The fourth annual TCM Classic Film Festival was a fast and furious affair that paid tremendous dividends for Golden Age cinephiles. Cultural Transmogrifier‘s chief film critic, Drew Morton, and writer Nicole Alvarado break down their experiences (which included over twelve movies across four days, celebrity Q&As, and too many cocktails by the Hotel Roosevelt pool).
DAY ONE: THURSDAY
The first day of the festival was a half-day with programming that did not begin until the early evening. Searching for a way in which to fill the morning hours while coloring within the lines of what we were actually in town for, we decided to check out the Stanley Kubrick exhibition at the Los Angeles Contemporary Museum of Art. This was my second time through the exhibit, which includes the following highlights: the director’s photography work from his days as Look Magazine, the various cameras and lenses he used throughout his career (including the camera and infamous “candlelight lens” for Barry Lyndon), his chess set, original drafts – with handwritten notes – of his screenplays, storyboards, and an assortment of iconic props – ranging from the axes and typewriter from The Shining to the Moonwatcher suit from 2001: A Space Odyssey – – that would have put Planet Hollywood out of business (if it hadn’t been 86ed already). My only complaint about the stunning exhibit is that it pays little attention to Full Metal Jacket and Eyes Wide Shut, but LACMA only has so much space to work with.
The Kubrick exhibition was the perfect primer for my first film of the festival, Kubrick’s hardboiled noir The Killing. Adapted from Lionel White’s novel Clean Break by Kubrick and noir novelist Jim Thompson, The Killing is about a gang of hoods (fronted by Sterling Hayden and including such character actors as Elisha Cook Jr. and Timothy Carey) who mastermind the perfect heist: a racetrack robbery. Yet, Kubrick’s fracturing of the film’s timeline puts the film closer to Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs than it does to Sterling Hayden’s other heist noir, The Asphalt Jungle. Also, the combination of a homoerotic subtext and cinematographer Lucien Ballard’s high-contrast tracking shots make this a must see. Before the film, actress Coleen Gray (who plays Hayden’s squeeze) shared some of her memories from working on the film, including her main piece of advice for newcomers: “Pay attention to Timothy Carey’s teeth.” The eccentric actor, who talks through a forced grin throughout the film, adds a Lynchian touch to his brief moments on screen.