This is something I look forward to – and dread – all year long.
Now that the schedule for the upcoming TCM Classic Film Festival has finally been released, the impossible choices must begin. And, with more than 100 screenings and special events spread over just 82 hours, I have to come to terms with an unfortunate reality: I will miss most of them.
And that’s the way TCM wants it.
“You want people to have to make hard decisions,” host Ben Mankiewicz told me before the third annual conclave last spring. “You want people to suffer. It’s not out of cruelty; it’s just what works best for a festival. That’s how you keep events well attended and people feeling like, ‘Oh my God. I gotta come back next year!’”
From my perspective, nobody has to worry about classic film fans wanting to come back again, year after year. This marks my fourth annual pilgrimage to the Mecca of Old Movie Weirdos, and I’ll probably keep going until Kim Jong-un sinks Los Angeles into the Pacific. (At that point TCM will hopefully move the Festival to New York, which is far more convenient for me. I’m not saying I’m rooting for anything, but still. You gotta look on the bright side.)
Every year, thousands of film fans – TCM doesn’t reveal how many, though 25,000 is a number that’s been reported in the past – pay between $20 for individual walk-up tickets and $1599 (!) for the super-duper Spotlight pass, plus airfare, lodging, and food (mostly popcorn and protein bars), just so they can watch films normal people probably wouldn’t even sit through at home on TV. For free.
That’s what makes it special, of course. Whether you’re a new fan or a veteran film buff, we all have this sort-of-secret hobby few others share. Those of us who have obsessively loved old movies since childhood know that it can be a lonely avocation. But for one weekend, you can ask a random stranger which Marx Bros. film they like the best, and they won’t reply, “Who are the Marx Bros?” Instead they may ask, “Paramount or MGM? Four brothers or three? With or without Margaret Dumont? And do you count LOVE HAPPY?”
“Hell is other people,” Jean-Paul Sartre wrote, and I can’t say I disagree. But, for one weekend out of the year, interacting with other people can be like heaven.
What is hellish, however, is the process of selecting the movies and events you’ll be attending, particularly if you’re as obsessive-compulsive as I am. I’m sure it’s not as torturous as listening to your Facebook and Twitter buddies brag about all the great screenings they’re attending while you sit in your cubicle at work hating your life. (I apologize in advance for that.) But still, it’s tough.
And that’s where I come in. I’ve spent most of the last 48 hours scrutinizing the schedule, so you don’t have to. I’ve reviewed and researched all the events and planned a course of attack that maximizes available time and minimizes unnecessary time wasters like sleeping, eating, and waiting on line. Remember: you didn’t fly across the country to sleep late! You flew across the country to see some of the greatest movies of all time in some of the most historic venues in film history, with thousands of like-minded new friends.
That’s my way of saying, “Go to as many movies as your body can stand!” PROTIP: Caffeine is your friend, and eating will just make you sleepy.
Personal taste is the largest decided factor in movie viewing, and the TCM Fest is no different. And your taste will almost definitely differ from mine. However, the once-in-a-lifetime screening opportunities the Festival provides may make you a fan of a film, actor or genre you’ve never even considered watching before. Go out of your comfort zone, and you may find a whole new vein of cinematic gold to mine when you get home.
First, some overall facts: there are approximately 84 films and 16 special events scheduled over the four days of the 2013 TCM Classic Film Festival. Of those, 41 will be screened on film (35mm and 70mm), 38 in “digital” and 5 still to be announced. (TCM leaves a handful of slots open on Sunday for repeat showings of popular titles that “sold out” and had to turn away substantial numbers of attendees.).
In the version of the schedule posted online, TCM has not indicated which, if any, of the “digital” screenings will be presented using consumer grade source material, like a Blu-ray or DVD. In my experience, the only digital content that does not come from professionally mastered, high-resolution DCP files is the opening night poolside screening at the Roosevelt Hotel. Sometimes rare clips or short subjects for special programs are projected from disc sources as well, but those are special cases.
Outside of the pool screenings, I’ve always found the quality of the projection at the TCM Film Festival to be flawless. We can argue about the inherent differences between 35mm and digital projection until we’re Blu-rayed in the face, but DCP is here to stay. Mindful of that, TCM should avoid catchall terms like “Digital” and use industry standard terminology like DCP at all times. By not doing so they miss an important opportunity to educate their viewers and pass holders, many of whom are trepidatious about the transition.
And the transition is most definitely happening. At the first TCM Fest in 2010, only 4 announced feature films were projected in DCP. In 2011, the number increased to roughly 12. Last year, it more than doubled, to approximately 30. This year it’s 38. Mindful of the purists’ preference for celluloid, TCM has announced at least four titles that will be screened in newly struck 35mm prints, courtesy of the Academy Film Archives: NARROW MARGIN, ON THE TOWN, THE DONOVAN AFAIR, and TARZAN FINDS A SON!
If 4 of the 5 TBAs this year end up being digital, this will be the first-ever TCM Classic Film Festival in which the majority of the films are not actually screened on film. I’ll take a moment here to allow some of you to punch the wall and/or cry a silent tear.
UPDATE 4/24/13 - Chris Robinson, Print Manager for the TCM Classic Film Festival, tells me that “all of the TBAs will be 35mm so the majority of films will still be on film.” So the purists can breathe a sigh of relief. Chris also adds that “(t)he TCM pocket program guide will actually go into a bit more detail on the ‘digital’ screenings and will outline what is showing on DCP or HDCAM.” Kudos to TCM on that.
Next, the breakdown of this year’s TCMFF titles by decade:
1950s – 24
1940s – 15
1960s – 13
1930s – 11
1970s – 7
1920s – 4
1980s – 3
2010s – 1
Final numbers will vary when you factor in the TBAs and the Bugs Bunny shorts, but these percentages match pretty closely the on-air breakdown in an average month. Compared to last year, the big loser is my favorite cinematic decade, the 1930s. At TCMFF 2012, 19 announced screenings (17 plus two repeats) were from the ‘30s. This year it’s down to 11. The beneficiary is the 1950s, which jumps from 15 films to 24. Why? Probably because many of this year’s guests appeared in films made during that decade.
Interesting fact: unless I’m missing something, no movie from the 1990s has ever been presented at the Festival. That’s the only ten-year period since the advent of film that holds that distinction. I vote that TCM corrects the omission next year with a twentieth anniversary screening of Tim Burton’s ED WOOD, one of the best movies about making movies ever made. It’s also set in the 1950s and filmed in black & white, which may make it more palatable for some of the more strident attendees.
This year, films will be screened in eight venues: the historic TCL Chinese Theatre (which I will always call “Grauman’s Chinese,” regardless of who has paid for naming rights), the completely un-historic Chinese Multiplex next door (which has three auditoriums dedicated to TCMFF), the Egyptian Theatre, the Cinerama Dome, and the Roosevelt Hotel (for the opening night poolside screening only). This year, the El Capitan Theater (built by Sid Grauman in 1926) has been added to the mix, and will be home to three high profile unspoolings. On Friday at 9:15 AM the beautifully restored movie palace will host George Cukor’s MY FAIR LADY (1964). On Saturday, Disney’s LADY AND THE TRAMP (1955) rolls at 1:15 PM, followed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s GUYS AND DOLLS at 3:30 PM. (I’ll bet you $5 Ben Mankiewicz intros that last one.) All of these screenings are “digital,” as is every screening at Grauman’s Chinese. If that is a consideration for you – and it still is for many classic film fans – plan accordingly.
And now, my picks. I’ve split the entire schedule into 18 separate programming blocks, and indicated the competing choices available at those times. I’ve also included the venue, screening format and any guests who may be in attendance.
Obviously, celebrities will play a big role when you make your viewing choices. Not to be pessimistic, but when you’re talking about people in their 80s, 90s, or older – last year Carla Laemmle from DRACULA was 102 – there’s no guarantee of seeing them “next time.” At the first TCMFF in 2010 I made a habit of leaving screenings early or arriving late to catch certain guests. I must not have been the only one to do that because, as of year 2, staff members began closing the auditorium doors and denying entrance ten or fifteen minutes after a screening’s start time. And that’s for the best, really.
Go see a movie and watch it all the way through. Otherwise Robert Osborne may need to take you aside for a little “chat.”
