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Review of TCM Classic Cruise

Review of TCM Classic Cruise
Surprising, Entertaining, Enlightening
Dec. 8-13 on board the Disney Magic

   While cruisers were sunning on the beach at Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay, the most romantic and surprising event of the TCM Classic Cruise took place. TCM host Ben Mankiewicz was married to Lee Russo on board the Disney Magic Thursday, December 12.

   Maybe Mankiewicz got the idea from one of the last scenes of the movie, The African Queen, in which Charlie (Humphrey Bogart) and Rose (Katherine Hepburn) are married by the captain of a German gunboat. The film was shown the night before and introduced by Theodore Bikel who played one of the German officers on the gunboat.

   Bikel spoke about working on The African Queen and how impressed he was with Humphrey Bogart who would practice his lines in monotones and then, when in front of the camera, would deliver them perfectly in character. At another time, TCM Host Robert Osborne held a conversation with Bikel where he spoke more about his career followed by a question and answer session.

   Jane Powell was one of the other celebrities interviewed and she talked about her career, including the movie Royal Wedding, which was shown on the cruise, and her admiration for Fred Astaire.

   When movie and TV actor Robert Wagner was interviewed, he told the audience that Fred Astaire and Spencer Tracy had both encouraged him early in his career. He said that he really loved making The Pink Panther. He has a new autobiography coming out in March 2014.

   A very charming and stylish petite woman, child star Margaret O’Brien has a generous, exuberant personality. During her interview, she spoke about her career and told many interesting stories. She said the Juvenile Oscar for Outstanding Child Actor that she won in 1944 was lost for almost 50 years before being returned to her by memorabilia collectors who had found it in a flea market. She volunteers with a dancers organization that has a goal of establishing a retirement home for professional dancers. Several of her movies were shown on the cruise, including Meet Me in St. Louis.

   In addition to the conversations with the celebrities, special events and presentations were held on topics relating to classic films.

   Eddie Muller, film noir expert, talked about the history of the genre and showed three short films that were compilations of scenes from the “dark” movies. The last one only showed scenes from movies set in San Francisco, where Muller holds an annual film noir festival. (Watch this website for a more detailed article coming soon.)

  Alex Trebek hosted a trivia contest on three occasions during the cruise. Other presenters were: Rick Baker, makeup artist; Illeana Douglas, actress, writer and producer; Patrick Harrison, awards campaigns manager; Frank Mankiewicz, lawyer, journalist and author; and Bruce Goldstein, director of repertory programming at New York’s Film Forum.

   More than 40 movies were shown, including Christmas, beach party, James Bond, Doris Day/Rock Hudson and noir films. There

was a special triple feature tribute to director Billy Wilder: Some Like It Hot, Sabrina and Love In The Afternoon.

   Everything wasn’t all about movies on the cruise. Dance lessons were held on three days. Cruisers participated in Christmas caroling, bingo, karaoke and other activities. The ports of call were Nassau and the Disney private island, Castaway Cay, where there was an abundance of water activities.

   Special entertainment in the lounges included the Hot Sardines a really cool group performing unique hot jazz encompassing standards from the 20s and 40s, and New Orleans style jazz with French undercurrents. It wasn’t long before the audience was pulled under their spell. Featured: songbird/composer, Miz Elizabeth; pianist/composer/bandleader, Evan “Bibs” Palazzo; and tap dancer, “Fast” Eddy Francisco. They saluted film noir during one of their performances. Then, they played "When the Saints go Marchin In" while marching New Orleans-jazz-band-style around the large lounge. The group was on the last TCM Classic Cruise, as well.

   Other entertainers were the Pint-Sized Cocktail Orchestra, Alloy Orchestra and Disney Magic musical ensembles.

   The trip was this writer’s third TCM Classic Cruise and it was the most organized of the three. TCM presented the more popular events, interviews and movies at more than one time slot, which made it easier for cruisers to attend more of their favorites. The Disney Magic had two very large theaters which was a plus. Poolside screenings were more comfortable with good acoustics and less obstruction to viewing than on the other cruises. The food on board the Disney Magic was very good and the service of the cordial staff was excellent. Even the weather behaved most of the time, although Nassau was a little damp for a short while, and after a morning of sunshine, a mid-afternoon shower on the beautiful, white-sand beach of Castaway Cay, prompted an early return to the ship.

   At the Sail-Away party, Robert Osborne announced that the next TCM Classic Cruise is set for October 21-26, 2014.

–Posted by Mary McCord
Classic Film Watch Editor
December 14, 2013

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Castaway Cay
Castaway Cay, Disney's private island. Disney Magic is in background. Photo from Disney Cruise Line .

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