Wednesday, January 25, 2023

TCMFF Survival Guide Part 1 – How TCMFF Works

This will be my eighth year attending the TCM Classic Film Festival (TCMFF), held April 13 to 16, 2023. 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 the seventh version of this guide I've done. I've tried to refine things over the years and decided to split this post up into three parts:

  • Part 1 (this part) covers the nuts and bolts of how TCMFF works. 
  • Part 2 covers making the most of your experience. 
  • Part 3 covers trying to preserve your sanity in the craziness of TCMFF.

What This Guide Will Not Cover

COVID-19 info will not be addressed in this guide. At the time of this writing, the information on the TCMFF website was as follows:

There are currently no plans to implement mandatory COVID-19 related health and safety protocols at the 2023 TCM Classic Film Festival. However, the health and safety of Festival attendees remains our number one priority and the Festival will continue to monitor the pandemic situation. Attendees will be subject to all applicable federal, state, and local safety precautions in place at the time of the event. In addition, TCM may, at its sole discretion, implement additional mandatory safety precautions to be determined.

In other words, look for the TCMFF website in case it changes:
https://filmfestival.tcm.com/

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Most of the following 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. 

Date announcement

Pre-COVID, the dates of the next year festival were announced in the Summer. This year as well as last, the dates of TCMFF were announced in October. Last year, I would have guessed that the later announcement was due to COVID. However, in 2019, TCM was bought was bought by AT&T, now named WarnerMedia. I'm guessing that under WarnerMedia, TCM doesn't have the same level of autonomy as they did before the purchase. Hence, the later announcement of dates may just the way it works now.

The only reason I mention this is that if you really want to get a room at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, it's a good idea to act fast. The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel is a very expensive hotel and has only a relatively small number of somewhat reasonably priced but still expensive rooms, you need to book almost immediately after the dates are announced. To give you an idea of what I mean, in 2015, I called the Roosevelt at about 4:30 Pacific time the day TCM announced the dates, and by that time, the cheapest available was a mini-suite at $700 plus a night, in 2015 prices no less. 

Passes

Similar to last year, festival passes/badges for the 2023 TCM Classic Film Festival will be exclusively available for Will Call pick up beginning Wednesday, April 12th. No passes will be mailed for the 2023 TCMFF. While this may be an inconvenience, presumably it would allow TCM to implement any necessary COVID precautions should they be deemed necessary.

Badges, we don't need not stinking badges.... Well, yes, you do.
Actually, no, you don't, but we'll get to that later

Passes went on sale in early December with an early bird discount through the early January. At the time of this writing, Spotlight and Essential pass levels are sold out, and Classic and Palace passes are still available. Currently, there is a waitlist for Spotlight and Essential passes. See the TCMFF web site for details.

From top to bottom, the pass levels break down as follows:

  • Spotlight Pass ($2549)
  • Essential Pass ($1099)
  • Classic Pass ($849) 
  • Palace Pass ($399)

The following graphic shows the benefits of each type of pass:


Note: The Palace pass does not grant access to any Festival venue or event prior to Friday, April 14 nor to any of the Club TCM events.

Individual Tickets. After all passholders have been seated, any open seats will be sold on a first come, first served, standby basis. Last year, individual tickets were $20 for most screenings and events. Students with valid student ID could receive a 50% discount off all individual tickets. I seem to remember that they only took cash, but I can't say that for sure. I do remember seeing a tweet saying that sometimes individual ticket holders got in late and often missed the film introductions. Your mileage may vary. See the TCMFF web site lists more details on Individual Tickets. The info there now is fairly sparse, so check as we get closer for better details.

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

Not Those ...

These

If memory serves me, and nothing has changed, line numbers are given out an hour before the screening starts. If you get there early, you can wait in line until they give them out. Most of the time, when you get in line for a screening, you will be given a number as you enter the line, 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, grab a snack, or whatever. 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 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 Red Vines.

It's really simple if the line doesn't get messed up, which does happen sometimes, especially on Thursday night. 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 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 don't 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

Chinese IMAX in 2015 from TCMFF Site

The important thing to keep in mind about the venues is where they are and how big they are.  The schedule for TCMFF can be very tight. You generally want to get in line by about a half hour before a screening, earlier if it's something you'd be devastated if you missed it. Obviously, if you have to hoof it out to the Legion Theater, you need to allow time for that. Generally speaking, one of the theaters in the TCL Chinese 6 is relatively small. You probably need to get there even earlier for those, because they are the most likely to have to turn people away. 

I’ve arranged the venues 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 break the line and start up again up the stairs up into the Ovation Hollywood mall. Don’t panic if the line goes back a long way. It’s a huge 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 – Located inside the Ovation Hollywood mall. Currently, the TCMFF site only says that three screens are being used, but not the size of the theaters. Last year, the following screens were used:
    • House 1 (448 Seats)
    • House 4 (177 Seats)
    • House 6 (266 Seats)
  • Legion Theater at Post 43 (484 Seats) – Located at 2035 N. Highland Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90068. This is a refurbished historical theater in the American Legion Post 43. It's a very cool venue, and they have a bar in the basement that makes an awesome old fashioned.  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, no word on whether the Egyptian is being used this year). Google Maps calls it a 12 minute walk. The TCMFF web site calls it a 15 to 20 minute walk. It is uphill from the rest of TCMFF. It is possible to cut through Ovation Hollywood mall, and you might shave time off that, hard to say. If you were coming from the TCL Chinese 6, it definitely would be faster to go out the back or the east side of the mall. I'll have more details on getting around in Part 2 of this post
  • Other venues. In years past, TCMFF has held a small number of events at other venues:
    • The Egyptian Theatre is still undergoing renovations. According to a news story posted in October, the plan is to open the Egyptian Theatre in 2023, but I have no idea whether that would be soon enough for TCMFF. I'm a glass-half-full type of person, so I'm hoping that there will be at least limited screenings at the Egyptian. Unless things have changed, the Egyptian is the only theater in the area equipped to show nitrate prints of films. Looking at the American Cinematheque site, which administers the Egyptian Theater, nothing is scheduled at the Egyptian through the end of February, but they don't have a schedule posted beyond that. I wouldn't hold your breath.
    • Also last year, TCMFF did do one film, Disney's Jungle Book (1967) at the El Capitan Theatre, a huge restored vintage theater comparable in size to the Chinese IMAX theater. Note that the El Capitan is owned by Disney, and I'd be surprised if they allowed anything other than a Disney-owned property to be screened there. Then again, Disney owns half the free world at this point, so there's a lot to work with. Also, the El Capitan has a pipe organ, and they play live music before the films. It's almost worth it just for pipe organ and to see the inside of the theater.
    • Finally, last year, TCMFF did all of the guest interviews in Club TCM at the Hollywood Roosevelt, but several years ago, guest interviews were done at a different theater, such is the Montalb├ín Theatre on Vine St. I'm not sure when they stopped doing that, but it isn't outside the realm of possibility that TCMFF might do something like that again this year. It would be a much better venue for recording to show on the network later than Club TCM.

