TCMFF 2014

A Few Final Thoughts on TCMFF 2014

TCMFF is more physically demanding than I expected.

As I was leaving the airport to come home, there were some employees standing near the entrance to the baggage claim area saying things like, “Have a nice day!” and “Enjoy your visit!” to people as they left. Not me, though. When I walked by, they said, “You’re almost there, you can make it!”  I’m sure I did look pretty exhausted by that point. I was coming right off a very long day at the festival, I was running on very little sleep, my shoe was starting to bother me and I was just ready to go home.

I knew the days would be long, but since I’m a person who likes walking and I generally walk a few hundred miles a year, I thought spending a few days running around within just a few blocks of Los Angeles should be no problem for me. Hahahahaha….no.  Maybe it would have been easy under normal circumstances where I’m eating normally, not jetlagged and not spending over 12 hours a day in theaters.  But I can’t wait to do it again.

The quality of prints were consistently very good.

During press day, Genevieve McGillicuddy and Charles Tabesh said that one of the biggest challenges of programming a festival like this is finding prints in acceptable quality.  Once the festival got started, I quickly appreciated how much effort they put into finding good prints.  The movies I saw were an even mix of digital and 35mm and they were all consistently very good, and in some cases, pristine. The lowest quality print I saw was National Velvet, but that’s completely forgivable considering it was a last minute addition.

The midnight movie selections were perfect.

Reactions to Eraserhead were generally…confused, but there’s no denying that Eraserhead and Freaks are two of the ultimate midnight movies.

You won’t be able to do it all, but what you will do will be amazing.

TCMFF is a bit like having your own On The Town type experience.  Only instead of having one day to do everything you want, you have four days and there will probably be at least two things happening at any given time that you’d love to be doing. (And that’s only if you come strictly for the festival events. If there are other things you want to see and do around town, I recommend either coming a day or two early or staying after the festival.)  I went into the festival with my list of movies and events to go to,  but I also went into it expecting those plans to change at any time.  And they did change, but I’m not sorry they changed, either.

I would have loved to have seen Maureen O’Hara, Jerry Lewis, and Quincy Jones in person, but the things I went to instead of those events and screenings were things I enjoyed so much that if I had it to do all over again, I would have made the exact same choices.  I realize that if I had gone to the Quincy Jones conversation on Friday like I originally planned to, I probably would have ended up missing either Why Worry? or Employees’ Entrance, and since both of those were highlights of the festival for me, I have no regrets.

The festival may be over, but I still have movies to watch.

Since it simply wasn’t possible to see everything, I came home with Fifth Avenue GirlSorcererOn Approval, Written on the Wind and Hat Check Girl on my list of movies I need to see.

The people are as exciting as the movies.

If you’ve been following other bloggers’ coverage of TCMFF, you’ve read a lot of people saying how appropriate it is that the theme for this year’s festival was “Family: The Ties That Bind” because there is a very strong sense of family among attendees.  At the risk of sounding clichéd, they’re all absolutely correct about that.

This was my first time attending the festival and even though I knew many people who were going to be there, it was also my first time getting to meet them in person. Despite the fact that I’ve known some of these people for years, there was still a small part of me that was a little worried that it would be totally weird to spend a few days going up to people and saying, “Hey, I know you from the Internet!”

Once I got there and started seeing people, I realized I had nothing to worry about. Excitement kicks in before you even have time to think of it as being potentially weird.  And after all, they know me from the Internet too and it’s fun for everybody be able to put a voice and a face to the blogs they read. No awkwardness, just an instant sense of camaraderie.  Even in cases where I had read a person’s writing but never personally knew the person behind the blog, it was still like running into an old friend.  I flew out there by myself, but once I got there, there was never a moment where I felt like I was alone.  Getting to spend a few days surrounded by so many friends in this classic film utopia was one of the most completely joyous experiences I’ve ever had.

Remembering Mickey Rooney at TCMFF 2014

Photo courtesy Getty Images.  That's me in the second row with the flower in my hair.  Jessica of Comet Over Hollywood is to my left, Carley of The Kitty Packard Pictorial is on my right.

Photo courtesy Getty Images. That’s me in the second row with a flower in my hair. Jessica of Comet Over Hollywood is to my left, Carley of The Kitty Packard Pictorial is on my right.

