2 March 2018

It seems to knock everybody cold

One of the great things about living in Barcelona, apart from the gorgeous weather and relaxed lifestyle, is having the Filmoteca de Catalunya right on your doorstep. Located in the old Raval neighbourhood, the Filmoteca is a film archive and film house where both old and new films (although not the latest) from all over the world are shown. Luckily, films are shown in the original version with either Catalan or Spanish subtitles. An added bonus is that film tickets are quite inexpensive (4 euros per film) and an annual pass costs only 90 euros (which is about $110) giving you unlimited access to films for a whole year! (Needless to say, I have one of those.)

With regards to the film screenings, I am of course mostly interested in classic Hollywood films and they are being shown here on a regular basis. In February, the Filmoteca started an Ida Lupino retrospective (in celebration of her 100th birthday) to be continued this month, and later this year Rita Hayworth's centenary will also be spotlighted. From the Lupino programme I'm looking forward to rewatching the 1940 They Drive By Night (a film I've seen ages ago) and to see a few films unknown to me like While The City Sleeps (1956) and Hard, Fast and Beautiful (1951). Other films shown this month are classics such as Shane (1953), The Asphalt Jungle (1950)Midnight (1939)Cat People (1942), Sunset Boulevard (1950), Imitation of Life (1959), Spartacus (1960) and Steamboat Bill Jr (1928)-- most of them will be rewatches although never seen by me on the big screen before.

Another film programmed at the Filmoteca this month is Funny Face (1957), starring Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn. This film will also be a rewatch for me, and while it's not a favourite musical of mine I look forward to seeing it on the big screen. The letter accompanying this post --of course there's also a letter!-- concerns Funny Face (among others) and was written by Fred Astaire to Audrey Hepburn shortly before the film was released. In this charming letter, Astaire talks about the reviews that rave about Audrey and her dancing, and the positive reactions from people who saw the film already. In the end, despite the overall good reviews, Funny Face did not become the box-office hit everyone had hoped for; in fact, it did not even earn back its $3 million cost.

Audrey wanted to do Funny Face with her big idol Fred Astaire, and Fred apparently wanted to work with Audrey too:" I just told my agents to forget all other projects for me. I was waiting for Audrey Hepburn. She asked for me, and I was ready. This could be the last and only opportunity I'd have to work with the great and lovely Audrey and I was not missing it. Period." Funny Face would be the only time Fred and Audrey worked together.
Source: Christie's

Transcript:

Sunday

Dear Audrey:-

I tried for several days to find out from Kurt Frings office [Audrey's agent] where I could write to you but they knew nothing. There were rumors that you were off to Jamaica.
I did not see all of "Mayerling" because as always happens with T.V.- a phone call came in that I had to take. 
I loved what I saw however and you of course were divine. You looked so wonderful. I don't know how you + Mel [Ferrer] did it- such a big show-live!
You were both great.
Getting back to that other little item, "Funny Face", I'm quite sure now about that one. It seems to knock everybody cold. They just simply say "It's The Best Musical Ever Made!" That from all the wise ones too. They rave over you and your dancing. I've heard you were pleased when you saw it. I sure do hope so. In all my experience with musical pictures I have never experienced such a reaction from people. Now, I see no reason why the public should not fall for it too. 
Have a good rest and all best to Mel.

As ever-
Fred

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