After two years of the TCM Classic Film Festival happening virtually, we are just weeks away from returning to an in-person festival experience. While I had fun doing the virtual versions of the festival, I’m very excited to return to Hollywood and spend a few days seeing movies with some friends I haven’t seen since (at least) since 2019. And, of course, a big part of the pre-festival excitement is the anticipation of the full schedule being released so that people can start working through the inevitable scheduling conflicts.
I’ve been going to this festival since 2014, so I’ve made a lot of hard choices when it comes to figuring out what events and screenings to go to. This year is no exception. There is a ton of excellent things on the schedule, but there are so many great things that it’s actually made me extra flexible in terms of my plans. There are several blocks on the schedule where I can’t go wrong with any possible choice I make, so while I have my initial plans, I know a lot of it will all come down to what I’m in the mood for that day. And if I end up getting shut out of something, I can easily think of some backup plans. As of right now, here’s what I’m expecting to see and do during this year’s festival.
Thursday, April 21
Every year, I try to make a point of not getting too excited about early movie announcements. A lot of great movies always get announced early, but if you get your heart set on anything too early, there’s a good chance it will end up being scheduled in a way that conflicts with something else you really want to do. But when they announced that the big opening night movie this year would be E.T., I got ridiculously excited. E.T. is my all-time favorite movie and even though I won’t be able to get into the actual screening, I can watch people walk the red carpet beforehand. That instantly became my big must-do event of the entire festival. Watching the red carpet arrivals is usually what I do on opening night, but with Steven Spielberg, Drew Barrymore, and Henry Thomas attending this event, there’s no way I’d be anywhere else. I certainly never imagined I’d have the chance to watch a red carpet event celebrating the 40th anniversary of my favorite movie.
There are a lot of great movies playing in the first block on Thursday night. If you’re not going to E.T., you have your choice of The Harvey Girls, Jewel Robbery, and The Slender Thread at the TCL Multiplex, Tender Mercies at the Hollywood Legion, and Fast Times at Ridgemont High poolside at the Roosevelt. As good as all of those are, I traditionally skip that first block of movies to go get dinner after watching the red carpet. I love Jewel Robbery, but since that’s a popular movie playing in the smallest theater, I expect people will be lining up early for it. I wouldn’t be surprised if it gets a Sunday TBA slot. I could possibly check out the poolside screening of Fast Times, but I feel like dinner will win that block for me.
The second block on Thursday night is also pretty great. A Star is Born (1937) is playing at the Legion, which I’ll probably skip since I saw that version at the festival a few years back. Right now, Hail the Conquering Hero would be my first choice, but I could see myself being swayed by either Lover Come Back or Topkapi.
Friday, April 22
Oh, boy, did it take me some time to figure out my plans for this day. There really isn’t much going on in the entire day that I’m just not into. It says a lot when The Letter, one of my favorite movies, is on the schedule and it’s actually near the bottom of my list of priorities for the day. (Purely because it’s one I’m more likely to have other opportunities to see in a theater.)
From the first block of movies, I’ll most likely be at the Legion for Dinner at Eight because it’s hard for me to resist the chance to see Jean Harlow on the big screen. However, depending on my mood that day, I might head over to the multiplex for The Gunfighter instead.
Two of the big guests making appearances this day are Lily Tomlin and Bruce Dern, so I tried to plan my schedule around getting to see both of them. After the first block, I’m planning to see Coming Home and All of Me. As much as I would love to see Lily Tomlin’s handprint ceremony in the morning, the timing would limit my ability to do other things. Going to that would mean I wouldn’t be able to go to Coming Home, which I’ve been meaning to see for a long time, and it’s been a very long time since I last saw All of Me anyway.
Going to All of Me also gives me a good amount of time before the 7:15 PM screening of Cocktail Hour to get in line and get something to eat. A rare pre-code is definitely a hard one for me to pass up. The following block of movies is a tough one for me to choose from and what I actually end up seeing that day will probably all come down to my mood that day. That block has Fatal Attraction; The Gay Divorcee; I, The Jury in 3D; and Cooley High all playing at the same time, with Giant and a poolside screening of Soylent Green overlapping between this block and the one before it. Right now, my top two choices are The Gay Divorcee and Fatal Attraction.
For the night owls, there’s a midnight screening of Miracle Mile. I’ve never seen Miracle Mile, but I always have a great time at the midnight screenings. As long as I have the energy, I’d love to check it out.
