Months and months of anticipation and, finally, opening night of the TCM Classic Film Festival was upon us.
And did not disappoint.
We arrived at the Chinese at 5:30 for the opening night screening of George Cukor’s A Star is Born to a teeming crowd dressed to impressed– quite a sight indeed on a Boulevard known for slovenliness. A rush of pride swelled as the tourists whispered ‘WHAT is going ON around here?’ And I know I wasn’t the only one who stood a full head taller than usual, a festival pass proudly brandished about my person. We were ushered onto the red carpet, happily hurrying past the camera crews busy interviewing Robert Osborne and Leonard Maltin and Peter Bogdanovich and the like.
Inside the Chinese, which I’ve stepped foot in hundreds of times before, the air was one of low-key, but decidedly expectant excitement. This may have been a ‘celebrity’ event, with its red carpet hubub, but at heart it was a reverent convention of like-minded enthusiasts for pure, classic film. The Chinese Theater tonight was our Graceland, our Abbey Road–our Stratford Upon Avon.
As humble and warm as ever, Robert Osborn to the stage after a delightfully entertaining newsreel for the obligatory welcome and thank you speech, aided by TCM Essentials co-host Alec Baldwin. (“I whispered to Peter Bogdanovich on the way up,” Baldwin yukked, “and said ‘Just what am I supposed to say about A Star is Born?’ ‘Great use of the widescreen process,’ he said.”
The film itself looked absolutely beautiful. (The projection could have been better, but hey, it was opening night after all.) AlthoughWilliam Wellman’s original has always been a personal favorite, seeing this particularly decadent print on this legendary Grauman’s screen was a fantastic treat. As was getting to see Judy, in all her glory, twelve feet high, absolutely tear her soul to shreds in every scene– The Man Who Got Away and Born in a Trunk, perennial favorites, were key powerhouse moments that blew the audience away.
While the A-Listers headed for the Vanity Fair party, passholders happily migrated to Club TCM’s welcome party to toast to the beginning of, what surely appears to be, ‘the beginning of a beautiful friendship.’
The following are a selection of official TCM Classic Film Festival Press Photos: