Once TCM announces a few of the movies playing at Turner Classic Movies Film Festival, it officially becomes TCMFF season (Rabbit season! Duck Season! Duck Season! Rabbit Season!). A few titles started rolling out late in 2018, which means, obviously, the game is already afoot. Here’s the list to date, which includes Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, From Here to Eternity, and Gone with the Wind. In other words, some heavy hitters are already lined up for the festival’s 10th anniversary.
(By the way, passes still remain for the 2019 TCM Film Festival. If you feel like a trip to Los Angeles in April, hurry over to the TCM page and pick up a pass today. It’ll be your best purchase of the year.)
Of the films currently scheduled, I’m most excited for Sunrise and Hello Dolly! Why? I’m not sure, exactly, and it’s not always to explain. These just happen to be two films I’ve intended to watch and I can’t think of a better way to do it than at the TCMFF.
According to the website, “The TCM Film Festival 2019 will cover a wide range of programming themes, including our central theme Follow Your Heart: Love at the Movies.” From Here to Eternity, The Clock, Gone with the Wind, and Indscreet, certainly fall under that umbrella… and really anything you like once you include films about love and films that we love. The theme actually sounds a bit like a fortune cookie game, except we’ve exchanged “…in bed” for “at the movies.”
You will find love, if you look in uncommon places… at the movies. Lucky Numbers: 2, 6, 9, 12 and 19.
Let’s talk about the fun part of the lead-up to the Turner Classic Movies Film Festival every year. The anticipation. The guessing. The prognosticating. Keep in mind that I have no inside connections or tip-offs, but you may narrow down potential choices by keeping in mind the stated theme and big round number anniversaries.
The following movies are ones I’d like to program for the TCM Film Festival 2019 based on those big round anniversaries. Last year I offered up a bunch of suggestions/predictions and nobody took them, but that won’t stop me from predicting again.
Breaking Away (Peter Yates, 1979)
Snappy dialogue and surprisingly efficient performances. In a way, it’s a kind of traditionally-framed sports movie, yet that’s hardly the point. All the going around and around in circles is like life, you see… it’s the tedium of childhood and the need to escape your comfortable childhood stasis, while the overwhelming centripetal force pulls toward your origination. Maybe I’m digging too deeply into the psychology of a silly little “cycling movie.” Or maybe I’m digging just fine. Despite the contemporaneous affection for Breaking Away, Peter Yates’ film has slipped out of the general public consciousness — and would play like a blockbuster for the TCM Film Festival 2019 crowd. Unfortunately the great Peter Yates is no longer with us, but stars Dennis Quaid, Dennis Christopher, Jackie Earle Hayley, and Daniel Stern should be ready for a 40th anniversary reunion, right?
Support Your Local Sheriff (Burt Kennedy, 1969)
I watched this for the first time a few years ago, and it immediately shot into my top 25 or so comedies of all time. I had to pause the film to recover from and then rewatch a specific bit where Sheriff James Garner is forced to preside over a jail without walls. Not since childhood have I fallen in love with a film faster than Support Your Local Sheriff. It plays as a comedy and as a revisionist Western and would serve as a wonderful contrast to the already announced Winchester ’73. The supporting cast consisting of Walter Brennan, Harry Morgan, Jack Elam, Bruce Dern, and Henry Jones would create rousing in-theater applause. (Because these crowds clap upon the arrival of favorite actors, you see.) Also, can I be the only person who *always* wants to spell “sheriff” with two R’s?
The Tingler (William Castle, 1959)
1959 seems to be the year of the movies that should be shown in the midnight slot at TCM Film Festival. (See also: The Wasp Woman, The Killer Shrews, and The Giant Leeches) I know people who would buy a ticket JUST to see The Tingler among such a crowd — even minus the gimmick. Though I imagine that if TCM can recreate Smell-o-Vision (as they did for Scent of Mystery in 2016), they can do something to recreate William Castle’s original theatrical presentation of The Tingler, which involved a seat-based vibrating device called “Percepto!” This is pure fun, acid trip, pop-art horror, but it’s also a rather astute analysis of the horror movie experience — and it won’t put our butts to sleep at 1:00am.
edit: Alan Hait dropped the bomb that The Tingler played during the 2nd TCMFF. So, let’s course correct with the aforementioned…
The Wasp Woman (Roger Corman, 1959)
Less effective, but even weirder, The Wasp Woman would make for a solid midnight.
The Passionate Friends (David Lean, 1949)
Call this one a blind program. David Lean directing Claude Rains, Trevor Howard, and Ann Todd sounds like a must watch to me. I missed viewing this on FilmStruck (RIP), and I’ve since listened to multiple podcasts, including Pure Cinema Pod, lauding David Lean’s 1949 film as a masterpiece of romantic melodrama. Our ability to watch this film is currently being limited by the gatekeepers who’ve elected not to make this available on physical media here in the states. As far as I can tell our only option (without importing a foreign DVD) is a Criterion stream though Amazon. (Fingers crossed for the Criterion Channel to carry it when it officially launches.) I’m holding out hope, however, that it’ll appear at the TCM Film Festival 2019.
Midnight (Mitchell Leisen, 1939)
Director Mitchell Leisen made a trio of screwball comedies in the 30s and 40s that should be required viewing for any classic film fan. Remember the Night, Easy Living, and the best of the lot, a 1939 comedic retelling of the Cinderella story, Midnight. This slick under-the-production code farce puts on a school for screenwriters looking to avoid the heavy hand of the Hays office. A terrific script by Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett is made more perfect by the rapport between Claudette Colbert and Don Ameche. Supporting cast includes John Barrymore, Francis Lederer, and Mary Astor. Out of all the essential screwball comedies of the 1930’s this is, in my opinion, the one that’s tragically the least known.
edit: And Ana Roland reminded me that Midnight played at a festival I attended! Wow. How memories get jumbled. So let’s swap it out for…
The Saint Strikes Back (John Farrow, 1939)
aka The Saint in San Francisco. This, the first of the SAINT films with Sanders, finds its groove in the scathing wit of the ever holier-than-thou Sanders – who shares an especially memorable scene with an Irish safecracker whom he steals into his employ and then punches in the face. He does this because it makes their story play– but also because he just really wants to punch this guy in the face I think. And that’s the crux of the character. His intentions are always purer than his motivations…
Stay tuned for another round of picks in the coming weeks when I’ll probably just start rambling about SH! THE OCTOPUS.
James David Patrick is a writer. He’s written just about everything at some point or another. Add whatever this is to that list. Follow his blog at www.thirtyhertzrumble.com and find him on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.