San Diego Classic Film Calendar

Sunday, May 29, 2016

TCMFF 2016 - Day 3

Saturday at the festival started once again with going into Club TCM before it opened to hide a Falcon. Then Jasmine and I met up with my wife Mary and went down to the Egyptian for the 90th Anniversary of Vitaphone.

Once again we ran into Joel Williams, who had the number 1 line number for the screening. The screening was awesome. It started with a little bit of history about talking motion pictures. There were a large number of attempts before Vitaphone finally got it right and made it commercially viable. The big problem was synchronizing the sound and the picture, and not just synchronizing but reliably synchronizing. Vitaphone solved this problem by recording the sound at the same time they were filming the actors. The sound was recorded on large-format vinyl records. Because both the film and the audio were captured at the same time, it was easier to synchronize later. They also spoke about the restoration efforts as it was a two-fold process. You had to find the film and then find the record that went with the film.

Vitaphone shorts were marketed as vaudeville in a can. They would hire the top vaudeville performers of the day and film them to sell to theaters. They went on to show a number of these short vaudeville performances. I've been embedded my favorite ones below.

I think I was most impressed with Baby Rose Marie. The woman who played Sally Rogers on the old Dick Van Dyke Show performing at about 5 or 6 years old and just killing it:



Shaw and Lee:



Conlin and Glass (part of the film):




Jasmine's #TCMFF16YO review of 90th Anniversary of Vitaphone:

I wish presentations at school could be as cool as this

We hid a Falcon in the Egyptian as we were leaving. On the way out we ran into Kimberly who is in the number one position for a face in the crowd.




We went directly to the TCL Chinese IMAX for Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid. We got there pretty early but still had line numbers in the 300s. I still felt good about that because it is a huge theater, so even though the line ran all the way through the mall and almost back around to the front, I was sure we'd get in. We decided to sit further forward then we normally would for the sake of getting pictures and video. When we sat down, we sat next to an African American women, who I was convinced I had met earlier. I had not. Her name was Beth, but she was someone who I had been chatting with on Twitter #TCMParty for a couple of years.

The interview with Carl Reiner was after the film, but they had Eddie Muller there to introduce it. He started by asking the question why would they get him to introduce a parody of a Film Noir. He said that there had always been a grand tradition of doing Film Noir parodies that had started right in the middle of the Film Noir era, so he thought that Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid fit in perfectly well with all of that.

He also talked about the film from a technical standpoint. The way that modern footage was integrated with vintage films so seamlessly is nothing short of amazing. For me seeing Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid was mostly about seeing the old movies. I figured that it had been a lot of years since I'd seen it, I would now know most of the films they were showing. I did, but I had forgotten just how funny a film it is.

After the screening Carl Reiner was interviewed by Illeana Douglas. He was hilarious. He had such funny stories. One of the things that came up was Illeana asked him about who the character Alan Brady from The Dick Van Dyke Show was based on. He said that everybody always said that Alan Brady was based on Sid Caesar, from Your Show of Shows, but he was not. He was based on a combination of Phil Silvers and Milton Berle. He took some of the most extreme aspects of their personalities when they were working and added things from his imagination to turn Alan Brady into the monster he was.

He also talked about Mel Brooks and The 2000 Year Old Man. It started as a comedy routine that he and Mel Brooks would do at parties. It became so popular that someone finally convinced them to record it. He said that at one point Cary Grant came up to him and wanted 12 copies of the album. He asked Cary Grant why he wanted the albums. He said that he wanted to take them to England. He later found out that the Queen loved it. He also said that he, and Mel Brooks were still very close friends and Mel comes over to his house several times a week to watch TV together.

He also told a really off-color story about George Burns. He had directed George Burns in Oh, God. At the time Carl Reiner was in his sixties, and George Burns was in his eighties. George Burns was known for always having gorgeous woman with him wherever he went. Carl Reiner asked him about, now that he was in his eighties, what was sex like. George Burns responded it was like putting an oyster in a slot machine.

One of the things that struck me about Carl Reiner was that he was very complimentary of everyone he spoke of. He would be asked about certain entertainers that he worked with in the past, and he would always respond with oh, he was a genius, she was wonderful.

I got a couple of videos of Carl Reiner, one on Mel Brooks:




And another on Edith Head:



Jasmine's #TCMFF16YO review of Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid:

I would make a joke about Juliet being good at sucking but they already did that 3 times

We didn't stick around for the book signing. But we did stop to hide a Falcon in the TCM Chinese IMAX. By this point Jasmine and I had started referring to the Falcons as MacGuffins just in case somebody would overhear us.

