Tuesday, May 3, 2016

TCMFF 2016 - Initial Wrapup

The 2016 TCM Classic Film Festival (TCMFF) ended Sunday, and I thought I would battle through my stupor and post the highlights. Once again, my daughter Jasmine and I were TCM Social Producers, and it was great to share the event with her. Huge thanks go to TCM for making that happen. Our primary task at TCMFF was to run a game, Find the Falcon. We had 15 miniature Maltese Falcons 3D printed and hid them in various locations for Festival attendees to find. 

New this year, my lovely wife Mary was able to attend. In years past, TCMFF fell on a weekend that Mary simply could not take off from work. Despite this being her first festival, Mary picked up the routine quickly and was running at full steam like the rest of us by early Friday. This made TCMFF something of a family affair for us.

For me, one of the best things about the Festival is hanging out with my old movie cronies from online/years past and meeting new ones. I spend a lot of time live-tweeting movies on #TCMParty, and there's always a few folks that you know from that who are either at the Festival for the first time or that you missed meeting previous years.

That said, what follows are the highlights from each day of TCMFF. Rather than going over everything I'll just touch on two or three highlights each day. Over the next couple of weeks, I'll go into more detail about what happened each day.


Though TCMFF doesn't officially start until Thursday, a lot of people come in early, so there is plenty to keep you busy. Highlights:

Yea, swag
  • TCM was launching a new online fan club, TCM Backlot (www.tcmbacklot.com), and the Social Producers knew about it ahead of time. In fact, several of us, myself included, did beta testing on the site. There was section of The Hollywood Roosevelt lobby dedicated to TCM Backlot and Social Producer Annmarie Gatti (also a beta tester) and I got to meet Yacov Freedman from TCM, whom we'd been interfacing with about the site. He had baseball caps for us. 
  • There was also an unofficial pre-Festival party at The Formosa Wednesday night. Mary and I shared an Uber with Social Producer/film archivist Ariel Schudson and Danny from pre-code.com. It was great hanging out with people at a time where you can drink and talk without worrying about what you might be missing. Also we met Czar of Noir Eddie Muller and his wife and talked to them for about fifteen minutes. He's a great guy.


Thursday is the first day of TCMFF, and most of the daytime events are at Club TCM. Highlights:

  • If you've been following along with my pre-TCMFF posts, you know that I was planning on wearing my classic film boater hat at the Festival. It has movie-related sketches all over it, including a caricature of Ben Mankiewicz (details here). The Social Producers were heading to the Hollywood Highland mall for lunch, and I saw Ben coming toward us the other direction. I stopped him and showed him the hat. I said, "I hope you don't find it weird and creepy."

    Ben replied, "I find it appealingly weird and creepy."
  • Ariel had organized a team consisting mostly of TCM Social Producers supplemented with a couple of TCMParty regulars, Will McKinley and Peter Avellino, for the So You Think You Know Movies trivia contest. Last year we had done the same thing and had lost spectacularly. This year, I had no reason to guess that we would do any better. Well, guess what, we won. It came down to a tie-breaker with another team. We sent up Will, because he seemed to have more answers that anyone elso on the team, and he brought us victory.
Donald Bogle (left) interviews Larry Peerce (right)
director of One Potato Two Potato 
  • My original plan for Thursday night was to watch The Freshman by the pool, but that would require us leaving early to get to my second screening, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. Mary thought that One Potato Two Potato sounded interesting, so decided to go to that instead. The parallels between Guess Who's Coming to Dinner and One Potato Two Potato are pretty obvious, but the films are completely different. One Potato Two Potato is about a black man and a white woman falling in love, starting a family together, and then dealing with the ramifications of that. Guess Who's Coming to Dinner is about the situation of an inter-racial relationship and doing the right thing. One Potato Two Potato was about the relationship and how it was affected by them being of different races. As such, it seemed more real. I'm so glad I did the switch. 


