Monday, April 16, 2018

The 2018 TCM Classic Film Festival Schedule

The 2018 TCM Classic Film Festival opens in Hollywood on April 26th!

Just 10 more days until classic film fans descend on Hollywood to watch movies 'round the clock from Thursday evening, the 26th, through Sunday night, April 29th.

The theme of this year's festival is "Powerful Words: The Page Onscreen." There are many filmed novels in the festival, plus a series of Shakespeare films.

Once again I'm pleased to be covering the festival as a member of the credentialed media. I'll be attending a pre-festival press conference to glean all the latest TCM and festival news.

During the festival itself please follow me on Twitter for real time "as it happens" coverage including photos and updates on my schedule. After the festival stayed tuned for a comprehensive review, with a series of detailed daily recaps and film reviews.

As usual, I've spent considerable time reading and rereading the schedule, weighing and occasionally changing my choices. My picks were made somewhat easier by seeing OUTRAGE (1950) last weekend at UCLA, and I'll able to see Ruta Lee at a screening of WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION (1958) at the Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival next month!

Schedule choices are often narrowed because of logistics; for example, if a film lets out at the Egyptian half an hour before another potential movie starts in the smallest Chinese multiplex theater a few blocks down the street, chances of getting to the multiplex in time to get in aren't good. Mapping out the schedule is a bit like working with a Tetris puzzle! Fitting in one post-breakfast meal per day is a challenge as well; I still haven't found a slot to squeeze in a meal on Saturday! I think this year I'm going to be bringing along a cooler bag with sandwiches as it's the only way I can find to squeeze in some "real food" that day.

And as I've said before, sometimes last-minute substitutions become favorite experiences, so I never worry too much about most of the blocks. Whatever I see, the TCM Festival is always filled with new discoveries and great times with friends.

As a side note, my only real disappointment regarding this year's schedule is a dearth of Westerns which I personally want to see; I've had marvelous experiences in the past seeing films like STAGECOACH (1939) and RED RIVER (1948). I'll frankly never see THE OX-BOW INCIDENT (1943), as I find the story too troubling to be enjoyable, and at least at this point in time ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST (1968) doesn't hold interest either. ( Disney feature films! I've seen so many good ones at past festivals.)

Here's a look at my initial plan for this year's festival. (Click on any hyperlinked title for my past review.)

Thursday, April 26th:

The first pick of the night is an easy one for me: The delicious pre-Code FINISHING SCHOOL (1934), starring Frances Dee, Ginger Rogers, and Bruce Cabot. Jeremy Arnold will interview Wyatt McCrea about his grandmother Frances Dee's career prior to the movie. This one is playing in 35mm in the smallest multiplex theater so I plan to be in line for it quite early.

As an illustration of the competing choices in this single time slot: MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS (1974), which I'd love to see, having seen last year's remake, plus some of the film's stars will be at the festival and seem likely to show up; DETOUR (1945), a film noir I've amazingly not caught up with yet; the Bogart-Bacall classic TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT (1944); or a poolside screening of THEM! (1954) at the Hollywood Roosevelt.

My second time slot choice of the night will probably be STAGE DOOR (1937) at the Egyptian Theatre; I last saw it 4-1/2 years ago, but it's a favorite which holds up well to repeat viewings, and more significantly, it's the first of four films at the festival screening in nitrate. The wild card, if I decide to stay at the multiplex and try some more adventurous viewing, is Toshiro Mifune in Kurosawa's THRONE OF BLOOD (1957), shown in 35mm. That's an option I'm giving serious thought.

Friday, April 27th:

Friday morning starts for me at the Egyptian, with Jeanette MacDonald and Maurice Chevalier in Ernst Lubitsch's THE MERRY WIDOW (1934), screening in 35mm. I thought I'd seen all the MacDonald-Chevalier films and was surprised to suddenly realize that somehow I haven't seen this one! (Second choice: Seeing Hitchcock's STRANGERS ON A TRAIN on a big screen for the first time, via a digital print.)

Next a comedy I've never seen, Preston Sturges' THE MIRACLE OF MORGAN'S CREEK (1944). I've avoided it to date as I don't care for Betty Hutton, but it's time to finally see this one, as I enjoy so many other Sturges films. It's a digital print. (Side note: I seem to see films directed by Sturges, Lubitsch, and Hitchcock at every TCM Fest!)

THE MIRACLE OF MORGAN'S CREEK gets out 45 minutes before the next screening in the same theater, HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE (1953). That's my choice if I can get in, because I've not seen more than bits of it and it lets me get in line earlier for the next film on my list. While I'm a Betty Grable fan, the other big draws for me in MILLIONAIRE are Rory Calhoun and William Powell! If I can't get in, my second choice is BLESSED EVENT (1932), a Lee Tracy pre-Code I liked a lot a few years ago. HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE is a digital print, while BLESSED EVENT is 35mm.

