Reflections on My TCM Classic Film Festival Debut
Guest post by Kim Andrews, TCM Club Member and ClassicCoupleAcademy.com Instructional Designer
When I stood up to stretch my aching knee, Lily Tomlin made eye contact with me and subtly smiled. Then, she turned her head and continued speaking. I was part of the exclusive audience to see her put her hand and footprints into the cement at TCL Chinese Theatre (formerly known as Grauman’s) on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. You ask if I’m related to her…why no, I’m just an average Jane like you. So, how did I get access to this historic event? I attended the 2022 TCM Classic Film Festival with a Spotlight Pass. Suddenly, I was a part of movie history.
As a member of the Triangle Classic Movie Club, I’ve been gathering with friends to watch classic movies on the big screen in the Triangle area for several years. This year, with COVID-19 winding down, TCM brought back its annual festival with the theme “All Together Now: Back to the Big Screen.” It was time for me to leave the isolation of home and join our group in Hollywood.
Why would I spend my hard-earned money to travel across the country to see classic movies that I can view on TCM or stream at my home? The celebrities of course! I thoroughly enjoy the introductions and commentary provided by TCM before and after the classic movies that they show. Wouldn’t it be great to see those interviews in person? The TCM Classic Movie Festival didn’t disappoint. I was personally able to view interviews with, get autographs from, and brush elbows with Kevin Bacon, Megan Cavanaugh, Ann Cusack, Tim Daly, Jane Fonda, Pam Grier, Steve Guttenberg, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Piper Laurie, Jon Lovitz, Leonard Maltin, Garret Morris, Rita Moreno, Lori Petty, Anne Ramsay, Paul Reiser, Jane Seymour, Steven Spielberg, and Lily Tomlin. Of course, I enjoyed interacting with the TCM hosts as well. With my TCM credentials, my husband and I greeted Dave Karger as if we knew each other while walking on the sidewalk in Hollywood.
The movie selection was downright overwhelming. The line-up included comedy, pre-Code, noir, and essentials. The screen at the TCL Chinese Theatre was the largest screen I’ve ever viewed. I watched E.T the Extra-Terrestrial on this giant screen and heard Steven Spielberg discuss how Henry Thomas auditioned for the part. The screen was so large in the IMAX version that you could clearly see every pore on Henry Thomas’ face. Like many others in the audience, I hadn’t seen this movie for a while and forgot that it is about love. My tears flowed at the ending along with several others in the audience.
Although I wasn’t able to attend every movie that I had selected ahead-of-time, I attended movies both new to me and loved. Due to both my physical limitations and the large number of overlapping offerings, I had to create a strategy and narrow down the selection. I managed seeing three movies a day while some folks could view five movies. The movies I saw included Has Anybody Seen My Gal, Cooley High, A League of Their Own, Somewhere in Time, Heaven Can Wait, All of Me, and Diner. Some of the movies were held in the TCL Chinese 6 Theatres Multiplex and a shuttle was provided to the beautiful Hollywood Legion Theater at Post 43. The festival app on my phone allowed me to plan and adjust as the schedule changed. It provided key information about each movie and let me create my own personal schedule.
After a few years of isolation, my brain is still absorbing the experience. I will always remember Lily Tomlin showing the audience a small pair of Converse sneakers to immortalize Edith Ann’s footprints in the cement. I was amazed when Jane Seymour explained to the audience that she was in love with Christopher Reeve when they shot Somewhere in Time and watched for the scene where she almost cried. Jon Lovitz graciously provided an autograph at the closing ceremony at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel pool. I remember my appreciation for other TCM festival goers who asked before standing up in front of others to take photos. I love the gift bag of goodies from TCM and the snacks provided by HBO Max at the Hollywood Legion Theater. I remember everyone’s laughter when the shuttle driver asked me how to get to the Hollywood Legion Theater. I remember wearing masks to prevent the celebrities (who didn’t wear masks) from getting the virus. I remember getting autographs from Megan Cavanagh, Ann Cusack, and Anne Ramsey after A League of Their Own. I remember standing in line and the smart way TCM provided queue cards to manage the lines. I remember using discounts to visit museums in the area. Mostly, I remember that I had a great time.