TCMFF 2022: The Gay Divorcee

Tuesday, May 10, 2022


Ginger and Fred pictured on the main display that advertises the TCM Boutique

Last week was a monumental week for fans of classic films. After a 2 year break due to the pandemic, the much anticipated TCM Classic Film Festival returned in person to Hollywood, reuniting friends and fans of these beloved movies. Although initially unsure I would be able to make it to the festival this year because of our work schedules, it all worked out in the end and we were able to make it to LA for a couple of nights.


On the Friday evening of the festival, my boyfriend and I set out on our drive to Los Angeles. Excited that I would finally be able to experience staying at the popular Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, and that I would get to see Ginger Rogers on the big screen, the drive felt a lot longer than it actually was. I knew we would only be staying for two nights, but the thought of running into people I knew again after so long and experiencing an atmosphere that held so many wonderful memories for me back in 2019 was both exhilarating and nerve-racking. I am no social butterfly, but the TCM fest brings it out of me. You can’t help but become exuberant and chatty when you get to connect with Twitter friends and make new ones.

 After checking in for The Gay Divorcee, I eagerly sat in my seat as countless Fred and Ginger fans gradually began filling the theater at the Chinese Multiplex. TCM host Dave Karger gave an insightful and engaging introduction before the film began. He spoke about how The Gay Divorcee was Fred and Ginger’s second screen pairing, and the first where they received top billing together. The original Broadway show was titled “The Gay Divorce,” but the Hays office would not allow the film version to imply a divorce to be a celebratory occasion, so they added an extra “e” to make it “divorcee.”

 Once Karger wrapped up his introduction, the theater became dim and it was time to start the film. The title cards fluttered across the screen, and I was immediately reminded of one of my favorite elements about this festival: the audience was clapping and cheering for not just the cast members, but every crew member as well.

 I had actually seen Ginger on the big screen a couple years prior, which had completely slipped my mind before the festival. I saw her in Gold Diggers of 1933 during a pre-code series at a local cinema in San Diego. However, to finally get to witness she and Fred Astaire dancing across the screen during the actual TCM Film Festival was an entirely different experience. As soon as she first appeared, the crowd whistled and cheered, and I became completely lost in the film from that point on.

Dave Karger introduces the film

Watching that kind of film with an audience makes you realize how many jokes went over your head on previous viewings. Erik Rhodes, Eric Blore, and Edward Everett Horton were the stars of the show just as much as Ginger and Fred. The crowd applauded when a 17 year old Betty Grable sang and danced to “Let’s Knock Knees,” and chuckled at every other line from the effortlessly charming Alice Brady. It was unforgettable.

I wish more of Ginger had been shown at the festival, but I certainly can’t complain. I can only hope she continues to be granted big screen honor at future festivals, and I plan on being there for every one going forward.

It was magical to be able to experience just a segment of the festival this year, and I was reassured by the safety measures put in place this year. I felt like the health of the attendees was their priority, which made it all the more encouraging to be able to make the trip happen. I cannot wait to see what's to come for next year. Until TCMFF 2023!

The Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood

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