Telling Your Story – Erle Chenney (Season 1 Episode 3)

Now retired, Erle said his favorite way to spend an afternoon is with Turner Classic Movies.

Before he could drive, Erle Chenney remembered spending many Saturday afternoons at the movie theater in downtown Starkville. The Rex was on the corner of Main and South Washington Streets. The State Theater was an easy walking distance, just a block and a half down Main.

In the 1970’s, Clint Eastwood was “Dirty Harry” and Marlon Brando became “The Godfather.” Robert Redford and Paul Newman pulled off “The Sting” and “The Exorcist” rewrote horror. Gene Wilder was in theaters with “Blazing Saddles” and “Young Frankenstein.”

There was “Jaws” and “Rocky,” “Saturday Night Fever” and “Smokey and the Bandit.”

Luke Skywalker found the Force in “Star Wars” and Micheal Myers prowled neighborhoods in “Halloween.”

Erle said back then everyone would go see the latest movie. It might be a date night or a night to hang out with friends. But Saturday nights were movie nights.

It’s been a while, he said, since he watched a movie in the theater. Now retired, Erle said his favorite way to spend an afternoon is with Turner Classic Movies. That’s where he heard about the film festival. And, that’s when he decided to go.

The Turner Classic Movie Festival is held each year in Hollywood.

Erle said he stayed at the iconic Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. It is located right on the Walk of Fame. In addition to famous guests, movie stars from the golden age of film lived there. Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, and Charlie Chaplin were long-term residents.

The hotel, host to the festival, is located right across the street from Grauman’s Chinese Theater. More than 80 films are screened for festival-goers. And the best part is actors, directors, and producers are there to talk about their films and the work of others in the movie industry.

Erle said he listened to directors Stephen Spielberg and Paul Thomas Anderson talk about preserving films. He said they worry that more than half of the films ever made don’t exist anymore. And, they want to save the legacies of directors and actors and the stories they have told over the years.

In one of his last public appearances, the late William Friedkin was there to screen the Director’s Cut of “The Exorcist” and talk about the making of the film and its legacy.

Back home, Erle said he enjoys watching film noir, from the classics like “Casablanca” to the “Maltese Falcon.” On his list of places to visit next time in California, the Motion Picture Academy Museum.

There are plans to hold another festival in 2024. Exact dates haven’t been released. But you can look at the festival that Erle attended at

Watch the full interview here.

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