Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival in Review

The 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival is now in the history books!

It's hard to believe that just a week ago I was eagerly anticipating the festival, and now a truly memorable weekend is already in the rearview mirror.

This year's festival was dedicated to the late Robert Osborne, with tributes to Mr. Osborne preceding the Thursday evening films. His gracious presence was remembered and strongly felt throughout the festival, as I believe it will be for many years to come.

Regular TCM hosts Ben Mankiewicz, Tiffany Vazquez, Eddie Muller, and Leonard Maltin were joined by a fine group of presenters, including past network guest hosts Illeana Douglas and Dana Delany, plus Bruce Goldstein, Cari Beauchamp, Randy Haberkamp, Alicia Malone, and more.

TCM instituted a couple of positive changes this year which made the festival better than ever. Serious thought was given to reprogramming Theater 4, the smallest Chinese multiplex theater which is capable of showing 35mm films -- and which experienced many frustrating sellouts last year. This year a significant number of pre-Codes and rarities such as the Lubitsch silent film SO THIS IS PARIS (1926) moved down the street to the much larger Egyptian.

Several people commented to me that the festival consequently felt less stressful, an opinion I share; I spent less time in line this year and got into every single film I wanted to see. I even made it into a Sunday afternoon movie in Theater 4 just half an hour before it started!

TCM helped pay for the Egyptian's new nitrate projection booth, which debuted last November with CASABLANCA (1942), and the nitrate prints were the talk of the festival. I saw two, THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH (1934) and LAURA (1944); the other nitrate prints screened were BLACK NARCISSUS (1947) and LADY IN THE DARK (1944).

At this year's festival I saw 16 films and a cartoon program; 17 presentations is a new record for me, besting 16 films seen in 2015.

Of the 16 films seen this year, six films were brand-new to me and ten were repeats; I'd previously seen half of those "repeat" films on a big screen. That said, I hadn't seen a couple of the "repeats" for many years, so it was almost like seeing new films! Additionally, all but one of the cartoons were new to me.

The festival theme was "Make 'Em Laugh," and I saw a significant number of classic comedies, including two films apiece directed by Lubitsch and Sturges; two of the comedies starred Irene Dunne, and two more starred Claudette Colbert. My festival tally included a pair of silent films, a Western, a musical, a foreign film, and a Hitchcock thriller, to name a few.

Last year only a third of the films I watched were in 35mm; this year the number zoomed to over 50%, which is quite interesting given that the percentage of 35mm prints shown at the festival decreased from roughly 33% last year to 25% in 2017. (April 12th Update: Actually, today I noticed that there were more films shown in 35mm than I realized; I didn't initially pick up that nitrate is shown separately from the other 35mm films on this format chart.) Two of the nine 35mm films I saw this year were nitrate.

For the most part I followed the schedule which I outlined here before the festival; the two movies I swapped out were those I had written might be changed at the last minute. I had originally thought I'd need to skip both VIGIL IN THE NIGHT (1940) and CAT PEOPLE (1943) at the Chinese multiplex if I wanted to see the nitrate print of LAURA at the Egyptian, but when I got out of VIGIL IN THE NIGHT I realized that if I hurried I could make it to LAURA in time, and I did!

I also traded SINGIN' IN THE RAIN (1952) in favor of ONE HOUR WITH YOU (1932) when the latter film was assigned as one of the "TBA" films repeated on Sunday afternoon.

Additionally, I was unexpectedly able to squeeze in one more film on Friday, for a total of six presentations that day, consisting of five films and the BEYOND THE MOUSE cartoon show.

I had a fantastic time each and every day, but if I had to choose just one film as my favorite experience of the festival, I believe I'd pick RED RIVER (1948), which I'd last seen so long ago I didn't even remember it. Seeing it on the huge Egyptian screen in a gorgeous 35mm print was truly an epic experience which left me profoundly moved.

I say it every year, but it's so key that it bears repeating: As much as I love the movies, the most wonderful part of the festival is connecting with friends from all over the country, as well as Canada and the UK.

The evening before the festival got rolling in earnest a dozen of us met for a "family reunion" dinner organized by Raquel, after which we joined even more friends at a party honoring bloggers which was sponsored by TCM. Highlights at that event, held in the Spare Room at the Hollywood Roosevelt, included watching Illeana Douglas bowling.

Then, as the weekend went on, every ticket line or walk down the street provided the chance to say hello and catch up with friends seen in person just once a year. A peek at the TCMFF hashtag on Twitter gives an idea of what a happy and joyous occasion it is. As my friend Joel wrote today: "Each time I go back, I realize it's more about the people and less about the films."

As I've done in years past, I'll be posting overviews of each day of the festival, as well as reviews of some of the individual films.

As my posts go up I'll add the links here, so that all of this year's festival coverage may be easily found in one place.

It's been an amazing movie month, including 50 films and two cartoon programs seen on a big screen between March 3rd and April 9th!  Stay tuned for additional TCM Classic Film Festival posts along with much more, as I previewed last week.

TCM 2017 Festival Posts: The 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival: Day One; The 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival: Day Two; The 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival: Day Three; The 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival: Day Four; The 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival: Day Five.

Previously reviewed films seen at the 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival, listed in the order viewed: LAURA (1944), THEODORA GOES WILD (1936), UNFAITHFULLY YOURS (1948), THE EGG AND I (1947), THE PALM BEACH STORY (1942), and ONE HOUR WITH YOU (1932).

Previous 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival coverage: TCM Announces 2017 Festival Dates and Theme (August 25, 2016), TCM Classic Film Festival Announcements (January 11, 2017), The Latest TCM Classic Film Festival Announcements (February 13, 2017), The 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival Schedule (April 3, 2017); Coming Soon! (April 5, 2017).

Roundups containing all links to coverage of past TCM festivals: The 2013 TCM Classic Film Festival in Review, The 2014 TCM Classic Film Festival in Review, The 2015 TCM Classic Film Festival in Review, and The 2016 TCM Classic Film Festival in Review.


Blogger DKoren said...

It was wonderful to see you again and to share Red River with you!! I also hadn't seen that one in so long it was almost like a new movie. Next year I think I will definitely come down and try to do standby for more films. It was a lot easier than I expected and it is delightful to see these movies with people who love them as much as I do.

7:55 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

What an unexpected treat to see you at the fest, Deb!! It was wonderful seeing RED RIVER together. That's great news I'll hopefully see more of you at the fest in 2018! So glad you enjoyed it. :)

Best wishes,

8:01 AM  
Blogger Jerry E said...

My first experience of "RED RIVER" was on the big screen (but not in 1948 - I'm not THAT old!!) and that is the way that huge film needs to be seen. I re-watched it for the umpteenth time quite recently and felt that 'true classic' feeling all over again.
Please allow me to point you, if you haven't already seen it,Laura, to Jeff Arnold's West blogsite where he has just reviewed "RED RIVER". Makes for very interesting reading.

2:27 PM  
Blogger Caftan Woman said...

I'm always happy to read about the festival and know that grows and continues to be such a wonderful experience. Many that continue for many more years.

6:14 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Jerry, I loved hearing your thoughts on RED RIVER! That movie really does cry out for the big screen. It reminded me of seeing WINCHESTER '73 on a big screen, at times I felt as though I was looking at huge, gorgeous paintings.

I wanted to belatedly thank you for pointing me to Jeff Arnold's RED RIVER post, which I enjoyed.

Thank you very much, Caftan Woman, I'm so glad you enjoyed the coverage! It would be wonderful if you could join us at the fest one day!!!

Best wishes,

9:47 AM  

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