It’s Right Around the Corner: The 2023 TCM Film Festival

It’s hard to believe that in less than two weeks, I’ll be on my way to Los Angeles for the 2023 TCM Film Festival, with my fest-going partner, my older daughter Veronica, by my side. I remember when the dates for the fest were first announced last October – April seemed to be such a long time away, and now it’s here!

I’ve been going to the festival since 2013 – this year will mark my ninth in-person fest and my 11th overall (including the two virtual fests that TCM hosted in 2020 and 2021) – and every year, I’m almost as excited as I was the first time around, when I could scarcely comprehend that I was actually there. Before last year’s festival, I joined a number of my fellow fest-going bloggers and provided, pre-fest, a sneak peak at the films that I planned to see. I thought I’d continue that tradition this year. So, here goes!

— Our winning trivia team from last year!

As I’ve done every year of my attendance at the fest, I’ll be kicking it off with the trivia contest, So You Think You Know Movies, hosted by Bruce Goldstein, repertory programmer for New York’s Film Forum. I don’t know if I mentioned this here (actually I do know, LOL), but last year, for the first time, I was on the winning team! So exciting. After we won, I said I was never going to play again – but it’s so much fun, I just have to be there!

Movie-wise, I purchased an Essential pass this year, which allows entry to the opening night film and a stroll down the red carpet to (what I will always and forever know as) Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. I decided on this type of pass so that Veronica (this year attending her third in-person fest) could have the red carpet experience. The opening night film is the world premiere of a 4K restoration of Rio Bravo, starring John Wayne, Dean Martin, Rick Nelson, and Angie Dickinson – and Dickinson will be on hand for an interview with TCM host Ben Mankiewicz. I got the chance to see her at the fest a few years ago before the screening of Ocean’s Eleven, and it’ll be great to hear from her again. Also, directors Steven Spielberg and Paul Thomas Anderson will be there – they’re board members for the Film Foundation, which partnered with Warner Bros. to produce Rio Bravo’s restoration.

— My first film of the fest: Rio Bravo (1959).

The next block of films on Thursday consists of That Touch of Mink, Genevieve, and The Wild One. The only one that’s remotely appealing to me is The Wild One, and I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t be able to get to it in time – especially in heels! So I think I’ll call it a night after Rio Bravo; that way, I can be up bright and early Friday for my first movie of the day, which is …

The Old Maid (1939), starring Bette Davis and Miriam Hopkins. The other films in this time block are King Kong, Harvey (which I still have never seen!), Bicycle Thieves, and The Wild Bunch. Like many of my choices, I selected The Old Maid because it’s a favorite of mine and I want my daughter to see it. Next up, I plan to see Larceny, Inc. (1942), starring Edward G. Robinson. This one is up against Groundhog Day, East of Eden, and Footlight Parade. I’ve seen Groundhog Day and East of Eden, and I already have two musicals on my schedule for Saturday – three in one fest is just too much! Besides, I’ve never seen Larceny, Inc., and any day that I can see Eddie G. on the big screen is a day that’s just all right with me.

— Another western? You bet.

For Friday’s third block, I’ll be at Blood on the Moon (1948), a western noir starring Robert Mitchum. I’ve seen it before (reviewed it here), but it’ll be introduced by my pal, historian and author Alan Rode, and I couldn’t miss that! The other movies in this block are Cool Hand Luke, Risky Business, The Strawberry Blonde, and Peyton Place. If I wasn’t at Blood on the Moon, I would absolutely be at Peyton Place – I really would like for Veronica to see it, and one of the film’s stars (and my birthday twin!), Russ Tamblyn, will be there to discuss it. This block is actually an especially painful one for me – there’s also a presentation in Club TCM that I would love to see; it’s called Banned in the South and it will consist of a discussion of race-based censorship in Hollywood movies of the 1940s and 1950s – and Shari Belafonte (Harry’s daughter) will be one of the guests. I’m hoping that a recording of this discussion will be posted on TCM’s YouTube channel, because this is really one that I hate to miss.

— Frankie Avalon! In person!

The next block of films consists of American Graffiti (with special guests Richard Dreyfus and Candy Clark), Penny Serenade (a movie so unutterably sad that I vowed never to see it again), Paris Blues (introduced by Spike Lee’s sister, actress Joie Lee – who I got the chance to see in 2019 before the screening of Do The Right Thing), The Killers, and The Three Musketeers. I won’t be seeing any of these, because a little later, Frankie Avalon will be the special guest before the screening of Beach Party (1963), and I can’t pass up the chance to see Frankie! (Swoon.) I’m not going to stay for the movie, though – after Frankie’s interview, I’m going to skip over to the American Legion Theater to catch 12 Angry Men (1957). I want Veronica to see this outstanding film and as a bonus, it’s being introduced by Ed Begley, Jr., whose father has a featured role.

