In just about two weeks’ time, the TCM Classic Film Festival will descend on Los Angeles once again, turning downtown Hollywood into a mecca for film fans hungry for the glamour and nostalgia of the days of yore. Waxing poetic aside, this is the third year for the festival, and it seems to be going as strong as ever. Last year, attendance nearly doubled over the first festival, so we’ll see what the crowds are like this year! In any case, with Robert Osborne and the TCM crew bringing in films big and small, essential and rare, along with star appearances and special events galore, it’s sure to be a weekend of fun for anybody who loves classic Hollywood. The theme this year is “Style in the Movies” – with an apparent eye toward costume design and set decoration. There are sidebars for specific designers, specific “looks,” especially style-conscious directors, and even the broader Essentials section has been curated to favor films that feature a unique design aesthetic. Confirmed special guests include Kirk Douglas (who was fantastic last year at a screening of Spartacus), Debbie Reynolds, Liza Minnelli, Shirley Jones, Kim Novak, Robert Wagner, Angie Dickinson, director Norman Jewison, and more.
Along with the festival, TCM sponsors a Road to Hollywood series of screenings in various cities throughout the weeks leading up to the festival, with Robert Osborne and special guests presenting the screening. That series continues with The Last Picture Show March 31st in Toronto, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers April 3rd in Denver, and Marty April 5th in Portland. TCM did this last year as well, bringing a taste of the festival to other cities, so even if you don’t live in LA, keep an eye on where TCM is holding these (free!) screenings. Plus, you may learn insider info before the rest of us – at a recent screening, Robert Osborne let it slip that Mel Brooks will be a special guest. But he caught himself before revealing what film Brooks will be introducing – could even be something not announced yet!
As far as the main event in Hollywood, taking place April 12-15, Matinee Festival Passes are still available, and individual tickets will be on sale before each screening. With no further ado, here is the line-up thus far announced. There could well be additions – as I recall, last year they added films into the “Discoveries” section almost right up to the festival start. And I hope they do that again; the pickings are a little slim in that section this year, though there are plenty I’m excited about in other sections. Without the schedule in hand, all my predictions of what I’m going to see are probably wrong – with only three days of festival and over fifty films, very difficult choices will have to be made. (Note: I took most of the synopses below from IMDb, so my apologies if they’re bland.)
Edit: I have amended this post to include the films announced on March 28 when the schedule was released, as well as additional guest star and presenter information. I’ve highlighted the additional films in red. Also, The Godfather, Part II has been removed from the lineup, citing “unforeseen circumstances.” Most notable among the newly announced guests – Stanley Donen will be appearing with all three of his films (not including his co-directed Singin’ in the Rain), producer Robert Evans will be introducing most of the New Hollywood films, with writer Robert Towne introducing Chinatown, Sara Karloff and Bela G. Lugosi will be presenting their respective fathers’ film The Black Cat, legendary makeup artist Rick Baker will introduce The Wolf Man, and John Carpenter will introduce Frankenstein.
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954)
Director: Richard Fleischer
Starring: Kirk Douglas, James Mason, Paul Lukas, Peter Lorre
Synopsis: A ship sent to investigate a wave of mysterious sinkings encounters the advanced submarine, the Nautilus, commanded by Captain Nemo.
My take: I’ve not seen this before, but Disney’s first live-action feature film promises practical special effects galore, and I’m a sucker for those. Plus, any chance to see Kirk Douglas live is probably worth taking. Hoping to see
In attendance: Kirk Douglas
Annie Hall (1977)
Director: Woody Allen
Starring: Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Tony Roberts, Carol Kane, Paul Simon, Shelley Duvall, Christopher Walken, Colleen Dewhurst
Synopsis: Neurotic New York comedian Alvy Singer falls in love with the ditsy Annie Hall.
My take: I love this film a lot; in fact, it’s a constant battle between this and Manhattan for the title of my favorite Woody Allen film. Still, I think I’ll skip this in favor of things I haven’t seen a dozen times. Probably won’t see
Would you like to know more…?