Events/Screenings

Highlights of TCMFF 2021

River Phoenix and Lili Taylor in Dogfight.

Between May 6th and 9th, I was among the many fans of Turner Classic Movies who spent their weekend glued to their television to participate in the 2021 TCM Classic Film Festival. For the second year in a row, the festival was a virtual experience, taking place on the channel, on HBO Max, and on Zoom for some virtual Club TCM events.

When I go to the TCM Film Festival in person, I usually watch a mix of old favorite movies and things I’ve never seen before. But with the virtual format this year, I ended up leaning very heavily toward things I had never seen before. Usually, it’s the experience factor that draws me to the old favorites during an in-person festival, whether it’s being able to see a movie in a specific theater or because of a special guest introducing it. Since that wasn’t as much of a factor this time around (any special intros I wanted to see could be watched separately from the movie), I decided to check out as many movies as I could that I had never seen before.

This approach worked out remarkably well. During the festival, I watched 16 feature-length movies that were new to me and I didn’t outright dislike any of them. Of course, I liked some more than others, but I came out of this being introduced to a lot of great movies. As far as movies go, my favorite discoveries this year (in no particular order) included: 

  • Dogfight (1991)
  • They Won’t Believe Me (1947)
  • Stranger Than Paradise (1984)
  • Diner (1982)
  • The Getaway (1972)

They really did a great job of including movies that don’t quite get the attention they deserve and I’m really glad I took the time to give them a shot. In the end, the list of movies I watched ran the gamut from Georges Melies to River Phoenix. There were also several other features that I felt added a lot to the whole experience.

Plan 9 From Outer Space Table Read from SF Sketchfest.

Plan 9 From Outer Space Table Read & Movie 

When the schedule for this year’s festival was first announced, I was immediately excited to see that we’d be getting some midnight movie style content this year. First up was a table read of the script for Plan 9 From Outer Space, which was originally produced by Dana Gould for SF Sketchfest with performers such as Bob Odenkirk, Paul F. Tompkins, Laraine Newman, Jonah Ray, and Oscar Nunez, just to name a few, bringing the script to life. I knew this was going to be a lot of fun to watch, but it far exceeded my expectations. Every performer involved brought their A game and it was an absolute riot. Laraine Newman’s deadpan narration was perfection. And being able to watch the movie version of Plan 9 immediately afterward made the whole thing even better. Definitely my favorite experience of the festival.

Scene from West Side Story showing the Sharks and the Jets.

West Side Story Cast Reunion

This year’s opening night movie was West Side Story, starting with a conversation between Ben Mankiewicz, Rita Moreno, George Chakiris, and Russ Tamblyn. I’ve watched a lot of these interviews at the festival over the years and this was one of the best. The camaraderie between the actors is still so strong and the conversation was fascinating. They took time to talk about Yvonne Othon, who is the actress who says, “I know you do!” during the America number. This was an ad-libbed line which has made such an impression that it not only stayed in the movie, it’s worked its way into theatrical productions over the years. Rita Moreno told an adorable story about Olivia de Havilland fawning over George Chakiris at the Oscars. Rita’s remarks about the movie were particularly interesting since she made it clear that the movie means the world to her, but that doesn’t stop her from criticizing it for where it falls short in terms of race.

Jet Jockeys in Love: The Making of Chain Lightning

Jet Jockeys in Love: The Making of Chain Lightning was another one of the things I was most excited to see in the lineup. This presentation by Craig Barron and Ben Burtt focused on the special effects in 1950’s Chain Lightning and was every bit as fun and informative as the presentations they do at the in-person festival each year. The movie Chain Lightning didn’t end up being one of my favorite Humphrey Bogart movies, but the presentation was top notch.

Ali MacGraw and Steve McQueen on the set of The Getaway.

Tribute Interviews

Conversations with actors are always one of the biggest draws at the festival and this year, we had excellent, brand new interviews with Ali MacGraw, Danny Glover, and Martin Short as part of the Tributes section on HBO Max. All of these were actors I was somewhat familiar with, but didn’t really know a whole lot about their lives and careers. Each of these interviews ended up making me want to see more of each actor’s work and learn more about them in general. Of the three, I was probably least familiar with Ali MacGraw, but I watched her interview after seeing The Getaway and ended up being so charmed by her that I later watched Love Story, even though it hadn’t really been on my radar going into the festival.

Scene from They Won't Believe Me.

The Restorations

New film restorations are another very consistent programming feature at the TCM Film Festival, but it seemed like this year had an exceptionally good group of restorations. A big highlight for me was They Won’t Believe Me, which featured 15 minutes of footage that had been cut from its initial release. I had never seen They Won’t Believe Me before, so I’m glad that I was able to see it for the first time as producer Joan Harrison wanted it to be seen. Picture quality was excellent as well.

Other restorations this year included Doctor X, The Whistle at Eaton Falls, Her Man, So This is Paris, and Princess Tam Tam, all of which looked spectacular. Annie Get Your Gun was another restoration, which I didn’t catch when it aired, but I’ve heard wonderful things about that restoration.

The Melies Mystery

As a silent film fan, of course I was delighted to see that HBO Max included a collection related to George Melies. The Melies shorts were great, but the real star was the new documentary The Melies Mystery. This documentary explains how original camera negatives of several of his films were found in the United States despite the fact that Melies himself had personally destroyed his original negatives. If you have any interest at all in silent film or film preservation, this documentary is a must-see. I’m always fascinated by stories about how lost films are re-located and this story has some very unexpected twists. I liked this documentary so much that I watched it twice.

Barry Levinson, Ellen Barkin, and Mickey Rourke on the set of Diner.

The Extras

During the 2020 festival, the movies shown on Turner Classic Movies were often supplemented with things like interviews from previous festivals. This year, they did the same, but it wasn’t necessarily limited to material from past festivals. Both on TCM and HBO Max, viewers could see extras ranging from brand new introductions to mini-documentaries that added to the festival vibe.

On Turner Classic Movies, Diner, Mean Streets, Fame, and The Goodbye Girl respectively had introductions/interviews with Barry Levinson, Martin Scorsese, Debbie Allen, and Richard Dreyfuss. There was also a mini-documentary about director Michael Curtiz’s work in horror films that was shown along with Doctor X and let me come in featured a documentary about the work of Bill Morrison. On HBO Max, there were things like a conversation between Alicia Malone and Danny Huston about The Maltese Falcon, a fun featurette by Bruce Goldstein about famous filming locations in New York City, and movie introductions by people like Lisa Rinna and Michael Douglas, all of which were recorded specifically for the festival. HBO Max also had lots of other extras from the TCM archive and DVD/Blu-ray releases.

