Turner Classic Movies celebrates all things movies with its upcoming Classic Film Festival Thursday, April 28 through May 1, 2016. Organized around the theme “Moving Pictures,” films that inspire, utter a call to action, rouse emotions, or take us to new worlds, the festival affords attendees the opportunity of seeing celebrities, viewing restored films, hearing inspiring stories, and meeting and making like-minded friends. The festival offers something for lovers of every film genre and period, from silents to contemporary films.
The TCM Film Festival once again presents several restored and recently released films, many featuring introductions by those who discovered, restored, or revived them. Thursday night at 9:30, the Argentinian noir “Los Tallos Amargos” (1956) is screened, a beautifully shot, dark look at a newspaper writer involved in a journalism correspondence school scam who begins suspecting his partner’s motives. It recently played both at MOMA and Film Noir Festival in Los Angeles.
“Hollywood Celebrates the Holidays” by Karie Bible and Mary Mallory is available at Amazon and at local bookstores.
“Los Tallos Amargos,” courtesy of TCM.
On Friday morning, the 1949 film “Never Fear,” Ida Lupino’s official directing debut, plays at the Chinese Multiplex. The film examines a young dancer who is stricken with polio as her career is on the rise. Lupino focused many of her films on hard-hitting women’s issues and concerns, rarely discussed in classic Hollywood films. On Friday afternoon the Grace Moore Cary Grant film “When You’re in Love” (1937) screens at the Chinese Multiplex, the only film directed by screenwriter Robert Riskin, about an Australian opera singer forced to marry a penniless artist when her visa runs out. Singing star Moore supposedly tears down the house with a ripping version of “Minnie the Moocher,” combining operatic runs with scat singing.
The 1931 Fox pre-code “Pleasure Cruise” plays Friday evening, starring Genevieve Tobin and Roland Young as a married couple who decide to take separate vacations, but with husband Young masquerading as a barber on the cruise his wife is taking to keep his eye on her. Both find themselves pursued by others among other things. Later that evening “Six Hours to Live” (1932) plays, a combo sci-fi/horror film directed by William Dieterle and starring Warner Baxter as an international trade conference delegate who’s murdered and brought back to life to discover his killer. It features lighting reminiscent of German Expressionism, dark and foreboding.
Saturday morning at 11:30 at the Chinese Multiplex “A House Divided” (1931) plays, William Wyler’s second chance at directing a talkie film. In this, a grizzled Pacific Coast fisherman (Walter Huston) finds his mail-order bride (Helen Chandler) falling for his despised son (Kent Douglass). Wyler makes fascinating use of early sound effects in the film. Frank Borzage’s 1946 Republic Technicolor film “I’ve Always Loved You” plays Saturday night at 6:45 of a beautiful young pianist (Catherine McLeod) torn between her childhood sweetheart (Bill Carter) and her prickly, insensitive mentor (Philip Dorn).
“Gog,” courtesy of TCM.
For those interested in learning about restoration and unique genres, several professionals will give presentations related to their finds. Vitaphone Project founder Ron Hutchinson introduces a program saluting the 90th Anniversary of Vitaphone on Saturday morning, featuring the special talents of such individuals as Shaw and Lee, Baby Rose Marie, and George Burns and Gracie Allen. The irrepressible film restorer extraordinaire Serge Bromberg presents the great recently discovered lost footage to Laurel and Hardy’s 1927 film, “Battle of the Century,” discovered in a cache of films by film historian/accompanist Jon Mirsalis. At midnight Saturday night, “Gog” will be seen for the first time in wide-screen Eastmancolor and 3D since 1954.
Club TCM presents short but informative programs throughout the Festival, including appearances by Bromberg, film composer Michael Giacchino, Elliott Gould, and Gina Lollobrigida. Author Cari Beauchamp hosts fascinating readings from her book “My First Time in Hollywood” by such people as Suzanne Lloyd (granddaughter of silent legend Harold Lloyd), Laraine Newman, Nancy Olson, and David Ladd. Randy Haberkamp of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presents his always entertaining programs saluting Hollywood’s Home Movies and Man’s Best Friend: Dogs in Film. Ben Bradlee Jr. and Mary Mapes join screenwriters Josh Singer entitled “Spotlight” (2015) and James Vanderbilt “Truth” (2015) in the program from “Headlines to Ticket Lines.”
The TCM Festival also will feature programs with unique accompaniment this year. DJ Thomas Golubic lends background to Harold Lloyd’s 1925 college picture “The Freshman,” playing poolside at the Roosevelt Hotel. The 1928 film “Joan of Arc” screens Friday night at the Egyptian Theatre with conductor Dr. Mark Sumner leading a live orchestra and vocalists from UC Berkeley’s Alumni Chorus in the 1994 oratorio “Voices of Light,” created to accompany the film.
The festival affords plenty of opportunities for those looking to see stars, with stars such as Faye Dunaway, Francis Ford Coppola, Adam West, Alec Baldwin, Carl Reiner, Rita Moreno, and others interviewed before films. Others will appear at book signings, along with authors like Mark Vieira and Ileana Douglas.
“All the President’s Men,” courtesy of TCM.
Many classic films will screen with special presenters, covering virtually all genres, a smorgasbord for movie fans. Film Noirs include “He Ran All the Way” (1951), “Private Property” (1960), and “Repeat Performance” (1947), dark dramas “Ace in the Hole (1951) and “A Face in the Crowd” (1957) screen, melodramas “Dark Victory” (1939), “Bulldog Drummond Strikes Back” (1932), “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” (1945), “Brief Encounter” (1945), and “Shanghai Express” (1932) play, romantic comedies “Midnight” (1939) and “The More the Merrier” (1943) unspool, sports films “A Field of Dreams” (1989), “Brian’s Song” (1971), “Pride of the Yankees” (1942), and “Rocky” (1976) screen, and such eclectic titles as “Batman: The Movie” (1966), “Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman” (1942), “Boyz in the Hood” (1991), “”The Conversation” (1974), “Lassie Come Home” (1943), “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946), and “Cinema Paradiso” (1988) also get screenings. Silent films like “Intolerance” (1916) and “The Kid” (1921) play digitally.
The hard-hitting “All the President’s Men” (1976) opens the festival with a red carpet screening featuring an appearance by journalist Carl Bernstein. This film highlighted Bernstein and Carl Woodward’s investigation of the Watergate break-in, showing the tedious, difficult behind-the-scenes look at what true investigating, researching, and writing can accomplish.
While most passes have sold out, individual tickets are usually available for screenings at $20 a ticket. Check the schedule for locations, arrival times, and the like. Hope to see you at the movies!