HI! CINEMAVEN here, coming to you from HOLLYWOOD!!!

I’m here to attend the 2011 TURNER CLASSIC MOVIES FILM FESTIVAL. Admittedly, I blew it last year. I didn’t go; didn’t want to go. But reading everyone’s accounts of their experience last year showed me that I made a BIIIIIIG mistake. HUGE. So I’m here to make it up to myself. And I’d like to share my experience with you.

I’ll break it down into three parts . . .

( * )  Pt. 1:  Getting There

( * )  Pt. 2:  Los Angeles and Hollywood

( * )  Pt. 3:  THE Festival

Many folks will be talking of their experience. I only hope my journey will entertain you as well.

♥  ♥    ♥  ♥


Friday  ~  April 22nd 2011

I’m travelling First Class on the first leg of my AMTRAK railroad trip across our great country. I decided to make it a real adventure for myself and get to California before the festival for two reasons:

( 1. ) To see the United States and relax doing it and being a captive audience I would tackle some over-due writing and editing.

( 2. ) TCM Message Board Classic film fan Peter, informed us that “BYE BYE BIRDIE” would be playing at the Samuel Goldwyn Theatre before the festival began, AND Ann-Margret would be there.

So here I am, traveling the Lake Shore Limited to Chicago. The dinner car looks just like it does in the movies. Yes, think NORTH BY NORTHWEST.” I have my iPOD Touch with me to keep me company. I look around. HA! No Cary Grants. I order a nice chicken dinner and two Bloody Marys. The hardest part about meals is that you are seated with strangers and must make friends quick, not my forté. A gentleman sits at my table. He’s certainly no Cary Grant.

My mistake. He was charming, quick-witted, amusing and very pleasant, making sharp observations. We had a great conversation. He was Cary Grant. And alas, it is I who is STILL  no  Eva Marie Saint.


When I go back to my seat, my traveling companion has changed. Laura is from Wisconsin and she is a retired teacher. She and I had a fascinating conversation about education, personal responsibility, & politics in Wisconsin. I enjoyed the many many miles to Chicago with her. She points out the Mississippi River to me and it is cresting pretty high. “WAIT!!! THAT’S THE MISSISSIPPI????!!!!!” My geography is terrible…but then again, Laura doesn’t know much about classic movies. I liked her a lot.

Saturday  ~  April 23rd 2011

I start the main leg of my journey… from Chicago to Los Angeles. I reserved a sleeper car. Oooh, it’s so cute and cozy; I love it!! I meet a very nice couple traveling to Ventura, CA ( Henry and Sheila)…AND they know movies. BOY DO THEY!!! They are classic film buffs who watch (and love Robert Osborne ). Wow!! I tell them I was once a guest programmer on TCM and they were very impressed with the photo I have of Robert Osborne and me. ( C’mon, you know I’m bringing it with me to California to see if he will autograph it! ) They “adopted” me and I was very grateful.


I have some film editing and writing to do and Ill use this trip to get stuff done. I find the location of the Observation Car with its big clean picture windows. The landscape is beautiful and compelling. I shut down my MacBook Pro and focus on the beautiful passing scenery.

Sunday  ~  April 24th, 2011

I have lunch with another couple, hailing from Wisconsin. ( I didn’t get their names but he is a Postal worker and they are heading to Vegas ). It was an honor to talk with them about the state of affairs back home and to find out that the news media I watch here in the Northeast ( MSNBC ), is reporting things accurately about Wisconsin. (Whew!) After lunch, I head back to the Observation Car. The desert topography is beautiful here in New Mexico. ( We’re heading to Albuquerque ). Red dirt, bleached plant life. …Is that tumbleweed? I believe so. I cannot tell you how relaxing this is. The observation car offers a panoramic view of Nature; aqua skies, cotton candy clouds, red…now beige earth and gray/green flora. Wait, I’ve seen these brushed pinkish rocks in cowboy movies. And now I’m looking at rocks that look like fish scales. What the hey…I use my iPOD Touch to take pictures. One of my friends texts me:

“Are you bored yet?” My response:  “NOT in the least.”