Regarding the TCL Chinese 6, a word of warning about the Ovation Hollywood mall. It was designed to be explored. There are multiple levels, and it's not always easy to know what level you are on and how to get up or down, and more importantly where you are in relationship to the TCL Chinese 6 and/or the Chinese IMAX/Roosevelt. There are a few tricks to getting around which I will cover in Part 2 of this post. The abridged version is that if you have any time before TCMFF starts, go to the Ovation Hollywood mall and at the very least figure out where the TCL Chinese 6 is. It is very easy to get lost, and the time you get lost is bound to be the time you only have a very short window to get to the next screening.

Schedule

The full schedule is posted online about three weeks before TCMFF (with the smartphone apps being released about a week before the Festival). For the most part, films are scheduled in blocks, with all  theater venues running films at the same time, not counting Club TCM events, handprint ceremonies, etc. For example, on Friday and Saturday, there is usually a morning block, a mid-day block, an afternoon block, an early evening block, a late evening block, and one midnight movie each, on Friday and Saturday nights only.

There's roughly an hour between blocks, and you would think that leaves you plenty of time to get from one screening to the next, but it doesn't always work out that way. Let's say, one person goes to a screening of a 90-minute movie that starts at 9 am, and another person goes to 2-hour movie that also starts at 9 am. The 90-minute movie person has an extra half hour between blocks and probably won't have much trouble getting to a second screening at 12, whereas the 2-hour movie person might be scrambling. All films have someone introducing them. Sometimes, it's a simple 5-minute intro like we're used to seeing on the network. Other times, it may be a 20 minute presentation or interview with one the film's stars or director. You really need to pay close attention to start and end times.

Epics, like Gone with the Wind or Lawrence of Arabia will take up two blocks. Sometimes blocks will pair a longer movie, say a 2 1/2-hour movie opposite a pair of short movies, like a 70-minute pre-code and an 80-minute film noir.  It can get pretty complicated, and the time windows between blocks of movies do not always align perfectly well.

The TCMFF program schedule is normally broken into a number of categories:

  • Essentials – Classics that pretty much every one knows, Casablanca, The Wizard of Oz, Double Indemnity
  • Discoveries – Lesser known classic and sometimes foreign films, Merrily We Go to Hell, When Worlds Collide, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
  • Special Presentations – Films with more in-depth discussions/celebrity interviews, collections of short films, silent films with live accompaniment, and so on
  • Tributes – Films that also feature appearance by/interviews with high profile guests
  • Often, there are films grouped around themes. The only one I have seen so far for 2023 is a spotlight on the legacy of Warner Bros. to mark the studio’s 100th anniversary.

Finally, on Sunday, there are four or five To Be Announced (TBA) screenings. These are almost always repeat screenings of particularly popular films that had to turn people away, so if you do get locked out on something, there's still a chance you can see it on Sunday. The TBA films are announced by early evening on Saturday. A list will be posted at the Info Desk at the Roosevelt, on the Apps, Twitter, etc., and the film intros late Saturday will usually announce them as they become available.

I know what you're thinking. How do you choose and when do you eat? Both are good questions. The answers are a bit complicated, but I'll do my best to answer in subsequent parts of this Guide.

Thursday, January 12, 2023

TCMFF – Top 5 Pics

 It's about that time. TCM has announced the groups of films for the 2023 TCM Classic Film Festival (TCMFF), April 13–16, 2023. At this point, I like to do a post of my top 5 picks of the films announced so far. Bear in mind, that this is purely an academic exercise. 

There's a very remote chance that more than a couple of these five will end up being films I see at TCMFF. Why? Well, with the exception of midnight movies, figure that at any given time during TCMFF, there are between four and six films playing opposite each other. Only 18 films have been announced so far, that's about 20% of the total. Also, as luck usually has it, often at least two of my favorites end up playing opposite each other. Finally, the very fact that I post a list like this almost guarantees that TCM will announce more films within a day or two of me posting that will negate at least part of this list. If that happens, you're welcome.

Announced so far:

Amadeus (1984)
American Graffiti (1973)
Batwoman (1968)
Casablanca (1942)
Clash of the Wolves (1925)
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931)
East of Eden (1955)
Enter The Dragon (1973)
The Exorcist (1973)
Footlight Parade (1933)
House of Wax (1953)
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923)
Peyton Place (1957)
Rio Bravo (1959)
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)
Shadow of a Doubt (1943)
Six Degrees of Separation (1993)
The Wild One (1953)

In addition to my top five, I have two honorable mentions. The way it worked out is that in the above list, there were four that stood out head-and-shoulders above the rest. Then, there were three others that I would really want to see. To separate out the No. 5 from the honorable mentions, I just imagined that all three were playing against each other, and the choice got real easy.

Honorable Mentions

  • American Graffiti (1973) – This is easily my favorite George Lucas film. Really? Yeah. More than Star Wars? Yep. I have a love–hate relationship with Star Wars, but I'll save that for another day. American Graffiti feels real, like that's what it really was like to be a teenager in a place like Modesto in 1962. I really think it's a much better film than Star Wars, even Star Wars before Lucas started messing with it.
  • Enter The Dragon (1973) – I love Enter the Dragon. It's such a cool film. Bruce Lee is amazing, but I did see it in the theater about five years ago, which often makes a difference at TCMFF. This brings me to my Top 5.

Top 5

5. Casablanca (1942)Casablanca is my all-time favorite film, hands down, no question. I have seen Casablanca quite a few times in the theater, including once at, I think, my first TCMFF in 2014. I almost never would turn down an opportunity to see it in the theater, except at TCMFF, when it's opposite something else I might never get to see in the theater period. Still, seeing Casablanca in a mostly full huge theater like the Chinese, where the entire audience loves just as much as you do is an amazing experience, and not something I turn away from lightly.

 


4. Rio Bravo (1959) – I'm not a huge fan of Westerns, and I've never done the math on my all-time favorite Westerns, but I'm pretty sure Rio Bravo would fall in the top 5. It's a great film, and I think it's best thing that Dean Martin ever did. Dean Martin is just charming in almost everything, but here, fighting his own demons, as Borochon (Spanish slang for drunk), he's amazing. He really could act. The rest of the cast, John Wayne, Angie Dickinson, Walter Brennan, Ward Bond, and Ricky Nelson aren't too bad either.

 


3. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is one of my absolute favorite musicals. Yes, it is a bit sexist with the whole Sobbin' Women thing, okay, more than a bit. Still, the dance numbers are amazing and some of the best ever put on film, and with Russ Tamblyn as one of the guests, I'm Team Gideon all the way.

 


2. Footlight Parade (1933) – When you think of Pre-Code films, Busby Berkeley's seem to get lost in the mix, and it just doesn't get much better than Footlight Parade. The "By a Waterfall" number is amazing. Plus, I have a huge thing for Joan Blondell. She's absolutely gorgeous at this point in her career, and when she trades barbs with rivals for her love interest, James Cagney, she can sling insults with the best of them.

