On April 17, my husband (Jimmy) and I returned home to rainy Portland, OR after spending 9 fun-filled days in Los Angeles. We had an absolute blast at our first ever TCM Film Festival (TCMFF). We’re hopefully going to be able to go again next year, when the TCMFF will be celebrating its 15th anniversary and TCM will be celebrating its 30th. Jimmy and I are also looking into going on one of the TCM Classic Cruises, as we’ve never been on a cruise before. This year, the cruise is setting sail from San Diego, which would be very convenient versus flying to somewhere like Miami, but we can’t swing the cruise and the TCMFF in the same year–though the cruise is cheaper. This would be an instance where we would do either the TCMFF or the cruise, but not both.
But I digress. Back to the TCMFF.
April 9 & 10, 2023
We flew out of Portland at 6:00am and landed in Los Angeles a little after 8:00am. Originally, we planned on spending a couple days at the beach before moving to Hollywood. However, about a week before our trip, we had a change in plans and ended up ditching the beach and purchasing a 2-day Disneyland package instead. Had this been in the itinerary from the start, we would have flown into Orange County instead of LAX. Anyway, after picking up our rental car, we drove to Anaheim and were scanned into Disneyland by 10:00am.
Because this post is devoted to Jimmy’s and my experience at the TCMFF, I won’t go into detail about the 2 days we spent at Disneyland, only that it was awesome. Though if I were to do Disneyland and the TCMFF in the same trip again, I would do Disney at the end of the trip, because our legs were still burning on the first day of the TCMFF. I suppose it also didn’t help that after Disneyland, we drove to LA and went to the Los Angeles Zoo for the day. For the record, the Los Angeles Zoo is fun, but I think that the Portland Zoo is better. But neither compare to the San Diego Zoo which is on a completely different plane, compared to these two smaller zoos.
April 11, 2023
We left Anaheim early in the morning and headed to Griffith Park to go to the Los Angeles Zoo. Before the zoo however, we went to In-N-Out on Cahuenga Blvd. This was the busiest In-N-Out in the World’s Smallest Parking lot that I’ve ever seen. Not wanting to risk getting trapped in the parking lot with 10 spaces, we went through the Drive-Thru and took our lunch to the Zoo parking lot. After the zoo, Jimmy and I checked into our room at the famous Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, which serves as the center of the TCMFF. We were assigned Room #928, which I learned later was the room that Montgomery Clift lived in for three months while he filmed From Here to Eternity. Supposedly, Clift’s ghost haunts the ninth floor and people have reported hearing faint sounds of the bugle. Jimmy and I didn’t hear any commotion or bugle, but we were hitting the sheets pretty hard every night. It was really fun to find out though that we were in one of the famous, haunted rooms. I didn’t even request it.
The Blossom Room at the hotel is also the site of the first Academy Awards ceremony in 1929. During the TCMFF, this room serves as the location for the Club TCM panels, as well as the spotlight breakfast. We also attended the opening and closing night parties here. The parties spilled over into the lounge across the walkway. I understand however, that this isn’t the norm and that these parties are typically held poolside, next to the Roosevelt’s famous Tropicana pool. This definitely would have been better as the area is more spacious, however, it was uncharacteristically chilly in Los Angeles during this time and would have definitely been cold at night. As someone from Oregon, the weather was par for the course for us, though we obviously would have preferred the sunshine. Fortunately it was sunny and warm at Disneyland and at the Zoo.
After checking into our room at the Roosevelt, we headed over to Koreatown to Guelaguetza Oaxacan Mexican Restaurant. IT WAS SO GOOD. Jimmy wanted to get some molé and figured Los Angeles would have a good Oaxacan restaurant. I found this restaurant which had amazing reviews. Their website is ilovemole.com. This restaurant was freaking awesome and I highly recommend it. You can also order their molé to be shipped to your home, which I can definitely see us doing in the future.
April 12, 2023
We woke up incredibly early at 5:00am to be at the Los Angeles Breakfast Club where Eddie Muller was appearing as a speaker. I’d read that he would be signing copies of two of his books, the reprint of Dark City, and The Art of Noir. I already have a signed copy of the Dark City reprint (signed by Eddie Muller, courtesy of Larry Edmunds online). I purchased a copy of The Art of Noir ahead of time with the hopes of getting it signed, as well as save myself some time.
The Los Angeles Breakfast Club was an experience to say the least. Let’s just say that if Jimmy and I go to LA next year, and nobody TCM-related is appearing, we will not be returning. The breakfast was fine. Nothing special, though honestly, I wasn’t expecting anything spectacular. Anyway, the first hour of the two hour event was absolutely excruciating. It was way too early in the morning for the amount of obnoxious nonsense that we endured. There were songs, staged heckling, calisthenics, breakfast board business, bad jokes, corny banter, everything but Eddie Muller. The only part of this absurd ritual that Jimmy and I enjoyed was when we got to shake hands with the guests and the board, thus getting to shake hands with Eddie Muller. As one can imagine, we were indifferent to shaking hands with the board members.
