Monday, March 25, 2019

TCMFF Madness, Baby – 2019

Tuesday, the schedule dropped for the TCM Classic Film Festival (TCMFF) April 11–14, 2019. If memory serves me this is a couple days earlier than last year, which was a couple of days earlier than the previous years. Yea, TCM.

As usual, I'll be doing my picks in NCAA tournament format brackets. Once again, I will be attending with my 19-year-old daughter, Jasmine. Generally, I tend to pick things I think we will both like. On occasion, I run into spots when there are films that she might like better and let her overrule me or we may decide to go our separate ways. For the most part, I limit it to the film screenings.It takes a lot to get me out of a darkened theater. In addition, this year my wife, Mary, will be attending with us (her second TCMFF after attending once in 2016).

I also include links to anyone else's picks I run into in the coming weeks at the end of this post. There are a couple of blocks that are pretty torturous. One of the biggest issues this year, at least at a glance, will be getting to the new Legion Theater venue. I just don't have any must-sees there, so I had to figure out how to get there at least once over the Festival. Well, without any further ado, I give you this year's picks.


Thursday, Early Eve

First off, this block is like a couple of others, where if you choose certain of the films, there is no way you could catch anything in the next block. This always a tough sell at TCMFF. Fortunately, I'm not a huge fan of either Sergeant York or Ocean's 11My Media Pass is effectively the same as my wife and daughter's Classic passes, That means When Harry Met Sally is off the table too. It might not have made the cut anyway, though realistically, if I had a chance to see Rob Reiner, Billy Crystal, and Meg Ryan appear with a film this good, I would probably have what she's having and go.

This means Gentlemen Prefer Blonds moves forward in the first round. That leaves Dark Passage up against a scrappy little Pre-Code I've never seen, Night World. At a glance, even with Dark Passage not being either Bogie and Bacall's finest hours, it seems a shoe in over Night World. Then reading up on Night World, it sounds awesome. You have Boris Karloff in a non-monster role with his daughter, Sara, introducing the film. It's Pre-Code, so that's points in its favor. Throw in Hedda Hopper killing someone and a Busby Berkeley dance routine, and Night World takes down Dark Passage.

We have Gentlemen Prefer Blonds vs Night World. Night World has the added advantage of being short, so you might be able to get some real dinner. Then again, food is less of an issue on Thursday, and I just can't bring myself to pass up Gentlemen Prefer Blonds.




Thursday, Late Eve

Mogambo has never been a huge favorite, so that just leaves The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer up against The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg sounds very good, and I've never seen it before. Yeah, I know I probably should have. Still, The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer is Cary Grant and Myrna Loy in what I'd call their best pairing together, and it's in Nitrate. Actually, I've only seen one film in nitrate, Laura, at the 2017 TCMFF. To be honest, the earth didn't move for me over Nitrate. Maybe, it will this time, and I'll become a Nitrate convert. Whatever the case, we're going to The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer.





Friday, Morning

In this block, I'm going to throw out The Clock and High Society right away. The Clock is a cute little movie, but doesn't do a whole lot for me. The music in High Society is great, especially Louie Armstrong and the Bing Crosby-Frank Sinatra duet, "Did You Evah," but it suffers from what a lot of the 1950s musical remakes suffer from. You have a remake, that is not nearly as good as the original, because aspects of the original film were gutted to make room for songs. I'm also going to knock out, Cinerama's Russian Adventure. The film would take up two blocks, and I can't see doing that. 

That leaves the film noir classic The Postman Always Rings Twice vs the Pre-Code Merrily We Go to Hell, the title alone is almost enough to give it the edge. Still, The Postman Always Rings Twice is Lana Turner. Going to have to go with The Postman Always Rings Twice.





Friday, Mid-Day

This block doesn't do a lot for me. Out of Africa is a decent movie, but it came out the same year as The Color Purple. At the Oscars that year, both Out of Africa and The Color Purple were nominated for for 11 awards. Out of Africa won seven. The Color Purple, zip. Still leaves a bad taste in my mouth, because I thought The Color Purple was a much better movie. Love in the Afternoon, I just think Gary Cooper is too old for Audrey Hepburn, so I'm not a fan. That leaves Sleeping Beauty and the Republic Serials Special Presentation. Normally, a Disney feature on the big screen would be too good to pass up, but looking at the schedule as a whole, this might be our only shot at getting to the Legion Theater, so Republic Serials takes it.





Friday, Afternoon

This block all comes down Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans and My Favorite Wife. Yes, I love Raiders, but we saw it at TCMFF in 2015. Plus, it is not a film that is particularly hard to find in the theater, even in a place like San Diego. I really love Woody Allen's early films. the later ones, not so much. A Patch of Blue is good, but not good enough for this competition. When it comes down to it, My Favorite Wife is just too good to pass up. Of course, my big concern here is that this leaves me without seeing a silent movie this year. I like to see at least one.  You never know, I might jump ship at the last minute and go for Sunrise.





Friday, Early Eve

I'm thinking I will catch Steel Magnolias in May as a Fathom Event. Escape from Alcatraz is good, but there are a lot of Clint Eastwood movies from that era that I'd rather see. Not a fan of either June Allyson or The Opposite Sex. It just makes me want to watch The Women. Sadly, every time I try to watch something with subtitles at TCMFF, I find myself dozing off every two minutes and jerking myself awake, wondering what I missed, so I'm going to cross off Day for Night, too.  If it wasn't for 70 mm, I wouldn't even consider The Sound of Music. Still, Open Secret sounds too good to pass up, though we're fairly ambivalent about Vanity Street. It's looking like the plan will be, skip Vanity Street, get some real food and then on to Open Secret.





Friday, Late Eve

Not much of a contest here, Road House all the way.





Friday, Midnight

For midnight movies, we usually do one and not the other. Santo vs the Evil Brain sounds like a hoot, perfect midnight movie fodder.