Just a few days before the Turner Classic Movie Classic Film Festival kicked off, the film world lost one of its biggest legends — Mickey Rooney. Rooney had attended the festival in previous years and although he wasn’t there physically this year, his presence could still be felt very strongly.

During a press conference on the first day of the festival, Ben Mankiewicz was asked about his experiences working with Rooney and he spoke about the last time Rooney was a guest on the TCM Cruise. During that trip, Rooney had been scheduled to do four Q&A sessions. After doing three of the sessions, he was taken ill. Although it was nothing too serious, considering his age, doctors and TCM staff agreed it was best to cancel the final Q&A session. Not being able to do that Q&A session devastated Rooney. Rooney asked Mankiewicz to visit him in his room and Mankiewicz arrived to find Rooney with tears in his eyes. This was shortly after news had broken about Rooney having been a victim of elder abuse and he had testified before a US Senate committee about it. After having been through all that, for him to be able to go on the TCM Cruise and be among people who appreciated him meant everything to him.

National Velvet Mickey Rooney Elizabeth Taylor

The festival’s main salute to Mickey Rooney came Sunday morning with a screening of National Velvet with Rooney’s long-time friend Margaret O’Brien in attendance. Everything about the tribute was very thoughtful, heartfelt, and moving. National Velvet was selected as the movie to show because in his autobiography, Rooney said the line, “What’s the meaning of goodness if there isn’t a little badness to overcome?” resonated so strongly with him, he wouldn’t mind it being his epitaph.

Margaret O'Brien Eddie Muller TCMFF 2014

Margaret O’Brien wore a beautiful green outfit, which she had recently worn when she had dinner with Mickey on St. Patrick’s Day. Mickey really liked that outfit so she decided to wear it again for this tribute. One thing O’Brien really emphasized is that for the last two years of his life, Rooney was being cared for by people who truly had his best interests at heart. She also spoke of his love of animals and how he enjoyed painting, writing poetry and limericks, and watching the news and Turner Classic Movies. Rooney and O’Brien were working on a movie together, an adaptation of “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” just before he passed away and he was still as passionate about acting as he ever was.

Margaret O'Brien Joey Luft TCMFF 2014

Eddie Muller of the Film Noir Foundation was on hand to lead the discussion with O’Brien. Joey Luft, son of Judy Garland, made a guest appearance to escort O’Brien into the theater. After O’Brien was seated, Luft stepped aside and let O’Brien and Muller do most of the talking, but there was one moment when he couldn’t resist joining the conversation. Since Rooney enjoyed writing poetry, Muller wanted to read a poem Rooney had written called “Flesh and Bones” while a picture of Rooney was displayed on the screen behind him. When the picture failed to come on the screen as planned, Luft came back out to tell the story of how there was a similar problem with a projector at his father Sid Luft’s memorial. Rooney, being the consummate professional that he was, kept things going at that moment by getting up and talking about Sid Luft’s relationship with Judy Garland.

The poem “Flesh and Bones” was lovely. It was a really poignant and honest look back on his life and how even though he wasn’t perfect and with all the ups and downs he encountered in his life, he did the best he could.

Mickey Rooney TCMFF Tribute

The picture of Mickey came up on the screen as we were leaving the theater.

TCMFF 2014, Day 4 — Another Good Thing Comes to an End

Sunday, April 13, 2014:

I went into the final day of the festival with very few plans in mind.  A large part of Sunday’s schedule wasn’t announced until Saturday afternoon, so I didn’t want to get make a bunch of plans, only to end up having to make even more hard decisions once the “To Be Announced” slots were announced.

The Sunday “To Be Announced” slots are typically given to movies that were more popular than expected and deserve a second run.  However, this year, the first “To Be Announced” spot was decided before the festival even started. Since Mickey Rooney had passed away just a few days before the festival, a screening of National Velvet was added to the schedule with Mickey’s long-time friend Margaret O’Brien in attendance to share her memories.

Margaret O'Brien Eddie Muller TCMFF 2014

Photo courtesy TCM

Stay tuned for a post specifically dedicated to this event.  TCM always does an excellent job with memorials and this was no exception.  It was extremely heartfelt and touching; I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house. A very fitting way to remember one of cinema’s most enduring stars.

