My Picks for the TCM Classic Film Festival 2015

In My Humble Opinion 
by Chris Morris

“Wait, so…you go to a Film Festival, all the way in Hollywood, to watch old movies, ones that you’ve already seen?”

About a week ago, Turner Classic Movies revealed their schedule for the TCM Classic Film Festival 2015 in Hollywood. I have attended the TCM Film Festival in the past, attending the festival in 2011 and 2012. Unfortunately I have missed it since and have regretted it each year. This year I get to return and I’m really looking forward to it.

My initial viewing of the released schedule usually goes like this:
1) is there a Charlie Chaplin film?
2) is there a Buster Keaton film?
3) is there a Fred and Ginger film?
4) is there a Cary Grant film?
5) is there a William Powell film (preferably one with Myrna Loy)?
6) is there any film noir playing?
Etc., etc…

Also picking what films you want to attend isn’t just about which is your favourite in a given block of films. You have to allocate time for when one movie ends and when another begins. That’s usually not a problem since Grauman’s er TCL Chinese Theatre is so close the El Capitan and of course the other three theatres showing films in the Chinese Multiplex, but the Egyptian is a few blocks away. In past years I’ve found myself, along with other TCM Festival goers, running full speed down Hollywood Blvd, past all the tourists and people holding up signs predicting the end is nigh, just to get in line for the next screening. Plus longer films, like Lawrence of Arabia or Dr. Zhivago are wonderful but if you skip those you could potentially see two other films in the same block of time. So there is strategy involved for making a good TCM Classic Film Festival itinerary.

The only glitch in my own personal schedule is that I am not arriving in Hollywood until 11pm on Thursday March 26th, the 1st day of the Festival. I picked this flight initially because of work reasons, but now I’m regretting it. The Thursday events include the “Meet TCM” event and a Welcome Party in Club TCM at the Hollywood Roosevelt, plus the first round of movies. The big red carpet premiere this year is for The Sound of Music but I normally skip getting dressed up as I only have the “Classic” pass.

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The biggest disappointment will be missing Grease poolside at the Roosevelt and My Man Godfrey. Godfrey is one of my all-time favourites. I can only hope that the programmers re-schedule Godfrey for one of the Sunday TBA slots. (hint, hint!) But c’est la vie I guess…

So let’s start with my (Sophie’s) choices for Friday…

Friday March 27th.

Inherit the Wind vs. The Dawn of Technicolor (documentary) vs. The Smiling Lieutenant vs. My Darling Clementine
Inherit the Wind and My Darling Clementine start off the morning as my two top picks, but then Lawrence of Arabia is showing at the El Capitan at 10am. But as mentioned before, Arabia is so long, seeing that will make me miss all of the 2nd block of films, so I’ll most likely be seeing Inherit, a true classic (but then I guess all of these are, so I will try to not use that word again…)
*Note: also at 10am is Christopher Plummer’s hand/foot in cement ceremony outside Grauman’ Chinese Theater. I admire my fellow Canadian Plummer but I’ll be inside watching a movie. Besides, I always feel really bad for tourists this weekend, trying to take pictures of all the hand/foot prints of legends such as C-3PO and R2D2 but have to put up with us Festival-goers waiting in line for movies…well not really 🙂 So just a note to anyone wanting to go sight seeing in Hollywood – AVOID this weekend!

Lenny vs. The Proud Rebel vs. Reign of Terror vs. The Purple Rose of Cairo
In the 2nd block, Lenny is being shown with Dustin Hoffman discussing the film beforehand with Alec Baldwin, plus The Purple Rose of Cairo. It’s a close one but Cairo might have the lead although Reign of Terror sounds like a great example of film noir and I have a soft spot in my heart for that genre. Plus I’ve never seen it and finding new favourites it part of the fun of TCM after all…

An Affair to Remember vs. The Cincinnati Kid vs. Chimes at Midnight vs. Young Mr. Lincoln vs. Limelight vs. Pinocchio
In the 3rd block, An Affair to Remember, The Cincinnati Kid, Chimes at Midnight (an Orson Welles film I haven’t seen) and Limelight are all great choices, along with Pinocchio playing at Disney’s El Capitan. I mention the El Capitan because it’s a great place to watch films and it’s only showing films on the Friday. It would be great to see at least one film there. Charlie Chaplin would normally be an automatic choice, but Cary Grant is the only person who could bump The Tramp. But Limelight as a bonus, it’s Chaplin AND Buster Keaton so it has the edge.

Norma Rae vs. Steamboat Bill Jr. vs. Rififi vs. Don’t Bet on Women vs. The Invisible Man vs. A Man for All Seasons vs. Raiders of the Lost Ark vs. The Party

The 4th Block has what will be probably the most popular choice, Raiders of the Lost Ark at the El Capitan. That is very, very, very tempting, but playing at the same time is Buster Keaton’s Steamboat Bill, Jr. and a movie I’ve never seen, Rififi, which is apparently one of the first heist films. I am torn and since Raiders is going to draw a crowd, I am probably going to Buster Keaton, but my love for heist films (and watching movies I’ve never seen before and finding gold) makes Rififi tempting as well. Another conflict is The Party playing poolside at the Roosevelt at 8pm. This is always fun but watching movies poolside depends on the weather cooperating. A little wind or rain can ruin the experience. However Steamboat Bill Jr. is playing with a live musical accompaniment so Buster looks like our winner here…

*Note: because Limelight ends at 4pm-ish and Steamboat doesn’t start until 7:15pm, I could potentially see Don’t Bet on the Women in it’s entirety or see the beginning of Rififi or Raiders (just watching that Raiders opening sequence on the El Capitan screen would be very cool), but taking away a seat that someone else could use would be kind of a jerk-move. Or I could just go get some dinner at the Musso and Frank Grill…

Apollo 13 vs. Rebecca vs. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service vs. The War Game vs. The Bank Dick vs. Roman Holiday
5th block has Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca, James Bond’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and The Bank Dick, as well as Roman Holiday at the El Capitan as the highlights. I am leaning towards W.C. Fields’ Bank Dick but this would be my last chance to see a movie at the El Capitan, so Roman Holiday might get the edge.

