As the TCM Classic Film Festival goes by in a blur, here are some of the highlights from the third day of festivities, which had festivalgoers scrambling to get into various venues:
* They were packed in like sardines at Peter O’Toole’s early morning hand and footprint ceremony at Grauman’s Chinese Theater. Onhand with Mr. O’Toole and his family were The Stunt Man co-star Barbara Hershey, actress Anjelica Huston, and TCM stalwarts Robert Osborne and Rose McGowan (who did a high amount of flirting). The Oscar-nominated-but-yet-to-win actor provided the sound bite of perhaps the entire festival by quipping, “It’s been many years since I had an intimate relationship with cement.” You can check out video from the event here.
* Hayley Mills dazzled Leonard Maltin and numerous others with appearances at both Summer Magic and The Parent Trap; at the identical twin comedy, the communal spirit brought out the kids in all the adults, who happily laughed along and hissed at villainness Joanna Barnes.
* When the Alec Baldwin/Warren Beatty Q&A for Reds got moved to after the screening of the three hour epic (it had been slated for before), word went out on Twitter faster than wildfire; not a few followers sadly noted they’d be attending the screening Niagara with Joseph Cotten and Marilyn Monroe instead. Who knew Joseph Cotten was still a box office draw?
* Apparently Nancy Sinatra did most of the interviewing of Robert Osborne, and not the other way around, at a screening of The Man With the Golden Arm.
* Film historian Donald Bogle led the audience in a quasi-sing-a-long to the theme from Shaft before introducing star Richard Roundtree.
* Three classic films with surprise appeal filled out the TBA slots for Sunday with additional screenings: Cary Grant’s first film, This Is the Night, the Nicolas Ray film Bigger than Life, and Clara Bow’s last screen appearance, Hoop-La.
I was actually at the first screening of Hoop-La on Sunday, which brought out the film geek in me to the n-th degree. Not familiar with Bow’s career, I decided to use my iPhone for good instead of evil and looked up her (rather extensive) bio on IMDb and Wikipedia. Bow’s life was fascinating and tragic: growing up in the Brooklyn slums with a schizophrenic mother, her ups and downs in the movie industry, her reign as one Hollywood’s highest paid stars, and then her decision to leave the industry before even turning 30 (not to mention her life after). I was checking out a biography by David Stenn, Runnin’ Wild, when the pre-movie discussion began — and there was Stenn himself, talking eloquently about Bow’s life, and this particular film, one of her talking pictures that was financially successful but not enough to lure Bow into a continuing film career. In an amazing Museum of Modern Art restoration (we were the first audience to see it!), Bow is so viscerally alive onscreen that she seems practically contemporary (or is that timeless?), as a loose carnival dancer with a heart of gold, who sets out to seduce the son of the carnival manager as a paying gig, but winds up falling in love with the young boy instead. You can tell this is a pre-Production Code film: Bow’s amoral character is never punished for her mis-deeds (she even gets a happy ending), and wears a final revealing costume that probably would have shocked censors out of their seats. My copy of the Stenn bio is already being shipped…
I had planned on trying to get into the Reds screening (though the idea of another three hour epic after Spartacus was daunting), but as I left the Hoop-La screening, the line for Reds was already forming — or rather, had formed. With people camping out. With pizza boxes. The end of the line stretched far within the Hollywood and Highland complex, so I decided to cut my losses and get in line early for Breakfast at Tiffany’s at Grauman’s — good thing I did, as even at an hour early I found myself in the mid-hinterlands of Hollywood Boulevard outside the Hard Rock Cafe. Serendipitously, however, my place in line was marked by Julie Andrews’ star, a good omen since the Oscar winner and wife of Tiffany’s director, the late Blake Edwards, would be introducing the film. Andrews, chatting with Robert Osborne, was gracefully and funny (as always), though the intro might have worked better had she been introducing one of the films in which she appeared, such as 10, S.O.B., or Victor/Victoria. No matter – the Breakfast at Tiffany’s print was pristine, and Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard (and Cat!) have never looked better. Seeing the plethora of boyfriends in attendance at the movies, I couldn’t help but wonder how many would go home only to be compared — unfavorably — to the charming and gorgeous Peppard. And if you think you’ve seen this movie too many times, give it another whirl: Hepburn is still incredibly moving and funny, and while the New York setting will put contemporary reviewers in mind of Sex and the City, Holly Golightly could take on Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha with one hand tied behind her back and a tassled earplug still in place, and still have time to go to the powder room afterwards.
After Breakfast at Tiffany’s I had hoped to get into a screening of Gaslight, the Oscar winning thriller starring Ingrid Bergman, Charles Boyer, the ubiquitous Joseph Cotten, and a young Angela Lansbury, but as I found my way to the end of the line, I found myself closer to my hotel than to Grauman’s itself. I wished festivalgoers the best and left to put more photos from festival on the site (check them out here), passing a rushed Nathan Fillion and date — my first non-festival celebrity sighting. I only hope he ran the gauntlet of festivalgoers more adroitly than I did.