With the COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced the cancellation of personal parties since 2020, the joy of reuniting with other classic movie fans was palpable. As the film historian Alan K. Rode noted in his introduction to the often overlooked western “The Gunfighter” (1950): “This [the TCM Classic Film Festival] is not just an event, it’s not just a festival – it’s life. ”
Marquee events included world premiere restorations of “Giant” (1956), “A Star Is Born” (1937) and “Topkapi” (1964) and “Spartacus” (1960) in a world premiere 70mm print, “Spy Smasher Strikes Back” (1942), billed as a “world premiere reimagining” and “I the Jury” (1953) in 3D. Other main attractions were the cast reunions of “Cooley High” (1975), “Diner” (1982) and “A League of Their Own” (1992). In addition, there were appearances from Hollywood A-lists such as Kevin Bacon, Diane Baker, Warren Beatty, Richard Benjamin, director-producer Tony Bill, film photographer Ernest Dickerson, Jane Fonda, Pam Grier, Tess Harper, Margaret O’Brien, John Sayles, director Michael Schultz, Jane Seymour, producer-director George Stevens Jr. and Steven Spielberg.
On the red carpet for the festival’s opening night, the 40th anniversary screening of “ET, the Extra-Terrestrial” (1982) at TCL Chinese IMAX, the supernatural director revealed a little-known twist: actor Harrison Ford sealed the deal for “ET” Spielberg wanted Melissa Mathison, after her debut effort, “The Black Stallion” (1979), and then dating Ford, to write “ET”, as Spielberg herself was bound by other commitments. “I had written most of the story, and I needed a writer to write it with me, or just write it based on the story,” Spielberg told Indiewire. “I told her my ‘ET’ idea. And she said, ‘I’m not interested in writing anymore. It’s too difficult.’ She rejected me. ‘ Then Spielberg asked Ford to intervene. The next day, Mathison told Spielberg, “‘OK, you made Harrison so excited about this. What did I miss?'” The rest was history.
Former “ET” child stars Drew Barrymore (Gertie) and Henry Thomas (Elliott), who were previously scheduled to perform at the opening of the evening, canceled at the last minute. Among the audience were other “ET” castmates and crew, such as Dee Wallace (Elliott and Gertie’s mother), former child actors Robert MacNaughton and JC Martel, and sound designer Ben Burtt (who won an Oscar for his sound effects editing on “ET”).
Other moments that took place on the festival’s clip reel:
Adventures in pre-Code paradise: Historian and filmmaker Cari Beauchamp kicked off the festival’s wealth of films produced before the enforcement of the Motion Picture Production Code in 1934, calling it “Jewel Robbery” (1932) with Kay Francis (as trophy wife) and William Powell (as a debonair thief). and seducer), a “personal favorite, a film about a woman torn between two passions – men and jewels.” It ranks right up there, she said, with Ernst Lubitsch films for its risky dialogue, “referring to lines like” At dawn we must have a secret behind us “and” I fly around all day for food, jewels, excitement. … In the morning, a cocktail. In the afternoon a man. ”