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‘Oklahoma’ Restoration Launches TCM Film Fest As Classic Hollywood Gets Ready For Its Closeup

By | Friday April 11, 2014 @ 11:05am PDT
Pete Hammond

share“You need to show more re-releases. You need to show the great old movies in your theatres,”  director Christopher Nolan told exhibitors at their CinemaCon convention a couple of weeks ago, but sadly no one in that crowd applauded the sentiment. I thought of that as I attended last night’s kickoff  of  TCM’s 5th Annual Classic Film Festival, a nirvana for movie lovers. At least this is still a place you can see “great old movies”  in theatres and in pristine condition. And people from around the U.S., and even the world travel to Hollywood for the opportunity. For that Nolan should at least be thankful.

2014 TCM Classic Film Festival - Opening Night Gala And World Premiere Of The Restoration Of "Oklahoma!"This edition got underway Thursday night with the World Premiere of a stunning TODD AO restoration of the 1955 musical OklahomaStar Shirley Jones joined TCM host Robert Osborne (a “rock star” to the TCM crowd that comes from everywhere for this four-day smorgasboard of movies) for a pre-screening Q&A at the newly renovated TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX.  It was the first film for the Oscar-winning star who just turned 80 last week.  It’s probably safe to say the movie didn’t even look this good when it originally premiered almost 60 years ago  thanks to14682 20th Century Fox’s 8-month effort (led by restorer Schawn Belston) to bring it back to life in the same 30 frame per second TODD AO format in which it was made. Fox is releasing this film and several other Rodgers And Hammerstein musicals in a Blu-ray box set later this Spring.  The TODD AO process was sort of an answer to the 3D craze of the 50′s and in this incarnation it actually feels at times like you are watching some scenes (like a runaway horse sequence) in 3D without glasses. Read More »

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Dick Zanuck Documentary Premieres At TCM Fest Closing

By | Monday April 29, 2013 @ 3:42pm PDT
Pete Hammond

After four days of pristine presentations of certified vintage (mostly) classic movies, the TCM Classic Film Festival saved its only new film for the last day Sunday with the official world premiere of the documentary Don’t Say No Until I Finish Talking: The Story Of Richard D. Zanuck. The 90-minute doc begins airing on TCM next month, and it’s not only a must for anyone interested in the extraordinary career of Zanuck, but as a primer on survival in the dog-eat-dog movie industry.

Even though the  Egyptian Theatre screening was a “world premiere”, the film actually was first seen in early October at Zanuck’s memorial service at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. (Zanuck died July 13 of a sudden heart attack at age 77). As his widow and co-Oscar-winning producer Lili Fini Zanuck (Driving Miss Daisy, Cocoon) told me before Sunday’s screening, “When it was time to do the memorial I was so grateful to have this footage. There’s just nothing that could come close. There’s no montage I could have come up with or people speaking — you never would have wanted people speaking for some 90-odd minutes. And I felt so fortunate that night at the Academy to have this incredible documentary. It is not that it just follows Dick’s life, it’s that it is incredibly inspiring to people… After the memorial some people came up to me and said ‘Oh I wish I knew Dick this way’, and I said ‘You would never know Dick this way’. He wasn’t that kind of person. He didn’t see himself as a role model of any kind I think. He was just doing his best , and in his youth he was sort of rough and tumble. He would have gotten a big kick out of people finding him inspiring.” Read More »

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Hot TV Teaser: American Masters Docu ‘Mel Brooks: Make A Noise’

By | Thursday April 25, 2013 @ 1:26pm PDT

American Masters documentary Mel Brooks: Make A Noise premieres May 20 on PBS. Here’s a clip in which Brooks talks about his 1970 classic, The Twelve Chairs, which screens tomorrow at the TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood. The filmmaker will be on hand for a discussion of the comedy. In the clip, Young Frankenstein producer Michael Gruskoff and Joan Rivers chat about Brooks’ affinity for staying up late to read the classics:

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Hollywood’s Proud Past Lives Again This Week With AFI, TCM Classic Film Festival And Danny Kaye Centennial

Pete Hammond

In Hollywood they say ‘everything old is new again’ and that has never been more true this week than with a massive celebration of classic films and stars. There is tonight’s AFI Night At The Movies with 13 classic titles (including Best Picture winners like In The Heat Of The Night  and Terms Of Endearment) taking up every screen at Hollywood’s Arclight Theatre complete with in-person introductions from their original stars (Shirley MacLaine, Cher, Sidney Poitier, Sally Field and Harrison Ford among them). There is a year-long centennial celebration of the great Danny Kaye and a reminder of his talent at year’s end with the Fox remake of a Kaye classic, The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty. And starting Thursday with the World Premiere restoration of Funny Girl, the 4th Annual TCM Classic Film Festival kicks off its four day run in Hollywood.

