The return of TCM Film Festival following a pandemic-induced two year absence was always going to be an experience, but even I — who always has a ton of fun during the festival — did not expect to have the obscenely good time I had. Although I had barely socialised and not travelled since October 2019, my decision to break the ice by flying halfway across the world was an extremely chilled experience. To be honest, any residue anxiety dissipated the moment I sat on the plane. It was definitely foreshadowing; I laughed and stayed up until 2am most nights and watched a bunch of films with my friends and it was therapy. There are so many anecdotes and in-jokes I that have nothing to do with the festival (most will not be revealed on this blog, lol, others will be shared elsewhere), but here are some bits and pieces and photos and things from festival week:
Films I watched:
Dinner at Eight (1933) All of Me (1984) Miracle Mile (1988) — I keep falling asleep and jolting awake during the midnight screening which added to the experienced of an already excellent film! Three on a Match (1932) The French Way (1945) Portrait of Jennie (1948)— this left me rapt and I’ll be writing about for my next newsletter (currently in the works!) Polyester (1981) — a midnight screening in Odarama with Mink Stole in attendance! Peggy Sue Got Married (1986) 7th Heaven (1927)
Other highlights during festival week included:
This year’s festival was catharsis, and it was greatly needed. Love to all those I hung out with, ate dinner with, gossiped with, and with whom I had the best time. Yes, I did stay on in LA, and I’ll probably write something about moments from my extended time in the city, too. But as for TCMFF, until next time x
After two years away, the Turner Classic Movie festival is back and I will be returning to my beloved L.A. for a prolonged stay in ten day’s time! The highlight of the festival for me is always seeing friends but even more so this year, as I’ll be watching a bunch of good movies with the gang I have not seen since 2019. While I am usually bouncing off the walls by now, I am not going to lie about feeling greater anxiety for this year’s lengthy journey (and all the new paperwork required for International travel). But I know the excitement and realisation will kick in once I’m seated on the plane.
I have other fun things planned aside from movies, which I will be blogging about on here and in greater depth in my newsletter (please subscribe and follow!). But first, festival! Will I stick to these films and schedule? Who knows! Here are my tentative TCMFF picks.
Thursday 21 April
I have a confession to make. I will not be seeing any festival movies on opening day because I’ll be heading to the The Whisky on the Sunset Strip to see the Enuff Z’Nuff perform live. I’m stupidly excited, and of course it clashes, but these things don’t come around all too often. Plus, when else will I have the opportunity to see this band live — and live at The Whisky? So, that’s my plan for Thursday night. However, I will be enjoying the E.T. red carpet up until then, and lurking at The Roosevelt, because the funnest, funniest, most typical festival highlights usually occur when you are just hanging out.
If I didn’t have plans, I would either be at The Harvey Girls, but more likely Jewel Robbery with the divine Kay Francis and the irresistible William Powell at the TCL Multiplex. Or, failing that, hanging poolside Fast Times at Ridgemont High at the Hollywood Roosevelt. As I have seen all of these movies before, I would probably see what every else is doing and maybe head to dinner with friends before the chaos unfolds. As for the later slot, and because I have seen both A Star is Born (1937) and Lover Come Back, I would probably plump for Jules Dassin’s Topaki, especially because I loved Riffifi. Hoping that one gets a re-run slot on the Sunday.
Friday 22 April
This is where it gets insane, which I love. I’ll most likely start my day at the Hollywood Legion for Dinner at Eight, because I still haven’t visited the venue and it’s a great one to start the day. Should I be extremely bleary-eyed, it’ll be either The Sunshine Boys or Maisie Gets Her Man at the TCL. Then I’m hoping to see The Group, followed by Coming Home, and then All of Me. These are all draws because Diane Baker, Bruce Dern, and Lily Tomlin in attendance respectively.
The first evening slot will be tricky, because as much as I love Giant, I don’t want to find myself lagging for the midnight screening of Miracle Mile (which I’ve never seen before!) at the TCL. I love The Letter, but will likely opt for Cocktail Hour at the TCL, followed by Cooley High at the Legion, before heading back for the witching hour. The midnights are always a highlight, and of course I’ll need to refuel at some point in between, so if I skip something so be it. Plans constantly change, that’s the beauty of film festivals.
Saturday 23 April
This one is a tricky day, and the only thing I’m sure about is going to the midnight screening of Polyester with Mink Stole in conversation. So, I’ll likely start my day with James Cagney in Angels with Dirty Faces, followed by the wonderful Three on a Match or the wildly intriguing The Last of Sheila (all at the TCL). I’ll then scurry along to the Legion for Baby Face.
I figure this will be followed by a break, which will allow me plenty of time to get back in line for The Hustler with Piper Laurie in attendance at the TCL. That being said, Invaders From Mars sounds like a hoot, and when else will I get the chance to see it on the big screen? But when will I get the opportunity to see Piper Laurie, either? As much as I favour seeing the new-to-mes, this choice will be tough.
As for the evening, I’d would relish the opportunity to see Diner at the Legion, especially with multiple members of the cast in attendance, but the minimal time between that and Polyester means it will be tricky — and that’s providing everything runs on time. So, I figure I will plump for always enjoyable Drunken Master II at the TCL. EDIT: I stupidly overlooked Portrait of Jennie, and am now leaning towards seeing that — it’s about art, how could I not! But it’ll be tricky deciding, for sure. Once again, the day is all about the midnight slot.
