My Obsessive-Compulsive Guide to the 2014 TCM Classic Film Festival

tcm-2014-2Last updated 4/22/14 7 PM (ET). Updated info in italics 

Here’s my favorite thing about the TCM Classic Film Festival, which kicks off on Thursday in Hollywood: there’s no right or wrong way to pick the movies you see. Hold the pickle, hold the lettuce – like Burger King in the ‘70s, the only right way is your way. 

This will be my fifth trip to the classic film conclave, which packs more than 100 screenings and events into 82 (mostly sleepless) hours in Hollywood. I’m just as excited as ever, but this year the typically torturous process of choosing my personal schedule was easier than in the past.

I used to lament the wealth of competing choices, secretly wishing we could go back to Year One in 2010 when the crowds were small and the options were few. Now I understand that the staggering volume of programming – in one case nine events will happen in the same time block – creates the opportunity for each attendee to customize his or her experience based upon the vagaries of taste and personality.

tcmff_2For example: let’s say your definition of “classic” is a film released before 1959, and that you prefer 35mm projection and hate big crowds. You can park yourself at the TCL Chinese 6 Theatres (aka the Multiplex) and jump between the two smallest TCMFF venues, house 4 (177 seats) and house 6 (250 seats), where 34 of the 35 films will be screened on actual film, with more than 20 of them released before 1959.

UPDATE  4/22/14 – The final tally of pre-1959 releases in house 4 and house 6, after the TBAs were announced, was 26 of 35.

Or maybe you want to experience the buzz of watching a beloved classic with a big, enthusiastic crowd at larger venues like Disney’s El Capitan Theatre (998 seats), TCL (formerly Grauman’s) Chinese Theater IMAX (916 seats), or the Egyptian Theatre (618). Or perhaps you want to focus on the special programs and live interviews at the Club TCM meeting space (capacity roughly 400) in the Blossom Room at the Roosevelt Hotel (site of the first Academy Awards ceremony) and newly added locations like the Hollywood Museum (200) on the corner of Hollywood Blvd. and Highland Ave. or the Montalban Theater (300 seats) at 1615 North Vine Street.

Or maybe you want to do it all. Since human cloning is not yet legal in the state of California (frankly, I expected more from Gov. Schwarzenegger), your best-case scenario will probably be a maximum of 20 screenings or events over the course of the weekend (if you don’t eat, rarely sleep, and walk really fast). Even with a carefully planned schedule, you’re going to miss out on 80 percent of what’s happening.

Accept that fact, and you’ll have a much more pleasant experience.

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Here are 10 Tips for planning your TCMFF 2014 experience (with a bonus tip at no extra charge):

1aUnderstand the limitations of your pass level.

First: all pass levels are sold out, and have been for weeks. Second: the only passes that provide entry to all screenings and events are the Essential Pass ($699), which sold out in an unprecedented five hours back on November 14, and the Spotlight Pass (price: $1,599) which was gone in less than a week. So if you didn’t act early, your access will be limited.

The Classic Pass ($549) will get you into everything except the opening night screening of OKLAHOMA at the TCL Chinese Theatre (though you are still invited to watch red carpet arrivals on the bleachers). The Matinee Pass ($349) allows Friday through Sunday entry to screenings and Club TCM, but not the two interview events at the Montalban Theatre. And the Palace Pass ($249) will get you into screenings at the TCL Chinese, the Egyptian Theatre, and the Montalban Theatre, from Friday through Sunday – with no access to Club TCM (and I’m pretty sure that means the parties, as well).

So let’s say you’re a Matinee/Palace passholder and you want to see a film on Thursday night, or get into a venue your pass otherwise doesn’t allow. Your solution: $20 standby tickets (or $10 with a student I.D.) are available to all screenings except OKLAHOMA at the TCL Chinese Theatre on Thursday and the three poolside screenings at the Roosevelt Hotel. These tickets are cash only, and you’ll have to wait in a standby line until all passholders are seated (which means you may not get a great seat, but whatever). Note also that THE WIZARD OF OZ walk-ups are $30, and standby tickets are not available to any of the interview or discussion events, except the Leonard Maltin-hosted tribute to Hubley Animation on Saturday at 3 p.m. But that event is in the 177-seat Auditorium 4 at the Multiplex, so standby opportunities will likely be scarce.

2aDecide if you can afford to come back next year.

When first-timers ask me how to pick from more than 100 events and screenings, I always reply with the same question: is this likely to be your only trip to the TCM Film Festival? If so, and you may never get another chance to be inside these historic theaters, you should make it a point to get to as many venues as possible. It’s better to duck out early to make another desired screening than to miss a venue entirely.  (Remember: Leaving early is okay, arriving late is not.) Which leads me to my next point:

 3aLine up early.

If there are events you must see, make sure to show up 30 minutes early just to be safe. Also, remember that the newly renovated TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX seats 230 fewer people than it did last year. This is in part why the Essential and Spotlight passes sold out so much faster than in past years, and it will mean more sell-outs at the Chinese than ever before. Make note of the size of each venue (particularly the smaller ones at the Multiplex), and consider capacity when you decide if you have time to eat something other than popcorn. Which leads me to my next point:

4aPlan your meals in advance.

There are no meal breaks built into the schedule, nor are there food items of any nutritional value at the theater concession stands (other than Raisinettes, which may contain some small amount of actual fruit). My solution is to live on a caffeine buzz for four days. But, if food means more to you than it does to me, plan accordingly.

Within the Roosevelt there are two restaurants that are convenient and not absurdly over-priced. 25 Degrees is a burger joint in the lobby of the hotel and you can sit at the counter and be in and out in less than 30 minutes. (PLUS they play TCM on the TV, so you can continue your classic film consumption, even on a screening break.) There’s a fancier restaurant in the back of the lobby called Public Kitchen and Bar, but I’ve never been there. Both offer 10 percent discounts for TCMFF attendees, as does the hotel’s room service, but not for liquor. If you’re more of a Ray Milland type, plan on procuring your hooch from the Hollywood Liquor Store at 7040 Hollywood Blvd. (half a block from the hotel). Also: CVS at 7021 Hollywood Blvd. (diagonally across from the hotel) has a full complement of beer, wine, and spirits at popular prices (as well as snacks for your hotel room.)

There are two coffee shops in the shadow of the Roosevelt: the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf at 6922 Hollywood Blvd offers the 10 percent TCMFF discount, while Starbucks at 6933 Hollywood Blvd (across the street, next to Madame Tussaud’s) does not. My friend Amy Robinson Vogel also recommends Kelly’s Coffee and Fudge Factory inside the Dolby Theater lobby at 6801 Hollywood Blvd for a less crowded caffeine fix. They’re open from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. and also serve hot breakfasts, sandwiches, salads, and, of course, fudge. Kelly also suggests the Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop in the Disney Store at 6834 Hollywood (next to the El Cap) for coffee, ice cream and desserts. They’re open from 9 a.m. until 11 p.m. on weekdays, and midnight on weekend.

Other (sort of) acceptable options on Hollywood Blvd: Baja Fresh and Hooters at 6922, Greco’s New York Pizza at 6814, and McDonald’s at 6776. In the Hollywood and Highland Center mall you have a few sit-down options: Johnny Rocket’s 1950s-style diner, California Pizza Kitchen, Cabo Wabo Cantina, Cho Oishi sushi, the Hard Rock Café, Ohm Café, Woodfire BBQ and The Grill (where my friend Cathi Mercer ran into Robert Osborne last year at lunch). Of these, only Johnny Rocket’s is really fast enough for a quick, between-screening sitdown.

And don’t forget Pink’s Hot Dogs at 709 N La Brea Ave (a 20-minute walk from the Roos, but plan to wait in line for as long as 30 minutes), In-N-Out Burger at 7009 Sunset Blvd. and Orange (2 blocks from the Roosevelt), Mel’s Drive-In at 1660 S Highland Ave, Musso and Frank Grill at 6667 Hollywood Blvd. (don’t miss the Thursday-only chicken pot pie special, but reservations are suggested), the Pig ‘n Whistle at 6714 Hollywood Blvd, and Miceli’s (“Hollywood’s oldest Italian Restaurant”) at 1646 N Las Palmas Ave. The latter three are steps away from the Egyptian Theatre, and hold a lot of history within their walls. (And thanks to my friends in the “Going to the TCM Film Festival” group on Facebook for helping me compile this list.)

