After a long and arduous return trip from Hollywood and a hectic work week after that, I’m finally ready to share my experience at the 10th Annual TCM Classic Film Festival. I’ve mentioned this before, but I consider myself so incredibly fortunate because I’m able to save up and travel to this yearly celebration of the movies and stars that I hold closest to my heart. My first festival last year was more amazing than I would have ever dreamed of, but this year was even more incredible. While I attended a multitude of screenings with my grandmother in 2018, this time around I had the pleasure of attending the fest with my sister, which allowed me to also take in some of the nightlife of Los Angeles. On top of that, I really came out of my shell this year and realized just how far my blog and social media presence has reached within mere months. I had the opportunity to befriend TCM hosts, stars, and bloggers that I’d always dreamed of interacting with, and I was even recognized by peers and strangers alike for my work, which continues to fascinate me. I hoped to outline each day of my trip with a separate post, but today I decided to combine my accounts of my first and second day in Hollywood.
Wednesday, April 10th
I arrived in Los Angeles on the morning of April 10th, one day prior to the start of the festival activities. After meeting up with my sister at LAX, we made the drive to our hotel and decided to start things off by scoping out the TCM Boutique inside of Sweet! Candy Store. As always, there was a small selection of souvenirs from last year’s festival, and everything from shirts to books and buttons were adorned with images relating to this year’s films and guests. Quite a few of TCM’s vintage designs were sold in honor of TCM’s 25th anniversary, but this year I decided not to buy anything, mostly due to the apparent shift in TCM’s shirt manufacturer which has skewed the shirt sizes to run smaller than usual. After that, we hoped to have our first meal at the nearby In-N-Out Burger, a true California staple that both of us had missed terribly, but we didn’t take into account that the neighboring Hollywood High School was let out just before we arrived. There was hardly even standing room, and we were so famished that we shared our first Californian meal at IHOP instead.
From there, we made a quick stop to get a dozen roses to take with us to our next destination, Pierce Brothers Westwood Memorial Park in Beverly Hills. When we visit cemeteries that contain as many stars as Westwood does, we usually take along a map or make our own with the locations of all of the stars that we wish to pay our respects to. Since Westwood is so small and we had visited the memorial park before, we thought it would be fun to challenge ourselves and see how many of our favorites we could find on our own before whipping out a map. We succeeded for the most part, easily pointing out the graves of Eva (and Zsa Zsa, if the rumors are true) Gabor, Truman Capote, Marilyn Monroe, and Dean Martin, but we did struggle with a few others like Richard Dawson, Louis Jourdan, and especially Peggy Lee, who I didn’t realize was interned in a bench. I donned my Jack Lemmon shirt designed by the fabulous Kate Gabrielle and paired it with a matching skirt with a lemon pattern, and we left roses for Jack along with all of our other most beloved stars and filmmakers before heading back to our hotel. Below you’ll find pictures that I took of some of the stars that we visited!
If you read my original picks for the festival, you’ll see that we intended to do a lot more on our first day in Hollywood, but by this point we were so exhausted after nearly a full day without sleep that we ordered food in and watched some Amateur Sleuth pictures on TCM before falling asleep.
Thursday, April 11th
Before we knew it, the first day of the festival was upon us, but we had quite a bit more sightseeing to do before we sat down for our first film. My sister and I woke up bright and early to meet up with our grandparents for breakfast at the Chateau Marmont, which we had to change from the previously scheduled Beverly Hills Hotel due to the boycott on properties owned by the Sultan of Brunei. At first I was slightly disappointed that we weren’t going to the hotel that I’d already visited and admired so much, but ultimately we couldn’t have made a better choice. The history of the Marmont is so apparent as you stroll through the decadent halls, and the lush green patio, along with the delicious food, convinced me to visit the Marmont for breakfast again next year. I had always heard about celebrity sightings at the hotel and assumed that I wouldn’t be lucky enough to spot anyone I knew, but as if the meal wasn’t delightful enough, we noticed none other than Brad Pitt himself walk in just before we left. I couldn’t believe it, as he’s the sort of celebrity who someone would name if they wanted to lie and claim they saw a celebrity, but it’s a hundred percent true and I made sure to get a confirmation from everyone else at my table before I allowed myself to trust my eyes.