Saturday, Morning

From Here to Eternity is a great film, but not one I feel like I couldn't miss. I do love Myrna Loy and William Powell (Double Wedding). I'm sure I've seen Double Wedding, but it must not have had much of an impact, as I barely remember it. You don't get a lot of Sci-Fi at TCMFF, so When Worlds Collide moves forward. The Little Colonel was cute, but I seem to remember, All Through the Night being hysterical. Plus, at this point, I'm kind of looking forward to seeing Nazis get the short end of the stick, so All Through the Night goes on for the win.





Saturday, Mid-Day

I seem to Sleepless in Seattle as a formulaic chick flick that came out trying to capitalize on the success better formulaic chick flicks, like When Harry Met Sally and Pretty Woman. A Woman Under the Influence sounds good, especially with Gena Rowlands in attendance, but I really wanted to see Tarzan and His Mate on the big screen. That said, looking at the schedule the first time, Kind Hearts and Coronets wasn't even on my radar. It's one of those films that has been on my classic film bucket list forever, but I really hadn't planned on it. Then going through the schedule with my wife and daughter, it just sounded better than anything else in this block. There you go.





Saturday, Afternoon

I'm not a huge Western fan, so the Tom Mix silent double feature is not going to stand up against the competition here. Love Affair is one of these melodramas that just doesn't work for me. A Raisin in the Sun is good, but I can't pick it over, Father Goose. But Working Girl is such a good movie with a great cast, most of whom are still alive. It boogles my mind that they couldn't get one of the principals to appear. It boggles my mind even more that we're picking if over Father Goose, but I just know it's the right call. Also, I just noticed that Working Girl is in the Chinese IMAX. I can't imagine TCM putting it in the biggest theater, unless they had some surprise guests up their sleeve.





Saturday, Early Eve

Saturday night is the absolute worst, and by absolute worst, I mean the toughest block to pick among. Not the early evening block, but the one that follows this one. The problem is the way The Bad Seed is placed. It straddles this block and the next and makes it virtually impossible to catch anything else before or after it. Normally, The Bad Seed would be one of my top picks for the whole festival, but sadly, I just can't bring myself to sacrifice the next block for it. 

That said, we have, Nashville. I saw it recently and was not all that impressed, but it does have Jeff Goldblum appearing. Now, my daughter Jasmine wasn't even sure who Jeff Goldblum was until I explained, "Umm, he's the smart guy in Jurassic Park, and the smart guy in Independence Day,...." You seeing the trend here? Well, she still wanted to see his picture. I pulled up a picture. 

"Oh, him," she said. "I love him." 

Now, my wife Mary needed no explanation. She loves Jeff Goldblum, has had a crush on him for years. I can't stress the word love enough. Now, as a husband, I feel it is my duty to go and make sure my wife does not rip off all of her clothes and throw herself on him.... And ultimately get arrested. The thing is I don't think we want to watch the movie. At this point, the plan is to allow Jeff Goldblum's very presence have it's way with my wife nether regions, and then sneak out and go have dinner. Don't judge, that's just the way our marriage works.




Saturday, Late Eve

Even without The Bad Seed, this block is killing me. Honestly, I could care less about Star Wars. Wasn't particularly impressed at 14 when I saw it on its first run, and even less impressed now that George Lucas has made several iterations of changes that make it a worse movie. Samson and Delilah in Nitrate with Victor Mature's daughter Victoria introducing would be awesome. Victoria is a friend and a San Diegan. I feel like I should be there to represent.  

Indiscreet is one of those movies that I should have seen by now, but I haven't, and sadly, this is not the time. Waterloo Bridge is a good movie too. The fact is, the choice here is not Samson and Delilah vs Escape From New York, but Escape From New York vs The Bad Seed. Here, I'm going to let celebrity sway me. John Carpenter and Kurt Russell and Escape from New York, it is. I hope Victoria forgives me.






Saturday, Midnight

I'm guessing that no one is going to have the energy for a second Midnight movie. Jasmine, I'm sure, will turn in. Mary and I will likely have some drinks.



Sunday, Morning

Normally, going through the schedule involves explaining to my daughter, Jasmine, what most of the movies are about. At this point, Jasmine let me know in no uncertain terms that she was well aware of what Hello Dolly was about. Her grandmother used to watch it all the time. That's her choice. The schedule doesn't say who is introducing, Hello Dolly. If there is any poetic justice in the world it, would be Alex Trebec, because that is her final answer. 

For Mary and I, the final answer is Holiday. Let's move on. 





Sunday, Mid-Day

The Shawshank Redemption is in my top 5 movies of all time and with director, Frank Darabont to introduce it, this is my pick. Jasmine is going along with that. Mary on the other hand really wants to see The Killers with Angie Dickinson, so she will likely take a nap in this block and then go to The Killers.

In theory, there might be the perfect TBA here to make me skip, Shawshank, but that's mostly because it would also give me a chance to see either The Killers or Marty in the next block. 




Sunday, Afternoon

As mentioned previously, this block if all goes to plan will Jasmine and I still in Shawshank, while my wife goes to The Killers.





Sunday, Eve

For Mary and I, the only choice here is The Godfather: Part II. I have never seen it in the theater. Honestly, the right TBAs here might lure me away. Jasmine on the other hand loves Abbott and Costello, so she's going with Buck Privates, preceded by A Woman of Affairs. I don't know whether the timing will work on this. It's a half hour between the two and with Buck Privates at the Legion Theater I don't know if that is enough time. Still, a good TBA might help here. That one, Jasmine is probably going to play by ear for now.



As usual, I'm providing links to other people's picks. This is what I've found so far. I'll try to update more as I go along.

