My First TCM Film Festival– Part 2

When we left off in Part 1, Jimmy and I had just finished watching Rio Bravo (1959), the opening night film. We also attended the cocktail gala which was awesome. At around midnight, we were back in our room at the Roosevelt, ready to hit the sheets, as we had a 9:00am movie to make the next morning.

April 14, 2023

We woke up at around 6:30-7:00 to get ready and make it downstairs for the Spotlight breakfast which started at 8:00am. The breakfast was fine, nothing spectacular. We had some scrambled eggs, potatoes, bacon, sausage, fruit and a croissant. The sausage turned out to be turkey sausage and it was not very good. Very tasteless. However, the rest of the breakfast was good. We also got a to-go coffee. The best part of the breakfast was that it was free (so to speak, it is a perk of the Spotlight pass). We also saw Alicia Malone who was milling about the breakfast. My only minor complaint is that I wish there were more tables. Both days we attended the breakfast, we had to balance our plates on our laps. There was also a raffle. It was also on this day that I learned about the ribbons that attendees attach to the bottoms of their passes. I found out that I could get them at the Information Desk. And I also learned that you had to get them early in the day, otherwise all the good ones would be gone very quickly.

The ribbons are available early mornings at the TCM Info desk.

We left the breakfast at around 8:30 to head across the street to the multiplex (theater #1) to see our first film of the day, Harvey (1950). Neither Jimmy nor I had ever seen this film. Harvey was introduced by Joe Dante, the director of the 1984 classic, Gremlins. But before Dante’s intro, TCM programmer Scott McGee delivered the customary opening remarks, thanking sponsor Citi. But, that was not all, at this screening was a special guest! Cue the TCM staffers walking into the theater helping the special guest, none other than Harvey himself. All 6’3.5″ of him. This whole scene was pretty funny. The staffers helped Harvey to his reserved front row seat and even took a photo of him. I enjoyed Joe Dante’s intro. He is obviously just as much a film fan as he is an expert.

Jimmy and I loved Harvey. We knew that Harvey was James Stewart’s invisible friend and we knew Harvey was a rabbit. Otherwise, we didn’t know how the film was going to play out. We absolutely loved it. Josephine Hull, who played Stewart’s sister, was absolutely hysterical. She earned that Best Supporting Actress Oscar. Literally right after the film, we added it to our list of movies to purchase, alongside the previous evening’s Rio Bravo, which we’d also never seen.

After Harvey, we headed over to multiplex #6, for Footlight Parade (1933). When this film was announced, I knew it was a must see. I’ve seen this movie before, I’m not sure if Jimmy had. Even though ‘Parade’ conflicted with East of Eden, which I also wanted to see, I absolutely had to see Busby Berkeley’s choreography on the big screen. The screening was packed and it was absolutely fantastic. I loved Bruce Goldstein’s introduction. He also had an excellent closer as well where he had put together a presentation showcasing banned scenes in Footlight Parade. We were treated to a montage of different scenes and a caption stating which country/state/province banned this specific scene. Let’s just say that Quebec should have just banned the film completely. They also had a hilarious complaint about Berkeley’s scene where the dancers stand in three tiers, while revolving. Quebec specifically objected to “revolving women.” If we make it to the TCMFF next year, I would definitely prioritize seeing Bruce Goldstein again. I believe he has a reoccurring gig every year.

3 of the working violins from “Gold Diggers of 1933” were on display in Club TCM

After Footlight Parade, we headed back across the street to Club TCM for our first panel presentation–Looney Tunes at the Oscars. Jimmy had made it clear that in addition to seeing the films, he wanted to make sure to take advantage of seeing some of the special presentations, as these experiences couldn’t be replicated anywhere else. While he wanted to see the films, he wanted to also do/see things he wouldn’t be able to do at home. Jimmy and I both love Looney Tunes, and seeing that this was Warner Brothers’ 100th birthday, how could the Looney Tunes not be featured. This presentation was a lot of fun. Animation historian, Jerry Beck, and Executive VP at the Academy Museum, Randy Haberkamp, were both on-hand to deliver a delightful discussion about Looney Tunes shorts that were nominated for and/or won Oscars. In between segments of the conversation, we were treated to one of the Oscar-nominated or Oscar-winning shorts. Some of the shorts we’d seen before, like the two Bugs Bunny cartoons, the Sylvester & Tweety cartoon, and the Pepe LePew one. However, there was one with two mice called “Mousewreckers” which we’d never even heard of, let alone seen.

