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Kingrat's Festival Notebook

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Re: Kingrat's Festival Notebook

Postby Sue Sue Applegate » April 22nd, 2014, 10:44 am

Lovely, David! Thanks for sharing your insight with us. I missed seeing so many wonderful films being part of the media crew, but that was much fun, too. Thank you! I miss you already!
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Re: Kingrat's Festival Notebook

Postby moira finnie » April 22nd, 2014, 10:48 am

kingrat wrote: 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.

Whoo--hoo! Kingrat making like a Jeopardy! champ.

kingrat wrote: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.

Could Hell Drivers (1957) and Mysterious Island (1961) be future Endfield festival entries next year, (I hope)?

kingrat wrote: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.

I'm delighted to read that Alex Trebek will be a guest programmer someday soon. I wonder which other African-themed films he will choose?
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Re: Kingrat's Festival Notebook

Postby moira finnie » April 22nd, 2014, 10:53 am

kingrat wrote: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.

David, was there any mention of the way that GIs were depicted in Powell & Pressburger's A Canterbury Tale (1944)?
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Re: Kingrat's Festival Notebook

Postby kingrat » April 22nd, 2014, 11:39 am

Moira, no, there wasn't a mention of A Canterbury Tale in connection with the subject of American GIs in Britain. I'd love for TCM to have Thelma Schoonmaker back every year to introduce another Michael Powell film: A Canterbury Tale, The Red Shoes, I Know Where I'm Going. She mentioned last year that I Know Where I'm Going is one of her favorites.

Short takes on some of the movies seen at the festival:

5th Avenue Girl – An attempt to repeat the success of My Man Godfrey, with Gregory La Cava again at the helm. Ginger Rogers plays the William Powell role. Walter Connolly is the rich man who pretends that the impoverished Ginger is his mistress so that his wife (Verree Teasdale) will be jealous and break off her affair with a younger man. (You could also see this as a screwball comedy version of Pasolini’s Teorema, with Ginger in the Terence Stamp role, as she changes the lives of all the family members—for the better, because this is a 1930s comedy.)

Though not ascending the heights of My Man Godfrey, there are plenty of laughs. Franklin Pangborn as the butler has more sense than anyone else in the household. Tim Holt is Connolly’s son who eventually falls for Ginger. Louis Calhern has a small part as a doctor, and a sailor who wants space on a park bench to kiss his girl is played by an uncredited Jack Carson. Ginger rather underplays her lines, but effectively so, and she carries the film most agreeably.

Employees’ Entrance – Before the movie, Bruce Goldstein showed us his presentation of “Pre-Code 101,” with many video examples. Lots of fun, with Goldstein’s humorous comments. Employees’ Entrance, sharply and zippily directed by Roy Del Ruth, gives Warren William a great part as a ruthless but sympathetic head of a department store. Loretta Young is one of the lovely young employees he has a yen for, and a very young Wallace Ford is the ambitious young co-worker who quite understandably falls for her. Alice White plays a golddigging cutie.

Like MikeBSG, I’m not automatically a fan of pre-Codes—not many are as good as Safe in Hell and Baby Face—but Employees’ Entrance gives plenty of entertainment value for its hour and fifteen minutes. The realism of the ending would not have been allowed after the enforcement of the Code. Loretta Young and Wallace Ford are a sadder but wiser couple who accept each other’s frailties and accept their own share of the guilt; Alice White will find another rich man; and Warren William will continue to run the store his ruthless way.

Employees’ Entrance and 5th Avenue Girl proved popular at the festival, selling out twice in a theater that seats about 175.

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Re: Kingrat's Festival Notebook

Postby kingrat » April 23rd, 2014, 12:10 pm

Her Sister’s Secret (1946, dir. Edgar G. Ulmer) has a plot similar to The Great Lie and To Each His Own. Toni (Nancy Cameron) becomes pregnant after an encounter with a handsome soldier (Phillip Reed) at Mardi Gras, and her married sister Renee (Margaret Lindsay) raises the baby. Before the film, we got to hear from Ulmer’s daughter, Arianna Ulmer Cipes, who is attractive and articulate. She mentioned that Margaret Lindsay was a close family friend who even lived with the Ulmers at one time.

