It was a coincidence my longest day of movies at the 2012 TCMFF would begin with the World Premiere of the restoration of The Longest Day (1962). Producer Darryl F Zanuck's epic tells the story of D-Day, when the Allies landed at the Normandy during World War II. He wanted a different approach to the material from past Hollywood films. This resulted in The Longest Day being shot in Europe, in black and white, and the French and German characters spoke in their native tongue, giving the film a more authentic, almost documentary feel to it, as history plays out before the audience. The mission was quite an endeavor, and once set in motion, it's relentless. For different reasons, the film's influence was evident over 25 years later in 1998 on both Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan and Terrence Malick's The Thin Red Line. Though he had a small role, as did many of the familiar faces, Robert Wagner spoke with Robert Osborne after the screening about working on the film and Zanuck contributing to the success of his career early on.
Producer/historian Serge Bromber presented "Retour De Flamme/3-D Rarities (1900-2003)," an amusing collection of 3-D shorts. The first was “Murder in 3-D (1941), a goofy curiosity that required the old red/blue anaglyph glasses. The narrator makes his way through a haunted house while monsters throw things at him and the camera. Bromber joked that the makers of the Russians films known as "Parade of Attractions" got sent to Siberia for their poor quality, but I thought they looked very good showcasing fish in a tank, birds in a tree, and jugglers. Louis Lumiere created a 3-D process and recreated his “train coming at the camera” shot. Georges Méliès unintentionally invented one as well when he placed two cameras together to shoot a scene, though it wasn't realized what had occurred until archivists began restoring his films.
This program also included the biggest names in animation. Max Fleischer's "Musical Memories" (1935) found an old couple reflecting on their lives while using stereoscopic viewers. Walt Disney's "Working for Peanuts" (1953) stars Chip 'n' Dale, who frustrate zookeeper Donald Duck as they steal peanuts from an elephant. Chuck Jones' "Lumber Jack-Rabbit" (1954) finds Bugs trying to outwit Paul Bunyan's dog. The original version of Pixar's "Knick-Knack" (1989), directed by John Lasseter, finds the mermaids' upper bodies making the most use of the extra dimension.
The noir Night and the City (1950) could also have been called "Criss Cross" with all the double-dealing taking place. Set in London, Harry Fabian (Richard Widmark) is a terrible hustler and an even worse person, demonstrated through his constantly taking advantage of Mary (Gene Tierney), the one person who seems to care for him. He makes money by bringing men to see the ladies at the Silver Fox Club, run by Phil Nosseross (Francis L. Sullivan) and his wife Helen (Googie Withers). Harry comes up with a scheme to promote wrestling, even though mobster Kristo (Herbert Lom) controls the industry in London. Harry thinks using Kristo's father, former wrestler Gregorius (Stanislaus Zbyszko), will protect him where others have failed. Harry needs money to get his first match off the ground and gets backing from Helen, so long as he helps her leave her husband, who she can’t stand, and open up her own club.