TCMFF 2018 Day 4: That One Time I Ate Cake with a Centenarian

May 6, 2018

Get ready for this, because it may blow your mind: On the final day of TCMFF, I only watched one – yes, one – movie in full. (Gasp!)

The cover of Marsha Hunt's book on fashion in the front window at Larry Edmunds Bookshop. (Photo by Kim Luperi)

"A Morning with Marsha"

Luckily, I wasn’t married to any of the 9am selections, because 1. That meant I got to sleep in, which was very much appreciated, and 2. I was able to attend a special event at Larry Edmunds Bookstore, “A Morning with Marsha.” That Marsha is Hunt, so obviously that was a priority for me, even if that meant buying another copy of her book to secure my spot. While I’ve had the opportunity to interview Marsha and attend many of her Q&As around the LA area, this intimate gathering felt more like we were all friends hanging out in her home. Roger Memos shared some clips from Marsha Hunt’s Sweet Adversity for the audience, and afterwards Eddie Muller and Alan K. Rode MC’ed as Marsha treated us to stories that ranged from enchanting to devastating.

Eddie Muller, Marsha Hunt, and Alan K. Rode with the beautiful cake. (Photo by Kim Luperi)

Though Marsha turned 100 back in October, Jeff from Larry Edmunds presented her with a beautiful birthday cake, because according to him, once you hit 100, every day is your birthday. That sounds totally appropriate to me. We were all able to take photos of the cake and enjoy a slice (lemon with chocolate frosting, Marsha’s favorite), but what was pleasantly surprising was that everyone was allowed to sort of linger around the front table where Marsha sat and soak up her presence; while she was certainly accessible and people chatted with her, everyone appeared respectful of her space, which I’m sure was very much appreciated.  I’ve heard and written about many of the stories Marsha told us that morning on this blog already, but if I happen upon any new ones, I’ll be sure to share them.

A grand theater for a grand presentation: Ben Burtt and Craig Barron discuss DeMille's epic The Ten Commandments. (Photo by Kim Luperi)

Burtt, Barron, and The Ten Commandments (1956)

Timing worked perfectly for me Sunday morning, because from “A Morning with Marsha” I ambled over to the Chinese IMAX, my first and last time sitting in that theater this festival, for Craig Barron and Ben Burtt’s introduction to The Ten Commandments. I think it’s well known that I’m a huge Burtt and Barron fan, and I try never to miss their presentations. As per usual, this one was tremendous, a perfect mix of educational and amusing. I knew the gigantic IMAX theater wouldn’t be sold out for this screening, but I was quite impressed by just how many people made the commitment to this 810 hour movie. (It’s more like 4, but it’s the same thing to me.) I, however, was not one of the brave souls who stayed, because I simply cannot sit and watch anything for that long, and I had another fest highlight to catch in Club TCM.

Waiting for "Mostly Lost" to start in Club TCM. (Photo by Kim Luperi)

"Mostly Lost"

Those who know me personally are aware that I’ve been toying with the idea of going into the film archiving/library world for a few years now. So there was obviously no way I was going to miss the program “Mostly Lost: Identifying Unknown Films at the Library of Congress” in Club TCM. There, I learned that labeling ‘lost’ films is a lot harder than one might think, as the Library of Congress’ Rachel Del Gaudio and Rob Stone guided us through the steps they take in attempting to ascertain silent films that are otherwise unknown by pinpointing locations, spotting ladies’ fashion, dating streetlamps, and the like. What I was most curious about was actually trying to identify a lost film live with the audience. While I'm sure the average TCMFF attendee isn't as erudite in this area as those who attend the annual “Mostly Lost” workshop, we are obviously all film fans and were able to contribute some knowledge. In fact, one man named all three of the main actors almost instantly in the forgotten short we watched - looks like they should recruit him for the cause! Though I provided exactly zero to the identification of this particular film, it was a treat to simply sit in and hear how these very community-orientated programs play out.

 

TCMFF opening night runaway hit Finishing School (1934) was slotted in a TBA around the time “Mostly Lost” wrapped up, and as much as I would have liked to catch it (because: pre-Code), I knew the line would be ridiculous. And when I swung by to check it out in person, I was right. While watching movies with an audience is usually preferable, I'll just have to settle for the Warner Archive DVD instead.

Fredric March M&Ms couresty my pal Jill. (Photo by Kim Luperi)

A Star is Born (1937)

That meant I had some time to mosey on over to the Egyptian for my last film of the fest, which would be my first full movie of the day. I was up in the air between Animal House (1978) and A Star is Born, but since I only caught one nitrate selection (and in black and white) during the whole fest, I decided to attend one in color, you know, to balance it out. Plus, those M&Ms above, created by my friend Jill, certainly edged it in Freddy's favor. Plus, I like that I opened and closed TCMFF 2018 with two nitrate selections.

William Wellman Jr. in conversation with TCM host Alicia Malone. (Photo by Kim Luperi)

It had been a very long time since I watched A Star is Born. To be honest, I wasn't itching to revisit it, but boy, am I glad I did. The overall story I recalled, but the details I didn't remember as well, so in a way it was like rediscovering the picture for the first time. For a longer movie (1:51 - that's long to me), it flows incredibly well and never feels slow-moving. I was also blown away by the bluntness and sensitivity shown to Fredric March's alcoholism, the likes and nuances of which weren't really given any serious treatment in the 1930s. Furthermore, March and Janet Gaynor's chemistry was out of this world. They made that relationship so natural and, consequently, the ending so devastating. A Star is Born is a very emotional film, but I was glad to finish the festival with it.

I ended TCMFF 2018 with burgers - but at In-N-Out, not the Roosevelt. (Photo by Kim Luperi)

Party!

TCMFF ended as quickly as it began with the closing night shindig in the Roosevelt. As has become a tradition, a number of us headed to In-N-Out afterwards to enjoy burgers, fries, and the last few moments we had together - until next year!

Thanks for reading my TCMFF 2018 recaps. I'll be posting more content from the red carpet, Q&As, and special presentations soon!

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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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