After a lunch break, Jessica (Comet Over Hollywood), Carley (The Kitty Packard Pictorial/The Black Maria) got in line to see Gone With the Wind at the Chinese Theater.  After the amazing experience of seeing A Hard Day’s Night there the day before, I absolutely loved the idea of seeing Gone With the Wind in that theater.  We only stayed for the first half of the movie, but that was enough to blow me away.  I had seen Gone With the Wind in a theater once before, but this was a totally different experience.  Before, I had sat pretty far back in the balcony.  This time, I was much closer to the screen and the impact of being so close was pretty intense.  The print we saw was the new 75th anniversary print, which looked divine.

Gone With the Wind Intermission TCMFF 2014

As fabulous as it would have been to stay for all of Gone With the Wind, Carley, Jessica and I were really eager to check out The Heart is a Lonely Hunter introduced by Alan Arkin.  Earlier that afternoon, Arkin had recorded a “Live from the TCM Film Festival” interview with Robert Osborne at the Montalban theater.  If the discussion before Heart is a Lonely Hunter was a taste of what’s to come in the Robert Osborne interview, I can’t wait to see that interview; it should be fascinating.

Alan Arkin Ben Mankiewicz TCMFF 2014

Photo courtesy Getty Images

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter was one of my few new-to-me movies of the festival and it was a good one.  Alan Arkin gave an amazing performance in it and even though I could tell from the very beginning that it was going to be a tearjerker of a movie, I wasn’t prepared for just how devastating the ending would be.

After a short break, it was already time for my final movie of the festival — Alfred Hitchcock’s The Lodger.  The Lodger has long been on my list of movies to see, so getting to see it in a stunning digital print with live music by the Mont Alto Orchestra was an incredible way to get to see it for the first time.  And I had the added bonus of watching it with my friend Trevor (A Modern Musketeer). Since Trevor and I became friends because we both love silent films, watching one together in person was a really good way to end the festival.

TCMFF 2014, Day 3 — From “Father of the Bride” to “Freaks”

Saturday, April 12, 2014:

Father of the Bride Spencer Tracy Elizabeth TaylorAfter having ended the previous day’s movies with Eraserhead, I woke up this morning in need of a little levity.  Originally, I had been planning to see Stella Dallas, but decided to go with Father of the Bride instead.  Not only is it a very funny movie, I had never seen a Spencer Tracy or Elizabeth Taylor movie in a theater before.  Plus it had the added bonus of playing in the same theater as the next movie I wanted to see, Godzilla.

Father of the Bride was delightful as always.  Godzilla was so much fun to see with a crowd and boy was the crowd enthusiastic!  This screening was the world premiere of a new restoration of the original Japanese version of Godzilla, in all its Raymond Burr-free glory.  The picture quality was absolutely stunning.  If you have the chance to go see this restoration on the big screen, I very highly recommend it.  Godzilla was introduced by historian Eddie von Mueller and Gareth Edwards, director of the upcoming Godzilla movie.


From Godzilla, it was back to Club TCM to check out the conversation with editor Thelma Schoonmaker hosted by author and historian Cari Beauchamp. In addition to Schoonmaker’s long collaboration with director Martin Scorsese (her work on his films has won three Academy Awards), she was an editor on the groundbreaking documentary Woodstock and was married to legendary British filmmaker Michael Powell, half of the Powell and Pressburger team.  (Fun fact: Martin Scorsese was also an editor/assistant director on Woodstock.  Scorsese brought cufflinks with him to Woodstock because he thought they’d be going out to dinner while they were there.)

Thelma Schoonmaker Cari Beauchamp TCMFF 2014

Photo courtesy Getty Images

Of the movies she’s done with Scorsese, she discussed Raging Bull the most. Raging Bull was a very challenging film to edit because there was so much improvisation from the actors; a challenge revisited with Scorsese’s most recent film, The Wolf of Wall Street.  She doesn’t visit the sets of his movies because she thinks it’s important to have a cold eye in the editing room.  Schoonmaker credits Scorsese with teaching her everything she knows about editing because he’s a director who thinks like an editor. As for what quality Scorsese most admires most in her, he knows he can trust her.  Ever since the time in film school when she helped him fix his student film that hadn’t been cut properly, he’s known she will do what’s right for his films.

