Like Brigadoon, the 2013 TCM Classic Film Festival arose as a dreamlike haven for movie lovers, and now, this morning, begins to fade away, not to appear again for another year.
During the four days it lived, fest goers were thrilled, enchanted, and happy. They (including yours truly) were also sleep-deprived, hungry, and sometimes frustrated. But I feel safe in saying that almost every one of us is sad that it’s over, and would be ready to do it again next week, after a brief food and rest break.
Sunday was just as much fun as the previous four days, but also presented even more tough choices. I would like to have caught Debra Winger at GILDA, or Norman Lloyd at THE LADY VANISHES, Tippi Hedrin/Melanie Daniels at THE BIRDS, or a film I’ve never seen, SCARECROW–Gene Hackman’s favorite of the ones he’s worked on.
However, the double, wide screen features of CINERAMA HOLIDAY and IT’S A MAD (etc.) WORLD were just too compelling. The former, a very corny but fascinating 1955 travelogue, had the two female co-stars discussing the production. IAMMMMW was preceded by a discussion with Mickey Rooney, Barrie Chase, and demolished gas station co-owner Marvin Kaplan. On stage was an empty chair, in tribute to the late Jonathan Winters, who’d been a scheduled guest.
Dashing out of the fabulous Cinerama Dome on Sunset Blvd., I made it safely to SAFE IN HELL, a little pre-code gem from 1931. Dorothy MacKahill plays a vamp and accused murderer on the lamb, fleeing to a Carribean isle crawling with degenerates—and centipedes. The son of director William Wellman spoke afterwards.
Then it was on to the final screening, Buster Keaton’s amazing Civil War picture, THE GENERAL. It was a new, beautifully restored print. What made it extra special was The Alloy Orchestra’s live accompaniment as well as our surroundings, the lovely, historic Graumann’s Chinese Theater.
TCM’s Robert Osborne—a rock star to Festival attendees—thanked us all for coming, and received a standing ovation. He had some sad news for us though. Graumann’s new owners plan to close the palace for some time, while they convert it into an IMAX theater with stadium seating. This announcement was followed by a loud chorus of boos from us classic film fans, but Robert was diplomatic, saying that change can be good, but also asking us to take a good, long last look at the place where movies like CASABLANCA and so many other classics had their premieres. And so we did.
And thus ends TCM’s fourth annual Classic Film Festival. Disneyland is said to be “the happiest place on Earth”. But for four days in April, we movie lovers borrowed the phrase. See you next year!