A First-Timer at the TCM Classic Film Festival!

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This April, I will have the occasion to participate in something pretty special for the first time in my life: the Turner Classic Film Festival in Los Angeles! This is pretty much THE golden event for every classic film addicts like me. I first heard of the festival a few years ago but was never able to attend it for two major reasons: 1- It’s expensive, 2- It’s always during the end of March or early April. Therefore, university courses aren’t finished by then (and on top of that, April marks the end of the term, which pretty much involves writing a ton of essays). But, last Spring, I’ve graduated from my Bachelor in Fine Arts (Specialization film studies) and I’ve decided to take a year off. This is obviously THE perfect time to attend the festival and I, as a matter of fact, didn’t hesitate a second to do so!

Yesterday, I’ve read an article by Samantha from Musings of a Classic Film Addict on how she was organizing her journey at the festival and was inspired to do something similar (maybe with fewer details as Samantha is like SO well-organized).

And that involves the before-TCMFF preparations and during-TCMFF ones.

My first introduction to the festival, what made me feel I would really be part of it, was being added to the Facebook group Going to TCM Classic Film Festival.

Deciding to attend the TCM Film Festival involves both excitements but also a few dilemmas. First of all, what pass should I take buy? Some people Facebook group initially told me they went for individual screenings and took a chance to just get in line without a pass hoping to get in (and they rarely couldn’t). Then, there was the Palace Pass which is the less expensive of them all but who doesn’t guaranty entrance to all the venues and not to Club TCM. The second level pass, the Classic Pass, gives access to all the theatres and to the Club. However, one would have to go with the Essential or Spotlight Pass to access to the opening night screening of When Harry Met Sally in presence of Rob Reiner, Billy Crystal, and Meg Ryan. However, the classic pass being expensive enough, it was pretty much out of the question  for me to go with something superior (I’m not a millionaire). So, hesitating between the Palace and the Classic Pass, I finally opted for the latest (people in the Facebook group convinced me it was more worthy). I, however, planned to apply for the media credentials. I didn’t think my chances were very high but, as I write a classic film blog, I thought it would be a good idea to try. Which I did but, unfortunately, my application wasn’t accepted. Well, I did this a bit last-minute and, don’t worry, it’s not the kind of “failure” that really affects me. So, now I have my beautiful Classic Pass and I expect to live the festival in the worthiest way as possible!

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Something that made me wonder if I’ll be truly welcomed at the festival is the fact that I actually have never watched the TCM Channel. The reason is simple: we don’t have the cable at home and, therefore, our “4-channels” TV doesn’t provide TCM. So, I thought, would it be weird to attend even if I don’t watch TCM? In fact, no. This event is pretty much for everybody who loves classic films. And I’m not completely misinformed either! For example, I know who Robert Osborne was and I know who Ben Mankiewicz is after all. I also own several of those little TCM DVD box sets and I’ve been enough around social media to have an idea of what consists TCM.

The first thing I did before even buying the pass was to book my hostel for the duration of the festival. This was pretty much the easiest task of them all and didn’t present any dilemma (thanks for that). Interestingly, the last time I went to the USA was in 2015 and my last destination was precisely Los Angeles! There, I stayed at the Orange Drive Hostel which is a perfectly fine place, very close to Hollywood Boulevard (and, therefore, to the festival). I booked my room pretty much in advance as I know the hostel would be pretty busy during the festival. I hope to see some participants there! It would be fun to have a chat about classic films with them!

