TCMFF…abide and endure

Ghosts and the rapidly beating hearts of film geeks collided. I was in heaven. We descended on Hollywood like moths to flames looking forward to a weekend filled with movies, Hollywood, friends and magic. And we got it all. The “we” is the thousands of classic film fans who attended the Turner Classic Movies Film Festival (TCMFF) last week, our Mecca.


I was just one of the thousands, like so many others I’m a life-long classic film fan and enthusiast whose dream became reality when I sat in what is dubbed Club TCM at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel for the press conference that preceded the festival. Before me sat Robert Osborne – in our Mecca he is our guru. The TCM host, author and film historian is as dapper in person as he is on television. More importantly (and impressively) is the passion with which he describes films and classic Hollywood stars and the genuine affection he has for those who make the trek to the TCMFF and for all those others who make Turner Classic Movies (TCM) what it is but are unable to attend the festival.


I must note here that throughout the festival it was made clear by all TCM personnel that they are aware the fans and supporters of TCM make it what it is today. Ben Mankiewicz discussed it during his meeting with the press as did several others in panels that preceded the official start of the festival.  Proof positive of all of it is the fact TCM chose to give media credentials to many bloggers, me included, recognizing how passionately we pay forward the TCM love.  Ben even mentioned the growing popularity and importance of TCMparty, the twitter hashtag many of us follow as we watch films on TCM and share commentary.  Started by Paula Guthat, who manages the @TCM_party handle, it has become our own version of an online, mini TCMFF through which we share our love of the classic films that connect us all year round.  Connections, I might add, that proved quite real as we encountered each other at the TCMFF.  Friends united by a love of classic film.

Mentioned during the “Meet TCM” panel and worthy of note (Although not surprising if you’re one of the many who has his/her television tuned to TCM during every waking moment) is that TCM brand testing has shown the classic film network second only to Apple in the passion it evokes from its fans (note I almost said “followers”). We abide and we endure.

On that press day, as Robert Osborne answered questions, the love and admiration were felt throughout the historic Blossom Ballroom inside the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel – site of the very first Academy Awards banquet. I was so taken by Mr. Osborne I forgot about the history of the room. I can assure you that under “normal” circumstances I’d have been speechless just to be there – but the man eclipsed the room that day.

I can go on and on about the many great moments before the official start of the festival, including meeting and spending time with several great film friends and bloggers, but if I discuss those in detail, I’d never end this post. Let me just say that meeting those people, talking to TCM staff, running into other festival attendees on elevators or on lines is as big a part of the entire TCMFF experience as are the films themselves. I loved every moment and every person whose passion for and knowledge of the movies cannot be measured.

Now to what I saw… You can take a look at what the method to my madness was in general terms in the original TCMFF plans I’d posted here.

Overall I’m very pleased with the films I chose to watch and the events I attended – a nice balance of film, history and glamour – Hollywood style. That said, the decision-making throughout the festival was excruciating with not one easy choice to be made. But, I decided to let it go, and enjoy…and medicate! (Well, OK, I made up the medicate part but it could have well been the case.)

Opening night, Thursday, April 25.

Ernst Lubitsch’, Ninotchka at Chinese Multiplex 6

Eager to get my movie watching under way, I skipped the opening night party to head to the Multiplex and my first film, a favored comedy with a superb script and cast headed by Greta Garbo and Melvyn Douglas. This was my first time watching Garbo on a big screen and when she laughed, it was glorious! If interested you can take a look at a full post I dedicated to

Nicola Lubitsch discussing her favorite of her father's films
Nicola Lubitsch discussing her favorite of her father’s films

Ninotchka here.