UPDATE 4/8: The concession stand at the Multiplex now has a sandwich and appetizer menu. Thanks to Debbie, Jandy, and David for that intelligence. 

Now that I’ve told you about all the places to eat on Hollywood Blvd….

5aAvoid Hollywood Blvd!

Sure Hollywood Blvd. has its charms, if you consider throngs of tourists, homeless skateboarders, and panhandlers in dirty superhero costumes charming. But it will almost always take you longer to get to a venue via Hollywood Blvd. than by other means.

If I’m going from the Roosevelt to the TCL Chinese 6 Theatres Multiplex I always exit the hotel from the main entrance, cross Hollywood Blvd, walk past the side of Madame Tousaud’s, and enter the Hollywood and Highland Center from behind the TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX. (There’s a staircase near the entrance to the parking garage where the tour buses load up.)

When going to The Egyptian or the El Capitan from the Roosevelt, I exit the hotel via the side door on North Orange, make a right and then a quick left and walk through the alley next to the parking garage. This will take you to the back side of the El Capitan or, if you keep going, to Highland Ave. From Highland I go through the parking lot for Mel’s Drive-In, go through another alley, and end up at the side door of the Egyptian. This allows me to avoid the scrum between North Orange and Highland.

6aThere is no TCMFF iPhone/iPad app this year, so plan accordingly!

This is a bit of a head-scratcher. For the first four years of the TCMFF, the network provided a free, smartly designed, user-friendly app for smartphones and tablets that allowed attendees to access and sort the schedule in a variety of ways, and also allowed for schedule changes and other data to be “pushed” to users.

There’s no app this year, but there are a few options to replace it: bookmark the schedule page on your smartphone or tablet’s web-browser (I tried that on my iPhone and it’s kind of a pain); carry the paper pocket guide schedule that all attendees receive; or print this blog post and carry it around with you. (You can laugh, but a few people told me last year that they did just that. Take that haters!) Remember to check the Information desk in the lobby of the Roosevelt for updates, particularly the titles for the Sunday TBA screenings.

If you’re not on Twitter, I suggest you join up, at least for the weekend. In the absence of an app, the @TCMFilmFest Twitter account will be your best, on-the-go resource for news and schedule changes. Remember also that all tweeps attending the event tag their tweets with #TCMFF. And, now that you’re on Twitter, follow me and the rest of the TCM Film Fest Social Media Crew.

As in past years, TCM will still offer 7 special pins for social media users. Just show up at the Info Desk and show them the apps on your smartphone or tablet and you’ll get your pins. Users of the following social networks have received pins in the past: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Foursquare, TV Tag (formerly Get Glue); the Watch TCM app; and ???.

UPDATE  4/09/14 - According to a TCM rep, the pins for this year will be: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Vine, Google+, and Watch TCM. But it’s not enough to just have the apps, you have to do certain things with them:

• Facebook: “Go to the Genworth Living Room at the TCL Chinese 6 Theatres Multiplex, get a photo of yourself from their team, and post the photo to Facebook to tell your friends that you’ve arrived here at the Festival.”
• Twitter: “Spot a TCM celebrity and tweet to tell us at #TCMFF”
• You Tube: “Show us a TCM YouTube clip you like.”
Google+: “Leave us a comment on on Google+.”
• Instagram: “Find a new friend. Snap a photo together. Post to Instagram.”
• Vine: “Capture the Festival in a Vine video.”
• Watch TCM - Download the app

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7aDon’t forget Club TCM and the TCM Movie Locations Tour.

Often, in my mania to attend as many screenings as possible, I neglect the Club TCM space at the Roosevelt. And that’s unfortunate, because TCM does a great job with the art direction of the space, the programming, and the overall vibe. And this year is no different. In addition to the scheduled events, there at two displays you should seek out.

TCM at 20: Inspired by the Classics is an installation of visual works created by a select group of artists in honor of TCM’s 20th anniversary. Artists include: Tony Bennett, Manolo Blahnik, Charles Busch, Jules Feiffer, Joel Grey, Bruce Eric Kaplan, Kim Novak, Todd Oldham, Jane Seymour and Burt Young.

The 75th Anniversary of GONE WITH THE WIND will be remembered with an exhibit of storyboard and concept art paintings from the film, presented in partnership with the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin, the home of the David O. Selznick archive. (For more info about this display, click here.)

Home Movies by Hollywood: Photography from the Academy’s Margaret Herrick Library is a display of rare, candid photos of classic film stars and behind-the-scenes figures at play, or vacation, and shooting their own home movies. It’s presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in conjunction with Hollywood Home Movies: Treasures from the Academy Film Archive on Saturday at 4:30, also at Club TCM.

On March 14, TCM launched the TCM Movie Locations Tour, a branded tour that brings Hollywood “film history alive by pairing modern and classic movie clips with visits to the locations where they were filmed.” And the best part about it? It’s FREE. The three-hour excursion in a luxury coach is operated by Starline Tours, and departs from the TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX. All eight trips scheduled to take place during TCMFF are officially sold out, but standby seating is available. Visit the Starline kiosk in the forecourt of the Theatre 30 minutes before a scheduled tour and you may get lucky!

The following are the dates and times for the TCM Movie Locations Tour offered during TCMFF:

Wednesday 4/9 1:30pm
Thursday 4/10 9:30am
Thursday 4/10 1:30pm
Friday 4/11 at 9:30am
Friday 4/11 at 1:30pm
Saturday 4/12 at 9:30am
Sunday 4/13 9:30am
Monday 4/14 9:30am

8aTry to get to the Montalban Theatre, but allow plenty of time.

Confession: every year TCM tapes a Live From the TCM Classic Film Festival interview at an historic Hollywood venue, and every year I miss it: Peter O’Toole at the Music Box Theatre in 2011; Kim Novak at the Avalon Hollywood in ’12; and Eva Marie at the Avalon in ’13. My excuse is usually that it’s too far away, and the time it takes to travel both ways would force me to forego at least two screenings. This year I hope to break my streak on Sunday afternoon for the Alan Arkin interview at the Montalban Theatre.

From 1936 until 1955, The Lux Radio Theater was recorded live on this stage for broadcast on CBS. That means that just about every significant actor from every studio performed here, which makes it totally worth the trip for any classic film fan. Two TCMFF events will take place at the former Lux Radio Playhouse: Ask Robert, a Q&A with Robert Osborne from 2-3:30 p.m. on Friday, and Alan Arkin: Live From the TCM Classic Film Festival from 1-3 p.m. on Sunday. It’s a 25-30-minute walk from the Roosevelt, a 10-minute cab ride, or you can take the RED subway line at the Hollywood/Highland station one stop east to the Hollywood/Vine station. However you get there, TCM is limiting seating at this 900-seat venue to 300, so you should plan to get there at least 30 minutes early

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9aBe on TV!

If you attend the Live From the TCM Classic Film Festival taping, you’re almost guaranteed to be visible somewhere in the final show, which will be broadcast on TCM and released on DVD. If you don’t want to go off-site, but still want to achieve your dream of appearing on TCM, stop by the Roosevelt lobby on Thursday, Friday and Saturday afternoon betwe. Each year, TCM sets up a fully functional TV studio where Robert Osborne talks to celebrities, film historians, and passholders. These interviews are broadcast in primetime on TCM, and often repurposed for other uses, like theatrical screenings (Osborne’s chat with Tippi Hedren was included in the national TCM-sponsored screenings of THE BIRDS). The live audience is clearly visible during the interview, so get over to the Roosevelt lobby if you want to be seen on your favorite channel.

Update 4/10/14 – The tapings take place between 11:45AM-4PM in the Roosevelt lobby with Osborne and by the pool with Ben Mankiewicz.

