Next week, this year’s TCM Classic Film Festival begins its grandeur come Thursday, the 28th. Once more hosted as it has been in the prime location of the last few years. At the westmost tourist-packed blocks on Hollywood Boulevard, with the famed Chinese Theatre as its epicentre. Few events are more looked forward to than this. The films you see, the friends you make, and the whole experience etching permanently into memory. Even those as old as mine.
Indeed, that kind of happening. If you ever get a chance to witness this, you must do so. Worth the hassle, if not the expense. Of course, this all brings out its own special angst. I speak of the film schedule TCM event planners have laid out across the splendid and time-honored venues used for this grand showcase of cinema. Conflicts abound when it comes to choosing what to see. If you don’t believe, check out my friend Richard’s schedule and reasoning.
There’s always a movie classic(s) in direct contest to your chosen, and all relatively close by, too. But bring comfortable footwear as it’s a “must” for this kind of expedition. The following is what I’ll be striving for in the leap year that is 20161. Can’t be helped. Too many great films spanning a scant handful of historic movie palaces, with only a single extended weekend, to get it all in.
Where’s Hermione’s Time Turner when you truly need it, I ask you.
While all the cool kids will be at the red carpet opening of the fest and the All The President’s Men screening, I’ve only a Palace Pass. So while I’ll miss the great journalism tale adapted as an award-winning feature, will find comfort nearby at the Chinese Multiplex. Watching what was undoubtedly a theme pair by programmers at House #4 (One Potato, Two Potato (1964), 7 PM) and #1 (Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967), 9:30 PM); broaching a subject I and my family are more than familiar with.
Just no way I’ll miss my chance to finally catch the great Marlene Dietrich and Josef von Sternberg in their classic pairing, Shanghai Express (1932) on the big screen at 9:15 AM (Chinese Multiplex House 1) to start my first full day out.
And after trying to get a glimpse of Francis Ford Coppola apply his prints to the Chinese Theatre’s cement forecourt at 10:30 AM, will jaunt over to the Egyptian Theatre to finally see John Garfield in his last film, He Ran All the Way (1951), at 12 Noon.
Speaking about the celebrated winemaker Mister Coppola, will race back to the Chinese Theatre to not miss his thoughts as he introduces a little film he made in-between his first two “Godfather” gigs, The Conversation (1974), at 2:15 PM.
While I’m well aware of classics (It’s A Wonderful Life, The Passion of Joan of Arc) and a socially important film (Boyz in the Hood) are in schedule conflict, a certain TV movie will have my attention. Bringing me to tears as a teen at the midpoint of high school will do that. So, come 7:30 PM at Chinese Multiplex House #6 it’s Brian’s Song (1971)2, with the future and forever Lando Calrissian Billy Dee Williams introducing!
Luckily, I won’t have to walk far to catch Alex Baldwin interview the legendary Angela Lansbury for The Manchurian Candidate (1962) at 9:30 PM in the Chinese Theatre. I’d collapse afterwards, if I didn’t have to drive home, that is.
If I can crawl out of bed quick enough, it’s another sports film that causes my eyes to allergically water, Field of Dreams (1989). My God! They put this at 9:00 AM at the Chinese Theatre. Really?!?
Maybe they’ll let me snooze a bit in the same theater seat before Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid (1982) gets started at 12 Noon (again at the Chinese Theatre). No? I’ll have to take this up with Carl Reiner when he shows up to intro this noirish comedy.
Ho-hum. Just another re-watch of a Howard Hawks classic next. But then again The Big Sleep (1946) at 3:15 PM in the Egyptian Theatre is nothing to sneeze at, what with its glorious pairing of Bogart and Bacall doling out deft Chandler dialogue (care of William Faulkner, Leigh Bracket, and Jules Furthman) left and right.
The second film of my triple-header at the Egyptian Theatre today (I’ll make sure I park my car nearby) will be a film very much tied to this city we call home. Robert Altman’s The Long Goodbye (1973), with Leigh Brackett again providing a splendid translation of another Raymond Chandler classic, with lead Elliott Gould in attendance at 6:15 PM. Will get the evening going just fine, me thinks.
And if the special presentation to follow, “A Short History of Widescreen Cinema” (2014), enlightens this old projectionist at 9:30 PM (Egyptian Theatre), it’ll top off the day. Thank you very much.
If Elliott Gould can get up on Sunday to introduce M * A * S * H (1970) at 9:15 in the AM (Chinese Theatre) to old film fans and newbies who probably weren’t of age even to watch its reincarnation on network TV, then so can I. Now, if only Sally Kellerman would show up to hilariously harangue him with some “carpet match the drapes” payback, I can die happy.
‘The’ Burt Reynolds in town for a TCM interview and to introduce The Longest Yard (1974) at 12:45 PM in the Chinese Theatre? I’m so going, and don’t get me started on that 2005 remake! Mean Machine, Mean Machine, Mean Machine!
Might as well stay at the Chinese Theatre one last time for the 4:30 PM screening of the John Huston film that brought boxing and the ’70s into a point of convergence. If I’d watched Fat City (1972) the year it came out, the month after I graduated high school by the way, I might have been better prepared for what the decade had in store for me, let alone the rest of us.
Yes, I’m fully aware that Cinema Paradiso (1988) will be closing the fest at 7:30 PM in the Chinese Theatre. But damn it, Faye Dunaway, live and in-person, will be at the Egyptian Theatre for its final 8 PM screening. Network (1976) happens to be the more than fitting for this leap year, even four decades later. And while I feel and think it, I’m not going to say its famous line as I bring this all to an appropriate end.