Other People's Picks

Sunday, March 17, 2019

TCMFF Survival Guide Part 2, Making the Most of Your Experience

This will be my sixth year attending the TCM Classic Film Festival (TCMFF), held April 11 to 14, 2019. In addition, I have been going to Comic-Con International and other fan conventions for decades, so I know what it’s like to spend four or five days in a strange city living out of a hotel room and running around from the time you get up in the morning until the time you collapse in your room late at night. 

This is, I think, the fifth version of this guide I've done. I've tried to refine things over the years. This year, I've decide to split this post up into three parts:
  • Part 1 (posted here) covers the nuts and bolts of how TCMFF works. 
  • Part 2 (this part) covers making the most of your experience and will also contain links to other similar posts past and present. I will do my best to update with new links as I find them. 
  • Part 3 will covers preserving your sanity in the craziness of TCMFF.

Etiquette

This section covers TCMFF etiquette. The most important thing to do is silence your phone and other devices during screenings and do not take them out to post pictures, answer a text, or whatever. You might think it would be cool to take a picture of the movie title onscreen to post for your friends.

Don't!!!

There a people sitting next to you and behind you who are trying to enjoy the film. Just the the light from your phone as you bring it up and try to find an app is insanely distracting in a dark theater. I usually put my phone in both Silent and Airplane modes during screenings. For me, most people who would be trying to contact me know I'm at TCMFF, so if I get a text, I tend to think it's an emergency and worry about it, not that I would be able to doing anything while I'm in Hollywood anyway.

It's okay to tweet, post to Facebook, Instagram, whatever while you're waiting in line or sitting in the theater waiting for things to begin. Once somebody starts talking, finish up what you're doing and put it away. Taking pictures/video during the intro is fine, but turn off the flash. It's distracting, especially to the people talking, and won't help if you're farther than about 10 feet away.

Be considerate of those around you. It's generally considered rude to leave before the end of a screening, but sometimes it's unavoidable. If you have to duck out early, try to get to the event you are leaving extra early and get seat on the aisle so you don't have to climb over people. If you know you need to leave at a certain time, wear a watch. A watch screen is way less distracting than your Galaxy S10.

I shouldn't have to say this but:
  • Don't talk during the movie.
  • Don't take any pictures during a screening. 
  • Don't check your phone for any reason during a screening. 
  • In an emergency, if you absolutely need to use your phone, go into the lobby. You're not going to be able to help anyone from a movie theater anyway.

Planning

If you are a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants type of person, I wish you lots of luck. My suggestion would be to plan out the whole schedule ahead of time. There may be spots on the schedule where you can't make a decision and want to figure it out in the moment. That's fine, but I would try to keep that to a minimum. If you wait until, you get out of one movie to decide what you're going to see next, you may be too late by the time you get there.

Once you’ve figured out what you want to see, you should probably try to get to events a half hour ahead of the start time, possibly earlier. If it’s something you’d be crushed if you missed, shoot for an hour early, especially if it's in the smallest theater, the TCL Chinese House 6. At 266 seats, this theater is not huge. It probably is going to have to turn people away at certain times. In theory, this should be less of an issue this year because the one really tiny theater went away this year. Still, what we don't know is whether TCM sold extra passes to compensate for the larger venues. Possibly, TCMFF got a really great deal on the larger Legion Theater and are just hoping to ease overcrowding, but it seems more likely that if you had larger venues, you would sell more passes.

How do you get to the screening a half or more ahead of time? You should be able to figure out the end times by looking at the schedule. Anytime you have a longer break between events is a good opportunity to get some food that doesn’t come in a bucket with fake butter and salt. Do keep in mind that TCL House 6 is going fill up fast, a half hour ahead of time might not be enough. Try to get there earlier if possible. This also counts for Club TCM events. In Club TCM, there are booths on the side and rows of chairs on floor near the fairly low stage. Toward the back of the room is a bar for standing, but once the room gets full you're not going to be able to see well standing in the back.

Know that getting around is going to take you longer than you expect. Figure that if you’re going from one screen in TCL Chinese 6 to another screen in TCL Chinese 6, five minutes from getting out of one theater and back in line for the next is a decent bet. Everything else is going to take longer, and very likely way longer than you think it will. 

If you look Google Maps, the distance from TCL Chinese IMAX to the Egyptian looks like it’s about 2 and a half blocks, but if you look at the way the surrounding streets are laid out, it’s closer to four blocks, or at least a long two blocks. If you figure you walk fast, you should be able to walk four blocks in about 7 minutes. Think again, if you’re on Hollywood Boulevard, the sidewalks are going to be packed, especially on Friday and Saturday nights.

It’s not just TCMFF people, it’s tourists, it’s the guys in the cheesy Spiderman costumes, people stopping to take pictures or answer a text, all in your way when you’re trying to get somewhere fast. The sidewalk might be closed for construction, forcing you to go back half a block to cross to the other side when you weren’t planning to. If you can figure out a way to avoid Hollywood Boulevard altogether, that might be a good idea. This will probably be very doable for Legion Theater.

The east west street one block south of Hollywood Blvd is Hawthorne Ave. It jogs a bit at Highland Ave, but does keep going. There isn't a crosswalk to get across Highland Ave., so you are probably better off going back to Hollywood Blvd. to cross at Highland. Highland is a pretty busy street. I don't think I'd want to risk jaywalking it. The worst stretch of Hollywood Blvd. in terms of sidewalk crowds/craziness is the stretch between The Roosevelt and Highland anyway. 

If you’re planning to change clothes between the daytime and nighttime screenings, figure out which break you’re going to use to go back to the hotel and change.

