Friday, April 14, 2023

2023 TCM Classic Film Festival: Day #1 Recap


Greetings from rainy Los Angeles! The 2023 TCM Classic Film Festival kicked off on Thursday April 13th but the festivities have been going on all week.

On Tuesday I met up with some classic film friends for dinner at Smoke House, a Burbank steak house that's been operating since 1946.

Before dinner, I met up with my friends Aurora, Laura and Doug at the Forest Lawn Cemetery: Hollywood Hills. Many of our beloved classic movie stars and directors are laid to rest there. It's a huge cemetery so you have to come with a game plan and ready access to Find a Grave. We had limited time but we were able to pay our respects to some of my favorite people including Bette Davis, Telly Savalas, Sandra Dee, Ernest Borgnine, Buster Keaton, Stan Laurel and Charles Laughton. I'm a huge fan of The Mills Brothers and I found Donald Mills in the Columbarium of Radiant Dawn. 

On Wednesday I picked up my media badge and received a book themed tote bag (But Have You Read the Book by Kristen Lopez) as well as a copy of Mark Vieira's new book Warner Bros. 100 Years of Storytelling.

 Later in the afternoon I attended the Media Welcome Event in the Blossom Room at the historic Hollywood Roosevelt hotel. TCM transforms the Blossom Room into Club TCM for the festival. The space includes a mini museum of props as well as a bar. There are events happening at Club TCM throughout the festival and it becomes the central hub for the long weekend. This year they had a really cool display of Warner Bros. memorabilia for the 100th anniversary. I was particularly taken with the three remaining intact violins from one of Busby Berkeley's numbers in the Gold Diggers of 1933. They also had Berkeley's large leather scrapbook on display too! Both were very cool to see.

There wasn't a big announcement this year at the Media Welcome Event. Last year it was announced that Pam Grier was the special guest for The Plot Thickens podcast. No such announcement this year. But we did get to mingle with the hosts. I got this Oscars-style selfie with some friends and TCM host Alicia Malone. She's as kind and gracious in person as you'd expect her to be!

The festival kicked off in earnest on Thursday afternoon. Every year I conduct interviews on the red carpet but this year I decided to scale back a bit. This allowed me the opportunity to attend So You Think You Know the Movies, Bruce Goldstein's trivia event that has opened pretty much every festival to date. The event started with a musical number from Good News (1930) which is by far my favorite musical rarity. It's based on a Broadway musical and was remade in 1947 with June Allyson and Peter Lawford. I love both versions but the 1930 has a special place in my heart especially when I get to see Dorothy McNulty's crazy dance moves (she later became known as Penny Singleton). The first question in the contest was about her and of course I had to help my team out with that one. 

I'm not terribly good at trivia but I was able to help with another question about the Nicholas Brothers. The question was about the youngest brother and which silent film star he was named after. I knew it was Harold Lloyd from having read Donald Bogle's biography on Dorothy Dandridge who was briefly married to Harold Nicholas. It's funny because Donald Bogle was standing right behind me during the trivia game. What a delight! Things like this only happen at the TCM Classic Film Festival.

Later that evening I met up with my friend Jessica and my editor at DVD Netflix Annie for dinner at Musso and Frank's Grill. I've always wanted to go especially because of the restaurants history of famous classic movie stars and writers dining there over decades. Orson Welles, Charlie Chaplin. Marilyn Monroe, the Rat Pack, were all regulars there. 

After dinner we headed over to the Chinese Multiplex to line-up for the Doris Day and Cary Grant sex comedy That Touch of Mink (1962). Alicia Malone gave a great introduction before the film and it was so much fun to see this film with an audience. I've seen this film several times before but have a new appreciation for the film including the supporting players Audrey Meadows and John Astin. 

Stay tuned for more updates from the TCM Classic Film Festival!

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