Tuesday, May 31, 2016

TCMFF 2016 - Day 4

Sunday at the TCM Classic Film Festival (TCMFF) started a little later for us. Since we only had three Falcons to give out on Sunday, we didn't have to get into Club TCM before it opened. That gave us about a half hour more sleep.

While we were getting ready in the morning, my 16-year-old daughter/Social Producer partner Jasmine said something super cool. I had originally planned to go to Holiday in Spain, but decided the transition would be too tough to get to the second block of films. I ended up switching to M*A*S*H, so I was sure I could get to The Kid on time. Jasmine said, "Oh good, because if you were not going to The Kid, I was straight-up going to ditch you." I was so proud.

My wife Mary went to the first two TBDs of the day, Double Harness and Shanghai Express, both of which she had been shut out of earlier. Jasmine and I went off to M*A*S*HThe thing I remember most about the introduction was a joke that Sean Cameron made. After welcoming the audience, he asked, why aren't you guys in church. Then continued with, if you're not going to church, shouldn't you be going to the screening of King of Kings.

Elliott Gould speaks at M*A*S*H (photo by Stefanie Keenan/
Getty Images for Turner)
Jasmine had never seen M*A*S*H at all, and I know I had never seen it in the theater. My goal in seeing it in IMAX was to see whether Sally Kellerman was a natural blond. Despite the huge screen, I still couldn't tell. If memory serves me, the interview with Elliott Gould was after the screening. What I mostly remember about it was that he seemed very modest and down-to-earth.

Jasmine's #TCMFF16YO review of M*A*S*H:

M*A*S*H, a.k.a. blackmail and sex, the movie

After the screening, Jasmine and I hid a Falcon at the Chinese Multiplex.

Kellee Pratt's very talented husband
Gary did this sketch of The Kid
Next it was on to the restoration of The Kid. One of the problems they had with the restoration was finding a print. Charlie Chaplin had left the U.S. in 1951 for the premiere of Limelight in London. At the time, Chaplin had been under investigation by the FBI for subversive activities. He was critical of the Communist witch-hunt in Hollywood, and at least one Congressman was calling for his deportation. Chaplin had never become a U.S. citizen. When he left the country, Chaplin gave the negatives to a friend who destroyed them out of fear of being associated with Chaplin. Despite this, the new restoration was beautiful. Jasmine absolutely loved it. The first classic film she ever watched was, City Lights, and she said it made her heart feel all weird. 

Jasmine's #TCMFF16YO review of The Kid:

I didn't know proper attention and care meant to shake the kid senseless and beat up their dad

Next, we hid a Falcon at the Chinese Multiplex, and Mary rejoined us for Horse Feathers. The introduction by David Steinberg was fun. We were sitting off to the side in the first row under where the hallway leads to the exit. I was able to get some really blurry pictures of him as he left. The one where he is closest, it's difficult to tell that you are even looking a human. The film was fantastic, absolutely hilarious.

Jasmine's #TCMFF16YO review of Horse Feathers:

When Harpo plays the harp, I stop seeing Harpo and I see a talented normal person

I know hunger got the better of us, and we decided on food rather than going to see Eva Marie Saint and The Russians Are Coming The Russians Are Coming. I think we went to Johnny Rockets again. At least, I tweeted the following picture of us (possibly Sunday was the day we bought the photos):

Afterwards, we went back to the hotel to change for the evening. We ended up going downstairs to Club TCM. We hid the last Falcon and caught up another Social Producer Christy Putnam. We did an interview with her and played ping pong in the little patio off the pool. 

We also ran into Ana Roland:

Then we went back to the TCL Chinese Multiplex and did an interview with Kendall:

Finally, Jasmine suggested we do an interview with the statue outside of the theater. We both were a little loopy at this point:

Also I had made some buttons for the Festival of a couple of my own designs, and at this point, I was doing my best to make sure we didn't have to take any home. 

