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Kingrat's Festival Notebook

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Rita Hayworth
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Re: Kingrat's Festival Notebook

Postby Rita Hayworth » May 10th, 2013, 8:45 pm

kingrat wrote:Public transit? What's that?


Buses, Light Rail, Monorail, and anything other than cars and trucks on the road.

BTW, Excellent Festival Reporting ... Kingrat!

kingrat
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Re: Kingrat's Festival Notebook

Postby kingrat » April 15th, 2014, 7:31 pm

What I enjoyed most at the festival this year was spending time with the SSO group, from the dinner Wednesday night at Musso & Frank's where we kept seeing TCM staffers and then Mary Carlisle, all the way till Sunday night we sat around a firepit outside at the Hollywood Roosevelt and talked until it really was time to go.

Oh, the movies weren't too shabby, either. The only disappointment was that the print of Written on the Wind was rather grainy, so that the colors didn't pop the way they might have. One of the people I met at the festival, a very knowledgeable film buff of 22, said he had seen the exact same print in New York. Apparently the Criterion DVD is much better.

But that's all the negativity I can think of. City Lights was incredibly crisp for a 1931 movie. Mark Sprecher, who programmed the Bleecker Street repertory theater in NY for a couple of years, said that Chaplin took great care to preserve his films. Zulu looked grand on the wide screen in a handsome digitized version. A Matter of Life and Death was an achingly beautiful digitized restoration, with exquisite transitions from monochrome to full color, just as Jack Cardiff intended. Do not miss this if you get the chance.

It seemed that there were more people than ever, but Shannon Clute from the network said that attendance was about the same for the last three years in the three major pass categories (Essential/Classic/Spotlight). Perhaps it was the new tapas bar in the Chinese multiplex that accounted for more people. More of the shows in the smallest theater sold out. On Approval, 5th Avenue Girl, and Employees' Entrance sold out twice.

Word is that several of the rarities shown will eventually make their way to the network: On Approval, Hat Check Girl, The Stranger's Return, Her Sister's Secret. Perhaps the 1940s Great Gatsby will, too.

More about some of these films later.

Another special moment: as those of us who watched The Lady from Shanghai as our final film filed out of the theater, the people who'd been handling the crowd lined up on each side of us and applauded and high-fived the audience as we exited. Many thanks to whoever came up with this idea.

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The Ingenue
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Re: Kingrat's Festival Notebook

Postby The Ingenue » April 15th, 2014, 8:16 pm

MARY CARLISLE! Wow.

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Rita Hayworth
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Re: Kingrat's Festival Notebook

Postby Rita Hayworth » April 15th, 2014, 8:26 pm

kingrat wrote:Word is that several of the rarities shown will eventually make their way to the network: On Approval, Hat Check Girl, The Stranger's Return, Her Sister's Secret. Perhaps the 1940s Great Gatsby will, too.

More about some of these films later.

Another special moment: as those of us who watched The Lady from Shanghai as our final film filed out of the theater, the people who'd been handling the crowd lined up on each side of us and applauded and high-fived the audience as we exited. Many thanks to whoever came up with this idea.



Kingrat,

Please do ... I would love to hear more about these films in red in your quote above and I'm wished I could had seen The Lady From Shanghai at the Festival too ... sounds that you are having a ball down there.


The Ingenue wrote:MARY CARLISLE! Wow.



It's must been a thrill for you to meet her in person ... :)

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Re: Kingrat's Festival Notebook

Postby Lucky Vassall » April 16th, 2014, 4:20 pm

kingrat wrote:I’d like to add some Kevin Brownlow quotes to the write-up by lzcutter from his interview by Cari Beauchamp:

3. For a while Kevin Brownlow showed silent films in a small theater in London under Waterloo Bridge: “The wind blew through the air conditioning system, which was effective for The Wind.”

Can't help wondering if this was the source of the great British comedy The Smallest Show on Earth with Peter Sellers and Margaret Rutherford?
AVATAR: Billy DeWolfe as Mrs. Murgatroid, “Blue Skies” (1946)

“My ancestors came over on the Mayflower.”
“You’re lucky. Now they have immigration laws."