Before activities at Club TCM at the Roosevelt kick off at 1 PM, I strongly advise that you eat lunch. Because, if you’re like me, this may be your last sit-down meal until Monday. There are two restaurants within the hotel that are convenient and not absurdly over-priced. 25 Degrees, a burger joint, is right in the lobby of the hotel on Hollywood Blvd. You can sit at the counter and be in and out in less than 30 minutes. There’s a fancier restaurant in the back of the lobby called Public Kitchen and Bar, but I’ve never been there.There are also fast dining options in the mall across the street (next to Grauman’s Chinese), like Johnny Rockets, California Pizza Kitchen, etc.
UPDATE 4/17/13 - TCMFF attendees will get a 10% discount at the Roosevelt hotel restaurants, and when ordering room service. Alcohol is excluded, so if you were planning to go on a Ray Milland-style bender, you’ll be doing it at full price.
In addition to the afternoon events, the TCMFF has, in past years, offered buses to the Warner Bros. Lot in Burbank for a studio tour (for an additional fee). There are also plenty of historic venues you can visit on your own, if you prefer.
Official Fest events kick off with the Meet TCM panel at 1. I missed this last year, but in 2011, senior writer/producer (and TCM podcast host) Scott McGee moderated, and five TCM staffers participated. If you’re interested in how the network makes programming decisions, this is a must-see event. Plus, every fan who attends gets to be guest programmer for a night in 2014. (I made that last part up, but it’s a really, really good idea.)
Also, between 1 and 3 PM, TCM will be recording interviews with celebrities and pass holders at the Roosevelt stage (in the hotel lobby, with Robert Osborne) and poolside with Ben Mank. (Interview taping also takes place at the Roosevelt stage on Friday from 12-2 PM and on Saturday between 1-4 PM.)
So You Think You Know The Movies at 3 PM is a live, classic film-related game show moderated by Bruce Goldstein, longtime repertory programmer at New York’s Film Forum (my home away from home). Because the game is played in teams of as many as 8 members, this a great way to break the ice and make movie buddies for the weekend. And single people remember: there are plenty of eligible bachelors and bachelorettes of all ages and orientations at TCMFF. They’re as weird as you are, and everybody’s wearing “euphoria goggles.” Don’t let opportunity pass you by! It wouldn’t kill you to skip one screening for a dinner date at Musso and Frank’s.
UPDATE 4/24/13 - I got a press release today announcing that there will be a “(s)pecial announcement and unveiling by TCM host Robert Osborne” at 4:45 PM at Club TCM. More details on this to come!
The Opening Night Party (which starts at 5 PM at Club TCM) is another must, if only to check out everyone in their finery. There’s no dress code, but folks (particularly those attending the gala screening of FUNNY GIRL) will likely wear something fancy. Drinks are not free, nor are they cheap. So if you like to get a Nick Charles-style buzz on to get in the classic film spirit, plan accordingly.
BLOCK 1 – Thursday 6:30 PM – 10:30PM (5 screenings)
6:30 PM FUNNY GIRL(1968) World Premiere Restoration at Grauman’s Chinese. Digital.
6:30 PM THE KILLING (1956) w/ Colleen Gray (actress) at Multiplex 1. Digital.
6:30 PM NINOTCHKA (1939) w/ Nicola Lubitsch (family member) at Multiplex 6. 35mm.
7:00 PM ROAD TO UTOPIA (1946) w/ Greg Proops (comedian) at Multiplex 4. 35mm.
7:30 PM SOUTH PACIFIC (1958) w/ Mitzi Gaynor (actress), France Nuyen (actress) at Roosevelt Hotel Pool. Digital.
One big factor prevents me from making a definitive judgment about this first programming block: the lack of announced guests for the screening of the 45th anniversary restoration of William Wyler’s FUNNY GIRL (1968). Last year, stars Liza Minnelli, Joel Grey, and Michel York all were in attendance for the opening night premiere of the restored CABARET (1972). I don’t believe TCM would have selected this film if they didn’t have at least some indication from Barbra Streisand and/or Omar Sharif that they would attend. Maybe they’ve held off making an announcement because they think they’ll get a bigger bang for the promotional buck by having it be a “surprise” appearance. Regardless, it doesn’t make much sense to reveal it now, since every pass that will get you into that screening is already sold out. If neither of them attends, however, this is an easy skip. A Blu-ray is coming April 30.
UPDATE 4/19/13 – Lou Lumenick reported that Sony confirmed Streisand’s non-appearance at TCMFF “because of her Lincoln Center tribute three days earlier.” So that pretty much settles that.
Stanley Kubrick’s THE KILLING (1956) is an engaging noir about a racetrack heist gone wrong. I’ve seen it recently in DCP, and it looks great. But the biggest reason to attend this screening is Colleen Gray (age 90), who plays the wife of the small time hood (Sterling Hayden) who tries to pull off one last job. Gray also appeared in another excellent noir, Henry Hathaway’s KISS OF DEATH (1947) opposite Victor Mature. I would love to hear her talk about both films.
Ernst Lubitsch’s NINOTCHKA (1939) w/ Greta Garbo and Melvyn Douglas is one of the greatest comedies of all time, and a personal favorite. Lubitsch’s daughter Nicola will introduce this screening, which definitely piques my interest. According to Wikipedia, Nicola Lubitsch was a passenger on the S.S. Athenia, the first British to be sunk by the Germans in WW II. She probably doesn’t remember much about it though, considering she was ten months old at the time.
Hal Walker’s ROAD TO UTOPIA (1946) is the fourth film in the Hope/Crosby/Lamour “Road” series. It’s a very meta comedy, with some hilarious bits from humorist Robert Benchley and an inventive flashback structure. But I don’t know how much classic film fans care about comedian Greg Proops, and I suspect this will draw the smallest crowd of the five options. TCM appears to agree, since they’ve booked it in the smallest auditorium at the Chinese Multiplex, with only 177 seats. Skip this and get the first four “Road” movies in a DVD box from Amazon for under $15.
Joshua Logan’s SOUTH PACIFIC (1958) screens poolside at dusk, with stars Mitzi Gaynor (age 81) and France Nuyen (age 73) participating in a pre-movie chat (usually emceed by Ben Mank). This adaptation of the 1949 Broadway musical, with songs by Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein II, is an essential classic, though I find the pool screenings to be less than optimal from a technical, environmental, and seating standpoint. If you want to skip this but you feel bad about missing Mitzi Gaynor, she’ll also be appearing on Friday at 5:30 PM at Club TCM, presenting some of her home movies. There is no other scheduled appearance for France Nuyen, as far as I can tell.
My Pick: THE KILLING - 2nd Choice (rev’d): NINOTCHKA
BLOCK 2 – Thursday 9:00 PM – 11:15 PM (3 screenings)
9:00 PM FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE (1963) w/ Bruce Feirstein (screenwriter) at Multiplex 1. Digital.
9:15 PM SUMMERTIME (1955) w/ Matt Tyrnauer (historian) at Multiplex 6. 35mm.
9:30 PM SAFE IN HELL (1931) w/ Donald Bogle (historian), William Wellman Jr. (actor/family) at Multiplex 4. 35mm.
This is the least-populated block of the weekend, for two reasons: Grauman’s only shows one film on opening night, and the Egyptian doesn’t become a TCMFF venue until Friday morning. Plus I think TCM likes the start things off slowly, to give attendees a chance to acclimate and maybe even (gasp!) eat.
Terence Young’s FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE (1963), the second 007 film, looks great in DCP, and Bond films are always fun to watch with big crowds. Plus, Bruce Feirstein, screenwriter of GOLDENEYE, TOMORROW NEVER DIES, and THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH will be in attendance. According to IMDB, he also wrote the video game version of FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE, if you care about such things.
Based on Arthur Laurents’ play The Time of the Cuckoo, David Lean’s SUMMERTIME (1955) stars Katharine Hepburn as an American spinster (unmarried at age 48!) who has an affair with a handsome Italian (Rossano Brazzi) while on vacation in Venice. This is an important film in terms of its impact on the Production Code (Hepburn sleeps with a married man and doesn’t have to atone for it), but it’s not a favorite of mine. The screening will be introduced by journalist and documentarian Matt Tyrnauer.
William Wellman’s SAFE IN HELL (1931) is a favorite, and it’s one of the most stunning Pre-Code movies I’ve ever seen. (I wrote about it here.) Dorothy Mackaill stars as a prostitute on the lam who holes up in a squalid hotel on a tropical island, where every man is a creepy predator. Writer and actor William Wellman Jr. (the director’s son) is always an interesting guest, as is African American film historian Donald Bogle, who will likely focus on the delightful and unusually nuanced (for the era) performances by black actors Nina Mae McKinney and Clarence Muse.
