Plan and Highlights: TCMFF 2021, the Virtual Edition

Hope for normalcy reigns across our nation, but it remains a virtual world. As far as that goes, things do not get more exciting than a virtual classic film festival such as the upcoming one at Turner Class Movies. Yes, we prefer to be running down Hollywood Boulevard hoping to get a spot for the next pre-code screening that day, but according to the details already published by TCM, this year’s Turner Classic Movies Film Festival (TCMFF) will be quite the happening.

This year’s TCMFF, which runs from May 6 through May 9, will feature movies and events at three venues, two for movies and Club TCM interviews and presentations via zoom. I could not be more excited about what the network has announced so far, a far cry from last year’s Home Edition, which I enjoyed immensely. Those of you not familiar with planning for such an event, start by visiting the How to Fest video, which explains a few of the details. After that, I suggest downloading the schedule and visiting the TCMFF page often to stay current with new announcements. Finally, visit the TCMFF FAQs for more detail, and to download a festival pass. If all of this does not excite you, visit the Press Page on YouTube for clips of special guests and events scheduled throughout the weekend. You’ll be quite impressed.

Anyone interested in the TCMFF programming will need to plan ahead if you are taking this seriously. Stressing about what you might see versus what you might miss is part of the experience. So, be sure to take a look at the schedule of offerings on TCM and the one in the TCM Hub on HBO Max, which is partnered with the festival this year to broaden the offerings. I assume that HBO Max will work as it always does, which means the TCMFF-related content will be available for viewing beyond the festival weekend. That said, I try to stay true to varied venues and have put together the following personal schedule of highlights with that in mind.

                                                   TCMFF 2021 Schedule

As is tradition, the first event of the festival is the “Meet TCM Panel,” which will be done on zoom in the virtual Club TCM. This is scheduled for Wednesday, May 5 at 6:00 PM. If you are interested in signing up for the Club TCM events via zoom, please visit this page. Seating is limited, but you may still have a chance to sign up. These sessions offer a glimpse into the network’s machinations and are always informative.

At 7:00 PM on Wednesday you may want to join author and historian Kimberly Truhler for her “Fashion in Film of TCMFF 2021.” Kimberly’s presentations have become part of the yearly TCMFF schedule for many and are always worth your time.

Thursday, May 6

Specially scheduled for this virtual festival is a 6:00 PM toast on zoom with the TCM hosts. All will be present sipping cocktails and answering questions.

TCMFF 2021 officially opens with a 60th anniversary screening of Robert Wise’s West Side Story, which will include a cast reunion conversation with Rita Moreno, George Chakiris and Russ Tamblyn. That’s enough to make me want to tune in. Be aware also that there are additional West Side Story conversations available on HBO Max where you can watch Ben Mankiewicz and Ava DuVernay discuss the classic.

Later that night I am all in for the TCM premiere of a newly restored Doctor X directed by Michael Curtiz. Lionel Atwill, Fay Wray and Lee Tracy lead the cast in this Technicolor gem.

Friday, May 7

10:00 AM on TCM – The world premiere of a new Flicker Alley restoration of the new-to-me Whistle at Eaton Falls (1951) directed by Robert Siodmak.

12:00 PM on HBO Max – Stuart Heisler’s Chain Lightning (1950) to include the new making-of documentary, Jet Jockeys in Love: The Making of Chain Lightning with Craig Barron and Ben Burtt. Their introductions are aces.

2:00 PM on HBO Max – Anthony Mann’s T-Men (1947) with accompanied extras: Documentary, Undercover on Screen, Documentary, Master of Noir: The Cinematography of John Alton, and the introduction by Robert Osborne.

4:00 PM on TCMLive from TCMFF: Sophia Loren. Despite the fact that I have seen this 2016 interview of Loren by her son several times, it is one of those special festival moments worth repeating. The interview is entertaining, touching and presents a unique perspective into Hollywood.

6:00 PM via zoom Club TCM – The “Curating the Classics” presentation. TCM host Eddie Muller and the TCM programming team share secrets about how the network does what it does.

7:30 PM on HBO Max – In this slot I am watching the memorable and ever-disturbing Misery (1990) with introduction by director Rob Reiner.

9:30 PM on TCM – A screening of Ed Wood’s Plan 9 From Outer Space, which happens to be loads of fun. The television premiere of a table read of Ed Wood’s Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959) presented by SF Sketchfest precedes the movie, but I think I will record it and watch it after.

11:00 PM on HBO Max – from the Streets of New York collection, featuring historian Bruce Goldstein, his short film Pelham One Two Three: NYC Underground followed by Joseph Sargent’s 1974 feature The Taking of Pelham One Two Three. This series is part of “The Streets of New York” collection.

The final highlight for Friday will be recorded at 3:15 AM on TCM; the world broadcast premiere presentation of Bill Morrison’s experimental short about decayed film reels from a lost German silent film. This sounds interesting.

Joseph Sargent’s The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 is screening on HBO Max as part of Bruce Goldstein’s The Streets of New York collection

Saturday, May 8

6 & 7:00 AM on TCM – Here we have one of my favorite offerings of the weekend, a documentary about the life and career of animator and director Tex Avery followed by a compilation of his cartoons. It does not get any better than this.

8:00 AM on TCM – The TCM premiere and new-to-me film noir I Love Trouble (1948) directed by S. Sylvan Simon. Franchot Tone and Janet Blair lead an interesting cast in this story about a politician who hires a detective to investigate his wife’s past.

10:00 AM on TCM – Sam Peckinpah’s Ride the High Country (1962) starring Randolph Scott and Joel McCrea.

11:45 AM on TCM – this is another must-see screening, the TCM premiere of Nichols and May: Take Two, a documentary of the influential (and genius) comedy team of Mike Nichols and Elaine May. Mark Harris author of Mike Nichols: A Life will be on hand for a discussion.