Hollywood and Highland Mall

The TCL Chinese 6 and the TCL Chinese IMAX are located in the Hollywood and Highland mall. The mall is sort of a tourist mall. Most malls are fairly easy to get around in. This mall, not so much. It was designed so that you can explore, with an eye toward wandering around and getting lost. This means that you may not always be able to tell what level you're on or how to get up or down one level, or most importantly if you're on the correct level for the multiplex. If you have a spare hour before the festival starts, go over and find the TCL Chinese and figure out how to get from there to the Chinese IMAX and how to get out of the mall itself. It should be easy. It’s not. Note any stairs and escalators you run across. The time you get lost is bound to be the time you have least time to spare. If you see any interesting fast food, see if they have a To Go menu. It might be the only hot meal you get some day.

A friend Will McKinley did a post similar to this several years ago. He’s the one who suggested avoiding Hollywood Blvd. altogether, good call. He also suggested coming into the mall from the back. If you cross Hollywood Blvd. from the Roosevelt, you'll be standing in front of Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum. If you follow the sidewalk to the left of the wax museum (north on N. Orange Dr.), you'll come to a traffic circle where tour buses line up. Follow the traffic circle around to the back, and there's an entrance to the mall. My mistake my first year was to not following that route all the way to the movie theater. I got distracted by things in the mall. If you go in this way, where you come into mall, there will two sets of stairs going up on the left. One goes to the mall business office. The other goes to the same level as the TCL Chinese 6, about 30 feet from the door. Find this stairway. It will save you a lot time.


If you are coming or going the other direction, there's another entrance into the mall from Highland Ave. About half a block north of the corner of Hollywood and Highland, there is a set of stairs going up into the mall:


This set of stairs puts you into the mall on the main level, and I think is one level down from the multiplex. If you're coming into the mall, there is a stairway on the right that puts takes you pretty close to the multiplex. If you are coming from/going to the TCL Chinese 6 and going to/coming from the Egyptian and the Legion Theater, this should save you time. I'm not sure how much it's going to save you if you're coming from/going to the Chinese IMAX or the Roosevelt. I do know that last year, my daughter and I had a really short window from the Egyptian to the Chinese 6, and we made it using these stairs. I seriously think that if it had taken us a minute longer we would have missed it. This set of stairs made the difference.

If you're staying at Loews Hollywood Hotel, there's a walkway that leads directly into the mall. If you stay there, I would find that and make sure that you know exactly how to get to the movie theater that way. If you oversleep some morning, you'll thank me.

Research

Take the time to read everything you can find on the website, http://filmfestival.tcm.com/. Search for blog posts like this one. There are links to similar posts below. A good source of info is Twitter, follow @tcm and search on the #TCMFF hashtag. There will be lots of good tips there. Also you might want to join the Going to TCM Classic Film Festival! Facebook group (link at the end of this post). Google the people being listed as guests, you never know, you might be standing next to one of them at Starbucks, and it will give you something to talk about. If they are showing one of your all-time favorites, read the Wikipedia and IMDB pages about the film. You’re sure to pick up some interesting tidbits that most people don’t know. You can look smart to other people in line.


Smartphone App

Each year the festival does smartphone apps for iPhone and Android. If you have a smartphone, download it. I'm not sure the exact timing, but last year it was up for iPhone about a week before the Festival. I honestly don't know whether they make both iPhone and Android available at the same time or not. Just know that it will be posted, and get it when available. The smartphone apps will contain pretty much everything in the TCMFF guide book, plus things like updates of late additions/changes and the titles for the To Be Determined (TBD) slots on Sunday, more on that below. Even if you don't think you would use it, download it anyway. You might get shut out on a screening and need to figure out a plan B on the fly. That would be one time you realize you left your guide book at the hotel. Me, I don't use it a whole lot as I'm usually on Twitter during TCMFF and can get the same info there. Also, phone battery life can be an issue, so I would rather save my battery for taking pictures and social media, when most of the info on the app duplicates what's in the TCMFF guide book that I'm already carrying anyway. Plus, I would rather read on paper than my phone. Then again, if you live on your phone, you'll rely on the apps.

TCMFF Guide Book

Each year, TCM publishes a guide book listing all of the films and other events, guest bios, and other valuable info. Everything you need to know about the festival will be in there. In the past, it has been printed in a small format, but I wouldn't call it pocket size, well, not unless you have very large pockets. Now, I know what your thinking. If everything is in the guide book, why do you need the app? Well, S*** Happens. Guest might get sick and have to cancel at the last minute. Maybe there's a new book coming out, and they don't know whether or not copies will be available for a signing at the time they go to press. And again the TBD screenings, I swear I will get to that in this post. 

You can pick up your guide book when you arrive in the Academy Room (2nd Floor) in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel at the following hours:

Wednesday, April 10, 2-4 pm
Thursday, April 11, 10 am-6 pm

After 6 pm on Thursday, April 11, you can get a guide book at the Information Desk (ground floor) in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. Information Desk hours: Thursday, 10 am-8 pm; Friday/Saturday, 8 am-8 pm; and Sunday, 8 am-6 pm. If you lose or forget your guide book at the hotel, the Information Desk should be able to get you a new one.

Travel

By now, you probably have already made arrangements for travel, so it's probably too late to change it, but for future reference, I would recommend coming in on Wednesday (or earlier) before the festival and leaving Monday (or later). There are lot of people who build vacations around TCMFF. You will make friends, and the extra time will allow you to hang out with your old movie cronies. 

Earlier I said, read everything you can thing. Well, I know how you can get busy and time can get away from you, especially when preparing for a trip/vacation. Most people are going to have a good 5 or 6 hours travel time getting to TCMFF. Make some printouts or save copies to your tablet or whatever to read in the airport and on the plane.

