clearly having a blast talking with them.
Here’s a little bit of footage shot by Jessica of Comet Over Hollywood of the three of them discussing the amazing shark attack scene. It also includes the moment when Adam West did the infamous, “Some days, you just can’t get rid of a bomb!” line. West also talked a bit about his work playing himself on the show Family Guy, which you see a little bit of in Jessica’s video, but what you don’t see is that when asked about why he decided to play a parody of himself on Family Guy, West replies that he liked the money, and the whole crowd started laughing. Mankiewicz said it was quite possibly the most honest answer he’s ever gotten in an interview.
I really wish we could have stayed at Batman for longer because it was so much fun to be watching it with a very appreciative crowd. But if we had stayed any longer, we probably wouldn’t have gotten in to see Angela Lansbury talk about The Manchurian Candidate. Since Danny of Pre-code.com is a big fan of Murder, She Wrote, he joined Nikki, Jessica, and I to get in line. This was by far the longest line I have ever stood in for any event at TCMFF. When we left the Roosevelt, we headed over to the Chinese theater and followed the line as it made its way through the shopping center until it was right back in front of the Roosevelt. We actually would have had a much shorter walk to the end of the line if we had just gone out a different exit at the Roosevelt. Our numbers were in the 500 range and I don’t think I’ve ever had a number that high for any other TCMFF event.
Once we got inside, it was so packed that I’m surprised we were able to get 4 seats together. They were very close to the screen, which was definitely not an ideal angle to be watching the movie from, but it was a fabulous spot to be in while Alec Baldwin was interviewing the one and only Angela Lansbury. It’s hard not to be starstruck when you’re sitting that close to Angela Lansbury. She’s had such an incredible career and she’s so lovely and lively, just getting to be in her presence was something truly special.
I topped the day off by hitting the midnight screening of Roar. Stay tuned for a special post about Roar tomorrow because that was an experience that truly deserves a post of its own.