Schoonmaker spoke very fondly of her time with husband Michael Powell. She’s very active in preserving her husband’s film legacy and also introduced his film A Matter of Life and Death at the festival.  She plays a role in overseeing the restorations of Powell’s work and mentioned that after this conversation, she was heading out to check some work on a transfer on one of his films.  If you are hoping to see a HD print of The Tales of Hoffman, you’ll be glad to know that she said the original negative is in excellent condition.

Next up was “Hollywood Home Movies: Treasures from the Academy Film Archive.”  We were treated to rare behind-the-scenes footage and personal home movies of film legends.  This was a must-see event for me because I knew it would be a totally unique event that I wouldn’t be able to attend elsewhere.  I was definitely not disappointed; the home movies we saw were absolutely fascinating.

The selections included home movies of Florenz Ziegfeld and Billie Burke, an extremely playful Alfred Hitchcock at home with Alma and daughter Pat, Jean Harlow in her dressing room, visitors to Hearst Mansion (including a cameo from Howard Hughes), Gilbert Roland and Constance Bennett with friends on their boat, behind the scenes footage of Gone With the Wind, the It’s a Wonderful Life wrap party picnic, Walt Disney riding on a backyard railroad, location footage of Oklahoma!, behind the scenes of Jerry Lewis on The Geisha Boy, and a montage of movie stars with their pets and other animals.

Vivien Leigh behind the scenes Gone With the Wind

Behind the scenes of Gone With the Wind

My favorite clips were the Ziegfeld/Burke home movies, which included Florenz Ziegfeld frolicking with a butterfly net and a pet elephant trying to walk into daughter Patricia’s playhouse; the Hitchcock home movies; and Jean Harlow in her dressing room.  I found the Jean Harlow footage particularly interesting because it wasn’t official, studio-sanctioned footage; it appeared to be filmed by a friend or MGM employee who was casually testing out their personal home movie camera.  So it doesn’t show “Jean Harlow the movie star,” it’s Jean being herself, casually chatting with the camera operator.  Even when she wasn’t being “Jean Harlow the movie star,” she was captivating to watch.  The hosts from AMPAS said they could tell from some grain on the film that it had originally been filmed in color, but unfortunately, they only had a black and white copy.

The Gone With the Wind behind the scenes footage was a real treat.  It was color 8mm footage that showed Vivien Leigh with her stand in, Clark Gable riding horses with Cammie King, and the setups for filming the scene at Twelve Oaks where Scarlett is surrounded by all the men at the party and the scene where Rhett and Scarlett are on their honeymoon and are having dinner with the can-can dancers in the background.  I was also thrilled to see the It’s a Wonderful Life picnic since that was something Karolyn Grimes had talked about when I saw her at the Redford back in November.

The types of film used for some of the home movies were also unintentionally revealing about the types of people who used it.  The Ziegfeld/Burke home movies were filmed on 35mm, something that would have only been used by the very wealthy in the early 1920s.  The Hitchcock home movies, which dated from 1929-1936, were in color, so it should come as no surprise that he was definitely a person on the cutting edge of film.

After “Hollywood Home Movies,” I headed over to the Chinese theater for A Hard Day’s Night.  I was really torn between seeing A Hard Day’s Night and Bell, Book, and Candle introduced by Kim Novak at the Egyptian.  I had been leaning more toward Bell, Book, and Candle, but I really wanted to see something at the Chinese theater and I was starting to worry that I might not get to see anything there, so A Hard Day’s Night won.

Alec Baldwin Don Was TCMFF 2014

Photo courtesy Getty Images

Beatlemania may have started 50 years ago, but it was still going strong at TCMFF.  I couldn’t have asked for a better venue to see A Hard Day’s Night in. Their sound system is wonderful, so it was a dream to hear all those Beatles classics  that way.  The picture quality was absolutely pristine.  The Chinese theater seats over 900 so it was packed with a lot of enthusiastic fans.  The excitement was palpable and I loved every minute of being a part of it.

