A College First Timer's Recollection of the TCMFF
Many college students have never seen a “classic” film, let alone visited a classic movie theater. Professor, Carrie Specht was thrilled when one of the students from the Spring Quarter History of Moving Pictures took her up on an offer and ventured out to Hollywood for a one of a kind experience...
My first time at the TCM Film Festival was remarkable. I wasn’t aware at all that such a thing took place until Professor Specht mentioned it to the History of Cinema class at La Sierra University. Weeks later I was reminded of Sunday, the last day of the festival. I was doing homework when my Facebook notifications went off. I looked over and saw that I would receive extra credit just for going to a movie? Sweet, lets go!
I texted my girlfriend and asked if she wanted to go and she obliged. So, I emailed Carrie for the timing of the movie I wanted to see, which was going to be Old Yeller but by the time I went to go pick up my girlfriend, it was too late for that movie. Along the way, I texted Carrie, which I was hesitant to do at first because I’ve never texted my teacher before. I asked her about a different movie showing, an Alan Arkin classic, The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming. I always heard that he had some great movies back in the day but I wasn’t ready for what I was about to witness.
She was very excited about me coming all the way out from Riverside to Hollywood for the screening, but was unable to meet me due to her own busy schedule of screenings. She figured out a way to leave some vouchers at the theater, so we made our way over to the Egyptian Theater where my chosen film was to play. Once on Hollywood Blvd. my girlfriend and I ventured along and saw a sea of TCM banners and badges. It was truly a remarkable sight. I’ve never seen so many older ladies move with such ferocity just to watch a movie! Finally, we approached the ticket booth and I mentioned that my teacher had left me vouchers and sure enough, they were where she had said they would be. I ended up not paying for tickets that would normally be $20 a piece! How cool!
We entered the theater after waiting in the stand-by line and when we got to the theater doors, someone said they were full down in the main theater. Those were discouraging words, but soon, I got a tap on the shoulder and one of the workers inside the Egyptian said she was going to be opening the balcony. My girlfriend and I followed her and honestly, we ended up with the best seat in the house. We sat in the balcony in the middle front and could see everything - the architecture, the wall murals, and decor of the grand movie palace ceiling. It was amazing!
As we were waiting for the movie to start, there was applause and then cheers as someone walked down the aisle to some chairs that were placed in front of the movie screen. It was then that an interview took place between one of the stars of the movie, Eva Marie Saint (a revered and excellent actress) and Leonard Maltin, who apparently is a film critic and author. I was enthralled. It seemed as if I was the youngest one there and yet I felt like I was a part of that discourse as well as the community. The interview lasted about 10 minutes and soon the movie began. I was laughing throughout the entire movie as Arkin played his part perfectly! The film’s other star, Carl Reiner was hilarious, and the events within the movie itself were very entertaining to say the least.
I told my girlfriend that day that we would try to make this an annual thing regardless of whether I had class with Carrie or not. This was a great experience and I would highly recommend it to anyone. If you’ve never gone to a film festival, you should consider attending the Classic Film Festival. You’ll walk away with more than just the experience of seeing a great old movie, you’ll experience being a part of a film-loving community. And that’s something you’ve got to do at least once in your lifetime.