San Diego Classic Film Calendar

Friday, April 21, 2017

TCMFF 2017 – Day 1

Jasmine and I got to share world's smallest
shower caddy
Thursday was the first full day of the TCM Classic Film Festival (TCMFF). It's the lightest day but even so, it's not without conflicts. My daughter Jasmine and I started the day with breakfast at Mel's Drive-in on Highland. We knew this would be the only real breakfast we would get during the festival. Afterwards, it would all be things we had in the room or whatever I could pick up with coffee in the morning on the way to the first screening. Also because the first real event wasn't until 11, we were able to take our time getting out of the room including the impromptu Jinga game in the bathroom with the world's smallest shower shelf.

First up was the Hitchcock Meet and Greet, I covered this in detail in my postpartum wrapup here, so I won't repeat myself. However, I will mentioned that thing about conflicts. We did run into the first conflict before noon. Alan Hait had organized an informal Twitter #TCMParty lunch at In'N'Out Burgers, about a five-minute walk from the Hollywood Roosevelt. Still, it would have meant leaving the Hitchcock Meet and Greet early, and the timing on getting back in time for the Remembering Robert Osborne memorial at 12:30 would be rough. Besides we had breakfast on the late side, so weren't up for lunch that early anyway. 


Remembering Robert Osborne
(Photo: Edward M. Pio Roda)
Turns out this was a good call, Remembering Robert Osborne came pretty darn close to filling the 456-seat Chinese Theater 1. To be honest, I was a bit leery, about going to something that emotional that early in the day, but it turned out just fine. There was the odd tear here and there, but enough time had passed that those speaking could relish the good memories of the beloved TCM host. Those who knew him shared some of their favorite stories about Robert Osborne. 

I think my favorite story was one shared by TCM Producer/Director Sean Cameron (I think it was his story). Anyway, he was talking about his daughters and how he is trying to introduce them to classic film. Robert had recommended they watch a film called, Margie, a sweet coming-of-age story about a teenage girl. He said he was watching this film with his daughters. The girl in Margie is in high school, and and you're not sure how it is going to end. Is she going to end up with the handsome jock or the smart and sweet nerdy guy. Then you get to the end of the movie and the girl marries her teacher. He goes to Robert Osborne, "How could you have me show this pedophile movie to my pre-teen daughters?"

Osborne responded, "It was a different time. That didn't really matter that much back then."

Cameron went on to say that he honestly believed that Robert Osborne had forgot that was how the film ended and just remembered the sweet coming-of-age part and not the creepy marrying your high school teacher part. 

The other thing that stands out from the Remembering Robert Osborne panel was something Host Ben Mankiewicz said. Of all the people on the panel, Ben was the person who knew Robert Osborne least well. He would have liked to have called him his mentor, but the truth of the matter was they didn't see each other all that often. Neither of them lived in Atlanta, so when Robert was in the studio shooting his segments, Ben was at home, and vice versa. About the only time they saw each other was at TCMFF and on the TCM Cruises. Even then a lot of the time, they were going opposite directions. 

Someone asked about how the network is going to fill Robert Osborne's hosting duties. Ben told a story about how he loved music and in particular Bruce Springsteen. When Clarence Clemons of Springsteen's backing band The E Street Band died, the band didn't just hang it up. They didn't want continue without him, but they didn't want to stop either. They ended up getting Clemon's nephew, who also played saxophone, but ultimately, they end up replacing the late saxophone player with three people. Ben continued that there was no one person who could step into Robert Osborne's shoes. The hosting duties would be spread among several hosts.


And the winner is ... Robert's Raiders
(photo: Tyler Golden)
We had just enough time to pick up a quick lunch at Johnny Rockets. We ended up in back-to-back booths with a couple from Texas who were trying to navigate the schedule on their first TCMFF. Jasmine and I spoke with them and answered questions about things like how the line numbers worked. We got back to the Hollywood Roosevelt just in time for So You Think You Know Movies trivia contest. Right as we arrived, I got recruited on a team, called Robert's Raiders. I covered this in detail here, but the short version is that we ended in a tie with another team and won the tie-breaker round.

Just as the trivia contest was ending, they were doing the Twitter #TCMParty group photo out by the pool. Since #TCMParty co-founder Paula Guthat (Paula's Cinema Club) had to be there on time and was part of the winning trivia team, I grabbed Paula's bag and rushed out for the photo. 


