My TCMFF Picks 2017: Newbie Edition


In just two short weeks I’ll be attending my first-ever TCM Classic Film Festival! To say I’m thrilled is an understatement. This has been eight years in the making, and I can’t wait to meet like-minded fans in person and watch old favorites and new discoveries the way they were meant to be seen.

The festival takes place April 6-9 in Hollywood and this year’s theme is Make ‘Em Laugh: Comedy in the Movies. There will still be plenty of films from other genres to balance things out as well as special events and presentations.

Although I didn’t get a media credential this time, I’ll still be posting as much coverage as possible for this blog that will make me worthy of one next year. I’ll be sharing moments and photos on Twitter and Facebook throughout the fest as well.

Our trivia team buttons! Design by Kate Gabrielle. Photo courtesy of Diana Bosch.

I’ll also channel my high school knowledge bowl and Jeopardy! nut self in the TCM Backlot Trivia Contest, which will occur throughout the festival. My team’s name is “The Holden Girls (and Dave)” and the tournament is bound to be a blast (we even have cute buttons!). I’m still unsure as to exactly how the tournament will operate and since some of the matches will take place during screenings, I didn’t quite take them into account while planning my tentative schedule. I figured I’d go with the flow.

My selection criteria:

  • Unique experiences I’d unlikely have anywhere else
  • Special guests I must see
  • New-to-me vs. already seen
  • Film accessibility outside of the festival

**Schedule is not binding. Changes subject to hunger, exhaustion, laziness, poor timing, last-minute changes of heart, Backlot Trivia Tournament happenings, etc.

Thursday, April 6

I’ll start the day with the TCM Backlot “Ask Ben” event, followed by the First-Timers and Hitchcock meetups and the TCM Backlot Trivia tournament. After that, on to the movies!


Love Crazy (1941)

Though the documentary Dawson City: Frozen in Time (2016) sounds fascinating, Love Crazy calls my name. I’ve never seen it before, and I can’t pass up William Powell and Myrna Loy.


The Man Who Knew too Much (1934)

Early Hitchcock on a rare nitrate print? Sold.

Friday, April 7

Friday’s schedule was difficult to plan because there are a number of great options and several blocks overlap.


Hand and Footprint Ceremony: Carl and Rob Reiner

This definitely falls into my “unique experience” and “special guests I must see” categories. There’s no way I’m going to miss father and son show business legends immortalize their handprints at TCL Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. I don’t feel too bad about missing Ginger Rogers in Rafter Romance (1933) since the film is on the TCM schedule in June, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a Beat the Devil (1953) TBA slot on Sunday.


Monkey Business (1931)

Watching a Marx Brothers film on the big screen is a bucket list item, and seeing one that’s new to me will be even more exciting.


The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

It’s like TCM knew I was attending this year, because there are THREE movies on the festival schedule starring my Dead Movie Boyfriend™ William Holden: Born Yesterday (1950), Stalag 17 (1953), and TBOTRK (1957), with Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek introducing the latter two. While I adore all three films I think I’ll go with the unique experience of a David Lean epic on the IMAX screen at TCL Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. It seems Trebek is also a big Holden fan, so that should make it even more fun.

Unfortunately, the nearly 3-hour run time of TBOTRK means I’ll have to miss Jean Harlow in Read-Headed Woman (1932), but that’s the way it crumbles, cookie-wise.


High Anxiety (1977) with Mel Brooks

This block was a Sophie’s Choice for me: High Anxiety with Mel Brooks IN THE FLESH or my favorite noir Laura (1944) on nitrate? Ultimately, High Anxiety has the edge because I’ve never seen it and I want to see Mel Brooks in person. There will be other nitrate opportunities.


Zardoz (1974) 

From the stories I’ve heard from previous festivals, I want to experience the fun and insanity of a midnight movie, especially this Sean Connery trainwreck—as long as I don’t crash first.

Saturday, April 8


This is Cinerama (1952)

This was a tough decision. I felt a pull toward Stalag 17 for obvious reasons, and The China Syndrome (1979) and The Court Jester (1955) also piqued my interest. But “unique experience” might win again, so I’ll spend the morning at the Cinerama Dome with the rarely seen This is Cinerama in its original format.

