I know, pretty dark headline for a post about a really fun, glamor heavy film fest. All the more so because, at least for me, TCM Fest is the kind of event that can put you in a kind of steel bubble which the daily news can barely pierce. If another Cuban Missile Crisis happened during Comic-Con, what would happen? Maybe if it ended differently this time.
Indeed, even a momentous event like the death of Osama Bin Laden could just barely penetrate TCM’s mix of Hollywood fantasy and scholarship. For me, the news first came as I overheard another filmgoer during an intermission of “West Side Story,” which I had popped in on just to see how good the 70mm print was, say to another. “No, he’s really dead.” I figured it was another classic film star gone forever. George Chakiris, who played Sharks leader Bernardo, had introduced the screening, but how were Jets Richard Beymer and Russ Tamblyn doing?
It’s another one of those weeks and we’ve lost one of the last surviving greats of the tale end of Hollywood’s classic-era. Indeed, Tony Curtis was a kind of a bridge between the more traditionally manly film stars of the earlier classic era — Clark Gable, John Wayne, Bogart, Cagney — and the eternally young and slightly androgynous stars of today. I’d say it’s safe that say that there’s a bit of Tony in Leonardo DiCaprio, Will Smith, and Colin Farrell, among many others.
It’s the nature of the actor to imitate and the nature of the movie star to be imitated. He was doubtlessly imitated by countless young men over the years who borrowed his handsome-man moves for personal use, but he also admitted to borrowing a lot of his movies from Cary Grant back when he was a kid from the Bronx named Bernie Schwartz. With a little help from Billy Wilder, he brought the entire matter full circle and, for once, completely lost his accent in “Some Like It Hot” — for me the best farce ever filmed in no small part because of the then-outrageous pre-post modern conceit of allowing an actor to perform a major part of his role overtly imitating another actor, still very much alive and working at the time. As far as I know, this wasn’t even dared again until Christian Slater spent “Heathers” imitating Jack Nicholson. It was good, but it was no “Some Like It Hot.”
Since I had to wait until later in the day to write this, there’s already a lot of online about Curtis — most of it collated over at Mubi — and there’ll be much more. I trust there’ll be more clips here like the one below over the weekend, and maybe a couple more observations about him here as well over the coming days, as well as the wonderfully inevitable 24 hour tribute to Curtis at TCM.
* Thanks, Hef! He saves the world for heavily retouched naked women, pays writers more than just about anybody, and now he ponies up the missing funds to save the Hollywood sign.
* One item I don’t actually have to link to report on is that the TCM Classic Film Festival is going to be back next year, with the idea of being an annual event. I can do that because I was present at last night’s big screening of “Metropolis” where none other than Robert Osborne announced it to the assembled multitudes at the more beautiful than ever Grauman’s Chinese Theater.
What was interesting about the way this festival was marketed is that people who live in Los Angeles were clearly not the primary target. Individual ticket prices were roughly double what film geeks like myself are used to paying to see similar presentations — actually more than double when you consider that most repertory programs are actually double bills. With the exception of fellow press and a USC film student who had picked up one of thirty free tickets that has been donated, everyone I spoke to was from elsewhere, and usually a place where the opportunity to see such frequently revived cinematic warhorses as “Casablanca” and “Some Like it Hot” on the big screen are nevertheless beyond rare.
But here’s the thing, I’ve been through a lot this past month or so (though things seem to be resolving themselves nicely, thank you), the Oscars are coming and for numerous reasons, I’m behind on my movie going and badly in need of a shot or two or three of movie love.
I may acknowledge the results of the very important Independent Spirit Awards tomorrow morning — a bit begrudgingly since Film Independent teased me by sending me an application and then rejecting me as not quite important enough to attend. However, as far as my other daily blog posts are otherwise concerned for the next two days as I prepare for the closest thing this non-sports-fan has to a superbowl, they are going to be little shots of film love. Nothing but clips that will remind me why I love movies and maybe draw you in a bit too.
So, why do I love movies, well, for starters there’s violence.
And where there’s violence, there must also be a little sex.
I’ll spare you the prose poetry, the demands that you drop everything instantly and watch “Some Like it Hot” — one of the few movie farces that really, really works — and simply let you know that a bunch of previously unseen photos of Ms. Monroe are up over at Life.com. By all accounts, she was no easy person to figure out, but staring at the picture of the actress who was both so easy (and wrong) to dismiss and so impossible to define, it’s a lovely thing to attempt.
And, below, a musical moment from a movie I’ll watch all the way through at almost any time. There is nothing perfect in this world, however….