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10aClassic film stars don’t live forever, not even Mickey Rooney. If there’s an aging celebrity you really want to see in person, don’t wait until next year. Icons like Mickey Rooney, Peter O’Toole, Ernest Borgnine, Esther Williams, Betty Garrett, Tony Curtis, and Juanita Moore (from IMITATION OF LIFE)  have appeared at the TCMFF in past years and then departed for the great backlot in the sky. Other celebs appearing this year, like Mel Brooks, Kim Novak, Margaret O’Brien and director Norman Jewison have all appeared previously, in some cases multiple times.  It’s a grim topic, but age and health are factors you must consider.

11aRemember, you are among friends.

Listen, all of us are weird, otherwise we wouldn’t be here. And some of us are shy or socially awkward – that’s what happens sometimes when you spend a large chunk of your life watching movies most other people have never even heard of. But remember this: thousands of people have flown from all across the country (and the world) to share this odd hobby with other fans. Everyone at this event, regardless of age, occupation, or religious affiliation shares one thing in common: we really love old movies. And we probably don’t know a lot of people in our daily lives who feel the same way. That means we want to talk about it. So strike up conversations, make some screening buddies, and, if you’re like me, you may end up with some new, real-life friends.

And now, on to the schedule. First, some overall facts.

1949, Hollywood Roosevelt HotelThis year there are 84 films and 20 special events. Of the films, 37 will be screened on 35mm film, 41 on “Digital,” and six are still to be announced. If five of the six of the TBAs end up being screened in 35mm, that will make the breakdown exactly 50/50 this year. (Last year it was 46 on film and 38 on digital). And, if you factor in the 10 shorts in the Saturday, Leonard Maltin-hosted Tribute to Hubley Animation, all of which will be presented in unspecified “digital” formats, this will be the first year in which the majority of the film programs at TCMFF will be presented in digital formats.

UPDATE 4/9/14: Nine of the Hubley animation shorts will be presented in 35mm prints. The TV spots and other content will be screened from digital sources. This confirms that, once again, more TCMFF films will be screened from 35mm than from digital sources.

UPDATE 4/22/14: All six TBAs were screened on 35mm, which means the final breakdown was 43 film and 41 digital.

In the past, TCM’s definition of “Digital” has included professionally mastered DCP files (the industry standard for digital theatrical projection), HDCAM (a digital tape format), and even DVD and Blu-ray. The past poolside screenings at the Roosevelt have all been screened in consumer formats. The on-line schedule does not indicate the specific formats for the pool movies this year, but it’s likely to be the same situation, since the Roosevelt does not have professional screening equipment. Keep that in mind if format is a deciding factor for you (as it is for me).

UPDATE 4/9/14: The TCMFF pocked guide confirms that AMERICAN GRAFFITI, THE MUSIC MAN and THE MUPPET MOVIE will all screen on DVD.

Here are the daily breakdowns:

Thursday 4/10 – 8 screenings/4 events
Friday 4/11 – 26 screenings/6 events
Saturday 4/12 – 30 screenings/6 events (eat your Wheaties)
Sunday 4/13 – 20 screenings/4 events

That makes Saturday your most challenging day, choice-wise, and also your longest. So avoid the urge to party late on Friday night. Or don’t, and deal with the consequences on Saturday.

Next, the breakdown of screenings by venue: Updated!

TCL Chinese 6 Theatres House 6 – 18 screenings (17 35mm/1 Digital)
TCL Chinese 6 Theatres House 4 – 17 screenings (17 35mm – Hubley shorts not included)
TCL Chinese 6 Theatres House 1 – 16 screenings (16 Digital)
Egyptian Theatre – 14 screenings (8 35mm/6 Digital)
TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX – 11 screenings (all Digital)
El Capitan Theatre – 5 screenings (all Digital)
Roosevelt Poolside – 3 screenings (all Digital)

Finally, the breakdown by decade (Updated!):

1930s – 19
1940s – 18
1960s – 15
1950s – 14
1970s – 13
1920s – 2
1980s – 2
1990s – 1

Update 4/13/14 – The TBS screenings are 5TH AVENUE GIRL (1939) at 12PM, ON APPROVAL (1944) at 2PM, EMPLOYEE’S ENTRANCE (1933) at 4:30 PM, and THE GREAT GATSBY (1949) at 7 PM, all in 35mm.

The 1930s enjoys the biggest jump this year, from 11 announced screenings from that decade in 2013 to 19 this year. And the 1950s is the big loser, falling from 24 in 2013 to 14 this year.

And now, my picks. I’ve split the entire schedule into 21 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.

As I said in the first chapter of this book, my picks aren’t right, they’re just mine.

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BLOCK 0: Thursday 2:00 PM – 6:30 PM (3 events)
2:00-3:00 PM Meet TCM: Special Edition at the Egyptian Theatre panel
w/ TCM staff members TBD
3:30-4:30 PM Sons of Gods and Monsters panel w/ Rick Baker (special effects makeup artist), Joe Dante (director) at Hollywood Museum
5:00-5:30 PM TCM at 20: Inspired by the Classics w/ Robert Osborne, Kim Novak (actress), Jane Seymour (actress), Charles Busch (actor/playwright), Bruce Eric Kaplan (artist) at Club TCM
5:00-7:00 PM Welcome Party at Club TCM

The first block is the easiest, since there are no actual choices to make. Start with some lunch at Musso’s, Miceli’s or Pig ‘n Whistle, then head over to the Egyptian for the Meet TCM panel, where TCM pulls back the curtain and reveals the people behind the now 20-year-old network. There are always a few scoops to be had at these events, so I strongly suggest you attend.

Next, walk a few doors down to Hollywood Museum, the newest TCMFF venue, for Sons of Gods and Monsters, a discussion of monster movie makeup from the silent era until today with Oscar-winning makeup artist Rick Baker and director Joe Dante. TCMFF passholders can visit the museum for free beginning at 2 PM.

Then head back to the Roosevelt for quick intro to the TCM at 20: Inspired by the Classics exhibit with Robert Osborne, followed by the opening party. By the way, the booze at the Club TCM parties is not free, so don’t plan to get “tight” (as they like to say in old movies) on TCM’s dime.

My Pick(s): All of the above. 

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BLOCK 1: Thursday 6:00 PM – 10:00 PM (5 screenings) Updated!
6:30 PM OKLAHOMA (1955) w/ Shirley Jones (actress) World Premiere Restoration at TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX. Digital.
6:30 PM WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? (1962) w/ Charles Busch (actor) at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres House 1. Digital.
7:00 PM FIFTH AVENUE GIRL (1939) at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres House 4. 35mm.
7:15 PM CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN (1950) at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres House 6. 35mm.
7:30 PM AMERICAN GRAFITTI (1973) w/ Candy Clark, Bo Hopkins, Paul Le Mat (actors) at Roosevelt Hotel Pool. DVD 

This is an easy block for me. My press pass doesn’t get me into OKLAHOMA, so that’s out. WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? with the hilarious Charles Busch will be a hoot, but I’ve seen that movie at least a dozen times. I find the pool to be a less-than-optimal venue, so AMERICAN GRAFITTI is eliminated (despite the presence of Paul Le Mat, whom I love). That leaves CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN with Clifton Webb, who is one of my favorite classic film actors, or FIFTH AVENUE GIRL, with one of my favorite classic film actresses, Ginger Rogers. This may be a down-to-the-wire call, but I think Ginger gets the nod because FIFTH AVENUE GIRL is screening in a brand new 35mm print from Warner Bros. Classics, struck in honor of the film’s 75th anniversary. PLUS I’ve never seen the film.

My Pick: FIFTH AVENUE GIRL (1939) 

Fifth

BLOCK 2: Thursday 9:30 PM – 12:00 AM (3 screenings)
9:30 PM BACHELOR MOTHER (1939) w/ Greg Proops (comedian) at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres House 4. 35mm.
9:45PM THE HEIRESS (1945) at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres House 6. 35mm.
10:00 PM JOHNNY GUITAR (1954) w/ Michael Schlesinger (archivist) New Restoration at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres House 1. Digital.

