Saturday, April 28, 2018
When I received the schedule for the Festival, this was the day that I had no problem scheduling. It was a slam dunk for me. I looked at it and knew exactly what films I would be seeing all day long. For the first time since I started attending the festival, my schedule didn’t change from the moment I received the schedule.
I planned to see His Girl Friday (1940); This Thing Called Love (1940); Wife vs. Secretary (1936); Girls About Town (1931); Show People (1928); The Big Lebowski (1998); Night of the Living Dead (1968).
To start the day we went to the famed Grauman’s Chinese Theatre (TCL Chinese Theatre) to see one of my favorite films of all time, His Girl Friday. When the schedule was announced I didn’t think twice about seeing this movie at the world-famous Hollywood theatre-however was the festival drew closer I went back and forth with my decision. I wondered if I should try to see something I hadn’t seen before, but when it came down to it, I couldn’t resist seeing one of my favorites with an audience on the big screen at Grauman’s.
Disclaimer: I’m not going to give you all the details of these movies because I want to encourage you all to see them. Each of the movies that were shown on this particular day were incredible. So I may not give you the ending. Find them on TCM or rent/buy them.
His Girl Friday (1940)
Directed by Howard Hawks, Walter Burns (Cary Grant) is the editor of The Morning Post learns his former reporter and ex-wife Hildy Johnson (Rosalind Russell) is engaged to insurance salesman Bruce Baldwin (Ralph Bellamy). The engaged couple is going to settle down in Albany, NY and go to tell Burns the news. Burns doesn’t want to lose his best reporter or ex-wife, so he asks her to cover one last story, the story of the upcoming execution of Earl Williams. Along the way, Burns does everything he can to keep Hildy from leaving including getting Bruce thrown in jail (twice). In the press room near the prison, Hildy joins the rest of the newspapermen to await the execution and finds herself trapped in the pressroom with Earl Williams. The Sheriff shows up as does the mayor, Walter and some of the other pressmen. Once they get out of the jam, Hildy realizes that she loves the thrill of the job and Walter so much that she can’t marry Bruce.
Jean Arthur was the first choice to play Hildy. Usually when I hear of someone else who was to be cast in the film I cringe and say ‘No way that person could have don’t that character justice,’ but…..I can see Arthur working in this role. I still love Russell though. Other actresses who turned down the role included, Carole Lombard, Margaret Sullavan, Ginger Rogers (who said she regretted it once she saw that Grant had been cast), Claudette Colbert and Irene Dunn. A ‘Girl Friday’ is a helper, especially a junior office worker or a personal assistant to a business executive. I glamorized a life as a newspaper reporter due to this film. I thought it would all be fun and exciting. Today I am the interim editor of my local newspaper. It's in a tiny town, and we are short-staffed because its 2018 and newspapers are very different from how they were in 1940 so I don’t live the life of Hildy Johnson but seeing this film made me want to.
After chuckling in the seat next to historian and author, Cari Beauchamp who introduced His Girl Friday, we went to check the line for This Thing Called Love. It was shown in the famed ‘Theater Four,’ and the line was long. We stood and chatted with a few pals for a while, but we ultimately decided to walk to In-N-Out for lunch. Naturally, a stop at In-N-Out is a must when you’re on the west coast. There is nothing better than a double-double and a coke. After lunch, we took a long walk down Sunset Boulevard and did some light shopping as we waited to get in line for Wife vs. Secretary at the Egyptian.
Wife vs. Secretary (1936)
Directed by Clarence Brown, Van Stanhope (Clark Gable) is happily married to the beautiful Linda (Myrna Loy). Their relationship is picture perfect and built on trust, but friends and even her mother-in-law, start to warn her of her husband’s close friendship with his secretary Whitey (Jean Harlow). With all the pressure from all sides, Linda begins to doubt their relationship and question his faithfulness. When Van and Whitey go to Havana, Linda assumes the worst and asks for a divorce. Whitey and Van return to the U.S., and Van begs Linda to reconsider. Whitey goes to Linda and tells her that she would be a fool to walk away from a man like him.
I always love to show this film to people who declare themselves to be ‘anti-Harlow’ people. These are the people who have never seen a Harlow film and have a preconceived notion of who she is as an actress. I have found that several people imagine her to be a Marilyn Monroe character. That is so infuriating! Nobody who has seen this movie walks away disliking Harlow. She is so endearing and sweet.
