Thursday, March 26
During my stay in LA, I shared a room with two of the kindest ladies you could ever hope to meet: Laura and Kendhal. Staying with them afforded an opportunity to get to know them better and I cherish our times together. Thursday morning, Laura and I met Kristina for breakfast and spent the morning together making sure she learned her way around. Kristina designed and sewed her own formal dress for The Sound of Music red carpet event and we enjoyed several fabric and sewing discussions in our travels while I attempted to contain my glee in discovering a fellow fabric-nerd. You know you’ve found a friend when she reads the look on your face and asks “You have a big collection of fabric, don’t you?”
After a stop at the TCL Theatre to marvel over the petiteness of Olivia de Havilland (my HANDS are bigger than her feet), we headed over to the Roosevelt Hotel for a mandatory saunter through the TCM Boutique. Last year, I did not purchase an official festival tote bag and regretted it ever since, so my mission this year was to secure one as soon as humanly possible. I almost ordered the taxi from the airport to take me straight to The Roosevelt just to make sure I’d get one. (Exhaustion and hunger prevailed on that occasion…)
Next, we made a beeline for Larry Edmund’s Bookshop down the street. It was only my second visit there, but the gentlemen graciously remembered me (or at least they pretended to!). One of my favorite aspects of popping in to the shop is chatting with them. We heard all about Rory Flynn’s republication of her book and how she recently lowered the price to make it more accessible for a larger base of her father’s fans. Rory introduced The Sea Hawk later that evening and signed books in The Roosevelt Hotel over the weekend.
In the weeks leading up to the festival, when Kendra Bean announced on Twitter her intention of attending this year, I grabbed my copy of Vivien Leigh: An Intimate Portrait and added it to the top of my To Pack stack. Thursday afternoon, Laura, Kristina and I met her for an unconventional In-n-Out Burger book signing. We asked about how she was able to make the connections to Vivien’s friends for the book. Kendra explained the intricate vetting process she experienced before contacts would even speak to her because the network around Vivien maintained their commitment to shield and protect her, even today. Thank you so much for spending time with us, Kendra. It was a great honor!
After lunch, we headed back to The Roosevelt with Kendra and ran into Joel and his lovely wife transporting luggage down a back alley like Broderick Crawford and Ed Brophy in Larceny, Inc. As they stopped and chatted with us for the better part of 15 minutes in the scorching heat, it became clear they were merely switching hotels and not looking for somewhere to dump illicitly acquired dirt. But hey – you never know.
The Roosevelt played host to the Meet TCM event at which the TCM executives and Ben Mankiewicz fielded questions from the audience about TCM matters. Laura compared it to the press event she had attended the day before and explained how much of the information shared there was a repeat of the previous meeting. The fun aspect for me came with the first question asked out of the audience: Why the trend towards “newer” films at this year’s fest?” This question created drama and intrigue online for weeks before the event and it was a relief to many (including Ben M., I thought) to have it out of the way first thing. The answer provided made sense, pointing to the broad definition of what makes a classic and revealing how the decision to screen Out of Sight (1998) stemmed from the wishes of Anne V. Coates. This, paired with an assurance of maintaining the focus on what us die-hards like to call “true classics” satisfied the question and closed the issue. You know, in the end, TCM will show whatever they deem will appeal to the broadest audience. I think we all understand that. They know the core fan base cares mostly about the films made before 1970. And to that end, let me point out this fact. I saw 17 films at the festival (only 1 away from the maximum possible) and the newest I attended was made in 1968. The earliest was made in 1898. The newer films were not my reason for being there, so having them in the line-up only served to assist in narrowing my selections. (*ducks from the onslaught of tomatoes*)
I stuck around and watched the So You Think You Know Movies trivia game at Club TCM with Anne Marie and Trevor but thankfully did not participate. The questions were obscure and it became clear that success would only be awarded to a diverse team of fast thinking analyticals.
Finally, the time for the first screening arrived and it happened to be the film I looked forward to most: Too Late for Tears (1949) with Lizabeth Scott, Dan Duryea and Arthur Kennedy. I jumped into the line with Lindsay and Chris full of anticipation. You can see my excitement first hand in this quick interview shot by Chris and his hilarious daughter Jasmine.
Too Late For Tears did not disappoint and I’m aiming to do a separate post on it later. (*fingers crossed!*)
The Sea Hawk (1940) was my final selection on Thursday for two reasons: the dashing charm of Errol Flynn in 35mm and an appearance by his daughter Rory. Before the film, Rory gave a short talk about the print of the film we saw, explaining how it had been created for a re-release in 1949. She introduced us to her son Sean who calmly sat in the audience next to Jessica during the film. Jessica was just a bit excited about the experience.
At TCMFF, even films you’ve seen 100 times are transformed into new special moments because you are seeing them in a theatre with like-minded fans. Clapping when favorite stars appear on screen, cheers when battles are won, applause when the bad guy is bested and half the room tearing up, just because the music swells at the end. It can’t be beat.
Up next, a full day of films AND LUNCH! (Imagine that!)