I ended up talking to a woman, whose name now escapes me. I was explaining to her about Social Media and #TCMParty on Twitter. She said she didn't know anything about Social Media other than she had found this miniature Maltese Falcon that had something to do with Social Media. I was like, Oh, that was us. My daughter and I were the ones who did that.

Our last last screening was The Band Wagon. The host, Susan Strohman in her interview with Illeana Douglas, said that the shoe shine guy in the movie was a real shoe shine guy who had a knack for it. That was so cool as it was one of the most memorable scenes in the film. To me, The Band Wagon is sort of like one of those sci-fi films where you watch it for the special effects. The Band Wagon is not the greatest performance for Fred Astaire or Cyd Charisse or for Oscar Lavant for that matter, but the dance numbers are just so darn cool.

Jasmine's #TCMFF16YO review of The Band Wagon:

When I see movies like this it makes me wonder why I even have legs 

On the way back to the hotel for the closing night party, we stopped at Rite Aid for a snack, and it was like the Grinch had struck. There was hardly anything on the shelves, nothing left but some hooks and wire. The entire store had been picked clean. 

The closing party was fun though it ended way too soon. When you're last screening ends at close to 10, midnight just comes way too fast. To compound matters, when the party shut down at 12:00, all of the bars in The Hollywood Roosevelt were closed. You would think that with the prices they were charging, they would want to keep charging them as long as possible.

Still the party was a lot of fun, talking with new friends and old. I even met a woman, Denise Mankarious, from San Diego who I'd been talking with online for years but had never met in real life. Jasmine only stayed for a little while. She is fine with hanging out with grownups in small groups, but a party with a whole bunch of them, not so much. If I'd had let her, she would have not gone at all.

It all ended too soon and not having a bar open wasn't working.  Ariel Schudson suggested we go to bar she knew, called Boardners. The Exodus was somewhat less than Charleton Heston would have inspired. Mary was wearing shoes, not meant for walking, so it ended up being just Ariel, Paula Guthat, and me. The drinks were good at about a third of the price back at the Roosevelt. Not a bad way to end TCMFF.

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 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.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

TCMFF 2016 - Day 2

Friday at the TCM Classic Film Festival (TCMFF) started earlier than I would have liked. We had made arrangements to get into Club TCM early before it opened in the morning to place a Falcon. That meant that I had to be up, showered, shaved, and out of the room about 45 minutes earlier than I needed to be to make the first screening. Ah well, who sleeps at TCMFF.

My 16-year-old daughter and Social Producer partner Jasmine and I then went up the Social Producers office, where breakfast was waiting. Mmmm, real food. Then we headed out to the Egyptian for the first screening, The More the Merrier. When we got there, we found Joel Williams in pole position with the number 1 line number. 

We got in line behind a woman named Linda from San Francisco, who was totally rocking the 1940s glam:

Linda before The More the Merrier
Then it was into the screening for The More the Merrier and a heaping helping of Dingle. The film was great, an absolute treat in the theater. Jasmine loved it, her #TCMFF16YO review:

In conclusion, old kooky men are great matchmakers

After the screening we immediately got line numbers for the next showing at the Egyptian, He Ran All the Way. We ended up running into Linda again, and got a Reverse Angle interview with her:

We had a little time on our hands, so we went across the street to Starbucks. At this point Jasmine was complaining about being tired, so I convinced her to get a mocha frappuccino, caramel macchiato, or some other sweet sounding thing. Come on, all the cool kids are doing it. Yes, I'm a bad parent.

We got back in line and noticed that everybody was tweeting that they were being shut out for Double Harness, and they were all heading over to the Egyptian for He Ran All the Way. It turns out my wife had been shut out of Shanghai Express and when she came back for Double Harness, she got shut out of that as well. I told her to come over to the Egyptian for He Ran All the Way. We saved her a seat.

Also, I noticed this tweet from @tangypunch from Dallas, whom I had met for the first time earlier:

Happy winner of the #FindTheFalcon game.

