TCMFF 2017

April 24, 2017

I went back and looked at my tentative TCMFF schedule before doing this post and I actually laughed out loud. Oh sweet silly naive Kate, thinking she'd get up at 9am every morning and cram 5-6 films into each day. Overall I ended up attending a total of nine movies, four events, and two trivia competitions. It's still better than previous years but I'm never taking home the award for the most dedicated TCMFF trooper.

That being said, I had some really fantastic screening experiences this year. Cat People in 35mm was AMAZING, and I'd probably count it among my top movie-going experiences of all time. I fell in love with two new-to-me movies, What's Up Doc? and King of Hearts. I watched three films on nitrate and although my inadequate eyes failed to detect the thing that makes nitrate different, it was still an awesome experience to see such rare prints. And, miracle of miracles, I enjoyed a western???

The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934)

I'm embarrassed to admit I'm one of those poor unfortunate souls who couldn't detect the difference between safety film and nitrate. I WANTED TO BELIEVE. I wanted it so badly. But my eyes just totally failed me. Whites didn't sparkle, blacks weren't deeper, it just looked like regular 35mm to me.

But I LOVE seeing movies on film, whether that film is nitrate or not. And if the movie being projected on that film is a British Hitchcock film, all the better! When this was first announced I glossed over it, thinking it was the Jimmy Stewart version, and then I did a double take "-- 1934?!?! HERE FOR THIS!"

Early Hitch is just so good. And it's been so long since I had seen this, it was like coming to it fresh. I totally forgot that George Curzon was in it!! He's in my favorite Hitchcock film, Young and Innocent, along with co-star Nova Pilbeam. And this ending is PERFECTION. I can't believe they changed it for the remake, ughhhhhh!

ps. Oh, and Martin Scorsese introduced the movie! I shouldn't admit this, but I've never seen one of his movies (I KNOW) but it was a really exciting surprise to kick off the festival with one of our most esteemed living directors.

Panique (1946)

I wish I had typed up a review as soon as I walked out of the theater, because I was absolutely pulsing with feelings. I loved it, it was just so powerful and the ending was flawless.

The film was based on the book Mr Hire's Engagement by Georges Simenon. Simenon's son introduced the film and mentioned that the book differed quite a bit from the film (the book is apparently less black-and-white, more ambiguous) so I ordered the book as soon as I got home to compare the two.

But the film is very clear where it stands on mob thought, bullying, and antisemitism, and I don't mind when films leave ambiguity behind in order to attack those topics. Especially in post-war France it's understandable -- and admirable -- that this film was made.

Cat People (1942)


I really wrestled with the TCMFF schedule for this time slot. It conflicted with Laura (on nitrate, to boot -- I know I just said that I can't tell the difference between nitrate and safety stock but the *fact* of it being nitrate, the rarity of the print, its fiery history, that alone makes me want to seize every opportunity to watch it) which I also love to death, but Cat People won out and I have never made a better decision in my life.

You haven't seen the swimming pool scene until you've seen it in a dark theater with the sound bouncing off the walls around you; until each cat noise sounds like it's coming right at you. Not to mention Simone Simon's face on a big screen, I mean... wow.

The film was introduced by William Joyce, whose enthusiasm for the movie was infectious. I was already excited about seeing Cat People but after his intro I was PUMPED.

Zardoz (1974)

Nope. Just... nope

Red River (1948)

On the third day of the festival, Deb from Sidewalk Crossings drove in to Hollywood to see a movie with me and Millie. Normally I'm pretty resistant to westerns but, martyr that I am, I made the sacrifice for Deb and Millie.

And I liked it????????

I think it's because it was more character driven than like "let's spend two hours riding horses and shooting at Native Americans!" driven. Also I like John Wayne (I know that seems incompatible with my aforementioned statement about the genre, but he reminds me of my grandfather so he gets a pass) and Montgomery Clift soooo there you go. I liked a western.

King of Hearts (1966)

Geneviève Bujold was present to introduce the film (!!!)

When I saw there was going to be a new-to-me French anti-war film starring Alan Bates screening at TCMFF I was like "sign me up!" I anticipated that this would be my favorite screening at the festival, and I was right. It's a fun, sweet, zany movie and I immediately tracked down a DVD when I got home so I can revisit it often.

Black Narcissus (1947)

psst! do you want to hear a secret? *leans in*

I didn't really like this movie that much.

I KNOW. Sacrilege!! Burn me at the stake, throw nitrate at my feet and watch me go up in flames! AHHH!

I just couldn't really get into it. The plot and everything wouldn't normally interest me to begin with, but I was lured in by the sultry promise of seeing one of the most luscious color palettes in film on sparkling nitrate stock. Like my experience a few days prior, I just couldn't see it. I feel like a fraud, a failure, a heathen, but I just can't see whatever it is that makes nitrate look different. And compound that with a movie about nuns and I felt kind of "meh." The color is definitely intoxicating, though, it just wasn't enough to sell me on the movie as a whole.

But check out that Polish poster. Now THAT I can get on board with.

What's Up Doc? (1972)

Introduced by Peter Bogdanovich, who wowed us with some impressions (he does a mean Jimmy Stewart)

I loved this WAY more than I probably should. I'm not sure if I would have laughed quite as much if I had seen this alone, but surrounded by a receptive audience I was very much enchanted by the frantic, goofy humor. And OH. MY. GOSH. I adored Madeline Kahn. And her wardrobe. I already bought a vintage floral quilted robe as soon as I got home because I want to be her.

Lady in the Dark (1944)

The sets, costumes, and art design were all very impressive. Ginger Rogers wears a sparkly red dress with a mink skirt that was nothing short of hypnotizing.

But it's dated in that way that's kind of uncomfortable to watch, like "now that I'm giving up my job to get married I can finally be a REAL woman!" dated. Like "leading man is sexist to the point of cruelty but you know that he's going to end up with the leading lady anyway" dated. Like "I watch classic movies all the time and I'm used to old fashioned misogyny but I still groaned multiple times" dated.

Hey, there are tons of movies that are kind of backwards and I still love them. Sometimes I can overlook it and I'm sure a lot of people were able to overlook it here. In Sunday in New York - one of my favorite movies - Jane Fonda casually accepts the fact that she has to give up her writing job because she's getting married. It's a throwaway line towards the end, but it's indicative of what normal life was like for women in 1963. Films are products of the times in which they were made, and I get that. But this one was just kind of yucky to me -- I can't entirely pinpoint what it was that made this one less okay than other relics of dated morals, but that's just how I felt.

That dress though 💃

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