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I’m unfortunately not one of these lucky people who live in Los Angeles itself so, another step was to book a plane ticket. And, I didn’t want something too expensive, especially since I’m leaving for only a few days. The cheap flight company Air Transat, unfortunately, doesn’t do flights to California so I looked with Air Canada but it wasn’t really cheap… Another interesting option was Delta (with a stop at either Minneapolis or Atlanta). I hesitated a lot between the two options and, meanwhile, the prices increased a lot with that company much to my despair. But, I decided to check with Air Canada once again and, miraculously, on that precise day, the prices were very low (for Air Canada) and you had non-stop flights options! So, I didn’t hesitate long and booked my tickets. Now, you must all think that this is all good. Well, not really. Due to both plane crashes with Ethiopian Airline and Malaysian Airline, Canada and the United States have decided to ground all Boeing 737 Max 8 and that was precisely the type of planes for both my YUL-LAX and LAX-YUL flights… Great… Well, this has been half-fixed for now as my first flight is now with an Airbus 320. The return flight is still announced to be on a Boeing 737 Max 8, but it seems that it would be changed for an evening flight (on another type of plane I guess) which is perfectly fine with me because I must admit the flight at 8:15 AM was a bit early (especially considering it would be a post-festival one). So, for now, I’m just waiting for the final schedule and try not to worry too much!

But, plane problems aren’t so interesting and I think you’d like to know what I’ll be doing during the festival and which films I’m going to see! I haven’t made all my final decisions but we’re here to discuss, no?

(Normally) I’ll be arriving in LAX on the morning of April 10 and will head to Orange Drive to register, hoping my room will be ready as soon as possible. Faithful to my way of traveling, I’ll probably unpack my stuff, take a shower and take a nap (I won’t have the occasion to do many of them as soon as the festival starts)! Then, depending on what time it is, I’ll probably go grab a bite somewhere near (maybe I’ll see my friend Spider-Man again). If time permits it, I might see one of my friend who lives in LA. Kelly from the fb group is hosting an opening party and I might go if I have the energy! (I guess I’ll also have supper, but don’t ask me where).

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FESTIVAL DAY 1!

Number of screenings planned: 2

The screenings for the festival really start during the evening of April 11. As I don’t own the Essential or the Spotlight Pass, I won’t be attending the screening of When Harry Met Sally but, luckily, a lot of interesting options are offered to us. In the morning, however, I might go to the First-Timers Meet-Up at the Roosevelt Hotel (maybe it would be an interesting thing to do after breakfast) and to the So You Think You Know Movies? Quiz animated by Bruce Goldstein which looks like a fun activity. Otherwise, I might just decide to wander in Hollywood (preferably take a picture of myself with David Bowie’s star: I know this has nothing to do with TCMFF, but it’s on my bucket list since I haven’t done it the last time I was there). Anyway, there’s a lot to do in LA!

But, one thing is sure, I’ll be attending one screening and preferably two on the evening of the 11. I know this first choice presents a dilemma for some, but I’m pretty much sure of mine: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes at the Egyptian Theatre (6:45 PM – 8:30 PM). This is a film I love as it made me discover classics. I really haven’t seen it that often and watching it on a big screen looks like a simply glorious experience! Then, at 9:30 PM I would love to see the nitrate screening of The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (also at the Egyptian). I’ve never seen this film, but I’ve heard great things about it AND saw the “You remind me of a Man” scene which inspired the “You remind me of the babe” intro do David Bowie’s song Magic Dance which he sings in the 80s film Labyrinth! Journalist Tara McNamara is expected to attend the screening. If I don’t get the chance to enter the Egyptian for Bachelor, I might go see Mogambo, another colour film that probably looks glorious on the big screen! Then, I think this will be the end of day 1.

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FESTIVAL DAY 2!