All of the ridiculous traditions of The Los Angeles Breakfast Club are rooted in tradition, a tradition that started in the 1920s. I do have to hand it to the board members of this club, they are committed. I wouldn’t have it in me to carry on like this, ESPECIALLY at 7:00am. Regardless, it was a lot to endure. However, at around 8:00am, Eddie Muller finally took the podium. He delivered a great talk about film noir. He defined film noir, talked about the formation of his Film Noir Foundation, how he got involved with TCM, and gave some humorous anecdotes about people he’s met along the way, including the beloved late TCM host, Robert Osborne. Eddie was definitely the best part of the presentation and it was worth putting up with everything we did to get to that point. Jimmy thinks that all the hijinks at the club were a spoof of an Elks Lodge, or something like that. Having never been the member of a lodge, I will take his word for it.
After the Los Angeles Breakfast Club mercifully ended, we had a one hour window between the end of the breakfast and the beginning of our Classics tour at Warner Brothers. Thankfully, they set up the book signing table near where we were sitting at the breakfast, so I was able to get into the signing line very quickly. After listening to the person in front of me bare her soul to Eddie about film noir for what I swear was 10 minutes (though was probably only like 5 minutes), I got my book signed. We headed over to Burbank and quickly found the studio tour and were inside. On the tour, Jimmy and I got to sit at the front of the cart with the tour guide, which was awesome. We saw all kinds of locations, such as the ACME Bookshop and A.A. Geiger’s Rare Books from The Big Sleep, as well as filming locations from East of Eden, Cool Hand Luke, The Music Man, Casablanca, The House of Wax, History of the Wax Museum, Rebel Without a Cause, Bonnie and Clyde, and Now, Voyager. Backlots are always so interesting, because without the set dressing, they look rundown and kind of cheesy. It’s amazing how these sets seem so realistic with the right lighting, camera angles, and set decoration.
After the tour, we went to the famous Pink’s hotdogs in West Hollywood. I had a philly cheese steak dog and it was really good. We then headed back to the Roosevelt to pick up our TCMFF passes. Jimmy and I opted for the Spotlight passes, because we wanted to get the full experience. For those who are unaware, there are four pass levels at the TCMFF. The Spotlight pass gets you into every experience, gives you a swag bag, as well as entry into the opening night film and opening night cocktail gala. I will say that the swag bag wasn’t that exciting as it was mostly just one of everything from the gift shop. And since Jimmy and I were both spotlight pass holders, we got two of everything. However, the opening night film experience and the opening night cocktail gala were awesome. The cocktail gala was so much fun. We also enjoyed not having to wait in line at the venues. Spotlight passholders in the lines were issued queue numbers, but were seated prior to the other pass levels. The queue numbers in this line I imagine were more for headcount, versus determining who will or who won’t get in.
After picking up our passes, we headed down to the Hollywood Heritage Museum to attend the Facebook Going to the TCMFF group pre-party. The party was fun, though it only being our first year, we didn’t really know anybody. However, we were able to go inside the museum and look at the exhibits, including a replica of Cecil B. DeMille’s 1924 office, which was interesting. There was also a Creature From the Black Lagoon head as well as correspondence from Robert Osborne’s personal collection. I also purchased Lara Gabrielle’s Captain of Her Soul: The Life of Marion Davies as well as Kimberly Truhler’s Film Noir Style: The Killer 1940s. I got both books signed by their respective authors as both were in attendance signing their books. I also got a signed bookplate from Darrell Rooney, co-author of Harlow in Hollywood. He was also in attendance signing his book. I already owned that book and unfortunately didn’t bring it with me, as I didn’t know he’d be there signing copies. I have since placed the signed bookplate in my copy of the book. In the gift shop, I found an I Love Lucy commemorative plate that is part of the same collection as my other ‘Lucy’ plate. For $10, I couldn’t pass up the plate. After hiding in the back of the group during the big group photo (I hate pictures of me), Jimmy and I left to get to our 7:30 dinner reservation at Musso & Frank’s.
Musso & Frank’s is a Hollywood institution, having opened in 1919 and being well-trodden ground for Hollywood’s Elite. Charlie Chaplin in fact had his own booth built at the restaurant. You can request the Charlie Chaplin booth. Unfortunately for Jimmy and I, the booth is a 5-top and he and I are obviously only a 2-top. Since I will assume that Musso & Frank’s is always busy, they can’t seat us at table meant for a larger party. I tried to get seated in the booth when we visited the restaurant for the first time at the end of October 2021. The remarkable thing about Musso & Frank’s is that they haven’t changed their menu since 1919. Jimmy got a steak that he said was delicious and I got the best pork chop I’ve ever had in my life. It was so good. And thanks to the Oregon Bottle Drop program, I was able to pay for our Musso & Frank’s dinner with my bottle return money.
