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Saturday, April 16, 2016

Decisions, Decisions! 2016 Turner Classic Film Festival 2016 picks -- first cut

I'm excited to be attending my second Turner Classic Film Festival in Hollywood CA Apr 28-May 1, where in gorgeous sunny CA the game is to see how many films in dark theaters you can possibly cram in periods of approximately 16 hours at a clip.  Forget eating and sleeping.  Seriously, it's gonna be a blast.  The schedule, of course, induces angina in most classic film fans trying to choose among treasures.  And it's not just the films, but very special guests that will be on hand to introduce or discuss the films.   Everyone has very individual reasons for choosing the particular films they do.  Here are my picks and my reasons:

Thursday Evening  -- opening night early film
In 2013 my friend and I walked the red carpet and then bailed on that movie, FUNNY GIRL, to watch SOUTH PACIFIC instead by the pool at the Roosevelt Hotel. (I can admit that now). This year, the poolside movie is Harold Lloyd's THE FRESHMAN, which is intriguing. But I'm planning to see A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN.  I've never seen it and it's a bona fide classic.  The other choices during the slot are: ALL THE PRESIDENTS MEN (good flick; but too recent, and yup, seen it), DARK VICTORY (wonderful Bette Davis but seen that recently) and ONE POTATO, TWO POTATO, which is considered a "Discovery," but I feel like starting with something a bit more conventional.

Thursday Evening -- late night slot: 
Assuming my jet lag isn't too bad I'll be up for another film and my choice is LOS TALLOS AMARGOS -- an Argentinian noir that the folks at TCM consider a "discovery".  Having received my film noir certificate last summer (!) I'm still eager to explore more in the genre.  Opposite this one is GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER (good film, but seen it, and also seen a stage version fairly recently), and BRIEF ENCOUNTER (1945 British film that sounds wonderful) Tough choice!

Friday Morning slots
The early slot has some wonderful films, including SHANGHAI EXPRESS and THE MORE THE MERRIER, but I've seen both recently, and I'm inclined to check out Ida Lupino's first film as a director, 9:30 NEVER FEAR in a restored version, a film new to me.  It also has the advantage of starting just wee bit later than some of the others (sleep is at a premium).

Ann Harding & William
For the late morning hour I truly can't decide between one of my favorite films, the Ann Harding/William Powell pre-code melodrama DOUBLE HARNESS, and HE RAN ALL THE WAY, a noir, and legend John Garfield's last film, which I've never seen.  Both films will have special guests with connections to the films to delight us with their stories.  I guess I will just have to wait to see what moves me more that morning.

Friday Afternoon slots
At 2:15 it absolutely has to be THE CONVERSATION with special guest director Francis Ford Coppola on hand.  As I love Gene Hackman, this will be the second most recently-made film I'll see at the festival--one which I've not had the pleasure of seeing yet.

At 5:15 will be the 1960 noir PRIVATE PROPERTY, in a restored version, a "discovery".  I hate to miss the classic IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, but that one's not a fave and I prefer to watch it during the holiday season when I do watch it.

Friday Evening  slots
After a popcorn dinner I'll be ready to watch my first silent film of the festival, THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC, another lauded film that I haven't yet seen.  I am a fan of silent films on the big screen with live music -- such a terrific way to spend a couple of hours.  This one features accompaniment with orchestra & chorus!  Tempting is a poolside screening of BATMAN: THE MOVIE with Adam West -- talk about two very different cinema experiences!

Jumping ahead several decades, without at doubt the late movie has to be THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE, to which I'll bring my molto grande coffee.  The great Angela Lansbury will be there, who I was thrilled to see at the Harvard Film Archive last year.  Here's an "essential" film that I need to see, and what an opportunity.

Saturday Morning slots
In the early morning I'll be seen at the  "90th anniversary of Vitaphone" presentation of seven vintage shorts from the early talking period of films.  They are newly restored, on 35mm.  I'll be missing out on BAMBI, ONE MAN'S JOURNEY (with Lionel Barrymore and Joel McCrea, which I saw recently) and FIELD OF DREAMS.

After a quick bite I'll be heading to DEAD MEN DON'T WEAR PLAID -- a spoof of film noir with Steve Martin that I've never seen, and it'll be especially fun to look out for cameos in the film by Humphrey Bogart and Alan Ladd, among others.  Made in 1982, this will be the most recent film I'll see.  I'll be sorry to miss A HOUSE DIVIDED, one of William Wyler's first films.