After Looney Tunes, we took a slight break in our room and then headed down to the Tropicana pool to line-up for that evening’s poolside film–Beach Party (1963). I knew for my first festival that I wanted to do at all of the special activities (Club TCM, poolside film, midnight movie) at least once. And I wanted to see at least one film in all the venues. I’m happy to say that I achieved all these goals. Next year if we go, I won’t necessarily need to be so strict as I know what everything is about. There were three poolside films at the TCMFF–Hairspray, Beach Party, and A Mighty Wind. Hairspray was automatically out as it was during the opening night film and cocktail party. Plus, it rained that night so it was moved indoors into Club TCM. A Mighty Wind is fine, but there were films in that block that I wanted to see more. Beach Party with Frankie Avalon in attendance was the obvious choice.

Dave Karger and Frankie Avalon at the Beach Party poolside screening.

Jimmy and I were actually first in line at the poolside screening. It is crazy how much you have to defend your spot at the front of the line when people try to just casually stroll up and act oblivious to there being a line when they’re called out. I’d read that to get one of the lounge chairs, you needed to be there early. Jimmy and I had our eye on one of the big, round 2-person chairs on the side of the pool. We scored our big chair and lucked out even further when the staff brought out heaters and placed them around the pool. They placed a heater right next to our chair which was awesome. Then there was wait staff taking drink orders. I got a Cava sparkling wine.

As a side note, during this event, there was a shooting (someone was shot in the head) on Hollywood Blvd. We received messages on our apps that the venues were on lockdown. We eventually were given the all clear. Due to the incident however, there were helicopters flying above the pool during Frankie’s interview and the beginning of the film. It was annoying. However, seeing the severity and scariness of the situation, I cannot be too upset. I was lounging poolside sipping sparkling wine while attending a film festival, meanwhile someone was lying in the hospital with a gunshot wound to the head. I can get over it. I would like to give a shoutout to the TCM staffers for keeping the festival goers safe and getting the word out quickly.

Dave Karger introduced Frankie Avalon, one of the stars of Beach Party. Avalon was excellent and he looked great. He talked about how he’d met Annette while she was still on the Mickey Mouse Club and even went out on a date with her, but the relationship never progressed beyond friends. They were friends when both were cast in Beach Party. Frankie talked about how much he loved Annette. The conversation even turned serious for a moment when he talked about Annette receiving her MS diagnosis in 1987 while they were filming their Beach Party reunion film, Back to the Beach. Sadly, she would succumb to the horrible disease in 2013 at the age of 70. This part of the interview was obviously very bittersweet for Frankie, as he obviously cared very much about Annette and was saddened by her suffering and passing.

The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel at night during the Beach Party screening.

Thankfully, the conversation shifted into something a little more upbeat when Dave and Frankie began to talk more about the Beach Party films. Frankie said that he didn’t think the dancing aged well. And while I can’t say I disagree with him per se, I will say that the dancing in all the ‘Beach’ movies and Gidget and everything else of that ilk, is my favorite. It’s very much of it’s time, but it’s actual dancing that I could do. Lol. Dave asked Frankie how many pies to the face he took when filming the end of Beach Party, and Frankie said it only took one take to film the scene, so he only took a single pie to the kisser. And with that, the film started.

Jimmy and I were so comfy at the Beach Party screening and were underneath the heat lamp, we didn’t want to leave early to see Clooney.

The Beach Party screening was happening as George Clooney was appearing across the street at Grauman’s to discuss Ocean’s 11. As one can imagine, many people left the Beach Party screening after Frankie’s interview. Jimmy and I wanted to see Clooney, despite not really wanting to only see parts of events. We had tentatively planned to leave Beach Party (we’d seen it before) and see Clooney. However, when the time actually came, we were so comfortable lounging in the big round pool chair, underneath the heat lamp, that we decided to stay for the entire screening. I’m happy we did. Sorry Clooney, maybe we’ll see you next year? I hope you come back to talk about O’Brother, Where Art Thou?.

After Beach Party ended, we briefly thought about going to The Batwoman midnight movie. However, it was 10:00 and there weren’t any other films starting at that time. We didn’t particularly want to wait two hours to go back out to see the midnight movie. Instead, we opted to return to our room and watch TCM instead. When we got back to the room, Gentleman Jim with my man, Errol Flynn, was starting. Perfect! We went to bed after the movie ended, as we had another 9:00am film to see.

April 15, 2023

We woke up early again for the Spotlight breakfast. This time, we wisely skipped the bland turkey sausage. We picked up our new ribbons for that day’s screenings. Jimmy and I both took a Muppets-inspired ribbon that said “The frog is staying!” After breakfast, we walked across the street to Grauman’s, to see the 9:00am screening of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954). The last surviving brother, Russ Tamblyn, was going to be interviewed before the screening. Tamblyn was being honored at the festival and had been interviewed the day prior during the Peyton Place screening, but Jimmy and I were attending the Looney Tunes panel. When I saw the schedule announced, I knew I wanted to see Tamblyn at least once. Given the choice between ‘Brides’ and ‘Peyton,’ I knew it had to be the former. I wanted to see the barn-raising dance on the IMAX screen.