Mae West, The Heat’s On” (1943)

:–)—
Pinoc-U-no(se)

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Re: Kingrat's Festival Notebook

Postby kingrat » April 16th, 2014, 6:23 pm

When we made a list of one-shot directors, I don’t think we included Clive Brook, best known as an actor, who produced, directed, and wrote only one film: On Approval (1944), based on the play by Frederick Lonsdale. According to Jeffrey Vance, who introduced the film, Brook intended only to produce and act in the movie, but he fired the director and the screenwriter, as well as the cinematographer, who had only set up one shot in three days. Because the budget was so limited, Brook had to do the writing and directing himself. The joke is that he’s a splendid comic director. I don’t know why he never directed another movie, and the only post-Approval film he acted in was The List of Adrian Messenger.

Moving the action from the twenties, when the play was written, back to the 1890s works out well, and the opening of the film, especially, uses many New Wave devices years before the New Wave. We have a faux newsreel, actors talking to the camera, actors correcting the voiceover narration, tilted shots, later on a dream sequence—Salvador Dali meets the Marx Brothers, as Jeffrey Vance suggested.

Brook plays the Duke of Bristol, a dissipated roué who has lost most of his family fortune. He’s had to rent his ancestral home to an American heiress (Googie Withers). Perhaps he can recoup his fortunes by marrying her. Meanwhile, his timid and impoverished friend Richard (Roland Culver) pays court to, and perhaps even loves, the formidable and wealthy widow Maria (pronounced “Mariah,” of course, as the English did), played by the formidable Beatrice Lillie. Maria decides that they should live together for a month in her Scottish manor, platonically of course, and their friends George (the duke) and Helen (the heiress) come along as chaperones. Drinking and verbal mayhem ensue. It would be difficult to find four better-spoken actors, each of whom can extract the utmost of wit and meaning from a line which might seem unremarkable on paper.

This won’t be everyone’s cup of tea—glass of champagne, snifter of brandy—but if you like English comedy, this is probably for you. It was a big hit at the festival. I turned up forty minutes before showtime and snagged one of the last seats in the house, the smallest of the festival venues. Fortunately, it was repeated, and sold out again. Good news: On Approval is out on DVD. Good news: it will probably show up on TCM several months from now.

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Re: Kingrat's Festival Notebook

Postby kingrat » April 16th, 2014, 7:19 pm

It’s been a long time since I’ve read The Great Gatsby, and I’ve never seen the Robert Redford or Leonardo Di Caprio versions, so I tended to treat the 1949 version as a movie rather than a literary adaptation. Elliott Nugent’s direction is only serviceable, but it doesn’t get in the way of the actors and the story, and that’s a strong point in its favor. In this version Gatsby has been a gangster, and Alan Ladd is excellent in the role, believable as the naïve young man we meet in a flashback, as the gangster, and as the rich guy who wants to move in polite society, which isn’t that polite after all.

Nick Carraway is a difficult role to bring across on film, and Macdonald Carey is bland. Ruth Hussey does some scene stealing as Jordan. Apparently Gene Tierney was originally cast as Daisy, but was thought to be too beautiful. I think she’d have been quite good in the part. Betty Field is too neurotic as Daisy and not quite pretty enough for my taste, though she does her considerable best. Oddly, she lightens her voice and sounds surprisingly like Mia Farrow, the 1970s Daisy. She doesn’t have much chemistry with Ladd. Barry Sullivan is effectively cast as Daisy’s husband Tom, and Shelley Winters as his mistress and Howard Da Silva as her husband are more than that. Henry Hull is particularly strong as the rich yachtsman who sets Gatsby on the wrong moral path, and having Elisha Cook, Jr. and Ed Begley as two of Gatsby’s ex-criminal associates is definitely a plus.

The Great Gatsby isn’t a lost masterpiece, but I liked it quite a bit. It’s likely to raise your opinion of Alan Ladd’s acting. Let’s hope it will show up on TCM.