A Hard Day’s Night was introduced by Alec Baldwin and music producer Don Was (who has produced albums for Ringo Starr, The Rolling Stones, Bob Seger, Bob Dylan, just to name a few).  Their introduction was one of my favorite introductions of the festival; it was hard to not be engrossed by their enthusiasm.

Then it was time to head to the El Capitan to get in line for The Women.  I joined Raquel (Out of the Past), K.C. (A Classic Movie Blog), and Lara (Backlots), who are exactly the kind of people you want to be in line with to see The Women. I had so much fun discussing the movie with them and quoting the famous, “There’s a name for you ladies…” line in unison.

The Women TCMFF 2014

Photo courtesy Getty Images

Over the course of TCMFF, I saw a lot of movies with very enthusiastic crowds, but I think the crowd for The Women took the cake.  I’m used to people applauding for certain things like a star’s entrance or a name appearing in the opening credits.  Since this is a movie with such an incredible cast, there was a lot of applauding going on.  The crowd went wild for Norma Shearer saying, “I’ve had two years to grow claws, mother! Jungle red!” It’s a fabulous movie to watch at home and even better to see with a crowd.  The Women was introduced by Ben Mankiewicz and actress Anna Kendrick. Much shade was thrown at the 2008 remake.

Freaks Poster

The last movie of the day was the midnight screening of Freaks.  I honestly don’t remember a whole lot about this screening since I was pretty exhausted by the time I got there.  But I’m glad I had to check out one of the ultimate midnight movies on the big screen.

And I just love the fact that I started this day with Father of the Bride and ended it with Freaks. 

TCMFF 2014, Day 2 — 70s Cinema, Silents, and Pre-Codes

Friday, April 11, 2014:

For the first full day of movies, my friends Jessica (Comet Over Hollywood) and Carley (The Kitty Packard Pictorial/The Black Maria) and I decided to kick things off with 1944’s On Approval.  Knowing that On Approval was playing in the smallest of the theaters, we tried to get there early, but we weren’t early enough and we couldn’t get in.

East of Eden PosterAlthough it’s not fun to be shut out of the first movie of the day, it served as a valuable lesson for the rest of the festival.  On Approval was scheduled to start later than the other movies in that block, but we decided to ask if we could still get into East of Eden instead.  Fortunately, seats were still available and they were nice enough to let us come in late.  East of Eden on the big screen was nothing less than breathtaking.  I had only seen East of Eden once before and that was quite some time ago, so it was a pleasure to see it again. Watching it on television simply does not do it justice.

After East of Eden, it was time for me to get in line for Grey Gardens.  Grey Gardens was one of my big “must-sees” for the festival.   It’s one of the most absolutely compelling documentaries I have ever seen and getting to see it introduced by documentarian Albert Maysles was an offer I could not refuse.

The print we saw was a brand new digital print that had only been publicly screened once prior to the festival.  Never before has a run-down mansion ridden with cats and raccoons looked so good.  The Maysles brothers have often been praised for allowing their subjects to be themselves and for not interjecting their own editorial opinions.  This is absolutely the case with Grey Gardens and that’s exactly what makes it such a fascinating documentary.  It’s easy to judge the Edies and the way they lived or to dismiss them as being crazy, but the Maysles didn’t. (However, Albert did say that he and his brother changed their minds about actually living in Grey Gardens once the smell hit them.) Instead, they let the Edies’ larger-than-life personalities dominate the movie and it’s almost hypnotic to watch them be themselves in this unusual world they built around themselves.

It pained me to tear myself away from Grey Gardens a little early (missing Little Edie’s flag dance scene), but I did not want to be shut out of another one of my “must-sees” of the trip — a conversation with Richard Dreyfuss in Club TCM.  Richard Dreyfuss is one of my favorite actors of the 1970s (Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Goodbye Girl, American GraffitiJaws), so I was thrilled when it was announced that he would be making not one but three appearances at the festival.  (He also introduced screenings of The Goodbye Girl and Mr. Holland’s Opus.) The conversation was hosted was Illeana Douglas, frequent TCM contributor and granddaughter of Melvyn Douglas.

Richard Dreyfuss Illeana Douglas TCMFF 2014

Photo courtesy Getty Images

Richard was very witty.  He is a real fan of classic film and mentioned wanting to teach a film history class where students were required to watch many black and white movies.  He said his children have only seen a handful of black and white movies and he feels like they are extremely deprived because of it.

