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My Picks for the 2015 TCM Classic Film Festival

March 18, 2015

It seems that each year, the anticipation for the release of the TCM Classic Film Festival schedule grows by leaps and bounds.


As my pal Jill noted on Twitter, the complete schedule for the festival is usually released three weeks beforehand, which gives attendees enough time to adequately get their ducks in order, from mapping out a personal schedule and calculating the distance between locations (aka the mathematical probability of booking it down Hollywood Blvd to make it from the Montalban to the Chinese) to penciling in meal breaks (I use the word pencil because those will probably be erased) and attempting to figure out when sleep will be had (it won't, not really).


But let's be honest. We don't really need a full three weeks; a good chunk of people already have their itinerary plotted out within hours of the schedule's release. Or at least the first of several drafts.


Santa came a few days late this year - the full rundown was released a mere 17 days before the festival. This year's theme is History According to Hollywood, and while some of the films announced fit squarely into that subject, others prove harder to make the connection (no complaints here though!). As usual, TCM is bringing in some great guest speakers, including a handful of professional luminaries who can hopefully shed some light on the accuracy of a few of the festival's selections and people who have been made the subject of certain movies, in addition to the regular lineup of Hollywood stars, family members, and historians. By the looks of it, the festival's sixth edition promises to be another smashing success!

One of the pieces of key art for the 2015 Festival. 

This year, I'm excited to announce that I'll be assisting the TCM team as a Social Producer, which is a new endeavor the festival is launching. A handful of us were chosen based on pitches, and each one (or two) Social Producer(s) will be tasked with a different assignment to help promote the festival on various social media channels and also enhance the festival experience for attendees and fans of TCM across the globe. We've been told that our badges will be adorned with a fancy (well, that's what I'm hoping for) ribbon to designate us as such, so if you see any of us wandering around, be sure to stop and say hi! We may even have a surprise in store for you. Hint: it may be something with a pin on the back that starts with a "B."


One thing I know already is that Nora and Marya, two of the fest's Social Producers, have launched the official TCM Film Festival Tumblr. Be sure to check it out and follow - it's an insanely fun way to pump up for the festival. 


If you aren't able to make it to Hollywood but want to follow along, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@kimbo3200) for what most likely will be a constant stream of updates. I'll also be posting a bit on Instagram (@kimbo3200) and Facebook (I See A Dark Theater).


If you will be attending the festival this year and really want one of those special surprises (while supplies last), below is where you may be able to find me.*



*This schedule is subject to change pending sleep, hunger, and sanity needs. Also, the lines. Those are always, always an unpredictable (yet kind of fun) battle.






6:30pm - Queen Christina (1933)

1. Pre-code, 2. Garbo. My love of pre-codes is well-documented, and other than Ninotchka (1939), I've never seen a Garbo film on the big screen.


6:45pm (Backup) - Too Late for Tears (1949)

I saw this literally 2 weeks ago at the UCLA Festival of Preservation, but it's so good I'd watch it again, because Lizabeth Scott plays the bad-est bitch EVER and she owns Dan Duryea in this. Yes, OWNS. As film noir fans know, that is certainly nothing to sneeze at.


10pm - My Man Godfrey (1936)

No special guest or anything, just a good ol' fashioned screwball comedy to round out the first (short) evening of the festival.  And then rest. Because I will need all I can get, preemptively.

Always a fun screwball comedy.



9am - The Dawn of Technicolor

Well, Friday starts off with a bang! Usually presentations like this are scheduled for the weekend, so I'm glad I'm taking off work this year for the festival. I really hope I can make this lecture by James Layton and David Pierce, the authors of the book of the same name, because this event has been one of my 'must-sees' since it was announced. I love Hollywood history lessons!


9:15am (Backup) - My Darling Clementine  (1946)

I've heard through the grapevine that everyone and their mother/father wants to see The Dawn of Technicolor presentation, so if that falls through, I'd skip Lubitsch's sparkling The Smiling Lieutenant (1931) - yes, a pre-code - for My Darling Clementine, because I've never seen it, AND Peter Fonda will be there.

Henry Fonda in My Darling Clementine

12pm - Reign of Terror (1949)

This timeslot was one of the hardest, because there are four things I want to see: this, The Proud Rebel (1958), The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985), and the discussion in Club TCM called "Film and Facts: Whose Responsibility?" Purple Rose is my favorite Woody Allen movie, but I saw it at the New Beverly earlier this year, and though the "Film and Facts" panel seems insanely interesting, ahhhh...I want to see movies! I haven't watched Reign of Terror, but I love Anthony Mann, and a French Revolution film noir?! I am very intrigued. Plus, 100 year old Norman Lloyd will be speaking at the end of the film. Though I've heard him talk about his career before, I want to catch him at least once during the festival.