Interviewed by film historian, author and documentarian, Cari Beauchamp, the screening of Ninotchka (1939) was introduced by Nicola Lubitsch, daughter of the great director. I really enjoyed listening to her brief commentary, an animated one during which she

mentioned that Ninotchka is her favorite of her father’s films, “it’s a perfect film. The first of Garbo’s films where we get to see her thought process and how it evolves on-screen.” She went on to say the director would act out everyone’s part to show them what he wanted, which was also a way for him to live out his dream of becoming an actor, which she believes remained a passion for him. The last request asked of Nicola that day was for her to describe “the Lubitsch touch” and she said, “His imagination, sophistication and admiration for ‘less is more.’ He let the audience imagine for themselves, acknowledging their intelligence. He let the audience be the fourth wall.”

William A. Wellman’s, Safe in Hell* at Chinese Multiplex 4

well jr
Wellman, Jr. speaking to Bogle before the Screening of SAFE IN HELL

Author and film historian, Donald Bogle interviewed William Wellman, Jr. who spoke about his father’s career and a few details about Safe in Hell (1931), a somewhat strange pre-code film, if you ask me – albeit fun to watch in a packed house! “Fun” that is if one forgets the not-too-happy ending. My favorite part of the film is the performance of Dorothy Mackaill, the leading lady who plays a prostitute who fights against how she is treated by men, which is quite something for a film of this era. Also worthy of note is the film’s depiction of African-Americans, also unfortunately uniquely uncommon for films in 1931.  And I must give a special mention to Nina Mae McKinney who plays the hotel manager, Leonie who has the opportunity to sing a couple of songs in the film – songs and performances I really enjoyed.

Safe in Hell is a film I’d like to watch again. Wellman’s in your face direction and the fact I am just getting started in my journey through pre-codes demands more attention.  Not to mention that on that Friday night screening, I was still reeling from meeting several of my online friends in person – a joyous occasion compounded by the fact they saved me a seat for this screening.  The bond was cemented!

Day Two, Friday, April 26

Charles Laughton’s, The Night of the Hunter at The Egyptian Theater

It’s the second day of TCMFF and I’m starting it with one of my favorite films of all time, Charles Laughton’s, stunning The Night of the Hunter (1955). Charles Laughton was influenced by German Expressionists and silent film directors and intended to make The Night of the Hunter a “nightmarish Mother Goose tale from a child’s point of view.” He achieved that in spades and I’ll add The Night of the Hunter is as great a first directorial effort as has ever been featured on the silver screen.

In attendance at the screening of The Night of the Hunter was Preston Neal Jones, author of “Heaven and Hell to Play With: The Filming of The Night of the Hunter.” I listened to a few of his stories after the movie and asked him to sign a copy of his book. He did so with the message, “To Aurora, abide and endure,” taken from the famous quote spoken by the character of Rachel Cooper (Lillian Gish) in the film.  I heeded that message and it became my festival “motto,” if you will – appropriately relevant in some ways to the TCMFF itself.

Back to the film – Laughton chose his own cast for this film and in order to prepare he watched all of D.W. Griffith’s films. It’s only natural he’d then want Lillian Gish in the film. However, when Laughton approached her Ms. Gish was less than enthusiastic, asking the first-time director why he wanted HER. He replied, “when I first went to the movies the audience sat leaning forward, straight…I want that again.”

I watched The Night of the Hunter at The Egyptian Theater, which turned out to be my favorite venue at the TCMFF and the one I watched the most screenings in by happenstance. This screening was a wonderful experience. Laughton delivers big time and reaches his goal of ensuring a riveted audience, leaning forward. I must mention that much to my surprise, I was moved to tears during this film. Having seen it countless times, my reaction was quite unexpected. But there’s no denying it – Hunter is a powerful and memorable film with images that both haunt and enchant.  This one should be seen on the big screen, perhaps more so than many others – including Ben-Hur and its unforgettable chariot race, if I dare say.

“The wind blows and the rain’s a-cold. Yet they abide…They abide and they endure.”