There’s a midnight screening of The Batwoman (1968), which I really would like to see, but in all the years I’ve been going to the fest, I’ve never made it to a midnight movie, and the older I get, the less likely it seems. Still, one never knows . . .

Onward to Saturday, where the day’s first block consists of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (featuring an interview with Russ Tamblyn), Paths of Glory (which I’ve always wanted to see), Boys Town, The Muppets Take Manhattan, and The Wiser Sex (a pre-Code starring Claudette Colbert and Melvyn Douglas). This is another painful block for me. On any other day, I’d be in line for The Wiser Sex in a heartbeat, but I’ll be lining up for Seven Brides instead, as this will be my only opportunity to see Russ Tamblyn (did I mention that he’s my birthday twin?). And the reason that I can only see Russ at Seven Brides is because of the next block of films I’ll be considering: these consist of Bye Bye Birdie, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (featuring an interview with Danny Huston, the son of John and grandson of Walter), The Jackie Robinson Story (featuring Robinson’s granddaughter, Ayo), The Crimson Canary, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Crossing Delancey (where the film’s stars, Amy Irving and Peter Riegert will be interviewed). In addition, during this block, Russ Tamblyn will participate in a one-hour interview in Club TCM. Also in Club TCM, after Russ Tamblyn, is a presentation I’d love to attend – it’s called Assisting the Classics and it will feature former personal assistants to such celebs as Groucho Marx, Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara, George Cukor, and Esther Williams, sharing stories about their famous bosses. Sounds SO interesting and right up my alley!!! But I’m going to have to miss all of these because I will be at Bye Bye Birdie. Because ANN MARGRET WILL BE THERE. That is all.  

— Can’t miss Carmen.

Next up, I’ll be at Carmen Jones, which is another film I’d like my daughter to see. This was a tough decision, though; Sorry, Wrong Number is playing at the same time. I also want Veronica to see Sorry, Wrong Number – and it’s being introduced by Lawrence Hilton Jacobs (who I want ME to see!). Fortunately, I got the lovely chance to meet and take a picture with Jacobs at last year’s screening of Cooley High, so that made this decision a little less painful. Also, I just found out while in the midst of writing this post that Lou Gossett, Jr., will be at the Carmen Jones screening! Bonus!!! The other films in this block are The Exorcist (which I saw when I was in sixth grade and I wouldn’t see again if you PAID me), How to Steal a Million, Butterfield 8 (introduced by Mario Cantone, which will surely be a hoot!), and at the very end of the block, A Mighty Wind. I’d love to see A Mighty Wind, but it actually overlaps this block and the next, so if I went to that, I’d have to miss both Carmen Jones and the film in the next block. Still, Michael McKean (who quote tweeted me on Twitter the other day! Squee!) and Annette O’Toole will be there, and I would dearly love to see them in person. Another hard decision.

In the last block on Saturday, I plan to check out Unfinished Business, a comedy starring Irene Dunne that I’ve never seen. Other films during this time are In the Heat of the Night, The Hunchback of Notre Dame (the 1923 silent version), and Enter the Dragon. However, the movie being screened in this block at the Chinese Theater hasn’t yet been announced, and when it’s revealed, who knows? It may throw my entire schedule into a tailspin!

— Casablanca on the big screen at Grauman’s? Yes, please.

If you’re still with me (and bless you if you are), we’ve now reached the final day. I’m planning to skip the initial block in favor of a nice, sit-down breakfast – my first of the fest! The movies playing during this time are The Man Who Knew Too Much, Heaven Can Wait, Strike Up the Band, Jason and the Argonauts, and Mister Roberts. I’d like to see Kate Flannery (of The Office fame), who is introducing Strike Up the Band, but I got the chance to meet her at the fest several years ago, so instead, I’m opting for a little extra sleep, some waffles, and a mimosa. The next block consists of Casablanca, The In-Laws, No Man of Her Own, The Red Shoes, and Six Degrees of Separation. This block caused a bit of extra thought, primarily because last week, I tweeted about Alan Arkin’s birthday and received several responses from fellow Tweeters (Twitterers?) praising Arkin’s film The In-Laws, which I have not seen. However, I also noticed that The In-Laws is airing on TCM later this month, and I really want Veronica to see Casablanca for the first time on the big screen, so we’ll be looking at Bogie and Bergman, kid.

That’s all I’ve decided so far, y’all. There are two more blocks on this last day of the fest (I’m already feeling a little sad, just writing those words!), but they consist of a total of five films that are still to be announced. I’m hoping (against all possible hope) that The Wiser Sex will be one of them, but either way, I’m going to wait and see what pops up. I will say, though, that of all the films currently scheduled (including The Music Man, All About Eve, and Clash of the Titans), The Big Chill is the most appealing – the film’s director, Lawrence Kasdan, will be there, along with JoBeth Williams and Tom Berenger. (Now, if they add, say, Kevin Kline or Mary Kay Place or Jeff Goldblum, you can bet I’ll be there!)

