[Read Lorna’s Day One and Two coverage of TCMFF 2022]
Three on a Match (1932) was one of the most popular films of the festival, leaving a lot of people burned by the Chinese Multiplex House 4, which is the smallest theater at the festival and is usually very popular as it often offers the rarest films. At only 64 minutes, the tale of Bette Davis, Joan Blondell, and Ann Dvorak as reconnected schoolmates, each living very different lives in varying levels of society, is a heartbreaking, tightly woven drama resulting in a shocking ending. A young Humphrey Bogart proves why he became the mega star that he was. Even in this small gangster role, he was larger than life and took up the entire scene with his presence. Bernardo Rondeau, the Head of Film Programs for the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, provided my favorite discussion of the festival. His insights on director Mervyn LeRoy and the themes of the movie were engaging and heightening the viewing.
One of the biggest highlights of the festival was the discussion with Jayne Seymour before Somewhere in Time (1980). She was charming and lit up the theater with her vivid recollection of the making of this film and how special it is to her. She also discussed her brief love affair with Christopher Reeve during shooting and their adventures, which included flying to Toronto in his secret plane. I was not able to stay for the entire screening since I was concerned about getting to my first viewing at the Hollywood Legion Theater, which required a shuttle or long walk. The shuttle system was new and it turned out to be a breeze.
Counsellor at Law (1933) was personally selected by Leonard Maltin to be screened after receiving the Robert Osborne Award, which was presented by Warren Beatty. It was a treat to see Beatty and the video presentation on Maltin’s career. I have always appreciated the way Maltin looked a films. It was always clear that he was a fan first and foremost. Directed by William Wyler, the pre-Code drama, based on Elmer Rice’s popular play, follows John Barrymore as an attorney facing personal and professional struggles.
I admit I was distracted during the screening and ended up leaving before it was over as I was concerned about getting into my most anticipated film of the festival Diner (1982). This was on the top of my list for two reasons. The first being that I had never seen this well-known film about a group of friends maneuvering life in 1959 Baltimore. The second being the opening discussion featuring actors Kevin Bacon, Tim Daly, Steve Guttenberg and Paul Reiser. The camaraderie was palatable between these four reunited co-stars. It only could have been better if had lasted longer and if Mickey Rourke and/or Ellen Barkin had been in attendance. The film itself was everything I had hoped for. Barry Levinson brilliantly weaves together each storyline and creates real bonds between the characters.
My last movie of the festival was the craziest and most fun, and my second midnight movie. Polyester (1981) featuring “Odorama” technology (scratch-and-sniff cards) was my first John Waters film starring Divine. I have always had a bit of an aversion to Waters thinking he is simply too weird, but I loved this movie for its outrageousness and this is the type of film meant to be seen with a crowd. I was really surprised at the large audience that stayed until the end. The story focuses on Divine who is trying to manage a cheating husband and troubled children. Tab Hunter, her love interest, was also a draw as because of my love of Grease 2. Mario Cantone and Mink Stole provided an entertaining introduction which has me wanting to see more Waters and Divine pairings.
Each year as I leave the TCM Classic Film Festival, there are movies I wish I would have gotten to, and I feel that it goes by way too fast. This year was no exception, especially after being away from the event for so long. TCM has created a special festival rooted in a diverse variety of classic films, ranging from those that I have never heard of and those that I have seen many times. This diversity is what provides such a unique opportunity to see them all on the big screen with fellow movie enthusiasts who are always fun to chat with while waiting in line.
My only compliant this year was the number of people with active smart watches along with the taking of pictures and videos in every screening. I have higher expectations for this audience and wish that the people working the festival were more attentive to stopping this behavior.
[See how many pre-fest selections Lorna made it to.]