Turns out Meghan found one too:

I had never seen He Ran All the Way, and I knew very little about it. In addition to John Garfield and Shelley Winters, the film also starred Norman Lloyd. And guess what, Norman Lloyd came out to see himself in the theater at 101 years old! How cool is that?

It was another great screening. Me, I was happy to see a movie with Shelley Winters where she goes swimming and survives the ordeal. Jasmine dug it as well. Her #TCMFF16YO review:

Sorry Nick, girls don't like sketchy, rapey, stupid, gun toting, mother abusers

Before we left we hid another Falcon at the Egyptian.

Next it was back to the Chinese IMAX for The Conversation. By the time we got there, we had numbers in the mid-300s. I wasn't too worried. The Chinese is huge and seats close to a thousand. While we were waiting, we had a nutritious lunch consisting of crackers, cheese, and lunch meat, yes, Lunchables.

The Ben Mankiewicz interview with Francis Ford Coppola was really cool. They spent a fair amount of time on The Godfather. Coppola said that when they were making it, there was no guarantee that it would succeed. Other Mafia films had failed miserably, and Coppola said it was a miserable experience. He had two small children and was afraid he was going to be fired every day. He also mentioned that the Baptism scene, that everybody thinks is so brilliant was not something that he came up with because he thought it would be especially dramatic. He said, he just needed to fit about 60 pages of the novel into a couple of minutes of the film.  

They moved onto The Conversation, and Coppola said he was heavily influenced by Blow-Up (1966) as he wanted to try to make a mystery that was also a very personal film. He said that veteran director Irwin Kirshner (best known for directing Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back) was very encouraging to him. The Conversation centers around Gene Hackman recording and reassembling a conversation of a man and woman in Union Square in San Francisco. They approached shooting that scene as if they were recording the conversation themselves, following the different positions of the different microphones, where different microphones might only get portions of the conversation. That way they assembled the scene similar to the way the Gene Hackman character would re-assemble the conversation in the film. 

Coppola was very funny with anecdotes of his career. I did a video of the entire interview. Apologies that the audio and camera is a little rough in spots:

The Conversation was incredible. This is a film that I have been wanting to see for probably 20 years, ever since I first heard about it. For whatever reason, I never got a chance to see it. Now, I know why, seeing it for the first time at the Chinese IMAX at TCMFF, wow. 

Jasmine's #TCMFF16YO review:

An award winning movie that didn't put me to sleep

If memory serves me, The Conversation had run long, and we figured we probably couldn't make Pleasure Cruise in one of the smaller theaters. We opted instead for dinner at Johnny Rockets. I seem to remember that the theater for Pleasure Cruise didn't fill, but scarfing down hot food for a change was still a good call.

6 Hours to Live screening (Photo by Stefanie Keenan/
Getty Images for Turner)
Next up was, 6 Hours to Live. It was kind of a fun movie, but it seemed odd to me. It was trying to be a little of everything, a sci-fi horror film, a romantic comedy, and a political thriller, all at the same time. It just seemed a bit scattered to me. That said, when I mentioned this to one of the other, Social Producers, Ariel Schudson, the next morning, she said that was exactly the reason she loved it. In fact, she would have gone and seen it a second time if it had made on of the TBD spots.

Jasmine's #TCMFF16YO review of 6 Hours to Live:

Didn't know angels dressed as Doctor Jeckyl and Mr Hyde

Finally, the last screening, The Manchurian Candidate with Angela Lansbury. My wife Mary and daughter Jasmine were too exhausted to attend, but there was no way I was missing it. The Alec Baldwin interview with Angela Landsbury was good. She said that her first love was the theater and that the last really good film role she got was The Manchurian Candidate. She also mentioned that her film career benefited from different directors seeing her differently, which kept her from being type cast. 

Angela Lansbury thanks the crowd.
(Photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for Turner)

I loved the film and seeing it on the big screen was a treat, but I was fighting falling asleep through practically the entire film. I now can see why, Mary and Jasmine opted for sleep.

