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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Specht

TCMFF 2018: How I Spent My Spring Vacation

How I Spent My Spring Vacation. I spent April 24th through May 1st at the Hollywood Roosevelt in my favorite room. I dined at Musso and Frank with many of my favorite people, I saw Lance for one of his fantastic hair-cuts and a blow-outs. Hair still warm from the blow-out I joined a tribe, that is to say I donned a lanyard from which hung a plastic pocket with my credentials for the TCMFF – The Turner Classic Movies Film Festival.

For four days of annual tribal reunion I identified closely with a wide assortment of people from all-over the country whose plastic pockets hung round their neck declared them a part of the tribe. Film goers, media, administrators, and security all identified as to who and what, with the tribal trappings they wore to identify themselves to one another.

Hollywood Boulevard with all the stars at one’s feet, the sidewalks thick with tourists, hawkers, and homeless could be overwhelming to a pair of ladies from Wisconsin, but not when they spotted that half the milling tourist were lanyard hung. There was no danger in asking a tribe member directions or opinions. Conversations started effortlessly.

“Where is the Egyptian?”

“Is this your first time at the festival?”

“How long before we have to be back in line?”

“What are our chances of getting in?”

“What’s a good place for lunch?”

“Where is the gift shop?”

“Have you seen Leonard Maltin?”

“Did you see Romeo and Juliet?”

“Are you going to see The Taking of Pelham 123?”

“Which movie did you like best?”

“How many films have you seen today?”

I was surprised with the number of Professors of film studies I met, some retired, and from all parts the country. Another surprise was the increasing number of tribe members from east of the Rockies. One couple explained that they had enjoyed the cruises and had come to the festival in its stead. Others credited word of mouth via social media for their westward excursion. Needless to say a great many attendees were counting their third, fourth, sixth and even ninth attendance.

The feeling of being surrounded by family, safe to enjoy, the stress of a strange big city calmed into a comfortable chance to widen one’s horizons, all from the little black ribbon with the plastic pocket.

My best day was five films. My favorite film, when asked during the festival, was always the one I’d just seen, looking back I’d say His Girl Friday, because with minor exception it is so timeless.

My biggest surprise was the view of a screen from the far left seat in the front row. I was the last lucky person let in to see This Thing Called Love. Normally I sit far back and to one side, this near I was at first worried I would get nauseous, but found I was amused at the Picasso contortions of Rosalind Russell and Melvyn Douglas and everyone and everything else including the furniture. Wouldn’t sit that close again on purpose, but it was definitely an interesting experience.

My happiest last minute switch of films was to see The Raven with Peter Lorrie, Vincent Price, and Boris Karloff in a Poe spoof. The whole audience laughed heartily all through the film.

Sunday night I was tired and a little sad when I removed my tribal insignia. I spent Monday saying good-bye to the Hollywood Roosevelt, revisiting the delightful bars and public rooms. We had dinner served in the Lobby now empty of the film festival’s displays and examined the elaborate painted ceiling, wine glass in hand.

My first morning home I was homesick for 25 Degrees and the lovely breakfasts I had enjoyed in the company of my daughters. But then there is always the next time. Whether at a festival, a special screening or in my own living room. There is always the next time with TCM.

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