THE HEIRESS, William Wyler’s film version of Henry James’ Washington Square is another favorite, but one I’ve seen many times. (The 35mm print from Universal is tempting, though.) Same goes for Nick Ray’s JOHNNY GUITAR, though I’d love to hear Schlesinger talk about the process of restoring the film. TCM says this screening is the “60th anniversary premiere of the newly restored version,” but doesn’t say if it’s been screened elsewhere. Either way, I think the winner is a 35mm print of Ginger Rogers and David Niven in BACHELOR MOTHER. A double dip with Ginger, with gravel-voiced comic Greg Proops around for the ride, sounds like a great way to kick off the TCMFF

My Pick: BACHELOR MOTHER (1939)

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BLOCK 3: Friday 9:00 AM – 11:15 AM (4 screenings + 1 event) Updated!
9:00 AM THE THIN MAN (1934) at Egyptian Theatre. 35mm.
9:00 AM EAST OF EDEN (1955) w/ Scott Feinberg (reporter) at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres House 1. Digital.  
9:15 AM STAGECOACH (1939) w/ Nancy Schoenberg (author) at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres House 6. 35mm (courtesy of Shout! Factory) 
9:45 AM ON APPROVAL (1944) w/ Jeffrey Vance (historian) at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres House 4. 35mm (courtesy of Film Preservation Associates) 
10:00 AM Charlton Heston Stamp Dedication Ceremony w/ Fraser Heston (family), Stephanie Zimbalist (actress), Ken Howard (actor, SAG-AFTRA President) at TCL Chinese IMAX (NOTE: Ken Howard was replaced by Gabrielle Carteris.)

The first full day starts with a eclectic selection of choices.  Woody Van Dyke’s THE THIN MAN with William Powell and Myrna Loy is a favorite, but I’ve seen it many times, and it’s not a new restoration. Elia Kazan’s EAST OF EDEN is not a favorite. John Ford’s STAGECOACH will be introduced by Nancy Schoenberger, who is currently penning a new book about the cinematic partnership between Ford and John Wayne, and that’s very temping (as is the new 35mm print). The Charlton Heston Stamp Dedication Ceremony is not tempting, despite my affection for Chuck. So the winer here is the film I’ve never seen, ON APPROVAL. Based on a play by Frederick Lonsdale, this British comedy of manners sounds delightfully meta. Author Jeffrey Vance, who did the commentary on the recent Blu-ray, introduces the film, which clocks in at a tight 80 minutes, a good way to ease into a long day.

My Pick: ON APPROVAL (1944) 

APPROVAL

 BLOCK 4: Friday 11:45 AM – 2:15 PM (5 screenings + 1 event)

11:45 AM ZULU (1964) w/ Alex Trebek (host) at Egyptian Theatre. Digital.
12:00 PM TOUCH OF EVIL (1958) w/ Fraser Heston (family) World Premiere Restoration at TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX. Digital.
12:00 PM GREY GARDENS (1975) w/ Albert Maysles (director) at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres House 1. Digital.  
12:00 PM MAKE WAY FOR TOMORROW (1934) w/ Dennis Bartok (writer and film historian) at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres House 4. 35mm.
12:15 PM THE WORLD OF HENRY ORIENT (1964) w/ Paula Prentiss, Merry Spaeth (actors) at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres House 6. 35mm.
12:30 PM A Conversation with Carl Davis at Club TCM w/ Carl Davis (composer and conductor) and Jon Burlingame (writer and author)

I’ve never seen Cy Endfield’s ZULU with Michael Caine as a British colonialist fighting Zulu warriors in the 1879 Battle of Rorke’s Drift, which is being introduced by Jeopardy host Alex Trebek. But it’s not really my genre, so I will pass. I have seen TOUCH OF EVIL, Orson Welles brilliant film noir with Charlton Heston, but not the restoration from the original camera negative that is premiering here (introduced by Heston’s son Frasier). I’ve also seen GREY GARDENS, the touchingly funny documentary about mother and daughter “Big Edie” and “Little Edie” Beale, which is followed by a chat with legendary director Albert Maysles. And I’ve seen composer/conductor Carl Davis in person before, so that rules out A Conversation with Carl Davis.

That leaves a toss-up between Leo McCarey’s MAKE WAY FOR TOMORROW, a Paramount-produced tear-jerker about aging with Victor Moore and Beulah Bondi, or George Roy Hill’s delightful THE WORLD OF HENRY ORIENT, wherein two girls on the edge of adolescence stalk a pianist they’ve fallen in love with. Thanks to appearances by actresses Paula Prentiss and Merrie Spaeth (who played Gil, one of the two leads), I think HENRY gets the nod, even though I’ve seen it a bunch of times.

My Pick: THE WORLD OF HENRY ORIENT (1964)

henry orient

BLOCK 5: Friday 2:00 PM – 5:00 PM (5 screenings + 3 events) Updated!
2:00 PM A Conversation with Richard Dreyfuss w/ Richard Dreyfuss (actor) and Illeana Douglas (actor) at Club TCM.
2:00 PM Ask Robert w/ Robert Osborne (host) at the Montalban Theater.
3:00 PM MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS (1944) w/ Margaret O’Brien (actor) at TCL Chinese IMAX. Digital.
3:00 PM A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH (1947) w/ Thelma Schoonmaker (editor/family) at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres House 1. Digital.  
3:15 PM MY SISTER EILEEN (1942) w/ Lance Brisson (family) at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres House 4. 35mm.
3:00 PM ALICE DOESN’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE (1974) w/ Allison Anders (director) at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres House 6. 35mm.
3:15 PM INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1956) w/ Joe Dante (director) at Egyptian Theatre. 35mm (courtesy of George Eastman House). 
4:00 PM A Conversation with William Friedkin w/ William Friedkin (director) and Eddie Muller (author) at Club TCM

A Conversation with Richard Dreyfuss is hosted by Illeana Douglas, one of my favorite people in the world, but I tend not to choose the Club TCM interview options, so I will likely forego it. Same with A Conversation with William Friedkin, which follows in Club TCM, with the noir god Eddie Muller asking the questions.

I feel like I’ve heard all of Robert Osborne’s stories at this point, so Ask Robert at the Montalban Theatre also doesn’t get the nod, despite my love for Mr. O. Nor does Vincente Minnelli’s  MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS with Margaret O’Brien, or Powell and Pressburger’s A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH, which is truly one of my favorite films, but also one I’ve seen many times. If you haven’t seen this story of a WWII British airman (David Niven) given a second chance to fall in love with an American (Km Hunter), I highly recommend it. And the presence of Mrs. Michael Powell, Scorsese editor Thelma Schoonmaker, makes it all the more tempting.

Alexander Hall’s MY SISTER EILEEN with Rosalind Russell is based on a play and set in New York City, my home town, but I’ve seen it before. That leaves this block as a toss-up between Scorsese’s ALICE DOESN’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE, introduced by filmmaker Allison Anders, or Don Siegel’s INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS with special guest, director Joe Dante. This is a toughie, but I think ALICE gets the nod.

NOTE: There’s a rare break in the schedule at 5 PM, so eat some food.

Update 4/11/14 – The TCMFF will be offering shuttle vans to the Montalban Theatre for Ask Robert. Inquire at the Info Desk for departure info.

My Pick: ALICE DOESN’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE

Alice Doesnt Live Here Anymore

BLOCK 6: Friday 5:45 PM – 9:00 PM (5 screenings + 1 event) Updated!
5:45 PM THE LION IN WINTER (1968) Restored by the Academy Film Archive and Sony Pictures at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres House 4. 35mm.
6:00 PM A Conversation with Quincy Jones w/ Quincy Jones (musician) and Leonard Maltin (historian) at Club TCM
6:00 PM DOUBLE INDEMNITY (1944) World Premiere Restoration at TCL Chinese IMAX. Digital.
6:00 PM PAPER MOON (1973) w/ Ryan O’Neal (actor) at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres House 1. Digital.
6:15PM IMITATION OF LIFE (1934) w/ Donald Bogle (historian) at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres House 6. 35mm.
7:15 PM WHY WORRY (1923) w/ Carl Davis (conductor) and Suzanne Lloyd (family) at Egyptian Theatre. 35mm (courtesy of Harold Lloyd Entertainment) NOTE: This screening was originally announced in Digital. 

