Tuesday, April 12, 2016

TCMFF Madness, Baby

Once again, I'm doing NCAA-Tournament-style brackets for making selections the TCM Classic Film Festival (TCMFF). I have left off the panel discussions and guest interviews. I would rather see guest for five minutes before a film I love than skip a whole block of films. On occasion, I fudged the screenings around a bit to get the top picks to the top slots in the brackets.

This year at TCMFF I am bringing both my 16-year-old daughter Jasmine and my wife Mary. This makes the picks a little easier to deal with, because I know there are going to be spots where Jasmine and Mary will want to ditch me and do their own thing.

Early evening
This might just be the toughest call of the festival. I don't have a pass that would work for All President's Men, so that gets knocked off right away. I'm not a big fan of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, despite having the major hots for Joan Blondell. One Potato Two Potato sounds interesting, but since my choice in the next block also deals with inter-racial relationships, I think I'll pass. Besides, I live inter-racial relationships everyday.

That leaves Dark Victory and The Freshman.Thinking The Freshman is my first all the way down the line. The problem is the timing is really rough. The Freshman ends at 9:30 and my pick in the next block is starts at 9:30, leaving 0 minutes to get there. Unless there is a wormhole from the Hollywood Roosevelt pool to the Chinese Multiplex 1, it might be too tight to make it. The description says The Freshman is 106 minutes which I assume includes opening talk. Still, I think it would require leaving before the end. It comes down to, do I play it safe with Dark Victory, or leave The Freshman early and hope it's early enough to not mess up the next block. That would also mean finding the watch I never wear. Looking at your phone for the time during a screening is likely to get you killed at TCMFF. Still, I think I'll risk the leaving early and catch as much of The Freshman as possible, which may be the only silent film at the festival this year.

Late evening
Of the three films in this block, I can knock out Brief Encounter right off the bat. I don't think I've seen it, but I haven't seen Los Tallos Amargos either and that sounds way better. Still opposite, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, a film I love and watch every chance I get. Guess Who's Coming to Dinner wins hands down here. With any luck Los Tallos Amargos will show up in one of the TBD slots Sunday.

I'd made a decision not to do the Francis Ford Coppola Hand and Footprint Ceremony before the schedule even came out. TCM had a couple of openings in their area for Social Media Producers, but I didn't want to risk missing a block of films. I think that was a good call. Love Me or Leave Me didn't really grab me. I would love catch Ida Lupino's directorial debut on the big screen, but not more so than the other two options. Pre-Code Marlene Dietrich in her prime or a touching and funny wartime comedy. Much as I would love to see Shanghai Express, I have to get my Dingle on, The More the Merrier takes it.

At a glance this seemed to be a slot where I might be able to get a real meal. The Way We Were never really did anything for me. Never was a big fan of Lassie, but that might be because I always thought that Timmy should get his own butt out of the well. Then I read the descriptions for  Double Harness and He Ran All The Way. Guess, it's a sandwich in a bag after all. Double Harness is a Pre-Code with Ann Harding and William Powell vs He Ran All the Way, Film Noir at the Egyptian. Jasmine really likes Film Noir, so going with He Ran All the Way.

When I did my TCMFF Top 5 back in February, Trapeze with Gina Lollobrigida presenting was number 3 with bullet. Here she gets knocked out in the first round by scrappy underdog Amazing Film Discoveries in the first round. That's the way it goes with TCMFF. You look forward to something for so long; then the schedule comes out, and there's something or in this case two somethings better. With the competition, When You're in Love and Tea and Sympathy don't stand a chance. Amazing Film Discoveries is one of those things that you're probably only going to get at TCMFF. Silent shorts including one that was thought lost until recently. But then you have The Conversation, which has been on my film bucket list forever. Add Francis Ford Coppola introducing, and it's no competition.

Early evening
At a glance, this seemed to be a rather blasé block. Only at TCMFF could a selection of films like this seem lackluster. Perhaps, I should explain. I love Frank Capra, and It's a Wonderful Life is one of his best. That said, I've seen it in the theater several times, and there's a good chance it will be playing locally during the holidays anyway. The Passion of Joan of Ark is a brilliant film, but for me a very hard watch. I felt like I was watching a snuff film, and now that I think about the ending, I was. Boyz N the Hood is a great film, and with John Singleton there, that was my clear choice. Then I read, Kristina's picks here. Wait, what? Six Hours to Live, science fiction. Well, shit. I read the description, and it sounds really good. Plus, that would allow me to see a second film in this block. I read the descriptions of Pleasure Cruise and Private Property. Both sound good, indy film noir vs Pre-Code Roland Young. Edge, Roland Young, though it wouldn't surprise me if I changed my mind a went with Boyz N the Hood after all. By the way, I love Batman but the caped crusader didn't stand a chance here.

Friday late evening
Just to make this contest interesting, I read the descriptions of the three films I hadn't seen. I'll let you guess which ones they are. Repeat Performance sounds awesome. They had me at Film Noir meets The Twilight Zone. Still, there is no way I'm missing The Manchurian Candidate with Angela Lansbury. This is one I'm going to be reminiscing about in the old film geeks home. Here's hoping Repeat Performance makes one of the TBD spots.

