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Cinecon 44 in Pictures

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Cinecon 44 was dedicated to the memories of our members and volunteers: Harold "Rusty" Casselton, George Crittenden and Robert W. Nudelman.

 
 
 

Cinecon 44 took place over Labor day weekend from Thursday August 28 to Monday September 1 2008. We showed some wonderful films, talked to some great guests and generally had a lot of fun.

Thursday Day 1

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The dealers' rooms at the Renaissance hotel opened at 3:00 on Thursday. This gave film fans a chance to shop for movie memorabilia before registration opened.

With several large rooms full of film collectibles like DVDs, books, vintage posters, lobby cards, and stacks of classic stills it was easy to find something of interest.


Our registration and memorabilia show were downstairs from their usual 3rd floor location. The hotel had another large event going on there which overlapped our convention by a couple of days so all of our functions had to be on the mezzanine level

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Our Cinephiles didn't seem to have too much trouble finding us and as soon as they figured out where the registration tables were going to be they started lining up.

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At 5:00 on the dot the volunteer staff began distributing the pre-registration packets and the line moved quickly.

The pre-registration envelopes contained the film schedule, a registration badge and the 24-page program which was full of great information about each film. People getting their registration packets imageThey also contained a flyer about special programs at the hotel on Saturday and last, but most certainly not least, if you were wise enough to take advantage Cinecon 43 program  image of the full pre-registration discount, you also received your celebrity banquet ticket. As Cinecon regulars know these banquet tickets usually sell out early.

As soon as our members received their programs they began planning their weekend viewing .

As 7:00 approached a lot of people started heading down Hollywood Blvd. to the historic Egyptian where the weekend's screenings were slated to take place in the 600 seat Lloyd E. Rigler theatre.



We opened our show with a selection of five classic cartoons from some of the top animators of the 30s, 40s & 50s. We started with a 1943 Looney Tunes Puss N' Booty. It's a cat vs. bird story with a twist ending. Next was a Paramount Popeye, Never Kick a Woman (1936), in which Olive has competition for Popeye until she shows the other woman who's boss. Then it was a Tex Avery M-G-M cartoon featuring his famous character Droopy in The Three Little Pups (1953) a take off on the Three Little Pigs story with the wolf as a dog catcher. Then we showed a Fleischer brothers Superman cartoon from 1942 Billion Dollar Limited. Superman has to save Lois from a runaway train. And then last but not least was a Chuck Jones Bugs Bunny cartoon Duck! Rabbit, Duck! (1953, Warner Bros.) also featuring Elmer Fudd and Daffy Duck.

The renowned and prolific producer Walter Mirisch was honored with our first celebrity screening of the weekend. We started out by showing a tribute reel with clips from Mr. Mirisch's long and successful career as a filmmaker.

As Cinecon officer Michael Schlesinger introduced Walter Mirisch he admitted that he was a huge fan.

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During the interview the pair discussed many aspects of Walter's career beginning with his first studio job at Monogram pictures where he produced low budget pictures like Bomba, The Jungle Boy. Then at Allied Artists he was making inexpensive "B" westerns until he made Man of the West which was his first "A" picture.

They talked about Walter's collaborations with other talented filmmakers like Billy Wilder, Blake Edwards, John Ford and John Sturges. Mirisch said he was a hands-on producer who could step back when he had a strong director.

They spoke about the Mirisch Corporation, which he Co-founded with his brothers Marvin and Harold, and some of the notable pictures that they made there including Some Like it Hot, One, Two, Three, West Side Story, The Magnificent Seven, The Pink Panther, The Great Escape and In the Heat of the Night to name a few.

They also talked about Mr. Mirisch's accomplish-ments as President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

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Walter was president of the Producers Guild for 3 terms and then was appointed to the AMPAS Board of Governors. He was very active as an Academy Governor was instrumental in moving the Academy to a new home on Wilshire Blvd. He served as President of the Academy from 1973 to 1977.

After his interview with Mike Mr. Mirisch took questions from the audience

Since Mr. Mirisch was wouldn't be able to attend our banquet on Sunday night he was presented with his Cinecon Career Achievement award after the Q & A.

On hand to give him the award was he Oscar winning actor from West Side Story, George Chakiris.

