Tuesday, May 03, 2016

The 2016 TCM Classic Film Festival in Review

After months of anticipation, it's hard to believe that the 2016 TCM Classic Film Festival is now over!

The festival drew to its close Sunday evening, wrapping up a truly remarkable long weekend filled with memorable experiences.

There are so many things happening simultaneously at the festival that I wish I could do it all over again, choosing some of the marvelous things I had to regretfully leave off my schedule. Lou Lumenick and Leonard Maltin provide an overview of just a small fraction of the options available at this year's festival.

Robert Osborne was again greatly missed, but TCM assembled a very fine group to introduce the films; along with TCM host Ben Mankiewicz, this year's presenters included Eddie Muller, Illeana Douglas, Leonard Maltin, William Joyce, and Jeremy Arnold.

One of the most insightful intros of the festival was provided by actress-filmmaker Bonnie Hunt, who spoke eloquently on the magic of Claudette Colbert and MIDNIGHT (1939). I was particularly moved when Hunt recounted sharing a VHS tape of MIDNIGHT to cheer patients when working in her prior career as an oncology nurse.

This year I saw 15 films, a tie with 2014; 2015 remains my top viewing year, with 16 titles. Brand-new films and personal repeats were roughly split; seven of the films were first-time viewings, while I'd seen eight of the movies before. However, a couple of the "repeat" titles I hadn't seen for a very long time -- in fact, I hadn't seen one since I was a teenager -- so they still felt new.

The movies seen were a diverse group which included pre-Codes, a Western, film noir, sci-fi, a musical, a Christmas perennial, Disney classics, screwball comedy, romantic melodrama, and a British film. About all that was missing was a silent film; hopefully I'll see one at next year's festival!

I saw the majority of my original picks, although sellouts and the reality of schedule constraints caused me to make some modifications. However, I'm sure I was just as happy with last-minute schedule additions such as HE RAN ALL THE WAY (1951) and IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946) as I would have been with the original choices!

One-third of the films were viewed in 35mm, which is interesting, as roughly one-third of the films shown at this year's festival were in 35mm. The ten digital prints included SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON (1949), which I saw in 35mm six months ago.

The very best part of the festival continues to be the chance to reconnect with friends from the classic film blogging and Twitter community, who come together at TCMFF each year from across the country -- indeed, the world!

This annual reunion brings together people of varied ages and backgrounds, all united by our deep love and appreciation of classic films. It's safe to say that with every passing year we all value the chance to spend this special time together more deeply. It continues to be a very happy, joyful occasion.

As far as movies, my single favorite experience of this year's festival was a screening of BAMBI (1942), which I have shied away from watching in the past; in fact, BAMBI might have been my all-time favorite festival experience.

The film was preceded by an exceptionally moving talk with Donnie Dunagan, who was the voice of Bambi as a child; his eloquence had the audience in tears before the movie ever began! The exquisite beauty of the movie found my eyes misting more than once. I'll be writing more about BAMBI at a future date.

I'll be following my usual practice of providing an overview of each day of the festival, interspersed with individual posts on some of the films seen which have not been reviewed here previously.

As I've done in years past, as my posts go up I will add each link to the bottom of this introductory overview, so that all of this year's festival coverage may be easily found in one place.

TCM also broke big news during festival week, the upcoming launch of their new streaming service FilmStruck and the brand-new TCM Backlot fan club, which appears in some ways to be emulating Disney's D23 fan club. I'll be reporting on both ventures in the coming days, as time permits.

I also have a number of non-festival posts coming soon, some of which I previewed before the festival.

TCM 2016 Festival Posts: The 2016 TCM Classic Film Festival: Day One; The 2016 TCM Classic Film Festival: Day Two; Tonight's Movie: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945) at the TCM Classic Film Festival; The 2016 TCM Classic Film Festival: Day Three; The 2016 TCM Classic Film Festival: Day Four; Tonight's Movie: He Ran All the Way (1951) at the TCM Classic Film Festival; The 2016 TCM Classic Film Festival: Day Five; TCM News: FilmStruck and TCM Backlot; Tonight's Movie: A House Divided (1931) at the TCM Classic Film Festival.

Previously reviewed films seen at the 2016 TCM Classic Film Festival: REPEAT PERFORMANCE (1947), THE WAR OF THE WORLDS (1953), MIDNIGHT (1939), ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS (1955), and SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON (1949).

I have also covered the festival for ClassicFlix. In a related ClassicFlix post, Make Your Own TCM Classic Film Festival, I looked back at some favorite films from the past few festivals which are available on DVD.

Previous 2016 Coverage: TCM Announces 2016 Festival Dates and Theme (August 28, 2015); TCM Classic Film Festival Announcements (November 17, 2015); The Latest TCM Classic Film Festival Announcements (February 2, 2016); The 2016 TCM Classic Film Festival Schedule; Coming Soon!

Roundups containing all links to past festival coverage: The 2013 TCM Classic Film Festival in Review, The 2014 TCM Classic Film Festival in Review, and The 2015 TCM Classic Film Festival in Review.


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