It’s Almost Here: The 2022 TCM Film Festival

In less than two weeks, I’ll be in Hollywood, California, for the 2022 Turner Classic Movies Film Festival! For the last two years, the fest has been presented virtually, and while they were lovely experiences (especially the 2021 event!), there’s nothing like being in L.A., reuniting with old friends and making new ones, surviving off of popcorn and martinis, and seeing the stars of some of my favorite films.

This year’s event will be my eighth in-person festival (and my 10th overall, if you include the virtual fests in 2020 and 2021). In the week or so since the final schedule of films and guests was released, I’ve been constantly pouring over my choices, which is just one of the many exciting aspects of the event. While I’m preparing for this year’s fest, I thought I’d share with you some of the memorable moments from the TCM festivals I’ve attended in past years.

Coleen Gray on the red carpet, courtesy of Kimberly Truhler.

At my very first festival in 2013, Coleen Gray was one of the special guests; she was interviewed before the screening of The Killing (1956), in which she co-starred with Sterling Hayden. I’d interviewed Miss Gray many years before, via phone, for my first book, Femme Noir: The Bad Girls of Film, and we’d corresponded a couple of times since. After the film was over, I saw that she was still in the theater, so I made a beeline for her and introduced myself, managing to make her remember who I was. We only talked for a minute or so, which probably consisted mainly of me gushing over how glad I was to meet her. When I turned to leave, I just started crying – I was so overcome with having met this movie star that I’d admired for so many years. It was quite something.

Also in 2013, I got the chance to see Ann Blyth up close. She was being interviewed in the lobby of the Roosevelt Hotel (the “hub” of the festival) by TCM host Robert Osborne. (Interviews are no longer conducted in the lobby, and I really miss them. They were such fun, and I got to catch a glimpse of so many stars that way, including Jerry Lewis and Burt Reynolds!) I was lucky enough to wind up front and center in the crowd that stood in a semi-circle watching the interview. Before the fest started, when I’d first learned that Miss Blyth was going to be there, I had purchased a classic movie magazine with her on the cover and I took it with me to Hollywood, hoping that I would somehow be able to get her autograph. And I got that opportunity – after the interview, Miss Blyth was taken into Club TCM (located just across the hall from where the interviews were conducted), and I happened to be in the room as well. There were very few people around, and I could have walked right up to her, but I just didn’t have the guts. I learned a good lesson, though. The following year, I was standing in line for the restroom at the Egyptian Theater, and who happened to be standing right in front of me but Diane Baker! You can just bet that I didn’t hesitate to introduce myself to her – what a thrill!

That’s me, right in the front! Good times.

That same year, at the closing night party, Robert Osborne was inside Club TCM taking pictures with, and signing autographs for, fans. A long line of festgoers waiting to see him snaked outside the door and I dutifully joined it. I made it inside the room, but just as I was the next person to be greeted, one of the festival staff cut the line off, explaining to us that Mr. Osborne had to move on. The people behind me dispersed, and I honestly don’t know what happened next – I don’t know if I looked as distraught as I felt, or if I called his name, or begged for a moment of his time, or what, but the next thing I know, he was taking a picture with me. I will treasure it always.

One of my most memorable moments from the 2014 fest came after I’d seen a new-to-me pre-Code called Hatcheck Girl (1933). Following this film, I’d originally planned to meet my then-fest partner, Kim, at the screening of The Pawnbroker (1964), where Quincy Jones (who wrote the score) was scheduled to speak. At the last minute, though, I decided instead to see one of my all-time favorite movies, The Women (1939). There was only a short amount of time before the movie was scheduled to begin so I, along with a friend I’d met the year before, Paula Guthat (of PaulasCinemaClub), literally ran down Hollywood Boulevard, from the TCL theaters to the El Capitan, bobbing and weaving among the tourists on the street and barely making it into a couple of seats in the balcony before the pre-movie interview began. Exciting!

In 2015, Alec Baldwin interviewed Dustin Hoffman before the screening of Hoffman’s 1974 film Lenny, in which he played stand-up comedian Lenny Bruce. The exchange was interesting and insightful, but what I remember most about it was when Baldwin and Hoffman started reminiscing about comedian Buddy Hackett, and both started doing these absolutely hilarious imitations of Hackett. It was a positive scream. Fortunately, someone recorded it and it can be viewed on YouTube! The video can be seen above.

Kate and me.

