Friday, May 10, 2019

TCM Classic Film Festival 2019 - It's All About Love at the Movies

In the 1939 movie Love Affair, the character Terry McKay describes the Empire State Building as the "nearest thing to heaven." For those of us who love classic cinema, the same could be said about Turner Classic Movies (TCM). Appropriately, the theme of this year's TCM Classic Film Festival (TCMFF) was Follow Your Heart: Love at the Movies and the programming brought us all together once again in the heart of Hollywood. We enjoyed some of the greatest love stories of all time along with absolute essentials and rare gems. As usual, my own personal programming delved into different eras, whether it was film noir of the 1940s or movies from more recent years that celebrated significant anniversaries.

Like last year, everything kicked off on Tuesday with my own talk related to the festival - Fashion in Film of TCMFF 2019. Some of the films I covered are in the collage above. The sold out event was once again at the Woman's Club of Hollywood, a cultural monument that has existed for over 100 years with deep connections to classic cinema including its time as the Hollywood School for Girls. Stars associated with the place include pioneers like Mary Pickford and Charlie Chaplin as well as students like Jean Harlow and teachers like Edith Head. What made it even more fun is that this year we had a delightful display of Joseff of Hollywood jewelry worn by Katharine Hepburn in Holiday, Irene Dunne in Love Affair, Grace Kelly in High Society, and Ava Gardner in Mogambo.

Opening day is always rush of activity at the Roosevelt Hotel, the headquarters of the festival, and seeing who you can before events and screenings start to take all your time. As always, it began with a "Meet TCM" panel at Club TCM where the channel's leadership discussed everything from their new working relationship with Warner Media - including possible upcoming screenings at the Burbank studio - to a confirmation that the festival will indeed return in 2020.

Then after a couple more hours of spending time with friends near the Roosevelt pool, I was off to my first movie - 1947's Dark Passage. This was one of the movies I covered in my talk, and seeing that San Francisco noir with Edward Stevenson's costumes on the big screen was incredible. There are always new details to discover. Of course there's nothing like watching the real life love story of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall captured on film.

After that screening, I drove to the Opening Night Gala Party co-hosted by TCM and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). It's quite the event - held at Boulevard3 on Sunset Boulevard. The heads of TCM were there, including GM Jennifer Dorian, SVP Brand Creative and Marketing Pola Chagnon, and Programming head Charlie Tabesh. All four TCM hosts Ben Mankiewicz, Eddie Muller, Dave Karger, and Alicia Malone were also there mingling with celebrity guests and Spotlight passholders. At the peak of the party, the venue recreated the New Year's Eve scene in When Harry Met Sally with confetti floating down from the sky as the band played "Auld Lang Syne."

The rest of the festival was filled with friends and lots of fun. I probably caught up with the greatest number of my film family at Friday's screening of 1940's My Favorite Wife at the Egyptian Theatre. The Irene Dunne-Cary Grant comedy was introduced by his daughter Jennifer Grant and comedian Mario Cantone. We always say it, but there is nothing like watching these movies with an audience. This is especially true of comedies - they really come to life with all the laughter and you remember just how well written these classics are. And Howard Greer's costumes for both Irene Dunne and Gail Patrick did not disappoint.

Saturday was my birthday and I decided to spend the morning at the beach because it was sunny and warm with clear blue skies. I kept it classic Hollywood, though, by spending my time in front of the Annenberg Beach House. This is the former estate of Marion Davies and William Randolph Hearst, and many stars have stayed and played there. Making the place even more special is that the original Guest House and pool still stand. Marlene Dietrich is one of the many famous residents of the Guest House - she lived there when she moved to America to make Morocco (1930) and Shanghai Express (1932). I've spent a good deal of time there - starting with my first visit to do a video on its history to doing multiple speaker series there on the HISTORY OF FASHION IN FILM. Since I live in Santa Monica, I also swim in the pool all the time during the summer months.

It was back to Hollywood Saturday night and I went to the Chinese Theatre for a screening of Star Wars. It was a very important movie to me growing up. I saw it as a little girl, and it only enhanced a love I already had for space. That area of study was so important to me that I even majored in astrophysics for most of my college years. Star Wars has so much that's great - from the hero's journey to the breathtaking yet believable visuals/special effects to one of the scariest villains to ever appear on screen to my childhood crush Han Solo (okay, I still think he's pretty perfect). I love the movie even more now that I know all the classic film references. Star Wars premiered at the Chinese Theatre in 1977, so it was extra special to see it there. You can read all about the history of the Chinese Theater in this article I did after a private visit a few years ago.