My Pick: SAFE IN HELL – 2nd Choice: FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE
BLOCK 3– Friday 9:00 AM – 1:30PM (6 Screenings)
9:00 AM THE SWIMMER (1968) w/ Marge Champion (actor), Allison Anders (director) at Multiplex 1. Digital.
9:15 AM THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER (1955) at Egyptian. 35mm.
9:15 AM I KNOW WHERE I’M GOING (1945) at Multiplex 4. 35mm.
9:15 AM MY FAIR LADY (1964) w/ Theodore Bikel (actor) at El Capitan. Digital.
9:30 AM LIBELED LADY (1936) at Multiplex 6. 35mm.
9:30AM BEN-HUR (1959) w/ David Wyler (family) at Grauman’s Chinese. Digital.
The first morning of TCMFF is always the hardest. If you’re like me, you were buzzing with excitement the night before and went to bed late. Or maybe you went out drinking with your newly minted Old Movie Weirdo friends, and you’re hungover. Either way, grab a coffee and head to the movies.
Frank Perry’s THE SWIMMER (1968) stars Burt Lancaster as a Connecticut ad executive who swims home via his wealthy neighbors’ pools. I’ve never seen this film, but it sounds quirky and amazing. Cast member Marge Champion (still spry at age 93) will appear, along with indie director Alison Anders (GAS FOOD LODGING).
Charles Laughton’s THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER (1955) is based on a novel of the same name about a malevolent preacher in the early years of the Great Depression. It’s also one of the best films every made. (I know people say that all the time, but this time it’s true.) Robert Mitchum stars as Rev. Harry Powell, with L-O-V-E and H-A-T-E tattooed on the knuckles of his hands. In case you haven’t guessed, I L-O-V-E this movie. If you haven’t seen if, this is a M-U-S-T.
Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s I KNOW WHERE I’M GOING! (1945) is a romance set in Scotland with Wendy Hiller and Roger Livesey (from THE LIFE AND DEATH OF COLONEL BLIMP). I’ve loved all the P&P films I’ve seen, and I’ve never seen this one. But there’s no guest, and it’s in a small auditorium, so I think I will pass.
George Cukor’s MY FAIR LADY (1964) with Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison is a film most TCM viewers have seen frequently. I just saw it myself, in 70mm, at The Film Society of Lincoln Center. But if you only have time to see one film at the El Capitan, this should probably be it. I won’t be there, though.
UPDATE 4/19/13 – Theodore Bikel (Zoltan Katpathy) has been added to this screening. The 88-year-old actor and singer was originally scheduled to appear only at the closing night screening of THE AFRICAN QUEEN.
Jack Conway’s LIBELED LADY (1936) with William Powell, Jean Harlow, Myrna Loy and Spencer Tracy is great fun, but easily available on DVD and TCM. The next airing is May 30 at 12:30PM (ET), so I will curb my 1930s bias and skip this.
William Wyler’s BEN-HUR (1959) is perhaps the most famous Biblical epic ever produced, and Charlton Heston and Stephen Boyd have some super hot chemistry. The DCP was mastered from an 8K scan of the original negative and looks stunning. I saw it at the New York Film Festival last year, with members of the Wyler family in attendance, so I will skip this. But there’s no better way to see a great Hollywood epic than with 1,100 people at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.
My Pick: THE SWIMMER - 2nd Choice: THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER
BLOCK 4 – Friday 11:30 AM – 1:30PM (4 screenings + 1 event)
11:45 AM VOYAGE TO ITALY (1954) U.S. Premiere of English Language Restoration w/ Matt Tyrnauer (historian) at Multiplex 1. Digital.
11:45 AM SUDDENLY, IT’S SPRING (1947) World Premiere Restoration w/ Kate MacMurray (family) at Multiplex 4. 35 mm.
Carl Davis & Kevin Brownlow at Club TCM
12:00 PM THE NARROW MARGIN (1952) w/ Jacqueline White (actress) at Egyptian. 35mm.
12:00 PM RIVER OF NO RETURN (1954) w/ Stanley Rubin (producer) at Multiplex 6. 35mm.
Roberto Rossellini’s VOYAGE TO ITALY (1954) is a little-seen Italian film with Ingrid Bergman and George Sanders as an estranged English couple trying to sell an inherited villa. It apparently didn’t do well at the box office, but it’s much loved by Scorsese, and this is the premiere of a restoration of the English language version by the Cineteca di Bologna. Tempting, but I think I’ll save this one for the inevitable Blu-ray.
UPDATE 4/17/13 - VOYAGE TO ITALY will begin a nine-day run at Film Forum in New York on Wednesday, May 1. Isabella Rossellini, daughter of the director and star, will introduce the 7:30 PM show on opening night. This suggests that the restored film may have theatrical life at revival houses around the country in the days and weeks after TCMFF, so check your local listings before you make your decision about this block.
SUDDENLY, IT’S SPRING (1947) is a Paramount romantic comedy from director Mitchell Leisen with Fred MacMurray, Paulette Goddard, and MacDonald Carey (later an original cast member of Days of Our Lives). Three reasons this should be your choice: it’s apparently unavailable on DVD, it’s recently been restored, and Fred MacMurray’s daughter Kate will be at the screening. She now lives on the ranch her father bought in 1941 (in a cabin he built) and helps to run the MacMurray Ranch Vineyard.
One note: I wish TCM would not schedule two restoration premieres against each other.
If you’re a silent film fan, the choice for this block is obvious:
Carl Davis and Kevin Brownlow at Club TCM. Brownlow is the patron saint of silent film, and Davis is one of the most respected composers and conductors of music for the art form. Much as I would enjoy hearing them talk, I have a hard time choosing a panel discussion over a screening. In the past three TCMFFs I’ve attended, I’ve never done it. Although maybe this is the one to break my streak.
UPDATE 4/19/13 – TCM issued the following announcement today on the Festival website: “Due to unforeseen circumstances, we regret to announce that Carl Davis will be unable to join us in person at this event.” The Club TCM Q&A is now listed as A Conversation with Kevin Brownlow, and the interview will be conducted by Cari Beachamp.
Richard Fleischer’s THE NARROW MARGIN (1952) is a tight, 71-minute noir set mostly on a train with the raspy voiced Charles McGraw and the delightfully badass Marie Windsor as a gangster’s Mrs. (or IS she???) I love this movie and cast member Jacqueline White (age 90) is in attendance. Plus it’s a brand new 35mm print from Academy Film Archive and it’s playing at The Egyptian, which is my favorite TCMFF venue.
Otto Preminger’s RIVER OF NO RETURN (1954) is a gorgeous Technicolor film in CinemaScope with Marilyn Monroe and Robert Mitchum. Producer Stanley Rubin will be on hand and will likely have lots of juicy stories about the battles between Preminger and Monroe during the making of the film. Preminger biographer Foster Hirsch will also likely be in attendance, though he’s not yet been announced. This is a film that was made to see in a theater.
My Pick: THE NARROW MARGIN - 2nd Choice: Kevin Brownlow at Club TCM
BLOCK 5 – Friday 2:00PM – 4:30PM (6 screenings + 2 events)
2:00 PM Eva Marie Saint: Live From the TCM Classic Film Festival at Avalon Hollywood (TV taping.)
2:15 PM A ROOM WITH A VIEW (1985) w/ Julian Sands (actor), Matt Tyrnauer (historian) at Multiplex 1. Digital.
2:15 PM LA TRAVERSEE DE PARIS (1956) at Multiplex 4. 35mm.
2:30 PM BONNIE AND CLYDE (1967) w/ Robert Benton (screenwriter) at Grauman’s Chinese. Digital.
2:30 PM NOTORIOUS (1946) w/ Rose McGowan (actress, former TCM Essentials co-host) at Egyptian. 35mm.
2:30 PM RUGGLES OF RED GAP (1935) w/ Norman Lloyd (actor), Todd McCarthy (journalist) at Multiplex 6. 35mm.
3:00 PM Taking the Fall Panel at Club TCM w/ Loren Janes (stuntman), Conrad E. Palmisano (stuntman) + Scott McGee (TCM)
4:30 PM I AM SUZANNE (1933) World Premiere Restoration w/ Katie Trainor (historian) at Multiplex 4. 35mm.
