Tag Archives: schedule

2016 TCM Classic Film Festival Schedule, SATURDAY

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A recurring theme of this year’s festival is one that is familiar to anyone following current events–corruption in the media and the rise and fall of media superstars. Whether it’s the story of an unstable buffoon on the airwaves, a drifter who becomes a media sensation, or an exploration of the costs of covering a juicy news story, the theme speaks to audiences in this current political climate, as we can see similarities in each of these stories in relation to what is happening in the media today.

Ace in the Hole, playing Saturday morning at the Chinese multiplex 1, tells the story of a down-on-his-luck reporter who sees an opportunity to redeem himself via a report about a miner trapped in a collapsed cave. The public takes to it immediately, and it stays on the front pages of the paper. The bigger the story gets, the more the reporter’s life begins to disintegrate until several tragedies strike and we see the futility of greed and self-serving ambition. It is a pensive and symbolic story, and one whose message holds true over 60 years later.


In any other time slot, Ace in the Hole would be one of the must-sees of the festival. Playing down the hall, however, is a celebration of 90 years of Vitaphone. When sound came to film for the first time in Don Juan (1926), the movie was screened alongside a bill of shorts that featured speech and song, recorded and synchronized by the Vitaphone company. Only a few survive. Since 1991, an organization called The Vitaphone Project, run by self-described “film buffs and record collectors,” has been dedicated to restoring and releasing these shorts that are so vital to understanding the history of sound on film. At the festival on Saturday morning, Ron Hutchinson of The Vitaphone Project will be on hand to discuss and screen some of the recently restored Vitaphone shorts, including some featuring George Burns and Gracie Allen, Baby Rose Marie, and Molly Picon.

For now:

MY CHOICE: 90 Years of Vitaphone


The next time slot features several attractive choices. A Face in the Crowd, another timely movie fitting the theme of broadcast corruption, is showing at the Egyptian. Meanwhile, the always popular One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is playing at the Chinese multiplex 1. Intolerance, D.W. Griffith’s 3.5-hour silent masterpiece, will be at the Chinese multiplex 6 (and is recommended for dedicated fans only, as it spans several time slots). The brilliant Carl Reiner will be giving a talk at Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, in the beautiful Grauman’s Chinese Theater. But it will be at Club TCM, the gathering and lounging space at the Roosevelt Hotel for festival passholders, where many stars will gather on Saturday.

Last year, Cari Beauchamp released a book in which she assembled stories from actors, directors, and screenwriters about the first time they saw Hollywood. The book is a compelling read, and at this special presentation, the stories as presented by Beauchamp in the book will be read by such stars as Laraine Newman (Anita Loos), Nancy Olson (Colleen Moore), Bruce Goldstein (Ben Hecht), David Ladd (Robert Parrish) and Sue Lloyd (Harold Lloyd). This is my pick, as it is sure to be a meaningful glimpse into the world of classic Hollywood.

Also, if you haven’t had a chance to buy the book yet, Cari Beauchamp will be having a book signing in the Roosevelt Hotel lobby following the presentation.

MY CHOICE: My First Time in Hollywood

MY MIND MIGHT BE CHANGED BY: Nothing this time.


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The TCM Festival is lucky in that it attracts some of the most legendary classic Hollywood stars to the festival for appearances and interviews. Last year the major guest was Sophia Loren, who gave an interview for the festival that will air on the channel on April 28. This year the festival continues the Italian theme with Gina Lollobrigida, who will introduce Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre on Saturday at 3:30. Down the road from Gina Lollobrigida at the Chinese multiplex 1 is The Big Sleep, one of Bogart and Bacall’s biggest hits and a noir classic, while The Yearling  will play at Chinese multiplex 6 and the 1953 version of Orson Welles’ radio program War of the Worlds will be at multiplex 4. Elliott Gould will also be giving a discussion at Club TCM. This is a tough one, but I think I’m going with The Big Sleep. There are few times when I can give up Bogart and Bacall on the big screen.

MY CHOICEThe Big Sleep

MY MIND MIGHT BE CHANGED BY: I don’t think anything, at this point.

