It’s that time: TCM Classic Film Festival time! I can’t stress this enough but, for me, this is the festival I plan my year around (and I am fortunate to go to several festivals throughout the year). TCM is the only place where you can really connect with fans who geek out just as much about classic cinema. I’ve heard it said by a few fans, but this is a festival where you wish you could go back in time just to catch all the movies you missed because every schedule is chock full of things to see and do. This is the 10th festival, taking place on the weekend of the 25th anniversary of the network itself, so expect this to be an incredibly special event. Here are the must-sees I’ll be arguing with myself over regularly during the span of the festival. Feel free to let me know in the comments if I’ll be running into you!
What’s new this year is I don’t have to fly down to Los Angeles because I actually live here! So, technically, I could have just come down on Thursday, but since I booked the hotel last year I figured I might as well keep my Wednesday afternoon arrival. It’s only a 15-minute drive, after all! I haven’t been invited to anything special and am holding out hope that I might get invited to one of the TCM Backlot events that usually takes place the evening before. Otherwise I’ll be dropping in on the fine folks who organize the Going to TCM Classic Film Festival pre-fest mixer and try to stock up on sleep.
As usual Thursday is all about the red carpet – fingers crossed I get in again this year. The opening night film is When Harry Met Sally (1989) which I’ve never actually watched. (Shh, don’t tell on me.) Regardless, it’d be an amazing opportunity to talk to Rob Reiner and Meg Ryan; Billy Crystal would be fun, too. Really it’s about seeing all the other stars that pop up for opening night. Wonder if my TCMFF BFF Keith Carradine will be on the red carpet this year?
It’s REALLY unfair they’re screening Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) at the Egyptian at 6:45pm because I’m severely doubting I can get from the red carpet all the way down there. It was the inspiration for Ticklish Business, after all, so I’m sad I won’t get to experience it. It might be worth it, though, to walk down and get in line for the film after it: The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947).
Friday morning is tough because TCM decided to throw a John Garfield movie at me! Postman Always Rings Twice (1945) would be getting my attention if it wasn’t all the way at the Egyptian and I hadn’t just rewatched it for the Ticklish Biz tribute I did to Garfield a few weeks ago. It’s not my favorite Garfield movie, too, so while I hate to turn him down…I think I am. If that’s the case I’ll probably end up at Merrily We Go to Hell (1932). It’s a pre-Code and introduced by one of my favorite authors (and buddies), Cari Beauchamp which transcends my general antipathy for Fredric March.
I’ll be at the Egyptian right after for the screening of Sleeping Beauty (1959). It’s been several years since the festival showed a Disney movie. If memory serves the last was Bambi (1941) where I sobbed my heart out. I’ve never seen Sleeping Beauty on a big screen and I can’t turn down a chance to see Eyvind Earle’s beautiful backgrounds on a big screen. It’s also being introduced by Floyd Norman! One of Walt’s earliest animators who’s still around! Afternoon set. I’ll probably stick around the Egyptian to see another Cary Grant movie, 1940’s My Favorite Wife. This is one of my favorite romantic comedies and who can turn down Cary and Randolph Scott? I know Mario Cantone is introing but considering Jennifer Grant will be around it’d be nice for her to pop in.
I’m aching to see The Sound of Music (1965) introduced by Rob Marshall but there are a couple things stopping me: 1) I’ve seen it a lot, including on the big screen a few years ago. 2) It’s long and would burn several later options. 3) It’s at the Legion Theater which is an insane walk in a short amount of time. So I’ll probably either hit up Vanity Street (1932) or just take time for dinner and wait for Open Secret (1948). I’ve never heard of Open Secret before but it’s being compared to Crossfire (1947) which is a noir I thoroughly enjoy. No matter what I’ll be closing the night with my girl, Ida Lupino, and seeing Road House (1948). Road House is one of the few Ida movies I’ve yet to see and I will be rectifying that.
I’ll be happy with almost anything I see Saturday morning and right now it’s a toss-up between Double Wedding (1937), All Through the Night (1942), and When Worlds Collide (1951). I would love to see The Little Colonel (1935) but, again, the Legion Theater just seems like way too far of a walk for me. I’ve seen Double Wedding before but would love to revisit it, and it’s being introduced by Illeana Douglas. When Worlds Collide is a sci-fi disaster film, a genre I’ve yet to experience at TCMFF, and it’s closer to the hotel, though.
My afternoon slot is as convoluted as my morning. I could go see Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949) which I saw several years ago and remember loving. It’s also being introduced by Jefferson Mays who I am obsessed with after consuming I Am the Night earlier this year. Then again one of the films I vowed I’d see from the time it was announced was Tarzan and His Mate (1934) because I’ve yet to see a Tarzan film of the classic era. And yet one of my good friends vowed to disown me if I didn’t see Sleepless in Seattle (1993) so add that to the list.
I’m tempted to go see Love Affair (1939) considering I’ve never seen it and I love An Affair to Remember (1957) or Working Girl (1939) but I might finally make the trek up to the Legion Theater because they’re showing a movie I’ve dreamed about the fest doing: Wuthering Heights (1939). Wuthering Heights in the novel I reread every year and it’d be INSANE for me not to experience it. It’s also being introduced by Alex Trebek who is going through cancer treatments and I’d love to show my support. My plan is to then make it to see Waterloo Bridge (1931) and then hop into line for the midnight screening of The Student Nurses (1970). I’ve yet to make it through a midnight show. Will 2019 be the year?
Sunday is always contingent on what the TBAs are but the plan is to see Bill Hader introduce Mad Love (1935) then head over to Magnificent Obsession (1954) or the panel on Hollywood Romances. I’m actually pretty lukewarm on most of the films announced for Sunday and evening with the exception of The Dolly Sisters (1945).
This schedule could just as easily be thrown out the window once I get started. Interestingly, if this comes to fruition I’ll be seeing a lot of pre-Codes, nitrate films, and movies I’ve actually seen previously. I’m also saddned that this schedule, as of now, doesn’t include any poolside screenings and possibly no panels. Who knows what will happen but I can assume it’ll rock.
A freelance film critic whose work fuels the Rotten Tomatoes meter. I've been published on The Hollywood Reporter, Remezcla, and The Daily Beast. I've been featured in the L.A. Times. I currently run two podcasts, Citizen Dame and Ticklish Business.