The TCM CLASSIC FILM FESTIVAL. Those words bring about an extra, few beats to my Lumiére Brothers-loving heart. That’s because I know of no other finer film experience, no more mind-blowing movie nirvana, no better Mt. Everest of cinematic entertainment, and… well I’ve run out of superlatives at the moment, and probably run out your patience. Of course, I’ve never been to Cannes, nor to Telluride or to Toronto for TIFF, so my points of reference are limited. But I do know that for a classic movie fan, Hollywood is the place to be in April of next year.
Barring unforeseen circumstances, I will join a couple of thousand film fans at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel and its environs for the fourth edition of Turner Classic Movies’ feast for classic film fanatics next spring. It will be my third time. (I had to cancel out at the last minute on the first get-together in 2010 due to a schedule conflict. However, TCM generously gave me a refund, even though it was against their policy, and I am eternally grateful.)
The 2013 Festival dates (April 25-28) and its theme (“Cinematic Journeys: Travel in the Movies”)
are expected to be announced very soon have just been announced. 2012’s theme was “Style”–a broad category that included, for example, film noir, fashion, art and architecture.
Running from Thursday afternoon through Sunday night, in the heart of historic Hollywood, the TCM Classic Film Festival is “a place where movie lovers from around the world gather to experience classic movies as they were meant to be seen: on the big screen, in some of the world’s most iconic venues, with the people who made them.”
Multiple simultaneous film screenings and events start early in the morning at about 9, and go into the late evening, the last one at around 10 or 11 p.m. All the venues–the Egyptian, Graumann’s Chinese and the Graumann’s multiplex, are within walking distance of each other, and all feature state-of-the art sound and projection. The splendid, art deco Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel (site of the first Academy Awards presentation) is the headquarters for the Festival, and it hosts a variety of panel discussions, a nighttime gathering spot for fans (“Club TCM”), reception and information areas for attendees, a Festival gift shop, and a very retro and very good diner, the CineGrill.
The most difficult aspect of the festival (other than swinging the expense): deciding which of four or five films to see at any given time of the day. Second most difficult: somehow finding a minute or two to eat in-between screenings.
Some of my own memories from 2011 and 2012:
- Kirk Douglas, age 99, singing A Whale of a Tale at a screening of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
- Bela Lugosi, Jr., and Sara Karloff talking about their dads, at The Black Cat
- Elvis in Girl Happy, poolside at the Hollywood Roosevelt
- Coffee in hand, attending a 9 a.m. screening of Becket, at the Egyptian, and Peter O’ Toole’s remembrances of Richard Burton
- How The West Was Won, in its original wide-screen, Cinerama, with Debbie Reynolds in attendance, at Hollywood’s Cinerama Theater
- Kim Novak introducing Vertigo at the historic Graumann’s Chinese
- Angela Lansbury reminiscing about meeting Ingrid Bergman, in Gaslight
- Frank Sinatra’s daughters remembering their dad prior to The Man With The Golden Arm
- Being with, and getting to know, other classic movie lovers–the best part of this film festival
My reviews of three films that were part of the 2012 TCM Classic Film Festival: the glorious Cinerama presentation of HOW THE WEST WAS WON, a terrific and underrated film noir, FALL GUY, and the beautifully restored, utterly captivating silent film, WINGS.
I’m looking forward to posting updates and my thoughts about next year’s Festival in the days and months ahead, as well as reporting from the big event itself (when I’m not running between theaters!).
Update: The 2013 Festival will be held April 25-28. The theme, “Cinematic Journeys: Travel in the Movies”, and will, according to TCM, “explore how movies can carry viewers beyond their hometowns to distant or imaginary locales, where they can be transformed by great storytelling. Often, the mode of travel provides the filmic inspiration, whether it’s planes, trains, or automobiles. At other times, the trip itself serves as the central narrative, as in the case of many ‘road movies.’ With Hollywood as the starting point, TCM’s cinematic excursion will take festival attendees on a fascinating journey to cinematic worlds both familiar and new.” More info at the TCM Festival website.
Are you on Facebook? Thinking of going to the 2013 TCM Festival? Then you might want to look into joining the 100-plus member Going to the TCM Festival Facebook group.