Tuesday, April 15, 2014

2014 TCM Classic Film Festival Quick Recap

Had a chance to meet Ben Mankiewicz Wednesday night
I just got home from the TCM Classic Film Festival (TCMFF) yesterday, and I thought I would share some of my initial reactions to the festival. One word, awesome. I was expecting it to be like Comic-Con for old movie geeks, and I was not disappointed. I'm totally exhausted, but in the best possible way. Saw a total of 16 movies over the four days; nine were old favorites and the rest were new to me. I'll post a more detailed breakdown later, but I thought I'd start with a few quick remarks about what I thought made it so great:

  • People – It's no accident that I'm listing this first. When I mentioned it being like Comic-Con, one key difference between the two events is that Comic-Con throws a pretty wide net. It's primarily about comics, but it's also about film and TV and video games and anime. TCMFF is all about classic movies, so pretty much everyone you talk to is just as rabid about old movies as you are, so unless you're trying to avoid a case of classic film hydrophobia, you definitely feel like you're with your people.
  • Films – Since this is my first #TCMFF, I can't compare to past years, but the schedule was insane. There were times when there were two or three things in the same time block that were absolute must sees. Add to that the handful of epic movies like Gone With the Wind or The Good the Bad and the Ugly, where watching one of these would require skipping like seven or eight movies and two or three other events. Not that I'm complaining. This is very good problem to have. If they made it so that you could see everything, they would only be showing 20 films and would need a theater that seated 5,000.
Letter of Transit for one Victor Laszlo
  • Club TCM – Club TCM inside the Roosevelt Hotel was awesome. Home to certain events during the day and a place to party at night, Club TCM also featured artwork from TCMFF guests and some really great movie props.
  • Intros – Every screening was preceded by an introduction  of some sort. Some were film historians, who gave background on the film itself or the context in which it was made. Others had people currently working in film to introduce one of their favorites. Now, I tend to not be super big on celebrities. A few I admire a lot and would love to meet or share a meal with them. Others, not so much. All of the celebrities I saw were very passionate about the films they introduced and for me, it does give me a little bit of hope to know that there are still people working in Hollywood who can appreciate a great film. Finally, certain of the screening were introduced by people who actually worked on the film itself. Sadly, there weren't a lot of these because there aren't a lot of these people still with us.
  • Outros – A handful of the screenings also had a brief presentation after the film. The ones I saw were things that just worked better after the film. These were always a treat, the icing on the cake
  • Venues – It's one thing to see a great classic film on the big screen, but getting to see a classic a great theater that has just been restored to its former glory is sweet. TCL Chinese IMAX, The Egyptian, and the El Capitan are just beautiful on the inside. And the El Capitan features live organ music, playing movie themes as the audience comes in.  Nice.
  • Ben Mankiewicz – Nothing against Robert Osborne, I appreciate his depth of knowledge, but I really feel like I can relate more to Ben Mankiewicz. I said earlier that there are few celebrities I would like to meet. Ben is one of them and getting to talk to him even briefly was pretty dang cool.
  • Interviews in the Roosevelt lobby – Thursday afternoon, Robert Osborne was recording promos to air on TCM during the festival and doing interviews with guests. When I found out that one of them was going to be, Mel Brooks I was so in. Viewing wasn't exactly optimum because you were standing on the sides or behind them  as they faced the cameras. I have an amazing number of really good pictures of Mel Brooks' left ear. Still, I did get some decent video of him goofing around before the interview.

  • A three-hour tour – Technically, this was not part of TCMFF, but TCM did do a classic movie  locations tour of Hollywood and Los Angeles for their 20th Anniversary. I was able to go the Monday morning after TCMFF with Twitter pals, Aurora, Paula Guthat, Elise Crane Derby, and Will McKinley. Turns out that was the actual anniversary date for TCM. The tour was awesome and included a trip inside the Bradbury Building, where the last part of Blade Runner was filmed. TCM, if you're listening, you need to do that again next year. Please.
  • Meeting my online #TCMParty cronies – Saved the best for last. I always love being able to put a person together with online voice coming through the ether. Was able to meet about a dozen or two people I've been yacking  with about classic movies on Twitter. Nice.


  1. Great to meet you, Chris. I agree with you about Ben. Robert Osborne is like a face on Mount Rushmore. Ben is like a guy you could have a beer with (and we did). I'm glad both are with the channel.

    And remember: "diamonds in your house in Heaven."