NANCY ALLEN IN ATTENDANCE, LEONARD MALTIN Q&A, CHILLING SCREAMS, BEAUTIFUL FILM
Last night (Saturday) at Ebertfest, Nancy Allen presented Brian De Palma's Blow Out to a packed house at the Virginia Theatre (which seats 1463) in Champaign, Illinois. In her introduction, Allen giddily told the crowd the film was about to be projected from a 35mm print. The day before, Allen had graciously sat down with me for an interview for "De Palma a la Mod" (I'll post that later, after I get it all transcribed), and she talked about screening a 35mm print of RoboCop at a recent fundraiser, and how much more alive and gorgeous the film was than when she has seen it screened digitally. So she was really looking forward to the Blow Out.
And what an amazing experience it was, watching Blow Out projected in 35mm on the huge Virginia screen, and with hundreds of other people, many of whom were seeing the film for the first time. As with each film shown at Ebertfest, the audience paid attention to every shot, every line of dialogue, laughed at every joke, even finding humor in places that remind one what it is like to see the film for the first time-- what a joy. There were a few scattered bits of seemingly-derisive laughter during the climactic shots of John Travolta running in slow motion, and a guy behind me also cackled a bit as the fireworks surround Jack as he looks down at, and then holds, Sally-- Matt Zoller Seitz, who was also in attendance, was right on with his "jackass" comment on Twitter (see below for several of his tweets from last night).
Yet these occurances did not appear to diminish the film for most of the audience. For me, who (of course) has seen this film a million times (so to speak), the experience of seeing and hearing Sally run to the edge of the roof and scream out at the top of her lungs, with the enormous American flag behind her, brought everything home in a chilling and emotional way. Right here, the film hit me in the gut with its message of heart and passion-- truth-- hidden within a sea of hackery.
After the film, Allen was joined on stage by Leonard Maltin for a discussion and Q&A with the audience. Maltin marveled at the film as a tribute to analog technology, from tape recorders, to film-development shops, to pay phones (and more). Allen mentioned how everyone seems in a hurry these days, noting the audience's patience in watching the long dialogue scenes in Blow Out. An article about that Q&A, and hopefully a video, will eventually post to RogerEbert.com. My own interview with Nancy will post here sometime this week. Meanwhile, here is a link to an interview she did prior to the screening with the Champaign-Urbana News Gazette. Talking about Roger Ebert, whose review of the film appears in the Ebertfest 2016 program, Allen told the newspaper's Paul Wood, "A lot of critics didn't get Blow Out, but Roger and Pauline Kael did."
The Daily Illini's Shalayne Pulia interviewed Allen right after the Q&A, asking for (among other questions) her advice to young women trying to carve a career in film. "Don’t let anyone tell you ‘No’," replied Allen. "You teach people how to treat you. If I had stopped when people started telling me ‘No,’ I wouldn’t have had a career. If you look at it as an adventure of where you’re supposed to be, if they say ‘No,’ just keep going until you end up where you’re supposed to be. Follow your bliss; the money will follow."