Everything in this block would be a potential first choice for me. Anthony Harvey’s gritty, realistically staged THE LION IN WINTER is like watching a master class in acting with Kate Hepburn and Peter O’Toole. It’s a delightful film, but I’ve already seen it on the big screen (with Harvey in attendance). If you haven’t, don’t miss it.

The Leonard Maltin-hosted A Conversation with Quincy Jones is a no, despite my respect for Jones, who I once gambled next to at a roulette table in Vegas. (BTW he was accompanied by a very attractive woman, which is exactly what I would expect.)

Billy Wilder’s DOUBLE INDEMNITY with Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck is also tempting, particularly because this is the premiere of a brand new restoration “from the original pre-print film elements.” It’s one of the great film noirs of all time, but I just saw it at Film Forum in NYC earlier this year, so no.

Peter Bogdanovich’s PAPER MOON, the Depression-set comedy with Ryan O’Neal as con artist Moses Pray and Tatum O’Neal as his tough-as-nails daughter Addie was my original pick, until O’Neal cancelled.

I like John M. Stahl’s 1934 IMITATION OF LIFE with Claudette Colbert and Louise Beavers better than Douglas Sirk’s melodramatic 1959 version with Lana Turner and Juanita Moore, and the presence of African-American film historian Donal Bogle makes it a close second. But the silent film with live accompaniment always wins the time slot for me, so the winner is Harold Lloyd and Jobyna Ralston in WHY WORRY with composer Carl Davis conducting the world premiere live performance of his new original score.

My Pick: WHY WORRY (1923) 

WORRY

BLOCK 7: Friday 8:00 PM – 11:45 PM (6 screenings) Updated!
8:00 PM THE MUSIC MAN (1962) at Roosevelt Hotel Pool. DVD
8:45 PM THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES (1946) w/ Mark Harris (author) World Premiere Restoration at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres House 1. Digital.  
9:00 PM BLAZING SADDLES (1974) w/ Mel Brooks (actor/writer/director) at TCL Chinese IMAX. Digital.
9:00 PM THE INNOCENTS (1961) at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres House 6. 35mm.
9:15 PM EMPLOYEE’S ENTRANCE (1933) w/ Bruce Goldstein (repertory programmer) at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres House 4. 35mm (from the Library of Congress).
9:30 PM THE ITALIAN JOB (1969) w/ Quincy Jones (composer) at Egyptian Theatre. Digital.

This is another toughie, with four movies I love up against each other, and two others I’ve never seen (but should). Morton DaCosta’s film of Meredith Wilson’s THE MUSIC MAN is at the pool, so, despite my love for Robert Preston, Ronny Howard and “Gary, Indiana” I will pass.

William Wyler’s touching WWII drama THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES is one of the best “Coming Home” stories ever filmed, and this is a world premiere restoration, introduced by Mark Harris, author of Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood. Much as I love this film, it also drains me emotionally, so I will pass.

Michael Caine, Noel Coward and Benny Hill in a heist movie? How is it possible that I’ve never seen Peter Collinson’s THE ITALIAN JOB? I must rectify that, but tonight will not be the night. Nor will it be the night to see Jack Clayton’s THE INNOCENTS with Deborah Kerr (“rhymes with star”), in a film based on Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw.

It’s a toss-up between Mel Brooks appearing live with his comedy Western BLAZING SADDLES, or my favorite Pre-Code cad Warren William as the boss from Hell in Roy Del Ruth’s EMPLOYEE’S ENTRANCE, opposite gorgeous Loretta Young. TCM says the latter will be introduced by Film Forum programmer Bruce Goldstein, with a presentation called Pre-Code 101. So, for now, that gives the nod to Warren William.

My Pick: EMPLOYEE’S ENTRANCE (1933) or 2nd Choice: BLAZING SADDLES 

EMPLOYEE

BLOCK 8: Friday 12:00 AM – 1:30 AM (1 screening)

12:00 AM ERASERHEAD (1977) w/ Patton Oswalt (comedian/actor) at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres House 6. 35mm

David Lynch’s ERASERHEAD is bound to give everyone in attendance nightmares, so kudos to TCM for scheduling it right before we go to bed. Jack Nance (Pete Martell from Twin Peaks – the guy who discovers Laura Palmer “wrapped in plastic”) plays Henry Spencer, a man in an industrial town whose girlfriend gives birth to a mutant baby. Hopefully comedian Patton Oswalt can explain it better than I can.

My Pick: ERASERHEAD (1977)

ERASER

BLOCK 9: Saturday 9:00 AM – 11:15 AM (5 screenings + 1 event)
9:00 AM THE JUNGLE BOOK (1967) at the El Capitan. Digital.
9:00 AM FATHER OF THE BRIDE (1950) at the Egyptian Theatre. 35mm.
9:00 AM STELLA DALLAS (1937) at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres House 6. 35mm (courtesy of the Academy Film Archive).
9:15 AM I NEVER SANG FOR MY FATHER (1970) w/ Illeana Douglas (actor/family) at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres House 4. 35mm.
9:15 AM CITY LIGHTS (1931) w/ Jason Lee (actor) New Restoration at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres House 1. Digital
10:00 AM Handprint Ceremony with Jerry Lewis at TCL Chinese IMAX.

Hopefully you could sleep after watching ERASEHEAD. Squirt some Visine in your eyes and let’s get started on Day 3.

Wolfgang Reitherman’s THE JUNGLE BOOK is the first of five screenings at the El Capitan, and it’s short (78 minutes) and sweet and lots of fun. Based upon Kipling’s classic story collection, this animated musical stars Jack Benny bandleader Phil Harris at Baloo the Bear, along with George Sanders as the villainous Shere Khan, Sterling Holloway as Kaa the Snake, and Sebastian Caboy as Bagheera the Panther. The last time I saw this was in 1978, so I’m due for a re-visit. And the El Cap is a great place to watch an animated film.

Vincente Minnelli’s FATHER OF THE BRIDE gives us Spencer Tracy at his best, with Joan Bennett and a young Elizabeth Taylor as the titular bride. I’ve seen this many times, and so have you, probably.

Much as I love Barbara Stanwyck, I don’t particularly enjoy her melodramatic performance in King Vidor’s STELLA DALLAS. So, despite the newly struck 35mm print, I will skip.

Chaplin’s tale of a little tramp who tries to raise money to help a blind girl is one of the most touchingly lyrical films of all time. And while a newly restored version of CITY LIGHTS is very tempting, I will not be there, despite the presence of actor Jason Lee. BTW, this plays with a pre-recorded track, not live accompaniment.

Maybe this makes me a bad Old Movie Weirdo, but handprint ceremonies don’t really interest me. So I will skip the Handprint Ceremony with Jerry Lewis and wait until later in the day to see him.

Gilbert Cates’ I NEVER SANG FOR MY FATHER will probably have me crying to start of the day, but Gene Hackman is so good, and the film is introduced by Illeana Douglas, the granddaughter of co-star Melvyn Douglas. Hopefully she’ll bring some Kleenex, or at least offer her shoulder.

My Pick: I NEVER SANG FOR MY FATHER (1970) 

Hackman

BLOCK 10: Saturday 11:30 AM – 2:15 PM (5 screenings + 1 event)
11:30 AM MARY POPPINS (1964) w/ Richard Sherman (Composer/Lyricist) at El Capitan. Digital.
11:45 AM GODZILLA: THE JAPANESE ORIGINAL (1954) w/ Gareth Edwards (director), Eddy von Mueller (historian) World Premiere Restoration at Egyptian Theatre. Digital.
11:45 AM MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN (1936) World Premiere Restoration. At TCL Chinese 6 Theatres House 1. Digital.
11:45 AM I REMEMBER MAMA (1948) w/ Richard Corliss (author and film critic) at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres House 4. 35mm.
11:45 AM HANNAH AND HER SISTERS (1986) w/ Dennis Bartok (writer and film historian) at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres House 6. 35mm.
12:30 PM Mom and the Movies: A Conversation with Richard Corliss w/ Richard Corliss (author and film critic) at Club TCM.

