The TCM Classic Film Festival begins two weeks from today, on April 28th, 2016!
The festival, which takes place in Hollywood, California, runs through Sunday, May 1st.
I'm pleased to announce that again this year I'll be covering the festival as a member of the credentialed media.
During the festival please follow me on Twitter for "as it happens" updates on my final movie choices, along with photos and reports on other festival news.
As I've done for the past few years, after the festival comes to an end I'll be presenting a series of detailed daily recaps and movie reviews.
There have been several interesting announcements in recent days, including the additions of Angela Lansbury, Rita Moreno, and Billy Dee Williams to the festival's list of guests. (April 19th Update: Billy Dee Williams and Burt Reynolds have had to pull out of the festival, but simultaneously TCM announced that Faye Dunaway will tape a LIVE FROM THE TCM CLASSIC FILM FESTIVAL interview and appear at a screening of NETWORK.)
Sadly, Robert Osborne shared the news that he will be unable to attend again this year. He'll be turning 84 in a couple of weeks, and the news wasn't entirely unexpected, given that he has cut back on his hosting duties this year; even a night of "Bob's Picks" was recently hosted by Ben Mankiewicz.
The final schedule was announced last Monday, and I've been studying it carefully and making the hard choices that are part of the fun of attending the festival.
After seeing 11 movies at the 2013 festival and 14 in 2014, last year I saw 16 films, half of which were brand-new to me. It will be interesting to see how this year's final stats compare! Of the 18 possible titles below, I've only seen eight of them previously.
I followed last year's tentative schedule fairly closely, swapping out three titles at the last minute, including dropping one title on my list in order to see a "repeat" title on Sunday.
Here are my initial picks:
Thursday, April 28th:
A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN (1945) - I'd love to see THE FRESHMAN (1925) on a big screen, but the poolside venue for that Harold Lloyd classic isn't an ideal way to see a film, and great as it is, I'm not sure I want to start the festival off sobbing through DARK VICTORY (1939). That leaves me with A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN, a wonderful film with a great cast, including former child actor Ted Donaldson, who will be in attendance. Given its long length, there's a possibility I'll skip it so that I don't miss the next film...
BRIEF ENCOUNTER (1945) - This will be my first time to see this David Lean classic, and it's one of my "must see" choices of the festival.
Friday, April 29th:
SHANGHAI EXPRESS 1932) - Another "must see" for me, from this year's 10 Classics list. I love train movies! I'd also love to see another film in this time slot, Ida Lupino's NEVER FEAR (1949), starring Sally Forrest, and hope it might be one of the films reprised on Sunday. Also in this slot is a top favorite romantic comedy, THE MORE THE MERRIER (1943), but since I saw it at Joel McCrea's ranch in 2014 I'm okay with skipping it for a new-to-me title.
DOUBLE HARNESS (1933) - I lean toward seeing this William Powell-Ann Harding pre-Code, especially as Oscar-nominated actor James Cromwell will be on hand to introduce the film, which was directed by his father John. Another good option in this time slot is John Garfield in HE RAN ALL THE WAY (1951).
TRAPEZE (1956) - I've never seen this film and star Gina Lollobrigida will be on hand to introduce it. Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis also star.
PLEASURE CRUISE (1933) - Based on the reaction from my fellow film fans on Twitter, this pre-Code comedy starring Roland Young and Genevieve Tobin will be packed. I'm already assuming it will be rerun on Sunday! If I can't get in, then I'll probably head to the Chinese Theatre where Ben Burtt and Craig Barron host IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946).
REPEAT PERFORMANCE (1947) - This is the killer slot of the entire festival. Part of me wants to go see Angela Lansbury in person at THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE (1962), which has a great cast; I've never seen the movie, and I've never seen Lansbury in person. And part of me wants to see Chris Lemmon introduce the musical version of MY SISTER EILEEN (1955), starring his dad Jack plus Janet Leigh, Betty Garrett, and the great dancers Bob Fosse and Tommy Rall. Yet every time I think about this slot, I feel pretty strongly that I'm going to end up at the Egyptian Theatre, where Eddie Muller introduces the unsung gem REPEAT PERFORMANCE, starring Joan Leslie. This is one of my very favorite films of the last few years, and I'm not sure I can turn down the chance to see it once more in 35mm. The movies which are rerun on Sunday tend to be from the small Chinese multiplex theaters so I assume REPEAT PERFORMANCE will only be shown once at the festival.
