A Many Splendored Thing: The 2019 TCM Film Festival

The countdown is truly on!

The 2019 Turner Classic Movies Film Festival will kick off in Los Angeles, California, in less than two weeks, and for the seventh consecutive year, I’ll be there! This year’s fest will be extra special, as it’s the 10-year anniversary of the festival and the 25th anniversary of the launch of TCM. Sometimes I feel like my entire year is focused on this event – I’m either reliving the past fest, or waiting for the new one to start. This year, I am taking my older daughter with me, so I’m extra excited. Once again, I’ll be sharing my experiences from the festival via Twitter and Facebook, and providing year-round coverage here at Shadows and Satin.

The complete schedule for this year’s fest was recently released, and I’ve had dates and times and screenings swirling around in my head ever since. For the last few years, many of my choices have been guided by the celebrities who will appear at the screenings, and this year was no different. Interestingly, I didn’t encounter any major conflicts or have to make any Sophie’s Choice-level sacrifices – with one major exception, that is. But more on that later. So now, after weeks of poring over my printouts, I’ve conclusively settled (for the most part!) on my final schedule, and I’m delighted to share it with you!

Bruce Goldstein’s trivia contest is always a must!

My kick-off event of the festival is a no-brainer. It’s been my tradition since my first year to participate in the “So You Think You Know Movies” trivia contest held in the Roosevelt Hotel’s Club TCM (site of the first Academy Awards ceremony!) and hosted by Bruce Goldstein, founder and co-president of Rialto Pictures and Director of Repertory Programming at New York’s Film Forum cinema. Except for the first year, when I actually knew several of the answers, I usually don’t get too many questions correct. But it’s still such fun. Goldstein is always witty and keeps the proceedings moving along at a lively clip. Also, if you don’t already have a team formed when you arrive (which I never have yet), the contest is a great way to meet new people, as the nice folks at TCM will help you form a team with your nearby seatmates.

Next, I hope to get a seat in the bleachers to watch the red carpet arrivals for the Opening Night Gala. This year’s film is When Harry Met Sally, which will feature a discussion with the picture’s director, Rob Reiner, and stars Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan. I’m looking forward to catching a glimpse of all three on the red carpet – since I won’t be seeing the movie.

I missed Angie before. I won’t make that mistake again.

My first film, which will be screened poolside at the Roosevelt Hotel, is Ocean’s 11. It’s a must-see not so much for the movie itself, but because it will start off with an interview with Angie Dickinson. I didn’t get a chance to see her when she was at the festival a few years back, and I definitely don’t want to miss this chance. (The screening will be preceded by a cocktail party, for which festgoers are encouraged to dress like a member of the Rat Pack. As much as I’d like to do this – last year’s 20’s-era party seemed like such fun – I’ll just be in my regular old festival duds. Plus, it gets so cold in the evenings by the pool – I nearly froze my tush off at the screening of Earthquake a few years back, and I’m dressing appropriately this time!)

The first full day of films will be Friday, April 12th, and I’ll be starting out my day with Merrily We Go to Hell (1932), starring Fredric March and Sylvia Sidney, followed by a Club TCM presentation, called “The Descendants: Growing Up In Hollywood.” This will feature the children of Hollywood stars, sharing insights into their home lives and what their parents were like away from the set. Participants will be Jennifer Grant, daughter of Dyan Cannon and Cary Grant; Fraser Heston, son of Lydia Clarke and Charlton Heston; and Dr. Hasna Muhammad, daughter of Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis. This was one of several Club TCM presentations that I wanted to see as soon as I read about it.

I’ll be spending a lot of hours in this majestic theater on Friday.

My next two films will both be in Grauman’s Chinese Theater (it’ll always be Grauman’s to me), which is great, because I didn’t see a single film there last year. The first is Steel Magnolias, which I am mainly going to see because Shirley MacLaine will be there, and I missed seeing her at the fest a few years ago. She’s one of the personages that I’m most looking forward to seeing. My second Chinese Theater movie is Do The Right Thing, directed by Spike Lee, which will feature discussions by Oscar-winning costume designer Ruth E. Carter and Spike Lee’s sister, Joie Lee. I’m very much looking forward to this screening – besides wanting my daughter to see the movie, I think she’ll be thrilled to see Ruth Carter. (In fact, I’m hoping to keep it a secret until Carter walks out! So don’t tell her . . .)

Day Three, April 13th, is the only day on which I encountered any kind of dilemma. But not with the first screening, From Here to Eternity. This is one of the movies that I used to always show to friends and family who were novices to classic film, and – once again – I want my daughter to see it. It was a bonus when I learned that Donna Reed’s daughter, Mary Owen, will be on hand.

The dilemma comes with a block that includes Raisin in the Sun, featuring Lou Gossett; Blood Money (1933), the only pre-Code at the fest that I haven’t already seen; and Nashville (1975), which was already on my wish list because the pre-film discussion will feature Jeff Goldblum and Ronee Blakley – but TCM made things even harder just a few days ago when it was revealed that Lily Tomlin would be there as well. (FRICKIN’ LILY TOMLIN, y’all!!!! Edith Ann! Ernestine! GEE WHIZ.) What to do, WHAT TO DO?!?!

This is how I feel about missing Nashville. (sniff!)

Ultimately, the deciding factor had nothing to do with any of these three films – instead, it was another film I want to see, which is screening later on: The Bad Seed (1956), which will feature none other than the bad seed herself, Patty McCormack. I realized that if I go to see Nashville, I won’t be able to see anything BUT Nashville – it conflicts with Raisin in the Sun, Blood Money, AND The Bad Seed. So what I finally decided was to see Raisin in the Sun and The Bad Seed, hope that Blood Money is one of the films that is replayed in one of the “TBA” slots on Sunday, and keep my fingers crossed that Jeff Goldblum, Ronee Blakley and Lily Tomlin all walk the red carpet on Friday, so at least I’ll get to see them. (Whew!!)

For Sunday, April 14, besides hoping that I’ll be able to see Blood Money, I have two presentations that I intend to see in Club TCM.  The first is called Hollywood Love Stories – it will show rare stills and film clips, and include a discussion about how stars from the Golden Age were depicted in fan magazines and promotional films, including staged visits to their homes and the careful management of potential scandals. Sounds good and juicy! Plus, Diane Baker will be there – bonus!

The closing night party in Club TCM is bittersweet, but always a blast!

The next Club TCM presentation that I want see on Sunday is The Complicated Legacy of Gone With the Wind. This is a panel discussion that will include authors Donald Bogle and Molly Haskell, talking about their insights about GWTW in the context of its history, which has included criticism of the film’s depiction of slavery. I’ve always considered GWTW to be my favorite film, so I’m especially looking forward to hearing what the panelists have to say about it.

Other than the Club TCM presentations, I’ll just wait and see what the TBA films will be for Sunday and play it by year. And of course, as always, I’ll be at the bittersweet closing night party, where I won’t be able to believe it all passed by so quickly!

~ by shadowsandsatin on April 1, 2019.

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