Once again, I ended up in the Library Bar at the Roosevelt after the last screening. I ended up talking to Andrea Rosen (@AndWhatRosen) and her husband (@HubsRosen) for a while.

Andrea and me, stolen from her Twitter feed.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Lover Come Back - Classic Movie Ice Cream Social Blogathon

This post is an entry in the Classic Movie Ice Cream Social Blogathon hosted by Movies Silently

To be honest, Lover Come Back was not my first choice. I wanted to do a post on a little gem from 1967 called, A Guide for the Married Man. No, it wasn't taken, but when I looked at the list of films scheduled, I noticed that two of the three Rock Hudson Doris Day movies, Pillow Talk and Send Me No Flowers, were being done. My favorite of the trio, Lover Come Back, was still up for grabs. I took this as a sign. 

Obligatory Spoiler Alert: This post will contain spoilers.

I do like all three films that Rock Hudson and Doris Day made together, but of the three, Send Me No Flowers is easily my least favorite. Yes, it is very funny in spots but I find Rock Hudson, being such a hypochondriac off-putting. Pillow Talk and Lover Come Back are quite similar in terms of plot. It is obvious that in Lover Come Back, they were trying to recapture the magic of Rock Hudson and Doris Day's first film together, Pillow Talk. Both films involve a mistaken identity, which Rock uses to seduce the ever virginal Doris Day. 

Why Lover Come Back? That's a good question. I think it's because in Lover Come Back Rock uses sex as a business tactic. In Pillow Talk, Rock Hudson is a player, pure and simple. I like that in Lover Come Back, they compare how the two main characters approach business. Jerry Webster (Rock Hudson) and Carol Templeton (Doris Day) are advertizing executives. Both have the same goal, to land a new client. The way they approach it is a different as night and day. Carol Templeton strives to get the client by selling the product. Jerry Webster wants to get the client the old fashioned way, by getting him drunk and more importantly getting him laid. You'll never guess who wins.

It just seems that there is something more devious about the Jerry Webster character, over his counterpart in Pillow Talk. In Pillow Talk, Rock Hudson is after Doris Day to satisfy his personal lust. In Lover Come BackRock Hudson is also after Doris Day to satisfy his personal lust, but he is also using sex to get ahead in business, and he is using her to plunder her ideas as a reputable advertizing exec. This makes Rock Hudson a more reprehensible character, and to me, that makes him more interesting.

Umm, and then there's Vip. In Lover Come Back, Carol Templeton brings charges against Jerry Webster with the Advertizing Council, and convinces Jerry Webster's party girl, a dancer named Rebel Davis (Edie Adams), to testify on her behalf. To keep Rebel in line, Jerry Webster promises to make her the Vip girl. And what is Vip, well, it's something that Jerry Webster made up. He even shoots TV commercials for a product that doesn't exist as an enticement. When the clueless head of Jerry Webster's firm, Pete Ramsey (Tony Randall), makes a command decision to run the fake commercials, Jerry Webster has inadvertently crossed the line between unscrupulous business practices and outright fraud by selling a product that doesn't exist.

Jerry Webster's ad campaign works all too well. Orders stream in for their nonexistent product. Webster and Ramsey have no choice but to invent a product to sell as Vip, hopefully, before Carol Templeton discovers the truth and brings more charges to the Advertizing Council. They enlist the help of a mad genius scientist Dr. Linus Tyler to invent something they can sell as Vip. They don't care what it is as long as it can be created quickly. This is where the mistaken identity comes in. Carol Templeton mistakes Jerry Webster as Dr. Tyler and tries to woo him in order get the Vip account. Of course, Carol Templeton discovers the truth about the masquerade right before she is going to sleep with Jerry Webster.

