Photo Credit Courtesy of TCM
Usually when I attend festivals or screenings I find myself in an audience with a bunch of people don’t seem to want to be there, in attendance due to some professional or financial obligation to watch something they could care less about. Then there is the positive energy and celebratory vibe teeming from the Turner Classic Movies film festival in Hollywood, held this past weekend April 25th-29th.
I set out to see only films that I have never seen before, a goal met with only moderate success, more on that here! The first film I screened was a little known (at least I had never heard of it) noir film from 1948 entitled They Live By Night by director Nicholas Ray (Rebel Without a Cause). This film, Ray’s first, was a precursor to later lovers-on-the-lam films likeBonnie and Clyde. An excellent film, but what I was really looking forward to would happen later at the Egyptian Theater where I was to see the classic Ingmar Bergmann film The Seventh Seal, from Sweden in 1957.
In attendance for a discussion with TCM host Ben Mankiewicz was the star of the film Max Von Sydow (The Exorcist and about 150 other films). The discussion before the film was great, Von Sydow was very humbled by the reception and quite humorous and lively despite being 84 years old. His recollection of the shooting of the film and the iconic scenes where he plays chess with death for the right to live was remarkable and fantastic for a film buff like me to hear. However, despite the highbrow film school entitlement I usually carry around, especially at the TCM film festival, the real reason I wanted to see Mr. Von Sydow was because he was Ming the Merciless in the cult classic 1980 film Flash Gordon.
When the discussion ended and the film was to begin and everyone was applauding I let out a hearty ‘HAIL MING!’ as he walked toward me to exit (or so I thought). This turned from dorky to embarrassing real quick as he sat down directly in front of me just a few seconds later. It never occurred to me that he would stay and watch the film. So I went from dorky to embarrassed to having a surreal Hollywood moment watching Max Von Sydow watch The Seventh Seal. Only at the TCM Film Festival!
Visit TCM Facebook for a full photo gallery of the festival.