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George spoke more about Mirisch's contributions to the motion picture industry and then he talked about his own experience working with him.

George said that he was very happy to be there to give Walter the award. Walter thanked Cincon for the award said that he enjoyed spending his evening with our group.

After he and George exchanged a few private words the pair posed for pictures with his new award.

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Walter Mirisch close up image

After receiving his award Mirisch moved to the theater lobby where he answered more fan questions and signed autographs.

Then his son joined him for a picture with the new award.

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Walter Mirisch signing his book image

Then it was back to the fans who waited in line to meet and speak with him. Many had bought a copy of his new book, I Thought We Were Making Movies, Not History to get autographed.

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Walter had a great time sharing memories with our members and continued to sign autographs and meet people for over an hour.

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While Mr. Mirisch continued to sign books in the lobby we started watching the firstfeature film of the weekend, MAN OF THE WEST. This gritty and violent 1958 western was directed by Anthony Mann and produced by the Mirisch brothers. Gary Cooper stars as a world-weary former outlaw who finds himself meeting up with his old gang who want him back in the fold. Also in the cast are Julie London, Lee J. Cobb, John Dehner and Jack Lord.

After the western drama we thought we would lighten the mood with UCLA's recent restoration of the first feature-length slapstick comedy, TILLIE'S PUNCTURED ROMANCE (1914). The film starred Marie Dressler, Mable Normand and Charlie Chaplan and was directed by Mack Sennett.



Cinecon 44 in Pictures

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Friday Day 2

The Friday morning session started off at 9:00 AM with chapter 13 of The Iron Claw (Columbia, 1941) a 15 chapter serial about a reporter trying to figure out what's going on in an old house amid secret passages, sinister people and hidden gold. Chapters 1 through 12 were shown at previous Cinecons including last year when we screened 3 episodes. We would be screening the final 3 episodes during the weekend, one on Friday and the last 2 on Sunday.

The first feature of the morning was ACQUITTED (1929). Produced by poverty row studio Columbia Pictures, this recently restored early talkie courtroom drama features silent screen favorite Lloyd Hughes with Margaret Livingston, and character actor Sam Hardy. Directed by Frank Strayer.

Silent short, THE SIGN OF THE CUCUMBER (L-Ko comedy, 1920) was up next.

One of the reasons why we come to Cinecon is to see beautiful new prints of films like the one for THE BLOOD SHIP (1927). For many years this early Columbia feature starring Hobart Bosworth, Richard Arlen and Jacqueline Logan was only known to survive in battered 16mm prints, but this new restoration by the Academy Film Archive returns the film to its 35mm glory. It's a tale of cruelty and revenge on the high seas.

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Serious collectors of movie memorabilia had been shopping in the dealers' rooms all morning but with a lunch break in the film schedule the rooms got even busier

Besides a great selection of collectibles shoppers also had the chance to buy some personally autographed books.

Throughout the weekend authors of film related books turned out for our Cinecon Book Fair which was set up in the entry area to the dealers' rooms at the Renaissance Hotel to autograph and sell copies of their books.

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Allan R. Ellenberger has authored several books on film history and maintains his own film related website www.allanellenberger.com. He has written books about Margaret O'Brian, Raymond Navarro and Rudolph Valentino. He brought copies of all of these books as well as his newest title Celebrities in the 1930 Census.

Marc Wanamaker was on hand to sign copies of his books. He has done several pictorial histories of Hollywood and Los Angeles including some titles for the Arcadia Publishing Images of America series. Marc is a noted film historian, curator of the Bison Archives and 2008 president of Hollywood Heritage.

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David A. Fury has also written a number of books on film history including three titles covering various aspects of Tarzan films: Kings of the Jungle: An Illustrated Reference to Tarzn on Screen and Television, Johnny Weissmuller: Twice the Hero and his latest book Maureen O'Sullivan: No Average Jane.

If you missed your favorite author you could always check out the large selection of books at the Hollywood Heritage table. They carried a variety of titles and the money from the sale of those books goes back to the not-for-profit group Hollywood Heritage, an organization dedicated to the preservation of historic Hollywood.

