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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Specht

TCM Announces First Films of Upcoming Film Fest, the Excitement Begins

It’s festival number five for me, six for those like my daughter Carrie (creator and editor of this site) who were there from the very beginning since the first year. And there’s a simple reason for the yearly return, and that’s if you attend the festival once you’ll never let it go forward without you. While the classic film fan is there it feels like home and quickly becomes a part of them. Returning every year ever after just makes since. Kind of like students on winter break going home or the swallows to Capistrano.

So, the first day I knew the dates of this year’s fest I got my airline tickets and confirmed my reservation at the Roosevelt Hotel. The aforementioned daughter had already taken the precaution of reserving a room for every weekend in April and a few in March and May before we even knew the dates, so I’d be sure to get a room (yeah, we’re that dedicated). Now I watch my email for announcements, which act as the slow unfolding of a menu of treats that include wonderful experiences, potential sweet revisits to old favorites, and the introduction to films I never knew existed before the TCMFF.

Spartacus (one of the first films announced for the 2015 schedule) will be a definite treat. After all, we’re talking about Kirk Douglas in a block buster of a movie from the days when he and I were both younger. Watching the epic film on the big screen will make me feel as young and fit as the star looks. And by all accounts Douglas may still be available for a public appearance. At 98 that really would be an experience I’m not likely to miss.

The opening night gala screening of The Sound of Music falls into the category of a sweet revisit to the joy of the academy award winning film. With memorable songs, beautiful scenery, and the lovely, funny, poignant tale of the von Trapp family it’s sure to be the ideal start to a long weekend of sweet remembrances. Sadly, only those with VIP passes will be able to see the new restoration screening, which leaves me out of experiencing the event directly. However, there’s still the enchantment and excitement of the night that fills the air around the Chinese Theatre and the surrounding area of Hollywood Boulevard. It’s nearly as palpable as the smell of popcorn wafting through the air within a one block radius. And then there’s the specially selected Silent film. One of the most wonderful experiences I ever had at the TCMFF was watching The Thief of Bagdad (with Douglas Fairbanks) at closing night two years ago. That’s why I await this year’s selection with great anticipation. Buster Keaton’s Steamboat Bill Jr. is already on my dance card. Hopefully, there will be a few more silents I can add to it.

Each and every announcement of additional films is a present of promised pleasure. I revel in the expectation. Although it would be impossible, I refuse to accept that I will not be able to see them all. In the end, of course, I will have to make some tough choices. It’s like standing at the counter at the candy store with one’s small allowance clutched tight in hand and inventorying the offerings, trying to decide between old favorites and new temptations. I will plot my budget of time, try to be realistic about travel time between theaters, estimate the number of energy bars I will have to purchase to replace missed meals, and change my mind a dozen times before my final schedule is officially set.

In the meantime I think of the films that might be announced. Like others, I have a very long list of want to sees. I’m also anxious to see what total unknown presentation may be added to my life time list of favorites. Some years ago, Went The Day Well? came out of left field and I almost didn’t see it. I seriously considered going for a burger instead. Fortunately, my better instincts took hold. Included on my watch list is the name of the Western that usually gets tossed into the mix, and then there’s the usual Fred Astaire film that I definitely make time to see. Then there’s the satiny, dark, Noir film that will also vie for my precious time.

This year I can’t help but speculate how many of the festival’s films will be ones my aging mother saw with her grandmother during their weekly tradition of theater going in the magical year of 1939. She was just 15 back then, but at 91 she still remembers those outings fondly. I envy her that. Mom was there when most of these films, whatever they may be, first came out. Thanks to the TCMFF those of us who aren’t quite as old have the opportunity of knowing what the feeling of seeing grand old movies on the big screen is actually like. The festival may be four days long but the pleasures it provides extends ever after. Mom can tell you that.

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