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The Tantalus Dilemma Redux

In 2012 I attended the 3rd Annual TCM Classic Film Festival (and my 1st). In 2010 I was unable to attend because I had a bun in the oven and in 2011 the little bun was too young for me to leave. It was hard for me to stay here, watching the commercials, seeing the live blogs and tweets, and of course the footage from the Festival itself. I honestly didn’t think it would ever be a possibility for me to go. When the opportunity arose for me to attend in 2012, everything fell into place. All of the things I worried about were non-issues and all of the things I didn’t think would be issues? Well…

The TCM Classic Film Festival’s headquarters is at the Roosevelt Hotel, located on Hollywood Blvd. The main venues for the event are the TCL Chinese Theatre (known to many of us as Grauman’s Chinese), The Chinese Multiplexes 1,4, & 6 , and The Egyptian Theatre. At the Avalon Hollywood, TCM will be taping an interview with Robert Obsborne and Eva Marie Saint. Two screenings on Sunday at the Cinerama Dome make for a very special experience (I overslept last year!). TCM has added a new venue, The El Capitan for three screenings. I don’t think I’ll make it down to The El Capitan this year, but since it looks like the Festival is only going to grow, I imagine the venue will be back next year.

There is a trend that if a film isn’t restored or a premiere or in a particular format, it isn’t worth seeing in a theatre. In other words, there has to be something “extra special” about it to make it worth while to see. Several years ago, my husband and I drove to the Dallas Theatre over in tiny Dallas, GA. It was a Sunday afternoon, and they were showing John Huston’s The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. They were obviously projecting a DVD, but it was a cute little art deco theatre, the town was adorable, and the audience was awesome. It obviously meant something to the folks there to see a classic on the big screen. Was the format perfect? No. But the experience was.

What I find exciting about the festival is the atmosphere. The audiences at these screenings are the absolute best you could ever hope for; they’re respectful by turning off their phones, not talking, tweeting, or texting. They laugh and cry, boo and hiss, clap, cheer, shout, all when it’s the right time. And it’s in Hollywood. It doesn’t get any better, right? So as far as I’m concerned,  it could be a projected DVD or a dusty VHS pulled out of the bargain bin. I’m looking for the communal experience. Of course, it’s not going to a projected DVD. TCM acquires the best possible prints they can, with this year having an abundance of 35mm film. And if there is a special guest or a World Premiere Restoration, or they put up a hologram of Cary Grant on the stage, it’s all gravy! But that should never be the only reason for selecting a screening. At least it will never be mine.

Last year when the Festival schedule was released, I was completely overwhelmed with all of the options. In a post about my schedule picks, I likened the entire process to the Kübler-Ross model of dealing with grief. I also compared it to a form of torture, similar to that endured by Tantalus. I admit these are not bad problems to have, so bear that in mind before you lick the stamp on the hate mail. This year’s schedule is even better than 2012′s with many genres and eras represented.

I will be reporting here at The Fence after the Festival. You can also follow me on Twitter @biscuitkitten

Below you’ll find my picks for the 2013 TCM Classic Film Festival:

Thursday, April 25th

Ninotchka (1939) photo courtesy of Doctor Macro
Ninotchka (1939) photo courtesy of Doctor Macro
  • 6:30 pm at the Chinese Multiplex 6: Ernst Lubitsch’s Ninotchka (1939) starring Greta Garbo and Melvyn Douglas. 35mm. Director Ernst Lubitsch’s daughter Nicola Lubitsch will be in attendance for a discussion prior to the screening. I am incredibly excited to kick off the festival with this film. Here’s a teensy Classic Film Confession: I’ve never seen Ninotchka all the way through. Hopefully I will manage to find a seat for this one.
  • 9:30 pm at the Chinese Multiplex 4: William Wellman’s Safe in Hell (1931) starring Dorothy Mackaill and Donald Cook. 35mm. William Wellman Jr. and author/film historian Donald Bogle will be in attendance for pre-screening discussion. This film is essential pre-code goodness, directed by good ol’ Wild Bill Wellman.

After these screenings, I’ll likely head over to the Roosevelt Hotel for a cocktail and some chit-chat with fellow attendees.

Friday, April 26th

The difficult decisions start first thing Friday morning. I have a feeling I will have to make some compromises, but this year’s schedule is so good I know I will not be disappointed.

