Oh TCM. First there's the agony of waiting for you to release the schedule for the TCM Classic Film Festival, then there's the continued agony of deciding what to see. But I'll take the latter. As Mae West once quipped, too much of a good thing can be wonderful.
This is my first pass at deciding what to see for TCMFF 2016. As those who have attended the festival before know, there can be all sorts of reasons to change your schedule, be it a sold-out house, a change of heart or the desperate need to eat something besides popcorn.
And right out of the gate I am undecided. Dark Victory (1939) is an important film for me. It's the movie that truly got me into classic film. As I watched Bette Davis swoosh her way through an oddly-colorized television broadcast of the movie, I knew I was seeing something special. She had me hooked.
I'm not sure I want to start the festival with a crying movie though, though honestly, I think those are my choices unless I want to see The Freshman (1925) by the Hollywood Roosevelt pool. And I don't, too chilly.
The rare screening of One, Potato, Two Potato (1964) also sounds intriguing, if perhaps downbeat and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945) might be a crying movie, but it is a hopeful kind of sadness. So I'm undecided and will probably go with my mood for that first film of the festival.
Brief Encounter (1945) is one of my favorite films. I think it's perfect. I've seen it so many times I could probably quote it from memory. It is yet another crying movie, and yes it's the best kind of devastating movie crying, but I don't know if I want to spend the first night of the festival in a puddle. I'm also determined to see more new-to-me films this year, so I might go with Argentinian noir Los Tallos Amargos (1956).
Though I hate to miss two blocks of film programming, I love covering the handprint ceremony in the forecourt of the Chinese Theatre and it will be great to see director Francis Ford Coppola get his due.
The ceremony is a unique chance to gawk at film legends up close; and you never know who will show up. I certainly never could have guessed I'd ever see Alex Trebek and William Shatner joke with each other as they did at the Christopher Plummer tribute last year, and at the Jerry Lewis ceremony in 2014, Quentin Tarantino unexpectedly walked up to the crowd and gave us all handshakes.
|At the 2014 Jerry Lewis handprint ceremony. I'm in the blue sweater, excited and anxious about the approach of QT.|
Next time block I'm intrigued by the Chinese Theater screening of The Conversation (1974) a film that horrifies and fascinates me. It would also be amazing to see Gina Lollobrigida in her first official festival appearance before Trapeze (1956), though I don't remember being too fond of that movie. Another possibility: the Amazing Film Discoveries presentation by Serge Bromberg of Lobster Films. Bromberg is a charming and entertaining presenter and I enjoyed an archival program that he presented at last year's Seattle International Film Festival.
I'll probably check out Pleasure Cruise (1933) after that, because it sounds naughty and I'll see any pre-code at least once.
Then I am so excited to see The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) at the Egyptian Theatre. A live orchestra will be performing the 1994 Richard Einhorn oratorio Voices of Light, which was composed to accompany the film. This is a festival must-sees for me. The major silent film presentations have been TCMFF highlights for me over the past two years and while I haven't seen this film for many years, I remember that it moved me deeply.
I'm hoping I'll be able to dash down Hollywood Boulevard in time to get good place in line at the Chinese Theatre for The Manchurian Candidate (1962). I have to at least try to see Angela Lansbury, and this film is one of her best. I love Angie when she is calculating.
I already own Roar (1981) on Blu-ray, and I'll miss the beginning of the midnight screening, but it would be amazing to see this crazy flick with an audience. Crazy is actually an inadequate word to describe it. It is beyond description. I'm still clenched from the last time I watched it.
Seeing Bambi (1942) on the schedule tugged at me. It was one of the first films I saw in the theatre, probably the first to make me sob uncontrollably, but the 90th Anniversary of Vitaphone presentation sounds like a unique opportunity. After taking a gamble on the hand-cranked films presentation last year and being blown away, I feel encouraged to try similar programs.
The next time block is pretty amazing: Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1982) with an appearance by Carl Reiner, A Face in the Crowd (1957) and One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest (1975) would all be great to see on the big screen.
I'm thinking of going with another new-to-me pre-code though, A House Divided (1931), the second talkie directed by William Wyler, and with an appearance from David Wyler, the director's son. Catching that shorter film will give me a chance to eat (gotta schedule that too!).
Then off to the Chinese Theatre to see Gina Lollobrigida appear before a screening of Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell (1968). Of Italian legend's three festival appearances, this is the one that I will most likely attend.
After that, I'll hop right back in line again to see The King and I (1956), again at the Chinese Theatre. No way am I missing Rita Moreno. I've loved her since The Electric Company.
|Rita Moreno channels Cecil B. DeMille on The Electric Company.|
I'm so curious about the midnight movie presentation of Gog (1954) in 3D. Even if I'm exhausted, I'll probably go. Nothing like a nap in a movie theater in the middle of the night!
Just about everything on Sunday could change because of the late Saturday announcement of TBD films, but these are my choices for now:
I'd love to see Allison Anders speak before All That Heaven Allows (1955), because she is so passionate and knowledgeable about classic film, but when am I going to get another chance to see, and presumably inhale, a film in Smell-o-Vision in the Cinerama Dome? So Holiday in Spain (AKA Scent of Mystery) (1966) it is. If it intrigued Leonard Maltin, I'm in.
Then maybe I'll catch The Kid (1921) at the Chinese multiplex, but this is usually the point in the festival when I'm starving, so I'll probably eat instead.
My last two films of the festival: John Huston's Fat City (1972) and Cinema Paradiso (1988), both in the Chinese Theatre (so many films I want to see there this year!) The former because Stacy Keach is one of my favorite actors and I'd love to see him in person.The latter because the Chinese Theatre felt like the place to be at the close of the festival last year. It was a more satisfying experience to be there with a huge crowd than catching up with a TBD film in a half-filled theater as I did the year before. As I last saw it when it first came out, I don't remember Cinema Paradiso well, but I keep hearing how magical it is, and what better place to experience a film like that?
So that's my plan for now. It will change, but I'm happy with my choices for now.
What are you most excited to see at the festival? Or what would you see if you're not planning to attend this year? Please share in the comments! If you've written your own schedule post, I'd love to share the link here.
Update: Check out my full TCMFF 2016 coverage here.