#TCMFF 2019, Day 4: “Big clocks are never wrong!”

The fourth and final day of the 2019 Turner Classic Movies Classic Film Festival (TCMFF) (I’ve done this literally every day, why) arrived with a warm breeze, a blue sky, and an episode of “Frasier” to keep me sane. Luckily, my first event of the day didn’t start until a whopping 10 AM.

Breakfast with Brownlow & Beauchamp

Any movie fan who has been to LA knows to go to Larry Edmund’s Bookshop. Filled with, as far as I can tell, just about every book about movies and stars ever made, it also has tons of posters, still and other film-centric goodies.

They also host talks every Sunday during TCMFF, and this year’s was too good to pass up. Cari Beauchamp and Kevin Brownlow, a pair of old friends, talked about Brownlow’s origin story and career, from his obsession with silent film strips as a boy to the arduous process of getting his book, The Parade’s Gone By, published simply because the publisher didn’t think there were many film-related books at the time because they didn’t publish any.

Frankly, I found Brownlow to be utterly inspiring. Cari talked about the ripple effect that Brownlow’s elevation of silent movie stars had on the community, and the effects of his landmark documentary Hollywood, and it’s hard to deny his importance in the classic film community. We should all strive to make the film community a better place.

He was extremely sweet, with Jeff, who owns Larry Edmund’s having to drag admirers away from him as he signed books. I’m thrilled to have my own signed copy of The Parade’s Gone By, too, and look forward to tearing into it as soon as I have a chance.

Hollywood Love Stories Panel

My wife spent the morning at Hello, Dolly and, miraculously, loved the movie. She especially loved Alicia Malone’s gushing introduction which converted her from “who’s that woman?” earlier in the festival to “I can’t approach her, she’s too cool!” by the closing party.

My wife and I decided meet back up for our only Club TCM event since Thursday, Hollywood Love Stories. Hosted by David Pierce and star Diane Baker, it was a very breezy, enjoyable whirlwind through the world of fan magazines and how they created narratives for unsuspecting celebrities. Baker both read excerpts (such as an infamous Tallulah Bankhead interview that was spent complaining how long it’d been since she’d had an affair) to her own experiences with tabloids. This included studio-mandated dates, though Baker stayed in love with her high school sweetheart her whole life.

Cold Turkey

My final film at the Legion Post for the festival was Cold Turkey. Director Norman Lear cancelled earlier in the day, and I wasn’t bothered so much, and Dave Karger’s introduction was excellent. At least I felt that way until I saw the film, as now I think some behind-the-scenes info would be most welcoming.

Cold Turkey is a comedy about a destitute town seeking a renewal and finding it in a contest offered by a big tobacco firm: any town that pledges to give up smoking for a month wins $25 million. Dick Van Dyke leads as a priest who sees this contest as the town’s salvation, and his surefire ticket to a more appealing posting in Dearbourn, Michigan. Bob Newhart plays the tobacco company lackey who’d thought he had the perfect marketing plan, without realizing that people could subsume their desire to smoke, mostly through prostitution and violence.

It’s a really black comedy. I always love movies where the hero has a moment that they can clearly see what’s right and wrong and are presented with their last opportunity to fix things, but can’t overcome their personal flaws to do it. The film ends with about half the cast getting shot, helicopters dropping cigarettes from the sky, President Nixon showing up, and the Goodyear Blimp changing everything. It’s so great; I can’t wait to watch it again.

A Woman of Affairs

In my experience, the best way to end a TCMFF is with a silent film. I’ve done this with The Grim Game and The Phantom of the Opera, and then I was also blessed as this year’s finale was a Garbo movie (!) at the Egyptian (!!), introduced by Leonard Maltin (!!!) and Kevin Brownlow (!!!!) with a live orchestra featuring Carl Davis (!!!!!) and a new score (!!!!!!!!!). Sufficient to say, it was an experience, one of those rare moments in your life you can pinpoint witnessing something truly special.

While A Woman of Affairs is probably middle-pack Garbo– it just dilly-dallies a bit too much– it was gorgeous on the big screen. I was up close right near the screen (not by choice, but you know) so I looked up at the woman, in awe the entire film. This also gave me a great view of the orchestra, whom I caught watching the movie when resting.

Closing Night Party

After dinner at the Pig & Whistle with some friends, we made our way to the closing party, which is always a treat. TCM threw in cupcakes and flutes of wine to cap the celebration of their 25th year. We toasted/got toasted. And everyone said their goodbyes.

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Coming Up

And that’s all she wrote! Stay tuned for my wrap-up later this week.

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