Posts tagged: classic film
I apologize for the delay. Right after the festival, I had several shows to perform and finals. Here is my review of the last day at the festival.
After we finished up with A Trip to the Moon and Other Trips, my sister and cousin caught up with us to see Charade with me and my parents.
Charade was a truly wonderful treat. It was certainly a jump in time from our previous film experience, but a wonderful one. Charade featured an older, wiser, but still just as beautiful Audrey Hepburn as a widow being pursued by her late husband’s murderers who are in search of the money he’d stolen from them, all while developing an untrustworthy romance with a much older Cary Grant.
Audrey has such a naive yet sophisticated presence in every movie that she really does her best work when she’s paired alongside some of those well-established, best-of-the-best actors, like Gregory Peck and Fred Astaire and Humphrey Bogart, many of whom were 13-30 years her senior. Here, she is 34 and Cary Grant is 58, but the chemistry between the two of them is just phenomenal and comes just at the perfect time in their careers. Cary had originally turned down the opportunity to appear with her in Roman Holiday and in Sabrina, and almost had to turn down this one as well, but he realized how terrible the script for his previous engagement was and practically crawled back to Stanley Donen to do Charade instead. And the dialogue in the script allows for the relationship to be more believable, making light of their age difference and develops a great game of cat and mouse between the two, Audrey doing the chasing this time.
Also supporting Audrey is the great Walter Matthau, who’d later go on to do such films as Hello, Dolly!, the original Taking of Pelham 123, and Grumpy Old Men. Previously, he’d done many of the Hitchcock Presents… which brought the element to the film that made it, what many called, “the best Hitchcock film that Hitchcock never made.”
The film is probably my favorite of Cary Grant’s comedies. There is something abouthim in Charade that is just absolutely carefree and unafraid to let loose. Cary has these hilarious faces! The only other time I can remember laughing as hard at a Cary Grant film would be in Arsenic and Old Lace, almost twenty years prior. I suppose that goes along with one of his lines from Charade, “You’ve just said a horrible word: Serious. When a man gets to be my age, that’s the last word he ever wants to hear. I don’t want to be serious.”
NOTE: You can actually watch Charade online, on Hulu or Netflix.
Afterwards, we caught up with my sister to catch the Women, with Norma Shearer, Rosalind Russell, and Joan Crawford, as well as more big names. This film was made in 1939, but many of you may be familiar with the 2008 remake, also featuring a mess of big name actress such as Bette Midler, Annette Bening, Cloris Leachman, and Carrie Fisher, to name a few. You may also recognize it as the film adaptation of the Broadway hit of the same name by Clare Booth Luce, originally performed (and appropriately so) at the Ethel Barrymore Theater.
The Women is a brilliant film for women. When you’re told that this film is called The Women, they aren’t joking around with the title. This film features absolutely nothing BUT women. Not once do you see anything resembling the opposite sex, besides a coat belonging to the main character’s husband. The animals, the portraits in the background, prop books’ authors, everything that has a sexual orientation is female, which I believe is appropriate as this film is all about women’s issues and their relationships. Of course, it is centered around Mary Haines and her subsequent divorce after her husband cheats on her, but even then, it isn’t his infidelity that’s the issue, its Crystal Allen’s presence in their relationship that is the point. The love that is talked of between Mr. and Mrs. Haines seems absolutely mutual, but his struggle with doing what’s right and wrong is Crystal’s manipulation, and as we women know, man is slave beneath woman’s whip of influence.
Of course, the film’s star is Joan Crawford, who plays the film’s terrible other woman. She is mean, manipulative, and does well opposite a sweet Norma Shearer. By this time, she is still stuck in roles that are more vampy, before she hits it in a serious roles like Mildred Pierce. Through the whole film, there is nothing I’d like to see more than for Mary to rip the fancy clothes her husband has bought her right off her back and push her into the street naked, but maybe thats just my feminine side talking. Joan doesn’t make you hate her but her actions. She is that woman that all women know of. She is the manipulator.
The film is definitely long and definitely filled with a lot of hormone-induced bad decisions, but I loved it. I don’t think I’d watch it again any time soon, but I respect it for its genius. I would strongly suggest that all females find time to watch it at least once.