 


1. Shadow of a Doubt (1943) – This is by far my top pick. Shadow of a Doubt was Alfred Hitchcock's personal favorite of his own films. I saw it on the big screen just once back in the 80s, and I'd dearly love to see it again. The film moves from wholesome and funny to awkward and chilling with a finesse that only Alfred Hitchcock could pull off. Joseph Cotten is great as the black sheep brother of a very normal family and hides a very sinister secret, and Teresa Wright is every bit as good as his namesake niece, who's determined to unravel his secret. There's an amazing closeup where Joseph Cotten is railing against silly rich useless woman and then he turns and addresses the audience directly. Seeing this on the big screen, where his face fills the entire screen just sends chills down your spine. 


Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Noir City, Los Angeles, 2022

The timing on Noir City, Los Angeles, April 15–17, was such that it seemed like kind of a no-brainer to add a couple of room nights to my trip to the TCM Classic Film Festival (TCMFF) to take advantage of part of it. My original plan was to take the train up from San Diego, but with what I had packed, I wasn't super crazy about negotiating the Metro with that much stuff on the last part of the trip from Union Station to Hollywood and Highland. My wife who now has a dependable car offered to drive me, and we got one of our friends who tends to be down for a road trip with no notice to tag along.

We ended up leaving at about noon, which meant there was no way I was going to make it up to catch the Saturday afternoon screening at 2:00. In theory, you could drive it in that time. In practice, once you hit LA traffic the last 15 miles or so almost always takes an hour or more. I figured two movies on Saturday night and three on Sunday; that was good enough for me. With a stop for fast food and picking up or friend, it was pushing 1:00 by the time we really got going anyway.

It was about 4:00 by the time we got to the Motel 6 in Hollywood. Part of the way I justified the extra nights was a cheaper hotel for the first half of the trip when it was just me. The Motel 6 was reasonably priced (by Hollywood standards), though we were informed that there was no daily maid service. You could get fresh towels if you wanted but that was about it. Still, the room was clean when I got there. They even had the towels origami-ed into animal shapes for you:

Plus, they were cool about letting us park in the garage. That part of town isn't exactly easy to park, and hotels just love to charge for parking. That's gonna be another $30 a night for where your car gets to sleep. Still, the room wasn't without other weirdness, like no coat hangers. Really? And shelves rather than drawers to store your clothes. My wife and our friend hung out for about 45 minutes while they got their bearings on what they were going to do with the rest of their time in LA.

I bought tickets for all of the remaining shows online, and before long it was time for the 15 minute trek to the Legion Theater. I met a could of people on the way up the hill, but had to run across the street to Subway to pick up a quick sandwich for dinner. I ended up running into them several times in the coming days, and for the life of me I can't remember their names. Sorry, ladies. I got to the Legion Theater with about 10 minutes to spare. I wasn't sure about the COVID protocols (I don't think there were any, but I didn't know that). I was one of about a third of the people wearing a mask inside. I did have had time to talk to Karie Bible (@filmradar). I know we'd met before, but to a certain degree we run different circles at TCMFF. She wanted to take pictures of my hat.

The Accused

First up was The Accused. I don't think I'd seen it before. Loretta Young stars as a college professor, who seems way more prim than Loretta Young could ever be, presumably to stave off the advances of her male students, though it doesn't seem to work very well. The storyline is fairly progressive. [Minor spoilers here, but most of the following occurs in the first fifteen minutes.] She allows a student to give her a ride home and agrees to have dinner with him. On a ruse to show her where he dives for abalone, he parks and makes his move. They show just enough to let you know what is going on, basically a date rape. She kills the student in self-defense, but in a panic makes his death look like a diving accident. The rest of the movie is her trying to cover her tracks (rather poorly), while falling in love the student's well-intentioned uncle, Bob Cummings. In the meantime, police detective, Wendell Corey, tries to figure out what really happened. There's also some cool almost CSI stuff involving scientist, Sam Jaffe.

In his intro, Eddie Muller talked about how the roll was offered to Barbara Stanwyck, and she said it was too stupid to shoot. Muller continued that it really wasn't the story but that it was wrong for Stanwyck. You needed an actress with a bit of innocence to make it work. With Loretta Young, it works. With Stanwyck, it wouldn't have worked. I fully agree. It was a lot of fun. I did spend most of the movie trying to figure out who the actor who played the student was. Right before the end, it hit me. The actor, the appropriately named Douglas Dick, was the guy John Dall and Farley Granger strangled in Rope.


Between the two movies, I had a beer at the bar downstairs. They had about six different beers in bottles, and as is typical out here, four were IPAs and two were something else. I had one of the something else's.

Caged

Caged I have seen several times, but this was the first on the big screen. It's a great film with strong performances all around. Eleanor Parker got a well-deserved Oscar nomination out of it. It's not the type of film that they gave Oscars to back then, so the fact that she was nominated attests to how good she is in the film. The rest of the cast was great too, especially, Agnes Moorehead as the progressive prison warden, powerless to do anything, despite her good intentions, and Hope Emerson as the corrupt and abusive prison matron. Caged lays bare exactly what is wrong with our prison system, a system that is now a hundred times worse.

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The next day I got up fairly early and rode my skateboard down Hollywood Blvd to get coffee and something for breakfast. I also wanted to go to the new Target on Hollywood Blvd to pick up supplies, but it was closed (Easter Sunday). I ended up buying few things at the CVS and saw Jesus, okay, saw someone in a bad Jesus costume while I was shopping. Yea, Hollywood. Good to see some things never change.

I spent most of that day in my room playing around online, playing my ukulele, listening to music, and believe it or not, sewing. I had bought a bunch of Fleischer Studios iron-on patches and a denim jacket to put them on, Betty Boop, Popeye, Bluto, Inky the Clown, the Spider from Cobweb Hotel (parody of Honeymoon Hotel from Footlight Parade) and the Ghost (one of small number of Fleischer Studios characters voiced by Cab Calloway). Naturally, I waited until the day before I left to try to put them on, and it turns out ironing on patches wasn't quite the no brainer I thought it would be. Part of the problem was that most of them had little skinny bits that didn't want to stay down. I had to tack them down in several spots. Now, in a pinch, I can sew on a button, but the workmanship always looks a little like an act of vandalism. Still, if you don't get too close, it looks pretty cool, and it was the only jacket I'd brought besides my sport coat.



The first screening on Sunday was The Underworld Story at 2:00. I hadn't eaten since breakfast and I figured I could pick up something fast at McDonalds. I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with McDonalds. I love their breakfast, especially the breakfast sandwiches. Just about everything else, the stuff they make after 10:30, not so much. It had probably been about 30 years since I'd last had a Quarter Pounder. I wondered whether the intervening years had been kind to the venerable Quarter Pounder. They had not. It was hot, reasonably palatable, but I think I can go another thirty years before trying it one again. At least, it didn't spill all over me walking up the hill to the theater.

