The Great TCMFF 2017 Revue: Day 1
April 11, 2017
Now that the buzz has (barely) simmered down and the parade has packed up and left town, it's time to take a look back at the classic film bonanza that was the 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival.
Though fest programming officially begins on Thursday, the last few years my TCMFF-related activities have kicked off a day or two prior; this time, it was Wednesday night. Raquel from Out of the Past rounded up several bloggers and coordinated a lovely dinner at Kitchen 24 on Cahuenga. I got there a bit late due to work, but it was nice to some familiar faces and meet several new ones, too.
The Roosevelt lobby Wednesday night. It wouldn't look this calm again until, well, next year probably. (Picture by Kim Luperi)
After dinner, we headed over to a mixer TCM was hosting for social influencers in the Spare Room, a bar/bowling alley tucked away in the Roosevelt. I've heard of the Spare Room before but never knew exactly where it was, so for starters, I'm glad that I can finally pinpoint its location, though I may get lost if I try to find it again, because the Roosevelt is a maze. There, I got to catch up with several staffers, including TCM's social duo, Noralil and Marya, and reconnect with many friends who I haven't seen in a year. Oh, and I gave the lanes a whirl too - I only knocked one pin down on my first try but ended up getting a spare - how suitable!
The bowling alley in the Spare Room. (Picture by Kim Luperi)
Day 1: Thursday 4/6
This is the third festival that I've taken Thursday and Friday off work for in order to seize the full festival experience. Without the Thursday Social Producer duties this year (generally, a meeting and lunch), I found that I had nowhere official to be until the red carpet that evening. Being me, of course I tried to pack as much into the day as humanly possible.
So, I rose bright and early for a TCM Movie Locations Bus Tour that was slated to start at 9am. I say 'slated,' because the bus got a flat tire on the way to Hollywood and Highland, an incident that kept pushing the start time back. When we were told that the earliest the tour would begin given the delays was 10:30, most of us sadly had to bail. It was a bummer, but hopefully I can hop on one of these buses at next year's fest (or, you know, any time since I live in LA).
One day, TCM Movie Locations Tour!
The flat tire actually proved a blessing, because that gave me some time to swing by the Hitchcock Meet-Up at the Roosevelt, pick up my pass, drop the gift bag we're given off at my car and change for the red carpet. (I was parked rather far and didn't want to make the trip again, because: Hollywood.)
Most of us who chose not to wait for the bus tour did so because it would have run up against TCM's tribute to the late, great Robert Osborne in the multiplex, which was 'sold out.' Following a touching video intro that played up Robert's warm humor and featured several great sound bytes from interviewees over the years, we had the chance to hear from several TCM staffers (producers, directors, talent coordinators and even makeup artists) - all people who worked intimately with Robert and knew him well. Though I'm sure there were plenty of tears shed among the audience (and speakers), everyone who shared memories tried to keep it light and enjoyable - as much as such an occasion could be, at least. Robert's friend Diane Baker, who screen-tested with him decades ago, was also on hand to pay tribute to her longtime pal.
I didn't snap any photos at the event for Robert Osborne, but here's a picture of the lovely Diane Baker later that day on the red carpet. (Picture by Kim Luperi)
The one thing that particularly struck me was how tightly Robert and TCM kept his illness under wraps. For the most part, fans weren't aware of the seriousness of his sickness (at least I wasn't), but it seems the TCM family was in frequent contact with him, as several staffers recalled their last conversation with Robert when it became obvious that he knew he was nearing the end. For instance, Gary Freedman, one of Robert's producers, talked to him a few days before he passed. Robert opened by telling Gary that he didn't want any tears, but this would be his farewell, and Gary exclaimed that Robert couldn't start a conversation that way! (Gary reported that they ended up having a nice, heartfelt chat.) Diane Baker's story sounded similar. When she visited Robert in New York in February, she encountered a frail man, though his spirits were still high. While she knew it would be the last time she'd see him, Robert assured Diane that he didn't want any "sad songs," because he had lived a long, full life and was able to accomplish so much. Many others shared their tales, and overall it was a poignant, fitting tribute as only TCM could deliver; the afternoon truly was as much about Robert's legacy and the TCM staffers as it was about the fans, our personal connection to the network and our quest to preserve Robert's memory.
Following the event, I returned to the Roosevelt to relax, chat with some friends and hastily brush some eyeshadow on for the red carpet. I was a bit nervous going in, but the crowd and slight chaos of the carpet actually put me at ease, and it ended up being another fantastic experience. I'll divulge more about the celebrities I conversed with over the next week or two, so look out for that.
Sneak peak of the red carpet, which you've probably already seen... (Picture by Kim Luperi)
Dawson City: Frozen Time (2016), or Dinner
TCMFF: 1, Kim: 0. I wasn't very strong busting out of the movie-going gate this year, but I had an adequate excuse (see: above paragraph). I initially slated the documentary Dawson City: Frozen Time as my TCMFF 2017 kickoff, but since the carpet proceedings began a bit late (because: Hollywood), I only had one or two interviews down by the time I would have had to leave to hop in line for the doc. Instead, I headed to dinner at Boardners with several fellow red carpet bloggers and TCM social maven Marya, which was a delight - and basically our last chance to share a quiet conversation before we all got caught up in the cinematic tidal wave/tornado that is TCMFF.
The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934)
Speaking of chaos...the other film I intended to catch opening night was Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much. Being the fest's first nitrate screening, I figured it would be crowded, but the announcment of special guest Martin Scorsese earlier in the day skyrocketed its popularity by at least 1 million percent. Of course the Egyptian was jam-packed, but I managed to snag a decent seat and enjoyed the show. (I hope to post an article about the nitrate experience at TCMFF and share more about the three screenings I attended within the next few weeks.) The Man Who Knew Too Much is a rather short feature, clocking in at 75 minutes, which meant that I made it home before 11:30pm, aka a TCMFF miracle that was not to be repeated this year.
Tomorrow, I'll tackle day 2 of TCMFF 2017. In the meantime, if you'd like to read more from edition #8, here's my initial festival preview and a few quick takeaways post-fest, which I published yesterday.
thanks for stopping by!
I See a Dark Theater is a website dedicated to classic movie-going—and loving—in the City of Angels. Whether it's coverage on screenings, special presentations, or Q&As around Los Angeles that you're looking for, or commentary on the wonderful and sometimes wacky world of classic cinema, you've come to the right place for a variety of pieces written with zeal, awe, and (occasionally) wit. Enjoy.