It’s hard to believe that in just a little over a week from now, I’ll be in Los Angeles for this year’s TCM Classic Film Festival. This will be my fourth year attending and I have yet to be disappointed by my experience. Every year, I eagerly anticipate the full schedule being announced so I can spend a week obsessing over the schedule in minute detail to plan my course of action.
Planning out my schedule is never easy and there are always plenty of timing conflicts to agonize over. This year was definitely no exception. In fact, my schedule is less firm this year than it has been in the past since there are lots of blocks where I could easily change my mind on the day of.
Everyone has their own unique method to figuring out what to see at TCMFF. In the past, I’ve had years where I mostly watched old favorites and I’ve had years where virtually everything I saw was new to me. This year, it looks like I’ll have a nice combination of both. Generally speaking, here’s what I consider when planning my schedule:
- Have I seen it on the big screen before, or is it very likely I’ll have a chance to go to a screening of it at home?
- Is there a special guest I’d really like to see?
- Is there anything else that makes this event/screening unique?
- Will I have time to get to this from my previous event?
This year, several of the movies will be shown on nitrate prints and it’s my big goal to see at least one of those. Given the volatile nature of nitrate, very few theaters will screen them so I doubt I’ll ever have a chance to go to a screening of one near home. Other than that, two of my biggest must-sees are both Club TCM events: conversations with Dick Cavett and Peter Bogdanovich. But now, let’s get on to the rest of my plans.
Thursday, April 6th
Although there are a few official festival events scattered throughout the day, like a tribute to Robert Osborne, attendee meet-ups, and trivia games, the festival doesn’t start getting into full swing until around 5:00 PM when the welcome party starts.
Right off the bat, I’m faced with some hard choices because there’s nothing going on that I’m simply not interested in. I can rule out In The Heat of The Night since my media credentials don’t get me into that. I’ve also had several opportunities to see Willy Wonka, so I can pass on that, too. That leaves me with Love Crazy, Some Like it Hot, Jezebel, and Dawson City: Frozen Time. When I saw Some Like it Hot, one of my all-time favorites, on the schedule, I almost thought I knew what my choice would be. But I also love Bette Davis and it’s hard to resist seeing a non-Thin Man Loy-Powell pairing on the big screen.
With all those choices, I almost completely overlooked Dawson City: Frozen Time until I actually read the description for it. It’s a documentary about a stash of over 500 film reels dating from between 1903 and 1929 being found in the empty swimming pool beneath an old hockey rink in Yukon, Canada. This find included footage of silent film greats like Harold Lloyd and Douglas Fairbanks, as well as newsreel footage of the infamously fixed 1919 World Series. I’m fascinated by stories like these and I’m excited about that footage of the 1919 World Series. I’m not even a big sports fan, but even I think that would be very cool to see. So Dawson City wins out as my choice for this slot.
For my second movie of the night, I’ll either end up seeing the nitrate print of The Man Who Knew Too Much at the Egyptian or Requiem for a Heavyweight at the TCL multiplex.
Friday, April 7
I’ll be kicking off the first full day of the festival at the Egyptian for the Ginger Rogers pre-code Rafter Romance. It’s been ages since I’ve seen that one and I’m thrilled to see that several pre-codes are being shown at the Egyptian this year instead of the TCL multiplex. Although I was extremely tempted by It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World at the Cinerama dome.
From Rafter Romance, I’ll be heading off to see Beat the Devil. I’ve never seen it before, but someone was telling me about it recently, so I feel like it’s a sign that I should go see it. But if I get shut out of Beat the Devil, my backup plan is Born Yesterday.
After that, I’ll have a little break before the conversation with Peter Bogdanovich in Club TCM. I’m a big fan of many of his movies and he knew and worked with so many film legends, so this was high on my list of things to do ever since it was announced a few months ago. Then it’s back to the Egyptian for the Ernst Lubitsch silent So This is Paris and the Jean Harlow pre-code classic Red-Headed Woman.
The next block is still kind of up in the air for me. There’s nothing in this block I’m not interested in, but right now, I’m thinking either Twentieth Century or the nitrate print of Laura. I’m thinking Laura is my top choice, though. But no matter which movie I end up at for that block, I’ll be at the TCL multiplex for the midnight screening of Zardoz. I’ve never seen Zardoz, but I watched the trailer and I had no idea what was going on. Should be a riot to see that one with the TCMFF midnight movie crowd.
Saturday, April 8
This was by far the hardest day for me to make any decisions about. Once again, there really isn’t anything that I’m just not that interested in. So although I have an idea of what my schedule will be like for today, the odds are high that I’ll end up making some changes when the day comes.
For the first block, I’m thinking either The China Syndrome with Michael Douglas in attendance or Stalag 17. For the next block, the only thing I can rule out is Rear Window since I’ve been to several screenings of it before. As much as I adore The Awful Truth, I’m thinking I’ll either go with The Last Picture Show or The Great Dictator.
Now we’re up to a couple of options that I’m pretty firm on my decisions about: Hollywood Home Movies and Saturday Night Fever. Hollywood Home Movies is always a delight and Saturday Night Fever simply interests me the most out of anything else in that block.
As for the next block, I’d absolutely love to see Black Narcissus on nitrate, but I have a feeling that one’s going to be a big draw. I’m also really intrigued by The Incident and Unfaithfully Yours, so I may go with one of those instead.
Lastly, I’m planning to try staying awake for Kentucky Fried Movie.
Sunday, April 9
I try not to get too set on my plans for Sundays since I could easily be swayed by some of the TBAs. But keeping the TBAs out of the picture, I’m thinking Bonnie and Clyde, the conversation/book signing with Dick Cavett in Club TCM (another one of my big must-sees), either What’s Up Doc? or Hell is for Heroes, and Lady in the Dark.