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TCM Classic Film Festival 2016 Preview

April 14, 2016

It's that time again - well, this year we're technically about one month overdue - but numbers aside, yes, I mean TCMFF!


In actuality, the dates of the 7th annual TCM Classic Film Festival, April 28-May 1, align exactly with the 2011 event. Historically, TCMFF has taken over Hollywood sometime during the last three weeks of April, with the exception being last year, when the 6th edition skipped almost one month ahead to March 26. As a result, reintroducing the normal dates to the festivities this year felt a tad longer for fans who've had to wait a year and one month to make the pilgrimage to Hollywood to celebrate the classics over four insanely packed days of programming.

From the 2014 festival. (Picture by Kim Luperi)

With a little over two weeks until the party kicks off, TCM unleashed the full festival schedule Monday. The color-coded matrix included about 50 newly announced screenings, sending every attendee, myself included, into exasperating, gut-wrenching decision-making mode. After a few days of careful consideration, internal mediation, and highlighter color wars, I've come up with my own crack at a festival schedule, which I'll share below. 


I've been severely spoiled by the fact that TCMFF has mirrored my own LA migration and has landed in my backyard every spring since I've moved here. (In this instance, my backyard is a ten minute drive away, which is pretty good in LA commuting terms.) I've certainly taken advantage of that proximity and have attended the festival in a variety of capacities over the past seven years, as I wrote about last year, and I'm excited to announce that I'll be back as a festival Social Producer for TCMFF 2016! I was part of the inaugural crew last year and absolutely loved the experience, so suffice it to say I'm incredibly happy TCM has decided to bring the Social Producers back for round two, and I'm looking forward to doing my part to enrich the festival experience for fans attending and following along on social media.


The theme for TCMFF #7 is "Moving Images," an idea I'm particularly fond of because of the multiple layers the motif affords. In preparing my research for my Social Producer role, I've had a ton of fun getting creative with this year's subject and applying it to my content in various ways. For instance, in addition to sharing info on how this year's selections move the audience emotionally, I also plan on highlighting physical movement within individual films, the impact these movies had on those involved (or vice versa), and much more. Hopefully, if you see my content, you'll enjoy it as well, and if you are attending the fest and see one of us with our Social Producer passes, please say hi!


Without further ado, below is my (current) festival game plan. Well, my attempt at it, anyway. This is 100% subject to change, which I can say with 110% confidence will definitely happen.

Hoping this will be my TCMFF opening film! 



7pm - One Potato, Two Potato (1964)

This is one film I've never heard of before! What better way to enjoy a new-to-me flick than on the big screen with the director and one of the stars on-hand for a discussion? Clearly, I'm quite excited to kick off TCMFF with this film -'s scheduled for the smallest theater.


6:30pm (Backup) - A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945)

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is one movie that I would normally love to see for the first time at TCMFF, if it had been slotted in a lackluster block...which actually doesn't exist at this fest.


9:45pm - Brief Encounter (1945) 

Brief Encounter has been on my 'to watch' list for a long time. Plus, I'll be seeing Los Tallos Amargos tomorrow at Noir City Hollywood, so this is a (rare) easy choice for me. 

I am Jean Arthur in this photo. Bummed to miss one of my all-time favorite movies, The More the Merrier, on the big screen, but it's been bumped for a pre-Code and a discussion, so I can't be too upset with myself.



9am (This is not happening, but I need to get it off my chest) - The More the Merrier (1943)

See above picture. That is all. 


9:15am - Shanghai Express (1932)

One of the pre-Codes on the schedule I have heard of and even seen before, but...there is supposed to be a discussion before the movie starts AND this is a world premiere restoration!


9:30am (Backup) - Never Fear (1949)

If there is no discussion before Shanghai Express, I may be a little upset and (attempt) to get into the smallest theater for Ida Lupino's first credited film as director. 


12pm - Double Harness (1933)

Pre-Code William Powell and Ann Harding - I mean, that's all I need to know. I think this has been shown before on TCM (and they own the rights), so if I get shut out, I wouldn't be terribly upset. Just regular upset. 


12pm (Backup) - He Ran All the Way (1951)

John Garfield's last film sounds like a pretty tense noir! I'd normally choose this...if it weren't playing opposite a pre-Code. 

No tea for me! Another favorite of mine, Tea and Sympathy, I'll be forsaking this year. This is one incredibly tough block! 

2pm (If Serge Bromberg cancels...) - Tea and Sympathy (1956)

Another longtime favorite of mine, with cast member Darryl Hickman present for a discussion to boot, but... SERGE BROMBERG, French archivist/historian/film enthusiast extraordinaire IS IN THE HOUSE at the same time. WHYYYYYY is this so difficult?