The last film on our trip was another Cary Grant film, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream Home, featuring Myrna Loy and Melvyn Douglas, as a part of their architecture series at the festival. This film struck so well in the hearts of many Americans who just wanted a place to call their own. In fact, I remember watching and thinking, “This is just like George Washington Slept Here,” a film with Jack Benny of the same concept produced four years before Mr. Blandings. I quite enjoyed Washington Slept Here, but Mr. Blandings was just as wonderful to watch. I suppose it had more appeal the public simply because of its more famous cast. While Jack Benny carries the screen well, Mr. Blandings is more equally balance between Cary, Myrna, and Melvyn. Also placing Mr. Blandings on a higher pedestal would be RKO’s advertising department. According to our presenter, a some 40 replicas of Mr. Blandings’ home were built all across the United States.
An interesting realization I had while watching this film, it being the third Cary Grant film I’d seen throughout the festival, was realizing a necklace that Cary wore under his shirt. We didn’t see it in I’m No Angel, as he doesn’t take his shirt off, but I noticed it both in Charade and in Mr. Blandings. There’s fifteen years between the two films, but there is no mistaking that its the same necklace, a small, gold, coin-shaped pendant on a long thin chain.
All in all, the festival was a fantastic chance to see great films on the big screen, experience a slice of history, and hear what went into making these movies. Despite a bit of personal drama that when on while we were attendance, there weren’t any other people I’d wish to have attend the festival with. I could only gush to my cousin over Charade and Stanley Donen, and then only gush with her when we realized that Stanley Donen was sitting right in front of us during the film.
If you are interested in classic film or a history of films, this is definitely a place to be. If only I could go again, I would LIVE there, nestled between a hundred other people in uncomfortable seating (though I think if I even smell popcorn one more time, I might throw up). My theatre professors noticed that they’d never seen me so excited as when I came back from the festival and I think thats because, as an actress and artist, there is nothing more I’d rather be doing than making films like the ones I saw this weekend.
If you do have a chance to go, here is my advice: Bring snacks and energy drinks because you will not have time to eat nor the energy to stay awake. Bring a good camera if you wanna snapshot of any of the celebs because an iPhone will NOT do anyone justice. If you’re attempting to do a blog, blog in between films and not at the end of the day like I did or you’ll never get any sleep. And speaking of which, if you want to get the full experience, here’s my last piece of advice: SLEEP LESS, WATCH MORE.
(reposted with pictures)
So we decided not to see High Society as it was too terribly cold outside to watch, but we did have dinner at the Public inside the Roosevelt, two tables away from THE Ben Mankiewicz, who had a harem of women around him at all times. We attempted to get a picture and an autograph, but the wall of women was too thick.
Afterward, we saw Sabrina at Grauman’s Chinese Theater. It was wonderful. My big cousin fell asleep in my lap before the movie began (we’d all had a long day) and my big sister went to catch up with friends so my parents and I are essentially the only ones of our party who have actually seen a movie since we got here.
Sabrina was fabulous. The costume designer for Mad Men and the Mad Men collection at Banana Republic spoke before the movie, commenting on how well Edith Head did on supervising the costume design, especially with a certain young, new designer Givenchy. The pictured above is the dress Audrey Hepburn wore during the party and in the tennis court, which is on display here at the festival. You really don’t get a sense of how tiny she was until you’re standing next to it. I knew she could fit a dog collar around her waist, but wow! It looks like only a very, VERY tall six year old could fit into it. And Audrey was a tall girl too, despite being so tiny. You can tell in the scenes with Humphrey Bogart that they are almost equal in height, even while she’s in flats.
Audrey was always self-conscious about her body. She spent some of her youth eating dandelions and mud pies because her father had invested all their family’s money into the Third Reich and many times, they went without food. Her metabolism suffered for it and it often took two big helpings of spaghetti (which she’d often make for the cast and crew of whatever movie she was working on when filming ran late) just to keep her weight up. In her adulthood, she also suffered from anorexia on occasion, I suppose because she had gotten used to going without.
In Sabrina, you can really see her transform from this awkward little girl into this gorgeous, sophisticated, young woman. Really, she is beautiful in the fact that she isn’t very attractive. She has bushy eyebrows (which, despite the studio’s insistence, she kept bushy), crooked teeth, and large nostrils. One of her ears is kind of pointed while the other is round. Yet she is still this picture of perfection. She truly is an inspiration for woman who aren’t satisfied with their physical appearance.
Humphrey Bogart apparently didn’t want Audrey for the role. He was filling in last minute for Cary Grant though, so his suggestion to use wife Lauren Bacall came too late. He really does a good job though at being the tough, stalwart, cold business guy. Much like William Powell in My Man Godfrey, you almost can’t tell he is in love with Sabrina except for subtle character ticks, the biggest one for me and my favorite being the slight twitch in his right cheek right before he socks his brother in the face. It’s a small break, but it is one that really shows us how vulnerable even the toughest guy can get when he’s in love.