Sunday 24 April
The final day already? With a chunk of the schedule TBA, very often repeated showings of earlier films, I’ll just tell you what I know. As much as I love The Thin Man series, seeing Paper Moon on the IMAX screen is too irresistible to refuse. That being said, the Wim Wenders doc, Desperado, has really piqued my interest.
My Sunday choices certainly have a retro theme. At noon I’ll be watching Kathleen Turner and Nic Cage in Peggy Sue Got Married which means missing Key Largo and Bogie and Bacall on the Legion screen. Maybe I’ll change my mind on the day. This is why I never write my choices.
No midnight screening means two slots left, and The Sting at the IMAX is very tempting, giving me an hour to grab a bite before my closing festival film: A League of their Own. It’s always nice to go out on something special and in my eyes this is a perfect movie, plus cast members Megan Cavanagh, Ann Cusack, Jon Lovitz, Lori Petty and Anne Ramsay will be in attendance.
Then, onto the afterparty at The Hollywood Roosevelt, but we know the real fun comes after. See you at In-N-Out Burger!
TCMFF weekend started with the fabulous DoubleWedding (1937), a raucously zany comedy reuniting Myra Loy and Willaim Powell as sparring partners who obviously become intensely attracted to one another. The ending was an absolute scream — I have never seen anything quite like it to be honest! A pleasure from start to finish. It set the day up quite nicely — plus, Marya bought a Pink Panda!
Then it was onto Blood Money (1933), a Pre-Code that ticked the boxes in stylish fair as Bondsman George Bankcroft becomes embroiled with the clients he is helping. By then it was midnight, and wanting to attend the midnight film, The Student Nurses (1970), my friend Millie and I literally climbed under the rail next to our seats to dash into the theatre. We literally escaped from Escape from New York! But it was worth dashing because Student Nurses was hugely enjoyable: a group of four young women studying in 1970s Los Angeles find their paths go in four very different ways. I loved it.
Then it was Sunday, the final day of the festival. The day, once again, started fabulously, with Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant in Holiday (1938), a movie I had seen numerous times will rewatch at any opportunity. The chemistry between them is delightful, the gowns and hats are gorgeous, and the movie is delightful — a whole heap of joy.
I’m pretty sure Kalloch’s was inspired by Elsa Schiaparelli. His work for Holiday — specifically the hats — are very Schiap like #TCMFFpic.twitter.com/zPoOMg7mpM
I usually refer to this say as “Sirk Sunday” because I always watch a Douglas Sirk movie at the festival. This time it was Magnificent Obsession (1954), where Rock Hudson woos widow Jane Wyman without realizing he is somewhat unintentionally responsible for her late husband’s death. Gimme all the melodrama, I love it.
The final movie before the closing party was The Dolly Sisters (1945), a musical with more FANTASTIC surrealistic costumes, is how many of us chose to end our festival, and while this one was not necessarily my favourite, it was a great deal of fun. THE COSTUMES! I’m hoping to write more on this aspect of the movie. at some point so this is all I will say for now about that angle but YES WOW.
I loved ALL THE FASHION in The Dolly Sisters!!!! Orry-Kelly went there — I wanna write a sartorial focused book on this movie #TCMFF
We always close the festival in style at The Roosevelt to drink and chat and say our goodbyes, and later to grab fries at In-N-Out as per tradition.
The group of us staying up late to make the most of the festival shrinks every year, but it doesn’t matter, that’s not the point. It’s about enjoying the final minutes of the festival before we say goodbye for another year, about having one last laugh with friends and memories and shared experiences. And that’s what it’s all about.
It’s 30 November, the last day of November – and Noirvember – and it’s safe to say that I messed up. I overestimated this self-imposed task to post something everyday and follow Noirvember to the letter. I did not anticipate the sheer volume activity that would flood my way and make this month one of my busiest of the year.
It’s started slowly and surely, but a combination of minor health niggles and research activity soon put my intentions to rest. May it was this task – the incentive to become more active on here – that kickstarted my hunger for something that I’ve been missing and craving for a very long time. It got me back into a much-missed circle, asking questions of myself and critiquing my current situation and general career plan. It gave me a much-needed kick to use my site more and to post whatever I wanted to at that particular moment, be it a photo, quote, anecdote or whatever. I wanted to do more in-depth reviews, analysis and wittily constructed posts but there’s always time – maybe I’ll do a mini Noir celebration in the year?
Let’s just see where this site takes us, shall we? Out of the Noirvember darkness and into the light…
My first viewing of He Ran All The Way was at this year’s TCM Classic Film Festival. What follows is an extract of my original post:
He Ran All The Way was hardly a second choice and did not disappoint. A gritty, menacing Noir, we were soon being terrorised by a crooked John Garfield brandishing a gun, then a large piece of poultry, into the faces of Shelley Winter’s terrified family. Furthermore, I was in awe of Galdys George’s wardrobe and her superb, very minor, role as Garfield’s mother who smoked, drank and bitched her way through barely two scenes.
The sense of bleakness within He Ran All the Way is also palpable off screen. The Blacklist haunts the film – its screenplay was co-written by Dalton Trumbo and Garfield was blacklisted two months before the film’s release. It was also to be Garfield final film – he died one year later. Denis Berry, whose father John Berry (who was blacklisted after Edward Dmytruk named him as one of the Hollywood ten) directed the film, gave an affecting, personal introduction of life during this era. We can read about the time and see movies written, during and about this historical Hollywood period, but it is only when you hear it directly from someone who experienced and lived through it all that the reality truly hits home.