Friday, April 7, 2017. Our third day in Los Angeles was packed full of events. Brian and I got up bright and early to attend the Ginger Rogers ﬁlm, Rafter Romance. The ﬁlm was at the Egyptian Theater, the furthest from our hotel. We opted for breakfast at the hotel because nothing beats a free hotel wafﬂe, in my opinion. We chatted about our day, checked our schedule, and decided to attend the Hand and Footprint Ceremony. Rob and Carl Reiner were honored this year before the historic Graumin’s Chinese Theater. Once we started thinking about who could attend, we decided to get in the long line for the event.
We stood for a couple of hours before we were herded like cattle into our standing-room-only section. We stood, hoping to glimpse someone we knew and loved. Rob Reiner walked by and greeted us, and that was pretty great. Rob, 70, helmed a few ﬁlms you may have seen. Stand by Me, A Few Good Men, This is Spinal Tap, The Princess Bride and one of my all-time favorite ﬁlms, When Harry Met Sally. His father, Carl, soon joined him near the stage. Carl, 95, created The Dick Van-Dyke Show and directed The Jerk, All of Me and collaborated with one of my favorite men on earth, Mel Brooks. Former Saturday Night Live comedian Kevin Nealon appeared from the back chomping on a banana; Carey Elwes from The Princess Bride attended (and later attended the screening of ‘Bride’); All in the Family creator Norman Lear walked by, but then the crowd parted, and everyone got quiet when Billy Crystal walked in. I love Billy Crystal in When Harry Met Sally and Mike Wazowski in Monsters Inc. This star sighting was enough to assure me that we had made the right decision in attending this historic event. There were several more big names, but I watched Crystal the entire time. I was mesmerized by seeing Harry Burns (Crystal’s character from When Harry Met Sally) right before me. It was beyond incredible. We listened to several close and famous friends praise the Reiner men before they gave a short joint speech to the crowd.
Once the ceremony ﬁnished, we raced to the Theater to get into the Judy Holiday classic, Born Yesterday. If you haven’t seen a Judy Holiday ﬁlm, please take my advice and do so as soon as possible. She was beautiful, talented and hilarious. She is often forgotten due to her passing sooner than she should have. Sadly, we were too late and turned away at the door. We had enough time to kill waiting for the next ﬁlm to start, so we walked around a bit and had lunch at California Pizza Kitchen.
Our timing was perfect as we were number four and ﬁve for the ﬁlm I was most excited about, Barefoot in the Park. Barefoot stars my very favorite man, Robert Redford and Jane Fonda. Brian hadn’t seen it, so I was giddy to share it on the big screen with him.
While in line, Brian decided to meet and fall in love with another woman. Miss Zillah was roughly 80 years old and a ball of ﬁre. Somehow, she and Brian struck up quite a friendship that is still going strong today, as I got a message from Zillah asking me to tell my husband hi for her just last night. They discussed ﬁlms, sports, where they were from and how much they hated standing in line because of body aches. I was too busy looking around and taking it all in because Brian had his back turned before I knew it and was in Zillah’s world. This spitﬁre made such a big impression on everyone she met that when I posted a photo of Brian and his new girlfriend-several people commented and said they loved ‘Z’ and had spent a lot of time with her at past festivals. (Sidenote: The New Yorker ran a cartoon several weeks ago about the TCM Classic Film Festival and the cartoonists’ experience at the event. She told her story through illustrations -Zillah is featured and plays a prominent role in her story, as she now does for many of us.)
There was nothing like seeing Barefoot with a crowd. Redford plays Paul, a conservative lawyer who has just married Corrie (Fonda), who is vivacious and everything I want to be in life. The couple navigate their way through the ﬁrst few weeks of marriage and adjusting to life with each other. The ﬁlm is hilarious, and both Redford and Fonda are stunning.
We had a few hours to kill because we hit our only block during the festival that didn’t have one ﬁlm we wanted to see. Brian suggested we return to Micelli’s Italian Restaurant, so we did. It was just as amazing the second time as it was the first. We sat, listened to music, and enjoyed a drink before we made our way down Hollywood Boulevard and back to The Roosevelt Hotel for another event that I had been looking forward to.
Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?-poolside. Baby Jane is another favorite due to the sheer insanity of it all, as well as the fantastic acting by Bette Davis. I have the song ‘I’ve Written a Letter to Daddy’ on my phone and play it often. I knew it would be so much fun to see with a group outside by the pool at the Roos. I really wanted Brian to see a ﬁlm poolside, and though he isn’t a fan of either actress, he was a good sport and got into it. TCM staffers were handing out ‘Team Joan’ or ‘Team Bette’ ribbons to wear during the ﬁlm. It was an excellent promo for the FX Feud series that started the week before the festival. If you have a chance to see Feud, please see it. The series is now over but look for it on demand. It’s entertaining and wild acting by Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange. (I have a whole other column planned about Feud; it was that fun!)
We stayed, laughed, and cheered with the rambunctious crowd until it was time to get in line for my number one must-see celebrity at the Festival, Mel Brooks. I wasn’t going to risk not seeing Brooks, so we left Baby Jane early to get in line for High Anxiety, and I am glad we did.
To be continued…
Nikki McKim attended the TCMFF as a paid pass holder not as a media pass member.