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Re: Kingrat's Festival Notebook

Postby The Ingenue » April 17th, 2014, 4:51 am

kingrat wrote:... as the rich guy who wants to move in polite society, which isn’t that polite after all.


Oooh. Yes, I believe Ladd could play that very well.

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Re: Kingrat's Festival Notebook

Postby Lzcutter » April 17th, 2014, 10:03 am

The Ingenue wrote:MARY CARLISLE! Wow.



It was kismet that night! We were sitting at our table listening to Larry and his stories when I noticed someone walk by and immediately recognized my friend, fellow mid-century modern and City of Angels lover, Charles Phoenix whom I hadn't seen in awhile.

I excused myself from the table and went to say hello to Charles. While we were talking, I looked up to see one of my dearest friends, Eric Lynxwiler, (fellow City of Angels, midcentury modern and neon lover) walking towards with, helping an elderly, spry lady.

Erik, surprised as I was, introduced me to Mary Carlisle who just turned 100 in February. She took my hand and said, "I see we both love big glasses!"

After talking a few minutes with Erik, Charles and Mary, I let them get back to their evening and went back to join the others still be regaled by Larry!
Lynn in Lake Balboa

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Re: Kingrat's Festival Notebook

Postby The Ingenue » April 18th, 2014, 6:40 am

Lynn, thank you for answering my squeal of amazement with a personal account of meeting the lady. She sounds as much a charmer now as she was in Double or Nothing (1937), where Bing Crosby set his hat ablaze — while wearing it — in order to make her acquaintance.

I'd sent a fan letter to her last year, and wondered then if she was well and happy and aware of how much we still value her. By your account and Larry's, I think she is. I'm so very glad.
Last edited by The Ingenue on April 18th, 2014, 11:07 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Kingrat's Festival Notebook

Postby Vecchiolarry » April 18th, 2014, 10:44 am

Dear Ingenue,

Believe me, Mary Carlisle is very well; and at 100 is far more fit than many of us decades younger.
She looked marvellous and only about 50 - and walked upright, unaided and seemed to be holding "Court" as only a 'Grand Dame' could & should!!!
We all were in awe of her and this is one time when the words 'amazing' & 'awesome' were appropriate.....

Larry

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Re: Kingrat's Festival Notebook

Postby The Ingenue » April 20th, 2014, 2:53 am

Dear Larry,

Thank you. This is wonderful news; I appreciate your telling me.

Sincerely,
Carrie

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Re: Kingrat's Festival Notebook

Postby kingrat » April 21st, 2014, 5:15 pm

Zulu (1964, Cy Endfield) was shown at the festival at the urging of Alex Trebek, who is particularly interested in African history. Zulu was shown at the Egyptian Theater on the big screen in a handsome digital restoration of the 70 mm. original. Alex’s introduction was in two parts, first centered on the early career of Michael Caine. He gave the answer, in Jeopardy style, “Michael Caine’s original name.” A man toward the back of the theater raised his hand and gave the correct question, “What is Maurice Micklewhite?” Yes, I was that person.

Michael Caine acted under the name Michael Scott, but there was already an Equity actor with that name. He walked around Leicester Square, saw a theater showing Humphrey Bogart (his favorite actor) in The Caine Mutiny, and came up with Michael Caine. He had hoped to test for the role of the malingering Cockney Pvt. Hook, but James Booth had already been cast. As he was walking away, he was called back and asked if he could do an upper-class accent. This led to his being cast in the role of Lt. Bromhead. As written, the character was mainly an upper-class twit, but Caine argued successfully for making him more three-dimensional.

Zulu deals with the attack on a small group of British soldiers at Rorke’s Drift following the massacre of a much larger British force as the British made their way into what had previously been Zulu country. Alex Trebek pointed out that Cy Endfield investigated Zulu oral tradition to get the plan of attack correct. The actual battle was in a less mountainous area that the one where the film is shot, but the movie location makes for some spectacular cinematography. There wasn’t a marriage of Zulu warriors to young women just before the battle, either, but this is another impressive scene on the big screen, with dozens of bare-breasted women.