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The afternoon session started with a Columbia short from 1939, THE AWFUL GOOF. This title is one of four missing Charley Chase Columbia shorts that haven't been seen since their original run nearly 70 years ago. The plot to this one is simple: Charley is caught with a wrestler's wife, and comedy ensues.

Up next was a low-key mystery MURDER IN TRINIDAD starring Nigil Bruce just a few years before he gained notoriety as Sherlock Holmes' bumbling Dr. Watson. Here he's a rumpled but savvy inspector brought to Trinidad to track down diamond smugglers until the bodies begin to pile up. This steamy tropical drama also features Heather Angel and Victor Jory

Life was different in the 1920's it was the man's duty to be the breadwinner and the woman's to stay at home with the kids and keep house. That's how the domestic drama THE HOME MAKER (1925) starts out. The man, played by Clive Brook, struggles at an office job which he hates while his wife, Alice Joyce, is equally unhappy at home until an accident causes them to switch places.

Leading into the dinner hour we showed The Case Against Brooklyn a gritty 50's police drama starring Darrin McGavin as an cop who goes undercover to investigate corrupt cops but there's a cagey bad guy, played oh so effectively by Warren Stevens, in his way. Warren has had a very long and successful career playing nearly as many bad guys as good. After the film Cinecon officer Stan Taffel interviewed Mr. Stevens.

Stan is a big fan of Warren's and had been trying to get him to attend a film screening at Cinecon for several years. Well, this year he finally agreed and apparently had a great time doing it.

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Warren Stevens with Stan Taffel image

Stan began the interview by asking Mr. Stevens about his background and his start in acting.

Warren had done a little stage acting before serving in World War II as a flyer but it wasn't until after the war that he was able to put his full attention to it. He went to New York and joined the Actors Studio. After appearing in several plays on Broadway and doing some television Stevens was in the hit play Detective Story which caught Hollywood's attention and earned him a contract at 20th Century Fox Studios.

Stevens has appeared on Broadway, made dozens of films and been in over 150 TV shows in an acting career that has spanned 7 decades. Stan rattled off a list of film and TV credits and said that he would kill to have a career like that.

Then Warren told stories about some of the actors that he's worked with including Humphry Bogart, Ava Gardner, Lana Turner, Walter Pidgeon, Edward G. Robinson and Henry Fonda to name a few.

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After an extensive talk with Stan Warren took audience questions. Someone asked about Bogart (Stevens worked with him on two films) and he said that Bogart was great to work with, a real pro. When asked if it was better working in films or in TV he responded that they were pretty much the same. When prompted to share a story of working with Lana Turner on Madam X he noted that she didn't want to appear without makeup (which she had to do in the prison scene). Then about working with Walter Pidgeon on Forbidden Planet he said that Walter was marvelous to work with and so was Anne Francis who he's still friends with.

After the interview Stan and one of his favorite actors posed for a picture together.

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Then members of the audience got their chance to talk further with Stevens, take more pictures and get his autograph.


After dinner the evening session began another Columbia comedy short this one starring our favorite stooge, Shemp Howard, in 1945's OFF AGAIN, ON AGAIN. He plays a guy who hires a hitman to bump him off after his fiancee dumps him but then he has a hard time calling off the hit when his gal reconciles with him.

The quick paced, Universal B Musical comedy I CAN'T GIVE YOU ANYTHING BUT LOVE, BABY (1940) featured Johnny Downs as a composer mixed up with a mobster, and would be lyricist, Broderick Crawford. Peggy Moran, Jessie Ralph and Warren Hymer fill out the cast. This truly hilarious little gem was one of the hits of the weekend.

Our next film was silent star Douglas Fairbanks' last comedy before his breakthrough swashbuckler, The Mark of Zorro. In THE MOLLYCODDLE (1920) Doug plays a foppish young American living the easy life in Monte Carlo until his pals take him back to America and the Arizona desert where he stops a diamond smuggler (Wallace Beery) and saves the day.

The final film of the evening, OUTLAWS OF THE ORIENT (Columbia, 1937) was a tight little low budget outing starring Jack Holt. The film was never released to TV and was essentially a lost film for seventy years until it was preserved by Grover Crisp. Holt plays a guy who postpones his wedding in New York to handle an oil crisis in China. Also in the cast are Mae Clark, Harold Huber and Ray Walker.

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