To recap this past festival weekend, I'll start with:
This rather conventional romance disguised as a bio pic was actually directed by George Marshall, not Byron Haskin as I mentioned in an earlier post. I think because it was also produced by George Pal that I assumed Haskin directed, a la War of the Worlds. Anyway, this is a very entertaining, not entirely factual account of Houdini's career. I've seen it many times on TV, but the print they showed was of barely decent quality. The colors are starting to bleed and it's a shame that an old three-strip Technicolor film like this one was not properly restored. Paramount doesn't seem too interested in preserving much of their legacy when it comes to films like this one.
The introduction was done by Dorothy Dietrich and Dick Brookz, curators of the Houdini museum and magicians themselves. They did a very entertaining straight-jacket escape routine which made it one of the best intros of the whole festival.
The Grim Game (1919)
This silent film with the real Harry Houdini was a nice curio item; not a great film but a rather stodgy melodrama made strictly to show off Houdini's ability to escape from jail cells, handcuffs, straight jackets, bear traps, etc. But the payoff comes at the end with a real mid-air collision of two bi-planes, with no one really getting hurt.
The live music was not that good. Sounded like the composer wanted this to be Schindler's List. Doesn't hold a candle to what Carl Davis' music did for Keaton's Steamboat Bill Jr.
Houdini was not destined to be a film star like Chaplin, Keaton or Fairbanks, and it shows.
All in all, I enjoy this festival. Standing in line, you hear so many conversations about so many great films. It's hard not to get involved with talking to other film goers about the experience.
Films I missed: Patton, The Apartment, My Darling Clementine, A Man For All Seasons, Riffifi, Boom, Diary of Anne Frank, Marriage Italian Style.
The main drawback for me was the Egyptian Theater. It has the least comfortable seating of any of the theaters.
It's not a full time first run house anymore and serves a home to the American Cinemateque. It has been altered from it's original design and not preserved like the TCL Chinese. I guess it's better than being torn down and replaced with a Gap store, but the TCL 6 multiplex is way more comfortable in comparison.
Last thing I'll mention is the absence of Robert Osborne. I know he's getting up there in years, but he is the star of the TCM channel, and he was missed. Ben Mankiewicz seems to be the heir apparent. He's a likable host with a great sense of humor, and just like us, has a knowledge and love of the classic era of moviemaking.
I'd also like to point out that there's lots of young people who are classic movie fans. I saw scores of twenty-somethings and milennials there, too. That's a good sign for the future.