Monday, April 20, 2020

TCM Classic Film Festival Special Home Edition in Review

In most years it would usually be some time this week that I would write a post featuring links to the many blog posts that TCM Classic Film Festival attendees have written about the festival. I do this because it is a way that those of us who cannot attend the festival can experience it vicariously. Sadly, with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic it became necessary for Turner Classic Movies to cancel this year's TCMFF (as the festival is often abbreviated by TCM and their fans alike). To make up for the festival's cancellation, TCM then scheduled the TCM Classic Film Festival Special Home Edition, which TCM described as " on-air celebration of TCM Classic Film Festival movies and moments from the past decade that fans can enjoy from the comfort of their homes." Beginning on Thursday, April 16 at 8:00 PM Eastern/7:00 PM Central and running through Sunday, April 19, the TCM Classic Film Festival Special Home Edition was three days of the best programming ever on the cable channel.

Of course, the TCM Classic Film Festival Special Home Edition did not simply consist of movies. TCM also aired interviews and tributes from past festivals, such as the tribute to Eva Marie Saint at the 2014 film festival and the tribute to Peter O'Toole form the 2012 film festival. TCM also provided fans with a good deal of material for social media. This included a video kick off from all five TCM hosts, video memories of the hosts about their various experiences at past festivals, and a number of tributes and interviews from past festivals.

The online material related to the TCM Classic Film Festival Special Home Edition did not end with the many videos TCM posted to the various social media platforms. On Twitter there were several live tweets, some organized by TCM themselves and some by TCMParty, the group of fans (of whom I am one) who live tweet to movies on TCM using the hashtag #TCMParty. On Friday I hosted the TCMParty for A Hard Day's Night (1964), tweeting my usual trivia that I do when the movie airs on TCM. I figure that will be as close as I will ever come to introducing a movie at the TCM Classic Film Festival! That night TCM host Alicia Malone live tweeted Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954). Among the other live tweets included Eddie Muller for They Live By Night (1949) on Saturday (this was very special, as Eddie said he would never live tweet), and on Sunday Maureen Lee Lenker for Singin' in the Rain (1954) and Floyd Norman himself for Floyd Norman: An Animated Life (2016). The live tweets were very enjoyable, particularly as I got to interact with many old friends that I hadn't seen at TCMParties of late.

Both Turner Classic Films and TCM fans attempted to bring as much of the feel of TCMFF to the weekend as they could. Turner Classic Films actually created tickets for TCM Classic Film Festival Special Home Edition. Many fans posted photos of the various fashions they would have worn to the festival this year. On Twitter many of us fans joked about various films being at Grauman's Chinese or the Egyptian or poolside at the Roosevelt and stopping by Musso and Frank Grill or Mel's Drive-In for food.  Some past TCMFF attendees organized Zoom sessions so that they could chat as they would at the actual festival.

Creature of habit that I am, one of the things I liked about the TCM Classic Film Festival Special Home Edition is that it did not disrupt TCM programming as much as one might think. Turner Classic Movies aired cult classic Grey Gardens (1975) Friday night at 1:30 AM Eastern/12:30 AM Central, roughly the same time that TCM Underground airs.  On Saturday night TCM aired Night and the City (1950) at 11:45 PM Eastern/10:45 Central, roughly the same time that Noir Alley airs each week.

As to the line-up of films, I think it is one of the best line-ups Turner Classic Films has ever programmed. Among my favourites that aired over the weekend were The Seventh Seal (1957), Sounder (1972), A Hard Day's Night (1964), North by Northwest (1959), Some Like It Hot (1959), Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), Mad Love (1935), Safety Last! (1923), They Live By Night (1949), Network (1976), Casablanca (1942), Night and the City (1950), The Lady Vanishes (1938), Auntie Mame (1958), Singin' in the Rain (1952), and Baby Face (1933).

From where I stand, the TCM Classic Film Festival was a resounding success. In fact, it was so successful that it is interesting to consider what it might mean for the future of the festival. Given Governor of California Gavin Newsom has said that social distancing measures could remain in place until early to mid-2021, it is possible that next year's TCM Classic Film Festival could also be one that unfolds virtually. Beyond that, it seems possible to me that even once the TCM Classic Film Festival returns to Hollywood, that we might still have the TCM Classic Film Festival Special Edition in some form. While TCM might be unable to air many of the films shown at the festival, they could still air many of the films to which Warner owns the rights (which a good many) simultaneously as they are shown at the festival. Of course, this means those who do not attend could see many of the introductions and interviews that we once had to wait to see on TCM Backlot or the TCM YouTube channel. I have to also wonder that we might not see TCM much more active on social media outlets during the festival, much as they were during this year's TCM Classic Film Festival Special Home Edition.

Regardless, the TCM Classic Film Festival Special Home Edition is the most fun I have had in a long time. It came at a time when I was feeling very down (not because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but due to other matters in my life) and it helped lift my spirits in a way I wouldn't have expected. I am sure that the TCM Classic Film Festival Special Home Edition did the same for many others. Turner Classic Movies has long been a way that its fans have had of getting through rough patches in their lives, and this time was no different. What is more, TCM has always had a very special connection to its fans, to the point that many fans often regard their hosts and others at TCM as friends. Once again, TCM came through in what is a very dark time for many of us.

1 comment:


I had fun live-tweeting They Live By Night with the #TCMParty gang. I had seen other films scheduled, and wished some lesser-known titles were scheduled on primetime or afternoon slots. I wholeheartly agree with you: an online edition of the festival should become an annual tradition.