The Underworld Story

The Underworld Story is a newspaper noir starring Dan Duryea, playing a opportunistic reporter. He's a bit scummy, but frankly by Dan Duryea standards, not all that scummy at all. The cast was good, Gale Storm, Herbert Marshall, Howard Da Silva, and Mary Anderson, a white actress playing African American. I think my biggest issue with the film was the story was a bit convoluted. I felt like if someone came in while I was watching it, I would be hard-pressed to explain what I had just watched 20 minutes earlier. Still it was entertaining, and I'm glad I got to see it on the big screen.

#####

I'd made fairly tentative arrangements to meet Aurora (@CitizenScreen) for dinner, so when I got out, I checked my phone and with a little bit of back and forth, we decided on 25 Degrees in the Hollywood Roosevelt. I wanted to change clothes before dinner and had just enough time to do so. Turns out Aurora had been with Annemarie (@ClassicMovieHub) and Laura (@LaurasMiscMovie) and her husband Doug sightseeing.

I got there shortly after they'd been seated. I was a little bummed that they didn't have my favorite from previous years, the infamous Guinness Milkshake (apparently they no longer had Guinness). I ended up settling on some mango hefeweizen, which was quite good. I got a Greek salad with steak, also very good. Both Aurora and Annemarie got the Tuscan tomato soup, which they both complained tasted like spaghetti sauce in soup form. If memory serves me, I think I tasted some of it, and they were right. The three of us also split what turned out to be an enormous side order of onion rings, very good, but too much to finish. After dinner we all piled into Laura and Doug's SUV and drove up the hill to the Legion Theater.

Left to Right, Laura, Doug, Annmarie, Me, and Aurora (Photo Courtesy of Laura, taken by server, used with permission)

I lost track of Laura, Doug, Annmarie, and Aurora almost immediately after entering the theater, and ended up sitting in more or less the same spot where I had been in the afternoon, and the previous night for that matter. While I was waiting, someone in front of me was telling me about a Tiki bar called Tiki-Ti. I'd overheard some of this the previous night, when he was telling someone wearing a Hawaiian shirt the same story. Unless I misheard, I think he said, that it was started by the guy who invented the Mai Tai, and then he and his son opened Tiki-Ti, which a little research implied probably wasn't the case. The closer to true story is that Tiki-Ti was opened by a bartender, who had been there at Don the Beachcomer's (one of two places that lay claim on having invented the Mai Tai) at the start of the tropical drink craze. Now, his son and grandson run the place. 

Still, it sounded like a cool place (online menu list roughly 90 drinks, no beer or wine). He said that it was on Sunset Blvd after the merge. I don't really know LA/Hollywood all that well, but I'm pretty sure I've been as far east on Sunset as the 101 freeway, and there's no merge that I know of. "I don't live up here, so that's east of the 101?" I asked. Yes, he explained that Hollywood Blvd merges with Sunset Blvd on the other side of Highway 101. The next day I did some research. Tiki-Ti appears to be a fairly easy walk from the Vermont/Sunset Red Line Metro station, three stops from the Hollywood/Highland station. They're only open Wed-Sat at this point, and sadly, the bar was on Spring break and closed after the first week in April. File that away for TCMFF 2023.

No Way Out

The first evening show Sunday was No Way Out, which Eddie Muller said was usually considered more of a race movie than a film noir. I can definitely see that there are elements of both. Muller also warned that it might be the most offensive movie you'll ever see. I tend to not be offended by the racism or use of the n-word in the film. I would be more offended, I think, if I felt like 72 years later, we had come further than we have. As a white person, I can try to empathize with the hurt and degradation that black people feel about it, but I feel like saying this causes me pain or even discomfort is sort of like trying to usurp the real pain that blacks feel at racism. I do feel uncomfortable at the racism, but I should feel that way. Also, every now then, I need to be reminded of this. Also, one thing that I really like about the film is that the whites in the film plan to attack and burn and beat up the occupants of the neighboring black community. The black people get wind of this, turn the tables, and attack the white neighborhood, wiping them out before they can act. Yes, I know that racism and hatred and violence are wrong, no matter what direction it's coming from, but it just seems cool to see black people get the upper hand for once.



Eddie Muller said that Richard Widmark was good friends with Sydney Poitier, and that as soon as the director yelled cut, he would apologize profusely for all of the hateful things he'd just said. In his intro to the following film, Alan K. Rode added to what Eddie Muller said about the film. Richard Widmark and Sydney Poitier lived together when Poitier first came to Hollywood. There is a line at the end of No Way Out, where Poitier tells Widmark, "You're gonna live, white boy." Years later, according to Rode, at William Holden's memorial service, Richard Widmark was sitting at the bar eating nuts, when he started to choke. Sydney Poitier saw this and gave him the Heimlich maneuver, saving him from choking. Poitier then turned to him and said, again, "You're gonna live, white boy." Best story I heard the whole week I was up in Hollywood.

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After No Way Out, there was about a 40 minute break, and conveniently, a bar in the basement. This time I did get to see Christie play piano, reading the music off her smart phone. When I made it to the bar, there were two women ahead of me waiting for a drink. As I was waiting, I couldn't help but thinking, why the hell is the bartender micromanaging these drinks. He had about about a quarter inch of liquid at the bottom of the glass and he was stirring and stirring and stirring and stirring and stirring and stirring and stirring and stirring.... You get the idea. Then he took out a fruit peeler and peeled a long thick piece of orange peel. He twisted it to get the oils in the peel to come out then rubbed it around the inside edge of the glass. Then he did likewise to what I thought was an apple (I don't see real well in dim lighting). He then filled the glass with ice and a brown liquor, stirred some more, and dropped in a cherry, not one of the bright red monstrosities, but something that looked like a real cherry. "What was that?" I asked. "I've never seen that done with an apple peel."

"Apple peel?" he said. "No, that was a lemon peel, and an old fashioned."

"Oooh, I'll have one of those." So the person behind me could wonder why he was micromanaging my drink.

I ended up sitting at the table with the two women ahead of me at the bar. I can't remember the older of the two's name, but younger one was Melissa (she friended me on Facebook shortly thereafter). Both were planning to attend TCMFF on standby, though the older of the two was recovering from a hip replacement and wasn't sure if she could handle standing that long. In case you're wondering, the demographic at Noir City and TCMFF skews a bit older. Me with my 60th birthday nipping at my heels, at times, I feel young, which would make Melissa, like a teenager. I didn't see them after that, but it was nice meeting them.

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The Breaking Point

Based on the Hemmingway novel, To Have and Have Not, The Breaking Point sticks much closer to the novel than the first film adaptation from Howard Hawks. I remember hearing somewhere that Hawks wanted to take Hemmingway's worst novel and make it into a hit movie. Hawks did so by taking a couple of plot points from the book and turning into a wartime thriller with a crackling romance at the center. In his intro, Alan Rode pointed out that The Breaking Point director, Michael Curtiz is not known for film noir. Curtiz is best known for films like Casablanca, The Adventures of Robin Hood, Angels with Dirty Faces, and Yankee Doodle Dandy. Rode pointed that Curtiz made numerous films in multiple genres including one most film noir fans might have heard of, Mildred Pierce. Rode also encouraged us to look for a great performance by Puerto Rican actor of African descent, Juano Hernandez, and pointed out that his relationship with John Garfield and the fact that his son in the movie plays with Garfield's daughters was very daring at the time.

