The 5th annual Turner Classic Movie Classic Film Festival kicks off one week from today, and like many fellow attendees, I’ve been poring over the festival schedule, trying to make my plans. Trying to decide between some of these events has been an absolutely wonderful problem to have. The movie schedule is a great mix of crowd-pleasing hits, lesser-known gems, and everything in between; not to mention all the additional events with some very highly respected historians and people in the film industry. Since this is my first time attending the festival, I want to try to experience a little bit of everything.
My main strategy for planning my TCMFF schedule is to do as many things as possible that I would not be able to do at home. Some movies on the schedule such as City Lights, The Wizard of Oz, and Imitation of Life are movies that I’ve either already seen on the big screen at least once or I know will be playing at theaters at home in the near future. So even though I adore City Lights, I did just go to a screening of it in December, which made my decision to go for Stella Dallas instead on Saturday morning a fairly easy one.
Although I’m trying to do things I can’t do at home, it’s not the only deciding factor. In theory, I would love to nothing but silent, foreign, lesser known titles, and new-to-me movies, but many of the screenings are more than just the movie. For opening night, I’m planning on going to the poolside screening of American Graffiti. Although I went to a screening of that movie a year or two ago, Paul Le Mat, Candy Clark, and Bo Hopkins weren’t there and there aren’t many chances to watch movies poolside in Michigan.
With my mission to experience things I can’t do at home, that means many of the Club TCM events are musts for me. I’ll be spending a good deal of time at there on Friday with the conversations with Richard Dreyfuss, William Friedkin, and Quincy Jones all happening that day.
So, here’s how my schedule is looking right now…
Thursday, April 10:
- Meet TCM at 2:00 PM
- Sons of Gods and Monsters with Rick Baker and Joe Dante at 3:30 PM
- Welcome party at 5:00 PM
- American Graffiti at 7:30 PM
- Possibly Johnny Guitar at 10:00 PM
TCMFF wastes no time in giving attendees plenty of hard decisions to make. There’s the opening night gala event of Oklahoma! at the TCL Chinese Imax, a Joan Crawford double feature of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? and Johnny Guitar at the Chinese Multiplex 1, a Ginger Rogers double feature of Fifth Avenue Girl and Bachelor Mother at the Chinese Multiplex 4, and Cheaper by the Dozen and The Heiress at the Chinese Multiplex 6.
My media credentials won’t be getting me into the Oklahoma! screening and I’ve seen Baby Jane on the big screen before, so those movies were ruled out for me. Even though I adore Ginger Rogers, American Graffiti is my choice just for the experience factor.
Friday, April 11:
- Either The Thin Man at 9:00 AM OR On Approval at 9:45 AM
- Grey Gardens at 12:00 PM
- A conversation with Richard Dreyfuss at 2:00 PM
- A conversation with William Friedkin at 4:00 PM
- A conversation with Quincy Jones at 6:00 PM
- Why Worry? at 7:15 PM
- Employees’ Entrance at 9:15 PM
- Possibly Eraserhead at midnight (I normally love going to midnight movies because I’m a bit of a night owl. But midnight in Los Angeles is 3:00 AM in Detroit, so I’ll have to see how well I cope with the time difference.)
This was the hardest day to make my decisions for because there’s hardly anything scheduled that I don’t want to go to. Grey Gardens with Albert Maysles in attendance has been on my “must see” list from the very beginning. It’s one of the most absolutely fascinating documentaries I have ever seen.
The non-film events are every bit as interesting as the movie screenings. Charlton Heston’s family will be on hand for a dedication ceremony of the new Charlton Heston postage stamp at the TCL Chinese Imax at 10:00 AM. I’m very excited for the conversations with Richard Dreyfuss, William Friedkin, and Quincy Jones at Club TCM. And if there’s something you’ve always wanted to ask Robert Osborne, don’t miss the Ask Robert session at 2:00 PM at the Montalban Theater.
If you’re planning to see some lesser-known movies at the festival, most of those will be at the Chinese Multiplex 4. A word of warning: the Chinese Multiplex 4 only has a capacity of 177 seats. So if you really want to see a certain movie playing there, make sure to get in line early.
Saturday, April 12:
- Stella Dallas at 9:00 AM
- Godzilla at 11:45 AM
- A conversation with Thelma Schoonmaker at 2:30 PM
- Hollywood Home Movies at 4:30 PM
- Bell, Book, and Candle at 6:15 PM OR A Hard Day’s Night at 6:30 PM.
- The Women 9:30 PM
- Possibly Freaks at midnight
Saturday afternoon from 2:00-5:30 PM is easily one of the toughest blocks of events of the entire festival. During this time, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly; The Goodbye Girl introduced by Richard Dreyfuss; Stormy Weather; the 1949 version of The Great Gatsby; and How Green Was My Valley introduced by Maureen O’Hara are all in competition with each other. In addition to the films, Club TCM is hosting a conversation with Thelma Schoonmaker and a screening of rare, behind-the-scenes home movies. Meanwhile, over at the Chinese Multiplex 4, Leonard Maltin will be hosting a tribute to Hubley animation. Every single thing happening in that block will absolutely be worth attending.
I’ll be going for the Thelma Schoonmaker/Hollywood Home Movie events at Club TCM during that time, but I’ve been seeing How Green Was My Valley on many people’s lists of must-see movies at TCMFF. How Green… will be at the El Capitan theater, which seats nearly 1,000. But if you have your heart set on seeing that one and want to have a great view of Maureen O’Hara, get in line early because it’s shaping up to be one of the hottest events of the festival.
Sunday, April 13:
I’m keeping my schedule for Sunday pretty open for the time being. The Lodger is a must-see and I’m really intrigued by the recent addition of The Heart is a Lonely Hunter introduced by Alan Arkin. There’s some great stuff on the agenda, but much of Sunday’s schedule will be repeats of movies that were played earlier in the festival and were popular enough to deserve an encore. So I’m waiting to see what those “To Be Announced” slots end up being occupied by before I set my heart on anything more than The Lodger. I may spend Sunday catching up on movies I couldn’t make it to earlier or I may spent much of the day watching Fiddler on the Roof and Gone With the Wind. Only time will tell.
I’m very happy with my plans as they stand right now. I think I’ve changed my plans around a little bit almost every day since the schedule has been announced and I will likely be changing my plans up until the last minute. But any way I go about it, I know I’m in for an amazing time.