The 2016 TCM Classic Film Festival is just a little over a week away, and like many other attendees, I’ve been poring over the schedule for the past week trying to figure out what, exactly, I want to attend this year.
This will be my third year attending and this year’s schedule was, by far, the most difficult for me to decide on. Every year, there are always lots of amazing things happening at any given time, but this is the first time where there were so many blocks of time where I was literally interested in everything.
With so many hard choices to make, here are a few ways I like to narrow down my options:
- I skip movies that I’ve been to screenings of recently or that I know will be coming up at theaters back home
- I try to prioritize unique experiences that I’ll be unlikely to have at home
- Silents and foreign films have an edge since I typically have fewer chances to go to screenings of those at home
- If torn between a lesser-known movie and one that’s more famous, I’ll try to go with the lesser-known one
- Whether or not I’ll have time to make it to the next movie/event
- Is there a special guest I’m particularly interested in seeing?
As my schedule currently stands, I’m a little light on the silents this year, but I’m pretty darn happy with it. It looks like I’ll have a nice mix of old favorites and new-to-me movies, plus I’ll have the chance to attend some pretty awesome events.
Before I break my choices down day-by-day, here are my two big must-see events of the festival: The Manchurian Candidate introduced by Angela Lansbury and Band of Outsiders introduced by Anna Karina. I love The Manchurian Candidate and Lansbury is absolutely brilliant in it, so I was thrilled to hear this was on the schedule. I’ve never seen Band of Outsiders, but I am a big fan of 1960s French cinema and I have fairly few chances to see foreign films on the big screen at home, let alone see an icon from that era/genre in person. Needless to say, I’m hugely excited for that one.
Thursday, April 28
My Choices: Watching Red Carpet Arrivals, Dark Victory or A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner
Even before the full schedule was released, I knew I’d have some tough choices to make for opening night and it turns out I was right.
My media credentials don’t get me into the big screening of All The President’s Men, but I knew I’d have the option of watching the stars arrive on the red carpet for it. Being a big silent film fan, I was definitely interested in the poolside screening of Harold Lloyd’s The Freshman. Aside from those things, there’s a block of Dark Victory, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and One Potato, Two Potato over at the TCL multiplex, followed by a block of Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner introduced by Katharine Houghton, Brief Encounter, and Los Tallos Amargos.
It always pains me to miss a silent film, but I had a lot of fun watching the red carpet arrivals last year. Plus, out of all the movies being played that night, The Freshman is the one I’d be most likely to have a chance to go to a screening of at home (not necessarily poolside, but still). If I were to make my choice for the first block at the TCL multiplex today, I’d pick Dark Victory, but A Tree Grows in Brooklyn has long been on my list of movies I want to see, so I might change my mind when the day comes. For the second block, I’m going with Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner since it’s been a long time since I last saw it. But I wouldn’t complain if Brief Encounter ended up getting a second run on Sunday.
Friday, April 29
My Choices: Shanghai Express, Illeana Douglas Book Signing, The Way We Were, When You’re in Love, Pleasure Cruise, Batman, The Manchurian Candidate, Roar
Today was definitely the hardest day for me to plan out; there are so many blocks of time where everything that’s going on sounds amazing. I ended up making a lot of my choices for today based purely on logistics: if there’s enough time for me to from one place to another or if I’d be willing to leave a movie early to get to another.
Right off the bat, there’s the block of Shanghai Express, The More the Merrier, Love Me or Leave Me, Never Fear, and the handprint ceremony with Francis Ford Coppola. As cool as the handprint ceremony sounds, you basically have to skip the first and second blocks of movies to go to it and I’m way too interested in too many of the movies to make that kind of sacrifice. I hate to miss The More The Merrier because I have so much love for that movie, but I’m going with Shanghai Express since I also really want to do the Illeana Douglas book signing and The Way We Were and Shanghai gives me more time to work with.
Initially, my choice for the second block was Double Harness, but after a couple of days passed, I started gravitating more toward The Way We Were. Although I may switch back to Double Harness if I end up deciding that I don’t really want to ruin my makeup that early in the day.
After The Way We Were, I’ll be checking out When You’re In Love. I have a hard time resisting Cary Grant and since it’s a movie I’ve never seen before, I’d hate to let that chance pass me by. Plus, then I’d be in the right building to check out Pleasure Cruise at 5:15 PM.