Is this the most eclectic slot of the whole weekend? Very possibly. Composer/Lyricist Richard Sherman introduces MARY POPPINS with Julie Andrews and Dick van Dyke on screen, but sadly not joining the festivities at the El Capitan.

MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN is Capra at his corniest, but don’t hate. It’s a restoration, and Gary Cooper is so pixillated! MEET JOHN DOE is better, but they’re not showing that one, so deal.

George Stevens’ I REMEMBER MAMA garnered Oscar noms for star Irene Dunne (in old age makeup) and supporting players Oscar Homolka, Barbara Bel Geddes, and Ellen Corby. Not much happens, but what does will probably make you cry. The screening is introduced by author and film critic Richard Corliss, who will then head over to Club TCM to talk about his new book. Sadly, I will miss him in both places.

Woody Allen’s HANNAH AND HER SISTERS is a great film, but I don’t think of it necessarily as a TCM film, so I will skip.

Gareth Edwards, director of Warner Bros. GODZILLA reboot (in theaters May 16), introduces what TCM (and Rialto Pictures) are somewhat clunkily referring to as GODZILLA: THE JAPANESE ORIGINAL. This is, of course, the surprisingly dark GOJIRA, restored and excluding many scenes of Raymond Burr smoking a pipe and looking at things. I’ll be there with my Oxygen Destroyer.

My Pick: GOJIRA aka GODZILLA: THE JAPANESE ORIGINAL (1954) 

MCDGODZ EC052

BLOCK 11: Saturday 2:00 PM – 5:30 PM (5 screenings + 3 events)

2:00 PM THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY (1966) World Premiere Restoration. At TCL Chinese IMAX. Digital.
2:30 PM A Conversation with Thelma Schoonmaker (editor) and Carrie Beauchamp (author, film historian and documentarian) at Club TCM.
2:45 PM STORMY WEATHER (1943) w/ Donald Bogle (author and film historian) and Bruce Goldstein (Film Forum repertory programmer) World Premiere Restoration at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres House 1. Digital.
3:00 PM HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY (1941) w/ Maureen O’Hara (actor) World Premiere Restoration at El Capitan. Digital.
3:00 PM THE GOODBYE GIRL (1977) w/ Richard Dreyfuss (actor) at the Egyptian Theatre. 35mm.
3:00 PM The Family Business: A Tribute to Hubley Animation w/ Leonard Maltin (film critic and historian) at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres House  4.
3:30 PM THE GREAT GATSBY (1949) at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres House 6. 35mm. 
4:30 PM Hollywood Home Movies: Treasures From the Academy Film Archives w/ John Kimball (family), Miriam Nelson (family), Tim Zinnemann (family), Randy Haberkamp (AMPAS), and Lynna Kirste (archivist) at Club TCM. Screening format unspecified

This is tough block.  How do you choose between the world premiere restorations of Sergio Leone’s THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY at Grauman’s (sorry, TCL) and John Ford’s HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY with the legendary Maureen O’Hara at El Cap, Herbert Ross’ THE GOODBYE GIRL with Richard Dreyfuss at the Egyptian, a rare screening of the 1949 version of THE GREAT GATSBY with Alan Ladd (introduced by his son) at the Multiplex House 6, Thelma Schoonmaker and Hollywood Home Movies at Club TCM, and the premiere of the restoration of STORMY WEATHER with historian Donald Bogel? You watch cartoons.

Leonard Maltin hosts a tribute to animation directors John and Faith Hubley, showcasing John’s work for United Productions of America (UPA), including the first appearance of Mister Magoo. Also featured are training films and classic ads.

My Pick: The Family Business: A Tribute to Hubley Animation

ragtime-bear

BLOCK 12: Saturday 5:30 PM – 8:30 PM (6 screenings + 1 event)
5:30 PM THE GODFATHER PART II (1974) TCL Chinese 6 Theatres House 1. Digital.
5:30 PM THE STRANGER’S RETURN (1933) at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres House 4. 35mm.
6:00 PM WRITTEN ON THE WIND (1956) w/ Gregg Kilday (film editor, The Hollywood Reporter) at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres House 6. 35mm
6:15 PM THE NUTTY PROFESSOR (1963) w/ Jerry Lewis (actor) at El Capitan. Digital
6:15 PM BELL BOOK AND CANDLE (1958) w/ Kim Novak (actor) at the Egyptian Theatre. 35mm.
6:30 PM A HARD DAY’S NIGHT (1964) w/ Alec Baldwin (actor), Don Was (record producer) World Premiere Restoration at TCL Chinese IMAX. Digital.
6:30 PM A Conversation with Richard Sherman at Club TCM w/ Richard Sherman (composer/lyricist) and Leonard Maltin (film critic and  historian).

Francis Coppola’s THE GODFATHER PART II is truly one of the greatest films of all time, and really should be in a more prestigious venue than the Multiplex. I’ve also seen it many times, so I will skip.

King Vidor’s THE STRANGER’S RETURN features Miriam Hopkins in a Pre-Code film and I’ve never seen it. How did that happen? She plays a divorced girl visiting the family home to find her roots. Instead she finds Franchot Tone, which sounds much more interesting.

The restored A HARD DAY’S NIGHT (1964) will probably sound great on that sweet new sound system at Grauman’s  (sorry again, the TCL Chinese). Hopefully Alec Baldwin will shut off his cell phone so we can hear it.

Much as I love Sirk, I find WRITTEN ON THE WIND to be hilariously terrible. So no to that.

Richard Quine’s BELL BOOK AND CANDLE features Kim Novak as a modern-day witch. Novak is still with us, and will be appearing at the screening. Coincidence? I think not.

But the winer is Jerry Lewis’ THE NUTTY PROFESSOR, which is the only Jerry Lewis film I find funny. And Jerry Lewis will be there.

MY PICK: THE NUTTY PROFESSOR (1963)   

Nutty Professor 1963

BLOCK 13: Saturday 8:00 PM – 10:15 PM (2 screenings) Updated!
8:00 PM HAT CHECK GIRL (1932) w/ Anne Morra (MoMA), Katie Trainor (MoMA) World Premiere Restoration at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres House 4. 35mm (from MoMA)
8:00 PM THE MUPPET MOVIE (1979) w/ Bill Hader (actor) at Roosevelt Hotel Pool. DVD.

This is not really a full, official block, but there are two films at this time that you could see in addition to some of the options in the previous slot. First is the world premiere restoration of Sidney Lanfield’s HAT CHECK GIRL w/ Sally Eilers and a young Ginger Rogers in a film that was “unreleasable” after the Production Code took effect two years later. Second is THE MUPPET MOVIE with TCM Essentials Jr. host Bill Hader by the pool. I suspect there will be a lot of 30- and 40-somethings crying whenever somebody sings “Rainbow Connection.” Sadly, I will not be one of them.

MY PICK: NONE

MuppetMovie_Buds

BLOCK 14: Saturday 9:15 PM – 11:30 PM (6 screenings) Updated! 
9:15 PM SORCERER (1977) New Restoration w/ William Friedkin (director) at TCL Chinese IMAX. Digital.
9:15 PM THE PAWNBROKER (1964) w/ Quincy Jones (composer) at the Egyptian Theatre. 35mm (newly struck print presented in conjunction w/ Paramount).
9:30 PM THE NAKED CITY (1948) w/ Tiffany Vasquez (TCM Ultimate Fan Contest winner) at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres House 6. 35mm (from the Library of Congress).
9:30 PM THE WOMEN (1939) w/ Anna Kendrick (actress) “Brand New Restoration” at El Capitan. Digital.
9:45 PM THIS IS SPINAL TAP (1984) at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres House 1. Digital.
10:00PM HER SISTER’S SECRET (1946) w/ Arianne Ulmer Cipes (family), Jan-Christopher Horak (Director, UCLA Film & TV Archive) at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres House 4. 35mm (Preserved by UCLA Film & TV Archive).

