Remembering 20th Century Fox at TCMFF

This is a special guest post by Scott Holleran:

“An Appreciation of Fox,” presented by Turner Classic Movies at the American Legion’s Hollywood Post 43’s newly renovated movie theater during the TCM Classic Film Festival on April 13, 2019, featured a movie studio retrospective by Fox archivist Schawn Belston.

Legion Theater at Post 43, this year’s new venue for TCMFF

After a gracious introduction by TCM programming boss Charles Tabesh, Belston took the audience on a narrative tour through various movie scenes, clips and bits that ranged over the history of 20th Century Fox, which was purchased this year by the Walt Disney Studios. The Fox studio’s most famous and popular series, Star Wars, was prominently included in Belston’s retrospective.

So was director John Ford’s How Green Was My Valley, which beat Citizen Kane to win Oscar’s Best Picture, with the film preservationist’s additional fact that William Wyler was originally set to direct until John Ford (Stagecoach) stepped in. Other presentation highlights include references to — or scenes from — the silent film Sunrise, the 1917 version of Cleopatra, All About Eve, MASH, Patton, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, All That Jazz and 1965’s Best Picture Oscar winner, The Sound of Music.

Classic film fans attending TCM’s festival were treated to scenes from another of Fox’s Best Picture winners, the underappreciated Cavalcade, a Noel Coward-based story depicting the 1912 Titanic disaster decades before James Cameron’s Best Picture for Fox about the sea catastrophe.

Frank Lloyd’s CAVALCADE was the second most popular movie in the US in 1933

Guided by Belston’s introductions, other clips include details about Cinemascope, losing On the Waterfront, Marilyn Monroe in Howard Hawks’ Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, the legacy of Alan Ladd, Jr., Bruce Willis descending a Los Angeles skyscraper in Die Hard and Mike Nichols’ 1988 paean to Americanism, Working Girl.

An eerie scene from 20th Century Fox’s Leave Her to Heaven, in which Gene Tierney’s character premeditates and carries out the murder of a crippled child, left the audience breathless. A scene from Stormy Weather, with its all-black cast featuring the Nicholas brothers in a breathtaking dance display, dazzled as Belston added that Fred Astaire regarded the scene as the “greatest musical number ever filmed.”

The Nicholas Brothers wowed audiences and Astaire in STORMY WEATHER

The program’s biggest laugh came after a scene with Henry Fonda commiserating at the bar in My Darling Clementine before asking a man behind the bar whether he’s ever been in love.

The man’s deadpan reply: “I’m a bartender.”

Schawn Belston’s adieu to the vaunted motion picture studio included a brief recognition that the studio bearing the name of its founder, William Fox, was created by a Hungarian immigrant.

Scott Holleran began his professional writing career as a newspaper correspondent in 1991. He’s worked in a variety of media, including magazines, broadcasting and Internet ventures. His news, cultural commentary, sports and other topical articles has been published in the Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal and Philadelphia Inquirer. You can find Scott on Facebook, Twitter or on his website.

4 thoughts

  1. Thanks for the fun post, although I live in L.A., I haven’t made it to the TCM festival in a few years! This presentation was one I would have really loved to attend. About a week before the Festival I was at a tour of the American Legion Hollywood Post given by the L.A. Historic Theater Foundation. TCM Film Festival attendee Theresa Brown was in our tour group😀. I had met her back in 2011 when a bunch of us TCMFF attendees went to In-N-Out to get a burger between films!
    The American Legion is a beautiful venue with a state of the art auditorium now. I was there for a special event hosted by Hollywood Heritage several years ago-it was a salute to Hollywood and the armed forces, and they showed great clips and photos of the golden age stars during WWII.

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