Richard Fleischer’s, The Narrow Margin* at The Egyptian Theater

The “czar of Noir,” Eddie Muller interviewed actress Jacqueline White who introduced the film. Ms. White looks wonderful and is delightful, telling several funny anecdotes about her life and career. When asked why

Jacqueline White talks to Eddie Muller about The Narrow Margin
Jacqueline White talks to Eddie Muller about THE NARROW MARGIN

The Narrow Margin (1952) was her last film, she explained how her husband was less than thrilled with her movie career. She loved acting and the experience of making Margin, which took only three weeks to film. However, her husband would say things like, “don’t worry, the children and I will be alright” when she left for work or returned each evening. Family (with a smidgen of guilt) won out.  It was our loss.

Ms. White also seemed a bit astonished at the subject and love of “film noir,” a term she referred to as “entirely new” because it was never mentioned in all the years she worked in the business. The new-to-me, The Narrow Margin is a hoot, by the way. A wonderfully witty, yet down and dirty noir. I loved the dialogue, delivered with expert precision.

Worthy of mention – later that day, while at the Roosevelt Hotel with my new friend, a blogger I admire greatly, Laura of Laura’s Miscellaneous Musings, we ran into Eddie Muller (the first time I met him). I mentioned how much I’d enjoyed The Narrow Margin and his interview with Ms. White. I mentioned that it was my first time seeing that film. He then asked me somewhat out of the blue, “OK, tell me why you’re here.” I responded, “For the movies. I mean, I’ve already been moved immeasurably several times today.” He then turned to the gentleman he was speaking to when we approached and said, “See. That’s it. No other audience would say that.” Indeed, throughout the festival, at different events one was apt to hear how the fans of TCM and attendees of this festival are the most knowledgable and passionate anywhere.

Alfred Hitchcock’s, Notorious at The Egyptian Theater

By this point I’d seen four films on 35mm, all wonderful prints. This was to be my one and only disappointment, as far as that goes. Although it didn’t diminish my joy at watching Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman and Claude Rains in one of my favorite Hitchcock

Rose McGowan introducing Notorious
Rose McGowan introducing NOTORIOUS

films, I was surprised with the poor quality of the print. There were black marks at several instances and there was even some skipping through a couple of scenes. I thought it strange that other parts of the film looked gorgeous. I know next to nothing about the “mechanics” of film and the restoration process but must say I find it rather surprising (again) that this was the best print available.

Actress, Rose McGowan introduced Notorious (1946) stating it is one of her favorites. She briefly mentioned how Hitchcock often got around the Hays Code with humor in many of his films, Notorious being a prime example of that. Most notably true in this case as he managed to get by the censors with one of the longest, (greatest) screen kisses of all time, a personal favorite, when The Code allowed for no kisses that went over a few moments. GO, HITCH!

Hollywood Home Movies at Club TCM at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel

Randy Haberkamp and Lynne Kirste, curators from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) presented several clips of Hollywood home

Actress, Faye McKenzie (center) with Randy Haberkamp and Lynne Kirste (AMPAS)
Actress, Faye McKenzie (center) with Randy Haberkamp and Lynne Kirste (AMPAS)

movies from the Academy’s collection. These included behind the scenes color clips taken during the filming of George Stevens’, Gunga Din (1939). In attendance was actress Fay McKenzie who narrated footage taken of her doing stage shows both while on various stage and behind the scenes, sharing moments with the likes of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz on sets and locations.

Also present was the irrepressible Mitzi Gaynor who stepped into the room to loud applause, stepped front and center saying that she ran into a fan before she applied her make-up that day. The fan asked her, “are you Mitzi Gaynor?” to which she replied, “NOT YET!”  What a hoot and so full of energy! Mitzi narrated movies taken during the filming of Henry Koster’s, My Blue Heaven (1950), which stars Betty Grable and Dan Dailey. Gaynor admitted both to being in awe of Grable and having had a huge crush on Dailey.  Bob Koster, son of Henry Koster was also in attendance and told several stories about his father’s work ethic and his admiration for actors.

The entire presentation of footage was wonderful with fun backstories and anecdotes on the stars featured in them. The movies will eventually be part of the planned AMPAS museum, I believe.