  •  9:00 am at the Chinese Multiplex 1: Frank Perry’s The Swimmer (1968) starring Burt Lancaster. Digital. Followingthe screening, Indie filmmaker Allison Anders and the lovely, ageless Marge Champion, who also stars in the film, will be on hand for a discussion. My friend Sean is a fan of Burt Lancaster, so we will try very hard to get into this.

In the event I can’t say “I love it when a plan comes together”:

  •  9:30 am at the Chinese Multiplex 6: Jack Conway’s Libeled Lady (1936) starring Powell, Loy, Harlow, and Tracy. 35mm. –or– 9:15 am at The Egyptian Theatre: Charles Laughton’s The Night of the Hunter (1955) starring Robert Mitchum and Lillian Gish. 35mm.
  • 11:45 am at the Chinese Multiplex 4: Mitchell Leisen’s Suddenly It’s Spring (1947) starring Fred MacMurray and Paulette Goddard. 35mm.  Discussion with writer/historian Dennis Bartok and Kate MacMurray, daughter of Fred MacMurray and June Haver, prior to the film.

In the event I can’t say “I love it when a plan comes together”:

Notorious (1946) photo courtesy of Doctor Macro
Notorious (1946) photo courtesy of Doctor Macro
  • 12:00 pm at the Chinese Multiplex 6: Otto Preminger’s River of No Return (1954) starring Robert Mitchum and Marilyn Monroe. 35mm. Producer Stanley Rubin in attendance with a discussion prior to the screening.
  • 2:30 pm at The Egyptian Theatre: Alfred Hitchcock’s Notorious (1946) starring Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, and Claude Rains. 35mm. Actress and former TCM Essentials co-host Rose McGowan will be in attendance to introduce the film. I have seen Notorious before in 35mm at the Trustees Theatre in Savannah, but since it is my favorite film and The Egyptian is a gorgeous venue, it’s a must for me!
  • 7:00 pm at The Egyptian Theatre: Clarence Badger’s It (1927) starring Clara Bow and Antonio Moreno. 35mm. Introduced by Clara Bow biographer David Stenn and featuring live orchestral accompaniment with composer Carl Davis’s score, directed by Robert Ziegler.

Although It is not a long movie, I might have to leave a little early to make it to my next screening, which is at the top of my list:

  • 9:00 pm at the Chinese Multiplex 6: Gimme Shelter (1970) directed by brothers Albert and David Maysles and Charlotte Zwerin. 35mm. This documentary is about The Rolling Stones’ 1969 tour and the events surrounding concert at Altamont. I love the Stones and this is a great documentary. Director Albert Maysles, Cinematographer Haskell Wexler, and Joan Churchill will be in attendance for pre and post screening discussions.
  • 12 Midnight at the Chinese Multiplex 6: Ed Wood’s Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959) starring Vampira, Criswell, Bela Lugosi. 35mm. The best worst movie ever made? Yeah, probably. And it will be a blast seeing it with a group of appreciative, punch-drunk film-obsessives alongside the hilarious Dana Gould.

 

After the midnight show, there may be time for a very late nightcap. If not, off to bed!

 

Saturday, April 27th

  • 9:15 am at the Chinese Multiplex 1: Bugs Bunny’s 75th Birthday Bash (Various Years). Digital. Featuring film historian/critic Leonard Maltin and animation expert Jerry Beck for a discussion prior to the screening 

    Mildred Pierce (1945) photo courtesy of Doctor Macro
    Mildred Pierce (1945) photo courtesy of Doctor Macro
  • 12:00 pm at the Chinese Multiplex 4: Alfred Hitchcock’s The Lady Vanishes (1938). Starring Michael Redgrave and Margaret Lockwood. 35mm. Featuring actor Norman Lloyd for a pre-screening discussion.
  • 3:00 pm at the Chinese Multiplex 1: King Vidor’s The Big Parade (1925) starring John Gilbert and Renée Adorée. World premiere restoration. Digital. Film historian Kevin Brownlow will be in attendance for this screening.

In the event I can’t say “I love it when a plan comes together”:

  • 3:00 pm at the Chinese Multiplex 4: John Frankenheimer’s The Train (1964) starring Burt Lancaster. 35mm. Critic and historian Scott Feinberg will be in attendance for this screening.
  • 6:15 pm at The Egyptian Theatre: Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal (1957) starring Max Von Sydow. 35mm. Discussion prior to the screening as part of the Tribute to Von Sydow.
  • 9:15 pm at The Egyptian Theatre:  Michael Curtiz’s Mildred Pierce (1945) starring Joan Crawford, Ann Blyth, and Jack Carson. 35mm. This event will fill up very quickly, as Ms. Blyth will be in attendance and Mildred Pierce is a fan favorite.
  • 12 Midnight at the Chinese Multiplex 6: Erle Kenton’s Island of Lost Souls (1932) starring Charles Laughton and Bela Lugosi. 35mm. Another fun midnight film to end an exhausting and fun day with friends.