Billy Wilder is also a truly genius writer as well. The humor, the puns, the subtle sexual jokes, are so wonderfully played out by the actors. It’s almost a shame that he was such a hard person to work with. We all know geniuses tend to be arrogant, but apparently, he scared off his first co-writer for the movie within one day.
Truly a wonder to see on the big screen.
** Fun note: When Sabrina pulls down the brim of his hat the first time, there is this moment where you can see a glimpse of Bogie’s old role as the gangster. And the look he gives Audrey definitely shows that he knows it.
(I decided to repost this with pictures.)
My sincerest apologies for being late on this one. It was a LONG day so I’ll just jump in.
Today was a day of comedy genius! We started out with a short film, Who Dun it? with the Three Stooges playing bumbling detectives trying to solve a murder. Hilarious, of course, but I think I found them way funnier as kids. Slapstick gets old hat, you know, but it was still very entertaining. Sadly, this particular film occurs sometime after Curly’s unfortunate stroke on set of Half-Wits Holiday so everyone’s favorite Stooge is absent. Still, Shemp is a fantastic comedian and really pulls this movie together along with Moe and Larry.
During the same screening, we watched another, longer film entitled Who Done It? featuring Abbott and Costello as two soda jerks attempting to solve a murder at a radio broadcasting station. It’s after their famous Who’s on First? sketch and they address it with a great laugh. Also in this film is Mary Wickes, who plays the nurse in The Man Who Came to Dinner. She holds her own very well with the two, where many of the other actors seem to fade into the background as they usually do when you have two great comedians up there. William Bendix also holds his own again Lou with some great, witty back and forth dialogue as the police leuitenant’s detective sidekick. The great thing is that even after Who’s On First, they haven’t lost their appeal; they certainly havent passed their prime. The film also has noir elements that go along with one of the festival’s themes. It’s just great that Abbott and Costello, while comedians, can be so versatile with their comedy, dipping their hand into horror, mystery, adventure, and romance. What I love most is that unlike the Stooges or Laurel and Hardy shorts, it uses dialogue to its every advantage. Not “smart, sophisticated” dialogue, but it is most certainly not dumbed-down. It does not underestimate the audience, nor does it confuse them.
Continuing this train of comedy, we saw several Laurel and Hardy shorts, Busy Bodies (pictured above), Helpmates, and County Hospital. The presenter from UCLA explained that most of their films were cut up and divided and put together in other combinations so originals aren’t found in their entirety. These were all fully restored, all scenes in the correct order and in the correct short. I loved watching these guys. Laurel is so absolutely sweet, caring, and loyal, to a fault, of course. Hardy is just that grouch who loves Laurel but probably loves to use him just as much. Even with the ability to speak, they allow expression and gesture to rule. I found so many elements of these comedies still being used today, noticeably the way Hardy looks at the camera every time Laurel does something silly is almost exactly how the cast of the Office interacts with the camera when Michael Scott is up to his shenanigans.
We interrupted our comedy day with a Disney princess I feel gets little respect nowadays, Snow White and her seven dwarves. Not only did Leonard Maltin introduce Disney’s first feature-length cartoon, but he interviewed Ginnifer Goodwin from ABC’s Once Upon A Time, who’d had a life long love of Snow White, AND announced that the original motion model, Marge Champion, was in the audience. It amazes me how well these actors look after 75+ years. The film was, of course, a masterpiece. Out of all the Disney princesses, I feel her character moves the most realistically. She really looks like someone took a video of Marge Champion and colored over it. She’s the perfect example of the purity and innocence of children that Disney tries to capture in all his movies.
Back to comedies, we went and saw a Harold Lloyd film, Girl Shy, that was presented by his granddaughter who was raised by him. The film was accompanied by a full orchestra that really made the entire experience ten million times better. Girl Shy is his first endeavor into producing his own films and what a way to start off! The cinematography is amazing and the stunts were too crazy! For a period of film where cinematography hadn’t fully been recognized, it is too fantastic. Harold Lloyd does so many crazy stunts, jumping from a broken carriage to the horses pulling it and then taking off on one after unhitching them. He is driving motorcycles through itty bitty trenches and through grocery stores and driving cars like a mad man! And of course, he did these all himself. I’m not even sure how he got permission to do all this stuff. The most impressive stunt is when he drives the two horses and carriage right over the camera. You can even see him trying to aim it just right so that he doesn’t damage it. Nowadays, we see that kind of thing all the time in films, but there are extra precautions taken to ensure the safety of the camera, where this is just a huge risk. After it cuts to another angle, you can see where the camera was set in the street. Harold Lloyd is just too perfect in this movie as well. Many of his gestures and behaviors are very modern. It almost seems as if a good friend of mine set up all this and made a period film with an old camera just yesterday, instead of the film being almost a hundred years old. He has such a great, timeless presence that brings in audiences of any generation.