Are you the type who likes to buy souvenirs? If so, are they going to fit in your suitcase? You might want to consider bringing a Priority Mail Flat-Rate box. If you’re worried about items getting lost or damaged in the mail, you can always mail home your dirty clothes. Post Offices:
  • 1615 Wilcox Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90028 (hours, 9 am to 6 pm, Mon to Fri; 9 am to  3 pm, Sat; closed Sun), about another four blocks past the Egyptian. 
  • 1425 N Cherokee Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90028 (hours, 9 am to 5 pm, Mon to Fri; 9 am to  3:30 pm, Sat; closed Sun), about three blocks east of Highland Ave. and a block south of Sunset.
Other shipping options: 
  • Mail and More on Hollywood, 7095 Hollywood Blvd. (hours, 9 am to 6 pm, Mon to Fri; 10 am to  5 pm, Sat; closed Sun), much closer, about two blocks west of the Roosevelt. It is a private shipping place, so you may pay more. Then again, it's much closer to the Festival than either of the Post Offices.
  • FedEx Office Print & Ship Center, 1755 N Highland Ave, Hollywood, CA 90028 (hours, 7 am to 6 pm, Mon to Fri; 9 am to 1 pm, Sat; closed Sun), about a block north of Hollywood and Highland. You'll probably pass it half a dozen times on the way to the Legion Theater during the Festival.
It might even be worth calling your hotel and see if they can mail for you.

Use Social Media to Your Advantage

Me, I only do Facebook and Twitter, so I can only speak to those with any authority. On Facebook, I suggest joining the Going to TCM Classic Film Festival! group. It's a great place to meet people, make plans, and ask questions (link below). TCM has a very active presence on Twitter. Even if you have never been on Twitter, it might be worth the trouble of creating an account just for TCMFF. Make sure that you follow @tcm and monitor the #TCMFF hashtag. The immediacy of Twitter make it a good platform for interacting with others in close to real-time. I'm sure if you are on Instagram, Tumblr, or social media, you can find similar by searching for TCMFF. Hmm, note to self: There probably needs to be a TCMFFr app, so you can swipe right for film festival hookups. Look into this for 2020. 

Choose You Own Path

Different people enjoy TCMFF in different ways. Some people like to discovery new films or see special presentations that you can only find see at the Festival. Some people want to see every as many Nitrate screenings as possible. Others want to relish in old favorites they have seen a hundred times before. Me, since I attend with my daughter, I tend to pick films that I know she will like or should see. You may run into others who have different priorities at TCMFF than you. Don't feel bad if you don't have the same priorities as someone else. There is no one right approach except for the one that works for you. 

Be Flexible

Despite all of your planning, leave yourself a little wiggle room. Each year, they leave four or five TBD slots open on Sunday to repeat films that turned people away earlier in the Festival. They should announce the TBDs fairly late on Saturday. This could be your chance to see something that you had to skip earlier. On the TBDs, bear in mind that certain things probably will not be repeated. A silent film with a live orchestra may not be repeated just because the musicians would have to be available on short notice. Nitrate films can only be shown at the Egyptian, and they don't do any TBDs there; at least, they haven't in the years I've attended TCMFF.

Last year, we were about 20 people back from getting into a rare screwball comedy, but it didn't look like we going to make it into the theater. The TCM Festival staff announced that another screening of a French-language film noir still had plenty of seats. We switched gears and that turned out to be one of our favorite films that year. It’s perfectly okay to switch things around. You might be late getting to a screening and get shut out. Check the schedule, you might be able to get into something else. Maybe, you figured that you’d be too tired for any of the midnight movies, but you get out of that last screening and feel really pumped and want to keep going. Go for it.

Maybe, there is a block that you’re not particular enthused about. This is the perfect chance to get a real meal or even sneak back to the hotel for a nap. Last year, my daughter and I watched a movie we were both psyched on, but ended up hating it. Neither of us, had to energy to watch another film afterwards. I dropped my daughter off at our AirBnB, and went back to the Roosevelt for a drink. I ended up hanging out with a friend Ruth at the Roosevelt bar at just the right time to meet and take a picture with Dennis Miller. Just remember, you’re there to have fun. It’s almost assured that you’re going to be running around a lot, but there is nothing that says you have to. It’s okay to take a breather.


Dennis Miller, Ruth Mundsack, and me

Try Something New

To a certain degree, this is going to vary from person to person to person. Maybe, you've never been to one of the midnight or poolside screenings, try to find a way to make that happen. Maybe, you've never seen a silent film with live accompaniment. Maybe, you're the type of person who puts a premium on seeing films you've never seen before over old standards that you've seen a bunch of times. Know that seeing something like Casablanca in the TCL Chinese IMAX in a packed theater with an audience who knows the film by heart like you do is a different experience than seeing it on the big screen at the multiplex with Fathom Events.

My second year at TCMFF, they did a special presentation on the history of Technicolor. I thought it sounded really cool, but I decided on something else instead. Afterwards, everybody was raving about how cool the Technicolor thing was. The next year I decided to not make the same mistake twice and went to the Vitaphone presentation. Vitaphone was the first technology to make talking motion pictures viable on a large scale, and the presentation was awesome.

Just try to step outside of your comfort zone at some point during the Festival. Maybe, it works out. Maybe, it doesn't doesn't work out so well. Just know that it's actually kind of hard to make a bad decision at TCMFF.

Try to See Something Besides Inside of a Theater

Even if you only have a couple of hours to spare, take advantage. Maybe you can squeeze in one of the tours. If you keep going east on Hollywood Blvd., things start to get less cheesy and you'll find cool things like vintage clothing stores. Also it seems like more of the sidewalk stars that direction are Golden Age Hollywood people. Me, I want to try to have a meal at Musso and Frank's again and maybe a trip to Amoeba Records (6400 Sunset Blvd.). Occupying an entire block, Amoeba Records is arguably one of the best record stores in the country. They also have a great selection of DVDs upstairs, organized into categories that TCMFF people will appreciate, such as Film Noir and Pre-Code. 