Friday is the first full day of the festival starting at 9 am and ending with a midnight screening. Highlights:

  • The second screening was He Ran All the Way. Norman Lloyd has a small part, and he came out in-person to see himself on the big screen at TCMFF. At 101 years old, he is still doing that sort of thing.
  • The Conversation has been on my movie bucket list for about 15 or 20 years, so when I found out it was screening at TCMFF with Francis Ford Coppola being interviewed before the screening. I couldn't think of a better way of seeing it for the first time. It was such a great movie. 
  • The other big highlight of Friday was seeing The Manchurian Candidate. I love the film, and getting to see Angela Lansbury interviewed by Alec Baldwin was a real treat.


Saturday at TCMFF is the big day and the choices are brutal. I had to go with four highlights rather than just two or three:
  • 90th Anniversary of Vitaphone was great. Last year, Jasmine and I had only seen the first 10 minutes of the history of Technicolor and then heard everybody rave about it for the rest of the Festival, a mistake I didn't want to repeat this year. The presentation talked about various early attempts at talking pictures as well as how Vitaphone the first commercially viable talkies worked. They also screened several Vitaphone shorts, some so newly restored that host, Ron Hutchinson, hadn't even seen them. They were sold as vaudeville in a can, with acts such as Baby Rose Marie, Shaw and Lee, and Conlin and Glass. We were actually in pain from laughing so hard.

Baby Rose Marie aka Sally Rogers from
The Dick Van Dyke Show

  • I hadn't seen Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid for a long time and was really looking forward to all of the clips from the old Film Noir movies, now that I was familiar with most of them. What I had forgot was just how funny the movie itself was. Then to have Carl Reiner come out and tell absolutely hilarious stories, wow.

  • I never expected The War of the Worlds to make my list of highlights, but the presentation of the special effects and sound effects was incredible. They even had set up a spring and a microphone to demonstrate how the sound effects of the Martian weapons were done.
  • I grew up with The Endless Summer, so getting to see it on the big screen along with an interview of director Bruce Brown was awesome. My favorite comment from the interview was Randy Williams asked him how he found Robert August and Mike Hynson for The Endless Summer. Bruce Brown's response was, "I knew them, and they could go." I got the impression that Brown wasn't used to being interviewed and a little bewildered that people were still interested in his film 50 years after the fact. He offered to hang out after the screening and meet people, a rarity at TCMFF. When we got out of the theater, there he was I got to meet him, shake his hand, and take a very blurry picture with him. There were a lot of people around, and I didn't want to take up too much of his time, but I mentioned that both my brothers and several cousins bought motorcycles after seeing, On Any Sunday. He asked about me, and I said that I was more into skateboarding. He looked at me like, oh wow, cool. I got the impression that had it been a different situation we would have spent 20 minutes talking about skateboarding, motorcycles, surfing and God knows what else. Great guy.

Blurry proof that I met Bruce Brown

The screenings were great on Sunday, but the highlights were things that happened with other people. Highlights:

  • I mentioned to my daughter Jasmine that my second screening was The Kid. Her response was my favorite thing from the whole Festival, "Good, because if you weren't going, I was going to straight-up ditch you."
  • The closing night party was a blast. After stopping at CVS for a snack, we didn't get there until after 10:30. It was great just hanging out, having a drink, and getting to talk to people about all of the great stuff that happened. The only problem was that it ended way too soon, and when they closed the doors to Club TCM, all of the bars in the Hollywood Roosevelt were closed. You would think that with the prices they were charging (paid $16 to $18 for every drink I had there) they would want to keep selling drinks for as long as possible, but no.... I got the impression the hotel just wanted us to get out. You would think that with the amount of money being spent there, they would be a little bit more accommodating. Ariel, Paula Guthat (owner of Cinema Detroit/founder of #TCMParty), and I went down the street to Boardners, where the drinks were reasonably priced and more importantly still being sold.


The trip home on the train was fairly uneventful. I spent most to the time on Twitter looking at everyone else's reaction to TCMFF. Highlights:

  • Jasmine wanted to go to Hot Topic in the mall. I don't really care about that sort of thing. Okay, maybe a little bit. Especially these guys:

These guys somehow made their way home with me.
Left to right is, Neo, Leelu, Locutus of Borg, and
some dude from Battlestar Galactica

  • The most interesting thing that happened was that we passed some workmen putting in a new star on Hollywood Blvd, not a bad way to end the weekend.
I seem to remember her being a child star.
I wonder whatever became of her.

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