Friday, April 30, 2010

TCM Classic Film Festival- (Part 1 of probably many)

Well....hello party people, I just got finished with my group presentation for one of my classes which means I'm technically done with school work for the semester, I just have to show up to class for the next two weeks!  But that's only half as exciting as having just gotten back from the first ever TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood, CA!!!  I had the best time at this film festival, it was quite possibly the most exciting thing I've ever done in my life.

Here's some back story I lived in Los Angeles from 2000-2008, I went to USC undergrad as a music industry major and then lived and worked in LA after graduating.  I then moved back east and lived in Manhattan for a year and am now out on Long Island going to Grad of course as soon as I leave LA, TCM launches their first ever Film Festival in Los Angeles.  I figured it was a good excuse to make a trip back to LA and! I had accumulated enough airline miles for a free trip, which helped me justify spending the money for the pricey pass for the festival.

So let's dive right in, I arrived at midnight on Thursday, April 22nd, got settled in my hotel room, slept and then went to see how Hollywood Blvd. looked and 'checked' in for the film festival and got a nice tote bag, a t-shirt, a pin, nice collectible book and the film festival program booklet.

I then decided to take advantage of the discount rate for the Hollywood Heritage Museum (pictured to your left) which was within walking distance of my hotel.  I'm glad I went; there was a lovely tour guide who shared some interesting stories about the history of the building and the history of movie making in Hollywood. The museum also had some amazing artifacts, like Cecil B. DeMille's desk, an impressive collection of Rudolph Valentino memorabilia, props from 'The Ten Commandments and Samson and Delilah, and much, much more.  I highly recommend the museum to anyone with an interest in movie/Hollywood history.

I then went back to my hotel to start the process of getting fancy-shmancy for the "Red Carpet Premiere" for A Star is Born at Grauman's Chinese Theater.  I didn't know what to expect so I got there kind of early and soaked it all in.  I seemed to have arrived at the same time as a few of the special guests and celebrities:

Ernest Borgnine:
Ann Rutherford:

And the back of Robert Osborne's head:

Needless to say I was already thrilled beyond belief.  It was so fun to see these actors and to see Robert Osborne, as Eva Marie Saint said, he was a complete rock star during the entire festival.  I then went into the theater and picked a seat and took in the environment around me.  I had seen movies at Grauman's Chinese Theater before, but never under these circumstances and never in such a fancy dress.  After sitting for about 20-30 minutes in my seat, and talking with the nice man seated on my left, I noticed that Martin Landau was seated two rows behind me on the right and I then saw Alec Baldwin sit down two rows behind me on the left, followed by Danny Huston, Peter Bogdanovich and Diane Baker.  I also saw Hugh Hefner make his way down the aisle to his seat.

The movie was introduced by none other than Robert Osborne, which was such a thrill, it was like TCM coming to life.  He then had Alec Baldwin join him and the two of them seemed to be good friends, with a shared interest in classic film.  They did a great job of kicking off the festival.

After the intro. they showed a newsreel from the original premiere of 'A Star is Born' from 1954.  It was so exciting to see interviews with such fun people, like Dean Martin, Judy Garland, Jack Carson.  It was also amazing to hear the applause when these actors appeared on the screen.  That was something that I really enjoyed throughout the whole festival....applause, and lots of it.  Then the movie started and I just don't have any words to describe what it was like to see this movie and Judy Garland and James Mason on the big screen at Grauman's Chinese theater, it was unreal.  Whenever Judy Garland sang I got goosebumps!!  And all I could think was, 'how did she not win the Oscar that year?!  Who could've done anything better?'  (not to discount Grace Kelly's Oscar win and her performance, but seriously?!)

Then there was an intermission!!  An intermission in a movie theater, I don't think I'd ever experienced that before.  Yes, I'd seen DVDs where there was a pause in the middle of the movie for an intermission, but I don't think I ever experienced one in an actual theater with other people.  I didn't know what to do with myself, so I decided to be a little bit of a nerd and run over to where Diane Baker, Peter Bogdanovich and Robert Osborne were sitting and I asked for some autographs.  I felt like it was one of those opportunities that I just had to take advantage of, even if it was a little nerdy.

So I started with Diane Baker, who was very sweet, but didn't seem to care much that we were both named Diane...which i guess is fine, I just thought it'd be a fun coincidence.  She then got Robert Osborne and Peter Bogdanovich's attention for me, "Bob, Pete" she called.  And they both obliged.  I met and spoke with Robert Osborne first who seemed genuinely interested in how I was enjoying the festival, I raved that so far it was amazing and that it was so great of him to take the time to participate, he was very sweet and gracious and shook my hand!  Then I asked Peter Bogdanovich for an autograph...he immediately asked for my name and we actually spoke for a short while, for some reason the only thing I could think of to say was that I loved his books...why I didn't say anything about his movies I'll never know, but he seemed appreciative and said, "tell your friends."  I told him I always do, because I sincerely love his books, he is so knowledgeable and the books are so well written (so go pick up a copy of any of his books, post haste!).  I should've told him 'Noises Off' is one of my favorite movies, or said, good job with 'The Last Picture Show.'  But alas I get frazzled when I speak to celebrities.

Oh, and I also only had a notebook with lined paper and a green pen, so my autographs are all on lined paper in green pen.  I never expected in a million years that I'd be close enough to any celebrities to get any autographs.

 As the lights dimmed and the movie was about to start up again Alec Baldwin returned to his seat right next to where I was standing and I almost went to try to get his autograph, but I didn't want to be rude and disruptive, so I returned to my seat and reflected on probably one of the best movie intermissions I had been a part of and settled in to watch the second half of 'A Star is Born.'  One thing I walked away from this screening with was a new found respect for James Mason.  In the past he had always seemed to be a bit of a creepster to me, gave me the heebie jeebies even.  But for some reason this screening of this movie endeared me to him and the scene where he was at the "home" with Cuddles had me laughing so hard.

After the movie ended and it received a rousing round of applause I headed over to the Mann's Chinese 6 next door for a screening of Casablanca I went over to the screening with the guy I had been sitting next to for 'A Star is Born.'  I'd been dying to see this movie on the big screen for ages! and was very happy to finally have the chance.  But I was conflicted over making the choice to see Casablanca (which I've seen tons and tons of times) or seeing 'Sunnyside Up' which I don't think has ever been available on video or DVD.  I went with the old favorite.  I felt a little over-dressed for the screening, but decided not to care too much since it didn't much matter what I was wearing and I was there to enjoy the movie.  It was nice to get to chat with some other classic movie fans, my 'star is born' buddy and I talked to the people on my right and it turns out the girl we spoke to has a wonderful blog (Ingrid Bergman Life and Films). After a little while I was quite surprised when all of a sudden Ben Mankiewicz came out to introduce the movie.  I didn't realize that all the screenings would have an introduction and I didn't realize it would be done by another host of TCM.  That was very exciting.

He made a couple of jokes about how they were going to be showing the TV series Casablanca, which was very funny.  He also seemed very happy to be there and just as excited for the film festival as the rest of us.  The screening was great!  Again, it was so fun to see the movie with a packed theater and to be surrounded by people who love the movie as much as you do.  Unfortunately, the time change did catch up with me a little bit and I was feeling a little sleepy before Rick sent Ilsa off with Lazlo, but I stayed awake!

I think that'll do it for part 1, I realize this is a little long, but it was so exciting and I don't know how else to share what an amazing experience it was, so there's Day One- April 22, 2010

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