About 2 blocks east of the Egytian Theater on Hollywood Blvd. is Larry Edmunds Bookstore, great bookstore, specializing in movies and theater. If you're at the Egyptian and have time to spare, it's well worth the trip.

If there is somewhere you want to go, it might be worth it to call and see that they are still there, or that their hours haven't changed.  A couple of years ago, I did a series of posts on my favorite TCMFF Sidetrips. See links at the bottom of this post.

Talk to People

You probably wouldn’t know but I’m kind of an introvert. Oh, I’m fine talking to people if I feel have a reason to or if I think I have something in common with them, but in some social situations, I clam up or spend the whole time talking to the people I already know. Know that pretty much anybody wearing a TCMFF badge is someone you have something in common with, probably way more than most of your friends back home. This is your tribe. Revel in it. By Saturday, almost anyone you talk to has seen at least one of the same movies you have over the Festival. At any given time, there are about five things going on at once. If you’re standing in line, everyone else in that line has just passed up four other things that under normal circumstances they would love to see. If that’s not something in common, I don’t know what is. If you’re shy, try the following conversation starters:
  • What have you seen so far? A lot of the time it’s things you saw too or something you really wanted to see, but had to skip for something you wanted to see more. If it’s one of those rare titles, you can find out whether it was worth it. This may help you decide on those TBDs on Sunday.
  • What’s your favorite thing so far? You might get some great stories: Eddie Muller was very funny. Or I was standing in line for coffee with Ben Mankiewicz. 
  • And don’t forget the standard ones: Where are you from? How was your trip?

Festival Boutique

Want a TCMFF t-shirt or Noir Alley coffee mug. For the last couple of years, the TCM Boutique has been located inside SWEET! on the second floor of the Hollywood Highland mall. Just bear in mind that some items do sell out, so it's a good idea to shop early. 

Swag

I like to think of TCMFF as Comic-Con for classic film fans. At Comic-Con, you can't walk 20 feet without having someone give you swag. For those not in the know, swag is cool free stuff. There is not a lot of swag at TCMFF, but it does exist. TCM does hold events for things like TCM Backlot and the Wine Club. Will there be swag there? I honestly don't know, but there might be. Of course, maybe you'll have to join Backlot or the Wine Club to get it, but if you were planning to anyway, it might be cooler than what you would get otherwise.


I decided not to do buttons this year because everybody
does buttons, I'm doing something different this year. Probably
not as cool as what I did in 2017 (above), but kind of cool.
I'm not saying anymore. You'll just have to find me.
Now, about 98% of the swag at TCMFF is buttons. A couple weeks ago, I made rather flippant remark on Facebook about buttons. I said, if you didn't get any buttons, it's because you didn't try. Of course, someone responded, I didn't get any buttons and wanted to know how to get some. Well, here you go.

A lot of people make buttons to give out at TCMFF. Maybe they are promoting their classic film blog or podcast. Maybe they're doing it because they like Thelma Ritter or think the Joel McCrea is underrated as a leading man. Anyway, if you want buttons, find someone who has some buttons and ask where they got them. Maybe they ordered them online before the Festival (graphic designer Kate Gabrielle has been doing TCMFF button sets for years; you can order them here). Maybe they got them the year before. Maybe the got them the day before from a guy wearing a Buster Keaton hat. Then again, maybe they got one from the woman over there in the green dress, and she still has some. You go up and ask her and she gives you one.

You may need to ask five people, ten people, twenty people, thirty people. Maybe you will get some buttons. Maybe, you won't, but what if you don't. Is it bad that you talk to 20 or 30 people you wouldn't have talked to otherwise. If you see someone with a lot of buttons, ask them. Often the reason people have a lot of buttons is that they are giving them out and got them in return.

Another way to get buttons is look on social media. A lot of the people who order buttons to give out at the Festival will post pictures of them on Twitter, Facebook, or whatever ahead of time. "Hi everybody, my Cary Grant buttons came in today." When you see things like this, like them. Post comments about how cool they. Follow or friend them. Send them a direct message. When it gets closer to the Festival, figure out which events they are going to and find them and ask for a button. See what I did there, I just recommended that you cyberstalk someone to get Cary Grant button. Don't worry. In the realm of cyberstalking, this is about as benign as it gets.

Finally, if you really want buttons, go out and get some. Find an image you like, ignore the fact that you don't own the copyright, and order some. If you're not real tech savvy, find someone to help you. You probably know someone at work or wherever. If that is too much trouble, just do one with text. Most button making sites will allow you to type in the text, you want to put on the button. Say you like, Sunset Blvd., do buttons that say, "I am big. It's the pictures that got small."

The reason everyone does buttons is that they're cheap and easy to do. The last time I did buttons, I think they cost about $28 for 100 buttons. That's about a quarter a piece. If you get a button-making kit, you can probably do them even cheaper. If you have a hundred buttons, you're probably going to get some in return. Are you going to get 75? Probably not. You might only get five. You might only get two. You're definitely going to get one, because you're going to keep one for yourself. And it's going to be one you like, because you picked out what to put on it. You got a button that you love, and it only cost you a quarter. Score.

Nowhere is the old addage, it's better to give than receive more true than with buttons and TCMFF. The point is not getting buttons. The point is giving them. Where else can you make people happy for a quarter. If you give a homeless guy a quarter, he's going to look at you like you are making more work for him (crystal meth dealers don't take change). If you like buttons, order some. You'll get one, and you'll make 99 other people happy. It's the best 25 or 30 bucks you'll ever spend in your life. By the way, if you do make some buttons, it's probably better not to put the TCM logo on it. TCM is in the business selling stuff with their logo on it. They probably wouldn't confiscate them or anything, but it is their pool we're playing in. We should respect that.

