Saturday was a bit of an odd day for me, as I only ended up watching one, single film! If you’re wondering how that’s even possible: while, yes, there are slews of amazing films to see every day at the festival, there’s also a bevy of non-film-screening related programming as well… and for me, all of my top choices for those types of events happened to fall on the same day. Normal people might prefer to split up these experiences across several days, but nope, I hoarded them all for Saturday.
First up, the morning started very early in the courtyard of the famed Chinese Theatre (now TCL Chinese Imax, formerly Grauman’s) for Jerry Lewis’s handprint ceremony. That was one of the few posts I actually got up during the festival, so read more about it here! Lewis was in great spirits, ribbing the photographers and flirting with the female employees attempting to usher him into place. He was joined by his lovely wife and daughter, with whom he was especially excited to share the stage. The ceremony was introduced by Robert Osborne and Quentin Tarantino—Tarantino stayed afterwards and even greeted the fans by running down the line giving handshakes! All in all, I figured this was a pretty once-in-a-lifetime experience, and in what other situation would being able to see some wet cement and dirty hands be so utterly thrilling? Hopefully the prints will be dry and on display in the courtyard soon, but I’ll always be able to relive that moment.
Following the ceremony, I headed over to the Egyptian, again, for the original 1954 Japanese version of Godzilla (Gojira). I had only seen the Raymond Burr Americanized version, so this was a fascinating experience. This original version is a much more nuanced and cohesive telling of the story, and coming fully from the Japanese perspective makes the decision of whether or not to use nuclear devices a much more effective and dramatic conclusion. This film introduced much of the world to Japanese popular cinema (as opposed to the “prestige” cinema already in motion), and cemented a lasting legacy for the legendary kaiju, and still holds up today. Director of the upcoming reboot, Gareth Edwards, spoke before the film, and seemed to have a good mindset for approaching the story, so hopefully his version will be a good homage to this often dark, poignant film.
My final destination for the day was the Hollywood Roosevelt for my first experience of “Club TCM,” a passholder-exclusive space for events throughout the festival. Thelma Schoonmaker, editor extraordinaire most known for her work with Martin Scorsese, was appearing in person to discuss her career. I had seen Schoonmaker briefly when she introduced A Matter of Life and Death, which had been directed by her late husband, Michael Powell. Schoonmaker was lively, vibrant, and fun—her celebrated career, which started by happenstance when she answered a classified ad, is an amazing testament to both her talents and her ambition. She describes her work with Scorsese, one of the most fruitful in movie history, as a true partnership, noting that he thinks like an editor while he is filming. She also said that she does not display the Oscar she won for Raging Bull, because Scorsese did not win for directing nor for picture, calling that snub “one of the worst moments of [her] life.” Luckily, she has two ADDITIONAL Oscars to choose from, and Marty did finally win his as well, so she can display those without pause. Schoonmaker also noted that when they are editing together, the first thing Scorsese does is turn on the TV to TCM, even occasionally pointing to the screen and saying, “THAT’S what I want to do here!” Part of the reason I love TCM is that it takes a typically solitary activity, like watching old movies, and turns it into a potentially social one, since we’re all seeing it at the same time—and now I know that Marty and Thelma could very well be watching the same thing.
I actually left the festival for the day at this point, to attend a friend’s birthday party—which ended up being a drive-in screening of the classic-in-a-different-sense, Clueless! It was at the Electric Dusk Drive-In in downtown Los Angeles, and was a pleasant if jarring experience after days of old movies. They actually have a full run of films planned for the summer season, including classic selections like Sunset Boulevard and A Streetcar Named Desire, so if you’re in the area, it’s a fun, old-school way to spend an evening. But I was revitalized to spend another full day at TCM Fest on Sunday!