The most remarkable aspect of Zulu is the absolute respect for the bravery of soldiers on both sides, a far cry from earlier Hollywood films of noble Europeans battling the savages, and also a far cry from films like Little Big Man where Custer is a buffoon and the Indians are the noble ones. The only characters not treated with respect are the Swedish missionary (Jack Hawkins), who is a secret drinker, and his clueless if idealistic and beautiful daughter (Ulla Jacobsson). I don’t think I’ve ever seen another film where the missionaries’ repeated “Thou shalt not kill” is treated as completely irrelevant to the matter at hand. The British are defending themselves, and the Zulu are defending their land. This isn’t, in any way, an anti-war film, and perhaps this prevented Zulu from attracting the attention it deserved in the 1960s.

From the first notes heard over the credits, John Barry’s music grabs us. Parts of the score incorporate Zulu chants and rhythms. Barry also knows when not to use music. Stanley Baker co-produced as well as starred, and he makes his usual strong impression as the engineer who gets forced into the role of military leader. Nigel Green has a great role as the deep-voiced Welsh colour sergeant who provides calm in the midst of chaos. I also particularly liked Gert van den Bergh as the Boer who knows the Zulu well enough to know what to expect.

Zulu quite simply looks like one of the best films of the 1960s, and by showing Try and Get Me and Zulu in successive years at the festival, TCM has taken a big step toward giving Cy Endfield the kind of recognition he deserves.

One of the network people mentioned that a future Friday night spotlight will be Alex Trebek presenting films about Africa, and I am looking forward to that very much.

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Re: Kingrat's Festival Notebook

Postby Rita Hayworth » April 21st, 2014, 5:52 pm

Kingrat ... I wished someday that ZULU will be on TCM - I completely agree with your assessment here!

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Re: Kingrat's Festival Notebook

Postby kingrat » April 21st, 2014, 7:04 pm

When Zulu, a long movie, ended about 2:30 Friday afternoon, I needed lunch, so stopped next door to the Egyptian Theater at the Pig n Whistle, guessing that a pulled pork sandwich would be quick. It was. In fact, I could just about get over to the Chinese Multiplex in time for A Matter of Life and Death if I hustled.

Thelma Schoonmaker had already begun her introduction. She mentioned that A Matter of Life and Death was Michael Powell’s favorite among his films; Pressburger’s was The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp. She also loves AMOLAD, saying she would gladly have stepped on that staircase for Michael Powell and he would have gladly stepped on it for her. She mentioned the amusing anecdote that after Powell moved in with her, some people assumed that Powell needed a place to stay while visiting America, and she had to explain that they were living together.

Powell did a great deal of research on epilepsy. Although the term could not be mentioned on screen, Powell intended for David Niven’s character to have suffered epilepsy as a result of a blow on his head (falling without a parachute). Doctors have commented on the accuracy of the details. She added that she knew a man who suffered epilepsy as a result of a mugging in Central Park, and his symptoms tracked Niven’s. This information made the film cohere better for me.

Powell had been specifically asked to make a film advocating close British and American relations, as some Britons had formed negative views of the American GIs who were “overpaid, oversexed, and over here.” Again, this background gave more meaning to the trial in heaven scenes.

Pressburger came up with the notion of having heaven be black & white whereas earth would be in color. Jack Cardiff said that to make the transitions right, the heaven scenes would need to be shot in three-strip Technicolor but without the Technicolor dyes. In the wonderful digital restoration, the transitions from monochrome to full color and vice versa are exquisite, the way Jack Cardiff must have imagined. If you get a chance to see this on the big screen, don’t miss it.

Although Black Narcissus and The Red Shoes are still my favorite P&P films, A Matter of Life and Death has moved way up in my estimation. After seeing Zulu and this film back to back, I did not want to see another movie that day, preferring to let these two resonate, and did not want to see another intense drama during the festival.


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