Overall, I really enjoyed this year’s virtual version of the festival. Last year, they had limited time to switch to a virtual format, but the extra preparation that went into this year’s fest showed and I felt like it more effectively captured the essence of the festival. I dearly miss being able to do the festival in person and being able to spend time with my friends there, but this was an example of how good a virtual film festival can potentially be. And, as always, I’ve been spending the past few days after the festival trying to catch up on some of the things I didn’t have time to see. Whether the festival is virtual or in person, I will never have time to truly do it all.

Looking Ahead to TCMFF 2021

2021 TCMFF Logo.

Spring has arrived, which means it’s TCM Classic Film Festival season once again. As was the case in 2020, this year’s festival will be fully virtual. But while last year’s festival was fully on the Turner Classic Movies channel (with additional content posted to YouTube), this year’s festival will be a more expansive experience with additional movies available on HBO Max and Club TCM events taking place on Zoom. This approach adds to the festival vibe by giving people different venues to attend, so to speak, and lets people have the fun of choosing what they want to watch. (Visit the TCM Classic Film Festival website to see all movies playing on TCM and HBO Max during the festival.)

In some ways, planning what to watch for the virtual festival could potentially be even more challenging than planning for the in-person festival. Doing the festival in person means each day has a set start time and a set end time, so even if you go really hard and pack your days with as many events and screenings as possible, there will still be a point when there aren’t any official things to do. But with the virtual format, you can watch movies for a full 24 hours if you really want to, so it could end up feeling like an even longer marathon. And when in-person events are going on, there are only a handful of them happening at any given time. In this case, if you aren’t into what’s playing on TCM, there are over 50 other movies to choose from on HBO Max.

At the time of writing this post, the virtual Club TCM event schedule hasn’t been announced, so I haven’t figured out a real schedule for myself yet. The Club TCM events at the in-person festival are consistently excellent, so I know there will very likely be some that I’ll want to check out this year. Since those will be on a set schedule and will have limited capacity, I’m waiting on that schedule. But as it stands now, here are some of the things I’m most excited to see.

On TCM

Rita Moreno dancing in the America number from West Side Story.

The festival officially kicks off on Thursday, May 6 at 8:00 PM with West Side Story and a virtual cast reunion of Rita Moreno, George Chakiris, and Russ Tamblyn, which is easily going to be a must-see for me. West Side Story is followed by Mean Streets, which is one I’ve been meaning to revisit for a while, but I may switch over to HBO Max depending on my mood that day. At 1:30 AM is 1932’s Doctor X, which I really hope I can stay up for because they’ll be showing a brand new restoration that I’m excited to see. If you saw the recent beautiful restoration of Mystery of the Wax Museum, you’ll understand why I’m so eager for the Doctor X restoration.

The cast of Grease 2.
GREASE 2, from left: Alison Price, Christopher McDonald, Lorna Luft, Adrian Zmed, Michelle Pfeiffer, Maxwell Caulfield, Maureen Teefy, Peter Frechette, Leif Green, 1982, © Paramount/courtesy Everett Collection

From Friday’s schedule, the big highlights for me are the Plan 9 From Outer Space table read at 8:00 PM, the screening of Plan 9 From Outer Space at 9:30 PM, and Grease 2 at 11:00 PM. Every year that I’ve done the festival in person, the midnight movies have always been a major highlight, so I’m very excited to see that those types of movies are being represented in this year’s lineup. The Plan 9 table read should be a lot of fun, and while I haven’t seen Grease 2 in its entirety, I’ve seen enough to know that it’s perfect late night movie material. Earlier in the day at 10:00 AM is Whistle at Eaton Falls, which would be a new one to me. I’ll be sure to set my DVR for the 3:15 AM showing of let me come in, which consists of footage from 1928’s Pawns of Passion, a now lost film, along with an opera score. let me come in is directed by Bill Morison, director of the Dawson City: Frozen Time documentary, which I really enjoyed.

Diana Ross in Lady Sings the Blues.
LADY SINGS THE BLUES, Diana Ross, 1972.

On Saturday, I will likely spend much of the day checking out stuff on HBO Max and switch over to TCM in prime time. At 8:00 PM is the restored version of 1947’s They Won’t Believe Me, followed by Lady Sings the Blues at 10:00 PM and Diner at 12:45 AM. I also love the whole Saturday morning cartoon concept with the documentary Tex Avery: The King of Cartoons at 6:00 AM and Tex Avery at MGM at 7:00 AM.

Lilyan Tashman and Andre Beranger in Ernst Lubitsch's So This is Paris.
So This Is Paris (1926) Directed by Ernst Lubitsch Shown from left: Lilyan Tashman, André Beranger

Sunday’s lineup has a couple of restorations I’m really looking forward to: 1930’s Her Man at 8:45 AM and 1935’s Princess Tam Tam at 12:45 PM. The two big highlights of the day for me are the Hollywood Home Movies presentation at 7:00 PM the 8:00 PM showing of Ernst Lubitsch’s silent So This is Paris, with a new musical score by Ben Model. I saw So This is Paris at the festival a few years ago and I’m very excited to be able to see it again. Hollywood Home Movies is always one of the events I most look forward to at the festival and I’m happy that a wider audience will now be able to experience it. Later, there’s The Goodbye Girl at 9:30 PM with a conversation with Richard Dreyfus, Fame at 11:45 PM with a conversation with Debbie Allen, and the French new wave classic Breathless at 2:15 AM.

On HBO Max

The movies on HBO Max are organized into various collections, like tributes to Ali McGraw, Danny Glover, and Martin Short; movies introduced by their directors; The L.A. Rebellion; Immigrants in America; Hawks & The Art of Comedy; and The Streets of New York.

The Essentials and Discoveries collections are the biggest collections in the streaming library. In the Essentials collection, there are several classic Hollywood staples like Top Hat, The Maltese Falcon, The Searchers, North by Northwest, and The Thin Man. The Discoveries collection includes lots of great movies which might be new to people, like So This is Paris, Chain Lightning, The Mortal Storm, Victim, Cleo from 5 to 7, and The Decline of Western Civilization.

All of the movies available through HBO Max include bonus materials, ranging from actor/director introductions to introductions by Robert Osborne, discussions between Ben Mankiewicz and various guests, and other supporting content from TCM. Some of these extra features are brand new, others have aired on TCM in the past.

Humphrey Bogart in Chain Lightning.

Out of everything on HBO Max, I was most excited to see 1950’s Chain Lightning in the lineup, a Humphrey Bogart movie I’ve never seen before. Best of all, the bonus feature for it is a presentation by Craig Barron and Ben Burtt about the production of the movie. Barron and Burtt presentations are a regular feature at the in-person festival and are a must-see for many of the people who attend. Their presentation on the effects in Raiders of the Lost Ark in 2019 was excellent and I can’t wait to see what they have to say about Chain Lightning.

