For those who showed up a day ahead, there was lots to do at the TCM festival.
It kicked off at 4 pm with a pool-side party hosted by the members of TCM with a look at women in film. A very lovely Barbara Rush was there - you will remember her from The Young Lions, The Young Philadelphians, Strangers When We Meet (a personal favorite - this is a very underrated movie with stellar performances by Kirk Douglas, Kin Novak and Ernie Kovacs), Robin and the Seven Hoods, Hombre (another favorite with Paul Newman and Frederic March) and a hundred TV appearances. I was speaking with a TCM backlot member and asking him why he came all the way from Chicago to attend and he said, it was to be with a group of people who love movies as much as he. Another movie buff from Jersey City, NJ was there because she wanted to see some of the famous stars she has adored her whole life.
I attended the TCM media party and there met and chatted with several TCM hosts - Ben Mankiewicz, Alicia Malone, Eddie Muller and several TCM execs, including Susana Zepeda Cagan, VP of talent relations and development. Since the death of Robert Osborne, TCM has been seeking to diversify its hosts. Instead of looking to replace Osborne, it has decided to have several hosts, each with his or her own specialty. While Ben M. is the ring leader, other hosts have their own days or specialties.
What makes a 'classic' movie? I was discussing that with many of the above-mentioned people. TCM is looking to broaden the definition of classic to include many films that have 'classic' status but are far from the 'Golden Age' of cinema. Movies like the Big Lebowski and Midnight Run among others have attained cult status.
Looking to grow its audience, TCM is seeking a younger, 'hipper' group of hosts who will hopefully bring a younger audience to TCM. While TCM loves its audience, it knows that it must seek to attract the under-40 crowd if it is to prosper. I was speaking with one TCM 'backlot' member (TCM has a for-a-fee membership that has various benefits) who told me that she knows of many people who will not watch a 'black-and-white' movie. The prejudice against older films is, at its heart, a prejudice against movies as art. Of course most movies are just entertainment, like most paintings are just decorative, but liking one should not preclude an appreciation of both.
Wrapped up a great day at the Festival talking with some of the TCM hosts about this year's Festival theme - the writer in Hollywood. Sadly, writers going to Hollywood in the past and up until today, have been seen to be 'selling out.' Writing a movie is a special talent, very different that writing a novel or play. Some writers can do both, but most cannot. We discussed how many classic novels were changed and re-shaped for the screen, many with very mixed results.
What do you think? In comments, please tell us of your favorite movie that was based on a novel you love, and your favorite book that was destroyed by the movie based on it.