TCM Classic Film Festival (Los Angeles)

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TCM’s Classic Film Festival begins today in Los Angeles. What a lovely idea. Why not have these roll out in select theaters all across the country? I’d love to see some of my favorite classic films on the big screen after all these years. Must-see’s from this year’s festival include The Sound of Music, Grease, Lawrence of Arabia, The Purple Rose of Cairo, Norma Rae, Apollo 13, Rebecca, Malcolm X, The Apartment, History of the World, Part 1, Christmas in July, Calamity Jane, The Philadelphia Story, and The Children’s Hour (Shirley MacLaine will be in attendance).

Absolutes cannot miss choices:

10:00 PM
Egyptian Theatre
Producer David O. Selznick’s vision is as important as director Alfred Hitchcock’s in this 1940 Best Picture Oscar winner, yet it contains enough of the Master of Suspense’s trademarks to make it a favorite for many of his fans. From the producer came the sumptuous production values and close adherence to the source novel by Daphne du Maurier, which makes it a rarity among Hitchcock’s films as he preferred to put his own stamp on all his movies, even adaptations. The result is a compelling story of the second Mrs. de Winter (Joan Fontaine), a shy young woman haunted by the thought of husband Laurence Olivier’s glamorous  first wife and the baleful presence of Mrs. Danvers (Judith Anderson), the deceased woman’s devoted housekeeper. Hitchcock used his customary technical precision, with miniatures and matte paintings creating a suitably lush vision of the family estate, Manderley. He manipulated Fontaine into a strong performance, drawing on her insecurities about starring in her first major film and at one point, at her request, slapping her before a scene. More important, however, was his ability to generate suspense by mining the characters’ psychological complexities. In particular, he made Mrs. Danvers a menacing character by never showing her walking, so that she just appeared wherever Fontaine was, a touch that has kept her one of the screen’s best-remembered villains. (d. Alfred Hitchcock, 130m, 35mm)
12:00 AM
Chinese Multiplex House 6
Critics and audiences detested this Elizabeth Taylor-Richard Burton film about a poet labeled the “Angel of Death” because of his attraction to wealthy women nearing their ends. Even one of its greatest fans, John Waters (1972’s Pink Flamingos), labels it “beyond bad. It’s the other side of camp.” Yet Tennessee Williams—who adapted the screenplay from his The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore, which flopped twice on Broadway—considered it the best screen version of any of his plays. Despite critics’ complaints, the film has an almost irresistible charm. Part of the  fascination is watching the actors play characters with parallels to their own lives. Taylor is Flora “Sissy” Goforth, a woman who has survived multiple marriages without losing her uncanny beauty. Burton is a poet whose spark of genius makes him catnip for the ladies (and one gentleman, the Witch of Capri, played by Noel Coward). In addition, a team of top professionals—including director Joseph Losey and cinematographer Douglas Slocombe—have made the picture captivatingly beautiful. Losey did location work in Sardinia, where the Mediterranean has an almost unearthly blue. The studio sets are baroque masterpieces, while Taylor wears a stunning collection of black-and-white costumes. The results are so dazzling you won’t want to tear your eyes from the screen. (d. Joseph Losey, 110m, 35mm)

Hat tip to The Film Experience.
See all the listings at TCM Classic Film Festival’s site.

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