12:15pm (Backup) - The Proud Rebel (1958)

See above for the struggle I had with this time slot. Though I'm not a Western fan generally, the simple, heartfelt plot appealed to me. I mean, it lured Olivia de Havilland back to Hollywood after three years abroad, so there's definitely something special about it! Plus, Alan Ladd's son David, who played his real son in the movie, will be in attendance. Also, it's the world premiere restoration. So, there's a lot going for this one, too.


2-5pm - Open

Leaving this time slot open in case there's anything non-screening related I need to do. If there's not, AND if I missed Norman Lloyd before, I'd probably go for Chaplin's Limelight (1952) at 2:30 or The Cincinnati Kid (1965) at 3:15 because Ann-Margaret will be in attendance.


5:30pm - Don't Bet on Women (1931)

This was another one of the toughest conflicts for me: a pre-code film not available on DVD vs a foreign film noir I've wanted to see for a very long time. Two of my favorite genres. BUT, once I learned that the noir, Rififi (1955), is on DVD, well...Amazon made my decision for me. Plus, Don't Bet on Women is also known as All Women are Bad, and I just need to find out why both the titles felt the need to call women out. Pre-codes have a notorious reputation at the festival for 'selling out' well before the standby line gets a chance, so I usually missed them in the past. Here's hoping my pass will be of assistance this time around!

This made me even more excited for Don't Bet on Women: Roland Young, on the right. He's always fabulous, especially in pre-codes.

7:30pm - The Invisible Man (1933)

This is a fun pre-code 'horror' flick that I've watched a few times before.  However, it might also be nice to have an hour or two downtime to catch up on things, write, or, you know, eat food.


9:15pm - On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)

I'm not the biggest James Bond fan, but my dad and brother were when I was growing up, so I feel like I have to dedicate this screening to them...and then brag about it. Kidding. (Kind of). Plus, George Lazenby will be there in the flesh!


12am - Boom! (1968)

Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, and director Joseph Losey (who helmed some excellently dark noirs) in a film John Waters called “beyond bad?" Sounds like the perfect midnight movie to me, if I'll be able to stay up late enough, that is.  

I've seen this photo of Elizabeth Taylor before and always wondered about it. If I see Boom!, I will wonder no more...(maybe).



9:15am - Why Be Good? (1929)

9:15 is way too early to be making decisions, but there are 3-4 things I want to see on this Saturday AM, including this, 1937's They Won't Forget (a Mervyn LeRoy film I've never heard of), and They Were Expendable (1945). However, this is a pre-code, and as you've probably noticed, I'm a sucker for those. Though this movie is on DVD, it was thought lost until about 20 years ago and it's one of those in-between-silent-and-sound pictures that features a score and sound effects but no spoken dialogue. Sounds like a fun, short flick to kick off what will be a very long day.


12:30pm - Character Actors 101

Though I would love to watch 42nd Street (1933) on the big screen, I think I'll give myself an hour or so break in the late morning, which will enable me to catch this tribute in Club TCM. Since I've never had access to Club TCM, I'm trying to make the most of it this year. Plus, Bruce Goldstein, the program director of my favorite theater in NYC, the Film Forum, is the speaker. I missed his "Pre-Code 101" talk last year, but I enjoyed his presentation on The Donovan Affair (1929) at the 2013 festival, which is now presented as a stage-screen hybrid. I wrote about here.


2pm - Live from the TCM Classic Film Festival: Sophia Loren

I missed Sophia Loren at AFI Fest last year. Now, since I've had more than one opportunity, I think it's necessary to see the legend in person. This particular time conflicts with a pre-code (GASP), but the only other chance I'd have to catch her is on Sunday night for Marriage Italian Style (1964), which I want to see, but that also clashes with another must-see! TCM Film Festival, you make my head ache sometimes. 

Very excited to hear Sophia Loren speak this year! (Finally)

4:15pm - Christmas in July (1940)

I could have a super early dinner and chill out for an hour or two, OR I can try to get into this Preston Sturges film, which I've never seen before. I really enjoy Sturges' work, so what do you think the answer will be?