Another huge highlight of the streaming library for me is 1981’s The Decline of Western Civilization. This was on TCM during Labor Day weekend 2020 as part of their End of Summer Tour programming, but I wasn’t able to catch the whole thing so I’m glad to have another chance to see it. This one also features a conversation between Jacqueline Stewart and director Penelope Spheeris, which I definitely want to see. I may end up diverting a little bit from the official programming by following it up with my Blu-ray of 1982’s Smithereens just because I like the idea of doing a west coast/east coast punk block.

The moon as shown in A Trip to the Moon by George Melies.

As a big silent film fan, I was very excited to see that one of the collections is The Melies Mystery, which consists of 5 short films (A Trip to the Moon, The Impossible Voyage, Four Troublesome Heads, The Infernal Cauldron, and The Old Hag) and the new documentary, The Melies Mystery. This will be an absolute must-see for me.

Some other standouts for me include The Color Purple, The Getaway, Misery, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Dogfight, The Black Legion, Stranger Than Paradise, T-Men, Harlan County USA, and Speedy. Those are a mix of things that would be new to me and things I’m way overdue to revisit. I may also be tempted to check out the MGM Musicals and Outtakes collection to see some outtakes from It’s Always Fair Weather, Singin’ in the Rain, or Take Me Out to the Ball Game, as well as the collection of Powell & Pressburger movies. Those are all just awfully hard for me to resist.

More Ways to Bring the Festival Experience Home

Interested in having even more ways to get the full TCMFF experience from the comfort of home? There are lots of options!

If you’ve been missing being able to visit some of the locations you normally would during the festival, like the Hollywood Roosevelt, the Chinese Theater, and the Egyptian Theater, April Clemmer will be hosting a virtual presentation about these historic locations and more. The presentation starts at 1:30 PM Eastern, but if you aren’t able to watch the presentation live, you’ll receive a link afterward to watch it when you have a chance. Tickets are available on Eventbrite.

At 7:00 PM Eastern on Wednesday, May 5, Kimberly Truhler will be doing her annual Fashion in Film of TCMFF presentation over Zoom. This year, she’ll be discussing The Thin Man, Top Hat, His Girl Friday, North by Northwest, Breathless, Bullitt, and Love Story. If you’d like to attend, visit glamamor.com to sign up.

For a lot of people, no TCMFF is complete without a trip to Larry Edmunds Bookshop. They just recently launched a new online store, but if there are any other film-related books or movie posters you’re looking for that you don’t see on the website, give the store a call. Every year, during the regular festival, the store traditionally hosts an event at the store with a special guest where attendees have an opportunity to get signed copies of books. In the past, I’ve gone to these events for people like Marsha Hunt and Kevin Brownlow and they were truly excellent. This year, they’re doing a virtual Sunday (May 9) event, which is a conversation with Peter Bogdanovich at 3:30 PM Eastern. Tickets to the event are just $5 and autographed copies of some of Peter’s books are also for sale as a fundraiser for the store since they’ve been hit hard by COVID-19 closures. Visit their website if you’d like to buy a ticket to the event, order a book, or both!

Another great place to support is the Hollywood Heritage Museum. Since they are not currently open, sales through their online store help keep the museum going and they have a large selection of books, DVDs, notecards, posters, and more to choose from.

Another big TCMFF tradition is decorating pass lanyards with lots of pins, which are very often designed by Kate Garbielle. Every year, she makes a special TCMFF-themed pack of buttons and this year is no exception. This year’s pins are really cute, reflecting the different approach to this year’s festival.

On Monday, May 10, you can end your festival experience by checking out a virtual tour of Hollywood Forever Cemetery hosted by their in-house tour guide, Karie Bible. Lots of Hollywood legends are laid to rest there, including Rudolph Valentino, Judy Garland, Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and Jr., Janet Gaynor, Adrian, Peter Lorre, Mickey Rooney, Tyrone Power, Marion Davies, and Cecil B. DeMille, just to name a very few. The event starts at 9:00 PM Eastern and tickets are available through Eventbrite.

My Choices for TCMFF 2019

TCMFF 2019

It’s that time of year again! The 2019 TCM Classic Movie Festival is already right around the corner and the full schedule was just released on Tuesday, which means I’ve been spending the past few days obsessing over it to figure out my plans. I’m a pretty big fan of this year’s schedule so, as always, I had a lot of hard choices to make. Even though I have a lot of blocks that will come down to how I feel that day, I at least have my options narrowed down. As of now, here are my very tentative plans for this year’s festival:

Pre-Festival

I’ll be getting into Los Angeles on Wednesday and once I get into town, it’s usually a fairly low-key day mostly spent catching up with friends and making appearances at various mixers. But this year, I’ve got some very cool things to look forward to once I get into town. First of all, my friend Nikki very kindly invited me to be her guest on a tour of the Margaret Herrick Library through TCM Backlot. I’ve heard a lot about the Margaret Herrick Library, so I’m definitely excited to be able to see it for myself. Later that night, I’ll be heading over to the Hollywood Heritage Museum for a presentation of Gypsy Rose Lee’s home movies and a discussion about her career with her son Erik Lee Preminger and Dita Von Teese. It should be a fascinating event!

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg TCMFF 2019

Thursday, April 11

For the past few years, my opening night tradition has been to watch the red carpet arrivals, skip the first block of movies to get dinner, and then see something in the second block of movies. It works out really well for me so I think I’ll be sticking to it again this year. As much as I love Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, I want to make sure I have plenty of energy for The Umbrellas of Cherbourg at 9:30 PM. It’s one of my all-time favorites and I’ve been dying to see it on the big screen so this was an easy choice.

High Society Grace Kelly Bing Crosby

Friday, April 12

For the first full day of the festival, I’m pretty much just going to be winging it all day. The day kicks off with a really tough block of movies: The Postman Always Rings Twice, the pre-code Merrily We Go to HellThe Clock, and High Society. I’ve narrowed it down to The Clock and High Society. I love The Clock, but after The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, I can picture myself waking up in the mood for something more lighthearted, so High Society might be more up my alley. I also really want to make sure I have a chance to check out The Legion Theater, so High Society would give me a chance to do so.

After that, depending on how ambitious I am, I might check out the What’s Not to Love About Republic Serials presentation. But I’m also thinking that block might be a good time for me to get some lunch because it’s looking like I’ll be in for a long afternoon.

Next up is one of my most painful conflicts of the festival: Raiders of the Lost Ark at the Chinese theater with a presentation by Ben Burtt and Craig Barron up against a screening of Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans. Sunrise is the one that I’d have fewer opportunities to see in a theater, but Raiders would be incredible to see at the Chinese Theater and I keep missing out on those Ben Burtt and Craig Barron presentations, even though I’ve heard great things about them. It’ll all depend on how I feel that day, but if I were making the decision today, Raiders would win.

