Apr 12, 2016

The TCM Classic Film Festival 2016 Schedule: I'm Giddy! I Have a Headache! My Tentative Choices

Oh TCM. First there's the agony of waiting for you to release the schedule for the TCM Classic Film Festival, then there's the continued agony of deciding what to see. But I'll take the latter. As Mae West once quipped, too much of a good thing can be wonderful.

This is my first pass at deciding what to see for TCMFF 2016. As those who have attended the festival before know, there can be all sorts of reasons to change your schedule, be it a sold-out house, a change of heart or the desperate need to eat something besides popcorn.


And right out of the gate I am undecided. Dark Victory (1939) is an important film for me. It's the movie that truly got me into classic film. As I watched Bette Davis swoosh her way through an oddly-colorized television broadcast of the movie, I knew I was seeing something special. She had me hooked.

I'm not sure I want to start the festival with a crying movie though, though honestly, I think those are my choices unless I want to see The Freshman (1925) by the Hollywood Roosevelt pool. And I don't, too chilly.

The rare screening of One, Potato, Two Potato (1964) also sounds intriguing, if perhaps downbeat and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945) might be a crying movie, but it is a hopeful kind of sadness. So I'm undecided and will probably go with my mood for that first film of the festival.

Brief Encounter (1945) is one of my favorite films. I think it's perfect. I've seen it so many times I could probably quote it from memory. It is yet another crying movie, and yes it's the best kind of devastating movie crying, but I don't know if I want to spend the first night of the festival in a puddle. I'm also determined to see more new-to-me films this year, so I might go with Argentinian noir Los Tallos Amargos (1956).


Though I hate to miss two blocks of film programming, I love covering the handprint ceremony in the forecourt of the Chinese Theatre and it will be great to see director Francis Ford Coppola get his due. 

The ceremony is a unique chance to gawk at film legends up close; and you never know who will show up. I certainly never could have guessed I'd ever see Alex Trebek and William Shatner joke with each other as they did at the Christopher Plummer tribute last year, and at the Jerry Lewis ceremony in 2014, Quentin Tarantino unexpectedly walked up to the crowd and gave us all handshakes.

At the 2014 Jerry Lewis handprint ceremony. I'm in the blue sweater, excited and anxious about the approach of QT.

Next time block I'm intrigued by the Chinese Theater screening of The Conversation (1974) a film that horrifies and fascinates me. It would also be amazing to see Gina Lollobrigida in her first official festival appearance before Trapeze (1956), though I don't remember being too fond of that movie. Another possibility: the Amazing Film Discoveries presentation by Serge Bromberg of Lobster Films. Bromberg is a charming and entertaining presenter and I enjoyed an archival program that he presented at last year's Seattle International Film Festival.

I'll probably check out Pleasure Cruise (1933) after that, because it sounds naughty and I'll see any pre-code at least once.

Then I am so excited to see The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) at the Egyptian Theatre. A live orchestra will be performing the 1994 Richard Einhorn oratorio Voices of Light, which was composed to accompany the film. This is a festival must-sees for me. The major silent film presentations have been TCMFF highlights for me over the past two years and while I haven't seen this film for many years, I remember that it moved me deeply. 

I'm hoping I'll be able to dash down Hollywood Boulevard in time to get good place in line at the Chinese Theatre for The Manchurian Candidate (1962). I have to at least try to see Angela Lansbury, and this film is one of her best. I love Angie when she is calculating.

I already own Roar (1981) on Blu-ray, and I'll miss the beginning of the midnight screening, but it would be amazing to see this crazy flick with an audience. Crazy is actually an inadequate word to describe it. It is beyond description. I'm still clenched from the last time I watched it.

Anna Karina

Seeing Bambi (1942) on the schedule tugged at me. It was one of the first films I saw in the theatre, probably the first to make me sob uncontrollably, but the 90th Anniversary of Vitaphone presentation sounds like a unique opportunity. After taking a gamble on the hand-cranked films presentation last year and being blown away, I feel encouraged to try similar programs.

The next time block is pretty amazing: Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1982) with an appearance by Carl Reiner, A Face in the Crowd (1957) and One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest (1975) would all be great to see on the big screen. 

