TCM Classic Film Festival Diary, Friday Morning

DSCN1840Great start to the first full day of TCMFF.

After The Sound of Music on Thursday, opening night, I was hoping to make it to My Man Godfrey, but by the time SOM finished, other screenings were well underway and out of the question. I was tired anyway so time to rest up for Friday.

When I first looked through the schedule I saw many favourite films and thought: how easy, I’ll just go see as many of those as possible on a big screen. I soon changed my mind and decided to focus on new-to-me films, ones that I hadn’t seen for so many years they may as well be new, or ones that offered a unique experience. I ended up allowing myself only two favourites, and the first of those was My Darling Clementine (1946), Friday morning at the Chinese Multiplex. I watched it last year for this post but it’s one of my favourite westerns, and on most days my favourite John Ford movie. Good choice because seeing it on a big screen only increased my love for it as well as my appreciation for its small, meaningful details, its subtle acting choices and its moving beauty.

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There’s not much new I could add when it comes to My Darling Clementine’s brilliance so I’ll rave about how fabulous those ready-for-framing shots look on a big screen, how gorgeous and underrated Linda Darnell and Victor Mature are in their roles (and their careers in general), how Tim Holt and Ward Bond add so much to the film, and how Walter Brennan’s evil glare pierces through the screen and sends chills up your spine–the moment he shot Holt in the back startled many audience members! Now I could better see and enjoy small but important things like the happy barber in the background who clearly feels responsible for Henry Fonda’s success with Cathy Downs. That shot of the proprietor of Bon Ton Tonsorial Parlor nodding with satisfaction as the couple goes off to church, completes the gag about Fonda’s dandyish hairdo and the perfume spritz which everyone mistakes for the smell of honeysuckle in the air.

After the screening there was a brief discussion between Keith Carradine and Peter Fonda.

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Out of the theatre and a U-turn back in line for the same room to see another western, The Proud Rebel (1958). This was by far my easiest and most solid pick of the whole fest because I’ve never seen this film directed by Michael Curtiz and starring Alan Ladd, Olivia de Havilland, and Ladd’s son David, who was there to introduce the film (pictured below). Another fantastic choice that I thoroughly enjoyed, and I’m pretty confident that it’s not just the excitement of the environment and circumstances that lead me to declare it’s my new favourite Alan Ladd picture. He did such a fine and touching job playing the caring and dedicated father to a mute son, a man who will do anything to help the boy get treatment for his condition, even if it means braving prejudice and possibly breaking the boy’s heart by making a difficult choice regarding his beloved dog. Ladd, a Confederate veteran, gets little sympathy and faces lots of lingering resentment. He’s attacked and bullied by Dean Jagger and Harry Dean Stanton as a father and son who goad Ladd into a fight and then get him in trouble with the law.

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Olivia de Havilland (whose daughter was present at the screening) is a single ranch owner who has her own land dispute brewing with Jagger and his sons, so out of sympathy for the boy and spite for her neighbours, she takes in Ladd and son to work off the bail she promises (but we learn she doesn’t have, in a great scene with Judge Henry Hull). De Havilland is so wonderful in this, and a few of us noticed she had some fine Gone With the Wind style shots standing against a gorgeous sunset; I expected her to raise her fist to the heavens and declare she’d never be hungry again. She starts as a bit of a tough old maid, made that way by her hard life singlehandedly maintaining and defending a dying ranch, but she warms and softens as she comes to care for Ladd and forms a special bond with his boy. We were warned in the introduction that heartstrings would be pulled hard, and they were, mainly relating to the dog and I won’t say more– it plays a moving role in the boy’s development. The Proud Rebel is a beautiful picture and I highly recommend everyone watch it first chance they get; seeing as this was a world premiere restoration it’s very likely coming out on blu soon.

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Next: Friday afternoon celeb sightings and a great Disney experience. I’ve decided to split these recaps into a couple movies/events at a time, as I have some other posts scheduled to go up and don’t want to overload anybody with too much TCMFF fun 🙂 .

Previously: TCM Classic Film Festival Diary, Day 1, and TCM Classic Film Festival Diary, Evening 1

*photos are mine except for the lobby card and Clementine still

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8 thoughts on “TCM Classic Film Festival Diary, Friday Morning”

  1. Hi Kristina!

    I’ve been so busy trying to juggle work with cranking out my own posts that I haven’t done much commenting yet — have loved all your posts, especially this one as it captures exactly how I felt about both experiences. Almost not even a need to write my own post (grin), you said it all. Was so great to share these movies with you!

    Really hard to believe it’s been a week today. Happy Friday!
    Best wishes,
    Laura

    1. It IS hard to believe, it feels like months ago in a way, I wonder if I was even there? It was so fun to watch these with you, and look forward to your views, always a need to write your own posts as you’ll have different things that stuck out to you.

      This was such a super combo, one old fave and one new discovery, both equally beautiful and memorable, great examples of the best of the genre. I could easily go to an all-western fest. Thanks and best

  2. I am so happy that we are in agreement on The Proud Rebel. It’s in the long shadow of Shane and as much as I love Shane, it’s Rebel that I count as my favorite Ladd film. Perhaps it’s because I’ve loved Olivia since I first saw her in Robin Hood and my love of dogs. Whichever. Glad you loved it too. Sure throwing that Love word around here. I must realllllly love this one.

    1. Yes I really love it too, I can see why you do, and now you very likely have a nice blu to look forward to. The combo of Olivia with Ladd just makes this so good, nice and different. Curtiz has always been a fave director and here’s another to love from him. What a morning this was.

  3. I also saw “The Proud Rebel” recently for the first time, and just loved it! It’s my favorite Alan Ladd western now. Apparently it’s fallen into the public domain, so there are a lot of free, albeit somewhat worn copies available online. I can only imagine how stunning it would look restored… I was struck by the lovely cinematography even in the print I saw. What good news about the blue-ray! Thanks for sharing the info 🙂

    (useless trivia: the book Olivia reads to David is “The Deerslayer.”)

    1. Yes I feel the same about it being my new Ladd fave. He had so much to act, really struggled with his feelings and decisions, and loved the boy so deeply and put that all across beautifully. Olivia is wonderful, everyone was great. The cinematography was gorgeous, those sunsets and landscapes were amazing. We heard no guarantees on a blu, but I have to believe that’ll be the result of the restoration, highly likely. And no trivia is useless, that’s a fun fact! Thanks for commenting.

      1. Oops, spoke too soon about the blu, I guess! Hopefully I didn’t jinx anything 😉 Thanks for the correction.

        I agree, I’ve never seen Alan Ladd give a better performance than in this film. That scene where he tells his son about the dog could break your heart. And Olivia showed once more what a pro she was by not only giving her usual fine performance, but again having no qualms about dressing down for a part.

        1. So true, Olivia was so strong and tough, her scenes with Henry Hull were so great, he’s just given up trying to talk to her. Everyone was totally believable in their roles. As for the dog, I really worried about what would happen, 🙂 but it wasn’t predictable which is great too. Super film.

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