This past weekend saw the TCM Classic Film Festival return to Hollywood for its third incarnation. As in past years, the schedule was filled up with well-known "Essentials" and "Discoveries" to sample. The roster was focused on themes, such as "Built By Design: Architecture In Film," "The Films Of Stanley Donen," "Deco Design," "The Legendary Costumes Of Travis Banton," "Noir Style," "The Paramount Renaissance, and Universal's Legacy Of Horror." The festival opened on the 12th with the world premiere of the 40th anniversary restoration of Bob Fosse's Cabaret. The red carpet was laid out for the many stars in attendance.
However, my festival experience began with The Wolf Man (1941), introduced by make-up artist Rick Baker, whose work on the 2010 remake earned an Oscar. Baker sang the praises of make-up artist Jack Pierce and provided wonderful bits of trivia about the film's creation. He stayed to watch it because though he'd seen it countless times before, he had never seen it on the big screen, which was a common refrain from many of the attendees I spoke with in how they determined their viewing choices.
Written by Curt Siodmak, in what might be considered a reboot of the creature after Werewolf of London (1935), The Wolf Man tells the story of Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney, Jr.), whose bravery becomes his undoing. When coming to the aid of a young lady attacked by a wolf, the animal bites Larry, and he soon learns the truth of the folk tales. Joseph Valentine's cinematography is outstanding, especially the scenes shot in the fog-filled darkened forests. Chaney went on to play the character in four more films.
For my second selection of the evening, I unknowingly created a familial double feature with director Robert Siodmak's Criss Cross (1949). The film stars Burt Lancaster, who previously worked with the director on The Killers, stars as Steve Thompson, who is involved with Anna (Yvonne De Carlo), the wife of mobster Slim Dundee (Dan Duryea). The two men get into a fight at a nightclub, which is soon revealed to be a ruse to cover their working together on a big score. The story flashes back to Steve's recent return to Los Angeles and the backstory of the characters is revealed. Criss Cross features a fun pulp story as the viewer awaits the upcoming double cross, which the title hints at. Eddie Muller, Founder and President of the Film Noir Foundation introduced the film, as he would all five of the noir titles for the festival. For a delightful surprise, Bugs Bunny's "Rackateer Rabbit" screened before the film.