Sometimes I have to pinch myself because I shouldn’t be this lucky. As an avid fan of classic Hollywood it’s wonderful to live close to the spot where it all happened. I can regularly attend screenings, visit star’s homes and tour the historic studios. And once a year I get to do my very favorite thing of all – attend the TCM Film Festival.
Once again, I scored a press pass and spent last weekend in classic Hollywood heaven. This year marks the 10th annual festival (and the 25th anniversary of Turner Classic Movies) and the network pulled out all the stops. Unfortunately, because of my schedule I couldn’t dive in as fully as I wanted to but I managed to attend three screenings and each one was more wonderful than the last.
As someone who grew up in Orange County I can’t help but love Disney. I started watching the feature length cartoons at a young age and love them to this day. I have to admit, Sleeping Beauty wasn’t one of my favorites (I’m more of a Peter Pan gal) but I couldn’t resist the opportunity to see it on the big screen.
The screening took place in the wonderful Egyptian Theatre and was preceded by a discussion between Disney historian Mindy Johnson and animators Jane Baer and Floyd Norman. Ms. Baer and Mr. Norman are not just any animators – they actually worked on Sleeping Beauty! I was lucky enough to hear tales of their days at Disney animation and all the work that went into the film. And what a film! It had been nearly 30 years since I’d last seen it and time certainly warped my memory. I now love it! It’s so beautifully animated and to see it on the big screen was a true treat.
After the screening I rushed over the the Chinese multiplex to catch the silent film Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans. Sunrise is one of those “must see” films that I somehow never got around to. Starring Janet Gaynor and George O’Brien Sunrise is glimpse into a day in the life of young couple at a crossroads in their marriage. Films of the era had a tendency toward melodrama but Sunrise is masterfully understated. With stellar performances from O’Brien and Gaynor, superb direction from F. W. Murnau and beautiful cinematography from Karl Struss and Charles Rosher it truly is a masterpiece. It may have taken me a long time but I’m so glad I finally saw it.
I decided to end the festival with laughter and headed to the The Legion Theater at Post 43 (recently restored and the festival’s newest venue) for a screening of Buck Privates. Anyone who knows me knows I love Abbott and Costello and I rarely waste an opportunity to catch them on the big screening. In fact, this would be my second big screen viewing of Buck Privates (not to mention the countless home viewings) and it didn’t disappoint. Bud Abbott. Lou Costello. The Andrews Sisters. What more do you need? There’s nothing better than seeing a classic comedy on the big screen and this one was a real hoot with the audience laughing and cheering throughout.
Every year I intend to immerse myself in the festival but, somehow, life just gets in the way. But, I can’t complain. I saw three wonderful screenings this year and I was in state of pure bliss for much of the weekend. How often does that happen? TCM Film Festival is one of my favorite events ever and I’m so happy that was able to experience it for a 6th time. Crossing my fingers that next year is even better!