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Day 4 of the 2024 TCM Classic Film Festival: A 97-Year-Old Star and a 100-Year-Old Film

May 1, 2024

Welcome to the final day of my 2024 TCM Classic Film Festival recap! If you want to catch up with my previous posts, you can find links here: 

 

While I slept in a bit on Sunday morning because I skipped the first block of films, I still got an early start. 

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Cora Sue Collins with KJ Relth-Miller at the screening of The Sin of Nora Moran. (Picture by Kim Luperi)

The Sin of Nora Moran (1933)

Initially, the plan this morning was to see Law and Order (1932), a new-to-me pre-Code, and then fly into the Theatre 4 line for this film. But after seeing 1. How long the Theatre 4 lines were getting, 2. How many people wanted to see this film, and 3. How late so many of the movies were starting, I decided to shift my strategy. While I normally prioritize new discoveries—and a pre-Code at that!—hearing from Cora Sue Collins, the last living star from the pre-Code era, won out.  

 

I arrived almost three hours early, snagged queue card number 1… and at one point I was concerned I might not make it in! That’s the power of pre-Codes, and, especially, stars that remain from the golden days. I sat in the second row, and experiencing this film up close and on a big screen was a revelation. I’ve seen The Sin of Nora Moran several times, but the frenetic pacing, narratage editing, and innovative plotting, including characters talking about changing the narrative, reminded me how novel Poverty Row pictures could be at the time. (After all, they had to get creative on very limited budgets and schedules!)

 

I adore experiencing films I love with audiences who, for the most part, haven’t seen them, and this was one of those screenings. So much is jam packed in here that even I forgot some of the smaller yet still equally bonkers parts, and it was riveting watching the audience witness those enigmatic twists and turns. It was also so special seeing Collins, who turned 97 a few days before. I was a little bummed that she wasn’t asked about this film, but it’s incredibly divine to be in the presence of someone who knew and worked with the likes of Greta Garbo, Norma Shearer, and a host of other iconic stars. Her conversation was brief, but I’ll share highlights from it at a later time.

 

The Lavender Hill Mob (1951)

I was excited for this witty British comedy, but unfortunately, exhaustion was setting in by this point. I’d love to watch The Lavender Hill Mob again, because Alec Guinness is a comedy genius, and I think I only managed to catch about half of it...

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Buster Keaton in Sherlock Jr. 

Sherlock Jr. (1924)

I knew I had to hop into line for Sherlock Jr. early, but I had the time to stop in to hear the intro from The Model and the Marriage Broker (1951) by my friend Christy, in conversation with the amazing Diane Baker. I couldn’t stay for the movie, but it’s now one I want to see!

 

I can usually count on TCM to program a silent film with live accompaniment on closing night, and this year it was a 100th anniversary screening of Sherlock Jr., literally 100 years to the day it debuted in 1924, as Jacqueline Stewart announced in her introduction. This was a first time watch for me, and there’s no better way to appreciate Buster Keaton’s charm, athleticism, and comedic brilliance than in the 102 year old Egyptian Theatre with the famed Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra and an enthusiastic crowd of 500+ film fans. What a way to end TCMFF 2024! As always, it was a wonderful, memorable experience, and I’m already looking forward to watching classic movies in Hollywood with all my friends next year.

 

If you attended TCMFF this year, feel free to share your favorite moment or movie in the comments!  

thanks for stopping by!

I See a Dark Theater is a website dedicated to classic movie-going—and loving—in the City of Angels. Whether it's coverage on screenings, special presentations, or Q&As around Los Angeles that you're looking for, or commentary on the wonderful and sometimes wacky world of classic cinema, you've come to the right place for a variety of pieces written with zeal, awe, and (occasionally) wit. Enjoy.

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