Thursday, April 16, 2015

TCMFF 2015 – Day 3

TCMFF 2015 – Day 2 post 

Saturday at the TCM Classic Film Festival (TCMFF) started with the Social Media Producers meeting. Noralil and Shannon from TCM were kind of giddy about how well things were going. #TCMFF had been trending most of the day Friday, a first for both the Festival and the brand, TCM. I'd like to think that it was just the Social Media Producers, but it was everybody at TCMFF just being happy to be there and sharing their jubilation with the world.

I had decided that we should do the Conversation with Norman Lloyd. It didn't start until 10 o'clock, so I figured we had time to go over to the TCL Chinese and do an interview. We ran into Heather in the standby line. I had her explain how standby at TCMFF worked, and of course, the standard what is your favorite thing, but I also asked her if she could time travel, what she would bring back to appear at the festival. Her answer was just astonishing.

Ceiling in Hollywood and Vine Metro station
Next up, we had to make it over to The Montalbán Theatre for A Conversation with Norman Lloyd. Since Jasmine and I were already pretty familiar with L.A. Metro system, we figured we could grab the subway for the one quick stop to Hollywood and Vine. The train wasn't crowded and probably a third of the people in the car we got on were other TCMFF folks doing the same thing we were. We ended up walking group of Festival people, getting lost for a block, and then ultimately finding the theater without too much trouble.

We took seats on the side about two or three rows back. Before long, Sean Cameron from TCM came out to do the television thing. He explained that what you see on television isn't exactly what happens when they are doing the interview. He wanted to get various crowd reaction shots. Applause, standing ovation, but a slow standing ovation, two or three people stand up and then more and more, that sort of thing. "Now, a chuckle." 'Now, big laugh." "Now, a really big laugh." "Okay, how about, I can't believe he just said that." Oddly enough, it worked. You would think the laughter would come out forced and fake, but with that many people, within a second or two, it turned into real laughter.

Sean Cameron, Ben Mankiewicz and Norman Lloyd 
backstage at the Conversation with Norman Lloyd event.
Photographer: Edward M. Pio Roda. ™ & © 2015
Turner Classic Movies. A Time Warner Company.
All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.
The interview itself was incredible. Norman Lloyd has had such an interesting life, and he was so sharp. He remembered addresses of theaters he worked at in the early 1930s. He would go off on a tangent but still remember to come back to the original question. I can't even do that now. Just tons of great stories on everything from the practical jokes that Alfred Hitchcock used to pull in elevators to how Charlie Chaplin ate a grapefruit to a Jamaican rapper he worked with on this summer's, Trainwreck to a pantomime of how he did the fall from the Statue of Liberty in Sabotuer

I didn't realize it but he had been "gray listed" in the early-1950s. He wasn't really on the black list, but he had worked in theater in New York in the 1930s. A lot of the theater people in those days were very left wing, not necessarily Communist or Socialist, but left wing. In the early 1950s, association with left wing theater people from 15 or 20 years earlier was enough to throw a shadow. As a result, he couldn't get work in Hollywood. When Hitchcock was producing the Alfred Hitchcock Presents TV show, he had a producer working for him who had way too much work, and Hitch wanted to hire Norman Lloyd. The people at CBS said, "There's a problem with Norman Lloyd." That's how they said it in those days. Not that he was on the blacklist or a Communist, but there's a problem with him. He explained that Alfred Hitchcock had always been apolitical and at that point was at the height of his power in Hollywood. Hitchcock told the people at CBS [Lloyd said this in an Alfred Hitchcock voice], "I want him." And that's what it took to get him working again.

Ben Mankiewicz and Norman Lloyd at the Montalban
Theatre.Photographer: Edward M. Pio Roda
™ & © 2015 Turner Classic Movies. A Time Warner
Company. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.
Probably my favorite story was one that he told about 1926 World Series. His uncle was a bootlegger and took him to the game. They went up to the gate and asked about tickets.The man at the gate said, there were no tickets. The game was completely sold out. His uncle took out a wad of bills, and the man at the gate said, you can go in. When they got into the ballpark, there was nowhere to sit, so they went and sat down on the steps in one of the aisles. The usher came up and said, "You can't sit here." Out comes the wad of bills, "You can sit here." During the game, Babe Ruth hit a double and had to slide into second. Now, it was pretty unusual to see Babe Ruth slide. He didn't have to do it very often. When he slid, he ripped he his trousers. Now most people, Lloyd explained, would just go into the clubhouse and change. Not the Babe. He just stood there on second base with his hands on his hips posing like Superman. Lloyd stood up to demonstrate. The trainer came out with a bag and a needle and thread and sewed up his trousers, right there at second base.

We all erupted into laughter. Afterwards, Ben Mankiewicz had the perfect capper to that story, "My favorite thing about the story," he said, "is that you still remember the trainer's name from the 1926 World Series."

At the very end of the interview, they turned the chairs around and wanted to get a shot with the audience in the background. The makeup woman, an attractive woman in her mid-20s came out. She looked at Norman Lloyd's makeup and adjusted the lapel on his jacket to make sure it was laying down properly. Lloyd said to her, "I wish you were taking that off." One hundred years old and still making passes at women. I have a new hero. 