The last showing of the day is a midnight showing of Boom! I know nothing about this other than watching the trailer and it looks bonkers so this looks like a no-brainer. Although sleep may enter into the equation, considering the following night’s midnight feature is one I can’t miss, so we’ll have to see how this plays out on the day.

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Saturday, March 28th

This day, to me, has a lot of options and fewer no-brainers.

Dr. Zhivago vs. The Man Who Would Be King vs. Why Be Good? vs. They Won’t Forget vs. They Were Expendable vs. 42nd Street vs. So Dear to My Heart
In the 1st block is a 4-way choice between Dr. Zhivago, The Man Who Would Be King, John Wayne’s They Were Expendable and 42nd Street. The Man Who Would Be King is what I’m leaning towards but none of those choices are bad ones. 42nd Street may have an edge since there is no Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers movie this year and not seeing a musical at the Festival is blasphemous, especially a Busby Berkeley one.
*Note: because the way the movies are scheduled I could see Why Be Good or They Won’t Forget and then 42nd Street or I could just sleep in until 11am-ish…but what fun would that be?

1776 vs. Malcolm X vs. Rebel Without a Cause vs. Air Mail vs. The Miracle Worker vs. The Picture Show Man vs. Christmas in July
In the 2nd block is a lot of question marks, with many films I’ve never seen before. I’ve seen Malcolm and Rebel but none of the others. From the descriptions, Air Mail and Christmas in July seem the most promising, with Christmas being directed by Preston Sturges and starring Dick Powell. And because of the scheduling, I can see both back-to-back. Not to mention there are bunch of panels at Club TCM, and at some point I have to fit in some shopping at the TCM Store in the Roosevelt lobby.

The Apartment vs. The Wind and the Lion vs. History of the World Part 1 vs. Madame Curie vs. Viva Zapata! vs. Earthquake
In the 3rd block, there is a tough choice to be made; The Apartment in the TCL Chinese Theatre (again, formerly known as Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, I might never get used to saying that) and Mel Brooks’ History of the World Part One. I haven’t seen any films in the TCL yet, so that’s what I’m leaning towards. If Mel Brooks makes a live appearance to introduce his film, that might sway me towards “History”, though. Also during this time slot is a showing of Earthquake poolside at the Roosevelt, but it overlaps blocks so going to that creates conflicts in the 4th block…

The French Connection vs. Adam’s Rib vs. Imitation of Life vs. The Loved One vs. Returns of the Dream Machine (documentary)
For the 4th block, it’s The French Connection, Imitation of Life or Adam’s Rib which doubles as a recording of Greg Proops’ Film Club. The French Connection is being introduced by it’s director William Friedkin, which is very cool, but Adam’s Rib is the one to go with here for me as I am a big Proops fan as well as it just being a great film, period.

Nothing Lasts Forever
Last movie of the day is a midnight showing of Nothing Lasts Forever that I would have never heard of except for a TCM showing a few months ago. This 1984 film stars Zach Galligan (Gremlins) and cameos by younger versions of Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Fisher. This is a perfect candidate for a midnight movie and I can’t wait to see it with a TCM crowd.

Sunday March 29th

The Hunchback of Notre Dame vs. Patton vs. Calamity Jane vs. Nightmare Alley vs. two TBA’s
1st block has The Hunchback of Notre Dame vs. Patton, with Hunchback probably getting the nod. Also on Sundays at the Festival they have open TBA spots that are filled by films that turned people away in the prior days, so I’ll have to pay attention to announcements for those. *Fingers crossed for My Man Godfrey….hint, hint TCMFF programmers!!! 🙂

Psycho vs. Gunga Din vs. Desk Set vs. The Diary of Anne Frank vs. TBA
2nd block has Gunga Din which frankly is my choice, no question. Also a possibility is Desk Set which is a Tracey-Hepburn movie I haven’t seen.

The Philadelphia Story vs. The Children’s Hour vs. Out of Sight vs. Judgement At Nuremberg vs. Houdini
3rd block has a tough choice. The Philadelphia Story is one of my all time favourite films, and it’s playing at the Chinese Theater. Also playing is Out of Sight another one of my all-time favourites, as well as Judgement at Nuremberg. “Story” gets the nod.

Marriage Italian Style vs. The Grim Game vs. Kiss Me Kate in 3D vs. two TBA’s
4th block has Kiss Me Kate in 3D although this is getting close to the end so this may a chance to get some dinner and get ready for the Official Closing Night Party at 9pm at Club TCM.

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So that’s a lot of films in three/four days. Potentially 16 films, in fact. Of course, the Festival isn’t just about sitting in the dark and watching films. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a lot of the TCM staff over the years, including our ‘rock star’ TCM Host Robert Osbourne (although he will be missing the Festival this year due to a ‘medical procedure’; Get Well Soon Mr. Osbourne!), and all have been very kind and gracious. They all seem to be genuinely good people. They seem to have as much fun as we do which is very cool to see.

I’ve also had countless conversations standing in line and/or sitting in the theatre waiting for the lights to dim. Having a love for Classic Film is something we all have at this Festival and bonds us together. Which I guess makes us Film Geek Authorities! 🙂

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