The fabulous Ms. Gaynor as she delivered the “NOT YET” line.

Elia Kazan’s, On the Waterfront at Grauman’s Chinese Theater

This evening I was as thrilled to see Elia Kazan’s, On The Waterfront (1954) on the big screen as I was to finally to step foot in Grauman’s Chinese Theater. Oh, yes, not to mention seeing Eva Marie Saint for the first time as well. Ms. Saint was introduced and interviewed by Ben Mankiewicz, popular (and handsome) host about town. The best part of the interview happened when Ben brought up the subject of his wearing jeans, which Eva Marie has always frowned upon. As she described how much she’s always disliked it, Mr. Mankiewicz stood and took off his jeans on the spot, revealing the more appropriate dress pants underneath. It was obvious and enjoyable to see what a great relationship these two have.  Clearly, they enjoy each other’s company.

Mutual admiration – Eva Marie Saint and Ben Mankiewicz before the screening of ON THE WATERFRONT

Mr Mankiewicz also tried – yet again – to get a definitive answer from Eva Marie as to who she preferred, Cary Grant, with whom she made the fabulous, North by Northwest in 1959, or Marlon Brando, with whom she shared her on-screen debut. She explained she can’t choose between them, “Cary Grant was perfect and Marlon…well…he was Marlon.”

As far as the screening goes, I wasn’t any more moved than I usually am during the extraordinarily acted, On the Waterfront. Mankiewicz stated that night that he never tires of saying that Ms. Saint’s performance in the film is the best debut film performance ever. That’s some statement but it is true.

Regarding this particular screening I’ll just add that I learned Grauman’s is not a venue that accommodates my preference for sitting toward the front of the theater. I did so for this film and felt I was way too close for the huge screen. The close-ups were a bit overwhelming and lost some clarity – I believe due to my being too close. That said, I loved being in that historic place with all those wonderful people in the dark.

Day Three, Saturday, April 27

Patting myself on the back for starting my third day at TCMFF with another stellar choice and one of the greatest movie stars

Beck and Maltin introduce the line-up of Bugs Bunny cartoons
Beck and Maltin introduce the line-up of Bugs Bunny cartoons

of all time with “Bugs Bunny’s 75th Birthday Bash.” Presenting a collection of ten classic cartoons, specifically chosen to show the evolution of Bugs Bunny through the years were Jerry Beck and Leonard Maltin. The introduction by the two very enthusiastic film historians and animation experts included tidbits about how Bugs wasn’t fully formed over night but he would eventually be one of Warner Bros.’ biggest stars, playing opposite the likes of Humphrey Bogart. They mentioned, all too briefly for the likes of me, the extraordinary talent of Mel Blanc and all the animators at WB. Also interesting to note was that despite the different directors who worked on the classic cartoons, each giving them a distinctive style, Bugs always remained Bugs – they never perverted him.

Over 150 Bugs Bunny shorts were made at Warner Bros. so choosing ten must have been murder on Jeff Beck who curated the collection to be shown at the TCMFF.  The line-up began with what is considered the first official Bugs Bunny cartoon, Tex

Bugs and Elmer in "What's Opera, Doc?"
Bugs and Elmer in “What’s Opera, Doc?”

Avery’s, A Wild Hare (1940), the first in which Bugs says, “What’s up, Doc?” and ended with Chuck Jones’, What’s Opera, Doc? (1957), which to me best illustrates how wonderful the collaboration was between Mel Blanc and Arthur Q. Bryan, who voiced Elmer Fudd, one of the few characters not voiced by Blanc.

This was a fantastic screening and a perfect way to start the day.  Every person I’ve spoken to who was present has said they would have happily sat through ten more cartoons.  It was a great line-up of gorgeous, pristine animation and a lot of laughs.  With all due respect to all other animators and studios, but animation has never matched the quality of these Warner Bros. cartoons, in my humble opinion.  Leonard Maltin reminded us all that these shorts were never intended as Saturday morning fare, they were not made for kiddie audiences – they were made to be shown in theaters as part of movie line-ups to precede feature films.  But as I looked around the theater that Saturday morning, every face in the face was transported to a “happy place” and we were all children enjoying the sights and sounds of Bugs Bunny.  This was a highlight.