Ulmer got a much bigger budget than usual, and it shows, especially in the set design, costumes, and the number of extras in the Mardi Gras scenes. Arianna Cipes pointed out that her mother claimed one of the coats worn by Margaret Lindsay, but she didn’t say if it was the cloth coat or the fur. The New York apartment where Renee and her husband live is quite stylish. The real star of the movie is the cinematographer, Franz Planer, who lights each shot beautifully. There are some fine camera movements, including the overhead boom shots for Mardi Gras. Both Nancy Cameron and Margaret Lindsay give strong and sympathetic performances. Felix Bressart has the important supporting role of a café owner, and Henry Stephenson has a nice turn as the bookish father of the two young women.

It’s refreshing that Toni is not blamed for wanting a night of romance with a stranger, and the only punishment, surely a great enough one, is the separation from her baby. When she wants her baby back, we can sympathize with both sisters.

I don’t want to oversell the film—as a couple of friends said, it’s enjoyable but not great—but fans of Ulmer, the actors, and 40s women’s pictures will probably like it. I’m a little unsure of my response because this movie was shown late at night after I’d seen three other films the same day, which is far from ideal. Because it started at 10:00 and was opposite several other interesting films, attendance was only in the 75-100 range.

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Re: Kingrat's Festival Notebook

Postby moira finnie » April 23rd, 2014, 12:20 pm

I hope that CineMaven (Theresa) was in the audience to hear about and see one of her faves, Margaret Lindsay!
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Re: Kingrat's Festival Notebook

Postby kingrat » April 23rd, 2014, 6:38 pm

I’d never thought of including City Lights as one of my Gay Essentials, but perhaps it belongs there. This time I noticed how affectionately the millionaire, when drunk, treats the Little Tramp. Hugs, kisses on the cheek, and of course they sleep in the same bed on one occasion. When the Little Tramp wakes up, he automatically reaches over to give an affectionate pat in the direction of the millionaire—but it’s the morning after, the effects of the alcohol have worn off, and the millionaire just wants him out of the house immediately. Hmm—not that that would ever happen in real life.

There is, in addition, the scene in the nightclub where each man keeps getting the other’s cigar in his mouth. Chaplin wouldn’t mean that to be suggestive, would he? Nah. This was genuinely funny, whereas Dorothy Malone fondling the model oil well in Written on the Wind was just campy.

The print of City Lights shown at the festival looked as good as any film from this era I’ve ever seen, with crisp black and whites. Chaplin’s style is so transparent that I kept forgetting to see where he put the camera, except exactly in the right place to show everything we needed to see. The early scene where Charlie stares at a nude statue in a window, unaware that an open manhole is behind him, plays with audience expectations as neatly as Hitchcock does. It must have been difficult to time, so that when Charlie steps back the first couple of times, the cover has closed, and Chaplin includes an unexpected twist, when the man working below street level turns out to be much taller than Charlie.

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Re: Kingrat's Festival Notebook

Postby Sue Sue Applegate » April 27th, 2014, 8:39 am

Thank you for your in-depth reports, David! It's nice to know about what I missed! :lol:
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Re: Kingrat's Festival Notebook

Postby kingrat » April 2nd, 2015, 12:43 pm

I'll be posting comments about some of the films from this year's festival. Still trying to adjust to "real" life after a weekend of great films. It was so good to spend time with friends.

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Re: Kingrat's Festival Notebook

Postby moira finnie » April 18th, 2015, 12:48 pm

I'm looking forward to your account soon. I hope you will be able to collect your thoughts about the panorama of events you were lucky enough to witness.
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