On the way out of the theater, we spoke to Frances whom I'd met last year. Among other things, I asked who had a cooler movie death, William Holden in Sunset Blvd. or Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke. I really like her response.

On our little jaunt down Hollywood Blvd. on Wednesday afternoon, we had noticed a Popeye's Chicken, one of Jasmine's favorite fast food restaurants. She wanted to go there, and we had plenty time to get back for the next screening. It dawns on me that this would make two hot meals on two consecutive days. That must be some kind of TCMFF record. While we were eating, I asked what Jasmine thought of Norman Lloyd for her #TCMFF15YO review:

Dude, he was freakin Rad I want to take him out to a nice dinner

Back at the TCL Chinese, I had a chance to record one of the #HeartMovies videos. I couldn't figure out how to embed it, but you can click on it below:

My #HeartMovies video

We also caught up with Paula Guthat, whom we'd tried and failed to get decent video of earlier. Paula runs an independent theater called Cinema Detroit and is the founder and cohost of the #TCMParty Twitter group. She also was a TCM Guest Programmer on Scype with Ben Mankliewicz back in November. We captured the following video of Paula. [By the way, I really love the preview image on the video; it looks like she said something really shocking]:

Doing my best James Dean, umm, if James
Dean was middle-aged. And bald. And fat.
Oh, never freaking mind.
Next up was Rebel Without a Cause. I picked this one for Jasmine's sake, as it was one of the only films that spoke to teenagers. I had never seen it on the big screen and I thought it was brilliant. The emotions it brought up really caught me of guard. I always thought it was a great movie but I hadn't expected it to hit me that hard. Jasmine was floored as well. Her response to this was easily my favorite of the weekend. She can be very snarky and very funny, but she's really at her best when she's just reacting from the heart.

Jasmine's #TCMFF15YO twitter review of Rebel Without a Cause:

Let's get one thing straight I'm not crying, I'm sweating from my eyes

This was the one tweet that the @tcmfilmfest Twitter account retweeted, so that was pretty cool.

We ended up going back to the hotel wanted after that. I wanted to change into a shirt and a vintage time for the evening. I'm sure that Jasmine was thinking, hey, I'm the girl, shouldn't I be the one changing clothes all the time. Anywho, I wanted to get back fairly quick. The next screening was The Apartment with Shirley MacLaine. I knew it was a big theater, but I still figured we should try to get there extra early. Since we were getting there so early, I thought it would be easier to go in through the front. It turns out that the line wound all the way through the mall and came out by that back of the mall. It would've been way faster to go the back way we usually went. We ended up getting queue numbers in the low 400s, the highest of the entire weekend. 

In line, we spoke to Kristen, a veteran of all six TCM Film Festivals. She is one of the people who surprised me. If you've been watching the videos, you'll know that I have been asking odd classic film questions. For Kristen, I asked who would win in a drinking contest, Nick Charles or Auntie Mame.

The screening of The Apartment was our first time in inside the TCL Chinese this year, and just being inside the theater is a treat.

Ceiling of the Chinese Theater

A Conversation with Shirley MacLaine and
Leonard Maltin at Club TCM (from Sunday).
Photographer: Tyler Golden. ™ & © 2015
Turner Classic Movies. A Time Warner
Company. All Rights Reserved. Used
with permission.
Leonard Maltin did the interview with Shirley MacLaine preceding the film. The conversation mostly centered on The Apartment. She and Jack Lemmon signed on to do the movie after reading only the first 29 pages of the script, so neither one of them knew how the movie was going to end. Easily the biggest laugh in the interview was when MacLaine said that Fred MacMurray never picked up a check. She also said that when, you were working with Billy Wilder, you knew you always had to stick to the script. In The Apartment, she and Jack Lemmon had such good chemistry just hanging around together between takes. Things that they would talk about, ended up in the script. For example, when they were filming, MacLaine was spending a lot of her free time hanging out with the guys in the Rat Pack. She mentioned that one weekend that the guys were teaching her how to play gin rummy and that's how the gin rummy game made it into the movie. 

For me, Billy Wilder can really do no wrong. I love The Apartment and seeing it in the Chinese theater was a huge treat. I laughed. I cried. Everything you would expect. For Jasmine, I think she was confused by the movie. Not that she didn't get it or didn't understand the movie. She's a very smart girl and she picks up everything, but it's kind of an odd movie. It's presented as this light-hearted romp, but at it's core, it's really almost a tragedy. Yes, it's a love story, but it's all wrapped up in heart-break and betrayal and suicide. I seem to remember, not knowing what to think when I saw it the first time, myself. But everytime I've seen it since, that has bothered me less. And now, when I see that the love story emerging from the trainwreck of a situation they are in, it has more and more power. I have a feeling that Jasmine will grow to love The Apartment as I have.

When we got out, we immediately went and got a queue number for The Return of the Hand-Cranked Dream Machine. I didn't want to take any chances. Then, I asked Jasmine what her review of The Apartment would be. Her first thought was absolutely hilarious, but way over the top, something you would never expect to come out of the mouth of a 15-year-old. I tried to get her to come up with something else, but nothing she said was anywhere near as good as the first one. Still, I figured if we used it, Noralil from TCM would kill me. Still, it was just too good not to use.