I'm thinking of going with another new-to-me pre-code though, A House Divided (1931), the second talkie directed by William Wyler, and with an appearance from David Wyler, the director's son. Catching that shorter film will give me a chance to eat (gotta schedule that too!).

Then off to the Chinese Theatre to see Gina Lollobrigida appear before a screening of Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell (1968). Of Italian legend's three festival appearances, this is the one that I will most likely attend.

After that, I'll hop right back in line again to see The King and I (1956), again at the Chinese Theatre. No way am I missing Rita Moreno. I've loved her since The Electric Company.

Rita Moreno channels Cecil B. DeMille on The Electric Company
I'll probably have to leave that screening early though if I want to make sure to get in to see Anna Karina introduce a screening of Jean-Luc Godard's Band of Outsiders (1964). I admire Karina so much, and this is one of my favorites of her movies. She is the guest I am most excited to see at the festival, and I'm a bit nervous that she will be appearing in one of the smaller venues. They really couldn't have her at the Egyptian? Am I overestimating her popularity?

I'm so curious about the midnight movie presentation of Gog (1954) in 3D. Even if I'm exhausted, I'll probably go. Nothing like a nap in a movie theater in the middle of the night!


Just about everything on Sunday could change because of the late Saturday announcement of TBD films, but these are my choices for now:

I'd love to see Allison Anders speak before All That Heaven Allows (1955), because she is so passionate and knowledgeable about classic film, but when am I going to get another chance to see, and presumably inhale, a film in Smell-o-Vision in the Cinerama Dome? So Holiday in Spain (AKA Scent of Mystery) (1966) it is. If it intrigued Leonard Maltin, I'm in.

Then maybe I'll catch The Kid (1921) at the Chinese multiplex, but this is usually the point in the festival when I'm starving, so I'll probably eat instead.

My last two films of the festival: John Huston's Fat City (1972) and Cinema Paradiso (1988), both in the Chinese Theatre (so many films I want to see there this year!) The former because Stacy Keach is one of my favorite actors and I'd love to see him in person.The latter because the Chinese Theatre felt like the place to be at the close of the festival last year. It was a more satisfying experience to be there with a huge crowd than catching up with a TBD film in a half-filled theater as I did the year before. As I last saw it when it first came out, I don't remember Cinema Paradiso well, but I keep hearing how magical it is, and what better place to experience a film like that?

So that's my plan for now. It will change, but I'm happy with my choices for now.

What are you most excited to see at the festival? Or what would you see if you're not planning to attend this year? Please share in the comments! If you've written your own schedule post, I'd love to share the link here.

Update: Check out my full TCMFF 2016 coverage here.


  1. Rita Moreno is the primary reason I hate not being able to go to TCMFF this year! I've had a crush on her since childhood.

  2. The Manchurian Candidate is one of my top picks along with Endless Summer and The Longest Yard. I'm hoping that Band of Outsiders won't be an issue. It is in the largest of the multiplex screens. I've never made it to one of the midnight screenings at TCMFF, but Gog in 3D just might do it. I'm also leaning toward, Holiday in Spain, though the timing to get back in time for The Longest Yard could be rough. I might need to bring my skateboard.

  3. I've wondered that about the poolside screenings too, they don't appeal to me for anything but a "party" movie. Gog seems so cool and I like the selection of scifi they have this year. You and me both with Stacy Keach, I hope I get to that and hope the scheduling gods hand us everything in TBD that we missed in previous days, wouldn't that be nice. See you there!

  4. Can you give me an idea of how much time I will need to stand in line for say La Lolla? This is my 1st time so attending the festival. How long did people stand in line to see Sophia Loren?

  5. I'll try to get some good shots of Ms. Rita for you Terry!

    I'm really hoping getting into Karina won't be difficult either Chris. I don't mind waiting a bit longer to get into that one. It's actually the next closest venue in size to the Egyptian, so maybe it'll be okay. Not loving the mini-commute to the Cinerama Dome, but I think it will be worth it just to see the theater.

