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Feasting On The TCM Fest

by Leonard Maltin
April 18, 2012 1:00 AM
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Ginnifer Goodwin talks about her love of Disney's 'Snow White' during TCM's Classic Film Festival.
Photo Courtesy TCM Ginnifer Goodwin talks about her love of Disney's 'Snow White' during TCM's Classic Film Festival.

There were so many films, panels, and guests at the third annual TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood this past weekend that it was impossible to take it all in. Since I hosted ten events over the course of the weekend, I missed out on Kim Novak’s conversation with Robert Osborne and her hand-and-footprint ceremony at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, among other highlights, but I still had plenty of great experiences, beginning on the red carpet opening night.

There was a full complement of TV crews and photographers lining the carpet to see a wide range of stars, from Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey, who starred in the opening-night attraction, Cabaret, to a bevy of familiar faces from movies and television. I was getting my picture taken when, all of a sudden, there was a commotion: it was 91-year-old Mickey Rooney, charging (that’s the only word to describe it) onto the carpet, smiling and waving. He grabbed my hand and gave me a hearty hello; that doesn’t happen just anywhere. (On my other side was the always charming Margaret O’Brien.)

The festival spotlighted an unusual number of nonagenerians, all of them inspiring. I interviewed 93-year-old silent-film star Diana Serra Cary following a screening of Vera Iwerebor’s moving documentary Baby Peggy: The Elephant in the Room. I’m delighted that Milestone Film and Video is releasing this poignant film, which traces Diana’s unusual life journey, and her ultimate coming to terms with the child star she tried to disown decades ago. Today she is a model of grace and serenity, and extremely articulate about the price a child actor pays for fame.

This original poster art—about to be auctioned by Bonham’s—was part of the wall décor at Club TCM in the Roosevelt Hotel
This original poster art—about to be auctioned by Bonham’s—was part of the wall décor at Club TCM in the Roosevelt Hotel

I introduced Marge Champion, who proudly says she is in her 93rd year (meaning that she’s currently 92), before a screening of Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at Grauman’s Chinese, as she was the dance and movement model for Disney’s animators. Then I interviewed the delightful Ginnifer Goodwin, who currently plays an incarnation of Snow White on ABC TV’s Once Upon a Time. It turns out that Ginnifer is a lifelong Disney fan, and Snow White is her all-time favorite movie. You couldn’t make that up; in fact, her sister was so enchanted by Disney cartoons that she became an animator. The audience seemed to enjoy hearing this vibrant young star talk about her fondness for the character of Snow White.

I was sorry not to be able to stay for the next day’s screening of a newly-restored 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea at Grauman’s, but I did get to say hello to its star, Kirk Douglas, who’s still going strong at 95. He told me he is about to have his third Bar Mitzvah, which will land him in the Guinness Book of World Records. He also has a new book on its way called I Am Spartacus which includes still photos from the first phase of production, under Anthony Mann’s direction; apparently Universal “shelved” those rolls of film and never had them developed until now. (TCM’s Ben Mankiewicz had the privilege of interviewing Kirk that afternoon, and pointed out that his great uncle Joe made one of the actor’s first great films, A Letter to Three Wives.)

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  • Dustin | April 28, 2012 1:04 AMReply

    I was fortunate enough to be at Snow White and Casablanca, both showcased in digital and both breath taking. Where else to see those films other than the Chinese Theater, right? I was disappointed however to miss out on Dracula. Several pass holders made the film a priority. I was also rather disappointed in the fact that Zorro's Fighting Legion did not precede any of the films aforementioned.

    Funny side note: Ginnifer and her pixy cut were at the Sunday morning Rosemary's Baby screening. Brett Ratner was also in attendance.

  • Quieny | April 22, 2012 9:14 PMReply

    I agree with you Thornhill, I get the Latin TCM in Mexico, and it has more TV shows than movies. Major disappointment!

  • Thornhill | April 19, 2012 11:44 PMReply

    Everything about TCM in the U.S. makes people outside the United States so very very jealous.
    Why does TCM in the rest of the world have no respect for its viewers or its brand-name?
    TCM in Australia has no policy of screening movies in their proper ratio... they are never introduced (Robert Osborne... who he?)
    A case in point to highlight the differences: I was complaining to a friend in the U.S. that a film I had always wanted to see was “Raintree County”. It has never been released on DVD in Australia, and the only way to see it was the shoddy print on TCM. He sent me a copy recorded from TCM-U.S. Wow! What a revelation! Not only is it WideScreen, it even has the overture, intermission card and the entr’acte and runs 186 minutes. And where’s the TCM logo? It appears very briefly every hour! In Australia, the TCM logo appears in the top right hand corner of every frame of every film, every frame of every short, it is a permanent fixture! The version of “Raintree County” screening here runs approximately 160 minutes, has no overture or entr’acte and is a pale pan’n’scan print. Why? My question to TCM executives would be: why does that glorious complete print screen in the U.S., but the rest of the world has a vastly inferior product?
    A look at the TCM-U.S. web-site is like looking into a treasure chest. You are actually told which films are to be screened in WideScreen (and that appears to be ALL ‘Scope films!!!).
    Not only that, the short films are listed by title and screening time! Now look at the TCM-Asia web-site… a list of film titles with the briefest synopsis. That’s it. We are not told which films are to be in W/S (well, that’s easy: we presume they won’t be!). We have no way of knowing which short films will be screened or when (that’s easy too: we know it will be the nth re-run of a Robert Benchley or a Pete Smith… that’s the choice). We do know that EVERY film will be preceded by that annoying “This Week… in Hollywood History”, and with that logo on every frame, as if they had something to be proud of

  • Ken Blose | April 19, 2012 4:41 PMReply

    The highlight for me...meeting you! I hope to go for the whole weekend next year, just did one day and I loved it!

  • Norm | April 18, 2012 3:39 PMReply

    Great Event ! One for the Ages...Maltin is Everywhere...

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