Up next is one of my biggest conflicts of the entire schedule: the silent masterpiece The Passion of Joan of Arc or 1966’s Batman with Adam West and Lee Meriwether in attendance. No, really, I mean that in all seriousness. When I first read this year’s schedule, I told my friend Tim about this dilemma and his response was, “That is the most Angela problem I have ever heard.” And that is completely and totally true, on so many levels. Once again, I really hate to miss a silent, especially one that will very likely be incredibly moving to see on the big screen, but since I have my heart set on The Manchurian Candidate and I wouldn’t want to leave Joan of Arc early to have more time to line up.
If I still have energy after The Manchurian Candidate, I’ll be stopping by the midnight screening of Roar.
Saturday, April 30
My Choices: 90th Anniversary of Vitaphone, My First Time in Hollywood, Buona Sera Mrs. Campbell, Hollywood Home Movies, Band of Outsiders, Gog in 3D
After all the hard choices I made for the previous day, I’m getting off fairly easy today. The 90th Anniversary of Vitaphone presentation was a pretty natural choice for me since I loved the presentation on early Technicolor films at last year’s festival.
The next block was absolutely brutal to decide on because the only thing I ruled out immediately was Intolerance, since I don’t like that movie enough to dedicate that much of my day to it. There’s the Dead Man Don’t Wear Plaid screening/Carl Reiner tribute/book signing, the interview with Burt Reynolds at the Montalban Theater, A Face in the Crowd, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, A House Divided, Bulldog Drummond Strikes Back, and a panel about Cari Beauchamp’s new book “My First Time in Hollywood” in Club TCM. At first, I was tempted by the Burt Reynolds interview, then I was going to go with Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, but then I realized that Nancy Olson would be appearing at My First Time in Hollywood. Since Sunset Boulevard is in my top 5 favorite movies, the fact that she’s going to be there was a big game changer. Laraine Newman from Saturday Night Live, Suzanne Lloyd (granddaughter of Harold Lloyd), Bruce Goldstein, and David Ladd (son of Alan Ladd) will also be there, so it should be a pretty amazing event.
Next up for me is Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell at the Chinese theater. I was super tempted by the Serge Bromberg presentation about lost films in Club TCM since I find that subject so fascinating, especially since the description mentions a special world premiere surprise. But I’d really love to see Gina Lollobrigida and Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell sounds fun. From there, it’s back to Club TCM for Hollywood Home Movies. I’ve gone to Hollywood Home Movies for the past two years in a row and have never been disappointed. However, I highly recommend going to either the Rita Moreno book signing or seeing her introduce The King and I. She’s an absolutely remarkable woman, so I completely recommend taking any chance you get to meet her or see her in person. (The only reason why I’m skipping these things is because I saw The King and I not long ago and I already have a signed copy of her book.)
After Hollywood Home Movies, I’ll have a nice break to go get something to eat and get in line for my second must-see of the festival: Band of Outsiders with Anna Karina. My last movie of the day will be Gog in 3D.
Sunday, May 1
Sundays during TCMFF are always the hardest to plan in advance because there are always a few “To Be Announced” slots. When some movies shown during the festival are popular enough, they get a second run on Sunday so that people who missed them before will have a second chance. So while I have a good idea of what I want to see based on what’s definitely on the schedule, there’s a high chance that some game changers could come up and mix up my plans.
Right now, my first choice for the day is M*A*S*H, since that one has been on my list of movies I need to see for a long time. However, there’s a distinct possibility I could change my mind and go see All That Heaven Allows since it’s awfully hard to resist getting to see that stunning cinematography on the big screen.
After that, I’m planning on The Kid (I must see at least one silent during the festival) and Horse Feathers. From there, The Russians Are Coming, The Russians are Coming is currently my top choice, but Fat City sounds really good, too. Lastly, I love the idea of ending the festival on an exuberant note with The Band Wagon, but I might change my mind and go with Cinema Paradiso. Then, it’s back to the Roosevelt for the closing night party!
Update: The day after I originally posted this, TCM announced some major news about this year’s schedule. Burt Reynolds and Billy Dee Williams, who had both been announced as guests at the festival, are now unable to attend. I was disappointed to hear they wouldn’t be there, but since I wasn’t planning on attending their events, that news didn’t have a huge impact on my schedule.
However, there was another announcement that would: Faye Dunaway would be there to introduce a screening of Network and to record an extended interview at the Montalban theater. Faye Dunaway is one of my favorite actresses of the new Hollywood era (1967 onward), so there’s no way I can pass up the chance to see her discuss her career. I would have loved to have seen Eva Marie Saint introduce The Russians are Coming, but getting to see Faye Dunaway discuss her career in depth about her career seems like such an incredibly rare opportunity that I hate to miss it. Seeing her introduce Network would also be fantastic, but since I’m still leaning toward Dark Victory for my first movie of the festival, I kind of like the idea of ending it with The Band Wagon.