6pm - Hollywood Home Movies

Thanks to Laura for reminding me of this event. I've seen Hollywood Home Movie screenings at the Academy before, but there's more than one program, and all of these sound unfamiliar to me. I always enjoy home movies of any sort, so to sneak a (very rare) peek behind the scenes and glamour of one of my favorite periods in Hollywood history is certainly something I can't miss. Plus, Jane Withers will be in attendance!


6:30pm (Backup) - Madame Curie (1943)

I've seen this film several times, but how often do you get the chance to watch Garson and Pidgeon on the big screen? For me, never. Plus, TCM is bringing in an expert, Nuclear Chemistry Professor Emeritus Darleane C. Hoffman PhD (that is a mouthful), and it would be interesting to hear what her take is on the historical accuracy of this film. 

LOVE Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon. Love. (Seen here in Madame Curie). 

9:30pm - Return of the Dream Machine

This is another really tough time slot. However, from the moment I heard that this shorts block would be projected by a 1909 hand-crank Model 6 cameragraph motion picture machine (not 100% sure what that is), courtesy the Academy's Randy Haberkamp, there was no competition. Though I've already seen the four shorts mentioned in the program guide, I know there will be many others shown, and for me, this presentation is really more about the atmosphere, including pre-show music from the early 1900s played on a 1908 Edison Phonograph. I mean, how many chances do you get to watch 35mm films projected from a century old hand-cranked machine AND listen to music from a century old phonograph?!


9:30pm (Backup) - Adam's Rib (1950)

Though I enjoy Adam's Rib, I wouldn't be attending the screening for Tracy and Hepburn. Well, not exactly. Last year, comedian Greg Proops spoke before Bachelor Mother (1939), and I really enjoyed his introduction. This time around, he's back for more! The TCM Film Festival site calls it a "30 minute performance" - basically, a recording of his podcast, which I've never attended before, even though he regularly tapes it at a theater down the street from me.


12am - BEDTIME 

Sadly, no midnight movie for me tonight. 





9:45am - Nightmare Alley (1947)

Sunday is the infamous day of the TBAs, second screenings of films that proved extremely popular during the previous three days. So, if there's a movie playing Sunday morning that I really want to watch, that will take precedence (pre-code?!?). Otherwise, this has 1. Tyrone Power and 2. is a film noir I haven't seen. That's enough persuasion for me. 

Well, Nightmare Alley looks kind of strange. Which means I definitely want to see it. 

1pm - Academy Conversations: Gunga Din (1939)

Burtt and Barron? SIGN ME UP! I don't care what TBA is scheduled for this time slot. The second TCM announced Oscar winners Craig Barron and Ben Burtt would return as guests was the second this screening went down on my schedule. I've seen their extremely entertaining presentations/tech explanations on Tarzan Finds a Son! (1939), The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) (both at TCM Fest), and the history of aviation (at the Academy). They're such an entertaining team, and I'm always on the lookout for their lectures in LA.


4:45pm - The Children's Hour (1961)

Similar to my Norman Lloyd and Sophia Loren quests, I figure I need to see Shirley MacLaine at least once during the festival. I'm missing The Apartment (1960) and her conversation with Leonard Maltin in Club TCM, so this is my last chance. Plus, I like this movie and really want to hear her thoughts on the subject matter and what the critical reaction was like in the early 60s. 

What an interesting poster for The Children's Hour.

8:15pm - The Grim Game (1919)

This was another movie on my list from the very beginning. I've never seen any of Houdini's films, PLUS this is the world premiere restoration of the full movie, which has been unavailable for years, PLUS there will be a live orchestra performing an original score,'s Houdini on film. That's really more than enough to excite the hell out of me!


7:30pm (Backup) - Marriage Italian Style (1964)

I'm including this because it's my last chance to see Sophia Loren if I missed all the other 294839 opportunities (well, only one, I think). BUT, I don't really think anything short of an earthquake striking only the Egyptian Theater (those are extra scary if you're sitting in that balcony) could make me miss The Grim Game.



That's a wrap! I'm sure I'll be extremely exhausted, but, as usual, it will all be worth it! See you in 2016, TCM Classic Film Festival!



Who else will be attending the festival this year? What are some of your must-sees? 

thanks for stopping by!

I See a Dark Theater is a website dedicated to classic movie-going—and loving—in the City of Angels. Whether it's coverage on screenings, special presentations, or Q&As around Los Angeles that you're looking for, or commentary on the wonderful and sometimes wacky world of classic cinema, you've come to the right place for a variety of pieces written with zeal, awe, and (occasionally) wit. Enjoy.

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