It’s hard to believe that it’s been more than a week since I flew out to Los Angeles for my fifth Hollywood visit and fourth Turner Classic Movies Film Festival (TCMFF).
Last year, my parents joined me for the TCMFF, but this year I traveled solo for the event. I originally announced that I wouldn’t be attending TCMFF this year. Two weeks prior, I was in Washington, D.C. for a Bernard Herrmann festival and wasn’t sure if I could swing it. However, everything happily worked out and I was heading back to Cali-for-i-A again and humming “Going Hollywood.”
I arrived on the Wednesday the day before the festival started, giving me the opportunity to attend a book signing of the film fashion book “Creating the Illusion” by Jay Jorgensen and Donald Scoggins. I was most excited about this presentation because it was held at the Hollywood Heritage Museum, which is located in the Laskey-DeMille Barn. Built in 1913, the barn was one of the first studios in Hollywood. In 2006, I tried to visit the museum but it was closed.
The museum had interesting pieces of memorabilia such as Marion Davies’ doll collection, a costume from the 1925 Ben-Hur, and the Charlie Chaplin outfit Gloria Swanson wore in Sunset Blvd.
The festival ran from Thursday, April 28 through Sunday, May 1. TCMFF begins in the evening on Thursday with two film slots. There is also a red carpet event where the celebrities attending the festival walk the red carpet before the opening film, which was “All the President’s Men.”
This year, I skipped the first and two films to watch the red carpet attendees and was able to see:
- Former child star, Darryl Hickman
- Actor, producer Norman Lloyd
- Former child star, Ted Donaldson
- Actress Lee Meriwether
- Actor and former TCM Essentials host, Alec Baldwin
- Actress Katharine Houghton
- Director Roger Corman
- Actor Louis Gossett
- Chris Lemmon, son of Jack Lemmon
- Italian actress Gina Lollobrigdia
The films I saw during throughout the festival included:
- Los Tallos Amargos (1956)—An Argentinian noir. The title translates to “The Bitter Stems”
- He Ran All the Way (1951)—John Garfield’s last film before his 1952 death
- When You’re in Love (1937)—World premiere restoration with special guest Jennifer Grant, Cary Grant’s daughter
- Batman (1966)—with special guests Lee Meriwether and Adam West
- Manchurian Candidate (1962)—with special guest Angela Lansbury
- Roar (1981)—Midnight screening of Tippi Hedren Film
- 90th anniversary of Vitaphone—A presentation on the dawn of sound and 7 shorts
- The Long Goodbye (1972)—with special guest Elliot Gould
- Band of Outsiders (1964)—with special guest Anna Karina
- Gog (1953)—Midnight showing of 3D restoration
- One Potato, Two Potato (1964)—with special guest director Larry Peerce
- Network (1976)—with special guest Faye Dunaway
Of these films, my favorites were “The Long Goodbye” (1972) and “One Potato, Two Potato,” but neither of these were new discoveries for me. In fact, I just watched both in February and March 2016. However, I enjoyed so much on my television that I wanted to revisit both on the big screen, and I don’t regret it. My TV in my apartment is quite small, and when I watched “The Long Goodbye,” I felt like I missed some important nuances at the beginning. The film was gorgeous on the big screen in 35mm, and I loved seeing it with an audience, especially when they started to chuckle when a very young Arnold Schwarzenegger appears in an early role. It was equally cool to see this screening because Elliott Gould was interviewed prior to the film and I also saw him interviewed at Club TCM an hour before.
“One Potato, Two Potato” is a very simple film but has a message that’s more powerful than almost any other film I have ever seen. While I was crushed at the ending when I watched it on my TV, I was sobbing in the movie theater.
Of those new-to-me favorites, I really enjoyed “When You’re in Love” with Cary Grant and Grace Moore because it was a fun and humorous musical romp. The 90 years of Vitaphone screening is also in my top two favorite festival moments. Audiences had the opportunity to see Vitaphone shorts that hadn’t been viewed in 87 years! My favorites of the seven shorts were the comedic duo, the Beau Brummels and Baby Rose Marie (who you may know from the Dick Van Dyke Show) singing her heart out. I also really enjoyed “Roar” (1981). It was so bizarre and disturbing, but I also have never laughed so much during a film while not being certain if I should laugh or not. It’s incredibly difficult to describe how you feel while watching it, so I suggest looking it up.
Of all the films I watched, I wasn’t a fan of “Band of Outsiders,” which is probably an unpopular opinion. Of the French New Wave filmmakers, I’m a François Truffaut fan (who also used Bernard Herrmann as a composer) and not so much Jean-Luc Godard. It was awesome to see Anna Karina but the film to me dragged. I guess some people would automatically say “It’s because you didn’t get it” because I feel like it’s one of those films people say they liked just to sound smart. But I fell asleep and didn’t feel like I missed much. I also was pretty surprised when Anna Karina said it took three weeks for her male co-stars to learn “The Madison” dance. Maybe it’s because I’m a dancer, but it looked like a dance that anyone could learn in a day.
Films I Regret Not seeing:
There are some time slots that I regret eating during. I most regret missing “Private Property” (1960) because I was eating lunch. Other films landed during films or presentations I was attending. I hate that I missed “A House Divided” (1931), Bulldog Drummond Strikes Back (1934), Buena Sera, Mrs. Campbell (1968), the documentary “Harold and Lillian,” “I’ve Always Loved You” (1946) and “Repeat Performance” (1947).
Many TCMFF fans missed the 1933 pre-code “Double Harness” starring William Powell and Ann Harding and I was almost shocked by the popularity. It’s a great film and has been shown frequently on TCM since it was restored in April 2007 with several other presumed to be lost films such as Rafter Romance, One Man’s Journey and Stingaree. I guess I figured most TCM viewers had watched it in the past, especially because it aired a few months back during the pre-code festival on TCM. FYI: It’s airing Friday, May 27, at 11 a.m. ET.
This year I saw the least amount of films I have ever watched at TCMFF. This is partially because I opted for some of the special events like director Francis Ford Coppola’s hand and foot print ceremony (which was attended by director Peter Bogdanovitch), an interview with Elliott Gould held in Club TCM at the Roosevelt Hotel, a presentation on the Art of Film Scores by Academy Award-winning composer Michael Giacchino, and “My First Time in Hollywood” with presentations by Nancy Olson and David Ladd.
I also took some time to stop and eat at least one meal a day. For those of you who have never attended, you have to make a difficult decision: Do I eat? Or do I see this really cool film that I’ve never seen before? Since I got sick the last two years, I decided to take a few breaks and not push myself too hard. For example, at my first festival in 2013 (when I was a few years younger), I watched 16 films with no meal breaks. This year I watched 11.
And even while not booking ever slot with a film, it was still an outstanding time. I’ll be back next year, and most likely with my parents.