The Breaking Point is pretty hard hitting. [Spoiler Alert] John Garfield is the owner of a charter sportfishing boat and on the verge of losing his boat to his creditors. When a client doesn't pay him and leaves him stranded and broke in Mexico with the client's girlfriend, Patricia Neal, this forces Garfield to take illegal job from a scumbag acquaintance, Wallace Ford. Things go bad, and word of his misdeed get across the border, which causes the Coast Guard to impound his boat while the authorities investigate.  Without his boat and livelihood, Garfield finds himself in an even deeper bind than before. [End of Spoiler Alert]

The performances in The Breaking Point are really good. John Garfield and Patricia Neal are great as always, but for me, the real standouts are Wallace Ford and Juano Hernandez. Wallace Ford tended do a lot of second banana roles early on, and then was very good in bit parts later on. It was good to see him do something he could really sink his teeth into. Juano Hernandez plays what would be the Walter Brennan role in To Have and Have Not, but instead of being a drunken buffoon and comic foil, Hernandez plays a good loyal friend, willing to support Garfield, no matter the costs. It was great to see a black actor in a role like this.

Unlike many noir films, The Breaking Point doesn't back away from what is ultimately a fairly bleak ending, and the very last shot on the docks is something that just rips your heart out. If you saw it on Noir Alley when they showed it fairly recently, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. 

Great film and a wonderful wrap-up to a great festival, at least what I saw of it. Hopefully, the timing works out in 2023, and I'll get a chance to do it all over again. I didn't get a chance to talk to Eddie Muller or Alan Rode. They always seemed to have a bunch of people around whenever I saw them. As leaving on Sunday night, Eddie Muller recognized me and asked if I'd be around next week, meaning at TCMFF. I said, I wouldn't miss it.

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

TCMFF 2022 – The Good...

It's been a week or so since the TCM Classic Film Festival (TCMFF), April 21–24, 2022. I was going to call this TCMFF  The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, but to be honest, it was mostly good. The bad wasn't all that bad, and there wasn't very much of it. The ugly, well, the ugly, most of it was stuff that was beyond anyone's control. Still, going with the theme, let's start with the bad and the ugly and then come back to the good.

The Bad and The Ugly

I honestly can't say there was much about TCMFF that was all that bad. Yes, wearing masks was a pain, but if that's what it takes to keep people safe at this point in time, I'm okay with it. My only real complaint was that it was totally playing hell with my mustache game. Still, wearing masks in the screening and while waiting in line was more of an inconvenience than bad. To give you an idea, my daughter, who attended TCMFF from 2015 to 2019, didn't attend this year. She's working pretty close to full time at Target. She works 6 to 8 hour shifts most days, and she has to wear a mask the entire time. We should probably just get over how difficult it is to wear a mask and move on. Some people complained about the COVID wrist bands. It took me more time to find my proof of vaccination on my phone than it took to wait or have it checked, though I was there early on Wednesday, and there wasn't a line. Once I got the wrist band, I barely noticed it.

I am sure there's some other things I can find to put in the bad column. Trying to get into Theater 4 was bad, but I kind of side-stepped the issue by picking something else most of the time. In fact, the one time I was very tempted to get into Theater 4, my wife and I ended up skipping the block and going to lunch and having probably the best meal we had the entire time we were up there. I'm sure there were some line number issues, but me, I never experienced them. I can say that I know what it's like to run a show like TCMFF, having worked at Comic-Con in San Diego for years. When you don't do a show for three years, it's really hard to be on your A game. When there's that long of a gap between shows, you're bound to lose some of your best people and there's going to be a lot of new people who have never done it before and are going to need to be trained. Plus, the whole COVID thing means there were a whole bunch of new protocols that nobody's ever had to deal with before.

The ugly, about the only thing I can think of for the ugly was Hollywood Blvd., and to be honest, it really wasn't even as ugly as it had been before. There seemed to be fewer hustlers and Party City superheroes looking for tips for pictures. Plus, Hollywood Blvd seemed a lot cleaner than it had been pre-COVID. I think with COVID, they had to clean and sanitize to keep businesses open, and I don't think anyone had put a lot of thought into cleaning on Hollywood Blvd. in decades. There definitely was a much more prevalent smell of weed smoke this year, now that it's legal. To some people, I'm sure that's ugly, but for me that just brings up memories of good times and a misspent youth, so it didn't bother me in the slightest.

Let's move onto the good.

The Good

It Happened

The first good thing was that it happened. I'm sure a lot of people assumed that there was going to be another TCMFF. I was hoping that myself, but I didn't consider it a given. TCM has traditionally been part of the Time Warner umbrella. In 2018, they were acquired by AT&T. Something happened at Comic-Con that informed my opinion about how TCM might fare under their new corporate masters. 

In 2019, after the acquisition, DC Comics, publisher of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and numerous other comics and graphic novels, which had been one of the largest and most well established exhibitors at Comic-Con became part of the Warner Brothers Media booth. DC Comics always had a separate presence up until that point. In addition, shortly thereafter, I can't say for sure if it was before or after the pandemic started, DC Comics laid off most of their staff that handled events like Comic-Con.

I also can surmise that TCM took kind of a bath when they had to cancel the 2020 TCMFF. Surely, all the money they spent on labor that year to produce a Festival that didn't happen was money that just went away. Presumably, there were things like deposits on venues and hotels and travel that may or may not have been refundable. In addition, I'm sure that TCM had to pay bank fees when they were refunded everyone's money. I can't see how this wouldn't have shown as a loss on the TCM books, probably just at the time that corporate AT&T was getting their legs underneath them and in the position to notice such things. Thus, the fact that TCMFF actually happened was a huge win for me. It wouldn't surprise me that TCM was watching the bottom line very closely this year, probably more closely than in previous years just to make sure that they showed a good profit and could continue producing the Festival. Trust me, I fully support them on that.

The People

It was just so nice seeing everybody again. I have a lot of old friends that I've known for years from TCMFF and also online on Twitter and the Facebook group. Only seeing them once a year is tough, Not seeing them for three years was ridiculous. It was also great meeting some new people, in particular, a few of the long-time Twitter #TCMParty friends, who made it out for the first time this year, Cathy (@66Betty), Elise (@TeamRickandIlsa), and Marcy (@Condimentgrrl) in particular.

TCMFF is a meeting of the Tribes, and almost anyone you talk to is someone you have something in common with. Sure, you might differ on whether Citizen Kane is the greatest movie ever made [it's not] or which version of A Star Is Born is the Best [the first one, of course.] [Oh, was that my outside voice?] At TCMFF, you can make jokes about Doris Day being a virgin, or Shelley Winters maybe passing on roles that involve water, and people will get them. You can ask people what their favorite Hitchcock movie is and get ten different answers, all valid, not just Psycho or The Birds.