The next two slots are my favorites of the festival, starting with Deanna Durbin in THREE SMART GIRLS (1936). LADY ON A TRAIN (1945) is the only Deanna film I've seen on a big screen to date, so the chance to see THREE SMART GIRLS is a great opportunity! (It's a killer time slot: I'll have to miss Marsha Hunt introducing NONE SHALL ESCAPE and a Chinese Theatre screening of a more recent favorite, THE RIGHT STUFF, with Veronica Cartwright and Mary Jo Deschanel appearing. Having been blessed to see Marsha in person on a number of occasions helped me make the choice...but perhaps it will turn out to be a TBA and I'll get to see that one as well!) Director Henry Koster's son Bob will be at THREE SMART GIRLS, interviewed by Susan King, who formerly covered the classic film beat for the L.A. Times. There's no indication of the format on the TCM site.

The last slot of the evening might be the most important to me of the entire festival, seeing LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN (1945) and its amazing Technicolor photography in a 35mm nitrate print at the Egyptian! It stars Gene Tierney, Cornel Wilde, and Jeanne Crain (seen at left).

Saturday, April 28th:

My first screening on Saturday will be a 35mm print of LOVE FINDS ANDY HARDY (1938), which somehow I've never seen all the way through. This film also positions me best timewise to get in line for the next time slot. Second choice: A digital print of A LETTER TO THREE WIVES (1949), a longtime favorite which I've never seen in a theater.

Next up, one of the films I most want to see, THIS THING CALLED LOVE (1940), a new-to-me romantic comedy starring Rosalind Russell and Melvyn Douglas, introduced by his granddaughter Illeana Douglas. And it's in 35mm!

Then I head down to the Egyptian for the rest of the day! WIFE VS. SECRETARY (1936) with Clark Gable, Myrna Loy, and Jean Harlow, is a lot of fun, and it's showing in 35mm. The only reason I might not see this is otherwise I'm probably not going to have time for an actual meal after breakfast on Saturday! Hence my considering bringing a bag with food I can eat in line at some point...

WIFE VS. SECRETARY gets out only 45 minutes before the next highly interesting film, but since the Egyptian seats over 600 people hopefully I'll get in for the pre-Code GIRLS ABOUT TOWN (1931), starring two huge favorites, Kay Francis and Joel McCrea, along with Lilyan Tashman (Francis and Tashman are seen at left). Wyatt McCrea will be on hand to discuss his grandfather's work; I'm delighted TCM asked him back this year, as he's an excellent speaker. This one screens in 35mm.

Then I'm very excited to see the Marion Davies silent comedy SHOW PEOPLE (1928) for the first time, a 35mm print with musical accompaniment by Ben Model. Leonard Maltin and blogger Lara Fowler will introduce it; Lara is working on a Davies biography.

Then I finally get to see some Hitchcock! I plan to see the nitrate 35mm print of SPELLBOUND (1945), starring Ingrid Berman and Gregory Peck, also showing at the Egyptian.

Sunday, April 29th: Sunday is always a bit uncertain due to the five "TBA" slots, which are typically filled with sellout titles from earlier in the festival. Last year, for example, I changed my original plan to see SINGIN' IN THE RAIN (1952) in order to see the repeat screening of Lubitsch's ONE HOUR WITH YOU (1932), starring Jeanette MacDonald and Maurice Chevalier. It was a gorgeous tinted print, and I was very happy with that schedule change!

The first time slot of the day is the only one without a blank "TBA" spot on the schedule. I'm currently leaning toward the Warner Bros. version of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM (1935), shown in 35mm, as it would be interesting to see the Oscar-winning cinematography on a big screen. (Only write-in Oscar winner ever, if memory serves!) Dick Powell, Olivia de Havilland, James Cagney, Anita Louise, and Mickey Rooney are among the all-star cast. The only other option for me in that time space is Tracy and Hepburn in WOMAN OF THE YEAR (1942), which has some great moments but I find hasn't held up that well.

Next up, it's a TBA or MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON (1939), which I've seen numerous times, but not on a big screen since I was a teen in the '70s! I'd be perfectly happy spending that time with James Stewart and Jean Arthur if a more tantalizing option doesn't appear on the schedule. This one is a digital print.

The third slot of the day is a three-way contest between Kevin Costner in BULL DURHAM (1988) in 35mm, Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse in SILK STOCKINGS (1957) in a digital print, or one of a couple TBA titles. Then there's actually time to grab some dinner!

Finally, unless I pick a film from one of the remaining two TBA slots, I'll see William Wellman Jr. introduce the fourth and final 35mm nitrate print of the festival, A STAR IS BORN (1937). I've honestly never liked that story very much, in any version...but nitrate! And Wellman is always interesting; I've been very fortunate to see him speak at a number of venues over the last few years.

I'm especially pleased with how many of my choices are in 35mm this year; I could end up seeing a significant majority in that format, which pleases me as I prefer seeing a format which can't be seen in my living room when I attend a festival. In 2016 only a third of my picks were in 35mm, but that jumped to over 50% at last year's festival, and it looks like it's climbing even higher this year.