The film’s run time and commute to the Cinerama Dome will cut into the next block of films, but I’ve seen Rear Window (1954) countless times and own The Awful Truth (1937) and The Great Dictator (1940) on DVD. Plus, it will be nice to have time to refuel before the next movie.


The Underworld Story (1950) 

Since I already will have seen Carl Reiner at his hand/footprint ceremony (good Lord willing) and The Jerk (1979) is easily accessible on TV and DVD, I’ll check out lesser-known noir The Underworld Story. The fact that it was released a year before Billy Wilder’s Ace in the Hole and caught the attention of the House Un-American Activities Committee gives it the upper hand.


Theodora Goes Wild (1936)

Though the prospect of the new-to-me cult classic Best in Show (2000) with the cast in attendance is tempting, I’d rather see Illeana Douglas introduce her grandfather Melvyn Douglas and my underappreciated fave Irene Dunne in the also-new-to-me Theodora Goes Wild.


Black Narcissus (1947)

I’ll be ending the night with a nitrate print of Powell and Pressburger’s Black Narcissus, which I’ll be seeing for the first time. From what I’ve heard about the cinematography it’s bound to be breathtaking on the big screen.

Preston Sturges’s dark comedy Unfaithfully Yours (1948) also caught my attention, but it’s a Criterion DVD and could be a TBA screening on Sunday.

Sunday, April 9

My Sunday schedule is the most tentative of the weekend due to the large number of TBA slots, but here’s what I’m going with at the time of writing:


Cock of the Air (1932)

I’ll be up early to secure a spot for this one. The film’s censorship and restoration history was enough to seal the deal for me and certainly many others. Not sure what my backup will be at this point, since Lured and The Front Page will run into The Palm Beach Story. I may just forgo a film and grab some food.


The Palm Beach Story (1942)

A film that has evaded me despite multiple showings on TCM. I stumbled upon it last summer when it was playing at Bryant Park in NYC but I left after the first 10 minutes; outdoors is not the ideal environment for watching a movie for the first time (see: crowd noise, audio trouble, people stepping on/over you, etc.). Luckily for me, the TCMFF environment is much more ideal. Also, Joel McCrea.


What’s Up, Doc? (1972)

I missed the TCM/Fathom engagement of Singin’ in the Rain in January, but it’s so popular that it’s bound to play again almost anywhere. What’s Up, Doc? has been on my list for a while and the presence of director Peter Bogdanovich makes this a priority.


Lady in the Dark (1944)

I’ve already seen Casablanca on the big screen and won’t be upset if I skip it, though I’m sure it will be a fun close to the festival. Speedy with live orchestral accompaniment is tempting, but I expect that one to sell out fast and I don’t want to risk being shut out. Right now I think I’ll venture into uncharted territory with the bizarre-sounding Lady in the Dark on nitrate. It doesn’t rule out the TBA slot just yet, however. Whatever I choose is bound to be memorable.

What are your top TCMFF picks? Any advice for this TCMFF newbie? If you’re a blogger who also wrote a post on your TCMFF picks, please leave a link in the comments so I can include it here.

See you in Hollywood!

Check out these picks from other bloggers!

Once Upon A Screen

Blog of the Darned

Thirty Hertz Rumble

I See A Dark Theater

Joel’s Classic Film Passion

Journeys in Classic Film

The Hollywood Revue


Christy’s Inkwells

Flickin’ Out

Silents and Talkies

Classic Film Obsessions

12 thoughts on “My TCMFF Picks 2017: Newbie Edition”

  1. You will never be the same…Last year was my first time at the festival. It was an AMAZING experience and the people you will meet….Look for me @donnalamour

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I think I already told you this on Twitter, but you’re going to have a blast. It looks like you have realistic expectations about planning. This will be my fourth TCMFF, and I always fudge my plans a bit once I get there. Looking at your schedule, we have seven in common. I will add a link to your picks from mine. In fact, you have ones I hadn’t found yet, so I’m going to link to those as well. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

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