Dave Karger interviews Russ Tamblyn during Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

Prior to Russ Tamblyn coming on the stage, we were treated to a video tribute celebrating his entire career. The tribute was very well done. Russ was introduced by Dave Karger. The interview was hilarious. Commenting on the acrobatics he performed in the aforementioned tribute video, Russ said that the only acrobatics he’d done recently was getting out of bed. There was also a hysterical moment during the interview when Russ’ wife coached him from the audience, correcting him on how many grandchildren they had together. Dave and Russ talked about the plot of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and how it could never be done today. Dave also mentioned the movie being shown as part of TCM’s “Reframed” series on problematic films that they presented during the pandemic. Russ then did a funny bit where he pretended to be pitching the plot of the film to a modern producer.

Then, the interview got even funnier when Russ offered his suggestion for a Mormon-remake of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. He called it, Seven Brides for ONE Brother. Lol. Dave seemed like he might have been getting a little nervous, but cleverly segued the conversation into asking Russ about the Pontipee Brothers’ red hair. Russ had a funny story about that as well. He said that all the brothers got their hair dyed red on the same day. After the last red dye job was done, they all hopped into Howard Keel’s convertible to drive somewhere for lunch. Russ said that people’s heads turned as a car full of seven red-headed men cruised down the street. Finally, it was time for the movie to start.

I don’t have any other photos from the ‘Seven Brides’ screening to include, so here’s a photo of Howard Keel singing that earworm, “Bless Your Beautiful Hide.”

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers on the IMAX screen, aka “the largest screen in North America,” was absolutely fantastic. The color was gorgeous. And the barn raising dance was absolutely amazing on the big screen. I could not ask for a better experience. Even a few weeks later, I still cannot get Howard Keel’s voice singing “Bless Your Beautiful Hide” out of my head. Jimmy and I watched Calamity Jane the other day and I desperately wanted Keel to sing “Bless Your Beautiful Hide” to Doris Day. And even though I knew he didn’t, because I’d seen the film before, I wanted him to do it anyway.

After this film, Jimmy and I headed over to the Multiplex to see the Laurel and Hardy presentation. This is the one screening where we planned to leave early. There were three shorts listed in the schedule for Laurel and Hardy. The first short, “Going Bye-Bye!” was the only one we hadn’t seen. Jimmy and I were happy when this was in fact the first short screened. I will say that the introduction for this presentation was extremely lackluster. A TCM staffer could have done the introduction. It would have had about the same effect. But I digress, the “Going Bye-Bye!” short was hysterical. Laurel and Hardy testified at a trial that led to a man being imprisoned. After the sentence is handed out, the man vows revenge on Laurel and Hardy. The two men decide to leave town for their own safety. But not having any money, they decide to share a ride with someone also traveling. They place an ad in the paper, and a woman answers it. When they go over to her house to meet, it turns out that her boyfriend is there. Her boyfriend turns out to be the now escaped prisoner who wants to avenge his incarceration by taking out Laurel and Hardy.

We weren’t allowed to take photos in the Henson panel, so I’m including this picture of Fozzie and Kermit’s dad from The Great Muppet Caper. This picture makes me laugh every time I see it.

After the short ended, Jimmy and I left to attend what was hands down the best thing we saw at the TCMFF–The Evolution of Henson Puppetry panel at Club TCM. Jim Henson’s son, Brian, now the chairman of his father’s company, led the presentation. He started with a demonstration of some simple hand puppets and he and his puppeteer performed a routine that Brian’s parents performed before Jim hit it big with his Muppets. This routine, “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Your Face” was absolutely adorable and hilarious. Making the presentation even better was that Brian had a camera set up to show the audience how the puppets were filmed for television and film audiences. As the title would suggest, Brian presented how the puppets evolved and the technology evolved. In addition to hand puppets, we learned about how they would put gloves inside the puppet arms for puppets, e.g., Swedish Chef, who needed to be able to hold things. There were also animatronic puppets and digital puppets. We were also told how the Henson company achieved different shots, such as the big Muppet bicycle scene in The Great Muppet Caper. Even after hearing Brian’s explanation as to how it was done, I still don’t understand it. Lol. Unfortunately, none of the famous puppets were in attendance, but I imagine that the cost and risk of security wouldn’t be worth it.

My queen, Ann-Margret, wearing these fabulous black boots and being interviewed by Dave Karger.