Eva Marie Saint: Live From the TCM Classic Film Festival will air on TCM next year, and you’ll likely have to get there super early to get a seat (the venue only seats 300), and it’s a bit of a walk down Hollywood Blvd., so this is a “no” for me. Plus, if you really want to see the star in person you can go to ON THE WATERFRONT later in the evening. In addition, tapings for broadcast tend to take forever, although you may get to see yourself on the tee-vee. If that’s significant to you, then go.
James Ivory’s A ROOM WITH A VIEW (1985) is a Merchant Ivory film, with Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Helena Bonham Carter, Daniel Day-Lewis and Julian Sands (who will be appearing in person). Most TCM fans snore at ‘80s films. But maybe they’ll perk up if DDL and HBC make surprise appearances.
Claude Autant-Lara’s LA TRAVERSEE DE PARIS (1956, aka FOUR BAGS FULL) is a French comedy/drama starring the always-excellent Jean Gabin. This is tempting because it’s short, and will be super easy to get into (considering the competition).
Arthur Penn’s BONNIE AND CLYDE (1967) at Grauman’s will be a hard one to pass up, particularly with screenwriter Robert Benton in attendance. But considering that Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, Gene Hackman, Estelle Parsons, and Michael J. Pollard are still alive, it would be nice if at least one of them showed up. I’ve seen this film on the big screen, so, unless they add some guests, I will probably go with the $10.99 Blu-ray.
Alfred Hitchcock’s NOTORIOUS (1946) with Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, and Claude Rains is one of my favorite Hitchcock films. And it’s at the Egyptian. But no guests, no restoration, and easy access on TV/DVD make this a skip for me.
UPDATE 4/17/13 : Former TCM Essentials co-host Rose McGowan will introduce NOTORIOUS, if that’s a factor for you.
Leo McCarey’s RUGGLES OF RED GAP (1935) stars Charles Laughton as an English butler who is acquired in a poker game by a rancher (Charlie Ruggles). Norman Lloyd (age 98) will be in attendance, which is always a huge draw. I love McCarey, Laughton and co-star Zasu Pitts, so this is a strong contender.
Taking the Fall at Club TCM is a panel discussion moderated by Scott McGee and features veteran stunt performers Loren Janes and Conrad E. Palmisano. Janes was in IT’S A MAD MAD MAD MAD WORLD, so he may also appear at that screening on Sunday. And Palmisano performed in AIRPLANE, so he may be at that one on Saturday. Must as I enjoy Mr. McGee’s interviews, this is a skip.
UPDATE 4/19/13 – Veteran stunt performer Jeannie Epper has been added to this event.
Rowland V. Lee’s I AM SUZANNE (1933) is an obscure musical from Fox (before the merger with Twentieth Century) starring Gene Raymond and Lillian Harvey. This is the world premiere of a new restoration and will be presented by Katie Trainor from the Museum of Modern Art. I’m sort of obsessed with Pre-Code films, so I think this seals it for me.
My Pick(s) Double Feature! RUGGLES OF RED GAP + I AM SUZANNE
2nd Choice: BONNIE AND CLYDE
BLOCK 6 – Friday 5:30 PM – 8:45 PM (5 screenings + 1 event)
5:30 PM Hollywood Home Movies w/ Mitzi Gaynor (actress), Randy Haberkamp (historian) at Club TCM.
5:30 PM THE GREAT ESCAPE (1963) 50th Anniversary World Premiere Restoration w/ Walter Mirisch (producer) at Grauman’s Chinese. Digital.
5:30 PM THE RAZOR’S EDGE (1946) at Multiplex 6. 35mm.
6:15 PM THE TWELVE CHAIRS (1970) w/ Mel Brooks (actor) at Multiplex 1. Digital.
7:00 PM IT (1927) w/
Carl Davis Robert Ziegler (conductor), David Stenn (historian) at Egyptian. 35mm.
7:00 PM IT ALWAYS RAINS ON SUNDAY (1947) at Multiplex 4. 35mm.
Hollywood Home Movies at Club TCM is something to consider if you really want to get up close and personal with Mitzi Gaynor for a picture or maybe even an autograph. The Club TCM venue is relatively small and, if you get there early enough, you can be right up front. Otherwise, this is a skip.
UPDATE 4/24/13 - Actress Fay McKenzie (age 95) has been added to this event.
John Sturges’ THE GREAT ESCAPE (1963) would be a must if James Garner or David McCallum (who is still working) were coming. Still, producer Walter Mirisch (age 91) is a remarkable storyteller, and Grauman’s is a great place to see a widescreen epic. Plus it’s a world premiere restoration. Tempting.
Edmund Goulding’s THE RAZOR’S EDGE (1946) based on the Somerset Maugham novel stars Tyrone Power as a returning WW I vet on a quest for meaning, with Gene Tierney as his fiancée and Anne Baxter and Clifton Webb in Oscar winning roles. No guests, no restoration, no me.
Mel Brooks’ THE TWELVE CHAIRS (1970) is a movie I’ve never even heard of, let alone seen. And Mel Brooks will be in person. I saw Mel in person with YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN at TCMFF 2011. It doesn’t get better than that. Skip.
UPDATE 4/24/13 – Based upon some clues, I think this screening may be Blu-ray.
Clarence G. Badger’s IT (1927) starring Clara Bow, with an original score composed and conducted by Carl Davis is one of the signature events of the Festival. Get on line early and save me a seat, because this is the clear winner for me.
UPDATE 4/19/13 – Robert Ziegler has replaced Carl Davis at this event.
Robert Hamer’s IT ALWAYS RAINS ON SUNDAY (1947) is a British drama from Ealing Studios. If you like “Kitchen Sink” realism and Ealing (which I do), this is a good choice. But the round is already decided.
UPDATE 4/19/13 – Eddie Muller from the Film Noir Foundation will introduce this screening.
My Pick: IT - 2nd Choice: IT ALWAYS RAINS ON SUNDAY
BLOCK 7 – Friday 9:15 PM – 11:30 PM (5 screenings)
9:00 PM GIMME SHELTER (1970) w/ Albert Maysles (director), Haskell Wexler (cinematographer), Joan Churchill (cinematographer) at Multiplex 6. 35mm.
9:15 PM HONDO (1953) in Digital 3-D at Multiplex 1. Digital.
9:30 PM ON THE WATERFRONT (1954) w/ Eva Marie Saint (actress) at Grauman’s Chinese. Digital.
9:30 PM ON THE TOWN (1949) at Egyptian. 35mm.
9:30 PM A FOREIGN AFFAIR (1948) at Multiplex 4. 35mm.
GIMME SHELTER (1970) is a defining rock documentary about the Rolling Stones notorious concert at the Altamont Speedway, which resulted in the death of an 18-year-old audience member. Co-director Albert Maysles will be in attendance for this screening. I’ve seen him in person a number of times in New York, and he is a delight to listen to. Legendary cinematographer Haskell Wexler will also be there. This will be a hot ticket for both movie and music nerds.
John Farrow’s HONDO (1953) is John Wayne Western based on a Louis L’Amour story. And it’s restored and in digital 3-D. When the film (which was produced by Wayne’s Batjac company) went beyond its initially scheduled completion date, Farrow had to leave to start production on another film. His replacement? John Ford, who was uncredited. Seriously, when will you get another chance to see Pappy and Duke in 3-D?
Elia Kazan’s ON THE WATERFRONT (1954) stars Marlon Brando as a boxer who coulda been…you know the rest. Eva Marie Saint will be there, which mitigates the fact that I’ve seen this film literally dozens of times.
Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen’s ON THE TOWN (1949) stars Frank Sinatra, Kelly and Jules Munshin as sailors on leave in the Big Apple (a “wonderful town,” thanks to the Code), with Betty Garrett, Ann Miller and Vera-Ellen as the young ladies they pursue. I was about to say, “I’ve seen this a million times” and then I remembered that the Egyptian is screening this in a new 35 mm print courtesy of the Academy Film Archive. That could change some opinions, but likely not mine.
UPDATE 4/19/13 - CHICAGO director Rob Marshall will introduce this screening.
Billy Wilder’s A FOREIGN AFFAIR (1948) is a dark, not very funny comedy set in post-War Berlin with Marlene Dietrich as an ex-Nazi sympathizer nightclub singer, John Lund as the American soldier who falls for her, and Jean Arthur as an American Congresswoman. If you really want to see this, it just came out in a new two-DVD set from TCM along with Wilder’s FIVE GRAVES TO CAIRO. Skip.
UPDATE 4/17/13 - Author, professor and fashion expert Kimberly Truhler will introduce A FOREIGN AFFAIR.