Saturday, April 23
This day starts out with yet another block where what I actually end up doing will likely depend on my mood that day. In the first block, there’s The Third Man, Angels With Dirty Faces, and 1932’s Too Busy to Work all conflicting with each other. I love both The Third Man and Angels With Dirty Faces, but The Third Man falls in the category of being a movie I’m very likely to have other chances to see in a theater. I can say the same for Angels With Dirty Faces, but the odds of being able to see other screenings are lower than Third Man. Too Busy to Work would be totally new to me and will be introduced by Michael Schlesinger, who often introduces some great, but lesser known movies at the festival. (He’s the one responsible for getting All Through the Night screened at the festival in 2019.) Right now, Too Busy to Work is my likely choice for that block, but Angels or Third Man may end up making me change my mind day of.
My first choice for the second block of the day is definitely Three on a Match. But since that’s a very popular movie playing in the smallest theater, I’m keeping my options open. If I get out of that first movie and the line for Three on a Match is already very long, I figure I’ll head over to The Last of Sheila or The Flame and the Arrow instead. The Last of Sheila was one I was really intrigued by when it was announced and The Flame and the Arrow will feature a presentation by Craig Barron and Ben Burtt, as well as an appearance by Gordon Gebert (best known as Timmy from Holiday Affair).
For the third block of the day, I’ll be heading to the Legion for a screening of Baby Face introduced by Bruce Goldstein. It’s always a treat to check out one of Bruce Goldstein’s presentations and I’m really excited to finally see one of my favorite pre-codes in a theater. However, there is some really good competition in this block. A Man Called Adam sounds interesting and I’m sure the screening of Somewhere in Time with and appearance from Jane Seymour will be a real treat. Plus, in Club TCM, there’s a conversation with Floyd Norman. It’s yet another time slot where you just really can’t go wrong.
After Baby Face, I’ll be heading over to the Chinese for a screening of Heaven Can Wait with Warren Beatty as a special guest. I’d been hoping for a long time that I’d get to see Warren Beatty at the festival so that made this one an easy choice for me. (Although I’m sure that screening of Counsellor at Law over at the Legion happening at the same time will be fantastic.)
Yet again, the last full block of the day is another one where I could easily go to any of the screenings and have a great time. I won’t be able to make the poolside screening of Blue Hawaii since it conflicts with Heaven Can Wait, but I will have my choice of Singin’ in the Rain introduced by Paula Abdul; Force of Evil; Portrait of Jennie; Drunken Master II; and Diner with Kevin Bacon, Tim Daly, Steve Guttenberg, and Paul Reiser as guests. Right now, I’m leaning toward Singin’ in the Rain, but I also really like Diner, and Drunken Master II stands out to me since I try and see foreign movies at the festival when possible.
Of the two midnight screenings at this year’s festival, tonight’s is the one I’m most excited for: Polyester with Mink Stole making an appearance. This one will definitely be a good time.
Sunday, April 24
I usually try to go into the festival keeping my plans for Sunday very flexible. This year is no exception. Several blocks in Sunday’s schedule are reserved for second screenings of movies that ended up being really popular and with so many great movies on the schedule this year, those TBAs could potentially be some real game changers. Plus, there’s usually a special event at Larry Edmunds Book Store on Sunday mornings, so depending on what that event is, I might end up over there. But the confirmed parts of the schedule are already pretty great. I could easily spend the whole day just at the Chinese theater (Paper Moon, Peggy Sue Got Married, The Sting, A League of Their Own) or at Multiplex Theater 1 (After The Thin Man, High Noon, Has Anybody Seen My Gal, 7th Heaven). There are also screenings of Waterloo Bridge, Evenings for Sale, and Coffy I’d love to go to, as well as a conversation with Piper Laurie and a conversation about separating art from the artist in Club TCM.
Some of the biggest conflicts for me of the entire festival fall during the last block on Sunday. During that time, there’s A League of Their Own (with appearances by Lori Petty, Anne Ramsay, Megan Cavanagh, Ann Cusack, and Jon Lovitz), Coffy (with Pam Grier as a guest), and 7th Heaven (with accompaniment from the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra) all up against each other. And that’s not even counting two TBA possibilities. If I were making the decision today, A League of Their Own would win, but it’s extremely hard for me to resist the only silent movie playing at the festival and it’s always amazing to see Pam Grier in person. Regardless of which one I choose, I’ll definitely be ending the festival on a high note.