For many classic movie fans, the end of March means that the TCM Classic Film Festival is right around the corner. This year’s festival kicks off on Thursday, April 13 and runs through Sunday, April 16. And, once again, I was among the regular festival attendees who had been constantly refreshing the festival website eagerly waiting for the full schedule to be released. For me, being able spend time poring over the schedule and plan out the events I want to go to is a big part of the festival experience — even though I know perfectly well that my plans could easily end up changing later on.
Sometimes, I end up changing my plans because I’m in the mood for something else when the day comes or because I need a break to get food. It’s also not unheard of for some additional guests or events to be announced after the main schedule drops. So while I always have an initial plan going into the festival, I’m a big fan of keeping my options open and seeing where the day takes me.
As always, there are lots of hard choices to make. This year, there are several blocks where I’m interested in everything that’s scheduled during a given time. In many cases, what I end up seeing will probably be decided at the last minute, but I know I can’t go wrong. As of now, here’s what my choices are.
Thursday, April 13
On opening night, I traditionally skip the first block of movies so that I can go get dinner after watching guests arrive on the red carpet for the big opening night movie, which is Rio Bravo this year. However, the first block of movies this year is so stellar that I’ve been swayed to break with tradition. For those not going to Rio Bravo, the first block of movies includes a poolside screening of Hairspray with Ricki Lake in attendance; Shadow of a Doubt, Ikiru, and One Way Passage at the multiplex; and Airport at the Legion.
I can take Rio Bravo out of the running since my pass doesn’t get me into that screening. I’ll also pass on Shadow of a Doubt since I just watched it recently. As much as I love One Way Passage, I feel like that one could potentially get one of the TBA blocks on Sunday and I dig the idea of starting with something fun like Hairspray or Airport. If I were making the call today, I’d go with Hairspray. As for the second block of movies, I’m intrigued by Genevieve, but will likely skip that block and go rest up for the next day.
Friday, April 14
The first full day of the festival starts off with yet another fantastic block of movies: King Kong in the Chinese Theater; Harvey, The Old Maid, and Bicycle Thieves in the Multiplex; and The Wild Bunch at the Legion. There are no bad choices to be made here, but I’ll go with either King Kong or The Old Maid. The Wild Bunch overlaps two blocks of movies and I’m not sure that Bicycle Thieves is the type of movie I’ll want to start my day with. On one hand, I love Bette Davis and The Old Maid isn’t a movie I’m likely to have many chances to see on the big screen. But it’s also hard to resist the idea of King Kong at the Chinese theater. We’ll see which way I go when the day comes.
For my second movie of the day, Footlight Parade was an easy winner. It’s one of my favorite movies and I’ve never seen a Busby Berkeley musical in a theater. Although it pains me a bit that this one conflicts with the screening of Larceny, Inc., I can’t resist Footlight Parade in the Multiplex.
The third block of the day is another really hard one for me. I could stick around in the Multiplex and make it a James Cagney double feature by following Footlight Parade up with a screening of The Strawberry Blonde. Or I could stay in the Multiplex, but go in a very different direction with Risky Business, with Rebecca De Mornay as a guest. Or, I could venture over to the Legion theater for a screening of Peyton Place with Russ Tamblyn making an appearance. Right now, I’m leaning toward Risky Business, but between those three options, I won’t be disappointed.
Up next is one of the events I’m most excited for — a poolside screening of Beach Party with Frankie Avalon making an appearance. I love the Beach Party movies and this is excellent poolside movie material. I’m sure there’s going to be a very fun atmosphere.
Hopefully, I will have enough energy the midnight screening of The Batwoman. I was excited to see another Mexican wrestling movie on the TCMFF lineup this year because their screening of Santo vs. The Evil Brain a few years back was an absolute blast. I’m sure this will be a very fun one as well.
Saturday, April 15
Once again, today starts off with a block where everything is great. We have Seven Brides for Seven Brothers with Russ Tamblyn at the Chinese; Paths of Glory, Boys Town, and The Muppets Take Manhattan in the Multiplex; and The Wiser Sex, a pre-code with Claudette Colbert and Melvyn Douglas, at the Legion. As great as everything here is, I can’t resist a Claudette Colbert pre-code to start the day.
You can’t go wrong with the first block of events for Saturday and you can’t go wrong with the second block, either. At this point, I’m mainly torn between a block of Laurel & Hardy shorts and Play it as it Lays, but there’s a chance I might be tempted by the screening of The African Queen at the Chinese theater. (Additionally, this block also includes a screening of Amadeus, a presentation on Henson puppetry in Club TCM, and a screening of When Worlds Collide with a presentation by Craig Barron and Ben Burtt.)
Next, I’m planning to head over to Club TCM for a conversation with Russ Tamblyn. As hard as it is to miss Ann-Margret introducing Bye Bye Birdie at the Chinese, as a huge Twin Peaks fan, I really want to see Russ Tamblyn at least once this year. I also didn’t make it to any Club TCM events last year so I’d like to get to at least one this year.
From Club TCM, I’ll head over to the Chinese for a screening of The Exorcist with director William Friedkin in attendance. They played The Exorcist in the Chinese Theater a few years back and I skipped it then, but later regretted that choice when I watched the movie at home and realized how good the sound would have been on that excellent sound system at the Chinese Theater. Very glad I’m getting a second chance to see it there!
Right now, I’m keeping my options for the next block open. Once again, this is a block where I’m interested in everything playing. In the Multiplex, there’s In the Heat of the Night, Unfinished Business with Irene Dunne, and the 1923 version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. And over at the Legion, there’s a screening of Enter the Dragon. But, very unusually, there is currently a TBA block at the Chinese Theater after The Exorcist. Out of the things we do know, I’m most interested in Enter the Dragon or In the Heat of the Night. But we’ll see what that TBA ends up being.
Tonight’s midnight movie is another one I’m very excited for — Xanadu. I’d been hoping we’d get a screening of Xanadu at the festival for a few years now and I’m very excited to see it with a crowd.
Sunday, April 16
As a general rule, I don’t go into Sunday with a whole lot of firm plans in mind. There are several TBA slots where popular movies that screened earlier in the festival get a second run — and there are lots of movies that could sway me from the already announced titles. I definitely want to see No Man of Her Own in the second block of movies, but that is my only essential of the day. If I were to just stick to the announced titles, I’d be going with either The Man Who Knew Too Much or Heaven Can Wait, No Man of Her Own, All About Eve, and Clash of the Wolves or The Big Chill. What I’ll actually end up going to remains to be seen.