1:00 PM on HBO MaxAli McGraw interview and Sam Peckinpah’s The Getaway (1972).

4:00 PM on HBO Max – Jules Dassin’s The Naked City (1948), along with the documentary, Uncovering The Naked City. This is part of “The Streets of New York” collection curated by historian Bruce Goldstein.

6:00 PM via zoom at Club TCM – “Sight and Sound Makers: A Chat with Ben Burtt & Craig Barron.” Trust me; you do not want to miss these Oscar-winning men talk about their work. They will also talk about their presentation: Jet Jockeys in Love: The Making of Chain Lightning, which is part of my Friday schedule.

8:00 PM on TCM – World premiere of a recent restoration of another new-to-me offering, Irving Pichel’s They Won’t Believe Me from 1947. This film noir about a philanderer on trial for killing his girlfriend stars Robert Young, Susan Hayward and Jane Greer.

10:00 PM on TCM – On the heels of this year’s Oscars and Audra Day’s moving portrayal of Billie Holiday in The United States vs. Billie Holiday, it is time I revisit Sidney Furie’s 1972 biopic Lady Sings the Blues. Diana Ross was also received an Academy Award nomination for her portrayal of Lady Day. This screening will feature a discussion with TCM host Jacqueline Stewart who also happens to be the Academy’s Chief Artistic and Programming Officer.

Robert Young and Susan Hayward in Irving Pichel’s They Won’t Believe Me from 1947. A new restoration of this film noir will premiere on TCM during the festival

Sunday, May 9

8:45 AM on TCM – I will be kicking off the final day of the festival with a pre-code I have never seen that, I believe, is set in Havana. Her Man (1930), directed by Tay Garnett and stars Helen Twelvetrees, Phillips Holmes, Marjorie Rambeau, James Gleason and Ricardo Cortez. Also in the cast are Thelma Todd, Slim Summerville and Franklin Pangborn, which will surely make for an enjoyable time.

10:15 AM on TCM – James Bridges The China Syndrome (1979. I believe this is the movie I have seen most on my entire schedule, but I do not think I will be able to turn away from it. If you have not seen it, The China Syndrome is a terrific thriller with wonderful performances by all, but particularly by Jack Lemmon.

12:45 PM on TCM – A standout offering, the world TV premiere of Edmond T. Gréville’s Princess Tam Tam (1935) starring Josephine Baker. I read in a few places that due to the insinuation of an interracial relationship, the movie was not shown in most mainstream theaters throughout the country. Well, now this is our opportunity.

3:00 PM via zoom Club TCM – “She May be a Movie Star, But She’s Just Mom to Me,” a celebration of Mother’s Day with three children of famous moms: Amy Stiller (daughter of Anne Meara), Carlo Ponti, Jr. (son of Sophia Loren) and Victoria Riskin (daughter of Fay Wray).

5:00 PM on HBO Max – Agnes Varda’s Cleo from 5 to 7 (1962). Here I am introducing myself to another film.

7:00 PM on TCM – I love that this TCMFF Sunday tradition is continuing this year. That is, a special presentation of Hollywood Home Movies: Stars at Work and Play. These popular presentations are held at Club TCM at the festival each year. Presented by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences from their archive collection, this screening will include conversations with Shirley Jones and Tony Nicholas, son of Fayard Nicholas of the Nicholas Brothers. I am really looking forward to this.

8:00 PM on TCM – yet another must-see, the world premiere restoration of Ernst Lubitsch’s So This is Paris (1926) with a score by Ben Model. The cast for this promising comedy includes Monte Blue, Patsy Ruth Miller, Lilyan Tashman and Myrna Loy. I will bet the money I do not have that this one is a highlight for most festivalgoers. If you are thinking of watching this, be sure to visit HBO Max because there are a few extras related to this movie there.

Herbert Ross’ The Goodbye Girl (1977) and Alan Parker’s Fame (1980) follow on Saturday night on TCM. Both are worthy watches especially since Richard Dreyfuss and Debbie Allen will be present for discussions. However, I may turn to HBO Max and a rarer offering if I can find one. Later that night I will be recording Chantal Ackerman’s News from Home (1977) documentary for the beautiful images of New York City it promises. That will end the festival for me in real time, but I will likely spend another week or so enjoying more of it.

Ricardo Cortex and Helen Twelvetrees in Her Man (1930) / Josephine Baker in Princess Tam Tam (1935)

There you have my entire TCMFF 2021 viewing plan. I took my time and completed the difficult task between offerings on TCM and HBO Max, which can prove a bit challenging. I made an effort to watch a few on HBO Max for the varied venue effect, but also because there are extra conversations included. Keeping TCM all day is wonderful, but it is what I do every day.

Be aware that the TCM hub on HBO Max will also offer many collections aside from the ones I inclued in my schedule. There will be offerings based on themes like The Masters, Discoveries and The Essentials, which include interviews and extras worth visiting. There really is a lot to enjoy at this festival the best part of which is that everyone can enjoy it, not only the festivalgoers who can go to Hollywood.

To enhance my 2021 festival experience I am having three fully vaccinated friends over to enjoy the screenings together. As always, I will share on social media as I go along. You can follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and Facebook as @CitizenScreen.

Before I go – I like to share what other friends and bloggers come up with for their schedules and will post the links I can get my hands on here:

An expert on all things classcis and festivals, visit my friend Laura at Laura’s Miscellaneous Musings for her TCMFF 2021 picks

See you at the movies and have a fantastic, classic weekend. We all deserve it.

2 thoughts

  1. A million thank-yous for this, Aurora! It’s just the guide I need to get the most from the festival. It will be by my side for the entire weekend.

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