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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

And even more decisions -- my plan for TCM Film Festival 2017

I consider myself extremely fortunate to be off to sunny LA next week:  airline ticket, hotel, and festival pass are all ready to go--Hollywood, here I come!  My brain doesn't feel as fortunate at the moment, as I just completed going through the schedule day by day, time slot by time slot, trying to plan what films and events I'll attend.  Those of you who've attended the festival know that the struggle is real.  Last year, I did pretty well -- see my plan here and my post-conference blog report here.  Despite the pre-conference teeth-gnashing, I did find the exercise very helpful in minimizing the daily struggle once in Hollywood, and I'm hoping for the same result this year!

A post about the festival would not be complete without a mention of the patriarch of the network, the eminent Mr. Robert Osborne, who sadly passed away earlier this month at age 84, and will be sorely, sorely, missed.  He was the voice and face of TCM for so many years.  I was glad I had the opportunity to see him live at my first #TCMFF in 2013.  It's been announced that this year's festival is dedicated to Mr. Osborne's memory.  Good for them.

In reviewing the schedule and making selections, my general strategy is to program for myself a combination of the following -- a healthy dose of 'lesser-known' films for which this is a great opportunity; 'gap-filling' -- seeing classics that I'd missed until now; followed by old favorites that I would be thrilled to see on the big screen, and finally unique explorations of film history that the festival offers.  So here is my *tentative* plan for the festival. 

Thursday, April 6, PM

Early Show:  Thursday is opening night, and unless we move up considerably on the waiting list for the "Essential" pass, I doubt we'll be seeing Sidney Poitier's appearance for the screening of In the Heat of the Night.  Bummer!  There are some great films programmed in parallel, and I've seen all of them and don't have a strong desire to see them again this year (Some Like it Hot, Jezebel, Love Crazy) so the film history lover in me is thinking about going to the "Dawson City: Frozen Time" screening, in which selections of over 500 films that were lost but preserved due to being frozen under an old hockey rink near the Arctic Circle(!) will be shared.  I'm still on the overall fence on this so could be talked into Love Crazy (1941) with a favorite comedy team of William Powell and Myrna Loy.  

Late Show:  No question here, it's Harold and Maude.  Never seen this 1971 classic about May-December romance and am excited for it.  I'll be guzzling coffee beforehand.
Bud Cort and Ruth Gordon as Harold and Maude
Friday, April 7, AM
So now that we are initiated, the marathon begins.  At the nine-o'clock hour, I still need to decide between Rafter Romance (1933) starring Ginger Rogers before she teamed with Fred Astaire, and Cry, The Beloved Country (1952) with honoree Sidney Poitier.

Late morning it's Beat the Devil (1953), which spoofs the international caper film, starring Jennifer Jones and Humphrey Bogart, and directed by John Huston.  It's new to me, but sounds hilarious.  

Friday, April 7, PM
The first screening of the afternoon for me is likely to be Barefoot in the Park (1967), the classic based on the play by Neil Simon, starring Robert Redford and Jane Fonda.  Again, filling a movie-viewing 'gap' .  The final film before dinner is likely to be my first silent of the festival, an early Ernst Lubitsch called So This is Paris (1926).  I rarely pass up the chance to see silents on the big screen with live musical accompaniment, and this is no exception.  On the piano will be Donald Sosin, who I've seen perform at my neighborhood Coolidge Corner Theatre, with his wife Joanna.  
Dana Andrews & Gene Tierney
in Laura 

My evening selections will be Vigil in the Night (1940), a hospital melodrama starring comedienne Carole Lombard in a rare dramatic role.  I heard the Lux Radio Theatre radio recording of this, which included one of my favorites, Herbert Marshall, as the doctor, and I'm eager to see the film on which it's based.  That George Stevens directed is a bonus here.  Wrapping up the evening will be the noir/mystery Laura (1944), my choice among a tantalizing line up.  I've seen it, but I'm eager to see it again.  

Saturday, April 8, AM
Likely feeling the need to get 15 more minutes of sleep, I'll start the morning at 9:15 with Stalag 17 (1953), directed by Billy Wilder, and another 'essential' I haven't yet seen.  Jeopardy host Alex Trebek will be on hand to introduce the film.  After brunch, also known as a bag of popcorn while standing in line, I'll head over to see The Last Picture Show (1971) at 12:15. I have a soft spot for Westerns since my 'Western Movie Summer' last year. Actor Ben Johnson, a noted veteran of director John Ford's films,who was late in his career, won an Oscar for his role here. And a very young Jeff Bridges also has a prominent role. Director Peter Bogdanovich got his name on the map with this film, and will be present to screen his 'director's cut' version.  I anticipate enjoying this one quite a bit. 
Ben Johnson in The Last Picture Show
Saturday, April 8, PM
In the early afternoon, I'll take a break from movies and head to Club TCM to get to know Lee Grant in a Q&A discussion with the actress, and then stick around for a special presentation of home movies of famous classic Hollywood stars.  I've heard great things about this annual featured presentation.

After a quick dinner I plan on my first pre-code film of the festival, from 1931 it's Street Scene with lovely Sylvia Sidney, and directed by the fantastic King Vidor.  

The final film of the day is Preston Sturges' Unfaithfully Yours (1948) a dark comedy starring Rex Harrison and Linda Darnell.  The 'Czar of Noir' Eddie Mueller will be introducing the film.  

Sunday, April 9 AM
Assuming I'm still alive on Sunday, you'll find me first at Cock of the Air (1931), another pre-code, independently produced by maverick Howard Hughes, OR, at the film announced as the 'TBA' of the morning if it's more enticing.  Sticking with producer Hughes' work, the film version of The Front Page, also from 1931, is calling my name for the 11:30 slot.  Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur wrote the play that inspired Hughes, and it also recently had a revival on Broadway with John Slattery, John Goodman and Nathan Lane.  It's a newsroom comedy with themes that are more than relevant today.  
Sunday, April 9, PM
Down the festival home stretch, after lunch I choose The Landlord (1970), a film with Lee Grant, whom I'll have gotten to know better from her live interview on Saturday afternoon.  The film is a 'dramedy' and directed by Hal Ashby, who also directed Harold and Maude.  If I'm in the mood for a bit of history, I might instead attend the "Republic Preserved" presentation about discoveries from 'Poverty Row' studio Republic Pictures.
At 4:30, it's time to wind things up with Detective Story (1951) with Kirk Douglas, William Bendix and Eleanor Parker, directed by William Wyler.  It will be hard to turn away from Singin' In the Rain, a picture I love but have seen recently, with Todd Fisher in attendance.  If my sentimental side wins out you'll find me there instead.
Harold Lloyd as a taxi driver, with Babe Ruth
 in Speedy
Last but definitely not least, is the classic silent clown Harold Lloyd in Speedy (1928), accompanied by the metallic sounds of the Alloy Orchestra, a group I've had the pleasure of seeing several times.  This film is perfect to kick off baseball season, as Babe Ruth, slugger and sometime movie actor, has a small role here!

After we've laughed ourselves silly, it will be time to party with all our friends, new and old, to wrap up the festival.  If I make it that far, and if I see half the films on this list, I'll consider the 2017 festival to be a success.


  1. Cool, I think we have six in common. I will add a link to your picks from mine. Umm, if I can find some WiFi and do it from a real computer. I'm up at WonderCon.

    1. Enjoy WonderCon. Fun time of year :-) Thanks for reading and linking to your post. Will check it out...