I attended the first TCM Classic Film Festival in 2010. I attended screenings of Damn Yankees and Some Like it Hot. You can read all about it here. In 2010, the festival was a baby. It showed immense potential but was not quite realized. In two short years, the festival has grown to a legitimate juggernaut that attracts a sweeping mob of film lovers each year surging to experience as many classic films on the big screen as possible in one fun filled weekend. The studios have even come on board realizing that the festival is a perfect place to premiere brand new restored prints for classic films in hopes of building buzz and excitement for upcoming Blu-ray releases.
The main attraction of the weekend for me was a brand new restoration of Singin In The Rain. I'm a cynical person by nature. However, I looked around the packed house and I marveled at the idea that I was about to celebrate the film's 60th anniversary in the very same way and in the very same venue that thousands of people did back in 1952.
Robert Osborne came onstage to overwhelming applause followed by Debbie Reynolds entering to a standing ovation. Debbie was an absolute delight. She was a class act yet saucy enough to make the audience erupt in laughter. She quipped, "To this day, I can still dance. I just tie my tits down and GO!" Betty White, eat your heart out. It wasn't Sundance. It wasn't Cannes. This night wasn't about buying and selling and scouting the next big thing in Hollywood. This night was a love song to the past. It was a thank you for all of the films that have lasted the test of time and the stars and filmmakers that brought them to life.
The massive red curtain opened. The light from the projector illuminated the screen with vibrant colors as Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor, and Debbie Reynolds all sang the film's title song. The real fun of seeing classic films on the big screen, is being able to experience it with an audience. Much like in sports, a great audience inside a theatre can energize a movie going experience. The crowd burst in laughter during this classic Donald O'Connor number "Make Em Laugh" that to this day is jaw droppingly impressive.
Much like the quality of the clip above, the quality of the print was fantastic. The colors bounced off the screen. The sound was crisp. The clip below may not be of the same quality but damn it, this song just brightens my day.
How do you feel? Fantastic, right? This film has the uncanny ability to make you smile. It does so with impeccable performances, extraordinary music, and dazzling dance numbers. After the film's conclusion, Gene Kelly's widow, Patricia Ward Kelly, said that Gene felt that the "Moses Supposes" choreography was the best tap dance number he had ever performed on screen.
The film ended and a feeling of serenity washed over me. I walked out the front door of the time machine that was Grauman's Chinese Theatre, and reality hit me. Hollywood Boulevard. 2012. I looked at the bright lights differently. What once looked tacky now looked like the glimmer of dreams. The TCM Classic Film Festival is a weekend for people to embrace nostalgia and tip their caps to the past. It is never too late to experience something special, even if it is just a little singin' and dancin' in the rain.
- Garytt Poirier (@Garytt)