Hollywood. Just the name conjures up images in your head of the famous sign on the hills, the glitz and glamour of movie stars, and the incomparable walk of fame on Hollywood Boulevard. It’s been the center of major film production for over 100 years now, and it’s so ingrained in the collective consciousness of America that we can’t think of Hollywood without thinking of the movies.
Now, most movie watchers only pay attention to the new releases, heading to the theater or flipping to Netflix to check out the latest flick. But people like us who enjoy film from the entire history of the medium love going back to the older, highly praised but less watched classics from the past.
And that’s where Turner Classic Movies comes in. TCM is currently celebrating 25 years of bringing classic film to televisions all over the world, and 10 years of its Classic Film Festival. The festival brings back some of the best classic movies ever to where they were meant to be seen, on the big screen.
The festival’s selection is an superb lineup of a wide ranging variety of film. From dramatics, to comedy, to science fiction, from big hits to obscure independents, there’s no shortage of interesting avenues to pursue for a visitor.
As if the great movies aren’t enough, many include 20-30 minutes discussions that introduce or follow the screening, often including cast or crew members of the film being shown. You’ll get not only first person insights to how the movie was made, but also its cultural significance today in spite of the years gone by.
This historical outlook is a real treat for film fans. It also is a special experience, where fellow enthusiasts of old film can share this communal energy. We lost count of how many people we engaged in conversation with over the course of the weekend, sharing personal film tastes and learning each other’s passion for the movies. For people like us in our twenties to engage in conversation with people as old as seventy about the same topic, it’s a wonderful thing.
The films are also shown in some of the most historic theaters in the country. The sight of Grauman’s Chinese Theater is impressive enough, but look inside and you’ll find an even greater treat. Additionally, there’s the Egyptian Theater, the site of the first movie premiere in Hollywood’s history. But the venue also included laid back affairs, like the poolside screenings held at dusk next to the pool of the Roosevelt Hotel.
Each festival has a theme, and this year it was love, concentrating on some of the greatest romances in cinema history. While that does mean most of the movies involved love stories, it was only an overarching theme to tie the films together, and allowed room for movies of other genres, like the classic adventure flick, ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark.’
It was our first time attending this prestigious event, but we never felt unwelcome or intimidated by the size of attendees. Employees everywhere were always available to point us in the right direction for what movie to see, or what line we needed to stand in, and what movies could expect to be the most or least crowded.
We also had the extraordinary experience of seeing legendary comedian Billy Crystal getting his hands printed in cement in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theater, a ceremony that included another Hollywood legend, his best friend Rob Reiner.
We were also introduced to the phenomenal fan wing of Turner Classic Movies known as the TCM Backlot. They not only held events in the Roosevelt Hotel’s glamorous Blossom Room each day, but also offer free 30 day memberships to join that include numerous perks, like free entry to all cinema re-releases of TCM Big Screen Classics. There are over 30 chapters of the club around the country, likely one in a city near you.
So if you’re in any way interested in seeing some of the best classic movies ever produced, big and loud on the cinema screen, surrounded by fellow enthusiasts and film history, then we cannot recommend attending the TCM Classic Film Festival enough. We most sincerely look forward to next year.
5 reasons to attend
- Watch Great films where they’re meant to be seen
- Mingle with fellow enthusiasts
- Walk among the Hollywood walk of fame
- See special insight on the making of the movies
- Get involved with TCM Backlot
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