Frank Capra’s, The Donovan Affair* at The Egyptian Theater

Then I stepped into the definitive standout screening at the TCMFF, Frank Capra’s, The Donovan Affair (1929) with live audio accompaniment produced by Bruce Goldstein.  I dedicated a post to this unique screening, which you can read here – to avoid further rambling I’ll add nothing further.

Bruce Goldstein and cast during the performance of THE DONOVAN AFFAIR at the Egyptian.

Nicholas Ray’s, They Live by Night* at Chinese Multiplex 6

Since I’d chosen Bugs Bunny over Jane Fonda’s foot and handprints ceremony early that morning, I intended to attend the

Eddie Muller and Susan Ray discussing They Live by Night
Eddie Muller and Susan Ray discussing THEY LIVE BY NIGHT

screening of Mark Rydell’s, On Golden Pond (1981), which Jane Fonda introduced.  However, I was on such a high from the screening of The Donovan Affair I couldn’t bear the “downer” that is On Golden Pond, as much as I love the film and the performances in it.  So, I decided on the darkness of noir and went to watch another new-to-me film, Nicholas Ray’s, They Live by Night (1948) introduced by the director’s widow, Susan Ray.

Interviewed by Eddie Muller, Susan Ray mentioned that They Live by Night was Nicholas Ray’s favorite film.  The 1948 film noir stars Farley Granger and Cathy O’Donnell and features an impressive score with original music by Leigh Harline and Woody Guthrie (uncredited).  I felt luke-warm toward this film, I have to say, impressed most by the music and George E. Diskant’s cinematography.  Still, I’m glad I saw it and listened to the discussion, the standout moment being when Susan Ray mentioned Nicholas didn’t like old people, he “saw the juice and potential of youth” and admitted he’d probably want nothing to do with her at this point in time.  An uncomfortable admission that warranted an “awww” from a few of us in the audience but she was sincere and it was appreciated – and telling.

Alex Trebek hosting "What's the Score" at Club TCM
Alex Trebek hosting “What’s the Score” at Club TCM

I went from the fun, darkness of noir back to Club TCM for “What’s the Score” with Alex Trebek.  I didn’t participate but enjoyed the energy and excitement as festival attendees created teams and competed in a trivia contest.  In truth, I did more socializing during this event than participate in the trivia from the back of the room where I stood with some of my new friends.  But everyone who partook in the festivities had a blast – I could tell from the laughter that permeated the room.

Michael Curtiz’, Mildred Pierce at the Egyptian Theater

This screening was on my list of must-sees for several reasons, not the least of which was the introduction by Ann Blyth who depicted despicable, Veda in the 1945 film.  Ms. Blyth was interviewed by Robert Osborne and spoke about how she has nothing but fond memories about working with Joan Crawford.  I have to admit I was completely awe-struck by Ann, who looks wonderful.  The energy and excitement in the house that night was palpable.  Mildred Pierce (1945) is one of those films everyone loves with the mega-what Crawford in her huge, line-backer shoulder pads, the ever-fabulous Eve Arden and her memorable lines and delivery and the one we most love to hate, Blyth as Veda.  As I was hoping, I felt the air as the slaps were delivered in the film as I sat in my “geek seat” front and center.  This was a fabulous experience – I can now boast having seen this gem on the big screen.

Robert Osborne and Ann Blyth on stage prior to the MILDRED PIERCE screening

Then for the second night in a row – disappointment – in myself as I missed the midnight screening of Erle C. Kenton’s, creepy Island of Lost Souls (1932) on this night and the cheesy goodness of Ed Wood’s, Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959) the previous night.  Several of my friends attended the screenings as I intended to.  However, the festival fun got the best of me and, planning early screenings each day I simply couldn’t miss, I chose to turn in instead of partake in the fun of the midnight shows.  Given I couldn’t quite sleep due to the excitement of each day, I regret having missed these.  But so it goes.