As an actor, he admits that he has his limitations.  He declared that he’s not an actor like Charlton Heston, who could play any century; that he can only really play “a 20th century, Upper West Side Jew.”  However, he really enjoys playing characters who are on the hunt for something.  Before starting American Graffiti, George Lucas gave him the choice between playing Curt or Terry (who ended up being played by Charles Martin Smith).  He chose Curt because Curt was really seeking something and he knew the movie covered a pivotal night for Curt that he would remember for the rest of his life.

The discussion about Close Encounters was particularly interesting.  Roy Neary was a role he really wanted to play and he had to keep after Spielberg to get the part.  Richard wasn’t really in the running for the role until he told Spielberg that Roy needed to be played by a child, not an adult.  Spielberg gave Richard the part on the spot after that. Richard said he knew from the beginning Close Encounters would be a timeless film because “it was noble from birth.”  At one moment, Richard got very emotional because Roy’s son Toby was played by Richard’s nephew, Justin Dreyfuss.  Tears started welling up in his eyes as he talked about working with his nephew and needed a moment to regain his composure.  “I cry at the drop of a hat. Please don’t drop any hats,” he told the audience.

William Friedkin TCMFF 2014

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I stuck around Club TCM after Richard Dreyfuss for the conversation with director William Friedkin (The ExorcistThe French Connection).  I specifically decided to stay for this event because I didn’t really know anything about William Friedkin and wanted to learn more. Eddie Muller of the Film Noir Foundation hosted the discussion and the rapport between him and Friedkin made for an extremely fun discussion.

Despite being the director of two of the best movies to come out of the 1970s, Friedkin seems quite down to earth about how influential his movies are.  When Muller said something about The French Connection being a groundbreaking film, Friedkin seemed pretty dismissive of that statement and proceeded to name several other movies he thought were more groundbreaking (The Birth of a Nation, if you disregard the subject matter; Citizen Kane; BreathlessEasy Rider; and Star Wars.)

William Friedkin Autograph TCMFF 2014This event was also an opportunity for him to sign copies of his memoir, “The Friedkin Connection.” Before the event got started, a TCM staffer came out and explained that due to time constraints, the book signing needed to be just a book signing; not a book signing plus a personal item signing/photo op/brief conversation.  The Richard Dreyfuss conversation had started half an hour late, so it was understandable that they wanted to get back on schedule.  However, Friedkin seemed really concerned about giving fans what they wanted. He was very talkative, friendly, and was taking pictures with people anyway. It’s always nice to see someone who appreciates their fans so much.

Originally, I had planned to stick around for the conversation with Quincy Jones, but by then it was about 5:00 PM and I hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast.  Since I did not want the reputation of being “that woman who passed out in front of Quincy Jones,” I decided to skip it and get dinner instead. At dinner, I ran into K.C. of A Classic Movie Blog and Laura of Laura’s Miscellaneous Musings and we went over to next movie, Why Worry?, together.  In line, we met up with Aurora from Once Upon a Screen and had fun waiting for our chance to see Harold Lloyd’s classic on the big screen with a brand new score being premiered by composer Carl Davis.

Harold Lloyd Egyptian Theater TCMFF 2014

I had seen Why Worry? before, but it had been long enough that I didn’t remember it very well.  However, it was my first time seeing a Harold Lloyd movie on the big screen, which is why I was so eager to see this one. Why Worry? was introduced by Leonard Maltin and Harold Lloyd’s granddaughter Suzanne Lloyd.  There is absolutely nothing quite like seeing a silent comedy on the big screen and being part of a large crowd of people who are all totally into the movie and are laughing hysterically. Seeing a silent movie with live music accompaniment is always a real joy, especially when it’s being conducted by someone as legendary as Carl Davis. The orchestra was so flawless it was often easy to forget that it was live music.  The standing ovation he received at the end was well deserved.

Employees Entrance Lobby Card

From Why Worry?, K.C., Laura and I made a mad dash from the Egyptian theater to the TCL Multiplex Theater 4 for the pre-code classic Employees’ Entrance.  The Multiplex Theater 4 is the smallest of the theaters and was the one I had tried unsuccessfully to see On Approval in earlier that morning.  We didn’t have much time to get there and were afraid we wouldn’t be able to get in, so we were literally running down Hollywood Boulevard, dodging tourists along the way, to make it.  Luckily, we made it in time!