Carol Templeton educates Dr. Linus Tyler (aka Jerry Webster)
in ways of the world. Beard, bowtie, and ill-fitting suit, 1960s 
code for scientist.
There is also the obligatory gay reference, where Jerry Webster is stranded naked on a beach and has to hitchhike home. He is picked by a furrier delivery van and has to enter his apartment dressed in a woman's mink coat. Two minor characters who have been providing a running commentary on Webster sexual exploits see him in the mink and say, he is the last guy you would ever figure. By figure, of course they mean figure to be gay. Pillow Talk also has a gay reference, where Rock Hudson implies that his alter ego, who is dating Doris Day might gay. I've always thought that these must've been the biggest inside jokes in Hollywood. I'm sure there were people in the industry who knew about Rock Hudson's personal life, but to the American public the thought of him being a "homo" had to be absolutely absurd. Apologies for the non-PC term, but to audiences of the late-1950s/early 1960s, gay still meant happy.

The topper to all of this is Vip itself. What the real Dr. Tyler invents is what the world has long needed, a good 10-cent drunk. Dr. Tyler's Vip is a candy that enters the bloodstream as pure alcohol (each piece of Vip candy having the equivalent of a triple martini). Pete Ramsey as well as Jerry Webster, Carol Templeton, and the entire Advertizing Council eat the Vip, like it's, well, candy. The result is one spoiler I will not give you.

I honestly think the cast on Pillow Talk is marginally better than the cast of Lover Come Back. At least, Ann B. Davis is a poor substitute poor substitute for Thelma Ritter. Still, I'll take Lover Come Back. It feels edgier to me, and any edge is substantially dulled in Rock Hudson and Doris Day's final film, Send Me No Flowers, where the two play a married couple. As a screen couples go, you can't do a whole lot better than Rock Hudson and Doris Day, despite their only making three films together. To me, all three films are great, but Lover Come Back, just a little bit greater.


If you're curious, I did try to make some Vip for the 2016 TCM Classic Film Festival. You can find details on that here. Suffice it to say, I am no Linus Tyler.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

TCMFF 2016 - Day 1

TCL Chinese IMAX for 'll The President's Men premiere
(Photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for Turner)
Day 1 of the 2016 TCM Classic Film Festival (TCMFF) started with breakfast at Mel's Drive-In on Highland. One of the #TCMParty regulars @BeesKnees_pdx had set it up, and frankly, I was a little worried. We were planning to meet at 8 am, not particularly early, but since there were so many people in town already, I thought that trying to get a table for a large party that close to everything might be a nightmare. It turned out to be fine. They had a several tables pushed together, and we were seated right away. About 8 people showed up with a few more coming in about the time we were getting the check.

I went back to the hotel. We had a mandatory TCM Social Producer's meeting at  11:00. We had just enough time to do some video interviews, the Sturhann Family edition of Reverse Angle. 

We start with an interview of my lovely wife Mary.

Next we have an interview of my 16 daughter and Social Producer partner in crime Jasmine. 

Finally, we have my daughter Jasmine interviewing me.

Next we had TCM Social Producer's meeting. Most of the Social Producers were the same people as last year, but there were a few new faces in the room. Everyone was doing something slightly different than they were doing last year. The main thing that Jasmine and I had going was running a game called, Find the Falcon. We had 3D printed 15 miniature replicas of the Maltese Falcon. The idea was to hide these Falcons in plain sight in the TCMFF festival area for attendees to find as a souvenir. These Falcons were relatively small, just under 3 inches tall, so unless you have eyes like an eagle, you wouldn’t notice one from across the room. 

I was worried that we might get people stalking us and making it hard to hide the black birds. After all, we kind of stand out in a crowd, me with the big mustache and Jasmine with all the hair. That turned out to be a nonissue. A bigger problem was trying to find a spot where no one was around. You'd find a really good spot and come back later only to find two or three people standing right where you want to hide the dingus.