Yikes, this is another tough slot. The restoration of William Friedkin’s SORCERER at the TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX (but not in IMAX) will likely be the hot ticket in this slot, and I’ve never seen it. Also hot will be George Cukor’s THE WOMAN at the El Cap with actress, who just hosted Saturday Night Live last weekend.

TCM Ultimate Fan contest winner Tiffany Vasquez intros THE NAKED CITY with Barry Fitzgerald, which was just on TCM (with Tiffany on-air introducing it). THIS IS SPINAL TAP goes to 11, and also features a tour-de-force performance by Letterman sidekick Paul Schaefer. Sidney Lumet’s THE PAWNBROKER with Rod Steiger was  first U.S. film to deal with the Holocaust from a survivor’s viewpoint. It’s presented in a newly struck 35mm print, introduced by Quincy Jones, who composed the film’s score.

Edgar G. Ulmer’s HER SISTER’S SECRET is a romantic drama from the low budget auteur, produced for Poverty Row studio PRC. It’s introduced by Jan-Christopher Horak from the UCLA Film & Television Archives and Arianne Ulmer Cipes, the director’s daughter.

MY PICK: SORCERER (1977)

Sorcerer-truck

BLOCK 15: Saturday 12:00 AM – 1:15 AM (1 screening)

12:00 AM FREAKS (1932) w/ Dana Gould (comedian) at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres House 6. 35mm (Courtesy of British Film Institute).

Gooble gobble, one of us, one of us. Somebody at TCM enjoyed making some very perverse picks for the midnight slots this year.

MY PICK: FREAKS (1932) 

FREAKS

BLOCK 16: Sunday 9:00 AM – 12:30 PM (5 screenings) Updated!
9:00 AM A Tribute to Mickey Rooney featuring NATIONAL VELVET (1944) w/ Margaret O’Brien (actress) and Eddie Muller (Film Noir Foundation) at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres House 4. 35mm.
9:15 AM FIDDLER ON THE ROOF (1971) w/ Norman Jewison (director), Lynn Stalmaster (casting director), John Williams (composer) at TCL Chinese IMAX. Digital.
9:15 AM TOKYO STORY (1953) at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres House 1. Digital.
9:15 AM Academy Conversations: THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD (1938) w/ Craig Barron (visual effects artist) and Ben Burtt (sound designer) at Egyptian Theatre. Digital.
10:00 AM SUNDAY IN NEW YORK (1963) at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres House 6. 35mm.

I saw director Norman Jewison and casting director Lynn Stalmaster do a Q&A after a screening of FIDDLER ON THE ROOF at the Film Society of Lincoln Center a few years ago, and the stories were delightful. The addition of legendary composer John Williams only makes this one harder to miss.

Yasujiro Ozu’s TOKYO STORY is the heartbreaking story of aging and the passage of time. If you’ve never seen an Ozu film, this is a great place to start.

Peter Tewksbury’s SUNDAY IN NEW YORK is, I think, what used to be called a “sex farce.” A gorgeous Jane Fonda stars as a young woman trying to lose her virginity, Cliff Robertson is her big brother, Rod Taylor is her mark, and Robert Culp is her ex who shows up unexpectedly. Hilarity ensues!

Oscar winners Ben Burtt and Craig Barron offer a 45-minute, behind the scenes look at the visual trickery that went into making THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD – one of the most seminal adventure films of all time. The movie follows, and it’s my pick.

MY PICK: THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD (1938) 

UPDATE 4/9: TCM added A Tribute to Mickey Rooney to what had been the first TBA slot on Sunday morning in Multiplex House 4. This is the smallest house at TCMFF (177 seats) and people really loved Mickey Rooney, so I would show up an hour early for this.

the-adventures-of-robin-hood-original

BLOCK 16A: Sunday 11:30 AM – 1:15 PM (1 screening) Updated!
12:00 PM AM 5TH AVENUE GIRL (1939) at Chinese Multiplex 4. 35mm.

MY PICK: n/a

BLOCK 17: Sunday 12:45 PM – 5:30 PM (5 screenings + 2 events) Updated!
12:30 PM Judy Garland: A Legendary Film Career w/ John Fricke (film historian) at Club TCM.
12:45 PM CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF (1958) at the Egyptian Theatre. 35mm.
12:45 PM MR. HOLLAND’S OPUS (1995) w/ Richard Dreyfuss (actor) at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres House 1. Digital.
1:00 PM BEST BOY (1979) w/ Ira Wohl (director) at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres House 6. 35mm (courtesy of director).
1:00 PM Alan Arkin: Live from the TCM Classic Film Festival w/ Alan Arkin (actor) at the Montalban Theater
1:30 PM GONE WITH THE WIND (1939) at TCL Chinese IMAX. Digital
2:00 PM ON APPROVAL (1944) at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres House 4. 35mm. 

Another tough block. In Judy Garland: A Legendary Film Career, WIZARD OF OZ and Judy Garland historian John Fricke offers an in-depth, 90-minute look at  Garland’s movie career, 1929-63. This is a must for fans.

Richard Brooks’ CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF, the film adaptation of Tennessee Williams’ play, is still sexy after more than half a century. Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman sizzle, with able support from the bellowing Burl Ives and the always charming Jack Carson.

Stephen Herek’s MR. HOLLAND’S OPUS is, I believe, the first film from the 1990s every to play at the TCM Film Festival. It will be interesting to see how many classic film fans show up. The discussion with Richard Dreyfuss before the screening may help attendance.

Ira Wohl’s BEST BOY is an emotional documentary about the filmmaker’s mentally challenged cousin, and his struggles to achieve independence. This is a great film.

How do you not pick GONE WITH THE WIND at the Chinese Theatre on the 75th anniversary of its release? You will likely never have an opportunity to experience this film like this again. But I have ADD (as well as OCD) and there’s no way I can sit still for four hours. So no trip to Tara for me.

80-year-old Academy Award-winner Alan Arkin talks with Robert Osborne about his work in films from THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING, THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING through ARGO. Alan Arkin: Live from the TCM Classic Film Festival will be taped at the Montalban Theater for broadcast in 2015.

MY PICK:  Alan Arkin: Live from the TCM Classic Film Festival 

Alan-Arkin-592x282

BLOCK 18: Sunday 3:00 PM – 7:00 PM (4 screenings +1 event) Updated!
3:00 PM 20 Years of TCM On-Air at Club TCM.
3:45 PM THE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER (1968) w/ Alan Arkin at the Egyptian Theatre. 35mm.
4:15 PM EASTER PARADE (1948) w/ John Fricke (film historian) at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres House 6. 35mm (courtesy of Academy Film Archive).
4:30 PM THE QUIET MAN (1952) w/ Nancy Schoenberger (author) at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres House 1. Digital.
4:30 PM EMPLOYEE’S ENTRANCE (1933) at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres House 4. 35mm.

Appropriately, the final event at Club TCM celebrates the network’s 20th anniversary, which falls just hours after the Festival ends. 20 Years of TCM On-Air  looks at the on-air promos from the early days until now. Expect to see some rare stuff in this session that you can’t find on YouTube.

Robert Ellis Miller’s THE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER (1968) is a touching tale of a deaf and mute man, based on a novel by Carson McCullers. Alan Arkin was Oscar nominated for his performance, and he’ll be be discussing the film before the screening. I’ve never seen this film, and I really should some day. But today will not be that day.

Charles Walters’ EASTER PARADE became Fred Astaire’s only film with Judy Garland, after original co-star Gene Kelly broke his ankle. Garland historian John Fricke introduces the film.

Why Maureen O’Hara is not appearing at the screening of John Ford’s THE QUIET MAN is beyond me. Nancy Schoenberger will have interesting things to say, I’m sure, but not as interesting as the star of the movie. Still, I will probably attend this screening because, you know, it’s THE QUIET MAN.