Jasmine and me, hanging with Dustin Hoffman, umm,
and Anne Bancroft's leg
This was probably the most short-lived get-together of the festival. Many people were going to the Red Carpet or had to change for the opening party. Jasmine and I were there just long enough for the photo and then had to run back to our room to change. Though neither Jasmine nor I have ever walked the Red Carpet, we still dress for opening night as if we do. (Jasmine had a Classic Pass, and my Media Pass was the equivalent of a Classic Pass, neither of which include walking the red carpet or the Opening Night Screening.) Still, it's kind of fun to dress up. I have a white dinner jacket tux I bought two years ago, and I figure I'm going to wear it until the seat falls out of the pants. Jasmine is young and pretty and looks good in anything, but in her cocktail dress, she was stunning.

We went to the Opening Party but only stayed for about 5 minutes. Between changing and elevator issues, the Hollywood Roosevelt is an old hotel with tiny elevators that do not respond well to lots of people trying to get up to their rooms and back downstairs all at the same time. We then made our way to the Egyptian for the first screening, Myrna Loy and William Powell in Love Crazy, probably my favorite of the Loy Powell non-Thin Man movies. Both Jasmine and I were on the fence about this. The other big draw in this time slot was the documentary, Dawson City: Frozen Time, about a cache of rare nitrate films from 1903-1929 found in Dawson City, Yukon, Canada, incredibly well preserved due to the low temperatures. 

At my urging, we opted for Love Crazy. I reminded Jasmine that she had called, William Powell, her spirit animal, after seeing My Man Godfrey at her first TCMFF. Myrna Loy and William Powell are just magic onscreen, and the odds of San Diego's limited classic film scene digging that deep into the catalog seemed unlikely. Dana Delany introduced the film and looked gorgeous. Love Crazy was a delight. I find the film very funny on TV, but with an audience, it was hilarious.

Next up, we made our way back to the Chinese Multiplex for one of the films I was most looking forward to, Harold and Maude. We had come directly from The Egyptian and made our way quickly. When we got there, we ended up getting line Nos. 3 and 4. The lowest line number Jasmine and I had ever got in three years at #TCMFF. At the front of the line in the No. 1 slot was Karen Burroughs Hannsberry (shadowsandsatin), whom I'd met the day before. I said to her that if I'd just got here a few minutes earlier I could've had the No. 1. Karen said, she had got there an hour earlier. "Opps, you win."

I also have a vague recollection of someone mistaking Karen for Jasmine's mom. My wife is black, and Jasmine is obviously mixed race. If you are a black woman of a certain age at TCMFF, you too could be mistaken for Jasmine's mom. It happened again to another friend on Sunday night. After we got out of line, we got a nutritional dinner of of popcorn and a pretzel. I remember Jasmine and I joking about asking her mom (Karen) to take our picture.

On Harold and Maude, I was looking forward to sharing it with Jasmine. I figured she would love it. I kind of figured wrong. She did love the characters and the relationship. She was not prepared for the ending. Jasmine and I think a lot alike. I loved Harold and Maude from the very first viewing. The thing is I saw it when I was about 25. Had I seen it at 17 like Jasmine I might have had the same reaction. I forget that she is still very young.

We sat with Jocelyn (Classic Film Observations & Obsessions), who if memory serves me, had not seen it either. Introducing Harold and Maude was Dave Karger, who shared two stories about the film that I loved. First off, Elton John was wanted for the role of Harold. Director Hal Ashby wanted him for the part, and Elton John read and loved the script and very seriously considered it. The problem was that it came very shortly after Elton John had his first hit record. He and his songwriting partner, Bernie Taupin, figured that making the film would take six months, right at the time when they needed to concentrate on music.

The other story involved the late Bill Paxton. Harold and Maude was Paxton's all-time favorite film. He saw it for the first time on a date with a woman, he really liked. After the movie, Paxton absolutely loved the movie. His date absolutely hated it. Paxton made some excuse for dropping off his date early. Immediately, he got back in his car, drove to the theater, and watched it again.


Richard Rosen and I enjoying the masterful
drinks at the library bar (photo: Andrea Rosen)
After the film, I was a little let down. I tried to justify the ending, but it was too fresh for Jasmine. Now that, I think about it, Jasmine's reaction was perfectly normal, but I just hadn't seen it coming. Still, we were only two films in on a very long weekend. She had really liked Love Crazy. And I knew we'd see others she would adore. We got back to the hotel. Jasmine turned in, while I stopped for a drink, and ended up in the Library Bar with Andrea Rosen and her husband, Richard. Richard had ordered some unnamed vodka, lime, and ginger concoction, that was so good I switched to it on my second drink, even though I'm not really a vodka drinker. 

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