Next up is The King and I, versus Song of Bernadette, versus Hollywood Home Movies. Along with the Shanghai Express/The More the Merrier issue, this is one of the more difficult choices of the festival. Having expected to see The King and I open the festival this year (and thus not be able to see it, with my media pass), I feel that I should see it–especially since Rita Moreno is introducing. But at Club TCM during this time slot is a truly fun annual program in which the festival brings in Hollywood home movies from the Academy and shows them to the crowd, assisted by the stories and memories of the people who are in them. The home movies program is a yearly tradition for me, and I can’t see both The King and I and the home movies due to their starting times. In previous years, I have left early from movies in order to catch the next one. But I have come to the conclusion that this is not “best practices” for the TCM Festival, so I will have to make a decision. Home movies will probably win out.

MY CHOICE: Hollywood Home Movies



Joan Fontaine between takes on the set of Gunga Din.

As for the last time slot of the day, I’m probably going to have to choose Midnight. I love Claudette Colbert too much for anything else there.

MY CHOICE: Midnight



See you back here for a rundown of Sunday!



2016 TCM Classic Film Festival Schedule: THURSDAY


Ever since the schedule for the 2016 TCM Classic Film Festival went live a few days ago, festival attendees have been meticulously planning their schedules and making the difficult moviegoing decisions that define each year at the TCM Fest. With less than 2 weeks until the festival, the schedule was slightly late in coming out and the choices are difficult. Over the course of the next several days, I would like to analyze each time slot to illustrate the difficulties in choosing which movie to attend at the festival, which one I ultimately chose, and which movies might force me to make a last minute switch.

Since there are 4 packed days to cover, I am going to focus on one day per post. Here is the first installment of Backlots’ 4-part series about the TCM Classic Film Festival schedule!



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The festival kicks off at 6:30 in the evening with a gala screening of All the President’s Men. This event is only open only to holders of the higher pass levels, and Backlots’ media pass is not one of those, so I am now free to consider the other options. Upon inspection of the other movies in that time slot, I see that there are several options. Dark Victory is one of my all-time favorites. The story is a five-kleenex one, about a vibrant young woman who is diagnosed with a fatal brain tumor that will make her go blind before she dies. Jam-packed with stars (including Humphrey Bogart trying to speak in an Irish accent, worth the price of admission in itself) and a well-known tearjerker, it is a great opening night pick.

A frequent dilemma at the TCM Classic Film Festival is whether to attend old favorites, or new-to-you movies. Sometimes the choices are easy, sometimes they’re extraordinarily difficult. In this particular time slot, the only thing getting in my way of attending Dark Victory is the screening of Harold Lloyd’s The Freshman at the Roosevelt Hotel pool, at which there will be an interesting new approach to silent film accompaniment–a new score played by a modern DJ. Curiosity may get the better of me, and my plans to see Dark Victory may be foiled by a modern novelty.

MY CHOICE: Dark Victory


The next time slot begins at 9:30. Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner, the quiet but strong 1967 piece about interracial marriage has been a favorite since I was 10 years old. As Spencer Tracy’s final film and one of Katharine Hepburn’s most nuanced performances, it stands as a cinematic monument not only for the commentary it makes on civil rights-era America, but also to the brilliance of two of Hollywood’s finest actors. In attendance will be Katharine Houghton, Katharine Hepburn’s real-life niece who plays her daughter in the movie.

Brief Encounter is considered by many to be “the best movie you’ve never heard of.” It tells the story of two strangers who meet in a train station, and begin a quick and torrid love affair. The screenplay was based on a play by Noel Coward, and the action is directed by David Lean. When it was announced in the schedule, the internet went abuzz with excitement, as the movie rarely gets the attention it deserves. For that reason, I think I will attend the screening of Brief Encounter in this time slot.

MY CHOICE: Brief Encounter

MY MIND MIGHT BE CHANGED BY: Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner.

Be sure to tune in tomorrow for Friday’s picks!

The TCM Festival Schedule is Here!

A few days ago TCM released the final schedule of the TCM Classic Film Festival, and there has been a lot of chatter about it already. Much of the discussion has centered around an idea that I have often brought up on this blog, a point of contention among classic film fans–the definition of “classic film” and what constitutes a classic.

