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Saturday, April 7, 2018

My 2018 TCM Film Festival Schedule!

Here it is, folks - my plan for the TCM Film Festival (April 26-29 in Hollywood).  This year's theme is 'Powerful Words, the Page Onscreen', highlighting films that showcase the best of translating the written word to the screen.  For those of you not familiar with what a typical day's schedule looks like, check out the image below.  At any one time slot, you have at a minimum five amazing options to choose from. Multiply this by 4 days, and you'll see why the task of developing the schedule is a significant source of heartburn.

Thursday evening, April 26th
Ginger Rogers and Frances Dee in Finishing School
Because I don't have a pass level that gets me into the Red Carpet opening night event, I won't be seeing The Producers with special guest Mel Brooks.  Instead, I'll attend Finishing School, a pre-code with a young Ginger Rogers.  Wyatt McCrea, the grandson of classic era star Joel McCrea, will be on hand to discuss the film.  My caveat to this is that if it is a particularly warm night, I'll be tempted to attend the poolside screening of the 1950s sci-fi/horror classic Them!It will also be hard to stay away from the first pairing of Bogey & Bacall in To Have and Have Not, but because I've seen this one, I'm inclined to choose the one I haven't seen. 

For the second feature of the evening I'll stick around Chinese Multiplex Theater 4 for Throne of Blood (1957), the famed Japanese director Kurosawa's adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth.  I'm tempted to see another Ginger Rogers film Stage Door in a nitrate print, but since I've recently seen this one, I'll stick with the Bard.

Friday, April 27th, MorningOn the first full day of the festival I'll stick with Chinese Multiplex Theater 4 in the morning.  First up at 9:00 AM is Intruder in the Dust, a 1949 adaptation of the famed William Faulkner novel.  I've not seen this one, and it promises to be interesting, if for no other reason that Faulkner himself was involved with the choice of locations in Mississippi for filming, and one of my favorite classic era directors, Clarence Brown, took the helm.

The second morning film is a choice between:
a) The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936) pairing Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland in an adaptation of Alfred Tennyson's poem.  Flynn and de Havilland always generate sparks onscreen, and I look forward to seeing this for the first time.
b) The Miracle of Morgan's Creek (1944) will be on the docket if I feel like a Preston Sturges comedy instead of an adventure flick. 
Help me decide, people!

Friday, April 27th, Afternoon
After a quick bite, next up is A Hatful of Rain from 1957.  This one is based on a hit play about drug addiction, not a common topic for films during those years.  One of its stars, the lovely Eva Marie Saint, will be making remarks about the film before the screening. That makes it a must-see for me.  This film will let out with little time to spare before None Shall Escape (1944), a WWII thriller.  Star Marsha Hunt and 'Czar of Noir' Eddie Muller will be present in person. 
Don Murray and Eva Marie Saint in A Hatful of Rain
Friday, April 27th, Evening
This will be easy.  It's The Roaring Twenties, people! Prior to the poolside screening of this 1939 film starring the best 20's gangster in the 1930s, James Cagney, there is a costume party! I can't resist this and need to get shopping, pronto! A bonus is that the film is new to me. If for some reason weather isn't cooperating, or any outfit fails to materialize, the nitrate color print of Leave Her to Heaven (1945) with the lovely femme fatale Gene Tierney, beckons.

Saturday, April 28th, MorningAfter a relatively early evening (!) on Friday, I should be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready for His Girl Friday (1940) at the Chinese Theater IMAX.  This one was one of the films used to market the festival, and with the great duo of Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell, and a superb twist (female reporter, anyone?) on the lauded play The Front Page, it is bound to be popular. I'll need to plan to get up early and get in the queue promptly with a large cup of joe. Now I have seen this one, but not on the big screen, and it's been a while.

The second morning feature will be from the renowned French director Jean-Pierre Melville, who would have been 100 this year. I've recently seen two of his films here in Boston, and absolutely love his detached but suspenseful, visually-stimulating style. The film on tap is When You Read This Letter (1953), said to be a blend of romantic melodrama and film noir. It won't be boring!

Saturday, April 28th, Afternoon
Back to Chinese Multiplex Theater 4 for the afternoon.  First up is The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, the classic era (1938) adaptation of the Mark Twain novel. I have an early fuzzy memory of having watched this one as a youngun, but need to revisit it.  It'll be tough to miss Sunset Boulevard and Wife Vs. Secretary, but both of these are classics, televised quite often, and I've seen both recently.   Next up will be another war picture, The Story of G.I. Joe (1945), William Wellman's adaptation of Ernie Pyle's memoirs. It's an early film with Robert Mitchum, who never disappoints

Saturday, April 28th, EveningA quick dinner and it's off to the 7 PM feature, Show People. This one will be my only silent film of the festival, and with live music by pianist Ben Model, will no doubt be a blast.  I'll finish up the day with Hitchcock, and will plan to be Spellbound by this 1945 film, which it appears I've never seen.  I must correct that, and what better way to do that than with a theater full of classic film fans. Bonus-this one's screened in nitrate at the Egyptian theater (note: RUN to queue!), and stars Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck.
Gregory Peck and Ingrid Bergman in Spellbound
Sunday, April 29th, Morning
For whatever reason, Sunday was an easier day for me to plan.  I start with the epic Sergio Leone western Once Upon a Time in the West.  Last year I so enjoyed Bogdanovich's The Last Picture Show made around the same time, so I'm anticipating a great sweeping experience with this one.  Nothing else during that time period appeals to me; same for the 2nd morning slot. I think I'll attend the panel discussion at 'Club TCM' with the Mankiewicz siblings talking about their families' Hollywood legacy yesterday and today.  

Sunday, April 29th, Afternoon
First, I'll get a breather before the afternoon slot. While it's tempting to see The Ten Commandments on the big screen, I've seen that one so many times, including just last week, that I can pass.  I'll enjoy a nice leisurely lunch and head over to the Chinese Multiplex 6 to see Hamlet (1948). I've not seen this one, and since I've seen several other 'Hamlets' over the years, it's about time I experience for myself what makes this Sir Laurence Olivier's definitive role.  British actor Alan Cumming will be in attendance. 

Sunday, April 29th, Evening
I'll wrap up this festival, I think suitably, with A Star is Born.  This is the one from the 1930s starring Janet Gaynor and Fredric March. It's probably sacrilege, but I'm not a fan of the Judy Garland version, and I've only seen clips from the earlier film.  I'm sure this screening will be popular, as it's on nitrate, showing over at the Egyptian.  William Wellman Jr., son of the director, will be in attendance.

So that's my plan as of April 7. Check back after the festival for my full report!