My Pick: HONDO - 2nd Choice: ON THE WATERFRONT
BLOCK 8 – Saturday 12:00 AM – 1:30 AM (1 screening)
12:00 AM PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE (1959) w/ Dana Gould (comedian) at Multiplex 6. 35mm.
“Can your heart stand the shocking facts about grave robbers from Outer Space?” More importantly, can you stay up until 1:30 when you’ve been watching movies since 9AM? That remains to be seen. But still, an Ed Wood screening at midnight in Hollywood? I would have killed for this when I was 12. And, as Sammy Davis (maybe) said, “I can sleep when I’m dead, baby!” One question: why is 82-year-old cast member Conrad Brooks not attending? He still acts (in Grade Z sci fi movies), does autograph shows, and is delightfully weird in person. Book him, TCM!
My Pick: PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE - 2nd Choice: Bed
BLOCK 9 – Saturday 9:00 AM – 11:30AM (4 screenings + 1 event)
9:00 AM CAPE FEAR (1962) w/
Polly Bergen Barrie Chase (actress) at Egyptian. 35mm.
9:15 AM Bugs Bunny’s 75th Birthday Bash w/ Leonard Maltin (historian), Jerry Beck (historian) at Multiplex 1. Digital.
9:15 AM CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS (1937) w/ Illeana Douglas (actress/family) at Multiplex 4. 35mm.
9:15 AM THE LADYKILLERS (1955) w/ Bill Hader (actor, Essentials Jr. host) at Multiplex 6. 35mm.
10:00 AM Jane Fonda Handprint Ceremony w/ Jane Fonda (actress) at TCL Chinese Theatre
Your second full day should start with a quick breakfast, since you (or should I say I) didn’t eat very much the day before. Carb it up with a muffin from the Starbucks across the street from the Roosevelt, but make sure you dodge the beggars in dirty superhero costumes on the way.
This is a time slot I slept through in 2012, but there are too many must-see options to miss this year, beginning with J. Lee Thompson’s CAPE FEAR (1962) w/ Gregory Peck, Robert Mitchum and Polly Bergen (age 82) who will be in attendance. Barrie Chase, who also appears in the film, will be in person on Sunday for IT’S A MAD MAD MAD MAD WORLD. I can’t imagine why she wouldn’t appear at this screening as well, though she hasn’t ben announced. This would be a slam-dunk, if not for the animated competition below.
UPDATE 4/19/13 – TCM posted this statement on the TCMFF website today: “Due to unforeseen circumstances, we regret to announce that Polly Bergen will be unable to attend.”
UPDATE 4/24/13 – Cast member Barrie Chase has been added to the CAPE FEAR screening.
Bugs Bunny’s 75th Birthday Bash promises to be a sell-out, despite the early hour. But what better time to watch Bugs Bunny cartoons than Saturday morning? And who better to watch them with than Leonard Maltin and Jerry Beck, two of the best-known animation historians. I can’t think of any reason not to see this, except for CAPE FEAR. If you go, go early. Chinese Multiplex auditorium 1 seats only 477 people, and I guarantee it will be filled to capacity.
Based upon the Kipling novel, Victor Fleming’s CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS (1937) stars Freddie Bartholomew as a spoiled rich kid and Spencer Tracy as the fisherman who rescues him and becomes his father figure. The cast also includes Lionel Barrymore, Mickey Rooney, and Melvyn Douglas, whose granddaughter Illeana Douglas will introduce the screening. Rooney will be at the MAD MAD WORLD screening on Sunday, so perhaps he’ll be there as well. Regardless, I won’t be.
THE LADYKILLERS (1955) directed by Alexander Mackendrick (THE SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS) is a very funny British comedy from Ealing Studios. Alec Guinness, Peter Sellers and Herbert Lom star as crooks who plan a bank robbery while trying to knock off their landlady. Saturday Night Live star and Essentials Jr. host Bill Hader introduces the film, which I will, sadly, miss. I predict this will be the fall back choice for latecomers who don’t get into the Bugs Bunny screening
At 10:00 AM, Jane Fonda will add her hand and footprints to the forecourt in front of Grauman’s. Based on what I saw last year with Kim Novak, this will likely be crowded and hard to see, so I won’t be there. I’m sure somebody will take pictures.
My (rev’d) Pick: Bugs Bunny’s 75th Birthday Bash - 2nd Choice: THE LADYKILLERS
BLOCK 10 – Saturday 11:45AM – 2:45 PM (5 screenings + 1 event)
11:45 AM DELIVERANCE (1972) w/ Burt Reynolds (actor), Jon Voight (actor), John Boorman (director) at Multiplex 1. Digital.
12:00 PM THE LADY VANISHES (1938) w/ Norman Lloyd (actor) at Multiplex 4. 35mm.
12:00 PM TO SIR, WITH LOVE (1967) w/ Lulu (actress/singer). 35mm.
12:15 PM THE DONOVAN AFFAIR (1929) w/ Bruce Goldstein (historian) at Multiplex 6. 35mm.
12:30 PM Conversation with Tippi Hedren (actor) at Club TCM.
1:15 PM LADY AND THE TRAMP (1955) at El Capitan. Digital.
John Boorman’s DELIVERANCE (1972) is one of the great films of the 1970s, and may have done for backwoods hunting trips what JAWS did for beach going. Jon Voight will be in person. Let me know if he brings his daughter and I may reconsider not going. I also secretly hope that Jane Fonda stops by after her handprint ceremony. Jane and Jon discussing politics might be as interesting as the film, and just as violent.
UPDATE 4/17/13 - This could be a game changer. TCM announced today that Burt Reynolds and director John Boorman will be in attendance at the screening of DELIVERANCE.
THE LADY VANISHES (1938) is probably my favorite of the early Hitchcock films I’ve seen. Dame Mae Whitty plays the titular lady, who is not quite what she seems. Margaret Lockwood is a young socialite and Michael Redgrave is a musicologist. There’s a very good Criterion Blu-ray of this, which I have, so why would I go? Norman Lloyd. He worked with Hitchcock in film and on TV (as a producer of Alfred Hitchcock Presents) and always has great stories to tell.
James Clavell’s TO SIR, WITH LOVE (1967) features one of the great theme songs in movie history, and the woman who sang it will be present at the screening. Lulu also acted in the film, which tells the story of a bunch of hardscrabble London kids who are whipped into shape by an African American teacher (Sidney Poitier). Lulu would be fun to see, but why isn’t Poitier attending?
UPDATE 4/24/13 – For those arriving at TCMFF early, Sidney Poitier will be attending the AFI Night at the Movies screening of IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT on Wednesday 4/24 at the Arclight in Hollywood. For more info on that screening, and the the only twelve (!) that are happening simultaneously, click here.
Frank Capra’s THE DONOVAN AFFAIR (1929) is the screening to beat in this slot, if you’re interested (like I am) in early Talkies. The soundtrack is lost, so historian Bruce Goldstein reconstructed the script from a variety of sources (including the New York State Board of Film Censors) and will recreate he film’s audio on stage with live actors and sound effects. Goldstein did something similar at Film Forum recently, with the notorious lost film CONVENTION CITY (1933). I missed that because of work. I will not miss this.
Conversation with Tippi Hedren at Club TCM will, again, be an opportunity to get very close to a legendary classic film star. If you go to the TCMFF primarily to see the stars, this is probably a must for you.
LADY AND THE TRAMP (1955) is the only Disney film playing at Disney’s El Capitan, so that may be a selling point for some. It’s also the only Disney Film playing at the Festival, unless I’m missing something. But with no live guests, I’ll choose to watch the 2012 Blu-ray.
My Pick: THE DONOVAN AFFAIR - 2nd Choice: DELIVERANCE (this decision may go down to the wire)
BLOCK 11 – Saturday 2:00 PM – 6:30 PM (6 screenings + 2 events)
2:00 PM GIANT (1955) World Premiere Restoration w/ Jane Withers (actress) at Grauman’s Chinese. Digital.
3:00 PM Conversation with Max Von Sydow (actor) at Club TCM
3:00 PM ON GOLDEN POND (1981) w/ Jane Fonda (actress) at Egyptian. Digital.
3:00 PM THE BIG PARADE (1925) World Premiere Restoration w/ Kevin Brownlow (historian) at Multiplex 1. Digital.
3:00 PM THE TRAIN (1964) at Multiplex 4 w/ Scott Feinberg (journalist). 35mm.
3:15 PM THEY LIVE BY NIGHT (1949) w/ Susan Ray (family) at Multiplex 6. 35mm.
