TCM Classic Film Festival 2022: Recapping Day 3
May 5, 2022
Welcome to my recap of the 2022 TCM Classic Film Festival! To read about my pre-fest activities and Friday movies, click HERE. Saturday’s antics are below.
For my first full day of the fest I had one home: the Hollywood Legion.
What a beautiful day to be indoors (or standing outside) the Hollywood Legion! (Photo by Kim Luperi)
Movie 3: The Flame and the Arrow (1950)
TCM scheduled this film opposite Three on a Match (1932), one of the craziest pre-Codes out there. But the pull here was strong: the Ben Burtt and Craig Barron presentation, child actor Gordon Gebert in attendance, and a new-to-me title (one, honestly, I would not have seen otherwise).
Burtt and Barron, as usual, were fantastic. They expounded upon star Burt Lancaster and co-star Nick Cravat’s friendship and circus history, complete with home movie footage, and detailed some the film’s special effects – mostly visual in this case, though they touched upon the recycled sound effects, among its many borrowed items. While the duo has always delivered captivating presentations, their humor and camaraderie has grown over the years, which makes their informative talks all the more enjoyable. They also brought Gedert on stage to discuss his memories of this film, his movie career, and more. I’ll be detailing that whole conversation in a later post, so watch out for that.
The movie, projected from a rare late 1960s IB Technicolor print, was a fun watch, light on story and heavier on action atmosphere and stunts. Though action and adventure aren’t normally my cup of tea, I was thoroughly entranced by the tricks and flips Lancaster and Cravat executed. Knowing they performed all those themselves certainly added an extra wow factor to the proceedings!
Bruce Goldstein showcasing the MPPDA record of New York's rejection of Baby Face. (Photo by Kim Luperi)
Movie 4: Baby Face (1933)
Baby Face was a revelation with a TCM audience, which I knew it would be. That’s why I was adamant about making it into this screening. I hopped out of The Flame and the Arrow a few minutes early to grab spot #14 in the standby line – and I just barely made it in.
The other reason I so desperately wanted to see this one at the festival was that Bruce Goldstein was scheduled to present before and after the screening. His discussions are always filled with such passion and vigor, and this one was no different. (Even though I pretty much have this censorship file memorized, he made me excited to watch the film again!) Goldstein’s intro mainly focused on the talented Theresa Harris, a Black actress who plays Barbara Stanwyck’s companion/friend/maid Chico in the film. It was nice to see him highlight Harris and some of the movie moments she got to shine in, because, as with most Black actors during this period, Harris was unfairly relegated to stereotypical parts and never able to fully showcase her range and talent.
Baby Face was also probably the loudest movie I’ve seen at TCMFF. By that, I mean whenever a character was introduced – Barbara Stanwyck, Theresa Harris, even George Brent 20 minutes from the end – the crowd applauded wildly. And whenever Stanwyck did or said something that was suggestive or empowering? Tons of affirmative and supportive exclamations rang throughout the theater. The way in which the audience enthusiastically responded to this pre-Code made the screening that much better. I can’t imagine how those seeing the film for the first time felt, and to be honest, I’m low key jealous they experienced it in such a setting!
At the end of the film, Goldstein played a reel exhibiting the differences between the two versions of the movie, along with a brief presentation that showed how those differences were recorded in the film's censorship papers. I actually scooted out right after the movie ended because I’ve seen that reel before, and I know I possess the papers he showed on screen because I’ve written so extensively about this film. Normally, I would have stayed and taken it all in again, but I wanted to hop in line early for Counsellor at Law (1933), and I had no idea what that line looked like already…
I had the first queue card for the standby line and still missed out on Counsellor at Law! (Photo by Kim Luperi)
Movie Attempt: Counsellor at Law (1933)
Success: I nabbed queue card #1 for Counsellor at Law. While we were waiting, I made friends with a couple behind me who were from Erie, PA, the city where Baby Face initially takes place, which is also about 30 minutes from where I went to college. We spent a lot of time in line together, because this screening had the special trifecta of: 1. Being a pre-code, 2. Also being Leonard Maltin’s Robert Osborne award ceremony and 3. Recent news that Warren Beatty would be presenting Maltin’s award. With that, here comes the negative: The theater filled quickly and no standby attendees got in. Though I could have tried my luck at another film that night, I opted to go home, have a real meal, and get some sleep before a busy Sunday.
Stay tuned for my Sunday adventures, which were much different than I anticipated, coming soon!
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.