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TCM Classic Film Fest Day 2: Is that Martin Scorsese?!?

by Anne-Marie

Only one day in, and the TCM Classic Film Fest is already full of surprises! The biggest news of last night was supposed to be the red carpet premiere of the new digital restoration of In The Heat of the Night. The event at the TCL Chinese Theatre did not disappoint - Lee Grant, Walter Mirisch, Norman Jewison, and Sidney Poitier himself all made appearances to a standing ovation before the screening.

However, several hours before the red carpet officially unrolled, the eyes of festival goers turned eastward to the Egyptian Theatre after a sudden mid-afternoon tweet from Turner Classic Movies...



In retrospect, nobody should have been surprised. The award-winning director is famous for his advocacy for film of any format (as long as it isn't color-fading triacetate Eastmancolor).

In addition, Scorsese's Film Foundation is one of the five partners in the recent renovation to the Egyptian Theatre that enabled TCMFF's nitrate screenings. (The other partners are AMPAS, HFPA, the American Cinematheque that runs the theater, and Turner Classic Movies itself.) Nonetheless, while his friends and colleagues have attended the festival many times, Scorsese himself had never made an appearance at Turner Classic Movies's flagship film festival until he graced the stage of the Egyptian last night.

Scorsese started his introduction to Hitchcock's thriller with a little bit of history - not just about the movie, but about nitrate itself. In his famous excited patter, Scorsese whizzed through a century of film stock, explaining the rise and fall of silver nitrate film stock, which was often recycled for its precious metals even before it was replaced by triacetate safety film in the 1950s. However, that silver halide layer wasn't just valuable for its metal, it was valuable for the experience of the movie. Scorsese was nearly breathless when he described seeing his first nitrate print, Lubitsch's The Student Prince. According to the cinephile director, silver causes black and white film to sparkle with color, and color film to gain greater depth and range. And that, not just a good Hitchcock movie, was what audiences were at the Egyptian Theatre to see.

After The Man Who Knew Too Much was over, it was difficult to gauge whether the master storyteller's spell had fully worked. Most festival goers were just excited to have seen Martin Scorsese. A heated discussion broke out as two fans argued over whether the screen really did sparkle during the climactic rooftop chase scene. Nonetheless, together they agreed with Martin Scorsese about one thing: this chance to bridge history and fan experience is truly unforgettable.

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Reader Comments (4)

Okay-these articles are making me desperate to attend this next year. Do you have to be a writer, or can anyone attend?

April 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJohn T

Silver is an outstanding conductor of black/white. Can't wait to hear the comments on Black Narcissus. The color is over the top without ever having seen a nitrate version.

April 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterLeslie19

John T - Actually, in true TCM style, this is a festival for the fans! They sell passes every year, as well as individual tickets closer to the festival date. Come join the fun!

April 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAnne Marie

Oh man, I am so jealous! Not so much of Scorsese - although hearing his gasbag on and on about nitrate film and celluloid would make my heart burst, especially if it was a surprise which I gather this was? - but for being able to see The Man Who Knew Too Much on nitrate like this. What a rare opportunity!

April 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn Dunks

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