As a teenager, I was an odd duck.
In middle school at age 11, other girls put pictures of O-Town (a band you’ve long since forgotten) in their lockers, but I was gushing about Davy Jones in The Monkees. I wore thick, white headbands to look like a teen of the 1960s, decorated my room with vintage clothing ads and danced the Pony and the Jerk to the Beach Boys.
I was first trying out eyeliner at 14 and attempting (and failing) to make it look like Audrey Hepburn’s after a first time viewing of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (1961).
This same year, I was singing Doris Day tunes, trying to mimic her voice. I wanted to buy a ukulele so I could sing while skipping as she does in “Please, Don’t Eat the Daisies” (1960). Before the big eighth grade dance, I tried to learn the “Mambo/Dance at the Gym” from “West Side Story” (1961) so I would be ready if a big dance scene erupted…it didn’t.
In high school English, we watched “All Quiet on the Western Front” (1930). Knowing I liked classic films, one boy turned around and sneered “This is BORING.” Once at lunch, I wrote “love” and “hate” on my hands to be like Robert Mitchum in “Night of the Hunter” (1955).
At age 17, I tried out red lipstick—that was much too dark for me—so I could look like a 1940s actress and wore black turtlenecks to resemble Audrey Hepburn. I talked about movies no one had ever heard of and read Howard Keel’s autobiography during chemistry class.
With all that said, as an adult I’m still an odd duck. But to you, dear reader, this may not sound abnormal because this was or is you, too.
As an adult, living on my own, little has changed. I still wear red lipstick, talk about films that no one knows or cares about, and almost everything I wear (vintage or not) was purposefully selected with a film or star in mind.
In your daily life, you may feel like an outsider with your film interests, you’re one of the crowd at the annual Turner Classic Movies Classic Film Festival (TCMFF) in Hollywood.
With a love so specific, I feel many classic film fans are quite siloed from others due to our interests. You’re constantly being told that no one but you loves pre-1968 films and few people around you share your enthusiasm.
But events like the TCMFF prove these people wrong. You are surrounded by thousands of people who share that same love and it’s a breath of fresh air!
While I love to see the films and the stars, my favorite part of TCMFF is the people. In this atmosphere, it’s the only place I can talk to a large group of people about the main topic I’m passionate about.
Let me share some examples of interactions to paint this picture:
• Doubling over with laughter as one woman discusses how “Love Story” is basically just Ali McGraw flaring her nostrils
• One friend doing a quick Ruby Keeler tap dance impression beside the pool of the Roosevelt Hotel
• My friend/festival roommate singing a song from “In Search of Castaways” as we go to sleep
• A pal saying his new baby is named after Barbara Stanwyck’s real name
• Standing in line discussing actors we hate and hearing gasps when Walter Pidgeon and Marion Davies are named
• Excited clapping when the movie starts and ends
• Again, doubling over with laughter when a friend says she wants Marie Dressler to play her in her biographical film.
With people like I listed above, you can quote lines from “Tea and Sympathy” to friends, have discussions about Edward Everett Horton, how your dads mutually hate “Calamity Jane,” and how you cry every time Judy Garland sings. All because these fans are just like me and you.
When I started delving into films at age 12 and through college, I would sit and think about how lonely it was to be so passionate about something but know no one who felt the same way. I didn’t think there were other film fans like me out there.
It wasn’t until I started blogging and joined Twitter in 2010 that I realized these people existed, and many of them my age! The people I described above are friendships that have grown over the past five years.
These are people who I consider dear friends. Sometimes even now when I mention the friends I’ve made on Twitter or meeting my boyfriend on classic film Twitter, I get some odd looks (even in 2016, I know). But when I met many of these friends in 2013 at my first TCMFF, it was like running into someone I hadn’t seen in a while.
When I see everyone each film festival, we all pick up where we left off. Hugs are exchanged and questions are asked about parents, new babies, weddings, husbands, jobs, family pets and extra-curricular activities outside of binge-watching old movies. We’ve celebrated happy life events together and sent condolences when there’s been a death in the family. I even have a couple of “Twitter moms.”
The people I communicate with through Twitter live all over the world. These are people I wouldn’t have known otherwise unless there was social media.
I can say without hesitation that these are my favorite people. I feel that I relate more to them than most people in my everyday life. We act alike and share similar interests. We get each other.
I’m thankful that TCMFF gives me the opportunity to meet and revisit with these film fans each year. If you are a classic film fan and feel like no one shares your interest, budget for TCMFF. It’s a place where you feel like you belong.
*Note: I apologize if you were at the festival and we didn’t get a photo together! I was really bad about getting photos with everyone this year for some reason.