Thursday, January 29, 2015

My Favorite Thing from TCMFF 2014

My favorite thing at last year's TCM Classic Film Festival (TCMFF) was something that happened at Blazing Saddles. There were a lot of things about Blazing Saddles that might make it my favorite:

  • First off, it's my all-time favorite comedy and one of my top 5 favorite movies of any genre. I'm sure I've seen it 50 or 60 times, and I still laugh at each and every joke. 
  • I had only seen the movie two times in the theater. Once in late 80s/early 90s, and I saw it on its initial run when it first came out. I would have been about 12 or 13 at the time. My Dad took me. It was only time we ever went to a movie, just me and him. Usually, it was the whole family. Now back in the mid-70s, 12- and 13-year-olds didn't get to go R-rated movies very often, at least not in my house, so knowing I was going to see it again brought all that back.
  • Finally, Mel Brooks was introducing it. How cool is that? Not just the director, but he also played a couple of parts, and co-wrote both the screenplay and the theme song. Not to mention, it's Mel Brooks. Now admittedly, I had heard him the day before in the lobby of the Roosevelt, and he told more or less the same stories as he had earlier, not they suffered a lot. His delivery was impeccable, and they were every bit as funny the second time around.
You would think that any of the above would make this my favorite, but no, it was something else.

There is a convention that people follow at TCMFF, at least for films that are well known. People applaud at different points during the screenings. The audience applauds during the credits, the title of the movie, the names of the stars and the director, and if there was somebody very well known like a screenwriter or film scorer, that would usually get applause too. And of course, they applaud at the end. During the movie, the audience generally applauds the first appearance of all the major characters on-screen.

What makes this so cool is that pretty much everybody in the audience knows just how long to clap and just when to stop, so you don’t miss any of the dialog. It’s both bizarre and extremely cool at the same time. You are not used to that level level of group think when watching a movie, or at least I have never seen it anywhere else.

Now, my favorite thing involves this. Blazing Saddles was no different than other films at the festival. The audience applauded the credits, and then when the movie started, they applauded Clevon Little. And then Slim Pickens and Harvey Korman. And of course, Mel Brooks, Gene Wilder, and Madeline Kahn, all the way down to Dom DeLuise. 

Now at this point, Internet convention requires that I use the term, spoiler alert. I honestly can't believe anyone reading this would have not seen Blazing Saddles. If you're one of those people, you should stop reading. In fact, I don't even see why I need to be polite about it.

Get out.



Go on, pick up your stuff. We'll wait. Are you gone? Okay, good.

Well, at the end of the movie, when Harvey Korman grabs a cab and tells the driver to take him off this picture, he ends up going into a movie theater to watch the end of the movie that he was appearing in. The Blazing Saddles screening was in TCL Chinese IMAX. The theater that Harvey Korman walks into was Mann's Chinese Theater, the same theater that is now TCL Chinese IMAX, the theater we were sitting in at that moment. And it dawned on us, like the entire audience all at once, that he was sitting in the same room that we were sitting in, so the audience applauded the theater. It was so cool.

Have any other stories about past TCMFFs? Feel free to post or link to them in the comments.

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