3:30 PM GUYS AND DOLLS (1955) at El Capitan. Digital.
5:30 PM What’s the Score? w/ Alex Trebek (host) at Club TCM
This is a confounding block because, as Lou Lumenick pointed out recently on Twitter, TCM has (again) scheduled two high profile world premiere restorations at the same time. Why would they do that, other then to give people like me agita?
George Stevens’ GIANT (1956) comes from one of my least favorite periods in movie history (other than now) – the bloated, overly long, let’s-compete-with-TV 1950s. But it’s a restoration, and cast member Jane Withers (age 86) will be present, and James Dean is an icon. So this will likely be a popular screening.
Your level of interest in Conversation with Max Von Sydow probably has a lot to do with how important the celebrity guests are to you. If I had to pick, I’d rather see the Oscar-nominated actor at a film screening, like THE SEVENTH SEAL later in the day or THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR on Sunday. Occasionally these career-spanning chats can meander, depending upon who is conducting the interview. I prefer a focused conversation about a specific film I love or am interesting in learning more about.
I find Mark Rydell’s ON GOLDEN POND (1981) to be an exceedingly depressing film. That’s not a knock against it, but it may function as a sort of buzz kill to the otherwise euphoric mood that permeates the weekend. The relationship between Jane Fonda’s and Henry Fonda’s characters in the film apparently replicated their off-screen dynamic, and it would be fascinating to hear about that from the woman herself. Sadly, I will not be there.
The TCMFF website calls THE BIG PARADE (1925) the highest-grossing film of the silent era. It’s also one of the most realistic and touching. King Vidor’s WW I story stars John Gilbert as a rich young man who goes to war and Renee Adoree as the French girl he falls for. The film has been restored by Warner Bros., and features a pre-recorded orchestral score by Carl Davis, and an introduction by the great Kevin Brownlow. If you’re interested in silent film, this is a must. Even if you’re not, it’s still kind of a must.
John Frankenheimer’s THE TRAIN (1964) is a WWII action film set in Paris on the eve of the city’s liberation. Burt Lancaster stars. Scott Feinberg from The Hollywood Reporter will introduce this United Artists release, which is being screened in 35 mm. I’ve never seen it and, much as it pains me, I will probably keep that streak going.
THEY LIVE BY NIGHT (1949) is a great, quirky noir and the feature film debut of director Nicholas Ray. Farley Granger and Cathy O’Donnell star as the young lovers, with excellent supporting turns from Howard Da Silva (as a one-eyed gangster) and Jay C. Flippen. Ray’s widow Susan will be present at the screening. I’ve seen her in person and she always has excellent insights to offer about her exceedingly complex late husband. I will be sad to miss this.
Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s GUYS AND DOLLS (1955) is a CinemaScope musical from the Samuel Goldwyn Company starring Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra, and Jean Simmons. Based on the long-running Broadway show (with music from Frank Loesser and book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows), which itself was based on the stories of Damon Runyon, this film has recently been spiffed up for a Blu-ray release. Even though the 2.55:1 widescreen compositions will likely look amazing on the big screen at the El Capitan, I will wait to watch it on Blu-Ray.
Longtime Jeopardy emcee Alex Trebek hosts What’s the Score? at Club TCM, a game show focusing on movie music. This sounds exceedingly cool, but there’s too much else going on in this busy block.
My Pick: THE BIG PARADE - 2nd Choice: THE TRAIN
BLOCK 12 – Saturday 6:15 PM – 8:45PM (5 screenings + 1 event)
6:15 PM THE SEVENTH SEAL (1957) w/ Max Von Sydow (actor) at Egyptian. 35mm.
6:15 PM THE DESERT SONG (1943) at Multiplex 6. 35mm.
6:30 PM SHANE (1953) w/ Bill Hader (actor, Essentials Jr. host) at Grauman’s Chinese. Digital.
6:30 PM THE LADY EVE (1941) at Multiplex 1. Digital.
6:30 PM THE TALL TARGET (1951) w/ Donald Bogle (historian) at Multiplex 4. 35mm.
7:00 PM LE MANS: Behind the Scenes w/ Chad McQueen (family), Derek Bell (racecar driver), Vic Elford (racecar driver) at Club TCM
The opportunity to see Ingmar Bergman’s THE SEVENTH SEAL (1957) on the big screen with its star Max Von Sydow in person may be one of those experiences you tell your movie-loving grandchildren about. Seriously, even if you don’t love Bergman, or foreign classics, or reading subtitles, or chess, or even Von Sydow, this is a choice you need to think long and hard about.
Robert Florey’s THE DESERT SONG (1943) is a Warner Bros. film set in a North African nightclub during WW II. Hmm. That sounds familiar. Unlike CASABLANCA, though, this is a musical starring Dennis Morgan as a soldier of fortune and Irene Manning as the woman he loves. According to the TCMFF site, the film has largely ben out of circulation, because it was remade a decade later. The Technicolor film will be screened in a 35mm print from Warner Bros. Classics, which will likely be pristine. This is very tempting.
The 60th anniversary screening of George Stevens’ SHANE (1953) will likely be a big draw, due to the iconic status of the film. This Technicolor Western from Paramount is coming to Blu-ray in June, which means it’s gone through a digital clean up. The DCP will likely look gorgeous, though it will be interesting to see how they project it at Grauman’s: in the native 1.37 in which it was shot or the cropped 1.66 version that will be on the Blu-ray. Apparently the initial theatrical release was cropped to compete with other widescreen releases of the day, but in the years since all TV broadcasts and home video releases have reverted to the native Academy aspect ratio. You can read more about the controversy here (thanks to Lou Lumenick for that link).
UPDATE 4/12/13 - Lou Lumenick reports that TCM will screen the cropped, 1.66 transfer of SHANE. And Hollywood Elsewhere columnist Jeffrey Wells told me on Twitter he feels “honor-bound to picket” the screening. Stay tuned!
UPDATE 4/17/13 - The SHANE Aspect Ratio Debate has a happy ending (at least as far as some people are concerned). Lumenick reported today that TCM will screen the film in 1.37 and that Warner Bros. will release that version on Blu-ray. Perhaps related to these developments, George Stevens Jr. – who personally supervised the 1.66 transfer and lobbied for its acceptance – will not be in attendance at this screening.
Preston Surges THE LADY EVE (1941) stars Barbara Stanwyck as a sexy grafter and Henry Fonda as her wealthy mark, with delightful support from Charles Coburn, Eugene Pallette, William Demarest, and Eric Blore. This is one of the funniest films ever made, but why is Jane Fonda not introducing it? It’s probably my favorite comedic performance her father ever gave, and I doubt I’m alone in that feeling.
THE TALL TARGET (1951) has something for everyone: history buffs (it’s about the assassination of Abraham Lincoln); noir fans (it’s directed by Anthony Mann, who also helmed RAW DEAL); Dick Powell as a hardnosed cop named “John Kennedy (umm); and Ruby Dee as a slave. Historian Donald Bogle will introduce the film, which I have never seen, and will be sad to miss.
LE MANS: Behind the Scenes at Club TCM is probably a must if you plan on seeing the film at the Chinese Multiplex 1 later in the evening. Although wouldn’t it have made more sense to talk about it after people have seen it?
My Pick: THE SEVENTH SEAL – 2nd Choice: SHANE (Note: I may change my mind about this.)
BLOCK 13 – Saturday 9:00 PM – 11:30PM (5 screenings)
9:00 PM TRY AND GET ME (1950) w/ Beau Bridges (actor/family), Eddie Muller (historian) at Multiplex 4. 35mm.
9:15 PM MILDRED PIERCE (1945) w/ Ann Blyth (actress) at Egyptian. 35mm.
9:15 PM LE MANS (1971) w/ Chad McQueen (family), Derek Bell (racecar driver), Vic Elford (racecar driver) at Multiplex 1. Digital.
9:15 PM FLYING DOWN TO RIO (1933) w/ Cybil Shepherd (actor), Kimberly Truhler (author/professor) at Multiplex 6. 35mm.
9:30 PM AIRPLANE! (1980) w/ Robert Hays (actor), Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, Jerry Zucker (director/screenwriter) at Grauman’s Chinese. Digital.
Cy Endfield’s TRY AND GET ME (1950) is a noir that was denounced by the House Un-American Activities Committee because of its social commentary and anti-McCarthy sentiment. If that’s not a good reason to go, I don’t know what is. Endfield was also blacklisted and had to move to England. The film (which I have never seen) will be introduced by Eddie Muller from the Film Noir Foundation. Noir screenings at TCMFF are always well-attended so, if you plan on seeing this one in the tiny 177-seat Auditorium 1 at the Chinese Multiplex, get on line early.