Employees’ Entrance was introduced by New York Film Forum programmer and Rialto Pictures founder Bruce Goldstein.  The movie was prefaced with a brief presentation titled “Pre-Code 101,” which I adored.  After doing a few years of 30 Days of Pre-Codes, I’m no stranger to pre-codes, but the clips he chose were fantastic as was his commentary.

David Lynch Eraserhead

The last movie of the night was a midnight showing of David Lynch’s Eraserhead.  I had never seen Eraserhead before, but I’m familiar enough with David Lynch movies to know that his movies are often meant to be more of an experience rather than a traditional story.  The movie is so bizarre (I was not disappointed by that) and I was so tired by then that I didn’t really know what to think of it.  But I do know that I really enjoyed Patton Oswalt’s introduction, which was stand-up comedy mixed with a real fondness for the movie.

TCMFF 2014, Day 1 — Let the Festivities Begin!

Thursday, April 10, 2014:

Rick Baker Joe Dante TCM Classic Film Fest 2014

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Festival activities started getting underway Thursday afternoon with a “Meet TCM” panel at the Egyptian Theater and a discussion at the Hollywood Museum called “Sons of Gods and Monsters” with director Joe Dante and Academy Award winning make-up artist Rick Baker, hosted by TCM’s Scott McGee.  “Sons of Gods and Monsters” was all about the wonderful world of monster movies and how Joe and Rick were influenced by them. I like monster movies, but I wouldn’t call them my area of expertise, so it was very interesting to learn a bit more about them from two people who are so incredibly passionate about them.

When asked about which movie they believed featured the most impressive monster make-up, Joe and Rick seemed to agree with 1931’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Mel Brooks Robert Osborne TCMFF Interview

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One really fun thing about TCMFF is that if you’re in the Roosevelt Hotel by Club TCM at the right time, you can catch Robert Osborne or Ben Mankiewicz interviewing some of the celebrities and historians attending the festival.  Over the course of the festival, I got to see Margaret O’Brien, Thelma Schoonmaker, and Judy Garland historian John Fricke being interviewed.  But the best interview I had the chance to catch was Mel Brooks. Before heading over to “Sons of Gods and Monsters,” I was there chatting with Jessica from Comet Over Hollywood and Raquel from Out of the Past while TCM was setting up for an interview. We didn’t realize who the interviewee was going to be at first, but we were pleasantly surprised when it was announced it would be Mel Brooks. Unfortunately, we couldn’t stay for the whole thing, but Mel was hilarious of course and it was exciting to have the opportunity to see him in person.  That interview will be airing on TCM in May, so stay tuned for that.

Kim Novak Jane Seymour Club TCM TCMFF

No matter what people said about her at the Oscars, Kim Novak looked lovely.

After “Sons of Gods and Monsters,” it was back to the Roosevelt Hotel for opening night festivities.  The Club TCM area was set to open with Kim Novak, Jane Seymor, Charles Busch, and Bruce Eric Kaplan discussing some artwork they had created that was on display during the festival.  (Manolo Blahnik, Todd Oldham, Joel Grey, Tony Bennett, Jules Feiffer, and Burt Young also created artwork  for the festival.)  I still get a little bit of a rush every time I get to say that I have been in the same room as Kim Novak, even if only for just a few minutes.

Ben Mankiewicz, Paul Le Mat, Candy Clark, Bo Hopkins TCMFF 2013

Photo courtesy Getty Images

For the first movie of the festival, I decided to go with the poolside screening of American Graffiti with stars Paul Le Mat, Candy Clark, and Bo Hopkins in attendance.  The vibe of being poolside was fun; I was chatting with friends, music was playing, and they had jitterbug dancers there.  However, I didn’t actually stay poolside for very long.  I stayed for the interview with the stars, but since the table I was sitting at really didn’t have a good view of the screen, my friends and I went back to Club TCM, where the movie was also playing. Poolside or not, it was a lot of fun.

