One of the best things about TCM’s first ever Classic Film Festival are the people you get to meet. Not just the famous ones you’ve dreamed of meeting all your life, but the lesser known behind the scenes authorities who introduce many of the films, and the other fans who have come from far and wide to basque in the atmosphere of the world of classic cinema – people just like me!
I had to rush to the screening of the little known Fred MacMurray film, “Murder, He Says”, and was rather surprised to find a substantial size audience for this obscure 10:00AM screening. The film was a bit silly, but certainly made more enjoyable with the live audience and the impressive introduction given by the charming Michael Schlesinger, manager of the Sony film library. Mr. Schlesinger was a fan himself who obviously loves his job and sharing his knowledge with others. I could listen to this man talk for hours! The rolling laughter over some pretty silly comedy made a great start to the day. Next was a wait in line outside of Grauman’s for “Sweet Smell of Success” where I met and chatted with a bunch of people from all over the country including a gal from Wisconsin whose father I had met the night before at “Neptune’s Daughter”. A father and daughter trip – how cool is thatr Grauman’s is so big we all got great seats and I ended up sitting next to a guy from the neighborhood who was using his vacation days to attend the festival, a lady who took the day off work (shh!) to see one of her favorite films, and a press representative from Movie Guide. We all agreed the intro with Sam Kashner of Vanity Fair was a bit underwhelming. I had seen Tony Curtis earlier this year at the Magic Castle and it was a very different experience. Of course he had his own people with him then and Mr. Kashner seemed to be all alone. It was a bit uncomfortable at times, but the crowd didn’t really seem to mind. After all, Curtis is a living legend.
Later, I thoroughly enjoyed the introduction made by Leonard Maltin for the restored print of “Jubal”. I have to say, in person Mr. Maltin is far less “Opie”-like then he comes across on TV, and I found myself becoming a fan. He was particularly impressive while interviewing Ernest Borgnine after the film screened. And what a doll Borgnine is! At over 90 the man is incredibly fit and vibrant. And does he tell a good story! Afterwards I met a nice couple from Cincinnati in the TCM Boutique at the Roosevelt Hotel. They were very excited to be at the festival and remarked at how great it was to finally be surrounded by so many people with whom they could talk to about classic films. That’s a big part of the fun for me too.