Saturday was my day for tough decisions. At the TCM Film Festival, we have access to five movies on five different screens at any time, plus interviews and book signings. Usually what I wanted to see what clear cut. My choice were not always those of my Chicago film-going buddies (Will and Karen), but that's fine. I was very comfortable going my own way and chatting with people I knew from the 2019 Festival or new folks I met in line.
But Saturday! Saturday I wanted to be in two or three places at once and that just isn't possible -- not even in the magic world of Hollywood!
My day started early. I had to skip the free breakfast and leave the hotel at 8:00 to make sure I got my "queue card" (guaranteed seat) for the 9:00 movie. But which one? The Return of the Secaucus 7? This low-budget 1980 film influenced a spate of Baby Boomer/coming of age flicks (most notably The Big Chill). Or The Third Man? This 1949 classic is considered one of those essentials everyone should see, but I somehow haven't.I went to The Third Man, and my world was rocked.
It really is that good. A down-on-his-luck American author travels to Vienna to work with his lifelong friend, Harry, only to learn Harry just died. He's shocked, at loose ends, with no money and nothing to do and tries to figure out what happened to his friend. What he learns is dark and disturbing and very moody and twisted. Everything about this movie is strangely beautiful, from the zither music to chases through bombed-out post-war Vienna. And the writing! The baddest of the bad guys justifies his filthy actions by saying, "In Italy for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror,
murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da
Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love,
they had five hundred years of democracy and peace, and what did that
produce? The cuckoo clock.”
I will never be able to look at a cuckoo clock again.
The experience was enhanced by the intro. The "Czar of Noir" Eddie Muller and director/cinematographer Ernest Dickerson explained how this movie was made and what sets it apart. I learned a lot. I also found myself talking baseball with a pair of women from Cleveland. I mentioned Anthony Rizzo -- as is my wont -- and they certainly know him. He made the last out in the classic 2016 World Series against Cleveland!
Usually I wouldn't miss a chance to see To Kill a Mockingbird, but Saturday I skipped it. Because The Last of Sheila (1973) was being shown at the same time. It isn't a great movie. But boy, it's fun. The only screenplay ever credited to Stephen Sondheim and Anthony Perkins, it's funny and smart and filled with pretty people. If you love reading mysteries, you'll love this movie, I promise you.
The film's star, Richard Benjamin, discussed the movie afterward and I'm happy to report he enjoyed making it as much as I enjoy watching it. Also, Edie Bricusse -- onscreen for about a minute as the luckless Sheila of the title -- was there, too.
Everyone from my movie group went to see Baby Face (1933), a pre-code that has a sterling reputation even though I found it more smutty than shocking. So I went my own way and had lunch with Trudy. I met her at the 2019 fest and we've become Facebook friends. I was touched that she expressed her sympathies over my little man, Reynaldo. Very kind of her.
Then came my biggest decision of the festival: the 1949 Little Women with Beth herself, Margaret O'Brien, introducing it, or Heaven Can Wait, with Warren Beatty in attendance? Or Blue Hawaii, where Elvis sings "Can't Help Falling In Love?" I do love Elvis movies and would enjoy seeing one with an audience ready to praise the King, not bury him.
Margaret O'Brien cancelled, which made it a little easier. I went with Warren. Because of Warren. I've always been a fan, he's 85 now, and when will I ever get to see him again?
|Photo from showbiz411.com|
I still wish I'd been able to see Elvis, though. Sigh ...