 

Sunday, April 28th

 This is a relatively light screening day for me. Due to a 10:00 am appointment with Bonham’s to have a piece of memorabilia appraised, I will have to miss the first block of screenings. 

The General (1927) photo courtesy of Doctor Macro
The General (1927) photo courtesy of Doctor Macro

12:15 pm Cinerama Dome: Stanley Kramer’s It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963) starring Spencer Tracy, Milton Berle, and EVERYBODY. 70mm. In attendance for a pre-screening discussion: Barrie Chase, Marvin Kaplan, Carl Reiner, and Mickey Rooney.

7:15 pm TCL Chinese Theatre: The World Premiere restoration of Buster Keaton’s The General (1926) featuring live accompaniment from the famous Alloy Orchestra. This is the event I’m most excited to see. Another HUGE Classic Film Confession: I’ve never seen The General.

The festival ends with a party at The Roosevelt in Club TCM. It’s a great opportunity to spend time with friends, meet new ones, and pay $15 for a cocktail.

 

 

 

Related posts:

Jill Blake

Jill Blake is the owner of the classic film website Sittin’ on a Backyard Fence. She is also a co-founder and editor of the film site The Black Maria and film editor at CC2K. In 2012, she was interviewed on-air by Turner Classic Movies host Ben Mankiewicz. In 2013, she was a featured guest on the TCM podcast. In her spare time Jill is a stay-at-home mom, wife, fried okra connoisseur, and the neighborhood’s own L.B. Jeffries.

Comments

Wade Sheeler
Reply

My lord, what a well-written, thoughtful piece. And adds to my excitement heading into the festival. Last year was my first also. Interesting thing is we are both film fanatics and looks like we only have 2 films in common. Love that about the Fest. So many choices and so many tastes.

Jill Blake
Reply

Hey, Wade! I’m so excited (which is why I’m still up at 2:22 am). I hope we can meet. So I’m curious: which 2 films do we have in common?

Thanks for the kind words. So glad you enjoyed the post and thanks for reading. See you at the Fest!

Wade Sheeler
Reply

Yes would love to meet up! The Swimmer and The Big Parade are our commonality. Actually we have a lot of similar tastes, but some I have seen so many times I can probably pass (Ninotchka, Mildred Pierce, Notorious & The General) but seeing them with such an enthusiastic crowd, as you wrote, is a whole other AMAZING experience.

Jill Blake
Reply

Let’s try to meet at The Swimmer. I will be there unless it sells out, then will most likely head over to Libeled Lady. If we don’t meet then, let’s definitely try for another time. Perhaps a cocktail? We can DM on Twitter.

Helen Bracken
Reply

Ima kick your ass if you don’t go to see Ann Blyth.

Jill Blake
Reply

Ima gonna be there. And if I don’t get in, I’ll kick my own ass.

silverscreenings
Reply

You’ve made some tough choices here. Looking forward to following your tweets. Have a wonderful time!

Jill Blake
Reply

It was so hard. This year’s schedule is amazing. I know I’ll probably make some last minute changes. Thanks for stopping by.

Christian Esquevin
Reply

Thanks for the great breakdown of faves. I’ve been to the last four and I still have problems deciding which ones to attend. Sometimes it’s just luck (good or bad) that one may be filled up or I’m too late for a start. But that’s okay too – there’s always the next classic showing.

Jill Blake
Reply

Thanks for reading, Christian. One of the things I learned last year is to not stress out about the schedule. I only have 4 must sees this year and I will make sure I line up in enough time to get in. As for everything else? If I have to go to an alternate screening, I’m fine with that. The schedule is very good this year. And I know I’ll probably change my mind last minute on a few. It’s an embarrassment of riches, isn’t it? Have a wonderful Fest!

[…] Before I made my trip to Hollywood for the festival, I wrote up my picks. Just like in 2012, I wasn’t able to stick to all of them. In some cases, the screenings were “sold out” and in other cases I either changed my mind at the last minute or was persuaded by friends. In case you missed it, here is my pre-festvial piece, The Tantalus Dilemma Redux. […]

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