A Preview of TCMFF 2022
April 5, 2022
It’s almost here – the first TCM Classic Film Festival taking place in person after three years! This year’s theme, All Together Now: Back to the Big Screen, aptly captures the celebratory reunions that will take place, both off and on screen.
Last week, TCM released the full schedule for TCMFF #13. Though there are changes on their end – most noticeably, no Egyptian Theater, a great loss as it’s undergoing renovations during its centennial year – fans received the news with great excitement, as always.
One of the highlights of the event for me is planning my schedule, as agonizing as that task can be at times. This year, there’s some personal changes in that, too: mainly, that I’m going back to my fest roots, hopping standby lines without a pass. It will take some readjustment to that method, especially since I’ve been lucky enough to possess a pass – media or fest ambassador/social producer – for the last five in-person festivals. I’ll also be missing the red carpet on Thursday and Friday’s daytime festivities, which will make me focus my attention more so on the weekend proceedings. This also prompts me to make more intentional decisions and remain fluid with my schedule, since I won’t be able to simply catch an intro or Q&A anymore. (Well, I could, but I’m not made of money!)
Aside from that, rarities, new-to-me titles, and unique programs are still the events I assign high priority to, along with pre-Codes or beloved movies. With that said, below are the films I hope to make it to, along with the ones I’m already sad to miss, and everything in between!
Jewel Robbery will be a hoot with an audience!
7:15pm: Jewel Robbery (1932)
Yes, I own this movie and have watched it several times, but how could I pass up watching a pre-Code where William Powell gets people high with an audience?!
(Note: I will probably miss out, because this is screening in the legendarily tiny theater 4, and I have no pass.)
Backup: Dinner, and maybe I’ll try Hail the Conquering Hero (1944) in the 9:30pm time slot if I only catch one movie that night, because I’ve never seen it.
9am: Dinner at Eight (1933)
Dinner at Eight Friday at nine. I’ll be working – and I actually just re-watched this movie – but I’m obligated to list all the pre-Codes the fest is showing and mourn over those I’ll miss.
11:30am: Spy Smasher Strikes Back (1942)
I am actually considering taking a long lunch/doing work in line for this one, because, well, it seems like Oscar winner Ben Burtt created this Spy Smasher serial super cut just for the fest?! (I may or may not be wrong about that.) Seriously, what better way for a mid-day pick-me-up than by watching Burtt compact 215 minutes of a Republic serial into a 94-minute version “that brings to life a new crackerjack thriller that would leave Indiana Jones breathless”?
2pm: A Little Song, A Little Dance (2022)
Paramount archivist Andrea Kalas is back with rarely seen clips from Paramount Archives, this time from a variety of musicals. (Seriously, why didn’t I take Friday off?!?) Her programs are always amazing, and I love the opportunity to see clips from the vaults, so please, friends, go and enjoy this for me!
7:15pm: Cocktail Hour (1933)
Pre-Code. Rare. New-to-me. Cari Beauchamp. Suzanne Lloyd. Theater 6. All selling points for me. The semi-larger theater is a relief, but I still aim to be in line at around 5pm for this one.
Backup: Dinner, and perhaps I, the Jury 3D (1953) at 9:30pm, because it’s a noir I haven’t seen, and I love 1950s 3D. (Modern 3D… not so much.)
9:15am: Too Busy to Work (1932)
I’m not very familiar with Will Rogers’ work, but any pre-Code, especially a rare one I haven’t heard of, is automatically a must-see for me. Now, to figure out when I should get in line for this theater 4 excursion…
Backup: Unfortunately, this is the last starting time of the block, so all the other films will be running by the time I get turned away – if that happens. Perhaps I’ll check out the boutique, instead.
12pm: The Flame and the Arrow (1950)
Prioritizing a swashbuckler over a pre-Code?! WHO AM I?! As much as I adore the chaotic pre-Code extravaganza that is Three on a Match (1932), which competes with this screening, I also love: 1. Ben Burtt and Craig Barron presentations, 2. interviews with stars (in this case, actor Gordon Gebert, who my pal Laura said is a great speaker!) and 3. new discoveries. The Flame and the Arrow ticks all those boxes, and I’m very much looking forward to this special presentation.
Backup: Three on a Match if somehow I can teleport to theater 4 and – miraculously – it’s not already sold out.
3pm: Baby Face (1933)
I have a t-shirt from this movie, so obviously I’m required to see it. I’ve watched Baby Face countless times – even more than once in a theater! – but it’s always a wonder to behold, especially with a crowd. This time, I’m stoked to hear Bruce Goldstein’s discussion, which, I assume, is the same one he was slated to give in 2020 on the film’s censorship history before the fest was cancelled; that battle is a topic near and dear to my heart, as it was the center of my undergraduate thesis (and something I got to discuss in my 2021 interview with Goldstein, though it didn't make the final cut). Suffice it to say, I’m pumped for this screening.
Backup: Since Baby Face gets the large theater treatment, I should have no problem getting in. Should. (Though I’m all for people seeing pre-Codes, so I hope it’s well attended.)
5pm: Letters from Hollywood: Inside the Private World of Classic American Moviemaking
Since I don’t have pass this year, I won’t be able to get into this Club TCM talk. However, if someone is willing to lend me a pass for an hour that they aren’t using… that would be really amazing. I loved this book and am so curious to hear more about their process in both finding and curating the letters they included.
6pm: Counsellor at Law (1933)
Robert Osborne Award winner Leonard Maltin chose this pre-Code to screen at his award ceremony. I haven’t seen the film and it’s playing at the Legion, which means there should be enough room that I don’t have to worry about getting in.
Backup: If Maltin’s award ceremony packs the house, I would try to make Invaders from Mars (1953), which starts at 7:15pm. A short William Cameron Menzies alien invasion movie shot in color that I haven’t seen? Sure!
9am: After the Thin Man (1936)
Because there’s no better way to start the day than with Myrna Loy and William Powell. Don’t tell anyone, but I like this better than the original… well, the first half, anyway.
Backup: Perhaps the first TBA screening, whatever it is!
12:15pm: Fly-by-Night (1942)
A “comic thriller” under 80 minutes that I haven’t seen before? SOLD! Let’s just hope this isn’t playing opposite a great/pre-Code TBA… and maybe I’ll have a chance of getting in the notoriously tiny theater 4.
Backup: Food, or TBA
2:30pm: Evenings for Sale (1932)
What a fantastic pre-Code title – and only 61 minutes! I’d love to close out the fest – for me – with this new-to-me movie that stars Herbert Marshall and Mary Boland. (Yes, you read that right.) Also intriguing is the last line in the TCM program: “Adding to the film’s luster is a new pinkish film stock cinematographer Harry Fischbeck used for the first time to make the film’s whites clearer than in previous films.” Say what? I am curious, very curious…
Backup: An excellent TBA, if applicable, because Evenings for Sale is in theater 4…
As always, my schedule may change, but I’m very much looking forward to another TCMFF in Hollywood! If you’ll be attending the fest, feel free to share your must-see movies in the comments.
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.