I try not to get too serious on this site, mainly because for many of us the world of classic cinema is our escape from the fear, uncertainty, and politics of society. In fact, I don’t think I’ve been really down since I penned my Robert Osborne tribute. This preface is to say I’m gonna get serious for a moment. When the coronavirus started to take hold in America and major events started to get cancelled I knew it was inevitable that the TCM Classic Film Festival would end up going the same way. I understood it and respected the fest organizers’ decision despite being heavily disappointed.
But as the festival gets closer I’ve started to get very emotional, not just because of the general uncertainty and fear I’m experiencing the longer this goes on (as I know many of you are) but because, once you’ve gone to the fest, a world without it seems weird. For once, the escape into the glittering world of Old Hollywood can’t dissociate me from the world. If anything, the world has gotten in the way of my personal joy. But I’m keeping the days off that I set aside for the festival and am planning to spend my weekend taking in as much of the TCM Classic Film Festival: Special Home Edition as I can. And because I’m going to keep acting like the festival is happening, I want to share the picks I’d be seeing if the festival was taking place in Hollywood! Be sure to follow me on Instagram (@kristenlopez88) where I’ll be doing live videos of my “festival” day.
**Note, it’s said that video and other footage will be screened during the televised event. I’m hoping that the intros listed with each title will be screened, but can’t guarantee anything. All times listed as Eastern.**
The full home edition schedule is available on their website.
Thursday, April 16th
It’s a long movie but nothing sets the tone quite like 1954’s A Star is Born. This was screened at the inaugural festival in 2010 with Robert Osborne and Alec Baldwin (boy, would I love to see that!). Judy Garland’s Esther Blodgett is utter perfection and I can’t help but tear up every time she makes her big speech about James Mason’s Norman Maine; “I hate him for failing!” Start your morning off with a cry, a song, and Judy Garland’s should-have-been Oscar-winning performance. A Star is Born airs at 8pm.
I can’t say I’m a huge fan of Luise Rainer or Metropolis (1927) so I’m gonna be skipping most of Thursday’s programming and returning early on Friday for Neptune’s Daughter (1949). This was actually a first-time watch for me a few weeks ago and you can never go wrong with Esther Williams and Ricardo Montalban. (Full disclosure, this movie is racist as can be and I understand that.) This was originally screened at the 2010 festival with Esther in attendance as well as a performance in the Hollywood Roosevelt hotel pool by synchronized swimming team the Aqualilies and I want to see that footage; I know it exists on YouTube but I want crystal clear, controlled camera please. Neptune’s Daughter airs at 5am on the 16th.
Friday, April 17th
Where I start my previous day with song and sadness, Friday kicks things off with humor and music. A Hard Day’s Night (1964) is one of my favorite musicals and I’m bummed I never got to see at the festival. It screened in 2014 with Alec Baldwin and Don Was. It’s one of the funniest movies with a witty script and the Beatles in top form. You can also get some exercise in while watching, dancing around the room to Beatles jams. A Hard Day’s Night airs at 12:30pm.
It’s very surreal to me that I’ve talked to Eva Marie Saint. It was a brief moment on the red carpet, I believe, two years ago. I was the only blogger she stopped for and we talked about James Garner. So I have to watch the encore performance of Eva Marie Saint: Live From the TCM Classic Film Festival. It’ll air at 2pm.
We’re gonna follow up Eva Marie Saint reminiscing about her life and career with one of her most enduring works. North By Northwest (1959) is one of my favorite Hitchcock features. It has everything: a wronged man, mistaken identity, Hitchcock’s best blonde (don’t argue with me about that!). Saint has some fantastic chemistry with Grant and the movie’s script vacillates from humor to romance, to suspense, some scenes in equal measure. And I’m just going to say two words: James Mason! I’ve never thought of him as a sexy guy till I saw this film. This also screened at the inaugural fest with Saint and Martin Landau. You can swoon over everyone in North By Northwest at 3:15pm.
North By Northwest has a large section of plot filled with innuendo, so what better way to go than with a movie all about sex and innuendo? Some Like It Hot (1959) is the perfect classic film for everyone, even those who claim to not like classic films. Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon may be the most unattractive women in history, but you buy that they’re women because of Billy Wilder’s direction and that crackling script. And we’ve all heard the stories about Marilyn Monroe’s struggles with this film but she does some brilliant acting here. Hopefully, they’ll show the introduction with Tony Curtis that happened when this screened in 2010. Catch Some Like It Hot at 5:45pm.