Number of screenings planned: 5

The morning of the 12 presents a big dilemma for me: The Clock or High Society? ( I try not to think too much about the two other options that are also pretty interesting). I’ve never seen The Clock but I’ve heard it was great (and I need to see more of both Judy Garland and Robert Walker films) so it’s probably the one I’ll choose. But, in a way, I would LOVE to see High Society on the big screen. Decision, decision! Help! Both screenings start at 9:00 AM and finish around 11:00 AM. Then, maybe I’ll pass next to Billy Crystal hands and footprint ceremony at the TCL Chinese Theatre but surely won’t be able to attend it all as it would prevent me to watch a morning movie and on in the early afternoon (plus, I’m not sure if it’s accessible to everybody). Talking about afternoon, after the screening of either The Clock at Chinese Multiplex House 6 or  High Society at The Legion Theatre at Post 43, I  will rapidly head for the screening of Love in the Afternoon (11:30 AM- 1:45 PM) also at the Multiplex 6. I know a lot of people are attracted by the screening of Sleeping Beauty (one of the most gorgeous looking Disney films, I agree) but, as soon as I saw that Love in the Afternoon would be on the schedule, I didn’t hesitate a second it would be on my list. Once again, if there isn’t enough place, attending Sleeping Beauty screening would definitely be an interesting option. But I’m really hoping to see Love in the Afternoon! Then, as the film finishes at 1:45 PM, I will have time to go see My Favourite Wife at the Egyptian. This is a film with Irene Dunne and Cary Grant that I’ve never seen before and Jennifer Grant, Cary’s daughter, is going to be there! Cool, no? I would have also loved to see A Patch of Blue but since I also want to watch never-seen-before films, I only put it as a second option. I know a lot of people will also be attending the screening of Sunrise, but as I’ve already seen it twice on the big screen, I’m going to give my place to someone else. 🙂 My Favourite Wife screening will end at 4:45 PM and this leads me to the most difficult decision of the festival for me: attending Steal Magnolias screening in presence of Shirley MacLaine or La nuit américaine (Day for Night) in presence of Jacqueline Bisset! I love both these actresses and this is just impossible! On one side, I’ve never seen Steel Magnolias and while the film itself doesn’t attract me so much, well, Shirley is going to be there, dammit! On another side, I LOVE Day for Night (probably my second most favourite French film after Grand Illusion). I did see it in a movie theatre (once) BUT never in presence of the lovely Jacqueline Bisset! Honestly, I still don’t know what I’m going to do. Anyway, whatever I decide, both films end around 8:00 PM which would give me time for one last film that day. I think I’ll go see Winchester ’73 at the Chinese Multiplex House 1 (in presence of Jeremy Arnold). I’m not too much a fan of Anthony Mann, but I’ve heard great things about this one and there’s James Stewart. Another interesting option would be the original 1939 version of Goodbye Mr. Chips, which I have seen before but never on big screen. However, I’m pretty sure I’ll opt for Winchester ’73. After all, this would be my first western at the festival!

FESTIVAL DAY 3!

Number of screenings planned: 4 or 5

Day 3 is also announced to be a pretty busy one with a lot of difficult decisions (but never as difficult as the MacLaine vs. Bisset one). We’ll start the day with either From Here to Eternity at the TCL Chinese Theatre Imax or with When Worlds Collide at the Chinese Multiplex House 1. From Here to Eternity is, once again, a film I love and that I would surely be tempted to see on big screen but, in a way, I have a feeling When Worlds Collide is one that I might have fewer chances to see in a movie theatre in the future… Plus, actress Barbara Rush is going to attend! In a way, if I go see When Worlds Collide, it would give me more time to go to the Egyptian to attend the screening of A Woman Under the Influence (in presence of Gena Rowlands)! I’ve heard a lot of good things about this film and even saw a scene. So, I think it’s pretty much about time for me to see it. Plus, I wouldn’t have seen many New Hollywood films so far, so one of them would kindly be welcomed. The film should end at 2:15 PM. This would give me time for another afternoon movie which I suspect will be Father Goose or maybe A Raisin in the Sun. I would have liked to attend the Hollywood Home Archives screening at the CLUB but, once again, it would reduce the options of seeing a film before and after it. For the first evening movie, as much as I love Wuthering Heights, I’m tempted to go see Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid as it will be presented in the presence of Burt Bacharach. I LOVE the score he composed for that film. OR, I might just take my time to have a good slow supper and then go see The Bad Seed at the Roosevelt poolside which will be attended by the main actress Patty McCormack who plays the evil Rhoda! This would also be a way to attend a first poolside screening. If I decide to go see Butch Cassidy or Wuthering Heights, I wouldn’t be able to attend The Bad Seed, but will definitely opt for Cary Grant AND Ingrid Bergman with Indiscreet. Hum… Then, that would be the end of the day.

