Thursday, January 31, 2019

Off to See the Wizard...

On Sunday, I went to see the Fathom Events screening of The Wizard of Oz with and handful of the members of the newly formed San Diego TCM Backlot Chapter. It was a good turn-out at the screening. I go to a fair number of the Fathom TCM Screenings, and this was the biggest crowd I've seen for one of their events since, Gone with the Wind, several years ago.

The crowd was definitely into it. They applauded a few times during the screening and again at the end of the film. Not a TCM Classic Film Festival audience, mind you, but better than the other Fathom Events screenings I've been to lately. Most of the applause was for Toto, but I'll take what I can get. There were a handful of kids in the theater who were too young for the film or possibly for the theater-going experience. Still, you kind of have to expect that with a film like The Wizard of Oz.

I know that a lot of people in the classic film community don't like that Fathom Events shows as many modern classics as they do. While I agree to a point, of the fourteen films they are showing in 2019, I've only seen six in the theater. The breakdown by decade is as follows:

  • 1930s – 1
  • 1950s – 1
  • 1960s – 5
  • 1970s – 2
  • 1980s – 4
  • 1990s – 1

I honestly don't have an issue with the newer films. I tend be a bit more generous in with the age parameters of what is a classic than most classic film fans. If people come out for The Shawshank Redemption and realize that they can see, The Godfather Part II, isn't that a good thing? The Godfather Part II, by the way, is one of the ones I haven't seen in the theater. I'm in my mid-fifties, but I was only 12 when it came out. I didn't get to see many R-Rated movies at 12.

If I have a complaint, I would just like to see them dig a little deeper. I would love to see them play something like Strangers on a Train or Stalag 17 or Pillow Talk. Still, it's a getting betting. Many of the films are being shown three days instead of two. I'm going to call that a win for classic film.

I am looking forward to seeing My Fair Lady next month, another film that I have not seen on the big screen. I had a chance to see it in the theater on a re-release with my mom and sister, when I was about twelve. Being twelve, and male, I said, "Nah, I don't want to see a musical." I'm glad I'm getting to rectify that soon. 

Earlier this week, I heard that The Wizard of Oz made over a million dollars in ticket sales on Sunday. Not bad for an 80-year old movie. It was just $40,000 shy cracking the top 20 for the weekend. Again, not bad. While I was writing this post, I noticed that they added two more Encore screenings on Sunday, February 3, and Tuesday, February 5. If you missed it, you have another chance. 

Sunday, January 20, 2019

TCMFF 2019 – Top 5, So far

It's about that time of year. The TCM Classic Film Festival (TCMFF) held April 11–14, 2019, in Hollywood is about three months away. So far, TCM has announced about 20 films, about typical for three months out. For the last several years, I've done a post of Top 5 picks out of the first group of films. In a way, it's kind of a pointless exercise. Some of these Top Five films will drop off the list as other new films are announced. The one or two are still in my Top 5 when the full schedule is announced are quite likely to be playing opposite something I want to see more.

So why do I do it? Why not. It gives me something to focus on as the months wind down into TCMFF.

I do feel obligated to say something. I'm not tremendously psyched by the offering so far. Am I worried? Not at all. I know that once we have full schedule, there are going to be several spots, where there are two or three films that I am just dying to see all playing at the same time, and I can only see one. I also know that there will be surprises. Some film that I know very little about or wasn't even planning to see will turn out to be my favorite film of the Festival.

So why am I doing this again? Oh yeah, why not.

No. 5, Sunrise. I never seen Sunrise, but F.W. Murnau's silent classic is one of those top 100 films you must see before you die movies, and it's been on my classic film bucket list for years. I never knew why I hadn't watched it before. Now, I know why, so I can see it at TCMFF. I read the first couple of sentences of the description and stopped. I don't want to know anymore. I just want to watch it and let it take me where it needs me to go.

No. 4, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is a great Western and a great film. That said, I'm not a huge fan of Westerns and even then,  there are quite a few Westerns that I like better. What makes Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid remarkable is the absolute magic that Paul Newman and Robert Redford have onscreen together. So why doesn't it rank higher. Mostly, because I've seen it three or four times in the theater. 

Then, why mention it at all? Well, what if Robert Redford came? That would be a complete game-changer for almost anyone attending TCMFF. I'm sure that Robert Redford is very high on the short list of people TCM would love to have attend, and what better time than the 50th anniversary of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid? Didn't he name his film festival and foundation after  the character. He has to have strong feelings for the character and the film. I honestly don't know much about Redford, but I've always got the impression that he doesn't like Hollywood, doesn't like the fame, doesn't like talking about himself. But if he did come, how cool would that be? We can dream, can't we?

No. 3, Tarzan and His Mate. Tarzan and His Mate is possibly the best of the Tarzan series, and probably the best nude scene in Pre-Code. I guess if I took the time to do the math, I would say that the Disney animated Tarzan is a better film, but I hate math.

No. 2, Marty. Marty is the type of film the Hollywood doesn't make anymore. No, that's not right. They didn't make that type of film back then either. Sure, Hollywood loves a good romance, but they love a good romance but always ones that star good-looking people. You can take someone like Audrey Hepburn and make her look like a librarian, but underneath it's still Audrey Hepburn, and you know she's going to find love. For an actor like Ernest Borgnine, getting the girl onscreen isn't in the cards. Not unless there's a subplot from the romantic leads, where he ends up with the quirky, plain, homely, [insert adjective here] best friend of the woman the film is really about. That, or he already has the girl to start with, like being married to Stella Stevens in The Poseidon Adventure. Even there, the implication was she was a hooker he married to make an honest woman of her. That's right, actors like Ernest Borgnine not won't find love onscreen, they're going to need to pay for it if they do. That's why Marty is so wonderful. It's just an ordinary guy finding love and trying to navigate around the obstacles that society places on people who look like him.

No. 1, Holiday. Holiday is a wonderful film. It sounds like it should be a Christmas movie, but it's not. In fact, for years, I confused it with It Happened on Fifth Avenue. Cary Grant is a young man with a head for business and he's quickly amassed a small fortune. He wants to travel and enjoy life while he is young and has the means. His wealthy fiancee's family has other ideas. It's a great movie about what is really important in life, and one of Edward Everett Horton's best roles as Cary Grant's free-thinking mentor.