By Harley W. Lond
What’s it about Hollywood movies that so captivates us that we’re willing to dig into our wallets and shell out cash to see an 80-year-old movie? Well, ask the folks over at TCM (Turner Classic Movies), because they’ve just wrapped up their first-ever TCM Classic Film Festival in downtown Hollywood … and it was quite a success.
The four-day festival included 50 screenings of Hollywood classics, many restored to pristine condition, as well as panels and screening introductions featuring Hollywood luminaries, film historians and stars.
The oldest feature screened was Harold Lloyd’s ‘Safety Last’ (1923) and the youngest was 2005’s ‘The Proposition,’ with most films clustered between the 1930s and 1960s. Screened during the fest, which opened Thursday night with an beautifully restored version of 1954’s ‘A Star Is Born,’ were ‘The Good Earth’ (1937), introduced by star Luise Rainer; ‘The King of Comedy (1983); ‘Saboteur’ (1942), introduced by Norman Lloyd; ‘The Big Trail’ (1930); ‘The Stunt Man’ (1980), introduced by director Richard Rush and stars Barbara Hershey and Steve Railsback; ‘Casablanca ‘(1942); ‘The Adventures of Robin Hood’ (1938); ‘Laura’ (1944); ‘Pillow Talk’ (1959); Breathless (1959) and many, many more. What’s it about Hollywood movies that so captivates us that we’re willing to dig into our wallets and shell out cash to see an 80-year-old movie? Well, ask the folks over at TCM (Turner Classic Movies), because they’ve just wrapped up their first-ever TCM Classic Film Festival in downtown Hollywood … and it was quite a success.
What attracts people to leave their living rooms to see films that they can watch on TV or via DVD? Clearly it’s a beautiful presentation on a big screen, in a loving environment (the Grauman’s Chinese and Egyptian Theatres), with other people who love movies (i.e., community). And it didn’t hurt that the host for many of the panels and events was Robert Osborne, TCM’s primetime host and film historian. Any event that brings Osborne to L.A. is certainly worth the price of admission (individual tickets for screenings were $20 each). Though final numbers for attendance haven’t been released, according to the TCM press office the fest proved to be a destination event, with attendees traveling from 45 states and 10 countries and territories, including Italy, Romania, Argentina and Guam.
TCM was so happy with the response to this first outing that they have given the go-ahead for a second edition of the festival, slated to take place in Spring 2011. Osborne revealed the network’s plans on Sunday night. “It’s been a thrill for all of us at TCM that our first classic film festival has been such a success, so we’re definitely going to do it again,” he said. “It’s been great fun bringing together so many legendary stars and movie fans in a place where they could interact and, at the same time, see great films. To paraphrase Bogart in ‘Casablanca,’ I think this is the beginning of a beautiful tradition.”
Here’s some of the highlights:
•The world premiere of a new restoration of George Cukor’s ‘A Star Is Born’ (starring Judy Garland and James Mason), introduced by Osborne and Alec Baldwin, officially opened the proceedings.
•Leonard Maltin introduced a digitally restored version of ‘King Kong’ (1933)
•Raoul Walsh’s 1930 ‘The Big Trail’ (restored several years ago by The Museum of Modern Art, with support by the Bartos Preservation Fund and Martin Scorsese’s The Film Foundation) with John Wayne in his first starring role, was projected on the big screen for the first time in decades.
•Filmmaker Curtis Hanson (‘L.A. Confidential’) appeared before a sold-out house of a screening of Nicholas Ray’s ‘In a Lonely Place’ (1950).
•Mel Brooks was on hand to introduce a screening of ‘The Producers’ (1968).
•A 70mm version of Stanley Kubrick’s ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ was introduced by TCM weekend host Ben Mankiewicz with legendary special effects wizard Douglas Trumbull on hand to comment on the film.
•Legendary French star Jean-Paul Belmondo was interviewed by Osborne for the screening of Jean-Luc Godard’s ‘Breathless.’
•A midnight screening of the 90 percent restored classic sci-fi film ‘The Day of the Triffids’ (1962).
•Anjelica and Danny Huston anchored a discussion of their father John’s ‘The Treasure of the Sierra Madre’ (1948)
•Director Stanley Donen was in attendance for a sold-out screening of his 1952 film ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ at the Egyptian Theatre, where he was interviewed by Osborne.
•Eva Marie Saint and Martin Landau introduced Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘North by Northwest’ (1959).
•Buck Henry introduced ‘The Graduate’ (1967).
•’The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ (1966) co-star Eli Wallach talked about his career with Osborne before a screening of the Spaghetti Western.
•100-year-old Luise Rainer introduced ‘The Good Earth’ (1937)
•The closing night screening was an immaculately restored version (with lost footage) of Fritz Lang’s 1927 silent science fiction masterpiece ‘Metropolis.’
Other Hollywood luminaries attending events included Ernest Borgnine, Tony Curtis, Esther Williams, Betty Garrett, Peter Bogdanovich, Nancy Olson, Tim Roth, Illeana Douglas, Tab Hunter, Susan Kohner, Juanita Moore and John Badham.