The fire alarms had just gone off as we waited to see Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? And I was stuck outside on the second story of the theater complex in a crowd of people waiting it out.
For a good 20 minutes, I watched people and took in the sights, sounds and smells of Hollywood, most not good.
Once we were given the all-clear, we went in to retrieve the drinks we had yet to touch. The bartender made us new drinks and didn’t charge us, but we were due in our seats in a couple of minutes. I took a couple of sips then trashed mine the moment I saw Ken Jenkins by the entrance door. We were being herded into our line, but nobody noticed that it was Ken Jenkins! He was there alone, and nobody was asking him for an autograph. I had to run past him to get my spot, but I smiled and waved at the man who was married to Katharine Houghton. The man also happened to play Dr. Bob Kelso on Scrubs and also happened to play Courtney Cox’s dad on Cougar Town. I had several people ask me who I was so excited to see. I was tickled that I had him smile and wave at me but disappointed I didn’t get a photo with him.
Once we made it into the theater, we sat down in our primo seats and tears filled my eyes. This was the moment I had dreamed of for so long. It was my first classic film at the Turner Classic Film Festival.
All those years of watching promos and wishing I was there was paying off. All those years of crying and knowing I would never make it, and I was here. I was finally here. It was overwhelming and emotional.
Katharine Houghton came out and discussed how difficult it was to work on the movie with her aunt, Katharine Hepburn due to the health of Spencer Tracy. Everyone knew Spence was ill, and tensions ran high. Another issue was race; Houghton said she was young and naïve and didn’t understand what the fuss was about. She also did a few impressions of Hepburn that had the crowd roaring. After ten minutes or so she presented the film, got up and left. The movie started, and the crowd cheered with each name that clashed on the screen. We were all so excited, and the air was electric. That feeling soon faded for me. At this point, I had been up for over 20 hours and only slept for two hours the night before. My head started to drop, and my eyes grew heavy. I didn’t want to fall asleep during my first film. I was so mad that I would squeeze my thigh to stay awake, and I almost drew blood several times. Spencer Tracy stood up to give his speech that makes me cry like a baby, then the next thing I knew the lights went up, and the crowd was clapping. I had fallen asleep sitting up even though it was only for a few minutes.
Our group of four met up and began our walk home. Each of us discussed our favorite part of the night and what our plans were for the next day. I didn’t have time to think about what a whirlwind day I had just had because as soon as I hit the pillow, I was out cold.
Friday, April 29, 2016
I woke up that morning with an awful headache and swollen eyes. I had plans to see ‘The More The Merrier,’ a favorite in our home but with the awful headache I had, I decided to go to the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel and have breakfast. I've never been one to shy away from eating in a restaurant alone. I sat at the counter and enjoyed a waffle with sausage and a mimosa. It was too early for the next film block, so I wandered over to the Francis Ford Coppola Hand and Footprint Ceremony. I didn’t try to get too close and opted to be in a spot that would be easy to get out of for the next film. I watched in awe as Francis Ford Coppola, director of the Godfather trilogy and Apocalypse Now, stood in a suit and pressed his hands and feet into cement. It was truly something you don’t see every day. I watched for a while until I realized that I needed to meet up with Angie for my first film of the day, The Way We Were.
Robert Redford is easily one of my favorite actors, and that film is one of my all-time favorite films ever. The story drives me insane, but I’m a sucker for it every time it’s on, and I bawl like a baby every time I sit and watch it. I honestly felt in my element as I sat and cried with the theater full of people. We clapped, and all tried to pretend we weren’t crying, but the glossy red eyes were evident to everyone.
The next film I ventured to was When You’re In Love, starring Cary Grant. His daughter Jennifer introduced the once lost film to a packed house. Jennifer spoke of how she thought she had seen every film her father had made until TCM contacted her a few months before the festival about this film. She had never seen it and was so excited to both see it for the first time and introduce it at the festival. Ms. Grant shared stories of watching her father’s films with him, which wasn’t often and how she is going to be introducing a jewelry line in his memory soon.
Finally, it was time for the film, and everyone was on the edge of their seat to see this long lost gem. At the end of the film, everyone applauded and cheered and went on and on about how wonderful it was. I, on the other hand, was incredibly disappointed. I knew nothing of the film except that Cary Grant was in it. It’s about Grant falling in love with an Opera singer. I’m not a fan of musicals, and while I’m glad I was there for the premiere of the film, It isn’t one that I will seek out for my collection.
There was a good lull in films, so I ventured to Larry Edmunds Bookshop in search of a gift for a lady in my hometown. She had called me before I left and asked me if I could search for anything that involved silent film star, Leatrice Joy. She told me a story about her connection to the film star and I couldn’t resist finding her something, and I did (more on that later.) Then I was off to Mel’s Diner a ‘must visit’ restaurant that everyone praised. I had a B.L.T. with some of the best mac and cheese I’ve ever had. While California food leaves much to be desired, I do love that they put avocado on nearly everything. After a quick caffeine boost, it was off to our next film Batman: The Movie, with Adam West. The next six hours were the most fun I had during the festival.
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