If you read multiple accounts of the fest from different people, you’ll quickly realize the range of options available for creating your schedule. We all attended the same event, but our picks are wildly different and it’s rare for two festival-goers to have the same exact selections. This versatility is one of the aspects I appreciate most about TCMFF. Sure, they feature films from the 70s-00s. But they aren’t the only option. And at the same time, there are 2-3 other films from the 30s-60s playing that still make creating a schedule for myself a game of Sophie’s Choice.
Thursday, April 6
The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) – The first nitrate screening of the fest! Must admit, it was very difficult to tell a difference between nitrate and a regular safety print. I spent the first 15 minutes trying to figure out what the fuss was about and then just gave up and enjoyed the show.
Friday, April 7
The Maltese Falcon (1941) – Film Noir at 9am on a Friday morning. Can’t get any better than that! Introduced by the Czar of Noir himself, Mr. Eddie Muller. Eddie’s introductions are always a treat just because you can never guess what remarkable fact will spring forth from his brain.
Panique (1946) – This film made the top of my must see list the moment it appeared on the schedule. It was new to me, a Noir and French – curiosity peaked on all levels. A gripping tale of a man wrongly accused by fearful and narrow-minded people, it was tragic and touching all at once. Not the kind of film you’ll watch again and again, but definitely worth seeing if you get the chance.
Red-Headed Woman (1932) – Jean Harlow on the big screen is NOT to be missed. If you think this film is steamy from your sofa, go see it in a theatre. WOW.
Laura (1944) – This was the second nitrate screening of the fest and it was easier to see the beauty of nitrate. However, the print was incomplete and missing moments during important scenes, so it distracted from the experience. If this was your first time seeing Laura, you need to watch it again in full. It will all make more sense, I assure you.
Zardoz (1974) – My only midnight screening this year and what a screening! Miguel and Beth baked up Sean Connery gingerbread cookies and kindly bestowed one on each of us. Aside from lifting an already unique experience to an unforgettable one, the cookies tasted delicious and (as homemade food often does) turned the whole over-caffienated crowd into old friends. My hat’s off to both Miguel and Beth. Well done.
Saturday, April 8
Stalag 17 (1953) – Even though this was a rewatch for me, I couldn’t pass up a chance to see smirking William Holden on the big screen. This role was perfect for him and I never tire of seeing him flip from jerk to hero.
The Underworld Story (1950) – Sad admission here. I fell asleep a bit during this one. My midnight movie shenanigans from the night before caught up to me. Never fear though – I realized once it started I had already seen it, so no great loss.
King of Hearts (1966) – A new-to-me film and it did not disappoint. Alan Bates plays a solider in WWI sent to gather intelligence in a small French town. Trouble is, the German’s just rigged this town with explosives and intend to blow it up at dusk. Once Alan discovers this, he sets about trying to save the only remaining inhabitants – inmates of an insane asylum. The film is sweet, touching, funny and beautiful. Highly recommend.
Black Narcissus (1947) – Okay so for this third nitrate screening I finally caught Nitrate Fever. The print was luscious and watching it on the big screen enveloped you in the Himalayas right along with Deborah Kerr.
Sunday, April 9
Cock of the Air (1932) – When the final credits rolled on this one, I was ecstatic I got up early to see it. This was my first ever Billie Dove film and she is enchanting. It’s a Howard Hughes Pre-Code with Chester Morris and the snappiest dialogue a gal could hope for in a film. Plus, SHIRTLESS CHESTER MORRIS and Billie Dove clad in armor while successfully seducing him. My greatest wish is to see this one again.
Lured (1947) – Lucille Ball volunteers to assist in a murder investigation and falls for suspect George Sanders in the process. Great fun – especially the scene with Boris Karloff. His daughter Sara introduced the film and spoke of her gentlemanly father with the greatest reverence.
Detective Story (1951) – Introduced by spitfire Lee Grant who sure gave Eddie Muller a run for his money. She spoke about her life as a blacklisted actress and her career since then. She was awe-inspiring.
Lady in the Dark (1944) – Probably the most controversial film of the festival. The chauvinistic themes were much discussed afterward and I fear this film might not be appreciated for the positive aspects because of this downside. It’s a gorgeous film and it was the final nitrate screening of the fest, which only enhanced the experience. The costumes, dance numbers and sets are not to be missed. Sure, the plot itself is not the strongest (nor the most interesting) but to me, this falls into the category of a Betty Grable film. You don’t watch those for the fantastic plots either. I will jump at a chance to rewatch this one and would even buy it on DVD. There is a lot to study for a fashion geek like me!
Giant eggs with painted faces and HATS. Come on, how can you not be entranced?
Eddie Muller at The Maltese Falcon
Pierre Simenon and Bruce Goldstein at Panique
Cari Beauchamp at Red-Headed Woman
Alex Trebek at Stalag 17
Sara Karloff at Lured
Eddie Muller and Lee Grant at Detective Story
(Screen shots of film titles from The Movie Title Stills Collection – do check out Christian’s incredible work!)