After the Henson panel, we were back at Grauman’s IMAX, because ANN-MARGRET was going to be there. When Ann-Margret was announced, Jimmy and I knew that nothing else that was scheduled was going to keep us from seeing her in person talk about Bye Bye Birdie (1963). It didn’t matter what was scheduled. We were seeing Ann-Margret. I’m happy to report that we were successful. Once again, Dave Karger conducted the interview. Ann-Margret was absolutely amazing. She said that ‘Birdie’ didn’t feel like 60 years ago, as she has much energy now (at 82) as she did then. Yes! That’s what I like to hear. Ann-Margret has just released a rock n’ roll album, which she laughed and said she didn’t yet have a copy of it. She also talked about some of the cast members, like Maureen Stapleton and Paul Lynde. She also talked very briefly about Elvis in relation to him being the inspiration for Conrad Birdie. She was amazing. In honor of her April 28 birthday, Dave presented her with a birthday cake inspired by her famous legs. Then we all sang “Happy Birthday” to her. It was awesome.

Saying good bye to Ann-Margret and Birdie, we were off to our next film. This is where Jimmy and I had a bit of a compromise. He wanted to see Enter the Dragon introduced by his now BFF, the RZA, later that evening. I would have seen In the Heat of the Night or Unfinished Business. However, I’d already seen Beach Party in lieu of Ocean’s 11 (which he wanted to see, because he wanted to see Clooney), so I figured I’d acquiesce to his movie choice. In the meantime though, we needed a movie to fill the block. I picked Sorry, Wrong Number (1948) because I wanted to see an Eddie Muller introduction and I figured that this ending would be really awesome on the big screen. Remarkably, Jimmy and I were in the minority of having actually seen the film when the ubiquitous “How many of you haven’t seen this film?” question was asked. I’m happy to report that neither the film nor Eddie Muller disappointed.

Ann-Margret blowing the candles out on her cake.

After Sorry Wrong Number, we hopped on the shuttle to go down to the Hollywood Legion to see Enter the Dragon (1973). This ended up being an excellent choice because I’d never seen a Bruce Lee movie and it was the only film we saw at the Legion, so I still achieved my goal of seeing one film in every venue. Jacqueline Stewart conducted the interview with the screenwriter, Michael Allin and the RZA (aka Jimmy’s new BFF). This was an excellent conversation. The RZA is a huge fan of Kung Fu and has done a lot of work scoring kung fu related films and shows (Kill Bill and Afro Samurai), in addition to kung fu influencing his music with the Wu-Tang Clan. We then ended up sitting behind the RZA. I was surprised how much I loved Enter the Dragon. I didn’t think I would, but it was an absolute blast. I’m considering buying the Bruce Lee box set in the upcoming Barnes and Noble Criterion sale. After the film, we lucked out and the shuttle had just arrived when we walked out the door, which is good because we had 45 minutes to get back down to the multiplex for the midnight movie…


Finally at midnight, we were ready for our midnight movie, my favorite roller disco movie–Xanadu (1980). By this point, I was wearing my silver sequin bomber jacket, sparkly shoes, Xanadu shirt, and ribbons in my hair a la Olivia Newton-John. This experience was absolutely fantastic. The entire audience was into it, despite it being midnight. Who doesn’t love the Gene Kelly glitz makeover sequence? It is not surprising that the musical number Gene Kelly directed and choreographed himself was the best number in the film. This was absolutely amazing and I loved seeing it on the big screen. An unexpected side effect of this screening was that Jimmy became interested in learning about Don Bluth after learning that he animated the random sequence in which Kira and Sonny turn into animated fish.

At 2:00am, we were exhausted and walked back to our room across the street and piled into bed. Tomorrow was our last day 😥

My favorite part of Xanadu and my favorite gif from Xanadu. Gene Kelly gets his glitz makeover.
Click here to read Part 1 of my first-time trip to the TCMFF!
Click here to read Part 3 of my first-time trip to the TCMFF!

4 thoughts on “My First TCM Film Festival– Part 2

  1. I loved reading your continuing adventures, Kayla. We were in a couple of screenings together — I’m proud to say I was #1 in line (for the Essence/Classic/Media line) for Bye Bye Birdie, which was my goal — and I also saw Enter the Dragon, which was my daughter’s choice. I’d wanted to see Frankie Avalon, but my dinner ran long, so I was glad to read about what he said. I saljute you for making it to the midnight movie. In the nine years that I’ve been going to the fest, I’ve NEVER made it. I look forward to your next entry!

    – Karen

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lol. I wanted to see Xanadu in the theater, and I wanted to make it to a midnight movie. I had a chance to see Xanadu in the theater back in September, shortly after Olivia passed away, but I didn’t end up making it. I may have a slight advantage with the time, in that we live in the same time zone as the festival, so there’s no time zone differences getting in the way. I could see it being difficult to stay awake for the midnight movie, if it’s 3:00am where you’re from. That was a busy day though, we were seeing movies from 9am all the way until 2am when Xanadu was over.

      I wanted to see The Batwoman on Friday, but we were still recovering from waking up at 5:00am on Wednesday. It just wasn’t happening that day. I wanted to do a midnight movie and I wanted to see Xanadu more. Along with Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and Bye Bye Birdie, it was a must-see.

      Liked by 1 person

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