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FESTIVAL DAY 4!

Number of screenings planned: 3

I suspect time will fly very fast and that the last day will be there in no time. I plan to make it as unforgettable as the other ones! There’s still a TBA film for the Legion Theatre in the morning so, due to that, my final decision for the morning screening is not completely made. But, not considering that un-revealed film, I’m planning to go see Holiday, the 1938 version with Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant (I suspect I’m going to see a LOT of Cary Grant at the festival). I’ve already seen Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn duet on the big screen with Bringing Up Baby and surely won’t hesitate to repeat the experience with another film. As a matter of fact, I think Holiday was the first Katharine Hepburn film I ever saw! So, this is a pretty important film in my classic films discoveries journey! Then, in the afternoon, several interesting films are expected to be screened but I might decide to attend the Hollywood Love Stories and Celebrity Culture at the CLUB especially since I haven’t plan to attend so many Club TCM events so far and my pass gives me access to it (so I should use that privilege). As this end at 1:30 PM, it will give me time for an afternoon movie which will either be Marty or the remake of The Killers (which I have never seen before) in presence of actress Angie Dickinson. I LOVE Gone With the Wind, but I’ve already seen it twice on the big screen, so I’m tempted to try something else. Plus, it’s the kind of film that is often presented in theatres even in Montreal, so it’s not as if it was a rarity. And it’s 4 hours long, which reduces options to see more films. I must admit that I haven’t heard a lot about the evening films, except for The Godfather Part II, but I don’t think this one would be my choice (I much prefer the first one). So, it will either be Buck Privates or The Dolly Sisters (which would give me the chance to see another Betty Grable Film – I’ve only seen her in How to Marry A Millionaire). I must admit, I haven’t made a final decision for the end of the festival. Then, the festivities should end with the closing night party.

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I suspect day 4 will be more “relax”.

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So, if things go as planned I will probably see 14 or 15 screenings at the festival. This seems a lot but, considering the price of the pass, well, I don’t think it’s too exaggerated. I haven’t discussed that in details but, don’t worry, I will also take the time to eat and go to the bathroom!

In her article, Samantha writes about choosing clothes for the festival. I must admit I’m pretty impatient as well to start packing my suitcase and decide which clothes I’m going to bring. I’m that kind of person who likes to think well on how I get dressed and do it with class and style!  And I know how to dress elegantly, but also comfortably!

I’ll be leaving Los Angeles on the 15 and, so far, I  still don’t know if it will be in the early morning or in the evening. If it’s the latest option, I will probably take the occasion to do a few fun activities in the town before heading for the airport!

I’m so impatient to be there and meet other classic film fellows, especially film bloggers that I’ve been following since a long time! Even if the festival implies a lot of hard choices, I’ll most of all be there to enjoy myself and to make most of it!

See you there!

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16 thoughts on “A First-Timer at the TCM Classic Film Festival!

  1. I’m jealous Ginny! Right up your alley. If anyone deserves to go to the TCM Festival it’s you. Please take many pictures and let us know how it is. Happy moviegoing!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You are so deserving to go and it’s fantastic that you will finally be able to do so this year. I understand all the constraints you have had in the past which makes me doubt ever being able to go myself although I can always dream. 🙂 Hope you have a blast, especially meeting everyone from the online community. Safe travels!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This will be my first time at TCMFF too, so I’ll probably see you around! I might go that Facebook meetup on Wednesday too, and it looks like we have a couple screenings that overlap. I’m also facing the same dilemma with Steel Magnolias (a movie I haven’t seen before, with Shirley MacLaine!) and Day for Night (one of my all-time favorites, with Jacqueline Bisset!). Right now I’m leaning toward Steel Magnolias, but it’s tough choosing between the two!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I hope to see you at the festival! I’m looking forward to the interview with Jacqueline Bissett. I’ve never seen Day for Night so its no contest. She was scheduled last year but cancelled at the last minute. I think I’ll also go to Winchester 73 which I haven’t seen either. I love Jimmy Stewart! Dan @crimsonkay1959

    Liked by 1 person

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