On the Red Carpet at TCMFF 2017

April 19, 2017 

For the second year in a row, I had the privilege of interviewing stars and special guests on the TCMFF red carpet. If you read my coverage from 2016, you may know that I was a tiny bit under-prepared and a smidge overwhelmed on my first TCMFF red carpet last year. However, I took that opportunity to observe and learn from everyone around me so that the next time I'd have a shot at it I'd be 110% geared up and ready to go.

The red carpet for the 50th anniversary of In the Heat of the Night. (Picture by Kim Luperi) 

Though the nerves still wracked me prior to the event, I'm glad to report that I got over those quickly - ironically, around the time when the carpet started getting crowded - and my organization and pre-fest research considerably boosted my confidence. Oh, and most importantly, I had a grand time, not only interviewing guests but also working alongside online pals such as Jeff, Danny from pre-code.com, Raquel from Out of the Past, Nora from Nitrate Diva, Kristen from Journeys in Classic Film and Christy from Christy's Inkwells. (Also, special thanks to Danny for snapping so many photos of everyone in action!)

Blogger friends Danny and Raquel on the red carpet. (Picture by Kim Luperi) 

As with the experience last year, I found everyone who stopped to chat with the bloggers at the end of the carpet gracious, lively and truly thrilled to be there. I'm quite certain that overall pleasant atmosphere played as crucial a part in my comfort on the carpet as my prep did.

 

This year, I thoroughly researched all the guests scheduled to walk the carpet, formulated a question for each and also prepared a comedy-related query as backup for those I wasn't as familiar with: What is your go-to comedy if you need a pick-me-up?

Back at it! (Picture by Kim Luperi)

Since you never know who will be able to stop and talk, there wasn’t any one person in particular who I wanted to grab an interview with. That being said, there were some ladies who were near the top of my list, but for one reason or another, I didn't get the chance to speak with them. For instance, I would have liked to have asked actress/author Illeana Douglas, author Cari Beauchamp, or Film Struck host Alicia Malone what female comedians or female-centric comedies they enjoy, as they are all involved with women and film in one way or another. Script supervisor Angela Allen was also up there, but after she stopped in our area to answer a quick question, she was ushered away. Allen seemed a bit nervous on the carpet; while she's worked with powerhouses like John Huston, I guessed that perhaps she wasn’t used to having the spotlight solely on her - though her Q&A before Beat the Devil (1953) was fantastic, and I luckily had the chance to chat with her more privately at the closing night party.

 

But getting to the real point...without further ado, please enjoy my TCMFF 2017 red carpet coverage.

The first person I got to interview was Wyatt McCrea. (Picture by Danny)

Wyatt McCrea, grandson of Joel McCrea and Frances Dee

My question: Of your grandfather's comedies, which one is your favorite?

 

Sullivan's Travels (1941) was the top for McCrea, but he added that The More the Merrier (1943 - and one of my favorite films) is right up there with it. He noted that both pictures feature great moments and "they’re neck in neck," but Sullivan's Travels always comes to mind first.

 

When I inquired what specifically gave Sullivan's Travels the edge over The More the Merrier, he commented: "You know, I think it’s the whole satire on Hollywood that I love." He also pointed to the famous ad-libbed stoop sequence in The More the Merrier as the scene that he believes "sells" that movie - and I'd have to agree.

Keir Dullea, who I've actually met and spoken to before - at a comic convention. (Picture by Kim Luperi) 

Keir Dullea, actor 

My question: Is there any one memory that sticks out the most from the production of Bunny Lake is Missing (1965)? (Though he was attending the fest for 1962's David and Lisa, I adore Bunny Lake is Missing and had to ask about it!)

 

Though Dullea stressed how difficult it was to work with director Otto Preminger - he said Preminger was a bully and a screamer, and the larger the crew around him the harder he was to deal with - the high point for him was working with Laurence Olivier.

Jennifer Dorian has come to be someone I look forward to speaking with; she's such a delight. (Picture by Danny

Jennifer Dorian, General Manager, TCM

My question: What is your go-to comedy if you need a pick-me-up?

 

"That’s a fun question!" Dorian laughed, before confiding that she's a bit insecure when it comes to being interviewed about movies, because she's an executive who works with 50-80 of the biggest film fans in the world at TCM. But back to the question: Dorian and her brother used to imitate Singin' in the Rain (1952), and that film always makes her laugh. She also mentioned Steamboat Bill Jr. (1928), which she first saw at TCMFF two years ago. "That movie cracks me up; it's incredible," she raved.