Which ever movie I end up going with, it’ll be followed by another block that will probably be decided that day. At the TCL multiplex, they’ll have Francois Truffaut’s Day for Night up against Vanity Street and Open Secret. It’s been years since I last saw Day for Night so it’d be great to see it again, but I’d also be up for checking out two movies I’ve never seen before.

By the time I get out of either movie, it will be after 8:00 PM, so I’m thinking it’ll be a good time for me to quickly get something to eat before heading over to the Egyptian for Road House. After that, I’m totally in for the midnight screening of Santo vs. The Evil Brain. I’ve never seen it, but the midnight movies are always a blast so I’m excited for this one.

Star Wars A New Hope TCMFF

Saturday, April 13

When I first looked at this block, I was so excited about From Here to Eternity at the Chinese theater, that I almost completely overlooked All Through the Night at the TCL multiplex. I’m always up for checking out a Bogart movie I’ve never seen before, so All Through the Night wins out as my first movie of the day. After that is another one of my biggest conflicts of the festival: A Woman Under the Influence introduced by Gena Rowlands up against Tarzan and His Mate with a presentation by Ben Burtt and Craig Barron. I’ve been wanting to see more Gena Rowlands movies for a while so Woman Under the Influence could be a great discovery. On the other hand, I’m a big fan of Tarzan and His Mate and it’s been a while since I last watched it. I’ll wait and see what kind of mood I’m in that day.

Up next is another toss up block for me. I could either go for Love Affair, which I know I love, or Working Girl, which I’ve never seen but been interested in seeing for a while. At the moment, I’m leaning more towards Working Girl. After that, it kind of depends on how early I want to line up for Star Wars. I’m really tempted by Wuthering Heights, but I’m concerned that the line for Star Wars might already be really long by the time that one lets out. Considering that festival passes sold out the day Star Wars was announced, I’m definitely expecting a big crowd for that one. More likely, I’ll either rush over to Club TCM to check out Hollywood Home Movies or go get dinner so I can be ready to line up nice and early for Star Wars. Although Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Nashville are both hard ones to pass up.

If I have the energy after Star Wars, I’ll be headed back to the TCL multiplex for the midnight showing of The Student Nurses.

The Dolly Sisters Movie Poster

Sunday, April 14

I usually don’t go into Sundays with a lot of firm plans in mind. I like to wait to hear what the TBAs are and I’m not sure what will be going on over at Larry Edmunds in the morning, so that leaves a lot up in the air for me. A Woman of Affairs and The Dolly Sisters are the only two things I’m totally set on. If I were to make my other decisions based on what I know will definitely be on the schedule, I’d also go with Mad LoveMagnificent Obsession, and The Killers.

The more I look at my plans, the more excited I am for this year’s festival. It’ll be my sixth year attending and I fully expect it will be a memorable one.

TCMFF 2017, Day 4: The Day I Met Dick Cavett

Bonnie and Clyde 1967

April 9, 2017

Ah, Sunday — the point in the festival where I start craving a slower pace. It’s the last day and after a chaotic few days, I’m ready to relax a little bit. Over the course of the day, I only went to three events, but all of them were winners.

I started the day with Bonnie and Clyde at the Chinese theater. Bonnie and Clyde is one of my all-time favorites, but I’ve never had the chance to see it in a theater before. And after having had the opportunity to see two other of my all-time favorite movies at the Chinese theater the previous night, I decided to make it three in a row. Like I said, there’s just something about being able to see one of your favorite movies at the Chinese theater that makes the experience so much more special. A beautiful print of a great movie in one of the most beautiful theaters — it’s simply fantastic.

LOS ANGELES, CA – APRIL 09: TV personality Dick Cavett speaks onstage during the 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival on April 9, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. 26657_004 (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for TCM)

After Bonnie and Clyde, I had a little break before one of the events I was most excited for: the conversation with Dick Cavett in Club TCM. I absolutely love watching his old interviews with people like Bette Davis, Groucho Marx, Debbie Reynolds, and Gloria Swanson, so I knew he was going to have some amazing stories to tell. I was definitely not disappointed. Who else in the world can tell you stories about the time Groucho Marx went to a seance where the medium was a dead ringer for Margaret Dumont? Or about going to interview Mae West and asking her to remove her hat, only to have Edith Head come out and insist that the hat cannot come off?

Another story that only Dick Cavett could possibly tell is about the time he went out to dinner with Marlon Brando, Brando punched out a paparazzi photographer, and then Cavett had to convince Brando to go get medical treatment for a serious infection the following day.

Dick Cavett was more than a TV host who happened to interview a lot of movie stars; he was also a close friend to some of them. He was famously good friends with Groucho, but he was also friends with Stan Laurel and told us about how he got to know him and would go to visit him at his apartment. If you’ve never seen Laurel and Hardy’s appearance on the show This Is Your Life, though, Cavett suggests you keep it that way — he had strong opinions about the whole premise of that show.

My picture with Dick Cavett

The real highlight of the Dick Cavett conversation is that it was also a book signing. Now, this was not like any other book signing I’ve ever been to. Generally speaking, at the book signings I’ve been to anyway, you get to the front of the line and then there’s some standard chit-chat like, “Hi, nice to meet you. Thanks for coming out. What’s your name?” But when I got to the front of the line, he was in full Dick Cavett mode, joking around and posing for funny pictures with people. I was caught a little bit off-guard because I wasn’t expecting him to be on like that, but I mean that in the best possible way. It was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had at TCMFF. It was just one of those moments where I really wished I’d had wittier things to say, but I know that even if I did, he’d probably just have something even better to say in response, so I gladly concede.

Lady in the Dark Ginger Rogers

At last, the time came for my final movie of the festival — a nitrate print of Lady in the Dark. After ending last year’s festival with Fred Astaire in The Band Wagon, it only seemed appropriate to end this year’s with Ginger Rogers. To say that the attitudes in Lady in the Dark are a product of a different time is an understatement. The whole premise is that Ginger Rogers’ character turns to psychotherapy to try to figure out why she rejects glamour and prefers to focus on her career rather than getting married. But if you put the laughably outdated gender politics aside, it’s a pretty entertaining musical. The whole psychotherapy angle gave them freedom to create some extremely lavish and imaginative musical numbers that just couldn’t have been pulled off any other way. As a fan of fashion in film, of course I loved the costuming in it. There were costumes in it that literally took my breath away.

The real highlight of Lady in the Dark, though, was getting to see Ray Milland wearing a sequined ringmaster costume.

And with that, another TCMFF came to a close and I spent the rest of the night at the closing night party saying goodbye to people and fitting in as much time with my friends as I possibly could.

