Friday , July 19 2024
My first two days at the 2023 TCM Classic Film Festival.

TCM Classic Film Festival 2023 Review: Celebrating Film Legacies, Part 1

I kicked off this year’s festival on Wednesday Day Zero by enjoying an Italian lunch at Micelli’s after checking into my hotel. Stopped by Larry Edmunds bookstore where I could easily spend hours poring over the many Hollywood-focused books. A signing was occurring for Luis I. Reyes, author of the TCM book, Viva Hollywood: The Legacy of Latin and Hispanic Artists in American Film.

In the early evening, a media mixer was held at the Roosevelt Hotel’s Club TCM where TCM hosts Dave Karger, Alicia Malone, Ben Mankiewicz, Eddie Muller, and Jacqueline Stewart and a few of the channel’s executives mingled. A group of us had a long chat with Muller discussing the new Perry Mason, a television show on HBO that definitely has noir elements, and his excitement over interviewing Ann-Margaret for an upcoming guest-programmer night.

Thursday

There’s one group of TCM fans that consider themselves the luckiest and that’s those who have attended every festival. I am part of that group. For a number of years, they have met fot breakfast at Mel’s Diner. Eddie Muller came by for a meet and greet. They raffled off bags and old programs from his Noir City film festival.

Meet TCM – There’s was a lot of outrage online yet again over too many modern movies. In particular, There’s Something About Mary drew a lot of ire. There was talk of protests and hashtags and confronting programmers over this desecration to the standards of TCM and the film. Yet, when in the room with the executives and people responsible for the festival, there was not a peep of discontent about the scheduling. But that’s not to say there weren’t complaints as one attendee spoke for many about losing the festival booklet for an app. Another didn’t like that TCM was “going woke.”

The folks on the panel talked about plans for celebrating Warner Brothers’ 100th anniversary, the Then Meets Now marketing and wanting to engage with TikTok users. Upcoming Stars of the Month would put the spotlight on William Powell, Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, Humphrey Bogart, and Charles Heston in honor of what would have been his 100th birthday. Upcoming monthly features will focus on ’70s Cinema Stars, cinematographer James Wong Howe, Disability in Film, Ageism in Hollywood, Coming of Ageism Martial, Arts, the 100th Anniversary of the Hollywood sign, and Films About Filmmaking.

There was mention that WBD CEO David Zaslov “loves” the brand, but with the discontinuation of TCM Underground and the cross promotion of Food Network hosts on the channel, fans are understandably concerned about what other changes are in TCM’s future.

Having not seen Airport, it screening in 70 mm made the choice of what to start the festival with an easy one. Based on Arthur Hailey’s novel, it was written and directed by George Seaton. Paving the way for disaster films of the decade, Airport is rather a corny soap opera. It’s not enough that the lead characters, pilot Vernon Demerest (Dean Martin) and Lincoln International Airport manager Mel Bakersfeld (Burt Lancaster), are married yet involved with younger, better-looking women (although Mel doesn’t seem like he has physically cheated), but D. O. Guerrero (Van Heflin) is on board Vernon’s plane with a bomb. Helping to break the tension throughout this thriller is frequent stowaway and comic relief Ada Quonsett (Helen Hayes, who won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar, the only award out of its nine Academy Award nominations).

Rather than race down Highland Ave. back to the Chinese Multiplex and likely discover the next round of films had terrible seats available, if any. I called it a night.

Read Part 2 and Part 3 of my TCMFF 2023 coverage.

About Gordon S. Miller

Gordon S. Miller is the artist formerly known as El Bicho, the nom de plume he used when he first began reviewing movies online for The Masked Movie Snobs in 2003. Before the year was out, he became that site's publisher. Over the years, he has also contributed to a number of other sites as a writer and editor, such as FilmRadar, Film School Rejects, High Def Digest, and Blogcritics. He is the Founder and Publisher of Cinema Sentries. Some of his random thoughts can be found at twitter.com/GordonMiller_CS

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