TCMFF 2017, Day 4: The Day I Met Dick Cavett

Bonnie and Clyde 1967

April 9, 2017

Ah, Sunday — the point in the festival where I start craving a slower pace. It’s the last day and after a chaotic few days, I’m ready to relax a little bit. Over the course of the day, I only went to three events, but all of them were winners.

I started the day with Bonnie and Clyde at the Chinese theater. Bonnie and Clyde is one of my all-time favorites, but I’ve never had the chance to see it in a theater before. And after having had the opportunity to see two other of my all-time favorite movies at the Chinese theater the previous night, I decided to make it three in a row. Like I said, there’s just something about being able to see one of your favorite movies at the Chinese theater that makes the experience so much more special. A beautiful print of a great movie in one of the most beautiful theaters — it’s simply fantastic.

LOS ANGELES, CA – APRIL 09: TV personality Dick Cavett speaks onstage during the 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival on April 9, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. 26657_004 (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for TCM)

After Bonnie and Clyde, I had a little break before one of the events I was most excited for: the conversation with Dick Cavett in Club TCM. I absolutely love watching his old interviews with people like Bette Davis, Groucho Marx, Debbie Reynolds, and Gloria Swanson, so I knew he was going to have some amazing stories to tell. I was definitely not disappointed. Who else in the world can tell you stories about the time Groucho Marx went to a seance where the medium was a dead ringer for Margaret Dumont? Or about going to interview Mae West and asking her to remove her hat, only to have Edith Head come out and insist that the hat cannot come off?

Another story that only Dick Cavett could possibly tell is about the time he went out to dinner with Marlon Brando, Brando punched out a paparazzi photographer, and then Cavett had to convince Brando to go get medical treatment for a serious infection the following day.

Dick Cavett was more than a TV host who happened to interview a lot of movie stars; he was also a close friend to some of them. He was famously good friends with Groucho, but he was also friends with Stan Laurel and told us about how he got to know him and would go to visit him at his apartment. If you’ve never seen Laurel and Hardy’s appearance on the show This Is Your Life, though, Cavett suggests you keep it that way — he had strong opinions about the whole premise of that show.

My picture with Dick Cavett

The real highlight of the Dick Cavett conversation is that it was also a book signing. Now, this was not like any other book signing I’ve ever been to. Generally speaking, at the book signings I’ve been to anyway, you get to the front of the line and then there’s some standard chit-chat like, “Hi, nice to meet you. Thanks for coming out. What’s your name?” But when I got to the front of the line, he was in full Dick Cavett mode, joking around and posing for funny pictures with people. I was caught a little bit off-guard because I wasn’t expecting him to be on like that, but I mean that in the best possible way. It was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had at TCMFF. It was just one of those moments where I really wished I’d had wittier things to say, but I know that even if I did, he’d probably just have something even better to say in response, so I gladly concede.

Lady in the Dark Ginger Rogers

At last, the time came for my final movie of the festival — a nitrate print of Lady in the Dark. After ending last year’s festival with Fred Astaire in The Band Wagon, it only seemed appropriate to end this year’s with Ginger Rogers. To say that the attitudes in Lady in the Dark are a product of a different time is an understatement. The whole premise is that Ginger Rogers’ character turns to psychotherapy to try to figure out why she rejects glamour and prefers to focus on her career rather than getting married. But if you put the laughably outdated gender politics aside, it’s a pretty entertaining musical. The whole psychotherapy angle gave them freedom to create some extremely lavish and imaginative musical numbers that just couldn’t have been pulled off any other way. As a fan of fashion in film, of course I loved the costuming in it. There were costumes in it that literally took my breath away.

The real highlight of Lady in the Dark, though, was getting to see Ray Milland wearing a sequined ringmaster costume.

And with that, another TCMFF came to a close and I spent the rest of the night at the closing night party saying goodbye to people and fitting in as much time with my friends as I possibly could.

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