TCM Classic Film Festival 2022: Recapping Day 4

May 9, 2022

Welcome to my recap of the 2022 TCM Classic Film Festival! Read about my pre-fest activities and Friday movies HERE and Saturday’s proceedings HERE. Below I recount the events I attended Sunday, which turned out entirely different than I had planned.

 

SUNDAY 4/24

As much as I wanted to see After the Thin Man (1936), sleep and rest won out. Sunday was the most flexible day for me considering the TBAs, so I just went with the flow. Turns out, it was my busiest day of the festival, by far! And it all started by getting shut out of Fly-By-Night (1942), a fest discovery that, apparently, many others wanted to discover too. 

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Margaret O'Brien regaled us with spectacular stories! (Photo by Kim Luperi)

Special Event 1: A Conversation with Margaret O’Brien at the Roosevelt

There aren’t many stars left from the classic Hollywood era, so when you get the chance to hear one speak – a woman who knew Judy Garland, Rita Hayworth, Mickey Rooney, etc. – you take advantage of that opportunity. I knew very little of Margaret O’Brien’s life and career outside a few big titles, so it was a real treat to listen to her stories. (For instance, I never knew she was basically discovered because of her dog – yes, really – and she was a great dancer, among many other things.) I will definitely write a full article about her conversation with Randy Haberkamp, so stay tuned!

 

Special Event 2: A Conversation with Piper Laurie in Club TCM

The same thing I wrote for O’Brien goes for Piper Laurie, too – except you can sub out the star names above for Paul Newman, Rock Hudson, Tony Curtis, and many more. Laurie was refreshingly honest and open in her talk with TCM host Dave Karger, which touched upon her start in movies, her fight for better roles, coming back to the screen after a 15-year absence to co-star in Carrie (1976), and more. I stood near the door, so the sound was a little subpar for me, but I hope to share more information from her conversation soon.

 

Special Event 3: Reframed: Exploring the Complex Topic of Art vs. Artist

This conversation was on my radar but not really at the forefront of my mind until the day started to settle in. I'm happy I chose this discussion with Roxane Gay, Nancy Wang Yuen, Jacqueline Stewart, Ben Mankiewicz and Charlie Tabesh because it was enlightening, eye-opening and thought-provoking. Topics touched upon how/if to showcase art that features work from controversial contributors, the ways in which TCM’s programming team considers these questions, potential solutions for including victims and survivors in the discussion, and much more. I’m so glad that TCM is game to broach these complicated subjects and host open conversations about them, too. As with the other special presentations I attended on Sunday, I hope to cover this talk in more detail soon.

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Suggestion: Someone could have dressed as the monster in I Married a Monster from Outer Space for the live read, just saying.

Special Event 4: Live Read of I Married a Monster from Outer Space (1958)

Last year during the virtual fest I was introduced to SF Sketchfest through their live read of Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959). It was funny, it was odd, and I loved it. So, when TCM announced the group would be back with an in-person live read, I immediately added this unique event to my schedule. 

 

I haven’t seen I Married a Monster from Outer Space, which, I know now, is probably for the best. Narrator Dana Gould added some jokes in here and there, mostly about how the story and dialogue makes very little sense. Those asides kept a steady stream of laughter throughout the script read, with various characters played by Charlene deGuzman, David Koechner, Laraine Newman, Johan Ray, Janet Varney and Baron Vaughn. The theater setting made for an intimate performance complete with live sound effects, a marriage of comedy and classic movies that I will remember for a long time. (Not to mention, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the performers break numerous times!)

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Lenz (Spencer Charles) is gifted special cigarettes in Jewel Robbery.

Movie 5: Jewel Robbery (1932)

Since I skipped out on Jewel Robbery opening night, I was extremely happy to hear it made a TBA spot on Sunday – and TCM upgraded the film to the spacious Legion Theater! Cari Beauchamp introduced the movie, sharing a lot of gems from the film’s censorship file and production. (Basically, the picture skirted a lot of potentially serious cuts because of its charm, which was not unusual for a sophisticated comedy.)

 

One of the things that makes Jewel Robbery a hoot to watch with audiences today is that The Robber (William Powell) hands out marijuana cigarettes to his victims that make them hilariously high. We understand that immediately now, but I don’t think it was recognized back then, and I wonder how audiences reacted to that plot point. I’m glad Beauchamp noted that there’s very little to no discussion of marijuana in the censorship files – they do mention a drugged cigarette at one point – which I’ve always found fascinating. Did they just let it slide, did it fly over their heads, or did they not distinguish the cigarettes as marijuana? We may never know! (I also believe this was one of the first films to display drugs in a fully humorous way, so it was probably unknown territory.)

 

Jewel Robbery was a delightful, lighthearted high note (pun intended) to end the movie portion of TCMFF on. I swung by the closing night party at the Roosevelt afterwards, spending time with friends I had yet to see or only saw a little of during the fest, which was the perfect way to close out my favorite classic movie going weekend of the year. I’m already counting down the days until TCMFF #14 in 2023 when we can all be together again!  

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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