It's always interesting to see how the final numbers of films seen shake out after the festival. I saw 11 movies at the 2013 festival, 14 in 2014, 16 films in 2015, 15 in 2016, and 17 (including a slate of cartoons) at the 2017 festival.

Just a few of the interesting screenings not already mentioned which I'm potentially (and regretfully) passing up: Animation historian Jerry Beck hosting a slate of PINK PANTHER cartoons; Eddie Muller introducing THE SET-UP (1949), which I've never seen; Muller introducing two more films I want to see, POINT BLANK (1967) and BULLITT (1968); Alan Rode introducing THE CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE (1936); Nancy Olson at SUNSET BLVD. (1950); Nancy Kwan at THE WORLD OF SUZIE WONG (1960); Claude Jarman Jr. at INTRUDER IN THE DUST (1949); Disney historian J.B. Kaufman on "Mickey in Hollywood" at Club TCM; Craig Barron and Ben Burtt doing one of their justly lauded special effects presentations leading into THE TEN COMMANDMENTS (1956) at the Chinese Theatre; Eva Marie Saint interviewed at GRAND PRIX (1966) at the Cinerama Dome on Sunset Boulevard; Suzanne Lloyd doing a presentation on "Harold Lloyd in 3D" at the Academy's Linwood Dunn Theater on Vine Street; and Alan Cumming (my favorite actor on THE GOOD WIFE) introducing HAMLET (1948). And there's more...much more! The TCM Classic Film Fest is sort of a Disneyland for classic film fans, if that comparison makes sense...for a few days it's "the happiest place on earth"!

For looks at the schedules created by other bloggers, please visit these lists by my fellow classic film bloggers:

Aurora at Once Upon a Screen

Kim at I See a Dark Theater

Kristen at Journeys in Classic Film

Danny at Pre-Code.Com

James at Thirty Hertz Rumble

Jocelyn at Classic Film Observations & Obsessions

Angela at The Hollywood Revue

Daniel at Movie Mania Madness

Nora of The Nitrate Diva

Toni at Watching Forever

Diane at Classic Movie Blog

Chris at Blog of the Darned

KC at A Classic Movie Blog

Raquel at Out of the Past

Stanford at Movies Past and Present

Anyone not included in the list above is most welcome to post the link to their plans in the comments! (P.S. Chris Sturhann of Blog of the Darned has written a great festival Survival Guide.)

For a look back in time, my post on the 2017 schedule is here. Please also visit my posts on the schedules for 2016, 2015, 2014, and 2013.

Update: The 2018 TCM Classic Film Festival in Review.


Blogger Robby Cress said...

Hi Laura,

Your mention of the film FINISHING SCHOOL and Wyatt McCrea being in attendance got me wondering if you know of any good biographies that have been written on his parents?

On another note, if you are even remotely interested in Sergio Leone films, you should definitely see ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST. That movies visuals combines with the score is stunning. I can only imagine how it will look on the big screen! But of course, always tough choices to make between what films to view :)

Have fun at the festival!

Kind Regards,

2:33 PM  
Blogger Bill O said...

ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST really demands big screen viewing. If you want to see a western, they're all in there....

10:58 AM  
Blogger Kristina said...

This is so fun to look at and pick through, even for those of us not going. Thanks for the links too, love to read everyone else's thoughts. This year's lineup is my favourite one yet, so much variety. Whatever you pick you're bound to have a wonderful time!

I'd go for FINISHING SCHOOL, SEA WOLF, THREE SMART GIRLS, LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN vs POINT BLANK a tough choice. PARK ROW is an awesome movie, PELHAM 123 (for the umpteenth time, one of the greatest thrillers ever made),SCARFACE, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION, ONE HOUR WITH YOU.

and what I wouldn't give to see the operatic ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST on that big screen, the only thing that would make it better would be a Claudia Cardinale intro.

11:27 AM  
Blogger Chris Sturhann said...

We have a couple in common. I'm glad you're going to Three Smart Girls. It's a great film. I'm kind of hoping it shows up in one of the TBAs. I also echo everyone's comments on Once Upon a Time in the West. I saw it on the big screen a couple of years ago, and it was so good, and that was not the Chinese with a TCMFF audience.

10:44 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thank you all so much for your comments! My apologies for not responding immediately; commuting to the Noir City Fest has taken up most of my free time for the past week.

Robby, great to hear from you! Historian Ed Hulse wrote a book on Frances Dee a couple years ago, with a foreword by Wyatt. It's sort of like the FILMS OF... Citadel books of old. Many great photos! Tony Thomas's book on Joel McCrea has been reissued and I think some of the errors in the original edition were cleaned up. There's also a nice book by Robert Nott on the films of McCrea, Scott, and Murphy.

Love that ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST has strong advocates! If I don't catch it at TCMFF I do at least have a DVD...though big screen viewings are so great. Thank you all for the feedback!!

Kristina, sure wish you were going to be here this year and hope you can come again before too long! So many amazing choices...

Looking forward to seeing you in a few more days, Chris!

Best wishes,

7:31 PM  

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