This year’s Turner Classic Movies Film Festival (TCMFF) is fast approaching and as is always the case we’ve been itching to get a look at the complete schedule. Finally it happened today and my “movie friends” are abuzz. As for me, well… for the first time in five years I was able to come up with a solid plan in a couple of hours. We’ll see how that goes.
TCMFF is scheduled for April 6-9 and is themed, Make ‘Em Laugh: Comedy in the Movies. There are several new-to-me comedies scheduled that made my list as well as some old favorites and darker movies I don’t think I’ll turn away from. As has not been the case in previous years I’m pretty sure this time my choices are “strictly on the level – like a flight of stairs.” (Red-Headed Woman)
As I’ve mentioned in the past, what I look forward to most is joining friends I’ve made at these festivals and watching the movies with them. Due to a fairly recent loss I seriously considered not attending this year’s festival, but can think of no better way of escaping and refueling than at the movies. I need to laugh more than I have in quite some time and I know I’ll do just that with this group of movie lovers.
Now to my picks…I hope some of you will chime in with yours. If you’re a blogger and publish a pre-TCMFF post be sure to leave me the link in the comments so I can include it in this post. I enjoy comparing people’s picks and think others do as well. Here we go…
Thursday, April 6
Before the “Do You Think You Know the Movies” trivia contest, which is usually where I meet up with festival regulars each year, there are two interesting gatherings I plan to attend. The first is a “Hitchcock Fans Meet-Up,” which is a terrific way to kick off the festivities. I can’t wait to meet other Hitchcock aficionados and talk murder!
Immediately after Hitchcock there’s a “Remembering Robert” presentation scheduled honoring the recently deceased guru of classic movies, Robert Osborne. Although the festival theme is Make ‘Em Laugh there’s little doubt sadness will permeate the weekend due to the great loss this community has suffered. I expect we’ll comfort each other and share why Robert Osborne meant so much to every single one of us.
My movie picks…
I’ll be on line early to kick things off with William Wyler’s Jezebel (1938) because it’s Bette Davis, Henry Fonda, George Brent, Fay Bainter and other fabulous supporting players at House 4 of the Multiplex. Somewhat ironically – since I’m looking to laugh – I’m kicking things off with drama and adding a crime chaser. I’m hoping to follow Jezebel with Peter Lorre in nitrate in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934). Enough said about that.
Friday, April 7
For the first time in the five years I’ve attended TCMFF I’m going to try to gain access to the hand and footprint ceremony. Both Carl and Rob Reiner are being honored this year. Since I missed seeing the elder Mr. Reiner last year this is a priority. If I don’t make it to the ceremony then I’ll be watching William Seiter’s Rafter Romance (1933) and Ernst Lubitsch’s One Hour With You (1932) both of which are at the Egyptian and new-to-me. But things are not quite that simple because that choice means I’m ignoring Huston’s The Maltese Falcon (1941). You just can’t win!!
The time slot following the footprint ceremony is a bit up in the air for me. I’m leaning toward Norman Z. McLeod’s Monkey Buiness (1931) with Dick Cavett doing the introduction. That’s up against “A Conversation with Peter Bogdanovich” at Club TCM though, which I’d also enjoy.
After Monkey Business I’d love to go to the “Bring ‘Em Back Alive” discussion in Club TCM where film restoration takes center stage. Then it’s the first movie I saw on the early schedule announcement that made my eyes bug out, Jack Conway’s Red-Headed Woman (1932) starring Jean Harlow. I CANNOT WAIT to see this one on the big screen!
Lillian ‘Lil’: [trying on a dress in a store, Lil positions herself in front of a sunny window] Can you see through this?
Off-camera store clerk: I’m afraid you can, Miss.
Lillian ‘Lil’: I’ll wear it.
The time slot following Harlow is a killer because I’d be happy with any of the five screenings. Otto Preminger’s Laura (1944) is slowly taking the lead because of the rare nitrate print. I’m also taking into account that I’ve already seen Hawks’ Twentieth Century (1934) on the big screen and Mel Brooks up close at a previous TCMFF. Brooks is introducing High Anxiety (1977). With those two out of the way Laura is pitted against Jacques Tourneur’s Cat People (1942), which I love and know it would be amazing on the big screen. In addition, Lewis R. Foster’s Those Redheads from Seattle (1953) in 3-D newly restored by my friends at the 3-D Film Archive is screening at this time. THIS WILL BE TOUGH!!
