After an exciting opening to TCMFF, I woke up bright and early the next day to get some coffee and head into line to see The Jungle Book (1967) at the El Capitan.
The Jungle Book (1967):
This delightful Disney film has had a special place in my heart for years, so I was especially thrilled to see it on the big screen for the first time at the gorgeous El Capitan. We were treated to a phenomenal pre-show with Rob Richards at the organ, playing a medley of Disney songs.
In addition, Film Critic and Historian Leonard Maltin interviewed Cartoonist and Animator Floyd Norman–an all-around wonderful and extremely talented artist. Norman worked for Disney through several film projects, including being influential in creating the film’s “Trust in Me” sequence.
“It was important that your drawings had clarity…that you could tell exactly what the character was feeling and thinking feeling,” said Norman. “Walt looked for guys who could express those ideas using noting but a big grease pencil and a pad of paper. That’s how we told our stories.”
Maltin also noted that, “He [Disney] was not above prowling the hallways at night, sneaking into various offices, to see even what you may have crumpled and thrown into the waste bin.”
Norman agreed, adding, “The funny part–whenever you had a meeting with Disney and you were presenting your work to him for the first time, Walt had already seen it. He had been walking the hallways, going in and out of offices in the evening. He already knew what you were going to show him.”
Norman began working with some of Disney’s top animators early on in his career. “I was only in my twenties and very intimidated by all these Disney giants,” said Norman. “When I did my storyboards, I knew they would be seen by Walt Disney–so that was very intimidating.”
Soon enough, he would also be considered one of the studio’s key animators.
“When you showed something to Walt, he would either love it or he would hate it,” said Norman. “I consider myself one very lucky kid that whatever I seemed to do–it made Walt laugh.”
It was a delight to hear Norman share his experiences, successes, and challenges in bringing so many beloved Disney films to the screen.
“A Little Song, A Little Dance”:
Since I adore musicals, I decided to follow the Jungle Book screening with the “A Little Song, A Little Dance” presentation. This special presentation featured a variety of rarely seen clips from the Paramount Archives, which included clips showcasing Fred Astaire, Nat King Cole, Dorothy Dandridge, and many others. This presentation was given by the Vice President of the Paramount Archives, Andrea Kalas.
Cocktail Hour (1933):
Being a big fan of Pre-Code films, I had to see Cocktail Hour (1933), starring Bebe Daniels. Once again, I was treated to a fabulous introduction from Author, Film Historian, and Documentarian Cari Beauchamp, this time interviewing Producer and President of Harold Lloyd Entertainment Suzanne Lloyd. Lloyd is the granddaughter of silent comedy legend Harold Lloyd. Off-screen, Lloyd and Daniels were romantically involved at one point and remained lifelong friends.
“She [Daniels] was a bit hit in Rio Rita (1929) and 42nd Street (1933),” said Beauchamp. “Years later, she had gone down a couple notches to Columbia Pictures to do Cocktail Hour.“
Beauchamp researched the production files for the film and did not encounter major censorship issues with this film. She did note that, “It is that horribly threatening thing–a confident, smart woman” appearing to be an issue, “but other than that, it was OK. It was sort of familiar. But it’s still a Pre-Code and it’s still pretty funny.”
Beauchamp went on to discuss the relationship between Daniels and Lloyd.
“Bebe and Harold were engaged and made many movies together,” said Beauchamp. “Suzanne knew Bebe, who–after this–movie moved to London with her husband, Ben Lyon. Sue went to school with Randolph Scott’s daughter. Randolph Scott would drive drive them around on errands.”
Beauchamp then introduced Suzanne as “one of the great keepers of the flame. She has kept Harold’s films alive and preserved and well. She’s working with Criterion for yet another Criterion release–such important work.
Suzanne shared that Harold had a “huge crush” on Daniels.
“When they dated, they were dancing partners,” said Lloyd. “They were actually engaged for a period of time. But in 1918, she kind of decided that Harold wasn’t going to become a really big star and her mom didn’t really think so.”
As a result, Daniels went on to sign another contract elsewhere.
“Within one week, he lost his leading lady, he lost his girlfriend and fiancee,” said Lloyd. “She gave back the engagement ring and put it in the form of a tie tack. That kind of ended that but they were still really dear friends. Luckily for me, he went on the hunt for his next lovely leading lady, Mildred Davis. That was very lucky because she was my grandmother. So, I wouldn’t be here if Bebe hadn’t dumped Harold. But they were really dear friends. I met her later on in life. But I must say, she was very ambitious and she was very comfortable in England. She was damed by King George for the work she did for the war bond effort during World War II. She used to entertain the troops, go down to the hospitals, and she was just really remarkable.”
Daniels and Lloyd remained good friends until Lloyd’s passing.
“Harold was actually a groomsman at their wedding,” said Lloyd. “I have pictures of that. And she always appeared on Ralph Edwards’ This is Your Life. They would have dinner at the house or go out and it was very nice. Ben Lyon and Bebe had a place here. The last time I saw her was in England. He [Lloyd] died in March 1971 and she [Daniels] died a week later from him in March of 1971. They ended up being really wonderful friends and she was a remarkable lady.”
The Gay Divorcee (1934):
To conclude my evening, I was very lucky to be able to secure a seat at the screening of The Gay Divorcee (1934). I had never seen a Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers film on the big screen before, and the energy was absolutely electric. It was a late-night screening but I was so thrilled to be there and was far too excited to be sleepy!
This film was wonderfully introduced by TCM Host Dave Karger, who teased his upcoming Musical Matinee series for TCM. He shared many facts about Astaire and Rogers, as well as offering nods to the various character actors who appear in this film and other Astaire-Rogers vehicles. Moreover, he also pointed out that a young Betty Grable appears in the “Let’s K-nock K-nees” number alongside Edward Everett Horton. Of course, one of the highlights was seeing the climactic “Continental” number beautifully depicted on the big screen.
After a busy day of screenings, I headed off to sleep and prepare for another jam-packed day of movie magic.