TCMFF Pre-Fest Rituals
Many people think the TCM Classic Film Festival begins on a Thursday. If you're talking about the screening of movies, then this is true. However, there are many people like myself who gear up for the festival's festivities with some beloved annual rituals. These will vary from fan to fan, and it just so happens that I belong to a group of fans who like to do some of the same things.
For the last many years my festival has begun with dinner at the acclaimed Musso & Frank, just a few block east of the cross roads of Hollywood and Highland. The restaurant is the oldest existing restaurant in town, and has many a booth named after the famous guests who have frequented it over the one hundred and one years of its existence. That's the same age as the Hollywood Bowl. The Hollywood sign is just one year younger. Musso & Frank isn't just old, it's full of the glamour we associate with classic films, with leather booths, a long oak bar, and a menu with as many old world staples (liver and onions) as new features (fillet minion). It's truly a must-do during any tinsel-town visit. I recommend starting off with a cocktail suitable to the atmosphere followed by one of the signature salads and a robust entree. The deserts are particularly good, so don't cheat yourself. The festival is not the time to be watching your calories.
However, this year I added what I hope will become a new annual tradition. Before I joined my TCMFF friend of fourteen years along the walk-of-fame, I stopped by the Smoke House in Burbank. Situated just across the street from the gates to the Warner lot, I arrived just in time to join some festival regulars for a glass of wine. They were staying for the whole meal, but as stated I had a long standing prior commitment. It is a beautiful old establishment that contains its own glamorous lore, and has often been used for a set that requires the charm of the Hollywood as it is remembered, such as the Clint Eastwood film, J. Edgar.
Then it was a simple fifteen minute drive over the Cahuenga pass to dine at Musso & Frank. Afterward, my friend and I walked one block south to an old Hollywood dive bar called Boardners for drinks with a mixed crowd of old and new festival friends. Most, I had not seen since the year before, and many not for years. This is the one place where we all know we are sure to run into to those friends we hope to run into during the fest but are not guaranteed to do so. A good drink, some laughs, and a lot of catching up is the perfect. way to prepare yourself for the whirlwind that is about to begin.
If you don't already have some pre-fest habits, or even want to have some more, I encourage you to start making your specific plans for next year. Especially if you're coming from out of town, you need to make every opportunity to soak up the fun of the TCMFF. And a huge part of that are the friends you see. from. year. to year.