A short journey through the 2011 TCM Film Festival

We had a great time at the TCM Film Festival a few weeks ago.  The Walt Disney Family Museum presented the earliest known animated cartoons done by Walt Disney when he was just starting out in Kansas City in 1921, the Laugh-O-grams.  The Museum was chosen to be the opening film of the Festival and staff historian, J.B. Kaufman, was on hand to introduce the shorts.

It was an amazing fun-filled four days that can only be described as cinema heaven.  Some of the highlights:

To Kill a Mockingbird with a before film talk with Veronique Peck (Gregory Peck's widow) and children, Anthony and Cecilia.  But, wait, it gets better.  After the film, there was a talk with Mary Badham who played "Scout" in the film.

Kirk Douglas and Robert Osborne talking before the showing of Spartacus.  Kirk was terrific, humble and funny.  One of the big moments occurred when he talked about hiring Dalton Trumbo to write the script.  "The sky didn't fall, the world didn't end and the backlist was broken."

Leonard Maltin curated a series of Silly Symphony shorts both in black and white and in Technicolor.  The Technicolor shorts were eye-popping.

An hour plus long discussion with Kevin Brownlow, the film historian and preservationist whose committment to preserving silent films inspired a generation of us to become archivists and follow in his footsteps.

Vince Giordano and His Nighthawks providing musical accompaniment to Buster Keaton's wonderful, The Cameraman.  At the end of the film, Vince and his musicians all put on porkpie hats and pointed to the image of Buster on the screen.  James Karen, an actor who knew both Buster and his wife, Eleanor, brought one of Buster's own porkpie hats for Vince to wear.

Night Flight, long held from movie screens and television due to complicated rights issues screened on the last day.  A precursor to Howard Hawks own Only Angels Have Wings, the all-star MGM cast included Clark Gable, Robert Montgomery, Helen Hayes, John Barrymore, Myrna Loy and in one of his great scene stealing roles, Lionel Barrymore.  Drew Barrymore appeared after the film to talk about her love of classic films and her grandfather, John, and her great-uncle, Lionel.  Even she agreed, he was quite the scene stealer.

Fantasia on the big screen at Grauman's Chinese with Robert Osborne encouraging everyone in the audience to visit the Walt Disney Family Museum and introducing not only Marge Champion (who was the dancing model for the hippos in the film) but Walt's daughter, Diane Disney Miller as well.

The best part was spending four days not only in cinema heaven but getting to see and talk with my friends from TCM and my film buff friends from around the world.

Here's a short video about the experience:



Thank you, TCM!!!!!  Hope to see you next year!!!!