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The Disney World of classic films

May 15, 2013

YellowBrix

May 15--The whole time I kept thinking, "Am I really here?"

Riding on a plane, sitting in a movie theater or while walking down Hollywood Boulevard, I couldn't believe I was in Los Angeles for the Turner Classic Movies Film Festival.

After three years of wanting to go to the festival, I was not disappointed. I had a ball.

The Turner Classic Film Festival could be called the Disney World for classic film fans, because if you love old movies, it really is the "happiest place on Earth."

I visited Hollywood once before in 2006 on a family vacation and was left rather dismayed by the disregard of history and confused by the odd people dressed like Marilyn Monroe and Shrek outside of Graumann's Chinese Theater, now TCL Chinese.

But even those people desperate for attention in their costumes didn't cheapen the film festival.

In fact, I felt like I excitedly drifted along on a cloud of old Hollywood splendor; only thinking about which movie I would watch next.

I haven't seen many classic films on the big screen and it's a special experience. Not only did I realize how much I liked some films, but I noticed more- such as facial expressions and shifting of eyes that you may miss on the small screen.

After years of being a classic film fan, I was finally with people who understood what I was talking about. I could toss around names like Van Johnson, Edward Everett Horton or mention the slang "pre-code" and every one knew exactly what I meant.

It's an uncanny feeling to be sitting in an audience waiting to watch "Libeled Lady" (1936) and have the audience applaud when stars Jean Harlow and William Powell enter on screen.

Along with the films it was a pleasure to meet so many fellow bloggers and Twitter pals in person- especially since I have talked to many of you for three years. There were screams of excitement and embracing as we kindred classic film souls finally met in person.

Now, back in North Carolina, I can only count the days until next year. Or find another classic film festival until then

Films viewed during the festival:

Thursday, April 25:

-South Pacific (1958) Starring Mitzi Gaynor, Rossano Brazzi, John Kerr, Juanita Hall and France Nuyen

With guests Mitzi Gaynor and France Nuyen

Gaynor told stories about how she got the role. She also said she once old Brazzi he was a handsome man and his response was "I know."

Friday, April 26:

-Libeled Lady (1936) Starring Jean Harlow, William Powell, Myrna Loy, Spencer Tracy

"Screwball comedy is a lost art," said TCM's Scott McGee before the film.

Libeled Lady was advertised the first "all-star cast" since Dinner at Eight, McGee said.

-Suddenly, It's Spring (1947) Starring Paulette Goddard, Fred MacMurray, MacDonald Carey. Introduced by MacMurray's daughter Kate.

MacMurray's daughter shared wonderful stories about her father including:

-MacMurray, a saxophonist and also once a singer for a jazz band, played the saxophone for the My Three Sons TV show theme song.

-John Wayne set up her parents June Haver and Fred MacMurray at a costume party. MacMurray's previous wife had passed away as did Haver's boyfriend.

"Mother was dressed as a saloon girl, maybe that's what did it," MacMurray said.

-After making The Apartment-where he plays a cad-the MacMurray family was at DisneyLand. A woman approached him and hit him with her purse because she had taken her family to see the movie. "That wasn't a Disney movie," she told him. MacMurray felt uncomfortable playing his roles in Billy Wilder films "The Apartment" and "Double Indemnity" since they weren't his customary nice guy, comedic roles.

-Notorious (1946)starring Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant. Introduced by Rose McGowan

-It (1927)starring Clara Bow

This was my first silent film with a live orchestra accompaniment and it was amazing.

"Clara was a great natural talent of movies," said Bow biographer David Stenn.

-Hondo (1954)starring John Wayne and Geraldine Page Introduced by Leonard Maltin.

This film was originally filmed in 3D and this was the first 3D film I had ever seen.

I had seen Hondo before but forgot how good it was until this screening.

Saturday, April 27:

-Bugs Bunny Cartoons for his 75th birthday

This was a very clever of TCM to start a Saturday with cartoons. Leonard Maltin introduced the cartoons saying how Warner Brother's cartoons were the first to have the characters talk at the screen.

-Alfred Hitchcock's A Lady Vanishes (1936) Introduced by 98-year-old actor Norman Lloyd.

Lloyd gave up a tennis game to speak before the film and said A Lady Vanishes and 39 Steps were the last two English films Hitchcock made and were both perfection.

"I tell film students, don't go to film school. Just watch 39 Steps," Lloyd said.

-Desert Song (1943) starring Dennis Morgan, Irene Manning, Bruce Cabot. Introduced by Robert Osborne

A film that had not been shown over 50 years due to copyright, this was my 500th musical that I've seen.

It seems fitting that my 500th musical would end with me meeting Robert Osborne afterwards.

-Mildred Pierce (1945) starring Joan Crawford, Ann Blyth, Zachary Scott, Jack Carson, Eve Arden

Introduced by Robert Osborne and Ann Blyth

When Blyth entered, the whole audience stood up and cheered for her like she was a rock star.

"I have nothing but wonderful memories of Joan," Blyth said.

-Island of Lost Souls (1932) starring Charles Laughton, Lelia Hyams, Richard Arlen

I love that TCM also ended nights with a horror film at midnight.

Sunday, April 28

-Come September (1961) starring Rock Hudson, Gina Lollabrigida, Bobby Daren, Sandra Dee

Introduced by Vanity Fair correspondent Matt Tyrnauer

-I Am Suzanne (1933)starring Lilian Harvey and Gene Raymond. Introduced by MoMa archivist Katie Trainor

Though this film was very odd (the plot revolved around marionette puppets), it was worth seeing. Trainor said the film had not been seen in 80 years. This was also my 501st musical

-It Happened One Night (1934)starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert.

-The General (1926) and One Week (1920)starring Buster Keaton. Introduced by Robert Osborne

This was a special screening because it was the second to last film to be shown in Graumann's before being remodeled to IMAX. The crowd booed when Osborne announced this.

Reach Jessica Pickens at 704-669-3332 or jpickens@shelbystar.com. Follow on Twitter at @StarJPickens

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