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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Specht

TCMFF the 2nd Time is No Easier

Amanda Glenn anticipates her second trip to the TCM Classic Film Festival (and I’ve throw in a little running commentary of my own).

Well, I can almost smell the popcorn. I can hear it popping, and the sizzly sound hotdogs make on those little carousel-roasting things that movie theaters use. I can also hear the bass note of a growing crowd lining up excited to see a film. The level of sound swells into a low rumble that glides up to a tenor as the line lengthens, and then slides back down as the people move, their individual voices becoming lost in a cacophony, garbled gabble as seats are selected. The sound continues to rise until it is suddenly, totally supplanted by the score of the film’s opening credits.

(I know exactly how Amanda Glenn feels. No doubt every returning attendee of the first two TCM Classic Film Festivals relates to this sensation. In fact, I get an over whelming gleeful feeling every time I receive a Festival update and have boxes of movie theater candy standing by on my desk in order to enjoy these emails in the proper atmosphere).

I have received a partial list of the films for this year’s TCM Classic Film Festival, April 12-15 in Hollywood. One read through and the smell of the popcorn, the rush of the sounds, flooded in and pulled at me, sent me running to the calendar to mark off the days. And need I add, sent me to the computer to make flight reservations. Then I sat down to reread the list of films and despite its being only a partial list, well short of the eventual number of films to be offered, I began to try and sort out my priorities. Which film is an absolute must see? An easy answer: all of them. Obviously, I am going to have to be more decisive, there are serious decisions to be made. Luckily, I have several weeks to fight the good fight and map out my strategy. Unluckily, no plan is ever perfect and I expect one, or two, (or three, or a dozen) adjustments are likely. The only thing sweeter than anticipation is the actual feast and what a feast it is to be.

(Oh, how I wish I could tell you, Amanda that the experience of your first festival will help you with your selections in your second year, but that just isn’t the case. If anything, it just gets more and more difficult. Your dedicated plan of attack will waiver feebly when faced on the day with the screening choices over which you so arduously languished. So, the best advice I can give you is to be ready to fly by the seat of your pants and go with your guts).

HOW THE WEST WAS WON, a movie whose credits run almost as long as the movie, chock full of “A” list stars and a film I have viewed and enjoyed often on the small screen - that is a must see. And FUNNY FACE, that too is a must see. Anytime I can see Fred Astaire on the big screen I’m there. Then there is the Douglas Fairbanks film, THE THIEF OF BAGDAD. How many times have we all seen the scene where he leaps across rooftops, bounces off awnings, setting the bar impossibly high for all future heroes and their stuntmen? No one has ever leapt so gracefully, bounced so high, and smiled so beguilingly while doing it. I have never seen all of THE THIEF OF BAGDAD or GRAND ILLUSION (never even heard of the later in fact,) they are both seriously older than I and were not even being shown on the late night shows by the time I had a TV. Now I have the opportunity to see them, looking good as new, and with a full orchestra to back up Fairbanks’ memorable silent feature. Wow!

(I couldn’t agree with these choices more. They are all excellent, even exceptional films that represent the best of cinematic history. However, the problem is that the final schedule is yet to be completed and undoubtedly, I can promise you, there are bound to be many more equally great films that will be scheduled to screen at the same time! Amanda makes mention of this confounding dilemma in her closing remarks.)

Of course, the Festival promises to have films for all tastes, something the folks at TCM have proven to do well in the past. I can’t wait to see what else appears in the program to further complicate my choices. I can’t wait to see what it is I will finally choose - and how many times I will change my mind. And all the while I will be enjoying the smell of the popcorn to come.

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