TCMFF 2017, Day 3: Revisiting Some Old Favorites

 Stalag 17

April 8, 2017

Going into day three of the festival, I didn’t have many firmly-set plans in mind. Today was full of blocks where I just couldn’t make up my mind about what I wanted to do. In the end, I spent much of the day revisiting some of my old favorites.

For the first block of the day, I was stuck between The China Sydrome and Stalag 17. I like both movies a lot and it had been a long time since I’d seen either one. But when I got up, I simply wasn’t into the idea of starting the day with looming nuclear disasters, so I went for Stalag 17.

Alex Trebek Stalag 17 TCMFF

Alex Trebek introducing Stalag 17

Admittedly, one of the biggest reasons I wanted to see Stalag 17 is that it gave me a chance to see Alex Trebek introduce it. Over the past few years, Alex Trebek has been on hand during the festival to introduce a movie or two, but I’ve never had the chance to actually see him introduce anything. After seeing him introduce Stalag 17, I may be making more of an effort to see him introduce other movies in the future. It should come as no surprise that Alex Trebek is extremely knowledgeable about the films he introduces and his introduction helped get me very excited to see the movie again.

Since it’s been several years since I had last seen Stalag 17, I didn’t really remember a lot of the details of the movie. But somehow, I’d forgotten just how much comedy is in the movie. One thing I couldn’t forget, though, is how incredible William Holden was in that movie.

Charlie Chaplin The Great Dictator

Next up, I went with The Great Dictator. As much as I love The Last Picture Show, which was also showing during that block, The Great Dictator is a pretty special movie to me because it’s the movie that really inspired me to start learning about film history. I’ve also never seen it on the big screen before, so it seemed like a good time to change that. This screening was actually a bit of a slapstick comedy, anti-Hitler double feature. Before The Great Dictator, we watched You Nazty Spy with The Three Stooges.

Although The Great Dictator is easily the most famous cinematic satire about Hitler, You Nazty Spy was actually released several months before The Great Dictator. Both films have the distinction of being made during a time when Hollywood studios and the Hays Office weren’t keen on the idea of openly criticizing Hitler and the Nazi party. Chaplin was able to pull it off because, given his stature in the film industry, he produced it independently. But unlike The Great DictatorYou Nazty Spy isn’t a feature-length film and short films weren’t given as much attention from the Hays office. So say what you will about the Stooges, but they actually do have the distinction of being in the first American film to openly satirize Hitler.

TCMFF 2017 Hollywood Home Movies

After The Great Dictator, I headed over to the Roosevelt Hotel for Hollywood Home Movies. Hollywood Home Movies has always been one of my favorite events of the festival every year that I’ve gone, so this was my lone easy choice for the day. If you’re unfamiliar with the event, Hollywood Home Movies is a presentation of a selection of behind-the-scenes footage of film sets and home movies of stars at home which the Academy has collected and preserved. This year’s home movies were fascinating as always. When a presentation starts with footage of Hitchcock behind the scenes of 1929’s Blackmail and a short comedy film he made with his family, you know it’s going to be a good presentation.

In addition to the fantastic Hitchcock footage, we were treated to behind the scenes footage of The Adventures of Robin Hood, Bogart and Bacall at home and on their boat, and a behind the scenes look of The Trouble With Angels featuring Gypsy Rose Lee, Rosalind Russell, Hayley Mills, and Ida Lupino. As great as all that footage was, my favorite was “Gilbertone News,” a faux newsreel created by actor Billy Gilbert. This pseudo-newsreel contained footage of the Leading Men vs. Comedians baseball game, during which Mary Pickford threw out the opening pitch, a broadcast of Al Jolson’s radio show featuring the seven dwarfs, and Fay McKenzie, daughter of actor Robert McKenzie, modeling clothing that was in fashion at the time. Fay McKenzie was on hand for the event. She made her film debut at a baby held by Gloria Swanson in 1918’s Station Content, but you might best remember her as the woman laughing at herself in the mirror during Holly Golightly’s party in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Saturday Night Fever John Travolta

Next up on my agenda was Saturday Night Fever, which was screened at the Chinese theater. Not only is Saturday Night Fever one of my favorite movies, it was being shown in the best venue for movies that are very music heavy. I love the sound system at the Chinese theater and to make things better, we were watching a brand new 40th anniversary print that looked and sounded incredible.

One of the really great things about the TCM Classic Film Festival is that it’s not just a special event for the attendees; it’s also a special event for the special guests who come to it. Saturday Night Fever was introduced by director John Badham and actress Donna Pescow, and during their discussion, John Badham stated that when the movie premiered at the Chinese theater back in 1977, he was not impressed with the way it sounded. The sound system the theater had at the time wasn’t as sophisticated as it is today, so the movie didn’t sound as good as it should have. It’s really cool that this festival gave him the chance to come back to that same theater after 40 years and present his movie to an audience who could hear it at its very best.

The Graduate Dustin Hoffman Katharine Ross

The next block was one of the hardest for me to decide on. The Graduate is one of my all-time favorite movies, but it’s also very likely I’ll have other chances to see it on the big screen. There was also the nitrate print of Black NarcissusUnfaithfully Yours, and The Incident, all of which sounded fantastic. But since The Graduate had been heavily featured in the festival’s promotional material, after spending so much time looking at that started making me want to see it. And once I heard how incredible Saturday Night Fever‘s soundtrack sounded in the Chinese theater, I realized how good The Graduate‘s soundtrack would have sounded in that theater, so that ended up being my choice for that block.

In the end, I’m really glad I went with The Graduate. While it is indeed very likely that I’ll have other opportunities to see it on the big screen, it’s less likely that I’ll ever have other chances to see it again in that particular theater. There’s something about getting to see one of your absolute favorite movies at the world’s most famous movie theater that makes the whole experience even more special. Another thing that I would never be able to experience elsewhere is getting to see that movie introduced by the one and only Buck Henry. Henry was interviewed by Ben Mankiewicz, who has known Henry for several years, so they naturally had a really good, funny chemistry together.

Although I always love going to the midnight movies and I was really curious about Kentucky Fried Movie, I simply didn’t have enough energy to go to it, so The Graduate was my last movie for the day.

TCMFF 2017, Day 2: A Whole Lot of Red-Headed Women

Rafter Romance Ginger Rogers Norman Foster

April 7, 2017

It’s awfully hard to resist the idea of starting off the day with Ginger Rogers movie, especially if it’s a rarely-screened Ginger Rogers movie. Rafter Romance is one of the six movies kept out of circulation for several decades because the rights were owned by director Merian C. Cooper as part of a settlement over a payment dispute. Ten years ago, these movies were finally made available again thanks to the legal department at Turner Classic Movies straightening out all the legal entanglements.

