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TCM Classic Film Festival 2019: Day 1

I’ve probably stated this in the opening of the last six years of TCM Classic Film Festival posts: there’s nothing quite like attending this festival. As someone who is fortunate to go to their fair share of film events, TCMFF is one of the most leisurely and fun events I go to. And I use the term “leisurely” in this case to mean that I can relax; I can enjoy movies knowing that if I choose to review them it’s because I love them, not because I have to. The people here are friendly and there’s a sense of understanding, acceptance, joy of cinema.

This year marked my sixth year attending TCMFF and it coincided with the 25th anniversary of the network itself (and their 10th year of putting on the festival). I might go into this deeper in a future post, but I will say that celebrating this year took on added poignancy. This is a network I’m not only fortunate enough to be included in by attending their events. I’m fortunate to work with them and know they hear me. So with that being said, let’s examine the first day of this chaotic, delightful thing known as the TCM Classic Film Festival.

Living so close to Hollywood now means I don’t have the whole pre-festival stuff that happens. Literally, I loaded up the car and drove the 20 minutes down to the hotel the night before. This year I was honored to take on the post of TCM Brand Ambassador, an extension of their previous Social Producers post. Not only was my job to tweet and promote the festival through social media, I was also adding my expertise examining the fest’s accessibility. This came in handy during the red carpet for the opening night film, 1989’s When Harry Met Sally.

The red carpet was small but thankfully I was included as one of just four classic film-centric sites to have prime placement on the carpet. Unfortunately I noticed the dreaded metal barricades were back which are already a hindrance for me as they force me to navigate in an even smaller space. Couple that with the insane wind that’s been plaguing Los Angeles this week and it was even more unwieldy. But, because this is TCM and they care, the group was kind enough to move the barricade in front of me, giving me an unobstructed view of all the stars on display.

Compared to years past this carpet was thriving with talent. In honor of TCM’s 25th anniversary I asked all the stars to tell me about the performer or films that got them hooked on classic film. Guest presenter Ron Perlman mentioned it was any movie that reminded him of watching features with his dad. Director Robb Marshall and TCM’s Jennifer Dorian both mentioned actors Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. The responses were incredibly diverse and showed just how deep the roots of classic film run. The red carpet highlight, though, had to be my opportunity to chat with Disney animator, Floyd Norman. If you haven’t, be sure to check out the documentary on him, Floyd Norman: An Animated Life, especially if you’re a fan of old-school Disney animation. He was with Jane Baer, one of the legendary Ink and Paint women who worked on the lot. When she asked me if I was an animator I nearly cried. If only, Jane.

I had no illusions that after red carpet I’d make it to Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) as, in years past, I never have before. But the fates were smiling on us because in our walk to the Egyptian to see the next movie, my travel buddy and I realized we’d actually make it! I’ve watched Gentlemen Prefer Blondes countless times; it’s one of my favorite Marilyn movies. But seeing it in a glittering Technicolor print on the Egyptian screen was something out. The colors were so lush and vibrant, Marilyn and Jane Russell looked even more exquisite than usual. What was fantastic was that the detailing was so minute you can see every arch of an eyebrow. The expressions take on such added depth. I was blown away! The Gentlemen Prefer Blondes print set the bar high for The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947) in nitrate. This might be sacrilege but I’ve yet to see the pure wonder of nitrate. Some saw it glows and I just haven’t seen it. I’ve watched this Cary Grant-starring feature several times, but watching it on a big screen was amazing.

Thankfully, TCM keeps day one pretty light. Day 2 on the other hand….

Kristen Lopez View All

A freelance film critic whose work fuels the Rotten Tomatoes meter. I've been published on The Hollywood Reporter, Remezcla, and The Daily Beast. I've been featured in the L.A. Times. I currently run two podcasts, Citizen Dame and Ticklish Business.

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