Lee Pfeiffer reports on Cinema Retro's fourth and final day at the festival.
Although the film festival was to conclude the following day with widescreen showings of The Electric Horseman and Year of the Dragon, this would be the last day Dave Worrall and I could attend. As such, we had to devote a good deal of time to business meetings and schmoozing with friends and colleagues. However, in the morning we attended Cineramacana, a fun potpourri of weird short films, odd reels and (inexplicably) a trailer for Yentl which only serves to remind us that middle-aged Barbra Streisand posing as a teenage boy was the least convincing casting since Duke Wayne played Ghengis Khan in The Conqueror. Oy vey! Couldn't someone have stopped this ludicrous vanity piece from going into production? This segment of the festival also presented a lovely nature film sans narration that was produced on a budget of fifty pounds! That's probably what gets budgeted every day on Brad Pitt's hair mousse. There was also a bizarre but oddly hypnotic film that was comprised entirely of every page of various international editions of the Bible photographed at high speed and projected over the course of four minutes. (And you thought you had a lot of extra time on your hands!)
Following the Cineramacana event, audience members were invited to participate in the annual ritual of posing for a group photo. (Photo: www.in70mm.com)
This was followed by the museum's artistic director Tony Earnshaw's outstanding tribute to Richard Burton. Titled Lion of the Welsh, Earnshaw gave a highly personalized overview of the great actor's life, confessing he was his boyhood idol since seeing him in The Wild Geese. Earnshaw did not stint on criticizing Burton for often trashing his own talent in search of a fast paycheck and the next drink, but also reminded us of the incredible work he did on screen and on stage. As Earnshaw pointed out, Burton was only 58 years-old when he died and was doing fine work again, as evidenced by his final performance in 1984. That the Academy never recognized his talents with an Oscar remains a blight on Hollywood history. Earnshaw's tribute was followed by a 70mm screening of Becket, but this proved a disappointment because the only print available (from the Czech Republic) was mostly red and devoid of color. This didn't compromise the outstanding dialogue and performances, but - having seen the fully restored 35mm version in New York last year- it was too painful to see the film's deteroriated 70mm version and we opted to leave early. We didn't attend the screening of Carousel, but the latter got high marks from those who did see the restored print in its original CinemaScope 55 format.
Tony Earnshaw's tribute to Richard Burton (Photo: www.in70mm.com)
Film historian Tom March generously sponsored the screening of Khartoum. (Photo: www.in70mm.com)
We returned in the evening for the screening of Khartoum, one of the great underrated epics of the 1960s. Fortunately, this was a magnificent, fully restored print. As I had only seen it on the "big screen" at a drive-in theater as a kid (on a double bill with the hillbilly hit Forty Acre Feud!), I was especially thrilled to view it under these conditions. Prior to the screening, I had given projectionist Duncan McGregor a rare original production featurette that no one seemed to have seen before. It detailed the horse stunts done in the film. Duncan opted to project it on the big screen and it made for an interesting feature prior to the main event. The screening of Khartoum was sponsored by film historian Tom March, who earned kudos from one and all for his generosity. The print itself was terrific, even if the studio placed the intermission in the wrong place! The film holds up very well indeed, and I believe this to be Charlton Heston's finest work on screen. For us, it was a fitting end to a wonderful weekend - one filled with more laughs than most people probably experience in a year. As for Bradford and Cinema Retro - well, as someone once said, "I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship." We'll be back next year- and we hope many of you will join us.