This was one of six pairings of Gable and Harlow and the first of two pairings of Loy and Harlow. The film was a massive success for MGM bringing in a profit of over $876,000, ($15,648,914.78. in 2018.)
We left the theater walked outside and got back in line for the next film in the same theater. We were going to be seeing three consecutive films in this same venue.
The next film was Girls About Town from 1931. I had never seen it and guys I have some regrets with this one.
Girls About Town (1931)
Directed by the great George Cukor, Wanda Howard (Kay Francis) and Marie Bailey (Lilyan Tashman) go out with men to help businessman Jerry (Alan Dinehard) close a sale. Wanda is tired of how she is earning money, but her roommate and friend isn’t. The ladies go aboard a yacht with a prankster and his associate Jim (Joel McCrea). Jim starts falling for Wanda and vice versa. Jim asks Wanda to marry him, but Wanda informs him that she is already married. She asks her estranged husband for a divorce, and he agrees.
This is the point of the movie where I decide that people in the crowd look restless and you know what? They are probably going out to get in line for the next film, Show People. Show People was my big movie of the Festival. It was my must-see, can’t miss. Each year when the festival sends out their survey with suggestions I always suggest they show a Lon Chaney film or a Marion Davies film. Well, this year they showed both. I couldn’t risk not getting into them or getting a great seat. Plus our pal Lara Fowler at Backlots was going to be introducing it.
I got up and went outside to get in line. Probably not my wisest idea, okay it was flat out dumb! I was in the top 20 in line so I wasn’t the only one with this idea
. My thought process was that I could find Girls About Town on Itunes or YouTube, buy it while in line and watch it. It would be so simple. WRONG. You can't find it anywhere. Now I am going to solicit suggestions on where I can find it to finish it because I was really enjoying it. So I missed the final half of this movie while I stood outside waiting for my Marion.
I did make it in for Show People though so there’s that. Finally, in the few short years of attending the festival, I was blessed with a Marion Davies film. I had hoped it would be The Patsy, but it Show People is so great!
Show People (1928)
Peggy Pepper (Marion Davies) wants to be an actress in the pictures, so she and her father drive to Hollywood. While there she meets Billy Boone (William Haines). Billy gets her some work in a film. Peggy enters only to be squirt in the face with seltzer. She is heartbroken, but with some help from Billy, she becomes a success. Peggy is signed with a studio where she can become a more dramatic actor, and she separates herself from Billy. She becomes conceded and ends up losing her fans. Just as she is about to marry her stuff co-star, Billy comes in and rescues her reminding her of who she really is.
There were several great cameos in this film, look for John Gilbert, Charlie Chaplin, Luella Parsons, Mae Murray, Leatrice Joy, Douglas Fairbanks, Marion Davies, William S. Hart, and Norma Talmadge.
William Randolph Heart was rumored to not have liked Davies in comedies and didn’t want her to make this film worrying it would damage her career and reputation. He was said to have tried to cancel this film before it went into production.
I love this movie because it showcases Marion Davies’s comedic talents and Billy Haines is so charming and wonderful as well. I absolutely love this movie so much, obviously, I missed half of Girls About Town for it, and I had seen it several times before!
Brian had ducked out early to get to Big Lebowski at Grauman’s because that was what he was looking most forward to at the festival.
During the film, the fire alarms went off. Because the Egyptian Theatre shows nitrate films, they take those alarms so seriously. I was seated in the balcony, so a lot of us evacuated and went outside. As we made it outside the ushers told us we could head back in. Some went back in, some left. I decided to go ahead and head on up to Grauman’s and get in line for Lebowski. I wasn’t sure when they would get the film going again and I wasn’t going to then risk being late for Lebowski, which I knew would be a big-ticket event.
As I ran down a very packed Hollywood Boulevard my beloved popcorn purse strap snapped and all of my belongings went all over the ground.
I was at Hollywood and Highland in front of a man holding a giant snake, a street performer who was break dancing, those people cooking those fantastic smelling hot dogs with peppers and onions (that Brian and my sister refuse to let me eat) and a million people walking and nobody helped me pick one thing up. I guess that’s good? I have never moved faster in my life though to scramble to pick up all of my stuff. I carried my bag up to the line for the Big Lebowski and grabbed my number. The line ran along next to the line for the NYSNC Dirty Pop Up Shop, so it was a bit confusing. There were people everywhere. I was pretty far back, but Brian was in the top 100, and he was going to try to save me a seat and a white Russian that I felt I so deserved after that trek down Hollywood Boulevard.