Caricature of Ben Mankiewicz
After the meeting, the Social Producers headed over to the Hollywood and Highland mall for lunch. I was wearing my classic film boater hat at the Festival. It has movie-related sketches all over it, including a caricature of Ben Mankiewicz. As we were crossing Hollywood Blvd., I saw that Ben was crossing the street the other direction, coming right toward us. I stopped him and showed him the hat. I said, "I hope you don't find it weird and creepy."

Ben replied, "I find it appealingly weird and creepy."

Lunch at Trastevere was really good. We all sat at two long tables and one round table off to the side. With this many people, you tend to mostly talk to the four or five people closest to you. I mostly remember Ariel Schudson telling stories about her grandmother. Ariel's grandmother is the late Irene Tedrow, a character actress from the 1940s to the 1980s. Most of her film work was uncredited, but her TV credits reads like a list of all the best TV shows from the start of television to the end of the 1980s.

Ariel had also organized a team consisting mostly of TCM Social Producers for the So You Think You Know Movies trivia contest. Last year we had done the same thing and had lost spectacularly. This year, we won, thanks in no small part to #TCMParty regular Will McKinley. It all came down to a tie-breaker and we sent Will, because he had more of the answers than any of the rest of us. Oddly, my wife who was sitting right next to us had the answer to one of the one or two questions we missed. As we were leaving, Jasmine and I placed one of the Falcons in Club TCM.

Next up, there was an unofficial gathering of #TCMParty. Last year it was out by the pool, but they were only letting hotel guests out by the pool, so we met in this patio right off the pool. In a way, this worked out well for Jasmine and I. Since we were staying at the Hollywood Roosevelt, this gave us a chance to scope out the area around the pool. The plan was to place the second Falcon out by the pool before the screening of The Freshman.

Lots of people turned out for the #TCMParty thing as you can see. I "appropriated" a couple of photos off of Paula Guthat's facebook feed:

Paula wanted to get the group photos out of the way by 4:30, since she was covering the red carpet at 5:00. This worked out well for us, as we wanted to change clothes for opening night. But before we went upstairs, I wanted to check on that first Falcon. I had a feeling that we had hidden in a little too well. Sure enough, it was still there. I moved it to a slightly more conspicuous spot (when we got back later after changing clothes, someone had found it).

Changing clothes turned out to be much more of an ordeal than I imagined. I had a white dinner jacket I was going to wear. I half expected tying the bow tie to be a problem. It was.  What I hadn't expected was, in packing, I had somehow not packed the tuxedo shirt. I only had one other dress shirt, yellow. I wasn't exactly happy with the result. I think it made me look a little like a lounge singer:
Jazzy and I waiting for the start of One Potato Two Potato

The Freshman poolside  screening, taken later after
Jasmine and I had hid the dingus.
(Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images for Turner)
On the way to the opening party, Jasmine and I stopped by the pool to hide a Falcon. By that time, people had already started to gather. The spot that Jasmine and I found earlier seemed too obvious at that point, so we found another one. We then went to the Opening Night Party. The first thing I did was checked the Falcon I'd place in Club TCM earlier, and it had been picked up.

The original plan for opening night had been The Freshman by the pool, followed by Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. The problem was that it would require us to leave before the end of The Freshman to make the second movie. Both Mary and Jasmine had thought that One Potato Two Potato looked interesting, so we decided to go to that instead. In a perfect world that would make the transition to the second movie easier. It's not a perfect world. More on that later. The other good thing about going to One Potato Two Potato would be that it made sense to switch gears on the second film as well and see the Argentinian Film Noir Los Tallos Amargos. I didn't think I would want to see two interracial romance films back-to-back.

Donald Bogle (left) and Larry Peerce (right)
I thought we had left ourselves plenty of time, and if memory serves me, our line numbers were not very high (in the 70s). Still, when we got into the theater, it was pretty full. The only place we could find three seats together was in the front row. None of us had eaten anything since mid-day, so I left and got a large popcorn. I came back into the theater, "Honey, I brought dinner."  The one advantage to sitting in the front row was that we were 6 feet away from Donald Bogle  and director of One Potato Two Potato Larry Peerce for their discussion of the film beforehand.

