Greetings, gentle reader, from Hollywood!
Here is a breathless post to begin my coverage of the festival, before I head out into Day 1. First stop: Karie Bible’s tour of Hollywood Forever, the cemetery where many classic film Titans found their final rest. That’s at 10, and I’m all sunscreened and ready to go.
Day 0, or Festival Eve, was a whirlwind. Repacking my suitcase after two days staying with a dear friend in N Hollywood, going back to the salon to pick up the jacket I left there the day before (Jeez!), then picking up friend, suite-mate, and fellow blogger Danny Reid (of Pre-Code.com) and driving to downtown L.A., where we visited The Starlight Studio, Mark Alan Vieira’s home and workplace. It’s in the Granada Buildings, four small connected structures that date to the 1920s, where the dean of Hollywood glamour portraiture, George Hurrell, had his first studio.
When we stepped inside the wrought-iron gates under the green neon awning, we were suddenly in another era. More gorgeous wrought iron, stained glass, and a coi pond, and while I don’t pretend to know much about feng shui, the Granada courtyard made me feel very peaceful and calm, which is a feat in the relentless rush of this city.
Mark’s studio was as charming as Frank Thompson had told me, and the walls are filled with fantastic photos. There’s a long shelf of film cans, Mark’s collection of 16mm prints, of which more later, and many film books, some extremely rare.
We spent an hour talking about Mark’s new book, which he will be signing tomorrow in the lobby of the Roosevelt Hotel (festival headquarters). Into the Dark (TCM/Running Press) won’t officially be released until next month, but we got a look at a copy and I can’t wait to read it. It’s different from any other book on noir because, as Mark told us, it’s not his opinions of the 82 films he chose (he uses the years 1941-1950, which is different from most noir timelines, but given his criteria, that timeline works very well) but rather reportage of the film makers themselves and journalists and critics of the time, so it gives us an idea how the films were viewed when they were initially released.
My biggest takeaway was a meditation about the passion that drives film historians, scholars, and amateur writers/bloggers. Mark writes these incredible books out of love and a deep desire to correct the record, to shed light on history that has been told wrong or not told at all—and that’s my passion as well, the hidden, secret history that’s there if you just take the time to look beneath the surface. More on this later as well. I hope to ask my other interviews about their passion, what drives their work.
I will update this post with photos and also in time transcribe our interview. Suffice to say that we spent a delightful hour discussing Into the Dark, noir, Marie Antoinette (the 1938 MGM film starring Norma Shearer and lenses by the great William Daniels, and we may be returning to The Starlight Studio next week for a screening of Mark’s print, so stay tuned), disco vs. punk (you had to be there), the vagaries of writing and publishing film books, and other fascinating ephemera, and I will bring you that conversation as soon as I am able to get it onto the virtual page.
After that we drove back to Hollywood and headed for the pool at the Roosevelt, where festivalgoers were drinking insanely expensive but delicious cocktails and catching up or meeting for the first time. I had a great time talking with Jacqueline (Film Noir Blonde) and Carrie Specht (Film Fanatic), and seeing Kelly and Mark, who run the excellent Facebook page Going to TCM Film Festival, Christy Putnam, Theresa Brown (Cinemava’s Essays from the Couch). After a mojito I headed over to another gathering at Sadie’s Kitchen and Lounge on Las Palmas, where I had an excellent salad and steal. One thing you learn real quick at TCMFF is to eat whenever you get the chance, because you won’t get many opportunities.
I dragged my tired little butt back to my peaceful, comfortable hotel room, unpacked, and rested up for the marathon that begins today. Before we know it, it will be Sunday night, the festival will be over, and we will already be thinking about next year.
I hope to post from the cemetery tour, and then later from the first official festival events as well as lunch at Musso and Frank’s, the legendary eatery a few blocks from here on Hollywood Blvd.
Until then, gentle read, have a wonderful day, and monitor this site for updates. If all goes well you’ll be hearing from me several times each day. Thank you for following this passionate film lover’s diary. Every person at this festival has their own unique experience, so it’s worth reading as many blogs covering they festival as you can.