TCM Classic Film Festival 2016: An Introduction

“That’s the theme song of my life!” – Illeana Douglas on “That’s Entertainment”

The 2016 TCM Classic Film Festival is now in the books. During the four-day festival from Thursday, April 28 through Sunday, May 1, I saw 16 films so I think I need a break from movie theater food. That could be an even larger number if I counted the individual Vitaphone shorts as movies. Here’s my list, with new-to-me-films in bold. I also noted which screenings were 35mm.

1. A Tree Grows In Brooklyn (Elia Kazan, 1945)
2. Brief Encounter (David Lean, 1945)
3. Never Fear [a.k.a.: The Young Lovers] (Ida Lupino, 1949) – 35mm
4. He Ran All The Way (John Berry, 1954) – 35mm
5. Trapeze (Carol Reed, 1956) – 35mm REVIEWED HERE
6. Private Property (Leslie Stevens, 1960)
7. 6 Hours To Live (William Diertle, 1932) – 35mm REVIEWED HERE
8. The Manchurian Candidate (John Frankenheimer, 1962)
9. 90th Anniversary of Vitaphone – seven shorts, all on 35mm
10. Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid (Carl Reiner, 1982)
11. The War of the Worlds (Byron Haskin, 1953)
12. Hollywood Home Movies
13. Band of Outsiders (Jean-Luc Godard, 1964) STORY HERE
14. GOG (Herbert L. Strock, 1954) – 3D
15. The Fallen Idol (Carol Reed, 1948) REVIEWED HERE
16. Law and Order (Edward L. Cahn, 1932) – 35mm REVIEWED HERE
17. The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming (Norman Jewison, 1966) – 35mm
18. The Band Wagon (Vincente Minnelli, 1953)

Phew… that’s a lot, but time really does fly when your sitting in a movie theater for the vast majority of four days. While I don’t plan on writing about every single movie individually, there are going to be posts in the coming days on some of the movies I hadn’t seen before.

Things I Noticed This Year:

It appears that the TCMFF organizers have discovered that people enjoy going to non-movie events before the screenings start on Thursday. They had two TCM Club events scheduled, including the Meet TCM panel and Bruce Goldstein’s trivia game, before the first screening of the night. TCM even had some events scheduled on Wednesday! They held the press conference (which I wasn’t at of course) that day. That night, the Hollywood Heritage Museum hosted a special presentation on Jay Jorgenson & Donal Scoggins’ Creating the Illusion: A Fashionable History of Costume Designers.

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Charlie Tabesh assures us that the world isn’t ending just because a post-1960 movie is on the schedule.

The Meet TCM event was particularly interesting, as it was a press conference for the public. Some viewers are really, really nervous that new GM Jennifer Dorian is somehow overseeing a shift to more modern movies. While I will say that the network’s recent bizarre exploits (TCM Wine Club and the just-announced TCM Backlot fan club that will set you back $87 a year) feel like bizarre efforts just to generate more interest, I haven’t really seen the schedule take a dramatic shift. Programming chief Charlie Tabesh puts together great themes and modern movies are only scheduled when they fit these themes. How can we complain about a shift when this network just finished running German movies of the ’20s and ’30s in primetime?

Illeana Douglas took on a major role this year. Of the screenings I went to that had a major celebrity in attendance, she was usually the interviewer. In fact, the only screening I went to that Ben Mankiewicz did an interview/intro for was Band of Outsiders with Anna Karina in attendance. I think TCM is really considering her for a larger role on the network itself to ease Robert Osborne’s burden.

Disappointments:

Honestly, there were so many highlights that it would be hard to list them all, so I’ll just put down a few disappointments. First, I was sad that I couldn’t go to The Passion of Joan of Arc. I heard how great it was, but as I predicted, it would have been impossible to make it from the Egyptian to the main Chinese Theater in time for The Manchurian Candidate to see Angela Lansbury. Obviously, TCM only has a short time to work with so there would be killer conflicts, but this one really hurt.

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Everyone complains about the pre-codes being kept in the small theater #4. The only logical reason for this has to be that they cannot easily move a 35mm projector from one theater to another. Even though the Sunday TBA screening of Double Harness should have been moved to #6 (especially since The Fallen Idol in #6 did not fill it up), it must be too difficult to move the projector for one specific screening. It’s not the size of #4 that’s the issue, but likely the number of reserved seats for Spotlight passholders. Maybe they should just have special screenings for only the people who can shell out the big bucks…

Hmm… scratches chin… For now, that’s all I can think of. Up next will be posts on 6 Hours To Live, which is just crazy, and Law And Order. I’m also working on one about the two Carol Reed films screened. GOG also deserves its own post, as does Anna Karina’s discussion with Mankiewicz. Trust me, this is just the beginning.

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In the meantime, start saving for 2017!

Follow Movie Mania Madness on Twitter @dsl89.

All photos by Daniel S Levine

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