When One Potato Two Potato was released in 1964, interracial marriage was illegal in just under a third of the states in the Union. The film did very well at the Cannes Film Festival, getting a Palme d'Or nomination (highest prize at the festival), and Barbara Barrie winning Best Actress. Despite this buzz, they couldn't get distribution for the film in the United States due to the content. It wasn't until Larry Peerce went The Tonight Show with  Johnny Carson that the film got released nationwide. 

The film itself is brilliant. Naturally, you want to compare One Potato Two Potato to Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. Other than the obvious (both films dealing with interracial marriage), they come from a completely different perspective. Guess Who's Coming to Dinner is about a black man who has fallen in love with a white woman, and ultimately, the families doing the right thing. One Potato Two Potato is about the relationship between the black man and the white woman, something that is almost entirely absent in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. As such, One Potato Two Potato feels more real. Don't get me wrong, I love both films, but Guess Who's Coming to Dinner is about a situation. One Potato Two Potato is about the people in a relationship and how race affects that.

So remember that perfect world comment earlier, well about 2 minutes before the end of the film, a fire alarm went off.




We had to exit the theater right before the end of the movie. It was terrible, the most frustrating thing that could ever happen. We had no idea how long it would last. Would it be twenty minutes or would they tell us that the theater was done for the night. I like to think I handled the situation with quiet grace and dignity:

What the #$%& happened in the movie!?!?!?!

I ended up reading the last part of the plot description on wikipedia. Then, it turned out it was only about 20 minutes, and they were going restart the film from five minutes before the alarm went off. In hindsight, reading the ending was not the best idea. Admitting that I had done so to my friends in the theater, even worse idea. They gave me so much crap about it. 

Jasmine's Twitter review of One Potato Two Potato:

Crap is crappy, but crap used to be way crappier #TCMFF #TCMFFSP #TCMFF16YO

I wouldn't let her say, shit.

After the film, we quickly hid the last Falcon of the day in the lobby of the TCL Chinese 6. Mary and Jasmine were both famished and exhausted, so they skipped the last screening in favor of a snack at 25 Degrees in the hotel and sleep. I toughed it out for Los Tallos Amargos. Will McKinley and I ended up getting numbers one apart from each other and didn't know if we would get in. We did. Yea. And thanks, Joel Williams, for holding seats for us.

Eddie Muller talks about Los Tallos Amargos
In his introduction, Eddie Muller gave some really great background on the film. The film won the Silver Condor award for Best Picture, the Argentinian equivalent to an Oscar. The film was thought lost until a print was found in the collection of the film's producer in 2014. The print was an original film negative, but stored in the worst possible way, in an underground cellar with roots growing out of the walls and the cans rusted shut. The print was in surprisingly good shape except for the soundtrack, which had to be restored from a 16 mm print that one of the actors owned.

Eddie Muller also said that when they screened the film at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), one of the actors was living in New York about 20 blocks away. He came out for the MOMA screening, and told Eddie Muller that he had left Argentina and had never seen the movie before. He got to see it the first time in a museum 60 years after it was released.

Los Tallos Amargos was great, but I have to admitted I was nodding through much of it. I kept jerking myself back awake, and wondering what missed on the last two or three subtitles. Still, I really enjoyed it. I'm sure I'll never get a chance to see, either  One Potato Two Potato or Los Tallos Amargos in the theater again. Switching plans was a good call.

After the film, I checked and that last Falcon had been found. I went back to the hotel. The Library Bar was still open, so I stopped in for a drink and ended up chatting with Theresa Brown. That was about the only real chance we had to talk this year. Last year, we closed down the bar at the Hollywood Roosevelt, almost every night, so I'm glad we had a chance to hang out at least the once.

Despite the fire alarm, it was a great start to TCMFF 2016.