UPDATE 4/19/13 – Actor Beau Bridges (son of star Lloyd Bridges) has been added to this screening.
Michael Curtiz’s MILDRED PIERCE (1945) won an Oscar for star Joan Crawford. But Ann Blyth, who played her serpent-toothed daughter Veda, will be the star of the evening. The 84-year-old actress will be in attendance at the Egyptian, one of only two appearances she will make over the weekend. (The other is KISMET on Sunday at 12:15 PM). For many Festival attendees, this screening will be a must.
LE MANS (1971) was star Steve McQueen’s passion project, a hyper-realistic, near-documentary about drivers in the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race. Chad McQueen will introduce the screening, along with racecar drivers Derek Bell and Vic Elford. This will be a great one to see in a theater with a good sound system and may be the best action film to be screened over the weekend. As with most of the films that are being presented in DCP, there’s also a Blu-ray…
FLYING DOWN TO RIO (1933), directed by Thornton Freeland, is noted as the first screen pairing of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Gene Raymond and Dolores Del Rio are the ostensible stars, but you’ll be scanning the frame hoping to get glimpses of Fred and Ginger. I saw this recently at Film Forum and loved how, freed from the narrative shackles of being the leads, Fred and Ginger could just dance and show off their chemistry – no convoluted plots about misunderstandings or hurt feelings were necessary to keep them bickering. The screening will be introduced by actress and singer Cybil Shepherd. I’m not sure why.
UPDATE 4/17/13 – Author, professor and fashion expert Kimberly Truhler will introduce FLYING DOWN TO RIO along with Cybil Shepherd.
AIRPLANE! (1980) with star Robert Hays, and co-directors/screenwriters Jim Abrahams and David Zucker and Jerry Zucker will likely be one of the best-attended screenings of the Festival. Even though its’ 1980 release date falls way beyond the definition that many TCM viewers use for “classic film,” it’s still one of the best-loved comedies ever made. And there’s nothing better than watching a funny movie with a big crowd – Grauman’s seats 1,110 – and the people who made it.
My Pick: MILDRED PIERCE - 2nd Choice: AIRPLANE!
BLOCK 14 – Sunday 12:00 AM – 1:15 AM (1 screening)
12:00 AM ISLAND OF LOST SOULS (1932) at Multiplex 6. 35mm.
Let’s hear it for Bela Lugosi, who appears in both midnight films this year at TCM! Director Erle C. Kenton’s controversial film, bases upon the H.G. Wells novel The Island of Doctor Moreau, has recently been released on Blu-ray by Criterion. I suspect that much of the potential attendee base for this film has watched it recently and will instead choose to go to bed or the bar.
My Pick: ISLAND OF LOST SOULS - 2nd Choice: Bed
BLOCK 15 – Sunday 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM (6 screenings + 1 event)
9:00 AM CINERAMA HOLIDAY (1955) w/ Beatrice Troller (actor), Betty York (actor) at Cinerama Dome. Digital.
9:00 AM TBA at Multiplex 4
9:15 AM COME SEPTEMBER (1961) w/ Matt Tyrnauer (historian) at Multiplex 6. 35mm.
9:30 AM BADLANDS (1973) World Premiere Restoration w/ Ed Pressman (producer), Billy Weber (editor) at Grauman’s Chinese. Digital.
9:30 AM GILDA (1946) w/ Debra Winger (actress) at Egyptian. Digital.
9:30 AM YANKEE DOODLE DANDY (1942) w/ Malcolm McDowell (actor) at Multiplex 1. Digital.
10:00 AM Bonhams Movie Memorabilia Appraisals at Club TCM/Roosevelt Lobby
You may be surprised to hear this but CINERAMA HOLIDAY (1955) may be the film I am most looking forward to at the TCM Classic Film Festival. It’s got no stars and no real plot to speak of, but it’s real, three-screen Cinerama in one of only three places in the entire world where you can still see it in its native form. Plus, the film (or films, because three different images make up the final product) has been restored, and the screening will feature live appearances from the two female “leads,” Beatrice Troller and Betty York. The Cinerama Dome is about a twenty-minute walk from the Roosevelt, so allow time when planning your morning. Keep in mind also that the best seats are in the center of the house. Save one for me, please. (Note: the venue map is here.)
I’ve not seen Robert Mulligan’s COME SEPTEMBER (1961), a romantic comedy that stars Rock Hudson as an American millionaire and Gina Lolobrigida as his American mistress. The film also features Sandra Dee and Bobby Darrin, who married during production. I’m not sure what the draw here is, other than the opportunity to see gorgeous CinemaScope on the big screen in Technicolor.
BADLANDS (1973) was director Terence Malick’s first feature film and one of the best loved films of the 1970s. TCM will present the world premiere of a new restoration in DCP, with producer Ed Pressman in attendance. This would be a must see if stars Martin Sheen or Sissy Spacek were going to be there, but they’re not. So I probably won’t be either.
UPDATE 4/24/13 – The restoration of BADLANDS begins a week-long run at Film Forum on May 10, which means the DCP is likely headed to your local revival house (if you have one).
Charles Vidor’s GILDA (1946) is one of the great noirs, and Rita Hayworth is iconic in it. But you’re gonna need a lot more than an introduction by Debra Winger to get me away from the Cinerama Dome.
Michael Curtiz’s YANKEE DOODLE DANDY (1942) is one of my favorite films, and I love James Cagney as actor/singer/dancer/producer George M. Cohan. But you’ll have to Give My Regards to Broadway, because I’ll be at the Cinerama Dome. I am curious to hear how the film looks in DCP. If you go, please let me know.
UPDATE 4/17/13 - Actor Malcolm McDowell will introduce this screening.
Bonham’s Movie Memorabilia Appraisals at the Roosevelt is not really an event, but it’s on the schedule, so I included it. Last year I woke up late on Sunday and had time to kill until the second programming block, so I did eavesdropped on some of the appraisals. It’s fascinating stuff. If you have something valuable, movie-related, and easily transportable, bring it (or send it to me as a gift because I’m so nice).
My Pick: CINERAMA HOLIDAY (1955) Obviously. 2nd Choice: BADLANDS
BLOCK 16 – Sunday 11:30 AM – 4:00 PM (6 screenings + 1 event)
11:30 AM TBA at Multiplex 4
12:15 PM IT’S A MAD MAD MAD MAD WORLD (1963) w/
Jonathan Winters (actor), Barrie Chase (actress), Marvin Kaplan (actor), Carl Reiner (actor), Mickey Rooney (actor) at Cinerama Dome. 70mm.
12:15 AM KISMET (1955) w/ Ann Blyth (actress) at Multiplex 6. 35mm.
12:30 PM Women of Early Hollywood w/ Cari Beauchamp (historian) at Club TCM
12:45 PM THE BIRDS (1963) w/ Tippi Hedren (actress) at Grauman’s Chinese. Digital.
12:45 PM SCARECROW (1973) w/ Jerry Schatzberg at Multiplex 1. Digital.
1:00 PM TARZAN FINDS A SON (1939) at Egyptian w/ Ben Burtt (sound designer), Craig Barron (Visual-Effects Artist). 35mm.
2:00 PM TBA at Multiplex 4
3:00 PM Hollywood’s Silent Echoes w/ John Bengtson (historian) at Club TCM
Stanley Kramer’s IT’S A MAD MAD MAD MAD WORLD (1963) in 70mm at the Cinerama Dome with Jonathan Winters (age 87), Carl Reiner (91), Mickey Rooney (92), Marvin Kaplan (86) and Barrie Chase (79) in attendance. What more do you need to hear than that? Seriously, even if you find this film over-long (which I do) and not always hilarious (yup), this is still a must-see for film fans. I actually saw it in 70mm recently at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, and I’m planning to watch it again. The only drawback is, the film’s epic length (192 minutes) will kill this block and the next one for you. But, as the end of the Festival nears, you will have already seen a ton of movies. It’s okay, on the last day, to let your numbers slip a bit. (I’m saying that to convince myself as much as to convince you.)
UPDATE 4/12/13 - The great Jonathan Winters, who had been scheduled to attend this screening, died on April 11, 2013 at 6:45 PM (EDT). TCM posted the following statement on the Festival website: “TCM is saddened by the passing of actor and comedian Jonathan Winters, who had been scheduled to appear at this presentation. We share his loss with classic movie fans everywhere and celebrate the joy his work has brought and will continue to bring for generations to come.”
