My Trip to Hollywood for the 2018 TCM Classic Film Festival — Part One

Hey, classic film fans! I have to start this post by saying that this past week has undoubtedly been one of the most action-packed and marvelous of my life, and I owe it all to Turner Classic Movies, who hosted their ninth annual Classic Film Festival from April 26th through the 29th in Hollywood. I definitely wanted to give my readers a detailed account of my festival experience and of my trip to California in general, but I wasn’t exactly sure how to go about breaking up my posts while also giving you all of the details in a timely manner. So, while I’m sure that I won’t be on the dot with my timing as I’m going to be moving all the way to Pennsylvania in one week, my goal is to break down my posts about the trip into five parts, with one per week until the beginning of June. This first one will be about my Old Hollywood-related happenings leading up to the festival, and each of my four posts following this one will be chronicling one day of the festival.

The view from my gate. The sun hadn’t quite risen yet before I stepped onto the plane.

Of course my trip began with a 6am flight from Tampa to LAX on April 24th. I’ve flown quite a bit from Florida to California and vice versa before, but this was actually the first time that I had ever flown by myself. I chose Delta as my airline, as I’ve had great experiences with them before and I was aware that the company was one of the festival’s founding partners, but I wasn’t aware of the full extent of their partnership with Turner Classic Movies until I discovered (much to my delight, of course) that each seat on the plane had a pristine-looking screen on the back with a wonderful selection of classic movies from TCM’s library available for free during the flight. I can’t recall all of the selections off the top of my head, but I do recall the iconic picture All About Eve (1950) being available as well as the two that I instantly chose to watch during the four-hour flight, Casablanca (1941) and Rebel Without A Cause (1955). I think Casablanca (1941) undoubtedly sits among my favorite films of all time, and watching it again for the first time since I saw it on the big screen at The Humphrey Bogart Festival in 2015 was an absolute delight. The time (if you’ll pardon my expression) flew by as I marveled at Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman’s performances. Rebel Without A Cause (1955) was admittedly not as easy to sit through, as I was beginning to doze off towards the middle and ended up interrupting the film to play games so I could keep my mind occupied before the plane landed.

Pink’s, the best hot dog stand that I’ve ever been to for certain and a must if you’re ever in Hollywood.

After arriving in Los Angeles and after about two hours of confusion in the airport, I finally located my grandparents, who would soon be attending the festival with me. We would spend the majority of the day in Hollywood before returning to their home in Palm Springs, and our first stop in town was at Pink’s, the legendary hot dog stand that was near the top of my LA Food Bucket List. Of course I had already perused their menu and decided that The Brando Dog, named after the incredible Old Hollywood star, was the one for me. It was nine inches of absolute deliciousness topped with chili, shredded cheese, mustard, and onions, and I couldn’t help but pair it with some guacamole and nacho cheese fries and a bottle of Coke. I honestly couldn’t think of a better lunch or a better way to begin my trip, and it got even better when a couple of lovely ladies recognized the festival pass that I was wearing around my neck and began a wonderful conversation about classic film. One of the two told me about how well she had gotten along at previous festivals by only using the standby line, which gave us a lot of hope because my grandfather hadn’t originally planned to join us for the festival and was going to use the standby line for many of the screenings as he didn’t have a pass.

My first lunch in Hollywood: The Brando Dog, some guacamole and cheese fries, and a bottle of Coke. And what a lunch it was!

We discussed movies, our favorite TCM hosts, and what we were most excited about for the festival, and it was a great taste of the sort of conversations that I would soon have in spades while standing in line for films over the weekend. From there we zoomed over to scope out the hotel that we would soon be staying in, The BLVD on Highland (or should I say the parking lot, mostly to gauge the distance between our hotel and all of the festival action), then headed right over towards what would take up the most time on day one of my trip, paying tribute to some of my favorite stars at their final resting places in Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills. Before arriving, I had studied a tour of the cemetery given by one of my favorite Youtubers whose work I highly recommend, Arthur Dark of Hollywood Graveyard. He has a four-part tour of this particular site as well as an online map of the stars’ graves which I took the time to replicate, only including the stars that I actually wanted to visit.

The information center and gorgeous flower shop just past the entrance to Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills.

Unfortunately my placements of the pins on my own map weren’t entirely accurate and it took quite a while to find some of the graves, if I was able to find them at all. Most notably, we searched for at least fifteen minutes in the area in which I had marked the grave of Marjorie Main of Ma and Pa Kettle fame before finally giving up and moving on, and we also had to quit our search for famed Disney cartoonist and special effects artist on The Birds (1963) Ub Iwerks, as his crypt was so tiny and among so many others that it was impossible to find on the vast wall. Some of our searching was certainly worth it though, and it was definitely satisfying to finally find the resting places of Buster Keaton and Dorothy Lamour after almost giving up on those as well. Overall, the grounds were absolutely stunning, and it was such a fantastic experience to find our way through the vast cemetery and pay our respects to some of the most talented actors to ever appear onscreen. I actually ended up purchasing a large and gorgeous bouquet of flowers from a roadside stand and broke it up into parts, dividing some of its beautiful flowers among each of my favorite stars, which you’ll see my pictures of below.

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After we gave ourselves sunburns and wandered around the cemetery for a few hours, it was finally time to head to my grandparent’s home in Palm Springs. That evening wasn’t as Old Hollywood-related as I spent some time with my closest high school friends and caught up with them while sharing some In-N-Out (because what California trip would be complete without that?), but the next day was full of excitement as I got my hair cut and styled into a braided half-updo held up by a multitude of sparkling hairpins that was guaranteed by my stylist to hold its shape over the course of the festival. That evening, I was fortunate enough to be invited to the Palm Springs Art Museum for a gala held by the museum in conjunction with The Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce.

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From what I understand, one of these galas is held every month in a different Palm Springs location, and if the chamber approves of the location, they recommend the spot to incoming tourists. The exciting thing about the gala is that it highlighted their newest and possibly most fascinating exhibit dedicated to the famed Andy Warhol. The museum hosts over two-hundred of his original works, including many of his famous prints of Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Kennedy, and his own self-portraits, among others. There was  music, hors d’oeuvres, raffles, and of course the stunning art was the focal point of the evening. A local artist whose printmaking process was similar to that of Warhol’s was even brought in to do demonstrations, and he assisted me in making a print of my own on a tote bag! The print is a color-by-number, which of course I plan to fill in with acryllic paint in the very near future. After such an eventful first two days in California, I needed to catch up on my beauty sleep as the first day of the festival was only one day away! I hope you stick around as I update you on the events of the first day of the festival later this week!

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