The last day. It always hurts to hit the last day of TCMFF because not only do you have to go home, but the return to reality is a harsh one. It’s hard to spend four days in a world of glittering movie palaces and people dressed to the nines only to be reminded that you have to go home to television and your regular house. It sounds terrible but being in the world of TCMFF is unlike anything else. I tell everyone, if you go once there’s no not going next year.
The TBAs usually determine where I go on Sunday but this year created an added wrinkle. Some stuff played at Post 43. So as much as I wanted to catch Merrily We Go to Hell (1932) on the replay, I knew I wasn’t going to make that walk for it. Instead, I went to see Mad Love (1935) at the Egyptian. Much of this decision was fueled by the fact Bill Hader was going to do the introduction. Hader is one of my favorite people. He’s funny and he loves TCM! His intro was a fantastic combination of the two as he discussed his own discovery of the movie, and even gave us a Peter Lorre impersonation! I’m so happy I recorded this because I’m still laughing about it. As for Mad Love, it was the highlight of my festival. I’ll do a full review soon but suffice it to say nothing can prepare you for the bizarre, weirdly sexual, tone of this film. It’s why I adore ’30s horror; it’s just so damn crazy.
I hate to admit it, but by this point I was burned out on movies. I thought about seeing Night World (1932) but really needed a break from a darkened theater. Instead I went to a panel, one of the things I hadn’t done at all this fest. “Hollywood Love Stories and Celebrity Culture,” moderated by David Pierce, looked at the creation of relationships, both real and imagined, as told through the fan magazines of the ’30s-’60s. TCM friend and all-around amazing lady, Diane Baker was on-hand to read excerpts from the magazines, as well as from celebrity bios and quotes from celebrities about their love/hate relationships with the tabloids. What was fascinating to watch was how the magazines picked certain subjects and developed clearly defined battle lines for them. So in an 11-month period, only 3 magazine covers in the ’50s didn’t focus on the Eddie Fisher/Liz Taylor/Debbie Reynolds triangle. Baker herself was delightful, getting into character and doing different voices for each character. The best part was her revelation that she’s back together with her high school sweetheart, a man who was listed as dating her in a 1960s fan magazine!
I hung out at TCM’s annual Backlot members event, meeting people from various groups throughout the U.S. A key portion of the event involved giving away the various TCMFF pictures that hung inside Club TCM. While I didn’t win any during the event I was able to get a portrait because someone didn’t pick theirs up. Thanks, TCM! I planned on seeing The Dolly Sisters (1945) as my final TCM film but I didn’t want to race back to change for closing night. Instead I spent two-hours hanging out at Larry Edmunds bookstore, scouring for John Garfield pictures. If you haven’t spent any time in Larry Edmunds you should! There’s no other place to buy film and television-related books, but they also have an extensive archive of lobby cards, posters, and glossies of the stars, both original and reproductions. The folks at Larry Edmunds are the nicest around; the guy in the photo section spent the whole time handing my friends and I binder after binder of star photos. I might have gone home with a mess of John Garfield and Veronica Lake stuff, and had to talk myself out of spending $150 for an original Postman Always Rings Twice (1946) lobby card.
Which brings us to closing night. Kicked off with a champagne toast to 25 years of TCM, the closing night party is the last hurrah to meet friends and TCM personalities. I got to take my yearly picture with the always gracious Ben Mankiewicz. I also got some time to talk to Eddie Muller about John Garfield and why he doesn’t follow me on Twitter! Even better, I finally got to meet TCM’s newest host, Dave Karger. I was shocked that Dave knew who I was and he’s so awesome!
Before I close out my coverage I want to talk about what TCMFF and 25 years of TCM means to me. When I started this blog I never fathomed I’d attend the festival, let alone meet the people I have, and have the good fortune to even work for this company. TCM isn’t just a network to me but a group of people who have fostered my creativity and given me a platform to talk about the things I love. When I heard how many employees read my accessibility guide and, more importantly, took my suggestions to heart, it meant something. I can watch TCM on any given day and immediately relax and enjoy knowing that the people behind it love movies as much as I do. Thank you TCM for 25 years and here’s hoping we get another 25!
Look for full reviews of several TCMFF films soon as well as my TCMFF all-audio episodes of Ticklish Business.
A freelance film critic whose work fuels the Rotten Tomatoes meter. I've been published on The Hollywood Reporter, Remezcla, and The Daily Beast. I've been featured in the L.A. Times. I currently run two podcasts, Citizen Dame and Ticklish Business.