I watched Rafter Romance once several years ago, but aside from the general plot of the movie, I didn’t really remember much about it. I’m not entirely sure why I didn’t remember it better, because it’s a very delightful little comedy. Ginger is simply wonderful in it, it’s got a lot of great laughs, and it’s one of those fast-paced movies that were so common in the early 1930s. But one of the highlights was getting to see Laura Hope Crews as the rich, older patron supporting the artist played by Norman Foster. Crews is best known for her performance as Aunt Pittypat in Gone With the Wind and her character in Rafter Romance is a far cry from the prim and proper Aunt Pittypat.

Beat the Devil Humphrey Bogart Jennifer Jones

From Rafter Romance, it was on to Beat the Devil. I have a personal rule that in most cases, if I don’t like a movie, I try to keep an open mind and give it another chance later on. Sometimes, I’m just not be in the right mindset for something or I might be distracted by something the first time I watch it, and that can have a huge impact on how I view it. Beat the Devil is a perfect example of why I’m glad I have this philosophy.

I’d tried watching Beat the Devil once before several years ago and it simply didn’t grab me. I think I got maybe 20 minutes into it before I went off to do something else. The fact that it was a rough-looking public domain print probably didn’t help things much, either. But not long ago, my dad caught part of it and asked me if I’d seen it because he thought it seemed interesting and funny. So when I saw Beat the Devil on this year’s TCMFF schedule, I figured it would be the perfect opportunity to give it another chance.

Not only was the print a vast improvement over the one I’d attempted watching years ago, seeing it in the theater gave me a whole new appreciation for it. Yes, the story is convoluted and a bit hard to follow, but it’s hilarious. Although Bogart was the star I was most interested in the movie for, Jennifer Jones stole the show for me. I absolutely loved her performance as a daffy pathological liar. All in all, this was my favorite movie discovery of the festival.

Peter Bogdanovich TCMFF 2017

Next up on my schedule was the conversation with Peter Bogdanovich in Club TCM. Not only am I a big fan of several of his movies, he was friends with so many film legends, so this was instantly very high on my list of events to attend.

Much of the conversation revolved around his experiences in knowing Orson Welles and John Ford. With the recent news that The Other Side of the Wind, an incomplete movie Orson Welles had been working on with Bogdanovich throughout the 1970s, is going to be finished and released on Netflix, there was quite a bit of discussion about that.

Over the years, there have been efforts made to complete the film, but thanks to lots of legal issues, none of them have been successful until now. All the filmed footage is now in Los Angeles and editors will start cutting it together very soon. This is a project Welles had wanted to see completed and he had asked Bogdanovich to finish it for him, so this is something he’s been trying to make happen for the past few decades. I’m excited to see how this project all comes together.

We were also treated to a great anecdote from Bogdanovich about witnessing Cary Grant encountering a person who failed to recognize him, complete with Bogdanovich doing his famous Cary Grant voice.

So This is Paris 1926

After spending some time listening to Peter Bogdanovich talk about a more modern era of Hollywood history, I jumped back to the silent era with Ernst Lubitsch’s So This is Paris. I’ve long lamented the fact that not many Lubitsch silents are commercially available, so there is no way I could pass up the chance to see this on the big screen. The handful of Lubitsch silents I have seen for the most part have been incredibly witty and stylish, just like his sound films. So This is Paris was no exception. Only Lubitsch could so effectively pull off a movie about partner swapping. I sincerely hope this eventually gets a DVD/blu-ray/streaming release because if you’re a Lubitsch fan, particularly his early 1930s films, So This is Paris is bound to be right up your alley.

Jean Harlow Chester Morris Red Headed Woman

Once I got out of So This is Paris, I went outside and got right back in line for an old favorite — Red-Headed Woman. I wasn’t about to pass up the chance to see Jean Harlow on the big screen. In fact, I think this may have been the first Harlow movie I’ve seen on the big screen where she was the main star. This screening was one of those delightful experiences where I was able to watch a movie I’d seen several times before, but it was like getting to see it for the first time all over again. Seeing it on the big screen brought out so many little things that I simply didn’t notice when I watched at home; mostly things that really brought out the comedic aspect of the film. When I watched it at home, it was funny. When I watched it at the Egyptian, it was hilarious.

Cari Beauchamp’s introduction for Red-Headed Woman made the whole experience even better. It was a prime example of what a good movie introduction should be. Not only was she able to tell us a lot of fascinating details about the production of the movie, it’s one of her favorite movies so she brought the perfect balance of enthusiasm and expertise.

Those Redheads from Seattle

At the beginning of the day, I had been thinking I’d spend three movies in a row at the Egyptian by getting in line for Laura after Red-Headed Woman. But after watching a few great comedies early in the day, I started to realize I wanted to keep that lighter tone going and Laura just didn’t fit. Yes, seeing that on nitrate would have been incredible, but if it’s a kind of movie you’re just not in the mood for, you’re not going to enjoy it as much as you should. So instead, I went for Those Redheads from Seattle in 3D.

Getting to see Those Redheads from Seattle on the big screen in its original 3D format was another rare screening opportunity at the festival. Those Redheads was the first musical to be filmed in 3D, but when it was released in 1953, not many people had the chance to actually see it in 3D. After its release, the 3D version was largely unseen until 2006. This screening was of a newly-restored print from the 3D Film Archive, the same organization responsible for the restored version of Gog shown at last year’s TCMFF.

If you ever have a chance to go to a screening of something restored by the 3D Film Archive, I highly recommend going because they do a truly remarkable job on their restorations. At both Gog and Those Redheads, the movie was preceded by an explanation of the challenges they faced in restoring them and we were shown before and after comparisons of their work. It’s easy to dismiss these older 3D movies off as being cheesy, but this group does an amazing job of making them look their very best.

Sean Connery in Zardoz

My last movie for the day was Zardoz, one of this year’s midnight screenings. To be completely honest, I don’t fully understand what on Earth was going on in that movie. But if I’m going to watch a movie where Sean Connery goes around in a weird monokini outfit in a dystopian future and it opens with a disembodied head floating around the screen with a Sharpie-d on goatee, I’m glad I was able to see it with the type of crowd that comes to midnight movies at TCMFF.

TCMFF 2017, Day 1: From Osborne to Scorsese

 

April 6, 2017

Robert Osborne TCMFFNot long before the 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival got underway,  fans of the channel were heartbroken to hear the news that long-time host Robert Osborne had passed away. Although Osborne wasn’t there in person this year, you couldn’t go anywhere without feeling his spirit. This year’s festival was officially dedicated to his memory and one of the first events this year was a panel all about him.