Saturday Afternoon
At 3:45 it's tempting to head to the pool for wine courtesy of the TCM wine club, as I may be vitamin D depleted by this point in the weekend.  But instead, I'm looking to go with the science fiction
choice, THE WAR OF THE WORLDS from 1953.  There'll be a discussion with Oscar winners associated with the film as well.  I'll be missing out on two classics from 1946, THE YEARLING, and THE BIG SLEEP.

Saturday Evening Slots  THE SONG OF BERNADETTE was one of the first films advertised by TCM to emphasize the film festival theme of 'Moving Pictures'.  It's one I've never seen, and I'm intrigued by it, and the performance of its star, Jennifer Jones, who won the Oscar that year.  It might be a bit treacly, but I'm willing to give it a shot.  Sister Rose Pacatte, who recently was a guest presenter on the network in March for the "Condemned" series, will be on hand to discuss this film.  I'll be foregoing THE LONG GOODBYE (I loved this one, but saw it at the Harvard Film Archive recently), and THE KING AND I (I may regret that, although musicals aren't my favorite).

The late film for me will be Jean-Luc Godard's  BAND OF OUTSIDERS, my second foreign film of the festival.  Claimed to be a dream like riff on American gangster pictures, it is said to have been a major influence on Quentin Tarantino.  I'll pass on ROCKY and FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLF MAN.  The midnight show is GOG, from 1954 and includes Herbert Marshall in a supporting role, and if it were any time other than a midnight show, I would so be there.  I know my limits!

Sunday Morning
The early show on Sunday morning presents another unresolved dilemma -- for me it's either MASH or THE FALLEN IDOL.  The former is another classic that has eluded me, and will include star Elliott Gould in person.  THE FALLEN IDOL is a British film from Carol Reed, starring Ralph Richardson, based on a Graham Greene short story.  What's not to love?  We'll see what I choose.

Sunday Afternoon Slots
My second silent film of the festival will be Charlie Chaplin's newly restored classic, THE KID.  I just can't resist this one.  This competes with one of the 'TBD' slots in which a popular film from earlier is screened in a repeat performance.  Next, I can hang around the same screen for HORSE FEATHERS, which is probably my favorite Marx Brothers film.  This one features Groucho's musical number "I'm against it", and Chico entertaining lovely fiesty Thelma Todd with his unique piano talents.  I just don't think I'm up for OLD YELLER, which broke my heart as a kid.

Sunday Evening
SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON might be my last film of the festival.  It suitably ends the festival for me as it's a John Ford western starring luminaries John Wayne, Harry Carey, Jr., Victor McLaglen, Ben Johnson, and George O'Brien.  (I'd been binging on westerns lately, with Alan Ladd and Van Heflin figuring prominently).  Keith Carradine, son of John, will be making in person remarks to accompany this film.  And with that, the festival concludes for me.  There is some chance I'll make it to part of THE BAND WAGON, with Rita Moreno in person, but alas I need to catch a redeye flight back to Boston so we'll see how it goes.  I'm so excited to be heading back to the festival this year, and I'm looking forward to meeting several classic film enthusiasts and bloggers that I've only "met" online.   Safe travels to all heading to Hollywood!


  1. Great list. I'm calling it eight in common. That would be seven and two halves. I'm going to He Ran All the Way (your undecided) and The Band Wagon (which you might bail on). I posted my picks at:

    I'm linking to everyone's picks. I'll add yours.

    1. Thanks for reading. I checked out your list and the brackets were a great way to visualize all the tough choices! I also liked how the 'bed' one out on at least one occasion. I can identify. Perhaps I can get talked into GOG after all...

  2. Jocelyn, So excited for you and your plans. Some choices you've made I know about others I really don't. Amazing and delightful diversity though. MASH is a must see, positively. I don't know the film competing with it, but since you haven't seen MASH, that isn't really at issue. Keep me posted.

    1. MASH is very likely--I appreciate the endorsement and thanks so much for reading and taking the time to comment!

  3. Loved reading your list! We have a lot of choices in common. That Anna Karina screening is going to be popular. I'm beginning to wonder if I should just camp out there for a couple of hours.

  4. Thanks for the comment, KC. I think I will be heard saying "camping out" quite a bit during the days of the festival--see you in the queue!

  5. Love reading these lists. Here's mine: Can't wait. This is my first time. Woohoo!

    1. Thanks for commenting. If you're anything like me, I suspect you'll find many changes to your proposed schedule once the festival is underway. Have a great time and I hope to run into you!