 

As she did during my interview with her last year, Dorian turned the question on me. I think it's quite commendable that the higher-powered TCM staff who walk the carpet go the extra mile and make time to speak with the bloggers. I was greatly reassured by Dorian's presence last year, and she exuded the same encouraging vibe when I talked to her this year. (Oh, and my answer was 1940's My Favorite Wife; Irene Dunne always comes to my rescue.)

Sara Karloff speaking to a fellow blogger on the carpet. (Picture by Kim Luperi) 

Sara Karloff, daughter of Boris Karloff

My question: What is your go-to comedy if you need a pick-me-up?

 

Karloff's answer was simple, and one title was also a bit ironic: Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles (both 1974).

Several bloggers, including me, were huddled around Eddie Muller.     (Picture by Danny

Eddie Muller, the "Czar of Noir," author and host of Noir Alley on TCM

My question: I was at Noir City Hollywood this year and relished the A-B lineup. One of the films that delighted me the most - to my surprise - was Lady on a Train (1945), which has a comedy element to it. Is there another noir with a similar comedy aspect that you particularly enjoy?

 

Muller mentioned that he actually considers some films noir comedies. For instance, he regards The Big Sleep (1946) as a screwball comedy, because there's no real threat to the protagonist; you know Bogart will figure everything out in the end. The Big Sleep director Howard Hawks created another genre bending picture, 1949's I Was a Male War Bride, which also cracks Muller up every time he sees it. Circling back to the question, though, Muller told me he's always looking for noir comedies. The Good Humor Man (1950) definitely qualifies as one, and I interjected to mention Unfaithfully Yours (1948), a film he was introducing at the festival which isn't a noir, per se, but a dark comedy. Nevertheless, Muller linked the selection to noir, telling me that writer/director Preston Sturges penned the script in 1932 but couldn't get it made then because all the studios turned him down. The movie was so far ahead of its time - 15 years, to be exact - that Sturges didn't get a chance to shoot it until 1947. By the mid-late 1940s, darker subject matter was more acceptable - thanks to the fact that the industry was right in the middle of the noir era. (I haven't seen the film, but Muller deemed Unfaithfully Yours a satire, so now I really need to watch it.) 

Suzanne Lloyd during the opening night festivities. (Picture by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for Turner)

Suzanne Lloyd, granddaughter of Harold Lloyd

My question: I recently saw some of your grandfather's 3D photographs. Do you know how he got into such a fascinating hobby?

 

Lloyd replied that her grandfather was given a 3D camera in 1947, which he started taking along on his travels. Due to his love of cinematography, producing and all things true to life, he quickly fell in love with the camera, partly because it was so real; in fact, he ended up shooting over 200,000 3D photos. Lloyd has presented shows of her grandfather's 3D photography at the Academy and on the TCM Classic Cruise, frequently featuring snapshots from the opening of Disneyland. (I've seen those, and they are awe-inspiring!)

Fellow blogger Raquel interviewing Leonard Maltin. (Picture by Kim Luperi) 

Leonard Maltin, film critic and historian

My question: What is your go-to comedy if you need a pick-me-up?

 

Maltin didn't respond with a movie, but rather comedy icons: The Marx Brothers. "I love so many different comedians, but somehow they have a way of putting me in a good mood and lighten my load, you might say, in a way that no one else can," Maltin told me.

A mini Willy Wonka reunion at TCMFF 2017. From left to right: Rusty Goffe, Julie Dawn Cole and Paris Themmen. (Picture by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Turner) 

Paris Themmen, actor

My question: I first saw Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971) when I was young, and that set just looked like a dream for a kid. What was it really like?

 

Right off the bat, Themmen inquired: "Do you write for five year olds?" I laughed and assured him no. He offers that question, because he says he tends to stretch the truth with the younger fans as to whether or not everything was actually edible (spoiler alert: it wasn't). Frankly, Themmen admitted the location was amazing. Though it was built on a full soundstage, everything you see in the film was actually there in front of the actors - there was no CGI used. In fact, he divulged that when the kids first see the scrumptious landscape in the movie, it was actually their first time laying eyes on the striking scenery; the shoot was purposely organized that way to capture their authentic reactions. Themmen also added that if the stage looks a little Disney-esque, that's because it was, in a way: Disney concept artist Harper Goff, who created groundbreaking sketches for Disneyland and 1954's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, designed it.

Thanks for following along. Hopefully, I will have the opportunity to return to the red carpet for round three next year! 

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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