Search This Blog

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Planning my schedule--sort of--at the 10th Annual TCM Film Festival

Well, it's that time again and the annual Turner Classic Movies Film Festival will explode in Hollywood bigger than ever in under two weeks now. (It's the 10th anniversary of the Festival and the 25th anniversary of the TV channel, and all passes have sold out for the first time.) While I'm excited to be attending, I so far haven't succeeded in building my complete schedule ahead of time, because with up to five different films showing in every time slot, and great guests appearing, my decision-making abilities have vanished--I need help, people!

In any case, I've captured my thoughts here as my festival planning is still very much a work in progress. Perhaps it's good not to get too committed, as it's inevitable that things change at the last minute. So, here goes:

Thursday, April 11
So for opening night, I can eliminate a few films pretty quickly: When Harry Met Sally (1989) (only for higher-level passholders), Dark Passage (1947), (seen it recently), The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964) (seen it recently on the big screen), Mogambo (1953) (sorry, no interest). The remaining films are all up for grabs.

Marilyn Monroe & Jane Russell
Option 1: I'll admit my first instinct was to head to the Egyptian Theater for Gentleman Prefer Blondes (1953) because it would certainly be fun to get the festival started with a rousing, fun musical with Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell--that, plus I've not seen the entire thing. If I did that, I could stick around and see another fun film, or at least I believe it's fun as I haven't watched the entire thing ever -- The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer (1947). (Cary Grant, Myrna Loy, and an adolescent Shirley Temple star).

Option 2: I'm also tempted to hang out by the pool for the outdoor screening of Ocean's 11 (1960). Angie Dickinson will be there, and outdoor screenings are usually a blast -- unless it's uncomfortably cold. In which case, it's best to be inside a warm cinema. This one ends late, so if I choose it, there will be no time to get to any other.

Gary Cooper as Sergeant York
Option 3: Sergeant York (1941) is screening at the Legion Theater (a new venue for the festival) and here's another Gary Cooper classic I haven't seen. In addition, members of the York family will be there to provide perspective to film-goers. What an amazing opportunity! If I choose this one, though, the timing is such that it will be my only film for the evening.

Friday, April 12
Morning Schedule: The first film of the day was an easy one for me: Merrily We Go To Hell (1932): it's a pre-code and who can resist a title like that? Fredric March plays a drunk and I'll be interested to see how it compares to his Norman Maine in A Star is Born (1937). After that, I may do something I've never done before: go to the Grauman's Chinese Hand & Footprint Ceremony for Billy Crystal, one of my favorite entertainers who so deserves this honor. For the second slot of the morning, my inner film geek will likely take over as I head over to the Legion Theater for What's Not To Love About Republic Serials? which promises film clips showcasing behind the scenes of the low-budget sci-fi/action short films from Republic pictures.

Afternoon schedule:  For the early slot, for me it's a choice between My Favorite Wife (1940),  (another Cary Grant classic) and the seminal silent film Sunrise (1927). I absolutely LOVE Sunrise, and it was one of the films that awakened my classic film obsession. However, my first view of this one was on the big screen with a new score performed live by the Berklee Silent Film Orchestra, so this screening wouldn't be a novelty for me. My Favorite Wife is a film new to me, and Jennifer Grant, Cary's daughter will be on hand to share her insights about her famous dad. It's a tough choice. Also, tugging at me will be the Hollywood Black Backlot meetup at 3:30, with a chance to meet author and film historian Donald Bogle, and get a free copy of his book.

Evening Schedule: For the later afternoon/early evening slot, I'm tempted to hang out near the Chinese cinema #6 for Vanity Street (1932) and Open Secret (1948). These are low-budget "discoveries" and are new to me. The former stars one of my favorites, Charles Bickford, in a rare leading man part. I'd be tempted to attend Steel Magnolias (1989) with the original playwright, Robert Harling, and star Shirley MacLaine in attendance (Wow!). The only thing is, this film will come to a local cinema later this year as part of the TCM/Fathom Big Screen Classics Series, and I will no doubt catch it then with our newly-minted TCM Boston Backlot chapter. The final and best option for me may be to head to Day For Night, a 1973 Truffaut film starring Jacqueline Bisset, with Ms. Bisset in attendance to offer her thoughts. I've not even heard of this one, (!) so a pleasant surprise may be in store for me here.

Late evening: Here it's a toss up between Road House (1948) and Winchester '73 (1950). The former, a film noir starring Richard Widmark and Ida Lupino, has been on my watch list for a while. And, it'll be shown in gorgeous black-and-white on nitrate. If I'm in a Western sort of mood, I'll head over to the Jimmy Stewart classic, to check another one off my watch list. And oh by the way, no midnight movie for me -- just can't do it!

