The 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival: Day 5

The final day of the TCM Classic Film Festival, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Learn to Love Edgar Wright.

The final TCM festival day is always an emotional experience. You’re surrounded by your people, and yet you have to say goodbye to them for a year. Thankfully, that’s not something I needed to think about right away.

The day started off rather unexpectedly. I had planned to drop in on the morning screening of Dr. Strangelove (1964) purely because director Edgar Wright was introducing it. The Baby Driver director had attended the fest as a fan all weekend, being in the audience of several films. His introduction before the movie was, no surprise, funny as hell. Wright discussed how Dr. Strangelove is way too similar to our current times – joking that the synopsis was like reading The Huffington Post. I was getting ready to leave but Wright sat right behind me, compelling me to stay. (His laughter throughout the film was great to hear.)

Wright is right (rimshot) about Dr. Strangelove. The film’s story of a sexually repressed general and a buffoonish president leading the country to nuclear war is as scary as it is funny. I’d watched the film a few years ago but didn’t get the love. One of the joys of the fest, though, is experiencing films in a theater, and everyone’s enjoyment of the film left me grinning. The film still isn’t my favorite, but I’m more appreciative of it now, and I got to meet Edgar Wright!

Carrie and Debbie

Sunday’s main goal was to attend the tribute to Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds with a screening of Postcards From the Edge (1990). I’ve never seen Postcards and figured, where but TCM should I make my inaugural viewing? The story is inspired by Fisher and Reynolds’ relationship, though in the discussion following the film Todd Fisher maintained the film took liberties. Postcards From the Edge is poignant, funny, and a fantastic look at the push and pull relationship between mother and daughter.

However, it is what happened after the film that will stick in my mind. Todd Fisher and Richard Dreyfuss were interviewed following a clip reel of moments featuring Debbie and Carrie that drew many a sniffle. Fisher discussed how the film was adapted and other technical merits, but Dreyfuss showed us how beloved Debbie and Carrier were.

At one point, Dreyfuss became highly emotional and broke down, something he said he hadn’t done before. For him, this was proof that Carrie was truly gone. If the audience wasn’t sobbing already, we were emotionally devastated. For Dreyfuss to feel that vulnerable in front of a crowd spoke volumes. As Fisher said earlier in the fest, we all felt Debbie and Carrie were family, and we could all cry in front of each other. Afterwards I saw Dreyfuss waiting for the elevator. He waved to me, and his wife Svetlana was incredibly sweet, saying she was happy her husband could finally come to terms with events.

What’s Up, Doc?

So, you can say I needed a reprieve after that. Thankfully I returned to the world of Bogdanovich with a first-time viewing of What’s Up, Doc? (1971). What’s Up, Doc? is Bogadanovich’s tribute to screwball comedies and…it’s fine. Really, the movie is hobbled by the vastly different comedic stylings (and limitations) of its leads Ryan O’Neal and Barbra Streisand. Madeline Kahn steals the show, though. Bogdanovich talked about working with Streisand, who was initially hesitant to do another comedy.

From there I saw my final screening – 1944’s Lady in the Dark on nitrate. Seeing nitrate in black and white is one thing, but seeing it in color is another world! Lady in the Dark is a weird film that hasn’t exactly dated well in terms of gender roles. But, the film is gorgeous to look at, sumptuous in its costuming, and the color is so vivid.

The closing night party was a who’s who of attendees, from TCM hosts Ben Mankiewicz and Tiffany Vasquez, to luminaries like Edgar Wright and Dick Cavett. As much as I enjoyed mingling though, the final hours of the fest saw me sitting in Mel’s Diner with a group of classic film friends reminiscing about the festival. We talked about our favorite classic movies, laughed at obscure references to particular films, and just enjoyed being surrounded by people who “got us.” That’s what the TCM Classic Film Festival is all about, being around people who understand you. It’s a moment I’ll always remember. Till next year!