Jasmine's #TCMFF15YO twitter review of The Apartment:

Find it interesting that Mr Baxter gets sloppy seconds in his own bed

I still wasn't sure whether sending that out was a good idea, funny as it was. The next day when I talked to Noralil, she said she thought it was hilarious, though officially she had to pretend she didn't notice it.

During the break after The Apartment, we got a great video with Deborah from L.A. She had the coolest reason for liking, Inherit the Wind

We got in line for The Return of the Dream Machine: Hand-Cranked Films from 1902-1913. The one thing I remember here is that Jasmine said that she couldn't believe that it was all going to be over tomorrow, and that she was going to be so sad. This meant two things to me. First, she was really having good time, and second, she was already anticipating the TCMFF postpartum blues that we all go through. It made me so proud. So proud, in fact, that I had to mess with her. I gave her the Gooble Gobble Gooble Gobble One of Us One of Us treatment. Even though she has never seen Freaks, she was properly freaked out. Scared is better than sad, right? Right?

Joe Rinaudo and his wonderful contraption
We went inside and found seats. The projector for The Return of the Dream Machine, was just a masterpiece of early 20th Century engineering. I could have spent an hour just looking at it, and the fact that this machine that was able to entertain audiences in the early 1900s could still do so now more than a hundred years later was amazing. Before the screening a bunch of people crowded around the back row to get pictures of the projector. I ended up getting much better results at the end of the show as the crowd was leaving. I was also able to get a business card. Gaslight Gathering, a steampunk convention I volunteer for, is doing a Hollywood theme for this September's con. This guy would be perfect if we could arrange it.

While we were waiting, one of our fellow Social Media Producers, Nora (@NitrateDiva) posted a picture of the program for the screening:

The screenings themselves were very cool. The way the projector worked you could see a shadow of the projectionists arm on the wall to the right of the screen as he cranked the machine. In the intro, they mentioned that often the projectionist controlled the pacing, cranking faster on on action shots and slower on emotional ones. Since everything on the program was a short film, they had to change reels a lot. When they did so, they projected vintage lantern show slides on the screen, which was cool and probably typical of what they would have done back when. I think going in I was most looking forward to Méliès' A Trip to the Moon, but I think Those Awful Hats and The Dancing Pig were the most entertaining of the bunch. 

I decided I should go back and rewatch A Corner in Wheat and Suspense on youtube. These were films that I really was having trouble keeping up with. I was just so tired, that I kept nodding off for what I thought was probably only a second or two, but kept doing so every couple of minutes. I just couldn't follow what was going on, more out of my own exhaustion than any issue with the films. I just rewatched Suspense in the middle of writing this. It's very cool. It just might have been more that a second or two that I fell asleep.

Because it was so hot at TCMFF this year, everybody was harping on staying hydrated. That wasn't my problem I needed to stay caffeinated. I drink coffee all day at work until about five o:clock, and it dawned on me that most of the time at TCMFF, I had a cup of coffee in the morning and nothing else for the rest of the day. I now know that I was running on a severe caffeine deficit as well as a sleep deficit. Obviously, there was no way I was going to make it through the midnight movie. I think for next year I should plan on having a bottle of Frappacino right before the late screening to carry me through. Hopefully, it doesn't backfire have me unable to sleep and staring at the ceiling at four in the morning.

The last film was an unannounced surprise, the Lumière Brothers, The Serpentine Dance. It was a beautiful tinted print and so cool to watch, the perfect capper for the evening and the hand-cranked screenings. It also prompted Jasmine's review.

Jasmine's #TCMFF15YO twitter review of The Return of the Dream Machine: Hand-Cranked Films from 1902-1913:

Great to see development of old films + Serpentine Dance way better than twerking

After the hand-cranked dream machine, we had a shift of social media monitoring. All of the Social Media Producers were required to do four half-hour shifts of social media monitoring over the course of the festival. Since it was so late, we decided to just go to the room and do it from there (another reason it was great being at The Roosevelt). This really came down to looking at Twitter and Tumblr, answering questions if you could or directing people to TCM info desk if not. I did see a tweet from Gordon (@ElBicho_CS)  about the bass in TCL Theater 1 being too high, so I forwarded it on to my TCM contacts. IT was definitely too late the help that night, but maybe it might have been useful the next day. A lot of social media monitoring just came down to looking at what was being said with the #TCMFF hashtag. If it was something cool, retweet it, or reply with, this is awesome. In my mind, a lot of it was joining in on the conversation and doing your best to keep it going.

I'm sure I ended up going to the Roosevelt bar for a beer very very late, but I think I just sat and tried to upload videos and ignore the text messages that Verizon kept sending me about how much bandwidth I was using.


TCM Boutique at the Roosevelt Hotel. The happy customer 
is Social Media Producer Annmarie (@ClassicMovieHub).

Photographer: Adam Rose. ™ & © 2015 Turner Classic 

Movies. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.

Used with permission.

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