TCM Classic Film Festival – Day Two
If you thought Thursday was intense, to quote Al Jolson, you ain’t seen nothing yet! Friday revolved around watching Christopher Plummer immortalize his hand and footprints in cement at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. After that, it was all about panels before going to a double feature I definitely didn’t pick out. Let’s see how Friday went!
The day started off in front of the TCL Chinese Theatre where Christopher Plummer was the latest recipient to leave his hand and footprints in cement in the Chinese forecourt. It was an incredibly hot day but guest speakers Shirley MacLaine and William Shatner wouldn’t let that stop them. MacLaine was utterly hysterical, ribbing Plummer on his inability to get up once he’s down with the cement, while Shatner gave a quasi-stalker’s lament about “following [Christopher Plummer] everywhere.”
It’s always a great moment watching an actor or actress get their moment in the sun – this year, that was literal – and Plummer didn’t hide what an honor it was for him, almost choking up during his speech. For him, an Academy award-winning actor, this was on par.
From there it was all about panels as I settled in for Jeremy Arnold’s – another Social Producer! – interview with historian/author Jeanine Basinger. Films and Facts: Who’s Responsible? analyzed filmic depictions of history and Basinger knows her stuff. She detailed certain movies dealing with history and the desire to blend history with Hollywood’s desire to get butts in seats. A perfect example was showing sequences from Madame Curie (1943) which juggled historical accuracy with the continuation of the Walter Pidgeon/Greer Garson on-screen romance.
Basinger said she can enjoy a movie, separate from its historical truth, but that there’s a line between entertainment and exploitation. I was fortunate to ask her about her thoughts on Hollywood biopics – namedroping Biopic Theatre! – and she acknowledged many of my similar thoughts about a desire to tell that the personality was, in real life, how they were on-screen and the issues persona plays; and that many of them aren’t very good. She does hope that we’ll get a truly good one soon (although she was hesitant when I mentioned Trumbo this year).
I tried to get into the live tapings with Shirley MacLaine and Ann-Margret but the crowd ruined it. Thankfully, being a Social Producer (yes, I can use my power a bit), I was able to watch the rest of the Ann-Margret interview from an upper level; it was the back of her head, but it was something.
From there I moved on to one of the best panels so far, A Surreal Existence: My Life as Portrayed in Film featuring Tony Mendez (played by Ben Affleck in Argo), Mark Schultz (played by Channing Tatum in Foxcatcher), and Aron Ralston (played by James Franco in 127 Hours). Ben Mankiewicz moderated and he didn’t hide the fact he was in utter awe of Mendez (whose wife I got to sit by!). Mendez is hilarious and not at all humble about admitting that the entire idea outline in Argo was his! He dominated the conversation since Mankiewicz was so interested, but there were also great stories from Schultz and Ralston regarding changes the movies made to their lives; Schultz, who vehemently opposed Foxcatcher during awards season, did an about-face, saying that he appreciated how the movie immortalized his brother, but that it was’t his story. Ralson was also hilarious, detailing how his mother was the one who saved his life. It wasn’t just the trio on the stage that was spectacular, but it was also revealed that Jim Lovell, of Apollo 13 fame, was in the audience! This was utterly fantastic to hear!
After that it was time to race to Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928) featuring an all new orchestration composed by Carl Davis. This was one my travel buddy demanded we see, and I was a taste hesitant to watch it. (I’m not big on silent films and haven’t watched a Buster Keaton silent.) The combination of the orchestra with the utterly exquisite print made this a fun experience. The story of a Romeo and Juliet romance between two children of river boat captains was charming, self-contained, and funny. It was announced that the movie would be placed on DVD and Blu, with new orchestration, through Cohen Media later in the year, so if you missed this live, you can purchase it on DVD.
Finally, we headed over to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969). This is probably the fifth or sixth Bond film I’ve seen and it was an interesting film. The highlight was Ben Mankiewicz’s interview with star George Lazenby. By 9:15pm, Lazenby and crew had no filter, thus the Bond star discussed his sexual misadventures, issues with director Peter Hunt and Hunt’s overabundance of homosexual friends, and his regret at walking away from the franchise. Lazenby was so candid he left the usually loquacious Mankiewicz stunned! It was both hilarious and uncomfortable in equal measure. As for the film…it wasn’t my taste. You all know how I feel about women in cinema, and despite a luminous Diana Rigg, the Bond movies are not the films to watch for equal representation of women.
By the end of the night I was too delirious for the midnight screening so called it a night!
Kristen Lopez View All
A freelance film critic whose work fuels the Rotten Tomatoes meter. I've been published on The Hollywood Reporter, Remezcla, and The Daily Beast. I've been featured in the L.A. Times. I currently run two podcasts, Citizen Dame and Ticklish Business.
Wow, what an incredible day! I recently read Jeanine Basinger’s “The Star Machine” and I would have loved to hear her talk on filmic depictions of history! Her depth of film knowledge is unbelievable and it must have been a real thrill to have her share that knowledge in person 🙂 Also, AMAZING photo of Christopher Plummer! You were so close! I am anxiously awaiting your summary of Day 3 🙂
Laura, seeing Jeanine in person was great. It was one of those panels that was special to those who attended (sadly, Jeanine didn’t get the large audience she deserved). She was so gracious answering my question, and I felt proud that she mimicked thoughts I stated in some of my Biopic Theatre articles. Yeah, seeing Christopher Plummer in the flesh was fantastic, now if only his bodyguards gave me some clearer pictures.