Saturday, April 13
Barbara Rush in
When Worlds Collide
Morning schedule: It doesn't get much easier on Saturday. My first choice will be between All Through the Night, a comedy-thriller starring Humphrey Bogart from 1942, and When Worlds Collide (1951), a sci-fi "discovery" in which star Barbara Rush will be at the screening. The morning's dark horse is The Little Colonel (1935), a classic Shirley Temple film. Since I've not seen any of her films from her golden age--childhood that is--this is an opportunity to rectify that. For the second slot, I'm pretty much decided to see the classic British comedy Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949); it's new to me, plus young Alec Guinness, people!

Afternoon Schedule: For the early slot, I'm tempted by A Raisin In the Sun (1961), which is universally acclaimed and stars the great Sidney Poitier. Alternatively, there is a double feature starring silent cowboy star Tom Mix -- with live piano accompaniment from Ben Model. I could be very happy there! For the second slot, it will come down to one of these two: 1) Nashville (1975) -- this one is considered a Robert Altman classic and I've yet to see it. And as far as special guests--there is huge list for this one, including Jeff Goldblum, Keith Carradine, and (gulp!) Lily Tomlin! 2) The other option is It Happened Here (1964) a documentary-styled war drama from film historian and preservationist Kevin Brownlow. Mr. Brownlow will be there also to receive the 2nd annual Robert Osborne Award, and I would love to see him be honored that way.
Acclaimed Western star of the
early cinema, Tom Mix
Late evening Schedule:  If there is time after Nashville lets out, I'll plan Indiscreet (1958) with Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman. It's directed by recently-deceased Stanley Donen. If I've decided I've had my fill of Cary Grant already, (I know, right?!) If I don't make it to that and still feel like continuing my film-watching, I'll probably go for Samson & Delilah (1949), shown in nitrate with Victoria Mature, daughter of star Victor Mature, there for the screening. Hmm...on second thought...maybe that should be my #1 selection!

Sunday, April 15
Morning Schedule: The last day of the festival is always bittersweet, but still full. There is also the issue of all the 'TBA' slots -- these get announced the day before when festival planners assess how many popular films from earlier in the weekend had to turn away attendees, and thus deserve another shot on the big screen. Assuming none of the TBAs is a huge draw for me, the day still starts out with a really difficult choice: Mad Love (1935), Peter Lorre's first U.S. film, The Defiant Ones (1958), which earned Sidney Poitier his first Oscar nod, or Holiday (1938), the Cary Grant/Katharine Hepburn romp? I've not seen any of them, and all will be great, so...dear reader, any suggestions?? It may all depend on how many of these stars' other films I've seen so far at the festival.

After this, I'll likely take a little break before the TCM Backlot Members' Meetup starting at 1:30. Since our Boston chapter just formed, with yours truly as co-chair, I want to meet other members and get ideas from established chapters.

Evening Schedule: Before the closing night party, I'll need to make at least one more choice for a late afternoon/early evening film. I expect I'll be strongly tempted by The Dolly Sisters (1945) starring Betty Grable and June Haver. It's a technicolor musical to be screened on nitrate, so I expect it'll be a fun way to close out the festival. No epics (Gone with the Wind, Godfather II) for me!

And that will be a wrap, folks! I'd love to hear your thoughts. The full schedule can be found here. Check back for my summary of my actual experiences!


  1. Holiday is one of my all-time favorite movies. I was unable to afford TCMFF in the past, and when I saw the restored Holiday was one of the first pictures announced, I took it as a sign from God and Robert Osborne that this is the year I was *meant* to go!

    It's a sweet little movie about some important things: power, ambition, individuality, love and family. But it was a victim of timing. By the time the play made its way to the screen, Americans were suffering through the Depression. The thought of a man scoffing at a job, turning his nose up at a steady income, seemed profane to the movie going public and they stayed away in droves.

    But watched today? Holiday is a gem. Hepburn gives such an affectionate performance. And watch for Jean Dixon and Edward Everett Horton in warm and winning supporting roles.

    Enough of my commercial for Holiday! I'm going to sit poolside with Angie. I can't wait to see GWTW on IMAX! And I may end up sitting near you for Merrily We Go to Hell.

    It's just weeks away!

    1. Hello--thanks for stopping by and plugging Holiday! It does sound like a winner (of course it is, lol). I don't think I've seen Jean Dixon in anything besides My Man Godfrey, and I love her! That Sunday morning time slot is a killer!

      You will love the festival! It's so much fun. I'll look forward to meeting you.

  2. Glad my schedule angst is not unusual. This will be second time at the festival and I’m so excited for next week! Enjoy!

    1. Thanks for stopping by! I realize I'm in good company with the angst :-) I hope to meet you at the festival.