It’s that time again, when I prep myself for four classic-film soaked days as I race around Hollywood. It’s the 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival! In spite of complaints that always tend to pop up, this year’s film festival will be my most challenging yet. Remember all those times I mentioned breaks for food or relaxation? Yeah, that might go the way of the dodo this fest. The films I’m hoping to catch are a mix of old favorites and news films I’ve been dying to see – TCM must listen in on my conversations. I’ve listed a highly tentative list of titles I’m hoping to drop in on – note the schedule could change based on a variety of factors, including my travel buddy demanding we see something else. If you run into me don’t hesitate to say hi. And feel free to share your own picks in the comments!
The Thursday that kicks off the festival doesn’t have a lot of films, but this is about quality, not quantity. I’ll actually be starting my Thursday early, taking the TCM Studio Locations Tour offered to the press. I’ve watched to take this tour the several times it’s been offered during the festival but the timing has been off. After that I’m contemplating dropping in on the Remembering Robert meet-up or trivia. My fingers are crossed that I’m covering the red carpet for my fourth year in a row, and that will take up most of my evening. Once the red carpet is done I can take in my first film of the festival, 1959’s Some Like It Hot with guest Jeremy Arnold. My first film of last year’s fest was an old favorite, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967) and I’d like to keep this unofficial tradition going. And can you EVER go wrong with Marilyn? If my stomach isn’t too hungry or I’m not dead on my feet the travel buddy (henceforth referred to as TB) and I might hit Harold and Maude (1971). Harold and Maude has been on my list of movies to see for years and the fact TCM is showing it seems too fortuitous to pass up.
Friday is when the true chaos begins. As much as I’d love to see the handprint ceremony with Carl and Rob Reiner, I don’t have the deep-seated connection to them than previous handprint recipients. If I forego it I’ll definitely be at Rafter Romance (1933). A Ginger Rogers movie introduced by Leonard Maltin? One that’s been listed in my TCM Top 10 series, to boot? Sign me up. If time permits I’ll race over to the the Chinese Multiplex for Born Yesterday (1950). Now, TB would say she’s dragging me to see Monkey Business (1931) because I’ve never watched a Marx Brothers film. I’d prefer to stay and catch Barefoot in the Park (1967). Where should I go? I know, I’ve never watched a Marx Brothers movie but it’s Robert Redford, y’all! Feel free to tell me where I should go in the comments. By that point, and barring TB and I are still friends, we’ll probably snag dinner before 1940’s Vigil in the Night. I’m currently reading Mark Harris’ book Five Came Back and one of the directors he follows is George Stevens who helmed Vigil. That, and the fact that you can’t ever go wrong with a Carole Lombard film, gives Vigil in the Night the edge over Red-Headed Woman (1932). Sorry, Jean! The next wave of movies is easily TCM’s cruelest decision and much of this will depend on how long lines are when we get out of the preceding film. As much as I’d love to see Laura (1944) on nitrate or Cat People (1942) in general, we’re going to try to see Those Redheads From Seattle (1953) in 3-D. The funnest time at TCMFF I’ve ever had was watching Kiss Me Kate (1953) in 3-D and I’m hoping hilarity ensues here. And TB insists on seeing Zardoz (1974) at midnight so I’m anticipating being propped up to see that to inaugurate my first TCMFF midnight screening.
Barring I can get up on time I’m planning on seeing the morning screening of The Court Jester (1955) with special guests Illeana Douglas and Fred Willard. Why not keep the Basil Rathbone train rolling, huh? TB wants me to see The Great Dictator (1940) and considering the times we live in I figured, why not? After that I’m making time for Bye, Bye Birdie (1963), aka one of my favorite musicals. You can’t go wrong with Ann-Margret. Ever! TB is off to see Best in Show (2000) after but I’ll be diverging and seeing Genevieve Bujold introduce King of Hearts (1966). Interest of full disclosure – I have no desire to watch King of Hearts, although I’m sure it’s great. But I’ve loved Genevieve Bujold since I was 12 and I saw her as Anne Boleyn in Anne of the Thousand Days (1969). I can’t pass up an opportunity to be in her presence. TB and I will reunite in time to see Top Secret! (1984) because I can’t pass up a spoof movie, especially one starring Val Kilmer. TB might go to Kentucky Fried Movie (1977) afterwards but I’ll be getting some much-needed sleep.
Much of Sunday’s schedule will surround the TBA films. My fingers are crossed that maybe Cat People or Barefoot in the Park will pop up. I’ve heard great things about Cock of the Air (1932) so that’s a possibility for the early morning. Though, by the time Sunday roles around, breakfast might be a necessity. Regardless, TB and I will split; she’s off to see The Egg and I (1947) while I snag us seats for the only panel I’ll be attending at Club TCM, Conversation with Leonard Maltin. I’ll have to leave that early to get a spot at one of my most anticipated TCMFF events, a tribute screening of Postcards From the Edge (1990) to honor Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher. I’ve never watched Postcards before and what better way to experience it for the first time than at TCMFF with Todd Fisher doing the introduction! I’ll need a pick-me-up after that so TB and I will be taking in What’s Up, Doc (1972) with an introduction by the legendary Peter Bogdanovich. TB wants to hit Casablanca (1942) but I’ll be kicking up my heels at the closing night party.
I am a taste saddened at the lack of panels; Club TCM feels pretty empty this year. But no matter what I’m anticipating a lot of fun, friends and films!
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.