Returning to the TCM Classic Film Festival
One of my absolute favorite annual events is the TCM Classic Film Festival and every year I look forward to heading to Hollywood and indulging in a marathon of classic flicks. Thanks to the pandemic, the last two years’ fests were virtual and, while I did enjoy participating, it just wasn’t the same. Luckily, this year the in-person festival was back and I just spent a fabulous time in Hollywood watching movie after movie.
This year, I was only able to make it to the fest for one day but I made the most of it watching four films and two presentations. I started off bright and early heading to the El Capitan for a screening of The Jungle Book.
The beauty of the TCM Film Festival is that it’s more than just screenings. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing like seeing an animated classic like The Jungle Book on the big screen but it was made even better due to a pre-film discussion with Leonard Maltin and, festival honoree, Floyd Norman.
Floyd Norman is a legendary animator who started his career at Walt Disney Studios. Beginning with Sleeping Beauty he worked on such classics as One Hundred and One Dalmatians, The Sword in the Stone and, of course, The Jungle Book. Before the movie he and Maltin discussed his decades long career (which included stints with Disney, Hanna-Barbera and Pixar), his interactions with Walt Disney and his secret to longevity. It was a fascinating conversation and a true treat to witness the interaction between two legends.
With animation on the brain I headed to Club TCM (one of my favorite spots in the fest) for Looney Tunes in Hollywood.This presentation from animation historian Mark McCray was a wonderful celebration of Hollywood in the cartoons. I’ve long been a fan of the Warner Bros. animated spoofs of Golden Age celebrities but didn’t realize how thoroughly they infiltrated Looney Tunes cartoons. It was fun to see Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny spoofing all things Hollywood and I spent an hour laughing at their timeless antics.
From there I headed to my home for the rest of the day, theater #6 in the Chinese Multiplex. I started with the presentation A Little Song , A Little Dance from Andrea Kalas, Senior Vice President of the Paramount Archives. Every year, Andrea puts together a selection of rarely seen clips for the festival and, as the title suggests, this year’s celebrated song and dance. Featuring everything from little remembered novelty acts to such heavyweights as Frank Sinatra and Fred Astaire it was a fun romp through Paramount’s musical output.
After a journey through the Paramount archives I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do next. I quickly perused the schedule and decided to return to theater #6 for a screening of Queen Bee starring Joan Crawford. I was completely unfamiliar with Queen Bee and I’m so glad I took a chance on it. Joan is at her most vicious playing a woman who stops at nothing to get exactly what she wants in life. The hair, the gowns, the eyebrows were all Crawford at her “Crawford-iest” and it was deliciously fun to watch.
Whenever I’m at TCM Film Fest I always try t catch a pre-code film and this year was no exception. Cocktail Hour stars Bebe Daniels and a very young Randolph Scott and celebrates the power of the independent woman. Super successful Bebe Daniels charms New York and Paris while evading the attempts of Randolph Scott to settle her down. It was a fun romp made all the better by a pre-film discussion between Suzanne Lloyd and Cari Beauchamp. Suzanne, the granddaughter of Harold Lloyd, personally knew both Daniels and Scott and it was fun to hear her anecdotes of her interactions with them (spoiler alert: they were both good eggs).
After Cocktail Hour I was getting pretty sleepy but there was no way I was missing my last film. A quick stop at the snack bar perked me up and I headed to a 3-D screening of the recently restored, film noir classic I, the Jury. Introduced by the Czar of Noir, Eddie Muller, I, the Jury was the ultimate send off to this year’s fest. A Mickey Spillane romp featuring every film noir trope from the hard boiled private eye to the slinky femme fatale it was made doubly entertaining through the use of 3-D. I loved every minute of it and was so glad I decided to fight through fatigue to watch it.
This year’s return to the in-person TCM Film Festival was a magical experience that made me appreciate just how lucky I am. Not only did I make it through the past two years but I was able to return to one of my very favorite events and have an amazing time. I already can’t wait until next year but I know nothing will compare to the thrill of this year’s return to the movie theater. I’m so grateful for TCM for once again bringing me joy.