Day Four, Sunday, April 28

Charles Vidor’s, Gilda at The Egyptian Theater

The heat.  The double entendres.  The love.  The hate.  The frustration.  The beauty.  All grander at The Egyptian.  What an experience it was to see Rita Hayworth and Glenn Ford love-hating each other in this noir classic.  Truly greater and bigger  than I’ve ever seen it.  There was nothing about this I didn’t love, including the enthusiastic audience and its responses to every iconic scene.  A joy to behold and be a part of.

Debra Winger introducing GILDA

I have to mention that I watched this movie with Michael Alatorre of It Rains…You Get Wet and his teenage son whose enthusiastic responses during Gilda (1946) made my day.  It warms the heart of this movie geek to see young people enjoying these fabulous films, films that center on story and characterization.

This screening was introduced by Debra Winger, of whom I’m a big fan so it was a thrill to see her up close.  She’s a big fan of Gilda and mentioned how appreciative she is of TCM for featuring this type of genre film, which was released before “naturalistic acting came to be.”  She suggested we have to watch these types of films with 2-d glasses, which makes our acceptance of the storyline much easier and enjoyable – “wonderfully enjoyable” is what she actually said.  Winger also said she intends to bring her 15-year-old to the festival next year to enjoy the classics she so loves.  She then left us with what is her favorite line in the film, “If I’d been a ranch, they would’ve named me “The Bar Nothing”.

Women of Early Hollywood with Cari Beauchamp at Club TCM

Another wonderful presentation at Club TCM. Cari Beauchamp is an award-winning historian, documentary filmmaker, and author of Without Lying Down: Frances Marion and the Powerful Women of Early Hollywood and based this presentation on Frances Marion and her circle

The "Women of Early Hollywood" presentation at Club TCM
The “Women of Early Hollywood” presentation at Club TCM

of powerful women who made a mark in early Hollywood.  She started the presentation, which also featured some wonderful images, saying that women were “given a chance in early Hollywood because there was a need for product.”  She mentioned the work of Lois Weber, a progressive liberal who was the highest paid and most famous director in early Hollywood.  Women enjoyed great success as screenwriters during those early days in film with nearly half of all films before 1925 written by women.  Most in demand and most prolific was Frances Marion.  She remains the only woman to win two Academy Awards for writing.

The presentation was fascinating and well-attended.  Another great choice made by this attendee!

Sydney Pollack’s, Three Days of the Condor in tribute to Max von Sydow at Grauman’s Chinese Theater

I must mention that I am aware that the “proper” name for this historic venue is the TCL Chinese Theater but it doesn’t seem right to refer to it

An engaged Osbourne talks to von Sydow before the screening of Three Days of the Condor
An engaged Osborne talks to von Sydow before the screening of THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR

by anything other than its historic, original name here given renovations are starting to convert the landmark venue into an IMax theater.  I won’t get into how I feel about that except to say it’s the same way all of us do who value history and the classics.  It doesn’t seem right.  As Robert Osborne stated on the last screening of the festival, (paraphrasing) those in charge of the renovation stated they would keep history front and center.  We can only wait and see how this change affects a venue so central to the TCMFF.

Now, for the screening of Three Days of the Condor (1975), a great thriller and the most recent film I watched at TCMFF.  I chose this one mainly because of the appearance by Max von Sydow, whose “conversation with” event I’d missed earlier in the festival.  Interviewed by Robert Osborne, von Sydow spoke for just a few minutes prior to the film’s screening about why he chose to do Condor – its wonderful script.  He loved the story and was intrigued by the character he plays in the film, Joubert, calling him “a man with surprises.”  Charmingly, von Sydow admitted that he “absolutely” likes watching his own films and ended by saying he’s currently working on a project he can’t talk about but mentioned he “still enjoys acting but is getting very lazy” these days.

von Sydow is moved by the warm reception
von Sydow is moved by the appreciation

Robert Osborne’s introduction of the actor was preceded by a short film career retrospective.  von Sydow was then welcomed by an enthusiastic audience, which seemed to move him.  As for me, I sat close to the front for a clear view of the screen legend but then moved further back, having learned my lesson with the screening of On the Waterfront in this theater.  I thoroughly enjoyed Three Days of the Condor from a more viewer-friendly spot in the middle.

