Monday, September 14, 2015

To Jo, with Love

Hello, world! Welcome to the first post of the blog for the Dick Clark Productions Screening Room. I am M.J. Hamada (call me Mik), a member of the DC Crew: a group of filmmakers and film aficionados who attend David Garonzik’s weekend screenings.

A little about David: He is the projectionist and manager for the Dick Clark Productions Screening Room. He’s a cool cat, a consummate professional, a down-to-earth guy, the type of person you feel you know immediately. David has a wealth of film knowledge and does a variety of impressions (which he’ll break into if you ask him kindly, and sometimes even if you don’t).

As for the screening room, it’s an awesome space: elegant, modern, comfortable, with 21 seats arranged in four rows, each raised a step so that everyone has a clear view of the screen. The leather chairs are big and plush; the picture and sound quality, impeccable.

As you may divine from the title, this first post doubles as an introduction to the blog and as a way for me to honor Jo (Joanna, my better half), who introduced me to David and the DC Crew. For our third date (our first dinner-and-a-movie date), we watched Something Wild in the screening room, after which we shared our first kiss. So you could say that the Dick Clark Productions Screening Room is partly responsible for the relationship we have now.

Mik and Jo in the screening room.

Since that memorable third date, Jo and I have viewed a dozen films together in the screening room. Most recently, on Saturday night, we watched James Clavell’s 1967 film To Sir, with Love, and that screening was an extra-special one: sitting among the crowd was Judy Geeson! In the film, she plays standout student Pamela Dare alongside Sidney Poitier’s new teacher, Mark Thackeray. (Her character name is telling: In an early scene, Pamela dares to ask Mr. Thackeray and Ms. Blanchard, another teacher, “Do you two shake?” And later, Pamela offers to carry a flower wreath to the home of her half-black classmate, daring to cross social lines.)

Judy and David in the lobby.

To Sir, with Love is a great film, in the tradition of other inspirational teacher-student stories, such as Stand and Deliver, Dead Poets Society, Lean on Me and Dangerous Minds. If you’re a teacher, it’s a must-see. I like Thackeray’s approach. Initially rattled by the recalcitrant students, he eventually figures out how to connect with them: by tossing out the textbooks and treating the students as adults. My favorite bit of dialogue, though, is this early cutting remark Thackeray makes (when the students’ laughter eggs on the class clown): “lt’s encouraging that you have a sense of humor. It seems you know so little and are so easily amused, I can look forward to a very happy time.”

After the screening, Judy Geeson answered questions and shared behind-the-scenes tidbits. We learned about the struggle to greenlight the film, about the casting process, about the wardrobe (Clavell had the young actors wear their own clothing), about the final dance scene. This last story stood out to me: both she and Poitier were nervous about doing the dance. You’d never know from watching the film. Pamela Dare can shake.

Now it's time for me to shake on out of here. Thanks to Judy Geeson, to David and to the rest of the DC Crew for making Saturday night another "very happy time" at the Dick Clark Productions Screening Room. And thanks to you, curious reader, for tuning in to this first post. Check back latermore good stuff is on its way.

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