Vincente Minnelli’s KISMET (1955) stars Ann Blyth and Howard Keel in an Arthur Freed production from MGM, filmed in CinemaScope. The movie is based on the 1953 Broadway play adapted from the music of Alexander Borodin, by Robert Wright and George Forest, with book by Charles Lederer and Luther Davis. It’s perhaps best known today for introducing the pop hit “Stranger in Paradise,” sung by Vic Damone and Ann Blyth (who will be in attendance). If you missed Blyth in MILDRED PIERCE on Saturday, this is your last chance to see her (at least this year – see? I’m thinking positively.)
Women of Early Hollywood panel at Club TCM is hosted by Caro Beauchamp, author of Without Lying Down: Francis Marion and the Powerful Women of Early Hollywood. The presentation focuses on the large number of women in positions of authority in the Hollywood of the 1920s. If you’re a fan of silent era Hollywood, I’d advise that you attend this presentation and John Bengtson’s at 3 PM, as warm-ups to THE GENERAL at 7:15 PM.
Alfred Hitchcock’s THE BIRDS (1963) in DCP at Grauman’s with Tippi Hedren in attendance may be the hottest ticket for those who don’t want to make the trek to the Cinerama Dome, or sit through a 3 hour and 12 minute movie.
Jerry Schatzberg’s SCARECROW (1973) is the U.S. premiere of the “remastered edition.” I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a screening promoted like that. “Remastered” is the poor man’s version of “restored,” but I guess something is better than nothing. I’ve never seen this film, which stars Al Pacino and Gene Hackman as two buddies hitching across country. The TCMFF site says this is a “personal favorite” of Hackman. Maybe he’ll show up in person and tell us why.
TARZAN FINDS A SON! (1939) but he won’t find much of an audience. I kid. This is a newly struck 35 mm print from the Academy Film Archives and features the iconic Tarzan cast: Olympian Johnny Weissmuller as the King of the Apes, Maureen O’Sullivan as Jane, and Johnny Sheffield as the titular son, who mom and dad name “Boy.” Oscar winners Craig Baron (visual effects artist) and Ben Burtt (sound designer) will be in attendance. This is Tarzan at his MGM heights, before the series moved to RKO and they slashed the budgets and hired a new Jane for every picture. And how was her hair always so nicely coiffed? But I digress.
Hollywood’s Silent Echoes at Club TCM is the one panel I would really like to attend, if not for MAD MAD WORLD. Author John Bengtson presents a multi-media tour through the shooting locations for Buster Keaton’s THE GENERAL, as well as other iconic silent era films. Again, if you’re a silent fan, this is a must. I wrote about John when he did a similar presentation at Film Forum. It was awesome.
My Pick: IT’S A MAD MAD MAD MAD WORLD – 2nd Choice: Hollywood’s Silent Echoes
BLOCK 17 – Sunday 3:45 PM – 6:30 PM (5 screenings)
3:45 PM SALESMAN (1968) w/ Albert Maysles (director) at Multiplex 6. 35mm.
4:00 PM THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR (1975) w/ Max Von Sydow (actor) at Grauman’s Chinese. Digital.
4:00 PM IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT (1934) at Multiplex 1. Digital.
4:15 PM DON’T SAY NO UNTIL I FINISH TALKING (2013) World Premiere w/ Lili Zanuck (family), Laurent Bouzereau (director/writer/producer). Digital.
4:30 PM TBA at Multiplex 4
SALESMAN (1968) is the second of two screenings honoring legendary documentarian Albert Maysles. If you missed GIMME SHELTER on Friday night, try your best to make it to this one. A pioneer of the “Direct Cinema” style – with no narration, commentary or spin – Albert and brother David (along with Charlotte Zwerin) told the story of Boston Bible salesmen in 1967, focusing on one who was nicknamed “The Badger.” It’s a fascinating trip back in time to the Anti-Reality-TV Era. Just an aside here: one time I met Albert Maysles at an event and tried to convince him to watch Survivor. I wish I could go back in my time machine and un-have that conversation.
Sydney Pollacks’ THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR (1975) is one of the great thrillers of the paranoid 1970s, with Robert Redford as a C.I.A. researcher on the run, Faye Dunaway as the woman who harbors him (against her wishes, at least initially), and Max Von Sydow as the bespectacled assassin. Von Sydow will be present. If you missed him on Saturday, make it your business to catch him here.
Frank Capra’s IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT (1934) won five Academy Awards and put Columbia Pictures on the map. It also showed off Claudette Colbert’s legs and introduced the term “walls of Jericho” to the vernacular. If you go, I promise you’ll get the words “Young people in love are seldom hungry” stuck in your head for at least a week.
DON’T SAY NO UNTIL I FINISH TALKING (2013) is a TCM Original Documentary on producer Richard Zanuck (son of Darryl F.), who died last year after a six-decade career in film. The doc was directed by Laurent Bouzereau, who also produced the A Night at the Movies documentary series on TCM, as well as more than 150 “making of” featurettes for home video. Bouzereau will appear in person, as will Zanuck’s widow Lili.
My Pick: DON’T SAY NO UNTIL I FINISH TALKING (If I make it in time.) – 2nd Choice: SALESMAN
Note: There’s a chance I’ll see nothing in this timeslot, if the MAD MAD WORLD screening runs even a few minutes late. If so, I’ll have lunch for the first time since Thursday.
BLOCK 18 – Sunday 6:30 PM – 9:15 PM (5 screenings)
6:30 PM CLUNY BROWN (1946) at Multiplex 6. 35mm.
6:45 PM DIAL M FOR MURDER (1954) in Digital 3-D w/ Norman Lloyd (actor) at Multiplex 1. Digital.
7:00 PM THE AFRICAN QUEEN (1951) w/ Theodore Bikel (actor) at Egyptian. Digital.
7:00 TBA at Multiplex 4
7:15 PM THE GENERAL (1926) w/ Alloy Orchestra at Chinese Theatre. Digital.
This is it. You’re at the finish line. I know you’re exhausted, but you’ve got just one more screening! And you should make it count. This will be your last memory of the Festival, and it’s important to leave on a high note. In each of the last three years, my final screening has also been the most memorable of the weekend: METROPOLIS (1927) with a live accompaniment by the Alloy Orchestra in 2010, WEST SIDE STORY (1961)with guests Walter Mirisch, George Chakaris and Marni Nixon in 2011, and THE THIEF OF BAGDAD (1924) with the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra last year at the Egyptian. This year the options are diverse, but my choice is obvious.
CLUNY BROWN (1946) was Ernst Lubitch’s final completed film, a comedy featuring Jennifer Jones as the eponymous chambermaid. Although she was in attendance on Thursday night at NINOTCHKA, Nicola Lubitsch has not been announced as a guest at this screening. Much as I love Lubitsch, I’ve never seen this film, it’s unavailable on DVD, and TCM doesn’t own the broadcast rights to the 20th Century Fox library. Those are definitely strong selling points.
DIAL M FOR MURDER (1954) is not my favorite Hitchcock, but it’s in newly restored digital 3-D. And Norman Lloyd will be there. Those are two big motivators.
John Huston’s THE AFRICAN QUEEN (1951) w/ Humphrey Bogart, Katharine Hepburn, and Robert Morley unspools in DCP at the Egyptian, with special guest Theodore Bikel (age 88). Bikel had a minor role in the film, but I’d go listen to the craft service guy talk about this movie. It’s about as iconic as they come.
Clyde Bruckman and Buster Keaton’s THE GENERAL (1926) is newly restored and will feature live accompaniment by the Alloy Orchestra. This is pretty much a no-brainer if you love silent movies, or comedy, or film in general (no pun intended). And, if you’re like I was in 2010 at METROPOLIS, this screening may just turn you into a silent film fanatic.
Winner: THE GENERAL - 2nd Choice: THE AFRICAN QUEEN
BLOCK 00 – Sunday 9:00 PM–12:00 AM (1 event)
9:00 PM Closing Night Party at Club TCM
The Festival closes out with a party at the Roosevelt in the Club TCM space, where single fans get a chance to seal the deal with other singles they’ve been hanging out with all weekend. Anyway, I have a girlfriend. So step off!
And that’s it. If you’re going and you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment. If you’re not going, why are you torturing yourself by reading this? But seriously, you should come next year. You will have the best time of your life, and you’ll probably lose some weight from four days of not eating.