Also in 2015, I saw 1776, which is one of my all-time favorite musicals – and you know me: I’m not a big musicals fan. But when I find one that I love, I really, REALLY love it. So I actually sacrificed seeing Spike Lee and Malcolm X in order to see 1776, which featured an interview by Ben Mankiewicz with the film’s stars Ken Howard and William Daniels, and director Peter Hunt. It was such a thrill to see the men who played Thomas Jefferson and John Adams (at one point, led by Ben, the audience cried out, “Sit down, John!”). And as a lovely bonus, I was sitting in the first row, with no one seated close to me, and was able to sing out loud along with each number. It was so much fun.

My festival experience in 2015 was topped with a cherry when I left the closing night party and encountered actress Kate Flannery, who played Meredith on TV’s The Office. She was so very nice, and took a picture with me!

A moment in time.

In 2017, during a book signing, I met the legendary Carl Reiner, who was honored along with his son, Rob, at that same festival by placing his hands and feet in the cement at the (it’ll-always-be-Grauman’s-to-me) Chinese Theater. It’s a source of sheer joy to me that I made Mr. Reiner laugh – when I met him, I told him that I always felt that my marriage wasn’t a success was because my husband wasn’t more like Rob Petrie from The Dick Van Dyke Show. And not only that, but my pal Raquel Stecher, from the Out of the Past blog, snapped a photo just as I was shaking hands with him. So awesome to have this moment captured!

Also in 2017, at the annual meetup of members of the “Going to TCM Film Festival” Facebook group, actress Barbara Rush was interviewed at length by writer Danny Miller in a courtyard at the Roosevelt Hotel. Afterwards, Miss Rush greeted the many festgoers gathered; I tried to meet her as she was leaving but, unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance. The next year, Miss Rush was at the same event, and this time, I wasn’t letting opportunity pass me by! As fortune would have it, I encountered her shortly after she entered the courtyard and I instantly shook her hand and told her how thrilled I was to meet her after missing out the year before. She was so incredibly sweet and gracious – and I wound up having a picture taken with her and my friend Ruth Mundsack!

Good things come to those who wait.

At my most recent in-person fest, in 2019, Ben Mankiewicz interviewed Angie Dickinson beside the pool at the Roosevelt Hotel, before the screening of Ocean’s 11 (1960). One of Ben’s questions focused on Dickinson’s Ocean’s 11 co-star, Frank Sinatra, and Ben shared a theory that he’d discussed with actor Billy Bob Thornton about why Sinatra was reluctant to film more than one take: “I thought, and Billy Bob Thornton agreed . . . that there was some insecurity in Frank, that if he did it again . . . people would see through him.” And Angie’s response? “Bullshit.” It was so unexpected, and so funny. What a dame!

These are just some of the many, many unforgettable memories that I’ve managed to stack up since I first started attending the TCM film festival in 2013. I’m treasuring these last days before this year’s event begins, because I know that all too soon it will be over. Meanwhile, I’ll return to juggling and re-juggling my schedule, looking at pictures from years past, and dreaming of all that I have to look forward to. If you’ve gotten this far, thank you for joining me on this trip down TCM Memory Lane!

~ by shadowsandsatin on April 9, 2022.

14 Responses to “It’s Almost Here: The 2022 TCM Film Festival”

  1. I love reading your blog. Your reviews of movies are always on the money. Have a great time at the film festival.

  2. Man, what a great article… i hope you have a terrific time at the festival!

    • Thank you so much, Russ — I appreciate you! And I’ll do my best! (Your kind words made me review my post, and I’ve made a few corrections, so I thank you for that, too!)

  3. The TCM film festival looks like so much fun! I look forward to your stories from this year!

  4. Have a wonderful time, Karen! I’m looking forward to seeing which celebs you’ll be hanging out with this year!

  5. I love these memories Karen! It always amazes me how this short festival is always packed with the kind of moments you remember and cherish forever. I think many of us have had some of the best times of our lives at TCMFF! Can’t wait to see you.

  6. Love these!! Hope you have a blast again, I’m looking forward to following all the adventures and encounters!

  7. Wonderful collection of memories! Hope you’re having a great time this year! I was at that 1776 screening which was the high point of my years as an employee of Turner and worker at the festival. Hope you’re in the midst of making lots more great memories – and look forward to your sharing them!

    • Thank you so much, Amy. The fest this year was great, as always. Wasn’t that 1776 screening so awesome? And how cool that you worked for Turner and at the festival! Of all the memories I’ve compiled over the years, that one is just so special.

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