I’ve never made it to a midnight movie at TCMFF and I doubt I’ll do so if I’m at home. But, that being said, the midnight movie screening during this at-home festival is an all-timer. I saw Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954) in 3D at the festival in 2018 and it was jaw-dropping. I don’t often see the third dimension, per se, but this restoration was like the Creature’s hand truly was coming out of the screen! The saddest thing about watching this at home, if you’ve seen it in 3D, is not being able to experience that again. But Creature From the Black Lagoon is such a great creature feature, the best one probably. Whether you’ve seen it one time or 100 it’s always worth another dive in. Watch it (or tape it) at midnight.
I’ll confess, I’m a bit disappointed that a lot of these are movies commonly aired on the channel because I’ve either had multiple opportunities to watch them and/or just aren’t interested in watching them. That’s why Night Flight (1933) is a must-watch for me. I don’t know much about this one other than it was unavailable for screening for 50 years before it played at the 2011 TCMFF with star John Barrymore’s granddaughter; you might have heard of her, Drew Barrymore. Night Flight takes off at 3:15am on April 18th.
Saturday, April 18th
As I reported last year, a big highlight of the festival was seeing the Peter Lorre pre-Code, Mad Love (1935) with a special introduction by Bill Hader and actress Cora Sue Collins in attendance. Hader was hilarious with a Peter Lorre impression you have to listen to. (Shameless plug: the audio is part of my TCMFF Festival audio which you can listen to.) The movie is all sorts of wacky pre-Code goodness with Lorre in fine form. I’ll be starting my day with it at 8am.
If you attended the 2016 TCM Classic Film Festival a running joke was the massive line to get into the pre-Code Double Harness (1933). Thankfully, you don’t have to wait in line with thousands of people to see this screwball comedy with Ann Harding and William Powell. I thought I saw this – not at the festival, at home – but I can’t remember anything about it so I’ll be revisiting it at 9:15am.
I was incredibly fortunate to be sitting in the audience when Faye Dunaway did her Live From the TCM Classic Film Festival talk in 2017. She had so many amazing stories about working with William Holden, her process, winning an Oscar (and that infamous post-awards photo shoot). She’s a difficult personage, to be sure, but an icon nonetheless and I can’t wait to revisit it. This airs at 4:45pm before an airing of Network (1976).
I’m pretty bad when it comes to watching early Alfred Hitchcock films at home, but at the festivals I’ve taken a chance on my fair share (one being the original Man Who Knew Too Much). The Lady Vanishes (1938) was presented back in 2013 with Norman Lloyd and I’ve heard nothing but great things about it. I also finished the fantastic Phantom Lady biography of Hitchcock collaborator Joan Harrison who was involved in this film’s production so now I feel I owe it to her to watch it. The Lady Vanishes is on at 2:30am on Sunday, April 19th.
Sunday, April 19th
Like the actual festival, by Sunday I expect to be exhausted by the entire weekend so gonna be a bit choosy. I do want to throw out a shout to the Jean Harlow feature, Red-Headed Woman (1932) which had a great introduction in 2017 when Cari Beauchamp talked about it. Also, you can’t go wrong with revisiting Singin’ in the Rain (1952), which screened at three different film festivals!
My festival day starts at 8pm with a screening of the documentary Floyd Norman: An Animated Life. This documentary was going to be screened as a tribute to Disney animator Floyd Norman, who was going to attend. I’ve watched this documentary and met Floyd, who is one of the best guys out there. If you want to learn more about Disney animation and the struggles of being the first black animator at the studio you need to watch this!
I was also planning on watching The Hustler (1961) for the first time ever. All I know about this is pool and Paul Newman, and that Piper Laurie was going to do the introduction. This airs at 9:45pm. And if you’re sticking around till the last film you can’t go wrong with watching Victor/Victoria (1982) for the umpteenth time and weep over the fact that Julie Andrews was going to be at the festival.
I expect this weekend to be a highly emotional one and I’m ready for it. Let’s all watch movies together and count down the days till the 2021 TCM Classic Film Festival!
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.