3pm - Amazing Film Discoveries with Serge Bromberg

See above zealous reasoning. I'm a huge fan of Bromberg's infectious energy and incredible passion (oh, and any type of 'amazing film discovery'), so this is sure to be an informative, entertaining burst of film fervor, which will probably be very welcome by this point. 


2:30pm (Backup) - Trapeze (1956)

I would love to see special guest Gina Lollobrigida at least once during the festival. Doesn't matter what for, and I haven't seen this film, so...Trapeze is definitely a viable option. 

Already hoping this will fill a coveted TBD spot on Sunday. Fingers crossed.

5:15pm (Sadly not happening) - Pleasure Cruise (1933)

Fox. Pre-Code. Roland Young. The title. I mean, Pleasure Cruise sounds like it was made for every pre-Code lover to see. I'm confident this screening will reach capacity quickly, which means the film will hopefully land one of those Sunday TBD slots, because I have something to attend to outside of the fest around this time. (Of course, I have to sit out one of the rarest blocks featuring two movies that are both on my high-priority list. Ah, life.)


5:15pm (Not a chance, but maybe others will GO SEE IT) - Private Property (1960)

I've caught Private Property already when a brand new 35mm restoration screened at UCLA Film and TV Archive's 2015 Festival of Preservation. I feel lucky to have seen it, but that being said, this is a rarity I'd love to watch again. For those of you reading this who plan on (trying to make it to) Pleasure Cruise, hop over here if you get turned away. Trust me. 


7:15pm - 6 Hours to Live (1932)

Another Fox pre-Code, this time with a sci-fi twist AND Warner Baxter. Maybe it's a good thing I'm missing the previous block, because I plan on jumping in line before Pleasure Cruise lets out. Hopefully, if I'm number 1 or 2, I'll get in?? Maybe...


7:15pm (Backup) - Voices of Light: The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)

I'm a little embarassed to admit that I've never seen this saga. Of course, it would be epic to watch it for the first time on the big screen with an orchestra and a huge audience, so if it looks like I might not make it into 6 Hours to Live, I'll book it down Hollywood Blvd. for this. 

Very excited for The Manchurian Candidate and Angela Lansbury!

9:30pm - The Manchurian Candidate (1962)

Never seen it, never watched a movie in the new IMAX theater at the Chinese, and, well, how could you pass up the opportunity to witness Dame Angela Lansbury in person? Sold. 


9:45pm (Backup) - Repeat Performance (1947)

If the entire world feels they need to hear Lansbury speak, I'd happily repeat my UCLA Film and TV Archive 2013 Festival of Preservation viewing of this twisty Twilight Zone-style noir. 





9am - 90th Anniversary of Vitaphone

The unique, interesting guests and special presentations TCMFF hosts have become some of the most highly anticipated and memorable screenings for me. That being said, I'm definitely looking forward to a Hollywood history lesson featuring rare, vintage Vitaphone shorts!


9:15am (Backup) - One Man's Journey (1933)

I'll make sure to line up for the Vitaphone event early, but if I somehow mess that up, a pre-Code always makes things better, right? (Even though I just saw it on TCM this week.)


11:30am - A House Divided (1931)

Director William Wyler's son David will be in attendance at this rare, eerie sounding pre-Code screening. Cool. Pre-Code. Special guest. Say no more.

I've never seen Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid, and I'm guessing it would be a riot to watch with a TCMFF audience!

12pm (Backup) - An Afternoon with Carl Reiner/Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1982)

Yes, this film is widely available on DVD, but Carl Reiner in person isn't! I'd love to hear him speak; plus, a mystery/comedy that pays homage to/is intercut with clips from Classic Hollywood sounds like everything I'd want in a movie. 


2:15pm - Presentation by Serge Bromberg at Club TCM

Hmm, will this feature some overlapping footage from Bromberg's presentation on Friday? Because I think I have to skip out of that one a little early, or I may even switch out that former Bromberg appearance for something else. GASP! Who knows. Decisions, decisions.


3:45pm - The War of the Worlds (1953)

This is not a film I'd usually make priority, but the accompanying Burtt and Barron presentation pushes it to the top. Love their fun, informative tech talks!


3:30pm (Backup) - Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell (1968)

This was the Gina Lollobrigida movie I really wanted to see - ensemble comedy, sounds amusing, plus she'll be on hand for a discussion, but...but...Burtt and Barron. :/ If B&B overpack House #1, which I think they can do, I'll unhappily/happily run over to this movie. 

For a long time, I just thought this was a cool poster college kids had on their dorm room walls. 

6:30pm - The Endless Summer (1966)

This is the only block that I'm rather indecisive about, because I haven't seen any of these films. (Yup, never watched The King and I, The Long Goodbye, The Endless Summer, I've Always Loved You, The Song of Bernadette, or Forbidden Planet in any of their entireties.) I'd be satisfied 'settling' for any, but this doc, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, particularly caught my eye, and director Bruce Brown will be there to introduce the movie too.


6:15pm (Backup) - The Long Goodbye (1973)

It sounds like I'd enjoy this take on noir, and it would be fun to hear Elliott Gould speak. Plus, all the other films in this block get out too late for me to line up for the next one...


9:15pm - Band of Outsiders (1964)

This is a huge screening for the fest, because star Anna Karina/Godard's then-wife will be here from FRANCE! Definitely need to catch her conversation (and see this movie, finally). 


9:45pm (Backup) - Midnight (1939)

When I read that Bonnie Hunt was doing the intro for this, I almost switched my backup to Band of Outsiders. Hopefully, TCM films her discussion and puts it online. Please? (I also wouldn't mind seeing this screwball classic for the first time, either.)


12am (If I'm crazy enough to stay up) - Gog in 3D (1954)

What the hell kind of title is Gog?! One I'm very intrigued by, that's for sure. Bob Furmanek and Greg Kintz will be on hand to discuss the film's restoration, which I always love hearing about. Plus, I'm pretty sure the late hour would make for some memorable moments, to say the least.

How could I miss something crazy like this?!



10am - Holiday in Spain (1966)/Scent of Mystery (1960)

Ah, Sunday. The day of TBDs, which I've already programmed in my head for my personal scheduling needs. I really hope Pleasure Cruise DOES NOT land in the concurrent TBD spot, because when will I/anyone ever get to experience the one and only movie produced in Smell-O-Vision again? Never, that's when.


9:30am (Backup) - The Fallen Idol (1948) 

After reading about this film, I now really want to watch it and am wondering how I haven't seen it yet! Plus, the actor who plays the child, Robert Henrey, will be there too, but, but, but...Smell-O-Vision. Sigh. (And worst case scenario, I can find a friend with a huge TV and watch this on Criterion DVD.)



I am more than ready to leave the Cinerama Dome early and run/Uber back to the Chinese Multiplex for this TBD, pending title unveiling (Pleasure Cruise).  


12:15pm (Backup) - Law and Order (1932)

If the above plan fails (or it's a film I'm less than 150% enthused by), and Theater 4 isn't a madhouse, I'll catch this pre-Code. NOTE: A pre-Code scheduled as one of my backups?Hahahahahahaha, what is life. 


2:30pm - A Conversation with Gina Lollobrigida

If I miss her other festival appearances, which I'm fully expecting to, this will be my last chance. And there's nothing else I need to see in this block, except whatever that damn TBD will be. (Please, not Pleasure Cruise this time. Should I just email TCM my open TBD slots on this day so they can plan accordingly?)


2:30pm (Backup) - TBD, if I haven't watched it

Please don't be one I'm really, really dying to watch. Thanks.

I've never seen this film, and it sounds/looks like a hoot. 

4:15pm - The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming (1966)

...and I thought Carl Reiner was coming too, until I read otherwise. But my consolation prize is Eva Marie Saint, which is pretty awesome. I've never witnessed her in person during the festivals she's attended in the past, so I think I should take that opportunity now. 


4:45pm (Backup) - TBD

Again, not too heartbreaking, please and thanks.


7pm or 8pm - TBD

OK, either of these slots are fine by me to schedule Pleasure Cruise in. Love you, TCM. 


7:30pm (Backup) - Cinema Paradiso (1988)

Another movie I've yet to see, and Salvatore Cascio, who played young Salvatore, will be in attendance. Sounds like a great way to close out the fest, no? (Yes, unless I end it with a pre-Code. That would trump it.)


9pm/whenever I get there - Closing Night Party

PARTYYYYYY and then sleep for days...I mean hours, until my alarm goes off for work bright and (too) early the next morning. 




As always, if you'd like to follow along digitally, I'll be posting on Twitter (@kimbo3200). I'll also be sharing photos on TCM's Instagram (@turnerclassicmovies) and occasionally updating my whereabouts on Facebook (I See A Dark Theater).


If you're attending TCMFF this year, what are your must-see movies? 

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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