restorations

The Road to TCMFF 2017: My Wish List

Since only a portion of the TCM Classic Film Festival offerings has been revealed, I’m going to fantasize about what else the festival programmers could schedule. In making my ideal list, I’ll pretend rights or physical print restrictions don’t exist, and I’ll stick to this year’s theme of MAKE ‘EM LAUGH: COMEDY IN THE MOVIES. I’m sure some of the programs and films I’d like to see at the festival will surprise you!

SPEEDY showing Harold Llloyd and Ann Christy at Coney Island

Harold Lloyd and Ann Christy in SPEEDY (1928)

Long-term readers and Twitter followers know I’m a silent film buff, and I know the perfect gateway to introduce others to the medium is comedy. I have multiple suggestions in this category. Harold Lloyd will be shown, but due to his granddaughter Suzanne Lloyd‘s activism in preserving and promoting his work, his work screening at the fest is usually likely. I’m a fan, so I don’t object. I’d like more silents at the festival!

Alice Howell in Cinderella Cinders

Alice Howell in CINDERELLA CINDERS (1920)

I’d love TCM to put together a program of silent film comediennes’ shorts. That way the audience could get exposure to or reacquaint themselves with multiple women stars from that era. There have been recent restorations, including some recently screened on the network, that could help fill the bill. Gloria Swanson, Louise Fazenda, Mabel Normand, Bebe Daniels, Flora Finch, Carole Lombard, Alice Howell, Marie Dressler, and Elsa Lanchester are all comediennes with existing silent shorts. If looking for a longer bill, shorts could be paired with Constance Talmadge‘s hour-long, recently found and restored comedy GOOD REFERENCES (1920).

Clara Bow and Buddy Rogers in GET YOUR MAN

Clara Bow and Buddy Rogers in GET YOUR MAN (1927)

Clara Bow‘s GET YOUR MAN (1927) provides the perfect excuse for a spotlight on the jazziest silent film comedienne. More exposure for Bow, especially with an introduction by her biographer David Stenn, will spotlight why America’s former favorite redhead deserves to be remembered as a talented comedienne whose onscreen naturalism belied self-aware technique. Discussion of how an incomplete film was reconstructed by the Library of Congress using “still photographs and inter-titles from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to fill in the narrative gaps” would be a mini-course in film preservation. If the program needs filling out because GET YOUR MAN is fifty-seven minutes long, short materials like the fragment of RED HAIR (1928) can be screened.

ZaSu Pitts and Thelma Todd Laughing in Bed

ZaSu Pitts and Thelma Todd

I’m divided whether I want a program of comedy duo shorts or one featuring duos whatever the length of their films. Shorts duos I’d be delighted to watch at TCMFF included Thelma Todd and ZaSu Pitts, Todd and Patsy Kelly, Buster Keaton and Fatty Arbuckle, and Laurel and Hardy. If the fest highlights comedic duos’ best moments even from longer fare, I’d want to see added Marie Dressler and Polly Moran, Abbott and Costello, and Wheeler and Woolsey. I’m sure including Bob Hope and Bing Crosby along with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis would make even more fans happy!

Moonstruck Moon over Bridge Shot

MOONSTRUCK (1987)

With Norman Jewison already in attendance for the fiftieth anniversary of IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT (1967), I hope another one of his films celebrating its thirtieth anniversary gets snuck onto the schedule–MOONSTRUCK (1987). It’s laugh out loud funny in an idiosyncratic way, and it celebrates life and the mistakes that make it interesting with no cynicism. It, also, captures an old New York City that’s been disappearing via gentrification, displacement, and the passing of the older generations.

Now that you’ve read my picks, what films or programs would you like to see at TCMFF?

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Happy New Year–Especially for Fans of Clara Bow!

Clara Bow Calligraphic New Year

Happy New Year’s wishes go to readers of Spellbound! I suspect quite a few of you brought in the New Year by celebrating with cinematic treats. I did. Hubby and I brought in the New Year watching a pair of Deanna Durbin movies at the Stanford Theatre. We started with the 7:30 PM screening, which meant we got a Wurlitzer concert before and after our first film performed by Jerry Nagano. He put together a playlist full of romantic tunes, including What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve? The whole audience could have answered, “Watching movies!”

That’s something the spellbound will have great opportunities for in the coming year. It promises to be a great one for revival and restoration screenings. Our calligraphic cutie Clara Bow kicks off the New Year with screenings that would tempt anyone to travel to catch her motion pictures. She’s featured in a series starting this week at the UCLA Film & Television Archive, Call Her Savage: Clara Bow Hits the Screen. The series runs January 4, 2013 through February 10, 2013 in the Billy Wilder Theater, and it’s co-sponsored by the Hugh M. Hefner Classic American Film Program.

Clara Bow & Antonio Moreno in It

With Antonio Moreno in It

“Clara Bow Hits the Screen” is a great secondary title. She remains a charismatic and entertaining actress for all who are lucky or smart enough to watch one of her films today. Her impact on the audiences of yesteryear can’t be underestimated either. In her prime, she was the number one box office star in Hollywood beloved by both men and women and drawing them out to her movies, even when the scripts were weak. Her persona managed to fuse the flapper and her modern mores to a non-threatening likability normally demonstrated by the girl next door type. Of course, there were probably many who wished she was the girl next door–even today!

In Call Her Savage

In Call Her Savage

The series launches this Friday with Call Her Savage (1932) and Hoop-La (1933). These racy Pre-Codes come from near the end of her career and taunt us with her talkie potential, and their outlandish plots have to be seen to be believed. An extra bonus: The biographer of her definitive biography, Clara Bow: Runnin’ Wild, David Stenn will be on hand to put her in context and discuss her life and career on January 4.

The Wild Party, a Collegiate Comedy

The Wild Party, a Collegiate Comedy

The subsequent screenings feature: Parisian Love (1925) and Capital Punishment (1925) on January 5, It (1927) and Children of Divorce (1927) on January 11, Wings (1927) on January 19, The Wild Party (1929) and a clip show of film fragments on February 8, and Kick-In (1931) and Her Wedding Night (1930) on February 10.

Clara Bow & Ralph Forbes in Her Wedding Night, still from the Clara Bow Archive

With Ralph Forbes in Her Wedding Night, still from the Clara Bow Archive

Wings, It, and The Wild Party promise to be crowd-pleasers. The clip show should be of particular interest to Bow buffs and “includes trailers from lost feature films, newsreels, recently discovered Technicolor outtakes, and Bow singing ‘True to the Navy‘ in the 1930 all-star revue Paramount on Parade.” Kick-In offers historical curiosity since it was her first film after the infamous Daisy DeVoe trial, which was damaging to Bow’s reputation at the time. It’s a testament to Bow that more people today ask Daisy Who?


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