Buster Keaton’s, The General at Grauman’s Chinese Theater

This was a bitter-sweet screening as it ended the TCMFF.  Still, watching a newly restored The General (1926) in this theater was very exciting.  I’d never seen Buster Keaton on the big screen nor a silent film with orchestra accompaniment.  It was wonderful!  Not only fun due to the glorious restored print of the film and the music provided by the

The Alloy Orchestra accompanies The General
The Alloy Orchestra accompanies THE GENERAL

Alloy Orchestra, but also enjoying the film with friends I’d shared much of the TCMFF with, Alan Hait, trivia buff extraordinaire, Joel Williams of Joel’s Classic Film Passion and Will McKinley of Cinematically Insane.  Many others I’d gotten to know were in the packed theater on this, our last screening of the festival, which started with an introduction by our beloved Robert Osborne.  Osborne’s introduction included information about this event being the penultimate at Grauman’s before the renovation would take place, information which resulted in booing from an audience of classics lovers.  He urged everyone to take a moment after the show to take a long, last look at the historic theater, which hosted the greatest talents in film throughout its famed existence.

Before The General, we were treated to a screening of Keaton’s 1920 short, One Week (1920), which was hilarious.  Again, I’d already seen this but never on a big screen, which amplified the enjoyment of the gags immeasurably.  I laughed till I cried watching this wonderful short.

Then, when the screenings were over and the lights came on we all paused in Grauman’s.  It was a memorable few moments of the festival for me as I looked around, taking in all that makes up Grauman’s, imagining the great classic stars that occupied its seats and the glorious films that graced its screen and saw everyone else doing the same.  Camera flashes filled

Robert Osbourne introduces The General
Robert Osborne introduces THE GENERAL

the grand theater as we all tried to capture history on modern gadgets.  What a thrill it was to be there on that night.

Despite the fact I noted a few screenings as standouts, in truth I enjoyed every single one and all the Club TCM events I attended.  The energy at every screening and festival event was glorious.  I was impressed by the TCMFF preparation, the dedicated and caring TCM staff and volunteers and the fans.  Other highlights during the festival for me was my ever-so-brief meeting with Robert Osborne right after the press conference the day before the festival started.  He was kind enough to take a picture with me during which he held me close, warm and inviting, enveloping me into the exquisite four-day journey I was about to embark on.  Every moment, sublime – four days in a world unlike anything I’d ever experienced. My world.  A reverence for film that starts from the TCM brass down to the volunteers at each venue I highly enjoyed talking to, many of whom shared their own classic film stories with me. Hollywood breathed classics and I soaked it up.

Already on a cloud of classic energy I had another “moment” the next day when I walked up to actor Norman Lloyd as I saw him enter Club TCM.  I shook his hand.  Not one to like to “bother” people, I was clearly caught up in the excitement of it all.

We all pause to soak in history
We all pause to soak in history

Regrets?  I have a few – I didn’t get to see Jane Withers or Jane Fonda or Mel Brooks or Marge Champion and missed many movies I would have loved to see, which is part of both the woes and thrills of TCMFF.  No doubt those “misses” leave one wanting more!

The 2014 TCMFF promises to be extra special as TCM celebrates its 20th anniversary.  I plan to be there.  And if you ever take a recommendation I make to heart this would be it – do all you can, possible and impossible to be there too!