    Kristina--I lasted about five minutes at the one poolside screening I attended. They were screening the moving in Club TCM, so we did that for a while, but then I went off to another screening. It's a fun idea, but not ideal for movie watching. So happy to find another Keach fan! I've seen some pretty bad movies and loved them just because of him. I've always been delighted by the TBD selections, so I think they make good choices there. See you soon!

    Hi Ana--The line to see Sophia Loren at the Chinese Theater was hundreds of people long. I had to walk pretty far back, all the way through the shopping center next door, and I think I waited about an hour? Can't remember for sure. Anyway, had no trouble getting in and finding a great seat. I think with most venues if you show up 1/2 hour-hour ahead of time you're good. It depends on the size of the theater in addition to the popularity of the presentation. I've gotten into quite a few movies minutes before they began too, so you never know. I'd schedule an hour for the must-sees on your schedule and just stay alert to buzz during the festival; if something seems like it's going to be popular, show up earlier. Also, remember to get a line number from a TCMFF employee when you get to the line. This gives you freedom to go get a snack or use the restroom and still keep your place in line.

  6. I'm checking out my friends' picks with great interest, both for tips and to get an idea which screenings we might be enjoying together! :)

    I love DARK VICTORY but I'm like "I don't think I want to be sobbing my way through my very first movie of TCMFF!" LOL.

    When I was a teenager I saw Stacy Keach on stage as Cyrano! Stefanie Powers was Roxanne. It was a small theater so I was quite close to them.

    Best wishes,

  7. Amazing Film Discoveries is one of the top programs I’d like to see this year! I’d also love to see Band of Outsiders, but that is HIGHLY unlikely since I’m going without a pass (yikes). Same with The Freshman, though I wish they could show that in a proper theater setting. I’m also torn between seeing The Kid and Children of a Lesser God, and some others I’d like to try and see are either The Keys of the Kingdom, The Yearling, The Big Sleep, and Love Me or Leave Me.

  8. Seriously Laura, I love Dark Victory, it's such a significant film for me, but do I want to start with such a downer? Are you going to post your list? Hopefully we'll get to do some screenings together!

    Odestodust--I'm pretty sure I'm going to do Amazing Film Discoveries now too. I keep thinking about how much I enjoyed Bromberg's program last year.

    I would have liked to have seen the Freshman, but I agree, the poolside venue just doesn't work. Love your list; I've seen The Big Sleep in a theater before and it was fantastic!

  9. As always, it looks like we'll be crossing paths quite often! Like you, I'm hugely excited for Anna Karina. I was really interested in The Endless Summer, but I was also a little nervous about her being in one of the smaller venues. So instead, I'm skipping Endless and doing Hollywood Home Movies instead so I'll have more time to get in line.

  10. Yay Angela! Great minds think alike eh? I'm not surprised we're on the same page again this year. Let's call it the "Little Edie Factor". I was disappointed to have a conflict with the Endless Summer screening. That was one of the first announcements that interested me. Seemed like the choices were more difficult this year.

  11. I wish I could go to one of the TCM festivals but maybe one day. It still seems weird to me that 60s, 70s and 80s films are considered classic movies but I guess that's the march of time. There still looks like there are a couple of really rare films showing so I hope you have fun!

  12. Russell, if you can pinch some pennies and make it some year, you won't regret it! I also consider "classic" to be more the studio age, but I do enjoy some of the newer films. My feeling is that TCM curates the best titles and gives me the chance to see things I otherwise might not see or appreciate. Fortunately, the festival is still heavy on the older films though. I'll keep you all updated on everything, so you will feel like you are there!

  13. I can't wait for Thursday. This will be my first time. Woohoo! Here's my picks. https://marysmondaymatinee.wordpress.com/2016/04/24/tcm-film-festival/ Thanks for sharing your picks. Super interesting. I'm also going to try for Joan then Angela despite conventional wisdom saying it can't be done. ; )

  14. Thanks for sharing your picks Mary. So funny actually, I took a look at them this morning! Can't remember how I got the link. I'm still struggling with the Joan/Angela thing. Don't know if I'm going to try it or not. The thing is though, I have never been turned away from a screening at TCMFF. That isn't to say it couldn't happen, but I have every reason to have faith! You're going to have a blast!