We had a bit more of a gap between this screening and the next. We were too early to get line numbers for the next screening, so we decided to grab food again at Johnny Rockets. The hostess asked if we wanted our picture taken for a free postcard. I said, what the heck. She came with the free postcard and a couple of other pictures that were not free. I decided to be a sucker and bought a couple of them anyway.


This one's free, the others not so much.

Before the next screening, we hid another Falcon in the TCL Chinese Multiplex. Next up was The War of the Worlds. I actually wasn't all that psyched about it. Yes, I like the film, but it is not one of my favorites of 1950s sci-fi. The introduction by Ben Burtt was really great. It totally made it worth it.

Host Ben Burtt is a sound effects person who had worked on the Star Wars movies, but he talked about both the visual and sound effects. There were some effects that he wasn't sure about. For example, the beams that came off the ends of the wings of the ships, no one had documented how they did them. They started playing around with it and what they think they did was use a Jacob's Ladder and laid it down on its side and then used a fan to blow the sparks and filmed it with a green filter. Since the guy was mostly a sound effects guy, he talked a lot about the sound effects. One of these sound effects for some of the weapons was made by putting a mic at one end of a large spring and hitting it. Since the higher frequency sound waves travel faster than the lower frequency waves, you get this really cool effect. He had even set up a spring and a microphone and demonstrated it live for the audience. That was way cool. Turns out that despite my somewhat low expectations, this presentation turned out to be one of my favorite things of the Festival.

Jasmine's #TCMFF16YO review of The War of the Worlds:

Don't fight back to aliens, just hide in a church and wait for it all to blow over



The original plan at this point had Jasmine and my wife Mary going to The King and I and me going to Endless Summer. But it turned out that Mary decided she wanted to see Forbidden Planet by the pool instead. Jasmine had thought that Endless Summer sounded cool but wanted to see if The King and I more. However. since her mom changed her mind, she decided to tag along with me for Endless Summer.
Doing my best surf pose before Endless Summer
I had decided that I wanted to wear board shorts for the Endless Summer screening, so I went back to the hotel to change. I stopped in Club TCM and hid the last Falcon of the day.
It was a real treat to hear Bruce Brown speak before the screening. Jasmine thought he was "totally cool and chill." If I had any complaints it was that the person interviewing him probably knew sports, but not necessarily the sport of surfing.

He asked Bruce Brown how he got Robert August and Mike Hynson to go with him. Bruce Brown thought this was kind of an odd question. I did too. It's not like these guys had agents or anything like that back then. When Bruce Brown was making surf movies he knew and was friends with almost every major surfer in the world. So I thought Bruce Brown's answer was absolutely hilarious. He said, "Well, I knew them and they could go." The interviewer also asked Bruce Brown about what he thought about Endless Summer being set aside for preservation by the Library of Congress. I don't know whether Bruce Brown was not fazed by this or whether he just didn't know that it had even happened. He just kind of blew it off. I kind of got the feeling the Bruce Brown really wasn't used to being interviewed and was a little taken aback by all the attention. He did say he would hang out in the theater afterwards to sign autographs and meet people.

Jasmine and I both loved the film. If I had ever seen it in the theater it would have been when I was very very young and I don't remember it, so getting the chance to see it now was a treat. Afterwards sure enough, Bruce Brown was out in the lobby shaking hands and posing for pictures.


My blurry proof that I met Bruce Brown
After I shook hands with him and took a picture, I thanked him and moved to the side to give other people a chance. He asked me if I surfed, and I said no, not anymore, but I still skateboarded. He said that was cool, and I got the impression that he would much rather be talking about surfing or skateboarding than being there taking pictures.

Jasmine's #TCMFF16YO review of Endless Summer.

Radical. Even the director is rad, he wore a freaking Hawaiian shirt and flannel to an interview!

Next up, the original plan called for Band of Outsiders  but I thought I was too exhausted to read subtitles  and Jasmine was just plain exhausted. She went up to the room while I went out to the pool and caught up with Mary and watched the last 45 minutes of Forbidden Planet.

The last screening of the day was the midnight movie Gog in 3D. In the three years that I've been coming to TCMFF, I have never made it to a midnight movie. 

Gog!
Gog in 3D did it. I had made some VIP candy, and I still had some of it left so I brought it to the theater and gave it out to people who were there for the screening. The introduction talked about the restoration. When you make a 3D film you have two separate pieces of film, one for each eye. The restoration was challenging because they had one good copy for the one eye, but the copy for the other eye was done with film that was printed with a very cheap process and almost all of the color had faded out of it. When you looked at the two side-by-side, it almost looked like the one have been filmed in black and white.

The film was a hoot. Not good mind you but fun all the same. By the time we got back to the hotel everything was closed, so we just went up to bed, end of another great day at TCMFF.

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