Writing these recaps always feels at odds with other attendees’ because I attend an inordinate amount of screenings, content more to watch the once-in-a-lifetime panels and other press events.
I had originally planned on going to The More the Merrier (1943) since I wasn’t able to get on the press list for the Francis Ford Coppola hand and footprint ceremony. But, on a whim, I tagged along with a fellow Social Producer covering the event – the always fantastic Paula Guthat of TCM Party – and sorta kinda snuck my way in. (Actually many people remembered me from last year and were kind enough to let me stay.) After a delayed start Coppola’s son, Roman, gave a great and heartfelt speech about his family, showing us Coppola, the man, as opposed to the director. (I will say, Peter Bogdanovich was in attendance and I was giddy!)
Considering it was 10:40am and already sweltering once Francis Ford Coppola came out he wanted to get things over with quickly, sinking his hands and feet into the cement ten minutes after things started. I recall last year’s ceremony with Christopher Plummer being a lot longer due to multiple speeches and this was a quick and to the point – a blessing since we were all in direct sunlight.
I’d anticipated missing my afternoon screening but the handprint ceremony flew so fast I was able to handily snag a seat for The Way We Were (1973). Now there were some vocal detractors of TCM’s newer titles screening this festival but I appreciate a few post-1960s ones, if only to experience them in the best possible format. I’d been meaning to watch this Barbra Streisand/Robert Redford film before, at my mother’s urging, and figured you couldn’t do better than watching it for the first time in the Chinese Multiplex. I was also fortunate to have my beloved friend Lara (of Backlots) with me.
I was told The Way We Were would make me sob and…I can’t say that it did. The story of a mismatched couple navigating the rocky waters of their relationship over several years was introduced by historian Cari Beauchamp, who elaborated on how the original Arthur Laurents script was meant to depict the blacklist, an element cast to the side once Streisand arrived and had the script totally rewritten. The chemistry between Streisand and Redford comes and go – and their initial “love” scene blurs the line of consent…but I’m not quite sure on whose side. But, good gravy, has there EVER been a face prettier than Robert Redford? I loved him in Inside Daisy Clover (1965), but I was ready to sell my soul for him here. I can see why Streisand’s Katie would compromise her ideals for him.
Outside of their chemistry, the film meanders with a thin revolving plot that’s really just a launchpad for Katie (Streisand) and Hubbell’s (Redford) relationship. Without spoiling the ending, I was left wondering if some crucial information had been left out, considering we jump forward in time and no one brings up the important details in-between. I also spent way too much time snarking with Lara about the fashions here. Everyone is dressed in period specific clothing – ’40s, ’50s, ’60s – except Streisand who always looks as if she came back from a night at Studio 54. You might have noticed this issue in Funny Girl (1968) but it’s ridiculously apparent here. Oh, and I was left singing the song for the rest of the day.
After some lunch – yes, I’m one of the rare attendees who makes time for food – I sailed in to get some pictures with the adorable dogs in the Man’s Best Friend panel. Meeting Lassie (or, better yet, A Lassie) and Brigitte, also known as Stella of Modern Family, was a true delight! Those dogs were extremely well behaved which is why they bring home the big bucks!
As dusk settled in the travel buddy and I walked down to the Roosevelt pool for our first poolside screening of Batman: The Movie (1966) with introductions by Adam West and Lee Meriweather. Unfortunately the Friday screenings are usually the most crowded with 90% of the seats reserved so we decided to simply sit for the intro and then leave (the fluidity of the pool area keeps them from being poor form). Meriweather and West were fantastic. West utterly stole the interview with his candidness. He makes no bones about being in certain work for the money and ribbing his own reputation. I can’t say I would have derived the same enjoyment from the film, but this was a great introduction.
After that we decided to get in line for The Manchurian Candidate (1962), introduced by the legendary Dame Angela Lansbury! Apparently everyone had the same idea as the line spilled out of the Grauman’s forecourt, up to the next level, and then another mile (or what felt like it) back. I thought for sure we wouldn’t get in. But, get in we did, and Angela was just luminous….even though I was so far back I couldn’t see her. Lansbury thanked the absent Robert Osborne, talked about her performance as the villainous Mrs. Iselin and desperately wanted to discuss her work on Broadway. I hate to say it, but moderator Alec Baldwin did sour the interview. I understand the moderator is responsible for keeping the interview subject on-task and speaking within the allotted time, but at several points during the discussion Lansbury referenced her theater work, leaving Baldwin to pounce on her and drag her back to talking about the film. He’s stuck between a rock and a hard place, but he wasn’t able to work the transitions between subjects without it coming off as rude.
By that point the gang and I decided to get a late dinner and call it a night! Until Saturday!
A freelance film critic whose work fuels the Rotten Tomatoes meter. I've been published on The Hollywood Reporter, Remezcla, and The Daily Beast. I've been featured in the L.A. Times. I currently run two podcasts, Citizen Dame and Ticklish Business.