#TCMParty regulars at Lover Come Back (right to left) Me, Stacy (@StacyBlack_ATX), Joel (@joelrwilliams1), Cathy, and Tracey (@DramaMamaFama)

Spent More Time This Year in Hollywood

Originally, I was planning to come up on the Monday before TCMFF, but a couple months out, I realized that I could just add a couple of room nights to my stay in attend Noir City, Los Angeles, the weekend before TCMFF. It was a lot of fun. I'll probably do a separate post on that. I came up on Saturday, April 16. I got in fairly late that Saturday afternoon, but was able to see both Saturday night screenings and all of the screenings on Sunday. It was great spending more time in the Legion Theater and hanging out at their bar and with the handful of TCMFF regulars who'd made the trip. On both nights, someone was playing the piano in the bar. I didn't realize it until Sunday but it was my friend, Christie (@suesueapplegate) playing, and she confided in me the next day that she made $50 in tips. Good for you, Christie.

Hollywood Legion Theater at Noir City LA


On Monday, I didn't have any definite plans (more on that later) but I had a handful of things scheduled on both Tuesday and Wednesday. Tuesday, I went to the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures with Sharon and Sharleen from the Going to the TCM Classic Film Festival Facebook group along with Sharleen's sister. It was awesome. The Miyazaki exhibit was incredible, and there was a lot of great stuff, a nice mix of old and new, and the attention to detail was incredible. Also, on Tuesday, I had dinner at Musso and Frank's with Karetta, also from the Facebook group.

Me at Mount Rushmore, Courtesy of Academy Museum; If you squint real hard, I think you can see Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, and Martin Landau

I had set up a little thing at on Tuesday night at Boardner's, a bar that's been around since the 1940s. It's a place where Lawrence Tierney used to pick fights, though to be fair, he picked fights at a lot of places. I wanted to try to see if we could get people to branch out a little bit. I think people are so busy at the Festival that they stay very close to the Roosevelt and the Ovation Mall. As a result, you miss out on some of the cooler parts of Hollywood, which you see when you start branching out away from the area right around Hollywood and Highland. There was a pretty good turnout, probably had about 15 or 20 people. Good enough that I think we should try to do it again next year.

Wednesday, I had two things planned, sadly both on top of each other. TCM was doing their Media Meet and Greet from 4:30 to 5:30, which was right on top of the Going to the TCM Classic Film Festival Facebook group get-together from 4:00 to 7:00. Still, with a little bit of walking, okay, more than a little bit of walking, I was able to attend both.

TCM Hosts at Media Meet and Greet, Note That Ben Is Only One Drinking on Stage


In previous years, the Facebook group mixer was held by in the little courtyard by the pool at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, but they had been doing it on the lowdown, and the hotel had kindly looked the other way. This year, Kelly and Ruth made the decision to move the event to the Hollywood Heritage Museum on Highland just past the Legion Theater. They charged a nominal fee to cover the rental on the venue and food and drinks. I loved it even though I missed most of it bouncing up and down the hill back and forth between the TCMFF Media Mixer at the Roosevelt and the Facebook group party at the Hollywood Heritage. Still, it was a great venue, and there was more room to spread out and socialize. I would love to go back there again next year.

Food

I have to say I did very well food-wise this year, than I normally do. Yes, I know we all pride ourselves on eating nothing but popcorn, breakfast bars, and the occasional bacon-wrapped Hollywood Blvd nitrate dog at TCMFF. A couple of weeks before I left, I was complaining to a co-worker about how expensive it was to eat up there. My friend, who grew up in LA said, he thought it might not be all that bad. There are a lot of restaurants in Hollywood, and not everyone has a lot of money to spend. Thus, I spent some time before the Festival on Google maps looking to find some decent spots with ratings of 4 or more stars and price ratings of two or less dollar signs ($$ roughly equates to $10 to $25).

I did go to most of the places TCMFFers dine at Musso and Frank's, 25 Degrees, and Miceli's (all very good). I didn't make it to In 'N' Out (we have them in San Diego) nor to Johnny Rocket's or to Mel's, which seemed a bit weird. This year, my wife and I did end up skipping one screening a day to get one decent meal. Also, I did have the advantage of a long-stay (April 16–25) to explore. I'm posting this partially, because people complain about not eating or that food is so expensive.

Of all the places we ate, most of the standouts all fit the >4 star rating, <$$ parameters:

  • Trejo's Cantina (1556 N Cahuenga Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028) about a fifteen minute walk from the Hollywood Roosevelt
Had lunch with Christie, Beef Barbacoa and Chicken Tikka Tacos and fresh guacamole as an appetizer.

  • Nashville Hot Chicken (1921 N Highland Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90068), you probably passed it 2 or 3 times on the way to the Legion Theater. Spice/heat levels went from  Plain Jane (no heat) to Mildly Cirus first level up (I had this) to Blazin' (Cayenne Pepper) to Punisher (Ghost Pepper) to Hail Mary (Trinidad Scorpion and Carolina Reaper peppers), last two sound insanely hot.
My wife and I had the following (counterclockwise from upper left, Fried Shrimp, Jalapeno Poppers, Fried Mac and Cheese, and Chicken Tenders)
My wife and I had the following (counterclockwise from upper left, Fried Shrimp, Jalapeno Poppers, Fried Mac and Cheese, oh, my God, so good, and Chicken Tenders)


  • The Drunken Burrito (6655 Hollywood Blvd Suite 10 corner, N Cherokee Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90028) about a block past the Egyptian, Miceli's, and Musso and Frank.
Had lunch with Jeff (@jlundenberger) Salmon and Al Pastor Tacos with Agua Fresca Jamaica (Hibiscus Tea)

  • Sari Sari (Filipino food, located at Grand Central Market, 317 S Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90013, out of area, but only 13 minutes away on the Metro Red Line, Hollywood and Highland to Pershing Square, puts you out two blocks away). Not exactly Hollywood, but you can get there easy enough if you take the time.
My Wife and I Split Pork Ribs and Pork Belly Bowl with Rice, Fried Egg, and Pickled Veggies

  • I'd like to give honorable mentions foodwise to a couple others:
    • The Original Farmer's Market (corner of South Farfax Ave and West 3rd St, about a 10–15 minute walk from the Academy of Motion Pictures Museum).  Sharon, Sharleen, Sharleen's sister, Shelley, and I had breakfast at DuPars Restaurant and Bakery. Similar to Grand Central Market, there are dozens of restaurants/fresh meat and produce shops, we wandered around a bit after breakfast when most places were closed, but everything looked incredible. I would have loved to go back there for lunch. This would be a cool option for anyone going to the Museum.
    • Fanny's (located inside the Academy of Motion Pictures Museum). The decor is a tribute to Fanny Brice/Barbra Streisand/Funny Girl. Again, I would have loved to have eaten there as well, but it wasn't in the cards. I did hear good things from multiple others who did.

Drinks

You might think I do a lot of drinking at TCMFF, and to be fair, I do. I did go to a lot more bars this time around. Since I was there the weekend before for Noir City, LA. I spent time in the Legion Theater bar which is very cool, and they make a great old-fashioned. On Monday night, I hung out with Jeff (@parrothead34), and we ended up going to a couple of different places, the first of which was Scum and Villainy, a Star Wars-themed bar on Hollywood Blvd., close to Vine. I'd walked past it in 2019 but didn't go in, even took a picture of the sign. Jeff and I had dinner there, and one drink. The food was okay, decent but not phenomenal, but the atmosphere more than a made up for it.

Bartender Dressed as a Character from One of My Favorite Science Fiction Movies, The Fifth Element

They were having game night at Scum and Villainy that night, so we decided that it probably was going to get noisy and make it hard to talk. We ended migrating to a little hole in the wall called The Frolic Room on Hollywood Blvd, just the other side of Vine. It's kind of a cool place with a mural of old Hollywood on the wall. Then, we ended up back at the Roosevelt bar to close out the night, more on that later.

On Tuesday as mentioned before, we went to Boardner's. I was actually pretty buzzed by the time we got there. There is a bit of a story there, which I will cover in a future post. Suffice it to say that when you order a shot of tequila at Musso and Frank's, it is a rather generous pour. I'd venture to say it was probably a double at most places. Needless to say, I was feeling no pain by the time we got to Boardner's. I had a beer and a whiskey sour, both at about half what you'd pay at the bars at the Roosevelt, which is why I'd suggested Boardner's in the first place. 


Jeff and Tracey Enjoying a Drink at Boardner's (Photo Courtesy of Aurora (@CitizenScreen, Used with Permission))

The next night was the Going to TCM Film Festival Facebook group party at the Hollywood Heritage Museum. There was a ton of booze there, courtesy of Julia Caslen. She and her husband run AirBNBs in San Diego, and people often leave mostly full bottles when they check out. I did bring some of my mango-infused tequila to share, although the party was winding down by the time I got back. I suggested to one or two people that maybe we should go to the Formosa Cafe that night. The Formosa is an old Hollywood institution where John Wayne used to do a lot of drinking. Rumor has it that he would often get too drunk and pass out in one of the booths, and they would just lock him in. Then when they came in the next morning, the Duke would be in the kitchen cooking breakfast.

I suggested it to a couple of people but nobody seemed really psyched on the idea. I was hanging out with Katetta that night, and she had never been there and wanted to go and said she'd pay for the Uber. We ended up walking there and then ubering back. I thought it was just going to be the two of us but by the time I got there, Jeff had text it and said he was on his way with three others. And a few more came in the door a few minutes later. By the time we were done, we probably had a group of about 15 sitting at a row of tables on the rooftop bar. Thanks are due to Stacy for picking up the tab on like a lot of drinks. That was way cool of you, Stacy.

Left Side (Front to Back) Stacy, Cathy, Tracey, not sure on the other two, and Danny (@dannymmiller) way in the back; Right Side (Front to Back) Me, Karetta, Jeff, and Can't Tell who's behind Jeff (Photo Courtesy of Stacy, Used with Permission)

Most of the rest of the Festival I would just have a drink with dinner or whatever meal we chose to eat that day, at least until the Sunday Closing Night party. I did have some spare time after dinner on Friday to pop into the Legion Theater just to hang out at the bar and have one of those old fashions. Our hotel, The Holiday Inn Express, was very close to the Legion theater , the first one going up the hill. I ended up hanging out with Mary (@DocMary75), another Twitter #TCMParty person, who had attended TCMFF before, but we'd never met. We talked for probably a half  hour or so. Also Karen (@TheDarkPages) and her beautiful daughter came into the bar before their late night screening of Cooley High, and I got to hang out with them as well.

Hotels

There was a fair amount of weirdness associated with hotels year. Apparently, maid service each day is not necessary a given in Hollywood post-COVID. I heard an insane amount of other complaints from various people this year, but my experience at two different hotels was mostly positive (yes, I stayed at two different hotels, switched on Wednesday):
  • Motel 6 (1738 Whitley Ave, Hollywood, CA 90028) – Clean though a bit noisy, but at roughly $100 a night, a bargain that made the weird things a bit more tolerable, very close to the Egyptian (might make it a more viable option next year). Still, they didn't have coat hangers or a shower curtain liner in the room. Told ya, weird.
  • Holiday Inn Express (1921 N. Highland Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90068) – Hotels close to the Festival were running about $150 a night (with Yelp reviews that sounded down-right scary, even by my standards). At roughly $200 a night, the Holiday Inn Express had most of what you'd expect from a hotel. Still, no daily maid service, seems to be a thing in Hollywood, but after three nights, you could get a touchup, not a full cleaning, but fresh towels and empty of the trash. The complimentary breakfast was pretty good. Normally, this would just be coffee, tea, and pastries, but they also had various juices, fresh fruit, milk and cereal, oatmeal, yogurt, bagels, cream cheese, and other toaster stuff, and they didn't seem to mind if took something with you, provided you weren't filling up a picnic basket. The staff was friendly and helpful. The location was a bit farther than I'd want to be in a perfect world, but it was real close to the Legion Theater and maybe an eight to ten minute walk to the TCL Chinese 6 in the mall, about the same as many of the other places I looked at.

Celebrity Sightings

The weird thing is that I don't normally go out of my way to see celebrities. Well, not much, but this time around, it just happened. I didn't have any plans for Monday. Someone had posted that Bob Odenkirk was getting his Walk of Fame star on Vine that day. I didn't have any plans. Christy had mentioned that she was going, so I figured if she was there we could hang out a little bit. It turns out I timed it absolutely perfect. They had the sidewalk and one lane of traffic closed off and then a little spot where you can walk past on that side of the street. I was walking by when Bob Odenkirk came out. I knew the security wasn't going to let me stand there for very long. So I took out my phone and snapped about four pictures as fast as I could and one of them turned out pretty decent.

Bob Odenkirk Enters Walk of Fame Star Ceremony

That night when Jeff and I were hanging out in the Roosevelt bar, Jeff told me to look over my my right shoulder and tell me if the woman with black hair was Joan Collins. I did so and I looked and said, no, it's not her. It turns out I was looking at the wrong woman. It was Joan Collins. Apparently she was to attend Cocktails with the Carringtons, a show that John James, Jack Coleman, and Gordon Thomson put on in the theater at the Roosevelt that night and just hanging out in the lobby. They're only handful of people in the bar that night including us, pretty much all TCMFF people, Jeff, Jackie (@jaxbra), (@HollywoodComet), and I, and we were all kind of freaking out about it. At one point someone said said oh Joan is leaving. I turned to look. It definitely was Joan Collins. And damn if she doesn't look good at 88. My rule of thumb for members of the opposite sex is, half your age plus seven, a rule taken from the movie, The Moon Is Blue. I have always figured that if I'm going to use that rule, I should allow others to use that rule on me. So if Joan is 88, half her age would be 44 plus 7 is 51, which puts me right in her wheelhouse. Not that she was looking to randomly seduce some middle-aged old-movie nerd, but if she was, but I would have gone for it.