Friday midnight
I know me. I just don't think I'm going to be up for Roar. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz gets it.

Bambi just might be the first film I remember seeing in the theater. That said, sentiment only takes you so far at TCMFF. One Man's Journey was on last night while I was going through the schedule and it didn't really grab me. Then again I was distracted by the schedule. I like Field of Dreams, but not enough to pass up Ace in the Hole or 90th Anniversary of Vitaphone. I really regretted missing the Technicolor presentation last year and have a feeling I'd have a similar reaction to missing Vitaphone.

Intolerance and A House Divided/Bulldog Drummond Strikes Back would be great to see, but I can't put them over the other choices here. A Face in the Crowd and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest are great films, but not against Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid with Rob Reiner.

Here we have The Big Sleep playing way over its head and taking out Buono Sera, Mrs Campbell and Gina Lollobrigida. Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story puts up a valiant fight against The War of the Worlds, but the Sci Fi powerhouse takes it all the way for the win.

Early evening
This block was the first cause of marital strife at the festival. I'm sure there will be others. I just saw this one coming. My wife hasn't had the chance to look at the schedule yet. I saw this one coming. I said to her, "So Endless Summer with Bruce Brown is up opposite The King and I with Rita Moreno introducing." 

My wife Mary's response was warm and comforting as usual, "Bye, bitch." That is a direct quote.

From my daughter's room, I hear Jasmine say, "Somehow, I have a feeling that's not the first time she's said that to you."

Late evening
The Short History of Widescreen Cinema and Rocky is a tough choice, but ultimately the gutsy southpaw from Philly prevails. In the other bracket, both Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman and Midnight look fun, but I can't pick either over Band of Outsiders, which continues on to knock Rocky's mouth guard into the spit bucket.

I have never made it to a midnight movie at TCMFF. Gog in 3D just might be the movie to do it.

Sunday is a tough day to call due to the TBDs. I try to keep an open mind to pick up films I wanted to see and had to miss earlier or that everyone is raving about. Even my top pick for the day, there would be advantages to doing TBDs there.

My pick is Holiday in Spain for the combination of Smell-O-Vision and the only chance to see something in ArcLight Cinemas’ Cinerama Dome. It is not without problems, though. It would only be a half hour to get back to the Chinese in time for The Longest Yard. I may need to bring my skateboard. I think I can make it back in under 10 minutes. Still that might not be fast enough. M*A*S*H or of course the TBD make be good alternates if I decide to be sensible.

What follows was the logic on my original picks here.
The Longest Yard is easily my top pick for Sunday, but the combination of The Kid and Horse Feathers is a close second. Throw in two TBD slots and the possibility that I could catch something I really want and either The Kid or Horse Feathers. This block could easily go a different way than what I pick here.

Then this happened:

I was actually in the middle of updating my brackets when my computer died, so I went old school Sharpie:

I haven’t seen either Fat City or The Russians Are Coming The Russians Are Coming. At least, I don’t think so. Possibly, I’d seen The Russians Are Coming The Russians Are Coming on TV as a kid. It sounds vaguely familiar. The deal here is I would much rather see Eva Marie Saint than Stacy Keach. I’m not real big on Westerns but I’d take She Wore a Yellow Ribbon over The Key to the Kingdom any day of the week. When it comes down to it, Eva Marie Saint in person takes it. Then again, I might be jumping over to the TBD.

To be honest, I’m not incredibly psyched on anything here. I’m mostly going with The Band Wagon to see the dance sequences on the big screen. I can easily see jumping ship to one of the TBDs.

With Faye Dunaway here, that changes my thinking. I fully expect Hollywood Blvd. to tip up on edge as everyone rushes to the Egyptian for Network. Honestly, not a huge fan of Network (Faye Dunaway makes the difference), could still easily bail for one of the TBDs.

Other people's picks


  1. Along with the wormhole I think we need some cloning too, to get to all these. And a time tunnel to see what those tbd's will be and plan accordingly. I'm with you on the Gog reasoning, might make it my first midnight movie too. Thanks for the link!

  2. No problem. I like the sentiments. Sadly, I think that flying cars and cloning for purely recreational purposes are never going to come to pass in my lifetime. And don't get me started on time travel. Most people can't figure out their smartphones. Do we really need them messing with the space-time continuum.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Absolutely love the brackets, Chris. These decisions are always so antagonizing but fun as well.
    Looks like I'll run into you and Jasmine quite a bit - see you guys soon!

  4. The decisions can be brutal. We will definitely see you a lot. Thanks for stopping by.

  5. Love the tournament style display -- makes everything clear. Hope to catch up with you in LA!

  6. Thanks, the first time I went, they announced the schedule around the time, March Madness, NCAA tournament was going on.

    If you see a bald guy with a big white mustache, that would probably be me.

  7. Chris ~ I love your movie brackets!!! What a great way to structure it. And your Faye Dunaway screen shot...L0L!! I hope our paths cross.

  8. Thanks. So did you stop drinking or something? If not, probably a fair bet our paths will cross. Besides, you still need to sing, Send Me No Flowers.

  9. Very fun to read. Thanks! Here's mine: https://marysmondaymatinee.wordpress.com/2016/04/24/tcm-film-festival/

    1. Thanks. I added a link to your picks. Hope to see you there in a few days.


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