During this event, several TCM staffers, along with Osborne’s long-time friend Diane Baker, gathered to share their memories. It was an absolute delight to hear everyone’s stories about how they met him, the advice he’d given them, and what it was like to work with him. Many of the stories were touching, but one thing they made very clear is that Robert wouldn’t have wanted sad songs being played for him, so many of the stories were on a lighter, funnier note.

For example, out of all the big-name guests who appeared on the channel over the years, the one Osborne seemed to be most intimidated by was Judge Judy. He was a huge fan of her show and one of the TCM staffers talked about how if you called up to his apartment while the show was on, you would hear Judge Judy blaring in the background. And given how many film legends he knew and befriended over the years, you might not expect Osborne to be the type to be starstruck often. But when Jean-Paul Belmondo was at the festival a few years ago to introduce Breathless, Osborne was reportedly a bit giddy after meeting him for the first time.

It goes without saying that Robert Osborne was one of a kind. While there are lots of people who have a talent for on-air hosting and experience interviewing celebrity guests, Diane Baker said it best when she pointed out that what set him apart is that he genuinely cared about who these stars were as people.

Martin Scorsese

Not long after the Remembering Robert Osborne panel, there was a big announcement that changed my plans for the rest of the night. A nitrate print of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1934 version of The Man Who Knew Too Much had been part of the schedule from the get-go. There wasn’t a big-name guest to introduce it, but it was high on many peoples’ must-see lists because it was a nitrate print. However, since so many people seemed to be interested in The Man Who Knew Too Much, I was starting to lean more toward Requiem for a Heavyweight instead just to avoid the crowd. But then, I checked my phone and saw a notification announcing that Martin Scorsese would be introducing Man Who Knew Too Much and my whole plans for the night changed.

Martin Scorsese is my favorite living filmmaker and since he is such a strong advocate for film preservation, having the chance to see him at an event like this was really too much to resist. So not only did I decide to skip Requiem for a Heavyweight, I also decided to skip the documentary Dawson City: Frozen Time so I would have more time to line up for it. Dawson City had originally been at the top of my list of things I was most excited to see, but Scorsese was a game changer. This is a prime example of why one of the biggest pieces of advice I give to first-time festival attendees is to keep your options open. Because when your plan B involves getting to see someone like Martin Scorsese introduce a nitrate print of anything, you know you’re in a good place.

TCMFF Lee Grant Todd Fisher Dick Cavett

Lee Grant, Todd Fisher, and Dick Cavett

TCMFF Ruta Lee Keir Dullea Beau Bridges

Ruta Lee, Keir Dullea, and Beau Bridges

Before The Man Who Knew Too Much, I spent some time watching red carpet arrivals for the gala screening of In the Heat of the Night, which is always a lot of fun. The red carpet is always a way to see a lot of the festival’s special guests all in once place so you get to see a lot of people you wouldn’t get to see otherwise. In this case, it gave me a chance to see Lee Grant, Todd Fisher, Keir Dullea, John Landis, Beau Bridges, and Ruta Lee, which was great since I wasn’t able to see them at any of their events.

Peter Lorre The Man Who Knew Too MuchAfter the red carpet, I grabbed some dinner and got in line at the Egyptian theater for The Man Who Knew Too Much. Scorsese’s introduction was everything I’d hoped it would be. As he walked out to the podium, you could tell he was delighted to be there. Every single person who was there that night cares about film history and was excited to have the opportunity to see nitrate, so we were definitely his kind of crowd. “I’m sure you all already know about nitrate, but I’m going to tell you about it anyway just because I like talking about it,” he told the crowd. He then went on to not only tell us about the print of The Man Who Knew Too Much we were about to see, he talked a little bit about each of the nitrate prints being shown at the festival, such as where they came from or where he’d seen screenings of them in the past.

The print of The Man Who Knew Too Much we saw was originally part of David O. Selznick’s personal collection. Not only was the print itself in impeccable condition, the added shine that nitrate gives was the icing on the cake. It was my first time seeing this version of The Man Who Knew Too Much; I’d seen the 1956 Jimmy Stewart and Doris Day version several times before. On the whole, I preferred the 1954 version if only because of its unforgettable Albert Hall sequence. But I loved that in the end, it’s Edna Best’s character who takes charge of the situation and saves the day.

By the end of the day, it was clear that this was going to be an exceptionally great TCM Classic Film Festival.

My Choices for TCMFF 2017

TCMFF 2017

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.

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Noir City Comes to Detroit

noir-city-detroitOn the weekend of September 23-25, 2016, Eddie Muller, founder of the Film Noir Foundation and known as the Czar of Noir, brought the renowned Noir City festival to Detroit’s historic Redford Theater. Over the course of the weekend, visitors had the chance to see up to seven noir classics, each introduced by Muller. Every day, there was a double feature consisting of one well-known noir classic paired with one that isn’t so widely known, all presented in beautiful 35mm prints. Each of the bigger titles were movies I’d seen before and really liked, but I was actually more excited for the second billings since I’d never seen any of them before.

The festival kicked off on Friday night with a double feature of The Killers and 99 River Street. In 99 River Street, the events of the film take place over the course of one night and I don’t really know why, but I love movies that are structured like that. John Payne stars as a boxer-turned-cab driver who is married to an unhappy wife. Over the course of one night, he discovers that his wife has been having an affair, gets framed for his wife’s murder, and unwittingly becomes entangled in a publicity stunt for a new play starring an actress friend of his, played by Evelyn Keyes. When Keyes’ character feels bad about unwittingly leading him into a publicity stunt, she quits the play to help him clear his name. For the most part, I loved this movie. Gritty and compelling, but with a happy ending that I would normally not like in a noir, but considering it’s about a guy having the worst night ever, I can forgive it. I figured that guy deserved to have something good happen to him.

Saturday’s double feature was Double Indemnity and The ProwlerDouble Indemnity is definitely a favorite of mine, but The Prowler ended up being the biggest highlight of the festival for me. If you have never seen The Prowler, imagine an even more subversive Double Indemnity, only with a one-sided murder plot and a main female character who actually has a conscience.

When I hear classic film fans talk about how old films weren’t always wholesome and sweet, they’re typically referring to the pre-code era, but The Prowler definitely pushed some 1950s-era boundaries. Not only is the plot full of elements that test the limits of the production codes, its production involved two famous victims of Hollywood blacklisting: Joseph Losey and Dalton Trumbo. Trumbo was not only an uncredited writer, but also provided the voice Evelyn Keyes’ character’s husband. At the time The Prowler was produced, Trumbo was such a Hollywood outcast, the fact that he was providing the voice for a character in the movie had to be an extremely well-kept secret. In his introduction, Muller said that not even Evelyn Keyes knew Trumbo provided that voice until a long time after the fact.