After that, my sister and I parted ways with our grandparents and headed over to Hollywood Forever Cemetery for Karie Bible’s afternoon tour. I had heard so many incredible reviews about this tour from friends and bloggers alike, but nothing could have prepared us for how exceptional the tour truly was. Our grandparents’ parting gift for us was ten gorgeous long-stemmed carnations for us to bestow upon the graves of our favorite stars, and this tour offered more than enough worthy candidates of our affection. There were so many celebrities and important figures: those who are already ingrained in the memories of the public like Douglas Fairbanks, Judy Garland, and Rudolph Valentino, as well as those who deserve to be, like Virginia Rappe, Fay Wray, and Barbara La Marr. I’ve spent countless hours studying the lives and deaths of these stars, but Karie shared some stories that even I wasn’t previously aware of, like the tale of Griffith J. Griffith’s attempted murder of his wife and the story of how Peter Lorre’s daughter was nearly a victim of the Hillside Stranglers. I wore my custom-designed Tyrone Power shirt to the tour, and when we came to his grave, Karie allowed me to take over and recommend some of my favorite Tyrone Power films! It was so moving to discuss his life and career at his final resting place among others who actually cared about these stars, and it was so kind of Karie to recognize my love for him and to allow me to get involved!
Once we finished the tour, it was nearly time for our first film of the festival. As I previously mentioned when I made my festival picks, the first round of screening options was nearly impossible to choose from, but at the end of the day I couldn’t help seeing Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953). I had never seen a Marilyn Monroe film on the big screen before, and the picture holds a lot of meaning for me and my sister, who’s essentially the Dorothy to my Lorelei. We met some amazing bloggers while standing in line at The Egyptian Theatre, including Virginie of The Wonderful World of Cinema, Kristen, my co-host of Ticklish Business and author of Journeys in Classic Film, and Julia Ricci, who gave me an awesome George Sanders button! Once we were all inside, Alicia Malone treated us to the perfect introduction. It was easy to see just how honored she was to be a part of the festival and to be introducing such an iconic movie, and she wrote an adorable song for the occasion to the tune of “Two Little Girls from Little Rock” about her humble beginnings and her journey from being a classic film fan in her Australian hometown to being a host on TCM, remarking “If you thought I was cool before, you won’t think so after you hear this!” I’ve always been a diehard fan of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), but watching Marilyn sing “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” among a sea of people who continue to adore her is a completely different experience. I noticed many more comedic moments as I do with each new viewing, and so did the crowd as there was a steady stream of laughter and applause throughout the film. While it was hard not seeing Night World (1932), Dark Passage (1947), or Ocean’s 11 (1960), I knew as the end credits appeared that I made the right choice.
As soon as Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) was over, my sister and I got right back in line at the Egyptian for a special nitrate screening of The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947). It was a packed house, and we were entertained by not only one introduction to the film, but two! The first was from a representative of The Academy’s Film Archives, who spoke about Shirley Temple’s incredible contributions to charitable causes both movie-related and beyond. He mentioned that a wing of the upcoming Academy Museum is being named after her, and the audience audibly gasped when he revealed that the nitrate copy of the movie we were about to see was from Shirley Temple’s own collection. After that, a writer about domestic family life in the movies talked about the film’s antiquated plot and how The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947) could never be replicated in the #MeToo era. She also discussed Shirley Temple’s own coming-of-age during the movie’s production, from stories of her childishly pranking and imitating her co-stars to her desire for a chic, ladylike updo in one of her scenes. The movie itself was delightful, of course; there were a few dull scenes in between, but The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947) offers Cary Grant’s comedic chops at their very best, which I genuinely believe is the genre that he was best at. Shirley Temple was lovelier than ever in the role of Susan, and it was truly the chance of a lifetime to look up at the glittering screen and realize that I was watching her own copy of the picture. When the movie ended, we had hoped to have dinner and drinks at The Pig & Whistle, but there was a shady crowd performing karaoke that night, so we headed back to the hotel and ordered some pizza, ending a wonderful first day at the festival!
Be sure to keep checking in for the rest of my TCM Film Festival coverage, which will be posted in the coming days!