Saturday may have been the best day of the festival. Two of my favorite comedies: The Awful Truth and Theodora Goes Wild were on the schedule and I couldn’t have been more pleased. Irene Dunne was the top-billed star of both films and she’s one of my all-time favorite movie actresses. Someone who I think was underrated—even though she received five Best Actress nominations—during her heyday. Dunne and Cary Grant, her costar in The Awful Truth, had a chemistry that is hard to analyze, but is truly magical. Many critics, including me think that they were at their best when together. The pair made two other movies: My Favorite Wife, a comedy and Penny Serenade, a drama, which won Grant his first Best Actor nod. Dunne received two of her Best Actress nominations back to back for Theodora Goes Wild (1936) and The Awful Truth (1937).
There were so many good film choices Saturday morning that it was another day of tough decisions. The Court Jester (1955), Red River (1948), The China Syndrome (1979), Arsenic and Old Lace (1944), Stalag 17 (1953), and This is Cinerama (1952). Of those films, I hadn’t seen The Court Jester or This is Cinerama. I decided to see The Court Jester in the Chinese Theatre, once again keeping with the festival’s comedy theme. The Danny Kaye comedy-musical comedy is a favorite to many. It features the classic “The pellet with the poison’s in the vessel with the pestle; the chalice from the palace has the brew that is true!” routine. The film was presented in a digital restoration that looked beautiful. Shot in Vista-Vision, Paramount’s answer to Cinemascope, The Court Jester looked brand new. The Technicolor looked vivid and crisp. Comedian Fred Willard and Illeana Douglas introduced the movie; it is one of Willard’s favorites. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would and caught myself laughing out loud (I was in good company) during many scenes. The supporting cast was a dream: Glynis Johns, Basil Rathbone, and Angela Lansbury. It doesn’t get much better than that.
|Fred Willard and Illeana Douglas introduce The Court Jester.|
|Cary Grant and Irene Dunne toast their “freedom” in The Awful Truth.|
|Melvyn Douglas, Irene Dunne and crew on location for Theodora Goes Wild|
|Stunning Technicolor sets Black Narcissus apart from other films of the period.|
Hard to believe that tomorrow, Sunday, would be the festival’s last day, but there were still great movies to be seen!