Night owls had the chance to catch a late-night screening of David Lynch’s neo-noir classic Blue Velvet on Saturday. Although I’m a big David Lynch fan and really like Blue Velvet, I simply did not have the energy to stay up for it. But I was back at the Redford early Sunday afternoon for a double feature of The Lady from Shanghai and Woman on the Run.

It had been ages since I’d seen The Lady from Shanghai, and since it’s a movie you really have to concentrate on, seeing it in a theater is absolutely perfect. Woman on the Run was extremely enjoyable. I love Ann Sheridan, but I haven’t seen much of her post-1940s work, so this was a real treat. She is absolutely fantastic in it and the movie is full of twists and turns to keep things interesting from beginning to end.

Many people know Eddie Muller from his introductions on Turner Classic Movies, but if you ever have the chance to see him in person at an event, I very highly recommend going. Whether it’s at a Noir City festival or at an event like the TCM Film Festival, he is always extremely engaging, entertaining, passionate, and knowledgeable about the subject at hand. As someone who has been actively involved in trying to preserve and restore some of the more overlooked noir gems, Muller has some absolutely incredible stories to tell. Between the excellent line-up and Muller’s expertise, it was an absolutely fantastic weekend. The Redford’s volunteers have already started putting the gears in motion to do this again next year and I’m already looking forward to seeing next year’s line-up.

TCMFF 2016, Day 4: An Interview to Remember

Sunday, May 1

The final day of TCMFF has arrived and by now, I’ve reached the point where I have to put some effort into walking when I first wake up because all the running around I’ve been doing the past few days is starting to catch up with me. (If you’ve never been to TCMFF before, yes, you’d be surprised how much walking and running around you can do during a trip that largely involves sitting in movie theaters most of the day.) Luckily for me, I was planning on a pretty easy, laid back schedule of only three events.

Elliott Gould TCMFF 2016

Elliott Gould after the screening of M*A*S*H. Photo Credit: TCM

I started the day off at the Chinese theater for a movie that has been long on my list of movies I need to see — M*A*S*H. Somehow, I had never seen this movie before and have hardly watched any of the TV series either, for that matter. I wouldn’t say M*A*S*H is one of my favorite movies, but I’m glad I saw it. I have a bit of a dark sense of humor, so there’s a lot I liked about it.

After the film, Elliott Gould came out for a brief discussion. I actually think I preferred the Elliott Gould discussion after M*A*S*H over the discussion he had done at Club TCM the previous day. Naturally, today’s discussion was more M*A*S*H-focused and I appreciated getting to hear him talk more in depth about one of his films. While some actors like to say that they don’t watch their own movies when they see them on TV, Elliott Gould is not one of those actors. He still absolutely loves M*A*S*H and gladly admits to watching it anytime he sees it on TV. Even over 40 years after the film’s original release, Gould said he can still find new things in it to appreciate and that he had even noticed something new about it just a few minutes before the discussion.

Faye Dunaway TCMFF Interview 2016

Photo credit: TCM

After M*A*S*H, it was time to meet up with my friend Nikki to head over to the Montalban Theater for one of the events I was most excited for this festival. I usually try to keep my schedule flexible for Sundays, but this year, I couldn’t help but break my own rule. Not long before the festival began, it was announced that Faye Dunaway would be appearing to record an extended interview about her career down at the Montalban Theater and to introduce the movie Network. Faye Dunaway is one of my favorite actresses to come out of the new Hollywood era (1967 onward) and Bonnie and Clyde is in my top 10 favorite movies of all time. I also adore her performances in Network and Chinatown, so this news was a total game changer.

As great as Network is, I loved being able to attend the taping of the Sophia Loren interview at last year’s festival, so the Faye Dunaway interview instantly became one of my festival must-sees. Going to that meant making quite a few sacrifices, though. Between the time it would take for the interview to be recorded and having to line up rather early to make sure I get in, going to the interview meant having to skip most of the movies playing that afternoon, but it was completely and totally worth it. There’s nothing that could have come up in any of the TBA slots that would make me change my mind about the interview. I knew this was going to be a once-in-a-lifetime event and I was not disappointed.

Ben Mankiewicz conducted the interview with Dunaway and it was by far the best interview I’ve ever seen him do. (This year’s festival really drove home to me how very versatile of an interviewer Mankiewicz is. Just two days earlier, he was doing a very fun, lighthearted interview with Adam West and Lee Merriwether, then here he was doing a very intelligent, thoughtful interview with Dunaway, and he did an incredible job with both interviews.) He had clearly done a lot of research before the interview, something that did not go unnoticed by Dunaway, who mentioned how impressed she was by that on more than one occasion. The interview primarily focused on certain landmark movies throughout her career such as Bonnie and ClydeChinatown, Network, The Thomas Crown Affair, and Three Days of the Condor. But she also discussed a little bit about herself, such as her fondness for Bob Dylan, rock and roll music, and Ryan Gosling. Fun fact: Faye Dunaway is also a fan of Uber. She also mentioned liking the 1999 remake of The Thomas Crown Affair.

Many people think of Faye Dunaway being a difficult person and something of a diva, but if anyone at the interview was hoping to witness any of that behavior first hand, they were surely very disappointed. Dunaway was in a lovely mood that day, very relaxed, and clearly enjoyed every single minute of the interview. And, since I’m sure many people are wondering about this, there wasn’t a single mention of Mommie Dearest, Joan Crawford, or wire hangers. At most, she vaguely alluded to Mommie Dearest at one point when she mentioned making some mistakes in her career that she chooses not to speak of very often (and it’s pretty well-known which movie Dunaway does not like discussing.)

Faye Dunaway After TCMFF Interview

My photo of Faye Dunaway after her TCMFF interview

The crowd was loving the interview as much as Dunaway was. When she walked out on stage, I could pretty much tell the exact moment when she realized she was among people who truly respect her and admire her work. She was relaxed, having fun, and when the interview was over, she was so delighted that she took a minute to pose on the stage for fans to take pictures of her. That was the move of a true star. Don’t miss this interview when it airs on TCM sometime next year. TCM has shown a lot of great interviews over the years and was one of the best.

After the interview, I had a little bit of a break before seeing my final film of the festival: The Band Wagon. I loved the idea of ending the festival on a purely exuberant note, so The Band Wagon was a perfect choice for me. I absolutely adore the movie and the idea of getting to see the “Dancing in the Dark” number on the big screen was totally irresistible. Before the movie started, Illeana Douglas hosted a lengthy discussion with award-winning choreographer and director Susan Stroman.

The Band Wagon on the big screen was everything I wanted it to be: fun, joyful, colorful, and simply spectacular. That’s entertainment indeed!

And, with that, the 2016 TCM Classic Film Festival came to an end. After The Band Wagon, all that was left for me to do was go back to the Roosevelt to spend as much time with my friends as possible before we went our separate ways again.