I’m not making any promises about the midnight screenings this year. I’ll surprise myself once I’m on Hollywood Blvd. With the year I’ve had I’ll need to set some time aside for a drink or two. Just sayin’.
Saturday, April 8
Michael Douglas introducing James Bridges’ The China Syndrome (1979) will start my Saturday. This will be the most recent film I’ve chosen, but it’s a must in case Douglas mentions Jack Lemmon and his brilliant performance in any way, shape or form. Plus I really do love this movie and Michael Douglas so it’s not like a sacrifice or anything. I’ll add that with this choice I break my streak of watching the premiere Western screened at each festival I’ve previously attended. That Western this year is Hawks’ Red River (1948), which is also scheduled at this time.
I will (hopefully) follow Syndrome with my all-time favorite romantic comedy, Leo McCarey’s The Awful Truth (1937). Now, I’ve seen this one on the big screen once before, but I highly doubt I’ll be able to pass the Egyptian on this day at this time and avoid the magnetic pull of this glorious movie. And that’s even though my favorite Hitchcock film, Rear Window (1954) is playing at the same time as is Chaplin’s The Great Dictator (1940), which is also hard to resist.
Another tough choice follows the Grant and Dunne gem with a “Conversation with Lee Grant” scheduled at Club TCM up against Cy Endfield’s The Underworld Story (1950, but I think the noir has got me for two reasons – 1. I’ve never seen The Underworld Story and 2. I will (hopefully) see Lee Grant introduce a movie later in the schedule.
I thought I had the next slot figured out with King Vidor’s Street Scene (1931), which sounds fascinating, but I think I’ll opt for Richard Boleslawski’s Theodora Goes Wild (1936). It’s been years since I see Theodora and I can hardly do better than two Irene Dunne screwballs in one day. This time she joins forces with Melvyn Douglas.
I think I’m ending Saturday with Powell and Pressburger’s Black Narcissus (1947) in nitrate at the Egyptian. That has a really nice ring to it. I’ll worried about being scared later.
Sunday, April 9
Damn, I can’t believe this thing is almost over. There are usually a mixed bag of emotions on Sunday mornings at the TCMFF. While you’re still excited about the movies you’ve yet to see the fact that the festival is almost over hangs over your head. I’m so depressed!
OK, my initial choice to start Sunday when I saw the schedule was Chester Erskine’s The Egg and I (1947) with Kate MacMurray doing the introduction. OH MAN! If I do that, however, I’ll miss two other movies I’ve wanted to see since early screenings were announced, Tom Buckingham’s Cock of the Air (1932) with Chester Morris, Billie Dove and a host of terrific supporting players and Lewis Milestone’s The Front Page (1931). I think the two-fer combination is the better bet since I haven’t seen either one. PLUS there’s newspapers! By the way, Sara Karloff is introducing Douglas Sirk’s Lured (1947) during this time slot as well. She’s always a treat.
The next time slot is another tough one. My conflict is between Preston Sturges’ wonderful The Palm Beach Story (1942) and Mike Nichols’ Postcards from the Edge (1990) with Todd Fisher in attendance. I would normally opt easily for the Sturges film, but with the passing of both Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher the autobiographical aspect of Postcards may lure me. Then again, I may opt for the comedy. As I write this I’m leaning Sturges.
Next will be William Wyler’s Detective Story (1951) with Lee Grant introducing the film with Eddie Muller. I am skipping seeing the great Bob Newhart in this slot though so this isn’t easy either.
For my last screening of the festival I’m leaning toward Mitchell Leisen’s Lady in the Dark (1944) in nitrate. I love Harold Lloyd’s Speedy (1928), which is also playing at this time, but I’ve already seen it on the big screen. This time slot has the added confusion of possibly two TBA replacements that I may want to see, but I think Leisen’s film has me convinced.
I hope to see you in Hollywood!
Be sure to stay tuned to this blog and to my other social media accounts as noted below. I’ll be covering TCMFF as part of the media and hope to share as much of my experience as possible as often as possible. Also, in a week or so you’ll see me on Classic Movies and More along with Annmarie Gatti of Classic Movie Hub as we discuss the festival offerings.
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Annmarie and I met to go over this year’s TCMFF festival. Here’s the exchange: