TCMFF in 3-D
3-D films are here to stay, but many don’t know that the multi-dimensional movie-going craze started a long time ago and has been enjoyed by audiences to varying degrees of success since. The 2013 TCMFF brought back some favorites at this years fest, and some will surprise you.
I recently saw Hondo. I saw the 1953 John Wayne western in 3-D on the big screen at the TCM Classic Film Festival opening night, April 25, 2013. It is my favorite Wayne movie. It is in fact, my favorite western, ever. Why? Because it is a simple, perfect little film that entertains by telling a solid good story that doesn’t need the added effect of 3-D to entertain the audience. 3-D is just a neat little bonus.
One of the best aspects to the film is the fact the heroine is not an overly made up starlet. Instead it is a very plain Geraldine Page in her big screen debut. The stage-trained actress brings a down-to earth and realistic aspect to the role that was virtually unattainable by other actresses of the day. I also like that the “Indians” are multi-dimensional characters. Hondo was produced in an era when too often, Native Americans were portrayed as cardboard cut outs, missing humanity let alone any depth. And then there’s the relationship between the nearly stoic stranger and the six year old whose father he ends up having an unfortunate encounter. Their connection is palpable as you watch it develop before your eyes. Overall the movie is witty in an old west, dusty hat kind of way, and seeing it today brings back the lore of yesteryear when men were men, bad deeds were righted, and dignity was the order of the day.
The theater at the Chinese cineplex in Hollywood that Thursday night was packed, three quarters of which had been reserved for VIPs. I guess I am not the only one who likes John Wayne movies, especially when the Duke is in a Louis L’Amour story - most especially this L’Amour story. The fact that the film was being shown in its original 3-D presentation was icing on the cake. All though, I bet the lure of seeing Wayne in 3-D for the first time was a huge temptation for those not present upon the initial release.
However, those expecting a lot of in-your-face stunts must have been disappointed because in this case the 3-D effects were done just right with not every fist flying right at your face. Rather, the effect was used as an enhancement to the cinematic experience. In fact, it was the beginning credits that offered the most startling 3-D surprises. Mind you, we did get at least one blow from the Duke aimed out into the aisles. And arrows. But for the most part, it was the increased depth of field that 3-D gave to the already spectacular scenery that made it feel so right to me.
But even better than the use of 3-D was the presence of many of John Wayne’s usual co-stars, most especially Ward Bond. Per usual Bond is the ever-scruffy pal of Wayne’s hero - always familiar, always welcome. And James Arness of TV’s Gunsmoke fame has a small part as well (the other Wayne film I remember him in is Island in the Sky). All though he never made a big splash on the the silver screen, Arness is always a welcome presence. If I could have seen only one film during the whole festival Hondo would have been my choice, hands down, no question. Yes, even if I had access to the red carpet opening premier to the special 45th anniversary restoration presentation of Funny Girl. No kidding. Fortunately for me, this, was just the first screening event I experienced during the wonderful jam-packed, four-day classic cinema extravaganza. I look forward to telling you more about it soon.
Oh, and if you look real close, you may spot me in the official TCM photo of the event posted above. You’ll have to look real hard, cause I couldn’t find me, but trust me, I was there!