Swag You Really Don't Want

A word of warning, as you wander Hollywood Blvd., people are going to try give you stuff. Don't take it. Once a young man came up to me and said, "Here, have a free CD." In a moment weakness and exhaustion, I accepted. He then proceeded to ask me for money for the free CD he had just given me. And then didn't want to take it back when I said no. Trust me, you don't need that kind of headache.


####

Thanks for reading. I hope this was helpful. Don't forget to check the links below. Good info there as well. I will update these links as I see more.


Related links

All of these links are from last year or older, but the info should still be good. If I see any updates or good new related posts, I'll do my best to update here. If you know of a good one, leave me a comment, and I will update.


My TCMFF Sidetrip posts from 2016:


Monday, March 11, 2019

TCMFF Survival Guide Part 1, How TCMFF Works

This will be my sixth year attending the TCM Classic Film Festival (TCMFF), held April 11 to 14, 2019. In addition, I have been going to Comic-Con and other fan conventions for decades, so I know what it’s like to spend four or five days in a strange city living out of a hotel room and running around from the time you get up in the morning until the time you collapse in your room late at night. 

This is, I think, the fifth version of this guide I've done. I've tried to refine things over the years. This year, I've decide to split this post up into three parts:


  • Part 1 (this part) covers the nuts and bolts of how TCMFF works. 
  • Part 2 will cover making the most of your experience and will also contain links to other similar posts past and present. I will do my best to update with new links as I find them. 
  • Part 3 will covers preserving your sanity in the craziness of TCMFF

Pass levels




I've never addressed this before, but seeing how many questions I see on the Going to the TCM Classic Film Festival! Facebook group page, I thought I would give it a shot. Bear in mind this is kind of a dumbed-down version of what's on the official TCM Classic Film Festival page, the definitive source of all of this information. As I am writing this, all pass levels are sold out. I believe they finally sold out the lower levels of passes in late February. From top to bottom, the pass levels break down this way (prices reflect 2019 pricing):

  • Spotlight Pass ($2149). A few years ago this pass-level sold out very quickly. The following year, the price of this level was raised significantly, and now it sells out over a period of weeks, not hours/minutes. This level gets you all benefits of the Essential Pass plus the following:
    • Priority entry to screenings (separate line that goes in first, does not guarantee you a seat if the theater is full)
    • Entry to the Opening Night Gala Party following the official Opening Night Red Carpet Gala screening, and guaranteed seating to Opening Night Red Carpet Screening itself
    • Two complimentary glasses of TCM wine per day (Thursday-Sunday) in Club TCM (New for 2019)
    • 20% discount on items purchased at the Festival boutique (New for 2019)
    • Meet-and-greet events
    • Limited edition TCM Classic Film Festival poster
  • Essential Pass ($799). If memory serves me, this level of pass sold out in about 20 minutes this year. You might think selling out quickly is a good thing. It is not. In a perfect world, you would want everybody to purchase the level of pass they want. Think about it. If you got a phone call right when tickets went on sale, you might not be too late to purchase an Essential Pass. I would not be surprised if the price of Essential passes goes up fairly significantly next year. This level gets you all benefits of the Classic Pass plus the following:
    • Entry to the official Opening Night Red Carpet Gala screening at the TCL Chinese Theatre but not the party afterwards
    • TCMFF swag bag (gift bag)
  • Classic Pass ($649). In all of the years I have attended, I have attended on a Classic Pass or a Media Pass (pretty much the same thing as a Classic Pass). This pass level gets you the following.
    • Access to all film programs but does not include the Opening Night Red Carpet Gala screening nor the Opening Night Gala Party afterwards
    • Access to Club TCM events, panels and poolside screenings at Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel
    • Opening Night welcome reception on early evening Thursday at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel
    • Closing Night party on Sunday at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel
  • Palace Pass ($299). This pass is good for Friday through Sunday only and only includes screenings at the TCL Chinese IMAX, the Egyptian, and Poolside screenings at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. This level does not include screenings at the TCL Chinese Multiplex. The TCMFF web site does not say whether or not it includes screenings at the newly added Legion Theater Venue. My guess is that it would not, but that is a question for TCM. The Palace Pass does not include Club TCM events nor the official parties at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.
  • Individual Tickets. After all passholders have been seated, any open seats will be sold on a first come, first served, standby basis. The TCMFF web site lists more details. I know the price of individual tickets was $20 or $25 a few years ago. I'm not sure whether the price has gone up since then, but I assume it would have, but probably not outrageously so. I do remember seeing a tweet recently that last year individual ticket holders got in late and often missed the film introductions. Your mileage may vary.
Again, I do want to stress that I make no claim that the above information is definitive. You should always consult the TCM Classic Film Festival web site for details on passes.

Line numbers

When you get in line for a screening, you will be given a number in the order you enter the line, this means you can leave the line and go do something if need be, use the rest room, or grab a snack. I would check to see when they're going to move the line. Usually the people giving out the numbers have a good idea. That way you know how much time you have. You need to make sure you get back in in line before your number moves in. They will not hold a seat for you just because you have a number. Take advantage of it when you can. It could be the difference between a sandwich for dinner and Jujubes.

It's really simple if the line doesn't get messed up, which does happen sometimes. Say you and the person you're with get line numbers and want to leave to get popcorn. You get back to the line and figure out where your number should be. Most people put the numbers in the pocket of their badge, so you can usually see where you need to go. If you need to ask someone what number they are, go ahead. People are really good about helping you out. Say you and the person you're with have numbers 75 and 76. You find the people closest to yours. It might be 72 and 77. So you get in line in front of 77 and behind 72, knowing that 73 and 74 have to get back in line in front of you.


If you get in line and decide to just stay in line, it's better if you do not squish the line forward. There's are always going to be people who will need to get back in ahead of you. Sometimes the line will be really full, and you might not want to make it worse. Just figure out where you need to be and find out who has the numbers around yours. Then when the line starts to move you can get back in at the proper spot.