TCMFF 2014, Day 1– Press Day

Thursday, April 10, 2014:

Robert Osborne at Press Day, TCMFF 2014

The 2014 Turner Classic Movie Classic Film Festival officially got underway on Thursday, April 10.  For those of us attending with media credentials, the day started with the chance to attend press conferences with TCM’s Robert Osborne, Ben Mankiewicz, Senior Vice President of Programming Charles Tabesh, and Managing Director Genevieve McGillicuddy.

The biggest revelation from Robert Osborne’s conference was about Olivia de Havilland.  There has been much speculation lately that Olivia would be doing a Private Screenings interview and would possibly be making an appearance at this year’s festival.  The Private Screenings interview rumors were true, but unfortunately, it did not end up happening. Olivia agreed to do the Private Screenings interview and since she lives in France, Robert Osborne and the TCM crew flew out there to film it.  But when they got there, Olivia was in the hospital. Olivia felt awful about not being able to do the interview and offered to fly to New York to film it there instead, but once again, health problems stood in the way.  As for her coming to the festival, she simply cannot handle traveling that far anymore. According to Robert, the last time she traveled to California to visit her family, it took her a year to fully recover from it.

Although many people might expect a classic film festival to be mostly full of people wanting to revisit movies from their youth, that couldn’t be further from the truth.  66% of TCM’s viewers are 18-44 years old and about half of festival attendees are under 30.  Robert Osborne stated that when he got started with TCM twenty years ago, he thought it was going to be a nostalgia channel, but he’s thrilled that younger people have embraced it so strongly.  In fact, Charles Tabesh said one thing he would really like to do in the future is have a series of child guest programmers.  (Personally, I hope that works out because that could be really fascinating.)

Ben Mankiewicz, Press Day TCMFF 2014

There has long been concern among some TCM viewers that TCM will start showing more and more modern movies in hopes of luring in younger audiences. Robert, Ben, Charles, and Genevieve were all very adamant that the TCM we all know and love will not be changing.  There’s no need for them to actively court young viewers when they already have young viewers.  TCM just celebrated its 20th anniversary and Ben made it clear that when TCM celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2034, it will not be playing a bunch of movies from 2004.

One interesting thing Robert Osborne said is that he never expected his job description to include being a nurse.  He and Ben both said they are most moved by hearing fans tell them about how Turner Classic Movies helped them cope with periods of unemployment, illnesses, and other difficult times in their lives. Ben elaborated that the personal connection many fans have with TCM is completely unique.  Although he enjoys watching things on ESPN and HBO, he does not have the attachment to those networks the way people do with TCM.

Gearing Up for TCMFF 2014

TCMFF 2014

The 5th annual Turner Classic Movie Classic Film Festival kicks off one week from today, and like many fellow attendees, I’ve been poring over the festival schedule, trying to make my plans.  Trying to decide between some of these events has been an absolutely wonderful problem to have.  The movie schedule is a great mix of crowd-pleasing hits, lesser-known gems, and everything in between; not to mention all the additional events with some very highly respected historians and people in the film industry.  Since this is my first time attending the festival, I want to try to experience a little bit of everything.

My main strategy for planning my TCMFF schedule is to do as many things as possible that I would not be able to do at home.  Some movies on the schedule such as City LightsThe Wizard of Oz, and Imitation of Life are movies that I’ve either already seen on the big screen at least once or I know will be playing at theaters at home in the near future.  So even though I adore City Lights, I did just go to a screening of it in December, which made my decision to go for Stella Dallas instead on Saturday morning a fairly easy one.

Although I’m trying to do things I can’t do at home, it’s not the only deciding factor.  In theory, I would love to nothing but silent, foreign, lesser known titles, and new-to-me movies, but many of the screenings are more than just the movie. For opening night, I’m planning on going to the poolside screening of American Graffiti.  Although I went to a screening of that movie a year or two ago, Paul Le Mat, Candy Clark, and Bo Hopkins weren’t there and there aren’t many chances to watch movies poolside in Michigan.

With my mission to experience things I can’t do at home, that means many of the Club TCM events are musts for me.  I’ll be spending a good deal of time at there on Friday with the conversations with Richard Dreyfuss, William Friedkin, and Quincy Jones all happening that day.

So, here’s how my schedule is looking right now…