MY PICK(s): 20 Years of TCM On-Air (late) + THE QUIET MAN (1952) 

Update 4/9/14 – TCM has added an autograph signing with Robert Osborne Sunday from 6:15-7 PM at the Roosevelt. To gain access, you have to purchase a copy of the new DVD TCM Originals: Conversations with Robert Osborne DVD for $24.99 in the TCM pop-up boutique. I wrote about the contents of that DVD here.

the-quiet-man-1952-

BLOCK 19: Sunday 7:00 PM – 9:30 PM (5 screenings) Updated! 
7:00 PM THE GREAT GATSBY (1949) at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres House 4. 35mm.
7:15 PM HOBSON’S CHOICE (1954) at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres House 6. 35mm (courtesy of BFI).
7:30 PM THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939) Restored in IMAX 3-D at TCL Chinese IMAX. Digital
7:30 PM THE LODGER (1927) w/ the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra. New BFI Restoration at the Egyptian Theatre. Digital
7:30 PM THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI (1947) at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres House 1. L.A. Premiere Restoration. Digital.

This is a tough call for me, because I’ve ended three of the previous four TCM Film Fests with live orchestral accompaniment to a silent film: METROPOLIS (1927) in 2010; THE THEIF OF BAGDAD (1924) in 2012, and THE GENERAL (1926) in 2013. Each year I left on a high note, feeling like I had just completed one of the best cinematic experiences of my life. This year the TCM is offering Hitchcock’s recently restored THE LODGER (1927) with accompaniment by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra. I saw this film last summer with Mont Alto’s accompaniment, and it was great, but I’d rather not close out with a repeat. If you haven’t seen it, though, I highly recommend closing out your Festival experience with an experience that combines film and live performance (even if silent films aren’t your “thing.”)

Same goes for THE WIZARD OF OZ in IMAX. I saw the film in its theatrical release last September, and I enjoyed it, even with the IMAX retrofitting. Seeing it again may not provide a unique experience, but it will certainly be memorable in a historic venue with what is likely to be a full house.

Orson Welles THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI is another great film, even in its studio-truncated form, but also one I’ve seen before (although not in this “L.A. premiere restoration” from Sony).

That leaves HOBSON’S CHOICE as the only film in this block I haven’t seen. Directed by David Lean and starring Charles Laughton is good enough for me, but this still doesn’t feel like the sort of triumphant finale I’ve come to expect.

That means, upon further reflection, the winner is…

MY PICK: THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939) 

wizard-of-oz-1939

BLOCK 00 – Sunday 9:00 PM–12:00 AM (1 event)
9:00 PM Closing Night Party at Club TCM

Celebrate TCM’s 20th anniversary and start the countdown for next year’s TCMFF. Also you should probably eat something.

2490In closing, please enjoy the TCMFF picks from a few of my friend and colleagues who will be in attendance: Aurora, better known as Citizen Screen; Laura of Laura’s Miscellaneous Musings; Joel at Joel’s Classic Film Passion; Eve at the Lady Eve’s Reel Life; Jandy at The Frame; Kristen from Sales on Film; Danny Miller at Cinephiled; Lindsay at Lindsay’s Movie Musings; KC at Classic Movies; Angela at the Hollywood Revue; Raquel at Out of the Past: Kellee at Outspoken & Freckled: KC at Classic Movies; Charles at Memoirs of a Mangy Loner; and Nitrate Diva.

About willmckinley

Will McKinley is a New York City-based writer, producer, reporter, radio host, and #OldMovieWeirdo. He’s been a guest on Turner Classic Movies (interviewed by host Robert Osborne), Sirius Satellite Radio and the official TCM podcast. Will has written for PBS and Slate and his byline has appeared more than 100 times in the pages of NYC alt weeklies like The Villager and Gay City News.
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42 Responses to My Obsessive-Compulsive Guide to the 2014 TCM Classic Film Festival

  1. le0pard13 says:

    Wow! What a splendid primer for #TCMFF, Will! Well done.

  2. Yay! Better late than never, I always say. (Well, sometimes I say that.) (Actually, hardly ever, but still.) I can’t wait to dive into this post! You’ve kept me on tenterhooks for weeks!

  3. I’m worn out!

    May I ask a favour? When you are watching “5th Ave Girl” give James Ellison a little wave from me, plus the same to Warren William if “Employees’ Entrance” makes it into your schedule.

    PS: If something untoward happens and “The Wizard of Oz” gets bumped, you will not be disappointed in “Hobson’s Choice”. It is quietly droll and exquisitely memorable.

    • willmckinley says:

      Paddy, I will definitely give the boys a wave for you. As for that last slot, it’s still very much up in the air in my mind. So thanks for the recommendation of HOBSON’S CHOICE!

  4. Jennifer says:

    Have fun!

  5. “I feel like I’ve heard all of Robert Osborne’s stories at this point, so Ask Robert at the Montalban Theatre also doesn’t get the nod” #HowDareYouTrashTalkRobertO!? #BLOCKED #MyFirstHusband

  6. If there were time enough to see them all…and I wish I could be you for this event…waiting on the Freaky Friday effect to take place

  7. Chris Sturhann says:

    Awesome, I especially appreciate the tips at the beginning. I think I’m going to take some time early Thursday to do a dry run on your avoid Hollywood Blvd strategy. As a veteran of Comic-Con and massive crowds, I understand that while a straight line might be the shortest distance between point A and point B, it isn’t always the fastest route.

  8. The Lady Eve says:

    Enjoyed this immensely, Will, and I’m planning to print it out and read it on the plane so I can fully absorb it right before I get there. But I have to say, if I was feeling overwhelmed before…

  9. Thanks for the shout-out, Will! Once again, your rundown of TCMFF proves essential. Looking forward to seeing you again.

  10. Laura says:

    Awesome job, Will, loved all the extra info you included like the 35mm vs. digital breakdown! See you soon!

    Best wishes,
    Laura

  11. kelleepratt says:

    Will, I was hoping you would release post such as this- but this is FAR above & beyond anything one could ever hope for. Thank you!!! I will be one of those printing this off & carrying it around as my ‘ultimate guide’ through the Fest! As a ‘#TCMFF virgin’ I especially appreciated the ‘short-cuts walking directions’ from theater to theater! See ya soon!

  12. Pingback: My TCM Classic Film Festival Schedule | Memoirs of a Mangy Loner

  13. segmation says:

    I am so glad these movies come on Netflix or cable. Less hassles.

    • willmckinley says:

      I see your point, but the opportunity to see these films in historic venues with (in some cases) 1,000 other people who love the film as much you so – that can be an amazingly emotional experience.

  14. awax1217 says:

    I am a big fan of the old classics. I watch them instead of a lot of the stuff now coming out. Pacific Rim versus Casablanca, I will watch Bogart. Spiderman versus the Thin Man, I will stay on the diet plan. Yet I do not go crazy with stardust in my eyes to meet the actors and actresses of the past. I figure they would like their privacy and if they are out there to be seen they would like to be handled not like a person in the cage.

  15. OK,how did I not know about this blog? (I follow you on twitter, same name there)

    Anyway, I am hugely jealous and excited for you. Freaks at midnight! Wild! :-)

  16. MaxIsBack says:

    I think it will be a nice event ! Enjoy ! :D

  17. mithriluna says:

    Where is the “love” button?? This is amazingly brilliant! I wish I could attend but living on the the East coast makes it hard. But I will be checking out the incredible list of movies you listed here. I really enjoy classic movies but obviously, there are so many I have never seen. Have fun and enjoy!

  18. Kelly says:

    Be SO CAL resident I could tell it only been in upper 50s at night and in afternoon lower 80 or upper 70s

    BTW Will here in SO CAL we may have another Classic regular OTA channel called the Works on KDOC Channel 56.4 check it out

  19. What a wonderful guide to this exciting festival, thank you for sharing it with us all. Wish I could be there. I hope you have an amazing time and manage to survive on your caffeine high!

  20. Hello! My name is Nymphe Foresther. Do yo want to perform web banner exchange with me ? I have traffic on my blog so if we join ours then we have more together… More info about me ? Just click my avatar profile picture or name. Thanks. N.F.

  21. Heartafire says:

    I’m totally hooked on TCM because I love old movies…the nostalgia,
    adore it.

  22. mark says:

    Hey any 2015 dates or atleast speculation yet?

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