As usual, I'll be doing my picks in NCAA tournament format brackets. Once again, I will be attending with my 18-year-old daughter, Jasmine. I tend to pick things I think we will both like. On occasion, I run into spots when there are films that she might like better and let her overrule me. For the most part, I limit it to the film screenings, but do indicate the odd thing or two that might lure out of a darkened theater. I also include links to anyone else's picks I run into in the coming weeks. At a glance, the schedule seemed pretty simple. Then I read the descriptions of the films I wasn't immediately familiar with, then it got real complicated. So without any further ado, I give you this year's picks.
Kind of amazing, as early as Thursday the choices are pretty rough. My Media pass is more or less the same as a Classic pass, so I don't have access to the Robert Osborne Award presentation/The Producers. That leaves To Have and Have Not and the Pre-Code Finishing School in the top bracket. Finishing School does sound good, but To Have and Have Not is big favorite of mine. I might have seen it in the theater before, but if so, It would have been the 1980s. Also I don't have much in the Egyptian this year, and that can swing me. In the bottom bracket, I'm not a fan of Murder on the Orient Express, but Detour and Them! are both awesome. The edge here goes to Detour, mostly because Them! gets out the same time the second block of films are getting started. I would hate to have to leave Them! early, but hate even more missing the next block of films. Between Detour and To Have and Have Not, have to go with Bogart and Bacall.
For the late night slot, the first contest is not much of a bout. Stage Door is good Fail Safe is insane. In the other bracket, The Sea Wolf with added footage sounds good, but not against Throne of Blood, a Kurosawa I've never seen before. The last choice between Fail Safe and Throne of Blood is pretty brutal. I'm going with Throne of Blood. I tend to shy away from reading subtitles at TCMFF because you get exhausted watching so many films, but this early in the festival, it's a good time for it. That said, we will be coming from the Egyptian and trying to get in the second smallest theater. It is possible that we won't get in, but if we had to switch to Fail Safe, I wouldn't be all that broken up about it.
FridayFriday starts off rough. Strangers on a Train is a great and underrated Hitchcock. Intruder in the Dust sounds really good but I don't think I could choose it over Strangers on a Train. In the other bracket, The Merry Widow didn't do much for me, but I grew up on Pink Panther Cartoons. Then you have Grand Prix with Eva Marie Saint. Now Grand Prix was one of the first movies I ever saw in the theater as a little kid. Also, I've never seen Eva Marie Saint in person. To make things worse, if I go with Grand Prix, it being at the Cinerama Dome and being a three hour movie, that means I would mess up the next block. Still, I think that just needs to happen. My daughter Jasmine was, Hmmm, cartoons or a three-hour movie about auto racing, you have fun, Dad.
In the Friday Mid-Day slot, it's really no competition. Witness for the Prosecution all the way, one of Billy Wilder's best, and also one of the best courtroom dramas ever. That said, If I go to Grand Prix, I don't see anything this block, dammit. I was thinking that maybe if Eva Marie Saint talks at the beginning, I might be able to duck out of the film early for Witness for the Prosecution, but I just notice on the only grid, there is a word balloon at the end of the block. I take that means Eva Marie Saint appears after the film. Well, crap. I might end up blowing off, Grand Prix.
The next block is a dogfight too. Sounder is great, but a hard watch, even with Cicely Tyson. I've never seen, A Hatful of Rain, but sounds great. Again, probably a hard watch, even with Eva Marie Saint. I'll take How to Marry a Millionaire here. In the other group, it comes down to Harold Lloyd 3D and The Setup. Edge goes to The Setup, mostly because 3D has a tendency to make me nauseous, and I wouldn't want to chance that at TCMFF. Here Jasmine and I part ways, Thought I might relent and tag along with her to How to Marry a Millionaire. Also if I decide to bail on Grand Prix, I might just go to A Hatful of Rain to catch Eva Marie Saint. Dang, this is tough.
The Right Stuff is great and would be spectacular on the big screen. I'm not a huge fan of The Odd Couple, though I do like it more every time I see it. Here though I would go with Three Smart Girls a charming Deanna Durbin, and an unknown to me Pre-Code, I Take This Woman. In the other bracket, Roaring Twenties by the pool seems to end too late to catch anything in the next block. I saw Eddie Muller introduce This Gun for Hire in San Diego last month, and he was psyched on None Shall Pass. Still, here Jasmine put her foot down, Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song, and I going to go along with that all the way.