April 13, 2023
Thursday was the official start of the TCMFF; but it didn’t start until 5:00pm. We started the day out at the Formosa Cafe, which I wanted to try. The Formosa Cafe was delicious. I loved the food and the decor. We then went to Amoeba Music, an awesome store that I love. They have an amazing record selection (obviously), but more importantly, they have an amazing classic film DVD/Blu Ray section!! I could have gotten so much stuff, but settled on something like 8 different titles. We headed back to the Roosevelt and hung out until it was time to start getting ready for opening night. Jimmy took a nap. We got ready for opening night and headed downstairs. We went to the opening night party in Club TCM and then headed across the street to walk the red carpet.
I wish that the red carpet event had been organized a little differently, but it might always be like this and I didn’t know. The red carpet experience didn’t allow us to walk the carpet with the hosts and the celebrity guests. Not sure if that is how the red carpet is normally done, or whether we did something wrong. Suffice it to say, the red carpet was fine, though it wasn’t what I expected.
The opening night film was Rio Bravo, which neither Jimmy nor I had seen. We were seeing the opening night film no matter what it was, so I didn’t consider any of the other options. If we didn’t have the Spotlight or Essential passes (which get you into the opening night film), I would have gone to see One Way Passage and The Wild One. But we got into the opening night film, which special guests Steven Spielberg, Paul Thomas Anderson, and Angie Dickinson. This was also our first time inside the famous Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. It is now the TCL Chinese IMAX, but for all intents and purposes, it’s Grauman’s.
Grauman’s Chinese Theatre is absolutely gorgeous on the inside and is everything you would expect it to be. The ceiling is absolutely amazing as is the women’s bathroom. The Grauman’s Chinese Theatre women’s bathroom is hands down the fanciest bathroom I’ve ever seen. There’s an entire circular room lined with floor-length mirrors that you walk through before you even get to the bathroom.
Directors Steven Spielberg and Paul Thomas Anderson came out to talk about the 4k restoration of Rio Bravo, which was completed by Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation. Scorsese founded the Film Foundation over 30 years ago, and many directors, including Spielberg and Anderson are board members. Spielberg explained that the board has restored almost 1,000 films since its inception. Then it was time for Ben Mankiewicz to introduce and interview Angie Dickinson, the only surviving star from Rio Bravo. Angie’s interview was very funny, albeit a little scattered. I’m not sure if that was due to her age (91), nerves, a little of both, or maybe that’s just how she normally is. I have no idea, I’ve never seen an interview with her before. But the interview was funny. She and Ben talked about their mutual love of See’s Candies. There was another part where Angie was telling a story about John Wayne and briefly seemed to forget his name. Her memories of making the film and little anecdotes were funny and definitely added to the overall experience.
Jimmy and I absolutely loved Rio Bravo. We weren’t sure we were going to enjoy it, as neither of us are big fans of Westerns or John Wayne, but we absolutely loved this movie. I’m attributing it to the strength of Dean Martin’s absolutely fantastic performance. He deserved an Oscar nomination for this film. Walter Brennan was hilarious as Wayne’s deputy. Angie was gorgeous and a nice change of pace from female characters I usually see in Westerns. And Ricky Nelson was gorgeous and I enjoyed seeing him in this film. I also hoped for a Dean Martin/Ricky Nelson duet and I’m happy to report that Howard Hawks did not disappoint. Jimmy and I loved this movie so much, we made a note to purchase it and add it to our film collection.
After the film, we walked outside and it was raining. Instead of cowering under an umbrella, we just started walking and boarded an awaiting shuttle. We were brought to the Mother Wolf restaurant on Wilcox Ave. This restaurant was awesome. TCM had obviously rented out the entire venue, there were two main party areas. One area had a bar and a DJ and the other area was another bar, with tables and chairs. The tables and chairs side was the place to be as all the TCM hosts were there, though we never saw Alicia Malone. That’s not to say she wasn’t there, however. Jimmy and I stood next to the kitchen where all the fresh hors d’oeuvres were coming out. We had tray after tray of hors d’oeuvres being offered to us and every single one was delicious. At one point, we found ourselves standing next to The RZA’s table. Later in the evening, Jimmy would get his picture taken with The RZA. We left the party about a quarter to midnight when it seemed to be winding down. Back at our hotel, we went to bed, as we had a 9am movie to make it to the next morning.
5 thoughts on “My First TCM Film Festival–Part 1”
WOW. I would have been stoked just staying in the room Monty stayed in.😃
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What an amazing experience you had at the TCMFF! It sounds like you packed a lot into your 9 days in Los Angeles. I’m curious, which film was your favorite from the festival?
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I think our favorite film at the festival was “Harvey” which we’d never seen before. The “Casablanca” screening was amazing too. Our actual favorite event at the festival was the Evolution of Henson Puppetry panel. It was fantastic!
This sounds so amazing! I have hopes of someday attending one of the TCM festivals 😀 I love Rio Bravo, so I am super envious of everyone who got to see it on the big screen here. What a dream!
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It was amazing. I’d always wanted to go and this year I decided that I was making it happen! We’re hoping to be able to go next year and we’re also looking into one of the cruises! Though we probably wouldn’t do the cruise and the TCMFF in the same year unless we had a lot of money one year. Lol. Though the cruise appears to be cheaper than the TCMFF.