Monday  ~  April 25th, 2011

I am sad that today is the last day… the last morning on the beautiful SOUTHWEST CHIEF that motored across our country. I’ve come to see strangers as now familiar acquaintances. I don’t know how I’m going to eat dinner in front of my tv set…without thinking of the views I saw every breakfast, lunch and dinner for the past three days. The snow-covered mountains are majestic. They’re gigantic from far far away. Now we’re within them…in-between them. Our train must look like a little choo-choo train compared to the Nature around it. Dammmit, where is Ansel Adams when you need him?

My last meal companion is Kathleen. Breakfast is from 5:00AM – 6:00AM since we’re nearing our destination. She hails from Lamy, New Mexico. She makes me think of Colleen Gray. She is an accountant and told me of graduating high school in 1963, wanting to be a Secretary but steered into Teaching. After seven years, she packed her car and drove herself to Denver Colorado. ALONE! She had always loved numbers, went for a Masters and eventually became an Accountant. Owns her own business now. When she wanted to drive to Colorado, she couldn’t bear facing her mother (afraid of her wrath and disappointment) about what she wanted to do, so she told her father to tell her Mom. She asked her father to hear her as though one of her brothers were talking to him; she wanted to go away from their small upstate NY town, and start a new career and a different life. She carved out a life away from the family home and eventually found HOME in New Mexico. She can substitute teach if she wants (and does) bcuz she did gain more teaching certifications. She has three Masters. She listened to my tales and dreams of wanting to do films. I gave her one of my postcards for the web series I’m working on. ( Click photo to enlarge ) –> She told me in L.A. to go to Olivera Street, go to this Walt Disney music place, and go see a church near Union Station though she couldnt remember the name. She wasn’t getting off in Los Angeles, but in Fullerton. She was so sweet and touching.

When the train pulled into Fullerton, it was a pit stop only for passengers disembarking and not a pit stop for the train or smokers. I wanted to say goodbye to this stranger I had croissants and eggs with for an hour. I looked for her out on the platform and saw Kathleen’s grey shoulder length hair. I called out to her and she turned around. I asked Mike (the big burly man in charge of our train car and looked like Andy Devine), if I could jump off the train. He said okay, but hurry. I jumped off and hugged Kathleen. She told me:

“Success is what’s in your soul. Then you know you’ve made it. I meant to tell you that.”

I thanked her. I told her I would carry that with me. And I would urge everyone to travel by train.


 Reprinted from April 2011

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

~  [  H O M E  ] ~

11 thoughts on “THE 2011 TCM FILM FESTIVAL: Part 1

    • I absolutely loved it, Pam. In 2012 I made the same trip…but this time I started in Union Station and went back east to N.Y.’s Penn Station. Thanks for reading.

      Please, stay tuned for Part 2! 😀


  1. Great story about your train trip out there! Trains are the best! I usually take the Palmetto to D.C. to visit my sister and then on to Chicago with the Capitol Limited where my brother lives. But my sister is moving to Park City Utah, so no more stays in DC 😢. The good news is it’s on the Amtrak line so I’ll be going West young man, or rather old man haha. Did you get Robert Osborne to sign that great photo? Sure miss him…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi there Kevin. Thank you for your time in reading my piece. I have friends in Silver Spring, Maryland, so I still get the chance. Have you ever been to the TCM Classic Film Festival ( and if not…WHY NOT? ) Ya know…I never DID get the chance to have him sign my photo. I regret that…but hell ~ I’m happy to have the picture. I miss his warmth and gravitas and friendliness over at TCM.

      Go West . . . go Honey West!!! And Kevin…stay tuned for Part 2. 😉


  2. I love that you journaled your journey. The best thing about a trip like that is meeting people and connecting with them. Nice details and insights and with it in writing, you can both remember and share it.


    • Your comments are so gracious. Thank you Richard, to all you say. It was a great trip. I really haven’t looked at those pix in a good ten years. I was lucky even to find them. And the video, I just edited clips together late last week ( learning curve with iMovie ) and added my friend’s music to boot. Thank you for your time. I hope you come back for Part 2.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I remember watching Anne Francis as Honey West and being impressed. I don’t think there were any other female detectives then, she was the first perhaps. Traveling all that way to Hollywood from The Forbidden Planet, quite a journey!
    I haven’t been to the festival in person, just watched what they would show from the live events on TCM. Although after my sister moves to Park City that would be another reason to go.
    Well, your photo is better than an autograph, such good memories ✨

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: THE 2011 TCM FILM FESTIVAL: Part 2 | CineMaven's ESSAYS from the COUCH

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