The Media Meet and Greet on Wednesday is usually a good time to talk with the hosts and others from TCM without a whole lot of other people around wanting their attention. I did speak to Ben Mankiewicz, whom I've met several times before and very briefly with Dave Karger, whom I hadn't met before. I also spoke with the Professor, Jacqueline Stewart, for a while. I'd missed out on meeting her in 2019. I had just been to the Academy Museum the previous day and I wanted to tell her how much I was impressed with the Museum. Also, I wanted to see if there were any plans to have the Miyazaki exhibit travel to other museums. Comic-Con now has a museum that is now open, and that exhibit would be right in our wheelhouse. Although to be honest, I don't think we have enough space for all of it. I think the entire Comic-Con Museum building could fit inside the Death Star-looking building that houses the David Geffin Theater at the Academy Museum. Still, it would be a very good fit for the Comic-Con Museum. I also spoke a little while with Eddie Mueller and mentioned that I worked for Comic-Con. He said that he had been to Comic-Con in the early 1970s when the show was much much smaller and had met Frank Capra there. Yes, that Frank Capra, and yes, he had been a guest at Comic-Con.

The Professor and I, Dr. Jacqueline Stewart

About 10 minutes after the Media Meet and Greet was supposed to end, Pam Grier showed up. She had been stuck in traffic, so she got up on stage with Ben, similar to her interview before Coffy, it was less of an interview than whatever interesting and funny stuff that came off the top of her head. I did get a short video of part of it.

Pam Grier and the case of the brown nipple


On Friday, we were planning to skip the late evening block to have dinner. We ended up at Miceli's at about the same time that Ruth and Susan and James from Chicago had just walked in. We ended up sharing the table or two small tables. About the same time as we walked in, Alicia Malone came up to us. She had seen Ruth in the audience of the previous screening, The Letter. The interview beforehand was with a woman who had written a book about her experiences working for Bette Davis late in Davis' life. Her book, I assume, judging from the interview, was just that, her experiences working with Bette Davis. Not so much about Bette Davis, but her story as it pertained to Bette Davis. No matter how hard Alicia Malone to spin the conversation back toward Bette Davis, this woman just wanted to talk about herself. That's why Alicia Malone came up to us. She wanted to ask Ruth if she'd done anything wrong, and we were all in all in agreement. This woman wanted to talk about herself and not about Bette Davis, and there was nothing she could have done to get her back on track. Still, still we did get a chance to take our picture with Alicia.

My Wife, Mary (@Marysgarage1), Alicia Malone, and I at Miceli's

On Sunday, while we were waiting for the line numbers to be given out for Coffy, we noticed that Floyd Norman was standing in the VIP line about eight people down from us. I did want to meet him, but I didn't think it was appropriate to step over eight people to get to him, so I let it slide. We were there fairly early, the first 20 in lin. Once we got our line numbers, we went out to grab a quick bite. When we got it back into line, Floyd Norman was standing right next to us, so my wife and I talked to him about Comic-Con because he goes every year, very cool. Also, that night I did speak with Eddie Muller briefly. That's kind of a story too, which I'll save for a later post. Finally, at the closing night party, I did get a chance to meet Gordon Gebert, the child actor from The Flame and the Arrow and Holiday Affair.

Normally at TCMFF, I get to meet or talk to or see one or two celebrities. This year, it was happening all over the place.

The Festival Itself

I'm going to just cover the highlights. I'll do more detailed posts later. Everything we saw was great. Lover Come Back on Thursday was very good. I had never seen it in the theater. Plus, I made VIP which is a story in itself. On Friday, the standouts were at The Jungle Book and hearing Floyd Norman talk about what it was like to work with the nine old men and Walt Disney himself. The timing of The Jungle Book was such that it was almost impossible to catch anything in the next block, so we saw a little bit of Looney Tunes in Hollywood program at Club TCM and a presentation called A Little Song, A Little Dance, a collection of short musical films. It was awesome. One of the films featured an African American dance duo who really could give the Nicholas Brothers a run for their money.

View of Theater at Screening of The Jungle Book at El Capitan Theatre
(Image Courtesy of TCM; TM & © 2022 Turner Classic Movies, Inc. A WarnerMedia Company; All Rights Reserved;  Photo: JOHN NOWAK)

The next block on Friday, I was planning to see Lillies of the Field, but ended up blowing it off for the Joan Crawford film, Queen Bee. It was awesome. She went from zero to bitch in about the first 30 seconds in that movie and just kept on going.

On Saturday, the big highlights were The Flame and the Arrow presentation by Ben Burtt and Craig Barron. Their presentations are always awesome, and the backstory on Burt Lancaster and Nick Cravat was way cool. This was followed by Somewhere in Time which apparently I only seen once because I really didn't remember hardly any of it. I know I'd seen it before and I remember it being very good, but it was almost like seeing it for the first time, and seeing Jane Seymour wasn't half bad either.

Jane Seymour and Alicia Malone before Screening of Somewhere in Time
(Image Courtesy of TCM; TM & © 2022 Turner Classic Movies, Inc. A WarnerMedia Company; All Rights Reserved; Photo: EMMA MCINTYRE)



On Sunday, a big highlight for me was The Sting. I love that movie, and it was so cool seeing it at the Chinese IMAX. Also, I did do swag based on the movie. I hadn't told anybody about the swag because the swag does contain a spoiler. I'll post a picture of it now, but if you haven't seen the movie, don't look. 

SPOILER ALERT


The last screening of the festival was Coffy with Pam Grier appearing. She was awesome and funny. It wasn't so much an interview as her talking about whatever came into her head but it was great. I did take video, but the feed from the TCM YouTube page is much better.


Video of Pam Grier Interview before Coffy Screening (From TCM YouTube Site)

Closing Party

I've saved the best good for last. The closing party was awesome. The biggest difference over previous years was that it was held by the pool which was a great call on TCM's part. First of all, it allowed people to be without mask because we were outside. Thus, you could talk to people and take selfies like normal people. That was very cool. The best part though was that it allowed the party to go on much longer than it had in previous years. The way the closing night party works is that they normally hold it in Club TCM, which closes at midnight. At that point, most people just go to bed. A few die-hards will hang out in the bar but most everybody assumes everything's over by then, which is kind of a drag. It's true. It is a drag, but the fact that the party ends early makes it even more so.

Stacy and Ruth (@Cary_Grant_girl) at Closing Party (I'm Assuming That the Strange Light Is the Ghost of Cary Grant)

I was there until about 1:20 and there were still quite a few people out. So much better way this way. I'm sure the hotel made much more money which is a good thing, and everybody got to hang out that much longer. I also loved that they played 80s music all night. Yes, I'm old. 80s music is kind of my groove, and I have to say the DJ did a very good job. It wasn't like they just got some 80s greatest hits playlist. They really played some cool stuff. My two hopes are that next year, we will be finally done with COVID and won't have to worry about masks etc. and that they keep doing the Closing Night party down by the pool, so much better.

Great job, TCM. You out did yourself as usual.