Dorothy Dandridge in Carmen Jones, screening at the TCM Classic Film Festival.
For the 13th year, the TCM Classic Film Festival celebrates the love of film by screening movies on the big screen the way they were meant to be seen in iconic theatres in the heart of filmland itself, Hollywood, California. Whether 35mm or digital, the movies highlight the diverse genres and filmmakers of the craft, from silents to sound, with many of the people who made them. The Festival this spotlghts the Centennial of legendary studio Warner Bros. as well as special film anniversaries, star performers, and dramatic stories that have stood the test of time.
The central focus of this year’s Festival is Warner Bros. 100th anniversary, which occurs April 4, celebrating many of the studio’s landmark classic films. Such standouts as “Casablanca,” “East of Eden,” “The Exorcist,” “Mister Roberts,” “The Music Man,” “One Way Passage,” “Rio Bravo,” “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre,” and “The Wild Bunch” will play throughout the weekend, introduced by filmmakers, scholars, and special guests.
Passes are available at the Festival website: https://filmfestival.tcm.com/attend/
Maura Monti in The Batwoman, screening at the TCM Classic Film Festival.
“You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet: Celebrating Film Legacies” is also a central theme of the Festival. Some of the films are saluting major anniversaries, while others confront major issues relevant to our times. Stanley Kubrick’s 1957 film “Paths of Glory” examines the absurdity of war and the devastation it causes through the eyes of Kirk Douglas. Cary Grant and Irene Dunne star in the 1941 “Penny Serenade” which confonts both divorce and adoption. The 1957 “12 Angry Men” deals with the seriousness of justice and the legal system through the eyes of a jury deciding a case.
Club TCM presents short but informative programs that also offer challenging material. This assorted program includes “Warner Bros.: Hollywood’s Ultimate Backlot,” “Looney Tunes at the Oscars,” “Banned in the South: Hollywood, Censorship, and Depictions of Race,” “The Evolution of Henson Puppetry,” “A Conversation With Russ Tamblyn,” “Assisting the Classics,” a program of former assistants to the stars describing their days with the greats, and “A Conversation with Patrizia Von Brandenstein.”
Many rare and unusual films also screen during the weekend. “The Batwoman,” a 1968 Mexican Luchador film, takes aim at superhero movies with a film combining wrestling, underwater action scenes, and a female crime fighter who wears a bat suit when wrestiling but a bikini when crimefighting. Combining western with film noir, the 1948 “Blood on the Moon,” one of director Robert Wise’s very few westerns, turns 75, a psychological study of a cowboy torn between competing cattlemen and homesteaders. The 1950 “Jackie Robinson Story” stars the baseball star himself in an autobiographical look at how he overcame racism and helped desegregate baseball. Irene Dunne, Robert Montgomery, and Preston Foster star in Gregory La Cava’s 1941 film “Unfinished Business,” a screwball comedy examining a small town choir singer torn between two ne’er do well, New York playboy brothers.
The Festival also presents classic silent films with top notch live accompaniment, bringing them emotionally to life. Renowned accompanist Ben Model, who also restores and releases rare silent films to DVD through his Undercrank Productions, will provide musical voice to the Rin Tin Tin 1925 classic “Clash of the Wolves,” which helped make the studio a big success. A second silent film also plays, Lon Chaney’s classic 1923 “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” beautifully restored and released for its Centennial.
Tom Hulce in Amadeus, screening at the TCM Classic Film Festival.
A diversity of musicals plays during the Festival, from major blockbusters to mockumentaries to paeans to jazz. “Amadeus,” “Beach Party,” “Bye Bye Birdie,” “Footlight Parade,” “Hairspray,” “A Mighty Wind,” “The Muppets Take Manhattan,” “Xanadu,” “Strike Up the Band,” and “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” offer something for everyone. The magnificent “The Red Shoes” screens along with rare appearances of “Paris Blues” (1961), featuring a jazz score by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, and the 1945 “The Crimson Canary,” mixing jazz and murder and with a screen appearance by great saxophonist Coleman Hawkins.
The Festival also features some diverse and entertaining film programming, including another wonderful Ben Burtt and Craig Barron program analyzing and describing the creation of special effects in George Pal’s otherworldly “When Worlds Collide” and Paramount film archivist Andrea Kalas presenting a program called “Varieties and Novelties: A Trip Through the Short Subjects From the Paramount Archives.” Archivist Jeff Joseph also hosts a program of entertaining Laurel and Hardy comic shorts. Two foreign films are also scheduled during the Festival, the 1948 Italian film “Bicycle Thieves” and the 1952 Akira Kurosawa film “Ikiru.”
The iconic TCL Chinese Theatre hosts many programs, as does the classy Hollywood Legion Theatre. Club TCM is situated inside the former Blossom Room of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. Film Historian and professor Donald Bogle receives the Robert Osborne Award at the Festival for his work in preserving the cultural heritage of untold stories and ethnic groups in classic film.
For its 13th year, the TCM Classic Film Festival salutes the glories of classic film and how it both entertained and shaped American culture through diverse programming, appearances by scholars and classic stars, and introductions by historians and archivists who help bring the films alive.