Format For A Film Festival
It's already the New Year, so I check my calendar and realize the countdown toward one of my favorite yearly events has begun. I have my room reservations – the Hotel Roosevelt of course. I have my airline tickets and have even booked the car that will take me to the airport (it's a three hour drive my all electric car can’t quite make). Now that the minutia is all taken care of, my mind naturally turns to what I would like to see this year at the TCMFF – Turner Classic Movies Film Festival. What I would to see, that is, if I had my way. You know, if they were planning this festival just for me – perhaps a bit much to expect, but just play along for a minute. There are some basic have to haves...
Something Fred Astaire – I would prefer a musical. He is listed first before all else on imdb.com, after all. And who doesn't like a little debonair and sophistication with their ballroom dancing? Or tap, or jazz, or you name it and the man could dance it. You just know if a films's got Fred Astaire in it you're probably going to be walking out happy. Is there a Fred Astaire film left that the TCMFF hasn't shown? If so, then that's the one!
John Wayne – not necessarily a western. Oddly enough, "The Duke" was in more non-westerns than westerns. Okay, that's not true, but he did do a lot more non-westerns than you might think. I'm a big fan of The Quiet Man for example. And his war films are all great pieces of cinematic workmanship. And I've always had a soft spot in my heart for that one he did with Joan Crawford in Nazi Germany, Reunion in France.
A Western would also be nice, though not necessarily with John Wayne in it. How about a little Joel McCrea, Jimmy Stewart, Gregory Peck, Gary Cooper or Van Heflin? Ride the High Country? The Naked Spur? The Gunfighter? The Westerner? The original 3:10 to Yuma?
I always enjoy a silent film with original music performed live. I still get goose bumps thinking about the viewing the TCMFF had of The Thief of Bagdad. It was a closing night film at the Egyptian and the theater was packed. What a great way to a see something, anything for the first time! There's been a lot of Lloyd and Keaton, so how about some Gish, Hayes or Gaynor?
And we definitely have to have some Cary Grant. How about the one with Ginger Rodgers and Marilyn Monroe? Monkey Business? Or a later comedy, like, Father Goose? Really any Cary Grant, from any decade, will be fine. I don't think you'll get any debates on that subject. And since the man kept busy throughout his life there are plenty of fine films from which to choose.
Of course, for grand spectacular flash you have to have a major blockbuster musical, in color, with music the audience knows the words to, such as There's No Business Like Show Business, Hair, or The Little Mermaid. It's an added bonus if you show one with Howard Keel. Kiss Me Kate?
Belly laugh comedies are always a welcome choice. So, you have to have at least two. Either in black and white or color as long as they can keep the audience laughing. Maybe Martin and Lewis or just Lewis and then you can get another musical in there too.
I definitely like surprises. Seeing something I've never seen before, whether foreign, long lost, or a forgotten gem that ends up being the smash hit of the festival. I still replay in my mind Went The Day Well, the dark horse English entry from three years ago. Who knew something that good could have stayed hidden for so long?
I've also got to have a trio of Noir. Certainly to please those who love the genre, but also to give me a choice as I probably will have seen two of them. But then again, I might not be able to resist watching them all. And if the Noir is a seriously good drama then you can kill two birds with one stone since I like my dramas in black and white. Or in color. It really doesn't make a difference as long as it gets the audience involved and holding its collective breath.
A "Tear Jerker" is always nice. In addition to the drama mind you. I'm talking a good three hanky viewing. I’d love something with Doris Day – Musical or drama actually. The Man Who Knew Too Much perhaps? Or Teacher’s Pet, and then get in a little Clark Gable while we’re at it? I’d even welcome something from Day's early or late career. Maybe Julie or Midnight Lace where there's a deceiving and manipulative man causing all the mischief.
Then there's the hard and fast rule that you can't leave a festival like the TCMFF without a couple of classic "old Hollywood" fixes. A few reminders of the many great actors – the hes and the shes – from the thirties, forties, and fifties that drove the box office in their day and then showed up, late night on black and white TV in the fifties, sixties and seventies. I want to see Tyrone Power, Eve Arden, Walter Slezak, William Powell, Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Melvyn Douglas, Randolph Scott, Ronald Coleman, Jean Author, and, well, the list could go on for pages. When all is said and done, it's going to take more than one year to fit all the classic icons in. I always feel there's someone missing at the table who certainly should be included. But I guess that's what “next year” is for.
April and the 2018 TCMFF is not that far away. Soon, we shall see how well my personal fantasy festival matches up with the efforts of those who have to find, secure, and present their professional choices. I do so appreciate their hard work. I know I won't be alone, so just so you know, that will be me, toward the back on the right aisle, clapping for all I’m worth.