The TCM Classic Film Festival is packed with the types of movies you would expect — and a few you wouldn't — but what makes it special are the new interpretations of old favorites and appearances by some of the stars and filmmakers who created the classics.
Throughout the weekend, we will highlight a few of the screenings and events.
The festival opens with "All the President's Men," a 1976 Academy Award best picture nominee starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman as the journalistic dynamic duo of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. Based on the book by "Woodstein," scripted by William Goldman and directed by Alan J. Pakula, "All the President's Men" crackles like a thriller despite its well-known outcome. The excellent supporting cast includes Oscar winner Jason Robards as Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee, Jack Warden, Martin Balsam, Hal Holbrook, Jane Alexander and Ned Beatty.
Times' critic Charles Champlin immediately labeled the film a "classic" upon its release, writing that it "is, quite beyond anything else, an engrossing mystery movie, with atmosphere, suspense, surprise, conflict, danger, secret messages, clandestine meetings, heroes, villains and a cast of leading and supporting characters that might have emerged from an unlikely collaboration of, let us say, Gore Vidal and Raymond Chandler."
Buoyed by comparisons with this year's Oscar winner, "Spotlight," the film celebrates 40 years and wears it well, feeling both prescient in its reveal of the nasty direction American politics was heading and perfectly of its time — a healthy combination of 1970s grit and paranoia. Besides both films demonstrating the societal impact of shoe-leather reporting, they share a strand of actual DNA. Ben Bradlee Jr., the son of Robards' character in "All the President's Men," followed in his father's footsteps, working as an editor at the Boston Globe, and is a character in "Spotlight," played by John Slattery.
Bradlee Jr. will attend the screening and participate in a Friday afternoon panel, "From Headlines to Ticket Lines: Journalism on the Big Screen," with "Spotlight" co-screenwriter Josh Singer, television news producer Mary Mapes and writer-director James Vanderbilt, whose 2015 film "Truth" (starring Redford as Dan Rather) was based on Mapes' memoir of her experiences at CBS.
A key difference between "All the President's Men" and "Spotlight" is how they got made. Redford got involved with Woodward and Bernstein before their book was even written, as the story was still evolving. In 2006, Redford told The Times, "My initial idea was a little black-and-white movie that would have two unknowns that was simply a film about what these guys did the summer of 1972, not having any clue where the whole thing was going to go."
Redford, who bought the film rights for $450,000 through Warner Bros., basically anticipated the need for "Spotlight" to be produced independently, stating that a major studio no longer would make a film like "All the President's Men."
"The whole formula for filmmaking has drastically changed," he said. "The audiences have changed. The adult fare pretty much resides in the independent film area." Proving his point, "All the President's Men" was the third-highest grossing feature film released in 1976, while "Spotlight" finished 62nd among 2015 films — yet it is still considered a success for a film of its scale.
If you can't score a ticket to opening night at the TCL Chinese Theatre, "All the President's Men" is also available on Amazon Prime and on DVD.
Also screening Thursday is "One Potato, Two Potato," a groundbreaking 1964 drama about interracial marriage. Barbara Barrie, who later starred in TV's "Barney Miller" and the 1979 movie "Breaking Away," won an acting award at the Cannes International Film Festival for her portrayal of a mother in a custody battle over her daughter. Barrie and director Larry Peerce will participate in a discussion with film scholar Donald Bogle prior to the film. Chinese Multiplex, April 28, 7:30 p.m.
For something a little different, try a poolside screening of Harold Lloyd's 1925 silent film "The Freshman," featuring a live DJ re-score by Thomas Golubic. A Grammy-nominated record producer, Golubic is also a music supervisor with credits including "Six Feet Under," "Breaking Bad" and "The Walking Dead." He previously created new music mixes for such classic films as "2001: A Space Odyssey" (1968) and "Taxi Driver" (1976).
Directed by Sam Taylor and Fred Newmeyer, "The Freshman" stars Lloyd as a nerdy college student who attempts to be a football star. When The Times' Edwin Schallert reviewed the film in May 1925, three months before its release, it was titled "Rah-Rah-Rah!" Schallert described it as a "good, old sure-fire story of the chap who everybody ridiculed, but who finally made good." Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, April 28, 7 p.m.