Even as competing fests this week at Tribeca and in San Francisco try to steal the spotlight for new films from a new generation, The Turner Classic Movies fest has become a big deal focusing on the past. And not only for the network, but as a signature event where studios can show off new digital restorations of classic films with the same hoopla that might have accompanied their original premieres. Though its stars Barbra Streisand and Omar Sharif won’t be attending the Funny Girl restoration’s premiere at the Chinese Theatre tomorrow night (Sharif is in Europe; Streisand is sending a statement to be read by TCM host Robert Osborne) many vintage stars including festival honorees like Eva Marie Saint, Ann Blyth, Max Von Sydow and numerous others are expected to walk the red carpet. Competing for attention across the street at the Hollywood Roosevelt Pool will be TCM’s pristine digital presentation of 1958′s South Pacific with stars Mitzi Gaynor and France Nuyen on hand. TCM’s longtime talent exec, Darcy Hettrich has the herculean task of turning out all the great stars of Hollywood’s past  that keep these fans buzzing. Read More »

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TCM’s Classics And Col-Coa’s French Hits Keep Hollywood Film Fest Scene Hopping

By | Wednesday April 18, 2012 @ 10:32am PDT
Pete Hammond

With the high-profile Tribeca Film Festival launching tonight and the San Francisco Film Festival tomorrow, don’t count out Hollywood. No sooner had I taken off my credentials for the TCM Classic Film Festival (headquartered at the Grauman’s Chinese and Egyptian theaters) late Sunday night, I had to put on my Col-Coa (City of Lights, City of Angels) fest credentials for opening night Monday at the DGA Theater. The Hollywood-based French film festival showcases lots of new and some vintage French pictures for a solid week of premieres of films that either have or don’t have domestic distribution.

Presented by the Franco-American Cultural Fund — a partnership of the DGA, WGAW, MPAA, Composers and Music Publishers and The French Society for Authors — the opening-night film My Way, a biopic of 1960s and 70s Gallic pop star Claude Francois is one of those movies up for grabs. The colorful Cinemascope production from director Florent-Emilio Siri is a winner that would seem ripe for the picking, especially since La Vie En Rose, another showbiz musical biopic Col-Coa once premiered, went on to strong U.S. art house success and won two Oscars including Best Actress for Marion Cotillard. My Way (known in France as Cloclo) features another remarkable tour de force in the vein of Cotillard’s Edith Piaf from actor Jeremie Reinier as the mercurial star best known for writing the title song (Comme d’habitude) that would become the signature tune for Frank Sinatra. Reinier, who participated in the post-premiere Q&A with Siri and moderator Taylor Hackford, said he had never sung or danced but does so remarkably well in the film while also capturing the full maniacal manner and kinectic energy of this singer most Americans probably haven’t heard of before. The film has grossed $14 million in France since opening a month ago, and a smart distributor would plant Reinier in L.A. during awards season (similar to campaigns for Cotilllard and Jean Dujardin) and push the hell out of of this performance. It’s that good.

Col-Coa will conclude Sunday with the North American premiere of the Cesar-winning The Intouchables, which The Weinstein Co will open on May 25th and are already developing an English remake starring Colin Firth. Co-star Omar Sy won the Best Actor Cesar over Dujardin’s The Artist, so there is much anticipation for it here. In the official opening remarks from fest director Francois Truffart on Monday, there was much pride in the fact that a French film took home the Best Picture Oscar this year. He also mentioned that Col-Coa had premiered nine of Oscar winner Dujardin’s previous films. Siri made reference to the Artist’s American triumph as well in his pre-screening remarks. “We shot it in color and Cinemascope, but in order for it to succeed I will show it silent and in black-and-white,” he joked. Read More »

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April Film Fests Ready For Their Close-Ups

Pete Hammond

This week the big April film festivals are tripping all over each other churning out announcements of film premieres, starry panels, schedules, events and so much more. Directly competing for attention — and against each other – on opposite coasts are, of course, the ever-growing Tribeca Film Festival in New York and the San Francisco International Film Festival  which seems to be going strong despite the untimely tragic passings of its last two leaders, Graham Leggat and his successor Bingham Ray. Both fests get underway on April 19th after Tribeca offers up their World Premiere opener, Universal’s comedy, The Five-Year Engagement  on April 18.  SFIFF will open the next evening with  Benoit Jacquot’s Farewell My Queen. This week that fest announced  five-time Oscar nominee Kenneth Branagh will receive their prestigious Founders Directing Award on April 27th, while Tribeca announced they will be closing their fest the next day with the World Premiere of sure-to-be summer blockbuster The Avengers from Disney and Marvel.  Earlier this week Tribeca announced an intriguing panel with founder Robert DeNiro , Meryl Streep and Judd Apatow discussing Universal’s first 100 years. Tribeca is particularly agressive in trying to move up in the world film festival hierarchy. The whole team was out in L.A. last week for a party touting this year’s fest. Tribeca Fest Director Geoff Gilmore told me they really decided to go for some of the most intriguing titles this year and thinks the effort has paid off in an exciting lineup he thinks will gain strong attention.

It may be hard for Hollywood to compete with these two well-regarded fests but a pair of my favorites are also happening right in the heart of L.A. and right around Read More »

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