I’d like to end this diatribe by expressing a sincere thank you to the people I met throughout the TCMFF who expressed appreciation for this blog and my tweets on classic film.  It never ceases to astound me anyone would enjoy reading my classic film rantings but since they seem to, I attribute it to the fact I boast to being nothing more than a fan.  To those who stated this blog is “authentic” it is because of that – I know nothing but a love of classic film.  Although I’m not chased by a Harry Powell, I too am blessed by the likes of Lillian Gish if only by her on a big screen.  I abide and endure with and through an endless array of classics I never tire of.  I did the same throughout the TCMFF – abided with an inspired schedule and endured long days of/in filmdom.  It was heaven on Earth for the likes of me.  How blessed I truly am I can’t put into words!




“Every great film should seem new every time you see it.” – Roger Ebert

His words never rang truer for me than during four days in April, 2013.


Special notations:

Films noted with an * are new-to-me films.

In all I watched thirteen films, which seems an under achievement in this environment, five of those were “new-to-me” films.

With the exception of the few less-than-perfect images I took myself, all photographs included herein are courtesy of TCM.

Finally, if you actually made it through reading this entire post a very special THANK YOU!  I realize it is long and probably why so many bloggers choose to break up these types of event posts to do day by day analysis and reminiscences.  I prefer a one-shot, ginormous post for the one-shot I got to first attend this ginormous event.  Although it is highly unlikely I won’t mention it several more times in posts yet to come.

25 thoughts

    1. Philip, you’re a dear! I’m glad you enjoyed this diatribe. I’ve a blogathon obligation to attend to in the next couple of days but plan a post dedicated to the fabulous one-two punch on early Hollywood I experienced – your tour and the visit to the Hollywood Heritage Museum. 😀


  1. Your time at the Festival sounds like Heaven. Thanks for sharing.

    Luckily, Toronto is a good movie town and we’ve had the opportunity to catch many classics on the big screen, particularly Buster Keaton films. The Keaton movies always play to packed houses and the venues rock with the laughter of ages. What joy!

    1. It was heaven – thanks for stopping in!

      I must visit Toronto soon! And I’ve absolutely no excuse for not seeing more classics on the big screen given I live so close to NYC! I have to change that awful behavior!


  2. I loved the line you used to describe the picture taking after the screening of The General: “…as we all tried to capture history on modern gadgets.” What a wonderful post of every event you went to at the TCMFF. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this.

    Thanks also for the shout-out for my blog! 🙂

    1. Thanks so much, Joel! My pleasure to give you the shout out! So many greats to mention but I spent the most time with you guys so thought it a good idea! I had a blast!


  3. Congratulations on receiving a media pass to the TCMFestival! What a splendid treat. And, this was a truly great post – it’s very obvious your love and appreciation for Hollywoodland. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks for stopping in and your comment, Katy! It was wonderful as I said over and over again in the post. I am truly lucky to have gotten the media credentials. And yes, Hollywoodland is my passion – just love everything about it!


  4. Yes, the post was enormous… And great to read! Thanks for sharing your experiences, I’ll sure head to the Donovan Affair post, a film I’m most interested after reading festival posts. It seemed to be a lot of fun. I can’t promise to be there next year, but someday, I’ll love to attend it!

    1. LOL!! You made me LOL with the “the post was enormous” comment. Too funny. I could hardly stop. In any case, I’m glad you enjoyed it and hope to see you at the festival soon! What fun we’d have!


  5. coming from me, this post could never be too enormous!!!! This is such a fabulous blog post, bringing the experience to those of us who couldn’t be there. So many of the films mentioned are my favs, and you put it together so eloquently. So glad you got to go to the festival, it’s a dream of mine. I adore the charming and erudite Robert Osborne and miss watching him lead me into a film back when I had TCM. Thanks for sharing this with us Aurora it was such a thrill to read…. Cheers Joey

    1. Thanks so much, Joey! I’m glad you enjoyed this. The only thing that would make the TCMFF better is for all of us – in our circle – to go and share the moements together. One day that WILL happen!!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s