Classic movie buffs know how important it is to make a grand entrance. Turner Classic Movies have put all of its efforts into bringing back the TCM Film Festival, which will take place this week in Hollywood.
The festival begins Thursday, after two years’ worth of virtual editions caused by the pandemic. Steven Spielberg will help kick off the festivities and celebrate the 40th Anniversary of “E.T.” The Extra-Terrestrial. Drew Barrymore, Henry Thomas, Dee Wallace, and Robert MacNaughton will all be present at the TCL Chinese Theatre, where they will have a discussion with Ben Mankiewicz from TCM, prior to the new IMAX reconstruction of the 1982 film.
This is the first time Spielberg will attend the festival. He’ll also be there to present a 4K restoration from George Stevens’ film “Giant,” starring Elizabeth Taylor (Rock Hudson) and James Dean.
“E.T.” The reunion isn’t the first of many 40-years. Kevin Bacon, Tim Daly Steve Guttenberg, Steve Guttenberg, and Paul Reiser will be reunited to discuss and screen Barry Levinson’s film “Diner.” Aileen Quinn, John Huston’s lead actress in “Annie,” will join Alicia Malone.
The festival will highlight talent like Bruce Dern, Piper Laurie, who is now 85 years old, “Carrie,” “The Hustler,” Twin Peaks,” and “Children of a Lesser God,” as well as Floyd Norman (86), an animator who worked on everything from “Sleeping Beauty”, “The Jungle Book” up to “Toy Story 2.” Cast members of “Cooley High,” “A League of Their Own”, will be available to discuss their films. Lily Tomlin, who will also commemorate her Hollywood legacy by performing a hand-and-footprint ceremony outside of TCL Chinese Theatre, will also be there.
TCM’s general Manager, Pola Chagnon, said “It is a proverbial embarrassing of riches.” “Having people reunited in these venues is so special.”
Chagnon, along with other festival organizers, are “giddy” at finally being able to gather once again at historic locations on Hollywood Boulevard, from the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel to the Chinese Theatre. Both of these venues have been home to past Academy Awards ceremonies. They have located just steps from Oscar’s current home, Dolby Theatre. While red lipstick and fedoras may not be required, many attendees like to wear them and pay tribute to Hollywood’s golden era for film screenings or talks.
There are screenings not only of the well-known films “Singin’ In the Rain,” “Tootsie,” and “Paper Moon”, but also “obscure gems” that aren’t readily available.
Chagnon explained that fans have “eccentric tastes.” “Some people like to see things that they haven’t seen before. Some people desire to see new things. They desire the discoveries.
One such find is “The French Way”, a 1945 romantic comedy that stars Josephine Baker as the owner of a nightclub in WWII France. This film has never been seen before in Los Angeles. Another digital copy is “The Pajama Game,” which was tied up with rights issues over years. It also coincides with what would have been Doris Day’s 100th Birthday year.
Charlie Tabesh who is responsible for the programming said that “I get excited people are going to discover things”.
He looks forward to Herbert Ross’s “The Last of Sheila”, a cult classic whodunnit that was written and directed by Stephen Sondheim in 1973, which stars James Coburn, Dyancannon, and Richard Benjamin.
The Hollywood Roosevelt will again be the home of the festival. Since opening in 1927, it has hosted the likes of Marilyn Monroe and Charlie Chaplin. It will also serve as the festival’s headquarters. The festival will feature panel discussions featuring honorees Laurie and Dern. Also, there will be poolside screenings such as “Fast Times” at Ridgemont High, “Soylent Green”, and “Blue Hawaii.” It is also where the closing night party will be held on Sunday.
A live reading of “I Married a Monster from Outer Space” will be held with David Koechner & Laraine Neuman.
“One of our filters is “What can you do in your daily life that you don’t think would be as enjoyable if it were on the internet?” Chagnon said. “Something as a live-read and a late screening bring a different kinda juice to the moment. There are always things that can go wrong. You can even hear the laughter of others around you, which makes it an unforgettable experience.”
Each TCM festival also has its unique moments that are not programmed, such as watching a film icon watch one of the films. Chagnon fondly reminisces sitting in a theatre years ago with Tony Curtis and seeing Curtis respond to his jokes.
“Some of the talents haven’t seen an audience for a long while,” she stated. “Understanding their work lives on, new audiences are seeing it and that they’re still respected and valued? That opportunity is rare.