Ken Burns gives
Them Big, It's Better
Robert Osborne, host of TCM's Classic Movies and the quintessential MC of the small screen film, says seeing those same Hollywood classics on the big screen is another experience altogether.
That's one of the major reasons he chose some films that are very familiar but most often screened TV-sized for the first Classic Movie Film Festival in Athens, GA, Jan. 27-30, 2005.
Osborne tells Bestfilmfests.com that he recalls seeing John Travolta just walking down the street in a big-screen run of "Saturday Night Fever," as an "overwhelmingly different experience," from seeing the same swagger reduced to the size of a TV screen.
"If I had my druthers," Osborne says, "everyone would see certain films on the big screen: "Gone with the Wind," "Citizen Kane."
The festival selection reflects the broad range of world cinema and Osborne's expansive interests, notes Nate Kohn, festival director and associate professor of telecommunications in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia. "Robert's passion for great motion pictures will inspire us all ..."
For the three-and-a half-day festival, the 2,000-seat Classic Center Theatre will be transformed into a world-class movie palace with the installation of a 54-foot motion picture screen and state-of-the-art 35mm projection and sound systems.
"It's an exciting adventure to see these films the way they were meant to be seen," explains Osborne. "The big screen gives a different dimension and vitality to them."
Osborne says he also plans to include original trailers and cartoons so festivalgoers can have the complete movie experience.
Kohn's feeling the Athens theatre would be a great place to show classic films inspired the event, Osborne says.
Osborne, also a columnist for The Hollywood Reporter, selected eight motion pictures, many his personal favorites, to show during the festival.
"I tried to select films that spanned the decades," he explains. The movie line-up for Athens' inaugural festival includes:
Quite a genre range, we noted.
"I love all these different genres," Osborne said. "Those filmmakers were all smart. They knew how to set a rhythm."
His selections range in date from 1938 to 2003 and in genre from musicals to animations. "Triplets of Belleville," he says, "is a totally delightful, clever, witty comedy, and you don't have a lot of that anymore" (However, it is the sole animation he finds particularly interesting.)
After the screenings, selected directors, writers, producers and actors who worked on the films will appear on stage with Osborne to discuss their work with the audience. Among them:
Actress Jane Powell from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,
Actress Louise Fletcher who played Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest,
Maximilian Schell, director of Marlene.
Osborne says of Marlene, "This woman, the epitome of glamour, said she wasn't all that interested in her career. But she could name every shot and every scene and every dress she wore. It's a fascinating look at the mind of a superstar."
We asked Mr. Osborne if he would consider doing future film festivals focused on individual stars, such as the unique Betty Hutton.
"I'd love to do a festival with Betty. She's such a complicated, sweet, tragic lady," he says.
Osborne's interview with Hutton on TCM, accompanied by superb clips of Hutton singing "Murder, He Says," and other killer moments from her handful of brilliant films, was one of the most moving and intriguing he has done with classic stars.
Osborne noted however that any number of difficulties could get in the way of that sort of festival.
Robert Osborne's Selections for Athens' inaugural Classic Film Festival
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