Venues

The important thing to keep in mind about the venues is where they are and how big they are. I’ve arranged the venues more or less in order by how close they are to the Roosevelt Hotel, since that is the host hotel:


  • Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel – Home to Club TCM and the Poolside screenings. Club TCM is where a most of the guest interviews and special programs will be. In years past, there was a fairly low stage, rows of chairs and a standing area behind the chairs. If you’re at the back of the standing area, you might not be able to see very well. If there is an event that is really important to you, make sure you get there extra early. The pool is just that a swimming pool with a screen at the one end.  Everybody says get there extra early if you want one of the lounge chairs. I've only been to a coupled of the poolside screenings.
  • Chinese Theatre IMAX (920 seats) – This is the old Grauman’s Chinese theater. If you cross Hollywood Blvd. from The Roosevelt, you’re there. Okay, it's down a little bit, but it is very close. For lines, they usually run some Disneyland-style switchbacks in front of the theater and then up the stairs up into the Hollywood and Highland mall. Don’t panic if the line goes back a long way. It’s a big theater. In the past I've seen the line wind through the mall, out the side of the mall and almost all the way back to the front of the theater, and I still got in.
  • TCL Chinese 6 Theatres is located inside the Hollywood and Highland mall. They are using two screens this year. The thing to keep in mind here is House 6 is fairly small, and it's  the most likely to fill up and have to turn people away. Gone this year is the dreaded 177-seat House 4, which was often had to turn people away. Very good news, although the replacement theater is about a fifteen minute walk away. Also note that the seating capacity of the TCL Multiplex theaters seems to have changed since last year. Possibly, they redesigned the seating:
    • House 1 (448 Seats, was listed as 477 Seats in 2018)
    • House 6 (266 Seats, was listed as 210 Seats in 2018)
  • Egyptian Theatre (618 Seats) – Great old theater, built in the early 1920s. Personally, I like sitting in the balcony because you get a better view of the Egyptian frescos in the ceiling. The balcony isn't always open. Depending on how you look at it, it’s either two very long blocks or about four normal size blocks away, so allow yourself some extra time to get there. Google Maps says it's a 6 minute walk from the Hollywood Roosevelt to the Egyptian. Don't count on it, especially on Friday and Saturday nights when there are a lot of tourists on Hollywood Blvd.
  • Legion Theater at Post 43 (484 Seats). This is a new venue this year, located at 2035 N Highland Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90068. This is a newly refurbished historical theater in the American Legion Post 43. Never been there, but the pictures look way cool.  According to Google Maps, the distance from the Hollywood Roosevelt to Legion Theater is 0.6 miles (compared to 0.3 miles to the Egyptian) Google Maps calls it a 12 minute walk. The TCMFF web site calls it a 15 to 20 walk. It should be possible to cut through Hollywood Highland mall, and you might shave time off that, hard to say. Also you can go almost the entire way without dealing with Hollywood Blvd craziness. That might save some time as well.
  • Other venues. In years past, TCMFF has held a small number of events at other venues. For example, The Montalbán Theatre (500 Seats) was used for live interviews they plan to tape and run on TCM later. I'm guessing they would do the same this year. In addition, the ArcLight Cinemas’ Cinerama Dome (596 seats) has been used for Cinerama screenings for the last couple of years. We probably will not know about other venues until later. I will do my best to make updates later, but I do have a full-time job, and a life, umm, sort of.

Unofficial Events

If you have have the ability to come in a day or two early and/or stay a day or two late, there is other stuff going on, but not necessarily affiliated with official Festival. This is new information, and I can't really claim that his is an exhaustive list. I have always come up on  Wednesday before TCMFF and left on the Monday afterwards. This year for the first time I am coming in on the Tuesday. There are number of people who come in early and for me this will be a chance to hang out with my TCMFF buds an extra day. Personally, I'm trying to make plans to meet up with some of my Twitter #TCMParty cronies to have lunch at Musso and Frank's on Tuesday. In addition, other events include:


  • Tuesday, April 9, 6:30-9:30 pm. Fashion in Film of TCMFF 2019, Hosted by Kimberly Truhler. Ticketed event, but tickets were still available as I wrote this at eventbrite.com. There seems to be a discrepancy on the start time between what Kimberly's Facebook Event page says and the eventbrite page.
  • Wednesday, April 10, 3:30-8:00 pm, Hollywood Roosevelt Poolside, Going to TCM Classic Film Festival! Facebook group Going to TCMCFF Pre-Fest Party 2019.
  • Thursday, April 11, Twitter, #TCMParty meetup. No official word on this one, but it almost always happens on Thursday afternoon in between Club TCM Thursday Events. On Twitter, monitor the #TCMFF and #TCMParty hashtags for details.
  • Thursday, April 11, Hollywood Forever TCMFF Cemetery Tour, two tours, 10:00 am-12:30 pm and 1:00-3:30 pm. Details on Facebook or cemeterytour.com.
  • Other events. There are a number of other events that you might want to be aware of. To be honest, living in San Diego, I'm not incredibly dialed in on the LA classic movie scene, so this list probably has numerous omissions. But it does have some ideas to get you started. Google is your best friend here. The ones that come to mind off the top of my head are:
    • First and foremost, the TCM Film Locations Tour is run in conjunction with TCMFF. It might be sold out at this point, but if available worth the time. Details at tcm.com
    • Warner Brother Studio Classics Tour. Again may be sold out, but worth looking into. I've never done this one myself but I've heard good things on it. Details at wbstudiotour.com
    • New Beverly Cinema often shows something cool and classic to coincide with TCMFF. Might be a bit early for April schedule to be posted, but you can check back later. Details at: thenewbev.com.
  • Finally, a few years ago I did some posts on TCMFF Sidetrips:
Stay tuned for Parts 2 and 3 of my TCMFF Survival Guide Posts to come.