The fourth annual TCM Classic Film Festival was a fast and furious affair that paid tremendous dividends for Golden Age cinephiles. Cultural Transmogrifier‘s chief film critic, Drew Morton, and writer Nicole Alvarado break down their experiences (which included over twelve movies across four days, celebrity Q&As, and too many cocktails by the Hotel Roosevelt pool). You can view our days one, two, three, and four coverage as well.
For the second year in a row, we heartily recommend the TCM Classic Film Festival to fans of Hollywood’s Golden Age. The selection of films, honorees, and presenters rarely disappoints and the aged picture palaces of Hollywood and Highland and the poolside bar of the Hotel Roosevelt provide the perfect venues for screenings and post-screening discussions. That said, I have a couple tips and observations to offer up both to the organizers and attendees.
First, there needs to be a standardized line procedure. Every screening at TCM involves a line and numbered placards are given to each person in the line. However, the use of the placards varies. In some venues, the placards merely help the organizers get a head count. In other theaters, the placards reserve your space in line before a cut off time (which often varies). It’s a frustrating experience all around due to this inconsistency, even if its final consequences are minor (I’ve never been turned away from a screening at TCM and, very often, individual ticket buyers in stand by are able to get seats).
Secondly, TCM Film Fest seems to have grown quite a bit over the past four years. I have not seen attendance numbers, but if the TCM Closing Night Party was any indication, pass sales had a marked increase this year. Due to this increase, Club TCM events (including the Closing Night Party) are a nightmare to navigate in the relatively small spaces that the Hotel Roosevelt has to offer. If at all possible, it would be preferable if these events could be relocated to a larger room. Related to this concern, TCM may want to see if they can track down any Cinema and Media Studies publishers and/or the folks at Criterion to round out the inventory at the TCM Boutique.
Third, please try to pre-screen those 35mm print elements before exhibition and adjust your screening format choices accordingly. That Notorious screening was a heartbreaker and as much as I love the experience of seeing a 35mm, I’d rather watch a well-done DCP that has grain, a focused picture, and all the scenes intact.
Finally, my sole programming recommendation. Please work in some more foreign films. As nice as it is to see Notorious, It Happened One Night, The African Queen, Bonnie and Clyde, and On the Waterfront on the big screen, they are also films that are overexposed. This could still be done in such a way that could kill two birds with one stone, highlighting a theme (a cinema movement like Italian Neo-Realism or the French New Wave) with classic films that may get a lot of play in film school but less with the typical TCM audience member (Umberto D., The Bicycle Thief, Breathless, The 400 Blows).