Turner Classic Movies has announced the first three titles for the 2014 TCM Classic Film Festival, scheduled for April 10 through 13 in Hollywood: THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939) in IMAX 3-D, the restored GONE WITH THE WIND (1939), and Harold Lloyd’s 1923 comedy WHY WORRY? with composer Carl Davis conducting his new, original score.
The network also announced that passes will go on sale to the public on Thursday, November 14 at noon (ET). (Details on prices are available here, along with information on lodging and press credentials.)
The fifth annual edition of the classic film conclave will also celebrate the network’s 20th anniversary “as a leading authority in classic film.” And it’s hardly a surprise that they chose two of the most iconic films of all time, both celebrating their 75th anniversary in 2014, to mark the occasion. The network launched on April 14, 1994 with a broadcast of GONE WITH THE WIND, and fans have been speculating that TCM will close the event with a visit to Tara on Sunday, the night before the actual anniversary.
TCM has not yet announced scheduling, or in which venues the films will be presented, though both WIND and OZ are locks for the TCL Chinese Theatre, the Hollywood landmark that recently underwent a transformation into the largest IMAX venue in the world (in terms of seating capacity). The venue previously accommodated 1,162 audience members; it now holds 932 in larger, stadium-style seats. (A TCM spokesperson indicated this reduction in capacity would have “minimal impact on the number of passes sold.”)
OZ, which had its original Hollywood premiere at the Chinese Theatre on August 15, 1939, is also not a surprising choice, though the format in which it will be presented may be. While the recent IMAX 3-D rerelease did boffo box office in September – grossing more than $5.5 million in just 318 domestic venues during a twice-extended run – some traditionalists decried the “conversion” (TCM’s word) of a beloved film to a format so different from its original release. (OZ will mark the first IMAX presentation at the classic film festival. DIAL M FOR MURDER was screened in a digital restoration of the film’s original dual system 3-D in 2013.)
Some fans will likely opt out of this screening on principal, which is unfortunate. Whether or not TCM should even be presenting an altered classic at the Festival is a topic worthy of respectful debate. But I saw the film in IMAX 3-D in September and loved it, and I’m looking forward to a second chance on the gigantic screen at Grauman’s. I hope diehards will approach this screening with an open mind, and the knowledge that the people at Warner Bros. who supervised the work have approached it with thoughtfulness and respect. And I hope TCM will also consider other recently restored 3-D classics, like Andre de Toth’s HOUSE OF WAX (1953) with Vincent Price which, unlike OZ, was actually produced in 3-D.
WHY WORRY? is great news for silent film fans, who were disappointed by composer Carl Davis’s cancellation at the 2013 event (he was scheduled to conduct his score to IT (1927) with Clara Bow, and to appear in a panel discussion with historian Kevin Brownlow, but was unable to attend “due to unforeseen circumstances.”
WHY WORRY? was Lloyd’s last film with producer Hal Roach and his first with leading lady Jobyna Ralston. The TCMFF also screened GIRL SHY (1924) with Lloyd and Ralston in 2012, with Robert Israel conducting the 16-piece Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra. This announcement reaffirms TCM’s ongoing commitment to presenting silent films at the Festival, which began with the closing night screening of the restoration of Fritz Lang’s METROPOLIS (1927) in 2010.
Information on additional films and special guests “will be announced over the coming months,” TCM said in a press release.
Because tomorrow is another day.
UPDATE 10/29/13 – Corrected information regarding past 3-D screenings at TCMFF.