Next, I like Point Blank, a lot. The Exorcist never really did it for me. I really would like to do Leave Her to Heaven in Nitrate, but Romeo and Juliet is just so good. It's probably my favorite film adaptation of Shakespeare. That's got to be the choice.
I think we're going to pass on the Friday night midnight movie. We did both last year, and it was brutal. I know Jasmine will wander off to bed, but I'm going to try to get some drinking done.
There are a lot of good choices here. The exception is I'm not a fan of Andy Hardy. Still it all comes down to one thing, His Girl Friday. I've never seen it in the theater before, and I watch it all the time when I'm bored and don't know what to do. I love this movie.
This block is the one where the two films I've never heard of before are blowing the doors off everything else, so it comes done to When You Read This Letter, a film noir melodrama about a nun blackmailing a gigolo into marrying her pregnant sister, wait, what, vs This Thing Called Love, a screwball comedy about a married couple arguing about whether or not to have sex, ohhhh-kaayyy. Jasmine's reaction to this was, "Sponge + Starfish = Clam?" Ah, these kids and their interwebs and memes. Edge here, to This Thing Called Love and Rosalind Russell and Melvin Douglas.
I love Sunset Boulevard, but I saw it in the theater a couple of years ago. Normally, that would be enough to go a different way, but normally, you don't have Nancy Olson. The problem is that it's up against not one but two special presentations, An Invisible History: Trailblazing Women in Animation and Crackin' Wise, a special presentation about witty dialog. I love animation and witty dialog is the main reason I like classic film as well as I do. If you've never been to any of the special presentations at TCMFF, they're always great. Then again, when am I ever going to get to see Sunset Boulevard in the Chinese with Nancy Olson. Plus, it also gives us almost two hours before our next choice. Oh boy, eats.
Next the two top choices are Show People and The Lost Weekend. Normally this wouldn't be much of a contest, and I'd go with The Lost Weekend, but coming off one intense Billy Wilder movie and right into another intense Billy Wilder movie. It wouldn't surprise me if at this point Jasmine would want to go back to the room and unwind, and I couldn't really blame her. I might use the opportunity to catch Hollywood Home Movies at Club TCM and meet up with Jasmine later for a real meal.
Then last up we have, Night of the Living Dead with an introduction by Edgar Wright. Wright's Sean of the Dead is both Jasmine and my favorite zombie movie, and Night of the Living Dead basically defined the genre. This just has to happen.
Sunday is kind of a weird day. There isn't a lot I wouldn't blow off for the right film in one of the TBAs. I really hope some of those interesting films I'd never heard of show up in those spots.
First up, Once Upon a Time in the West is so good but a three hour movie is kind of a tough sell at TCMFF, especially with all the other options. I do love Tracy and Hepburn, but I don't like Woman of the Year nearly as well as some of their others. Actually, once I eliminated Once Upon a Time in the West, there was only one choice. The Black Stallion is just such a good movie and on 35 mm in the Egyptian.
To be honest, I'm not all that psyched on Taking of Pelham One Two Three, and even less so for Places in the Heart, especially up against one of Frank Capra's best, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.
In the 1950s, Hollywood remade a lot of great films from the 1930s and 1940s as musicals. Most are just pale shadows of the originals. Silk Stockings an adaptation of Erst Lubitsch's Ninotchka is one of the handful that really works. I do also like Bull Durham. Sometimes celebrity guests are announced at the last minute. With the top stars still around, I might be swayed if any of them were going to show up.
Normally, this would be a no brainer. Silent movie with live accompaniment is a great way to end the festival, but Jasmine and I both saw The Phantom of the Opera with live accompaniment on a huge vintage pipe organ, so we're going to go with the fun romp that is Animal House.
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Cinema Sentries, My (Tentative) 2018 TCM Classic Film Festival Schedule
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Aurora, Once Upon a Screen, Picks for #TCMFF 2018: To Be or Not To Be…
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