Hollywood Boulevard was closed to traffic and the crowds were gathering outside Grauman’s Chinese Theatre to spot the stars – Peter O’Toole, Tippi Hedren and Mickey Rooney among them – as they walked the red carpet and filed past hundreds of famous foot and handprints for the premiere of Gene Kelly’s 1951 film, An American in Paris. Fans cheer and cameras flash.
At the TCM Classic Film Festival stars from yesteryear rub shoulders with paying guests who made their way past the pair of giant Chinese Ming Heavens dogs guarding the main entrance of the 85-year-old picture palace.
Home to the biggest film premieres in Hollywood since 1927, the theatre interior rises 90 feet to a bronze roof, two coral red columns sitting either side of a 30-foot dragon. The 1,161 plush red seats started to fill as patrons waited for the movie to start, just one of dozens of screenings that would take place over the next four days.
Initiated in 2010 by the US cable channel of the same name, TCM brings together 2,000 film fans from around the world to watch classic movies that are introduced by the people who made them.
The event is hosted by the channel’s anchor, 79-year-old film historian Robert Osborne (think Barry Norman meets Michael Parkinson), and passes range from $299 to $1,199, though $20 tickets can be bought on the door for many screenings. They sold out within weeks this year, as the festival’s reputation has spread around the globe.
Ticket holders get access to movies, panels, receptions and the exclusive Club TCM at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, one of LA’s most popular venues for young Angelinos, most of whom have probably never heard of Roy Rogers and Trigger. The Roosevelt hosted many a star in its heyday, including Marilyn Monroe, a resident here for two years, whose ghost is said to haunt a mirror which once hung in her room. But for this traveller the nearby Quality Inn, situated near an International House of Pancakes and an In-N-Out Burger joint, was as glamorous as things got last year.