And that’s a wrap! If you’re going to this year’s TCM film festival, what movies or events will you be seeing? If you won’t be there, here’s a link to the line-up – I’d love to know what your schedule would look like!

~ by shadowsandsatin on April 1, 2023.

15 Responses to “It’s Right Around the Corner: The 2023 TCM Film Festival”

  1. What a line-up!!!
    Casablanca AND Carmen Jones on the big screen?! Swoon!
    Russ Tamblyn and Ann-Margret… I seriously have no words. SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS and BYE, BYE BIRDIE were everything to me as a kid.
    Please soak up every drop of fabulous and report back 🙂
    Have fun on the red carpet!

  2. It would be fun to watch Rio Bravo (1959) and the remake El Dorado (1966) starring John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, Charlene Holt and Arthur Hunnicutt.

    Rio Bravo was such a hit that Director Howard Hawks and screenwriter Leigh Brackett decided to make it again. Brackett referred to El Dorado as, “The son of Rio Bravo Rides Again.”

    Movie-goers weren’t sure if El Dorado was a remake or a parody. To further confuse the audience, Hawks and Brackett reworked the first two scripts to produce a third movie, Rio Lobo (1970). Wayne, perhaps jokingly, asked Hawks, “Haven’t we made this movie before?”

    Here’s some trivia that you can share at the festival:

    Rio Bravo was the last film that John Wayne wore the same hat that he had worn since Stagecoach (1939).

  3. That sounds so exiting. I’ll make it there someday.

    It’s great that they show Larceny, Inc. It’s one of those lesser-known fun little movies that deserve more attention than they get. Good choice, especially over East of Eden. Unpopular opinion here: I don’t like James Dean.

    Carmen Jones is just wonderful. Dorothy Dandridge burns up the screen.

    I love Heaven Can Wait. Would love to see it on the big screen, especially for the technicolor.

    On another note: Risky Business counts as a classic now? I live and learn.

    • Isn’t it funny? I think of a classic as a movie produced before 1960. Today, younger generations consider films such as Back to the Future as classics.

      In the “old days”, American Movie Classics (AMC) was very much like Turner Classic Movies (TCM). Both networks showed commercial-free classics from the black and white era.

      Then, Ted Turner started buying movie studios which gave him exclusive rights to the old films. In order to survive, AMC added commercials and started showing films from the 70’s and later. It sort of redefined what is a classic film.

      Ardent classic movie fans were not enthused with the reimagined AMC which was forced to create new content while still branding itself as a classic movie channel.

      • Full disclosure here: I’m a child of the 80s and I consider Back To The Future a classic. 🙂 I just think Risky Business is not so great.
        The 80s are now already 40 years in the past (now I feel old!). So I guess 80s movies could be considered classics, at least newer classics.

        I remember the times when AMC was fun. Don’t know why we can’t have two good classic movie channels.

        • TCM and Criterion used to stream their content on FilmStruck which cost only $6.99 per month (ad-free).

          TCM and HBO were merged after Warner was purchased by AT&T. Upon the launch of HBO Max, AT&T ended FilmStruck despite the objections of Hollywood’s top directors and producers including Steven Spielberg.

          HBO Max shows a few TCM classics but not enough to satisfy classic movie fans. Meanwhile, Criterion started its own streaming service which features mostly independent and art house films.

          FilmStruck is sorely missed. I shouldn’t have to pay a whole lot of money for a cable package when all I want is TCM.

          Tubi TV, a free streaming service owned by Fox, has a pretty decent collection of classic films in addition to newer films and TV shows — and they show fewer commercials than cable.

          • FilmStruck is certainly sorely missed.

            Many classic films can be found for free either on youtube or the other “youtube”, the Russian one. Oddly enough, they have a huge selection. Not always the cleanest copies though.

  4. See you there! I’m still working out my schedule, which will probably change a few more times before we get there! Only thing I’m sure about is the trivia contest. The Friday panels at Club TCM sound good, but then there’s Footlight Parade and Strawberry Blonde. Can only give myself the same advice I give a newbie – you can’t see everything and there are no bad decisions.

  5. I love reading these previews because the choices seem endless. Good picks, if I was going I’d be at a lot of the same things. Best of luck on the trivia and have fun both of you!!

  6. Wow, this sounds like such an awesome event! 😀 I’d heard of the Festival, of course, but had no idea what all in entailed.

    Two additional thoughts: You’ve never seen Harvey??? I guess there’s so many classics, so little time. 🙂 To that point, I had no idea there was such a thing as a western noir. 😮 Interesting!

    By the way, I submitted my column for April’s Dark Pages the other day. Did you get it?

  7. […] It’s Right Around the Corner: The 2023 TCM Film Festival […]

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