TCMFF 2017 Day Four-Michael Douglas and Carl Reiner
Saturday, April 8, was a day Brian and I were both looking forward to the most. The day’s line-up was going to be amazing, and I was going to be spending most of the day in the famed Gruman’s Chinese Theater. Last year I didn’t see one film there, so I was excited to get the chance to see several movies there this year.
Brian and I got up around 6:30 a.m. after about two hours of sleep. We had spent hours trying to get into the theater to find Brian’s phone. We lucked out that morning because our first film was in the same theater that Brian had lost his phone the night before. We went back, and while I got in line, Brian asked if he could search around. He still came up with nothing. Brian waited at the front desk for them to open and was relieved to have it waiting at the lost and found.
We hopped in line and waited for our next film The China Syndrome. There were several films that we wanted to see during this block. It was a last minute decision to attend because Michael Douglas was going to do a Q&A after the film. We had primo seats for the film and the interview. Neither of us had seen the movie or knew much about it, so we had no idea what to expect.
Michael Douglas produced and starred in the 1979 film about a possible meltdown at a nuclear power plant. Douglas plays the cameraman for reporter, Jane Fonda. As they tour the plant, they witness an emergency shutdown. That event leads the supervisor played by Jack Lemon to uncover some significant problems in the construction that can trigger a ‘China Syndrome’ type of meltdown to occur. Douglas and Fonda try to help Lemmon publicize the issues and save California from a major nuclear incident.
Before the credits finished, I had gotten on my phone and bought the DVD of this film. It was the biggest surprise film of the festival for me. I love a movie that takes me on an emotional roller coaster, and this one did just that. I was angry, scared, and sad. My heart felt like it was going to pound out of my chest. I cried my eyes out at the end; I really got into it. As I looked around I realized that I wasn’t the only one, several other people were crying as well.
Michael Douglas received a standing ovation as he walked onto the stage. He discussed how the timing of the film was unreal. Two weeks after the film was released, there was a nuclear accident at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania. He explained that this didn’t help box office ticket sales because the news was playing clips of the film during their broadcasts for weeks, so nobody showed up to see the movie.
It was an interesting interview and fun to hear a bit about how Lemmon was to work with (Douglas said he was great). Jack Lemmon should have won an Oscar for this performance.
Once we caught our breath and chased Douglas out into the hall trying to get a photo (I was immediately stopped), we went downstairs to see one of our all-time favorite films, The Awful Truth. Its hard to find someone whos seen this film and didn’t consider it one of their favorites. We were there very early and still ended up 306 and 307 in line. The screwball comedy stars Irene Dunn and Cary Grant. The film is so beautiful it looks like a work of art. Dunn and Grant are married and after a misunderstanding gets divorced and need to decide if they want to be together. It was beautiful to see on the big screen, but we had to leave again to head back outside the theater we were just in. Why leave one of our favorite films to get in line outside the same theatre? To be the first people in line for one of Brian’s favorite movies of all time, The Jerk.
Now The Jerk was a movie I hadn’t seen until Brian insisted I must. It has taken a few years to grow on me, but I now love it and laugh harder each time I see it. Steve Martin is hilarious and plays an idiot trying to make his way through life. That pretty well sums it up. We stood in the sun for over an hour just to get our numbers, one and two. Brian was excited to be first in line, and what we didn’t know was that it came with a perk. The first few people in line got to attend the book signing with Carl Reiner and get to talk to him.
We made our way in and found ourselves standing in front of Carl Reiner. I didn’t know what to say, so I just told him how to spell my name and smiled. Brian told him how much he loved his films, especially The Jerk and chatted him up like they were old friends. We found a primo seat and watched as my pal Jill walked up to Mr. Carl Reiner and tore her jacket open. From where we were seated it looked like she was flashing 95-year old Hollywood legend, Carl Reiner. Several people in the audience started to giggle. What Brian and I knew was that Jill was wearing a special shirt she had worn for the occasion.
In The Jerk, Bernadette Peters meets Martin’s character when she is searching for a five-year-old boy wearing a shirt that says Bullshit. Only it says the profanity and Jill was wearing the replica of that shirt. Carl Reiner’s face lit up as he saw her shirt and they began quite the conversation. After we had laughed our way through The Jerk, we went down to Jameson’s bar for a drink and some dinner, both were terrible.
Brian and I met up with our friend Angie so we could all attend The Graduate with special guest, Buck Henry. I say this about a lot of films, but I love The Graduate, and I am so glad I went to see it in that theater. Before I went to L.A., I had given Scott Schock a bit of a rundown of what films I would see. He agreed that there was something special about The Graduate and he made a point of letting me know that I should defiantly make time to see it. Now that film holds even more meaning to me.
We skipped the midnight show because all three of us had a tough time staying awake through Benjamin’s antics. I don’t regret missing the midnight film for one second and I still don’t.