This year’s festival features an unusually large number of films from the 1970s and beyond, and for some die-hard TCM fans this has proven a bitter pill to swallow. Many are devoted to films made in the “classical Hollywood era” (an academic designation for films made between 1927 and 1963) and purport that a classic film festival should prioritize films made between the birth of sound on film and the final waning years of the Production Code in order to truly be considered a “classic film festival.”

As I have mentioned before, there is no singular definition for what makes a classic. The term “classic film” is as diverse as the movies themselves, and the vast majority of film fans would not be able to give you a clear-cut definition of what the term means to them–“I know a classic when I see one” is commonly heard among film devotees, perpetuating the enigma of the concept. For me, though I am unabashedly a devotee of the classical Hollywood era, I am familiar with the difficulty of programming a classic film festival that is unbiased and fair to people with varied definitions of “classic,” and trying to make as many attendees happy as possible.

On my part, I have grown to truly love the TCM Festival schedule this year and have already mapped out my timetable. Go to filmfestival.tcm.com for the full schedule, but here is what you may expect from Backlots this year:






THE PROUD REBEL/THE PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO (I’m loyal to my Olivia, but man, Purple Rose of Cairo…and on the big screen…I’m torn on this one.)




BOOM! (I’ll have to leave Rebecca early, but there is no freaking way I’m missing the camp factor that is Boom!)


WHY BE GOOD? (I saw this a few months ago and it is so fantastic. Viva Colleen Moore!)



Hollywood Home Movies




GUNGA DIN/THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK (I’ll probably decide the day of)



Full Schedule Released for the 2014 TCM Classic Film Festival

Following several days of great anticipation among festival attendees, the TCM Classic Film Festival unveiled its final lineup yesterday via its website. Featuring a veritable amalgam of lesser-seen movie classics and fan favorites, this is sure to be a year to remember.

One of the unexpected highlights of this year will be a midnight showing of the 1932 cult classic Freaks, a dark look into the world of circus sideshows and one of my personal favorite films of the early 1930s. Freaks includes a cast comprised almost exclusively of real-life sideshow performers, and is startlingly progressive and forward-thinking in its treatment of people with disabilities and analysis of the sideshow life. I will definitely be attending this film and will be reporting back with a full analysis.

Another highlight for me is the fact that TCM has programmed two Oscar-nominated Barbara Stanwyck films, Double Indemnity (1944) and Stella Dallas (1937), to be shown on Friday and Saturday. Double Indemnity celebrates its 70th anniversary this year, and the screening will be a special 70th anniversary restoration of the film. Both Stella Dallas and Double Indemnity feature some of Barbara Stanwyck’s best work in a career made up of great performances. Watch this heartwrenching scene at the end of Stella Dallas, followed by her turn of evil in Double Indemnity, and you will see why Barbara Stanwyck is considered one of the greatest and most versatile actresses of her time. I very much look forward to seeing both of these movies on the big screen.

Last year TCM paid tribute to filmmaker Albert Maysles, and this year they show one of his seminal works, the classic documentary Grey Gardens, a stark but ultimately endearing examination of aristocracy in decline. Maysles and his brother, David, befriended Edith Ewing Bouvier Beale (known as “Big Edie”) and her daughter, Edith (“Little Edie”), aunt and cousin to First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and filmed them over the course of several months as they dealt with the consequences of embezzlement of their funds by a corrupt family member. They lived in squalor in Grey Gardens, their formerly glamorous estate in upstate New York, and had essentially become isolated from everyone but each other. It is a beautiful, funny, and sweet examination of what it means to be family, and how to make the most of a negative situation.

I am a huge fan of Grey Gardens. I think Little Edie is one of the greatest characters, real or created, in the history of cinema. Her outlook on life, her unique relationship with her mother, and her outrageous fashion sense (she has a talent for converting clothing items into other clothing accessories) makes for a character that a filmmaker could only dream of. Watch her below, in the famous clip of her describing her “costume for the day.”

As the festival approaches, I will post a complete list of what readers may expect to see on the blog, and my tentative schedule. To see the complete TCM lineup, click here!

See you next time!