The final day of the festival included a screening of The Godfather Part II, which was celebrating its 45th anniversary. In its honor, Ben Mankiewicz interviewed producer Fred Roos before the film. It was a fascinating conversation that delved into the challenges Roos and director Francis Ford Coppola faced while making both Godfather movies. Then it was off to the closing night party at the Roosevelt Hotel, where everyone gets very weepy when they realize that our time together has come to an end. It's amazing how quickly it all goes by.

I've tried to capture as many moments as I could to share with you here, but many times I was simply caught up in the moment of being with my TCM family and celebrating classic Hollywood. I hope you enjoy the photos.

Until next year, my friends...

The Roosevelt Hotel opened in May, 15, 1927
by backers that included Hollywood luminaries
Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, and Louis B. Mayer

Historic photos courtesy of Mary Mallory

The Roosevelt Hotel front entrance on Hollywood Boulevard today

The Blossom Room at the Roosevelt Hotel in 1929 (above)
and that same year hosting the first ever Academy Awards

The Blossom Room is turned into Club TCM
and is where the first event of the festival - the "Meet TCM" panel - is held

Celebrating opening day with champagne courtesy of Jay and Connie Crump
who have been to each of the 10 TCM film festivals
and are two of the nicest people you will ever meet

In my 1970s snakeskin dress among all the bamboo on the hotel grounds
with friends Isabella (above) and Kellee

It is now tradition for festival goers to take group selfies -
(left to right) Aurora, Lara, Kellee, Isabella, and Karen's daughter Veronica

First movie of the festival for me was the 1947 film noir Dark Passage

Appropriately, my friend and TCM Noir Alley host Eddie Muller
introduces the Bogart-Bacall film noir, which I enjoyed with Isabella and Monica

Then it was off to TCM's Opening Night Gala Party at Boulevard3 on Sunset Boulevard

There I bumped into a few other colleagues and friends, including 
Rita Belda who is in charge of Sony-Columbia's restoration projects
and Jeremy Arnold who TCM fans know for writing The Essentials

Friday started at a home away from home for me - the Egyptian Theatre

The opening of the Egyptian Theatre in 1922
with the first red carpet ever for Douglas Fairbanks in Robin Hood

Amazing attention to detail at the Egyptian is found in both its exterior
and interior, such as its spectacular ceiling (below)

Wearing a 1960s aegean blue belted shirtdress with floral pumps
while striking a pose with Isabella, Kellee, and Aurora

We were all there to see 1940's My Favorite Wife

Mario Cantone interviewed Cary Grant's daughter Jennifer before the screening

Saturday was my birthday, so I started the day at a different historic Hollywood location
that is another home away from home - the Annenberg Beach House in Santa Monica

Originally the 100 room beachfront home of Marion Davies and William Randolph Hearst,
it's now a cultural center and community pool (with the original pool, in fact)

The Guest House is also original - many stars stayed and played here,
including Marlene Dietrich who lived here when she first moved to LA
to film Morocco and Shanghai Express

I spent my morning on the beach and in the ocean right in front of the property

That night I was back in Hollywood at the Chinese Theatre -
you can read an extensive piece on the theater I created after a private visit

The Roosevelt Hotel's co-owners Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks 
were first to leave their hand prints in cement in the courtyard of the Chinese Theatre

Wearing a 1970s red wool dress with leopard pumps 
in the courtyard of the Chinese Theatre as night falls waiting for 1977's Star Wars

The premiere of Star Wars at the Chinese Theatre in 1977

Ben Mankiewicz interviews the team leaders
behind Star Wars' Oscar® winning special effects

The Godfather Part II was my closing night movie,
and absolutely incredible on the big screen

Beforehand, Ben had a fascinating conversation with producer Fred Roos
who shared a lot about the making of both Godfather films

 Wearing a 1950s black wool wiggle dress and patent leather pumps
for the closing night party back at the Roosevelt Hotel

With the usual suspects - Kellee, Isabella, and Aurora

Also with stylish friends Beth (above)
and Casey...

...and Ruth (below)

With Isabella and Jeremy as well as Scandinavian friends Sara and Karin

Always love spending time with Jeff of the Larry Edmunds Bookshop

Lucky to spend a little time with some of TCM's finest - Anne, Holly, and Ben

Until next year...

1 comment:

Silver Screenings said...

Thanks for sharing your gorgeous photos. They make for a wonderful, virtual film fest experience. :)

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