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TCM Classic Cruise 2014: A Floating Film Festival Aboard the Disney Magic

Disney Magic

October 21-26, 2014
Ports of Call: Castaway Cay & Key West, FL

Review by Mary McCord, Editor

   TCM’s fourth floating film festival glided through all the genres, entertaining cruisers on the Disney Magic with the classics, conversations with stars, trivia contests and many more fun activities and events.
   Forty-nine films were shown, including musicals, comedies, thrillers and swashbucklers. Other genres were war, horror, western and baseball movies.
   Four film noir classics were shown during one day of the voyage. Noir-themed events such as a trivia contest, ballroom dance lessons and a cocktail tasting created the mood for TCM’s Night of Noir costume party where participants dressed as their favorite private eye, femme fatale or other noir character. A good percentage of the cruisers decked out in forties attire and danced to the Hot Sardines on the pool deck dance floor.
   This was my favorite day of the trip. It was great to see an old noir favorite, Out of the Past, starring Robert Mitchum, on the big screen for the first time.
   Joan Crawford’s film noir, Mildred Pierce, was a real discovery for me. The film is frequently shown on TCM and has been shown at their Hollywood Festival. I have always passed on this film thinking it was one I really didn’t like. I watched it on the cruise thinking it might be better on the big screen. I was really surprised when I discovered I had disliked the wrong movie all these years. I’m ashamed to say that the movie I don’t like very much actually stars Barbara Stanwyck! Mildred Pierce is a suspenseful movie that really showcased co-star Ann Blyth’s talents, earning her an Oscar nomination. Blyth introduced the film and spoke about working with Joan Crawford whom she admired for her talent and professionalism. Mildred Pierce is now one of my favorites

Dreyfus and Shirley JonesPosters of the stars onboard decorated the ship's atrium. Shirley Jones, Richard Dreyfuss,Diane Baker, Ann Blyth, Tab Hunter, and James Karen introduced their films at the screenings and held conversations with TCM Hosts Robert Osborne and Ben Mankiewicz. Rory Flynn, daughter of Errol Flynn introduced her father's swashbuckers and spoke about his career. Eddie Muller, founder and president of the Film Noir Foundation introduced the film noirs. Alex Trebek, of the Jeopardy TV show conducted trivia contests.

   TCM also screened the Burt Lancaster and Ava Gardner noir film, The Killers. This was the first

 Sparkling Stars

    The stars onboard sparkled in the theatres, at events and the sail-away and farewell parties. What are they up to these days?
    Diane Baker is the Executive Director of School of Motion Pictures and Acting at the Academy of Art University.
    Ann Blyth performs in concerts coast to coast in a revue featuring the finest music from Broadway and Hollywood.
    Richard Dreyfuss is an advocate for civic education and spokesperson on the issue of media in forming policy, legislation and public opinion. He has founded www.TheDreyfussInitiative.org.
    Tab Hunter’s autobiography, Tab Hunter Confidential, became a bestseller and has been made into a feature documentary due out next year.   
    Shirley Jones continues a career of symphony concerts, nightclub and performing arts center performances. Her autobiography, Shirley Jones: A Memoir, became a New York Times bestseller.
    James Karen’s most recent film, The Bender Claim, is in post-prouction for release soon.

The Hot Sardines
This group is a really hot jazz band with an eclectic repertoire of songs. They performed on deck for events and in one of the lounges on the ship. Their music ranges from New Orleans type jazz to songs from the 20s-40s, some performed in French by Paris-born singer, Miz Elizabeth. They even played a Charleston number that filled the dance floor. Charleston was one of the dance lessons on the ship. One thing that makes the band unique is that a tap dancer keeps rhythm to the songs. With the entertainment and special events onboard, it would be possible to keep busy and never even have time to watch a movie!

Gene Kelly, Cyd Charisse
POOLSIDE SCREENINGS -—Films were shown each day on the pool deck. The photo above was taken during the screening of the Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse 1955 musical, It's Always Fair Weather. Watching movies outdoors in a lounge chair was relaxing. Other movies screened: Mister Roberts (1955); After the Thin Man; 1936); Duck Soup (1933); Night and the City (1950); Father Goose (1964); and Donovan’s Reef (1963).

Castaway Cay
MARINA AT CASTAWAY CAY— All types of water activities, including a glass-bottom boat ride, parasailing and snorkeling, were available on Disney's private island.

time I had ever seen this film. I don’t even recall it being shown at any film festival or on TV. Ava Gardner is stunning as a femme fatale, delivering the performance that made her a star. The screenplay was based on an Ernest Hemingway short story of the same name.
    Whenever I go to Key West, I always stop in at Sloppy Joe's, the bar made famous because it was Hemingway's favorite when he lived there. And this time was no different.
    When we docked at Key West, the first thing we saw was the African Queen, the boat from the Bogart and Hepburn movie. Then, we walked around the town, which was very crowded because of a local festival, before visiting Sloppy Joe's.
    As I sipped a drink, I couldn't help but wonder if Hemingway had gotten the idea for The Killers in the bar. But I remembered he had a special cottage for writing on his property. He probably didn't need the bar for inspiration and only relied on it for drinking and swapping fish stories. With so many good movies in so many genres being shown, it is hard to pick the one I liked best. It’s really a toss-up between two very different movies—Buster Keaton’s The Navigator, a 1924 silent comedy, and Mirage, a 1965 noir-like thriller starring Gregory Peck, Walter Matthau and Diane Baker. I had not seen either of these films before the cruise and this is probably the reason they stick in my mind.
    The Navigator was Keaton’s most successful picture. For the film, he leased a passenger ship that was headed for scrap and used what he found on board to set up his gags. Other than great comedic performances, the real treasure was the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra that accompanied the film’s screening on the cruise with a score they created.The orchestra also accompanied another silent film on the cruise, the 1920 Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
is a difficult film to classify. It was made in 1965--too late for the film noir genre of the 40s and early 50s and too early to be considered a neo-noir since this resurgence of the noir genre came in the 80s. It is a suspenseful thriller and mystery that contains some unquestionable noir elements, including a femme fatale and a private investigator.
    When you look at who directed the film, it’s easy to see why this film is so noir-like. The director was Edward Dmytryk who also directed the famous 1944 film noir, Murder, My Sweet. The film, Mirage, is considered to be the link from noir to neo-noir. When released, it was not a financial success which is probably one reason that it isn't well-known. Diane Baker, who plays the femme fatale, introduced the film. She said she thought the reason it didn't do well at the box office was that Universal Pictures did not promote it very well.

African Queen
The African Queen from the Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn film was on display on the
dock in Key West, one of the ports of call. The film was shown during the cruise.

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TCM Classic Cruise 2014