Saturday, April 30th:
BAMBI (1942) - During the last two festivals I made last-minute schedule switches to see THE JUNGLE BOOK (1967) and PINOCCHIO (1940), which both turned out to be wonderful experiences. I've always been leery of BAMBI, but I'd felt the same way about PINOCCHIO and really enjoyed it, so I'm thinking I should give BAMBI a try, especially with Donnie Dunagan (the voice of young Bambi) in attendance. Alas, the El Capitan will not be a venue this year so we don't get to enjoy a concert of Disney songs on the organ before the movie! Although I tend to stay away from "newer" films at the festival, my second choice in this slot would be FIELD OF DREAMS (1989), because I love a good baseball film and Kevin Costner.
A HOUSE DIVIDED (1931) - An early William Wyler pre-Code. That's enough for me. David Wyler will be in attendance.
BULLDOG DRUMMOND STRIKES BACK (1934) - Ronald Colman and Loretta Young? Yes, please!
THE WAR OF THE WORLDS (1953) - This is my top pick of the festival! Star Ann Robinson will be in attendance, and there will be a presentation by special effects wizards Ben Burtt and Craig Barron, who did such a great show on GUNGA DIN (1939) at the 2014 Lone Pine Film Festival. (My enthusiasm for WAR OF THE WORLDS is kind of ironic given I used to be a bit shy about seeing sci-fi films!) I do regret not seeing Claude Jarman Jr. in person; he'll be at THE YEARLING (1946) in this time slot. I think he and Karolyn Grimes must be the only surviving cast members of John Ford's RIO GRANDE (1950).
THE KING AND I (1956) - I'm not 100% on this, but Rita Moreno in person is a very big pull. If I don't see it, I'll probably be watching THE SONG OF BERNADETTE (1943) for the first time. I already saw Borzage's I'VE ALWAYS LOVED YOU (1946) at UCLA last September so I'll skip that one. Honestly, I'd really love to see FORBIDDEN PLANET (1956) on a big screen but it's another poolside screening so...
MIDNIGHT (1939) - So many of this year's movie's are "heavy," in keeping with the "Moving Pictures" theme, that I love the idea of enjoying one of my all-time favorite comedies with a crowd...and in 35mm! I smile just thinking of enjoying Colbert, Ameche, Astor, and Barrymore with a laughing audience. Plus it's hosted by Bonnie Hunt of RETURN TO ME (2000) and many Disney cartoons. Second choice would be Leonard Maltin hosting A SHORT HISTORY OF WIDESCREEN CINEMA (2014)...and I wouldn't really mind seeing ROCKY (1976) on the big screen once more, especially after enjoying CREED (2015) in December.
Sunday, May 1st:
ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS (1955) - This is another top choice for me, especially having seen director Douglas Sirk's WRITTEN ON THE WIND (1956) and IMITATION OF LIFE (1959) at previous festivals. I can't imagine changing my mind on seeing this one!
LAW AND ORDER (1932) - One of my regrets about this year's festival is the small number of Westerns on the schedule. This is one of them, cowritten by John Huston, starring his father Walter. However, there are six "to be announced" slots on Sunday, when the festival's most popular titles are rerun, so I'm not sure where I'll end up that day!
OLD YELLER (1957) - BAMBI and OLD YELLER in the same festival?! But there's nothing else I want to see in that slot, and Beverly Washburn will be there...so I'll probably attend unless I'm at one of the "TBA" movies. Love the cast, but as a dog lover I hope I won't regret it.
SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON (1949) - An all-time favorite film, but I just saw it at UCLA last October, so maybe I'll be at another "TBA" film, or just eat dinner (time for meals is at a premium during the festival). THE KEYS OF THE KINGDOM (1944) with Gregory Peck runs so long it might make it challenging to get to my last movie of the evening so I probably won't try to see that one.
THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939), but in a choice between Astaire and Charisse and CINEMA PARADISO (1988), Fred and Cyd will win every time!
For those who are interested, my friend Joel Williams Tweeted a list of the films which will be screened at the festival in 35mm.
For peeks at the schedules created by other bloggers, please visit these lists by my fellow classic film bloggers: Kristina at Speakeasy, Nora at The Nitrate Diva, Joel at Joel's Classic Film Passion, and KC at A Classic Movie Blog. I'll be updating this as I come across more.
Update: Here are more festival plans by Angela at The Hollywood Revue, Chris at Blog of the Darned, Raquel at Out of the Past, Kim at I See a Dark Theater, Kristen at Journeys in Classic Film, Daniel at Movie Mania Madness, Aurora at Once Upon a Screen, and Jandy at The Frame.
Additionally, there's a great post by Ariel providing information on the format for each movie screened at the festival. My fellow 35mm fans will especially want to consult her list; roughly 1/3 of the films at the festival will be shown in 35mm.
Looking back: My post on the 2015 schedule is here, 2014 is here, and thoughts on the 2013 schedule are here.
Update: The 2016 TCM Classic Film Festival in Review.