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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Specht

Want to Go to the TCMFF? Yes!

Carrie didn’t exactly put it to me just that way. It was really a query at the end of an email about an all together different subject. She wanted to know if I was interested in coming with her once again to the TCM Festival in April, 2012? Silly child! Silly question.

If you are reading this you are already aware that Carrie (Specht, the Editor/Creator of is seriously into Classic movies, so this is not as light an invitation as it may first seem. Last year I had the pleasure of accompanying her to the festival. It was my first experience at sorting out what I (and others) thought of as a “classic” film. If there were only one right answer to that question we could all spend a pleasant evening watching THE FILM and go home having completed the celebration.

But it, of course, is more complicated than that. There is on old adage (I have read variations accredited to several cultures) that has to do with a multitude of blind wise men attempting to describe an elephant. Spaced out around the creature they employ those senses they have to describe the beast and come up with as many possible descriptions as there are viewers. And that, of course becomes the problem when one is out to define classic film. What is a classic film? There is a different, and totally correct, answer in the mind’s eye of every moviegoer.

For me it comes in the form of movies I have seen, and oddly, also in films I have not even heard of but am drawn to by the lore of the director, the actors, or the story. My first thoughts stream to movies I have seen in black and white on the little screen in the late night hours and want to see again on a big screen with such stars as Fred and Ginger, Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, Clark Gable, Leslie Howard, Joan Blondell, Marlene Dietrich, Wallace Beery, Douglas Fairbanks (both Senior and Junior), and any Barrymore.

And then I think of the movies of my youth: Howard Keel and Doris Day in Calamity Jane (wow what a pair of voices). I was one of the teens standing in line for Love Me Tender (a classic in my book but perhaps not yours). Then there’s Susan Slept Here (Dick Powell and Debbie Reynolds in case you’ve forgotten), The Charge At Feather River (look it up), and any film with John Ford and John Wayne in the credits. Actually, John Ford is always a bonus but I am in the seat for any John Wayne film from the black and white shoot-em-ups to The Shootist.

So, at least for me, we have begun to narrow it to the movies of the thirties and the forties, and the fifties, and even the early sixties. And the list only gets longer from there, expanding forward and back. Last year I was privileged to see Went The Day Well and be blown away by a story I had never heard of, a director I had never heard of, and actors whose names echoed only faintly with the exception of (Dame) Thora Hird whose talents I had enjoyed for many years in the long running BBC TV show Last Of The Summer Wine.

Where should we draw the line? When are there too many elephants in the room? There are some who would say that Star Wars is not a classic film? Not me. And I have to think Indiana Jones aka Harrison Ford sends out classic vibes. What wondrous discovery will be made this year from out of the vaults and under the beds? What films of this last decade will stand the test of time? Each movie fan draws a unique list in their mind. It is the genius of the TCM Festival directors that will bring us all together to stand in line in sweet anticipation, to meet with like minds and perhaps to wonder at the choices made by others.

Line up the elephants; I would be delighted to be a part of the circling seers!

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