An annual destination for classic movie lovers, TCM’s Classic Film Festival this year runs April 26-29 in Hollywood.
With a substantial selection of classics on offer — ranging from titles everyone knows to far more obscure gems — TCM on-air hosts Ben Mankiewicz, Dave Karger and Alicia Malone share their personal can’t-miss picks.
Ben Mankiewicz, TCM Host
1. Opening night
I don’t want to kid anyone — presenting Martin Scorsese with the first annual Robert Osborne award on the same stage where — 15 minutes later — I get to interview writer-director-comedian-composer Mel Brooks before a screening of “The Producers,” on its 50th anniversary, is a substantial moment in my career.
2. Cicely Tyson’s hand- and footprint honor
I get the honor of emceeing the long overdue event on Friday, which mostly means getting out of the way so friends and colleagues of Tyson can honor her. Later the same day, she’ll join me for a Q&A before a screening of “Sounder,” which may be the definitive family film of my youth. Also, spoiler alert, “Sounder” isn’t nearly as sad as you remember it.
3. “Fail Safe”
Thursday night, after the flash and sizzle of Opening Night, I get the chance to have a conversation with one of the great screenwriters of the 20th century before one of the great political pictures of the century. The writer: Walter Bernstein. The movie: “Fail Safe.” Bernstein was blacklisted after his name appeared in “Red Channels,” perhaps the most damaging piece of garbage ever published in the United States (and Steven Seagal has written a book). Mercifully, the blacklist had been broken by the time Bernstein wrote “Fail Safe,” a dark, distressing and depressingly authentic examination of how nuclear war could start accidentally. It came out the same year as Kubrick’s “Dr. Strangelove,” which approached precisely the same subject matter satirically. They’re both perfect films, but only “Fail Safe” will make you want to quit your job and live off the grid like Jesse Ventura.
4. Eva Marie Saint
My assignments also include a conversation with one of my favorite people of all time, no lie: Eva Marie Saint, before a screening of Fred Zinneman’s wildly underrated “A Hatful of Rain.” Spending time with Eva Marie is like being with your grandmother if your grandmother had an Oscar and was one of the kindest, sweetest, most charming people on the planet. So nothing like being with your grandmother.
Dave Karger, TCM Host
1. “Leave Her to Heaven”
I’m not sure there was ever a more glamorous leading lady than Gene Tierney, so it should be thrilling to see her follow-up to Laura projected on rare color-popping nitrate film stock.
The pioneering gay Merchant/Ivory drama contains Hugh Grant’s first leading film role and is a must-see for fans of “Call Me By Your Name,” for which Maurice director James Ivory just won a screenplay Oscar, his first.
3. “Places in the Heart”
Sally Field’s second Oscar came for this affecting period drama examining Southern racism with a phenomenal cast including Danny Glover, Ed Harris, Amy Madigan, and John Malkovich.
Alicia Malone, TCM Host
Hitchcock in nitrate! I’m looking forward to seeing this thriller about psychoanalysis on nitrate film — the sparkling black and white, the luminous Ingrid Bergman and charming Gregory Peck… but especially curious to see how the Salvador Dalí dream sequences look.
2. “Woman of the Year”
Hard to turn down the chance to see Hepburn and Tracy on the big screen. And this is one of my favorites of their collaborations, a surprisingly feminist (for its time) story where Hepburn’s character is a political reporter and quite a workaholic. These two had a wonderful rapport, and its so present here.
3. “My Brilliant Career”
I cannot wait to meet director Gillian Armstrong, whom I grew up watching in Australia! She will be at the festival. And this was the first film I saw by her. Set in the late 19th century, starring the brilliant Aussie actor Judy Davis and Kiwi Sam Neill, with breathtaking scenery of New South Wales in Australia. It’ll make me homesick!
Follow on Twitter: @IndieFocus