We took a last break from comedy to see The Black Cat with Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff. Introducing the film was their children, Bela G. Lugosi and Sarah Karloff. They told us about the sweet, sensitive sides of their fathers, spoiling them, telling jokes, and being all around loving parents. They never brought their work home with them and so they weren’t quite aware of their iconic images as Hollywood’s most frightening movie monsters. The film started and it was very interesting. Not bad, but some of the writing seemed forced. Boris is just perfectly charming and creepy at the same time. He really gets a chance to show himself without all that crazy make-up on and really is a handsome man. Bela actually plays a sort of tortured hero, attempting to rescue a young couple from Karloff’s Satanic ritual. It’s a very refreshing role to see him in. His face is softened, almost sweet, and he shows an emotional vulnerability that you don’t get when he plays the monster. I wish I could have seen him in more roles like this because it really shows his range as an actor. Despite this heroic efforts, he is very vengeful, which creates a beautiful dynamic between him and Karloff. Their chemistry is absolutely perfect onscreen. Neither one outshines the other, or should I say, overshadows the other? Though, I feel the censors got in the way of what could have been a great script. The ending was cheesy and a vain attempt at tying up loose ends. And parts that we knew would be gory, had to be worked to where you couldn’t see what was happening, which made it a bit confusing. There were many movies that clearly had problems with censors, but the Black Cat, I think, suffered the most because of it.
Broke for dinner before last movie at Musso & Franks. Was a little disappointed in the service and food, but Sandra O and a few other celebrities were also there.
The last movie to end our night was the four Marx brothers in Duck Soup. These guys were absolutely OUT OF THEIR MINDS! Crazy! Loco cabeza! Insaaaane! This particular film was made right when tensions were building in Europe over World War 2 and incidentally reflects dictatorship and war, much like Charlie Chaplin’s the Great Dictator, but not intentionally. Groucho becomes dictator of Freedonia, Zeppo is his secretary, while Harpo and Chico play two spies from Sylvania who are constantly switching sides. Zeppo isn’t quite as hilarious as his other three brothers, perhaps because he looks like he should be on the cover of GQ. Wowee wow wow. When the sleeves of his shirt get blown off, his arms are like hello mama! He really doesn’t have a distinguishing characteristic though, like Grouch’s mustache and eyebrows, or Harpo being silent, or Chico’s accent, which is why, I suppose, he eventually left the act. Harpo’s prop and destructive comedy make up most of the ridiculous comedy, burning hats and randomly cutting off pieces of people’s clothing. Groucho and Chico are more dialogue and situational comedy. The great thing about the movie is how it not only uses ridiculous gesture and slapstick, but dialogue. They hardly ever made sense and really just made comedy by pissing off people. This movie also features the famous mirror scene, that has been recreated in so many shows since, such as Scooby Doo and even Spongebob Square pants. You don’t get a sense of how much they all really look alike (being real life brothers) until you see them imitating one another in this scene. You can barely tell, except for the slight difference in their noses and even then it’s hard to keep up!!
*** Fun Story: During the Black Cat discussion, they still had time and opened it up for questions from the audience. No one raised their hands so I decided I’d asked one. I hadn’t really prepared one so I kind of stumbled asking, “How do y’alls kids feeling about coming from such a handsome lineage?” And they just stared at me, bewildered, before Bela asked me, “… What?” and the whole house laughed. Sarah Karloff translated for me, “She’s speaking Southern. She wants to know how our kids feel about being related to Dracula and Frankenstein.” As dumb as my question came out, I was surprised by how involved the great actors grandchildren were so involved with the monster scene, going to conventions and film festivals like these. To this day, I’m still embarrassed.
Audrey Hepburn’s dress from Sabrina. On display at the 2012 TCM Film Festival.
Also, I’d like to emphasize that unless you can fit a dog collar around your waist, like Audrey, you will NEVER fit into this dress.
Bela G. Lugosi (Jr.) and Sarah Karloff presenting the Black Cat, featuring both of their fathers Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff.
Day 3 of the TCM Film Festival Blogathon may come late. I have great stories though.