Daily | TCM Classic Film Festival 2014


‘Sorcerer’ (1977)

The fifth edition of the TCM Classic Film Festival opens in Hollywood tonight and runs through the weekend. “Coinciding with TCM’s 20th anniversary as a leading authority in classic film, attendees will be treated to an extensive lineup of great movies, appearances by legendary stars and filmmakers, fascinating presentations and panel discussions, special events and more,” writes Melissa Thompson at We Are Movie Geeks, where she notes that a tribute to Mickey Rooney‘s been added to the lineup, a screening of National Velvet (1944) on Sunday morning. And TCM itself will be showing Rooney movies all day Sunday, starting at 6am.

“While TCM continues to redefine classic film, TCMCFF redefines the classic film experience,” writes Diana Drumm at Indiewire. TCM’s “programming has evolved from focusing on ‘Classic Hollywood’ (or what Film 101 students would remember as that week with the Hays Code talk) to a more-embracing definition of classic film, exemplified by the Peabody-winning series The Story of Film: An Odyssey, which combined the 15 installments of Mark Cousins’s documentary with 119 complementary films ranging from Thomas Edison shorts to The 400 Blows and Reservoir Dogs.”

Among the highlights of this year’s TCMCFF Drumm mentions are “the still flame-haired Maureen O’Hara” introducing How Green Was My Valley (1941) and Richard Dreyfuss introducing The Goodbye Girl (1977) even as “Leonard Maltin hosts a tribute to Hubley Animation while the all-black musical Stormy Weather (highlighted by Lena Horne’s career-making performance) and the noir version of The Great Gatsby (with Alan Ladd, not DiCaprio or Redford, in the lead) are screened in adjacent theaters.”

“This really is my Coachella,” Allison Anders tells Oliver Jones, who notes in his piece for Los Angeles Magazine that the “theme of this year’s fest is Family in the Movies: The Ties That Bind, and Anders will be on hand to introduce the 3pm Friday screening of Martin Scorsese’s 1974 comic drama Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, which earned Ellen Burstyn an Oscar for Best Actress. ‘I couldn’t believe they asked me,’ says Anders. ‘I have to say what a perfect fit. This movie was the only movie I had to refer to for Gas Food Lodging [Anders’s 1992 film]. Besides Imitation of Life there were few movies that had a strong single mom just trying to get by while raising her child and navigating her sexuality. I couldn’t be happier.'”

Jerry Lewis will be on hand for a screening of The Nutty Professor (1963), Kim Novak for Bell, Book and Candle (1958), Anna Kendrick for The Women (1939), Quincy Jones for The Pawnbroker (1964)—and William Friedkin for Sorcerer (1977).

Sorcerer, a remake of Henri-Georges Clouzot’s The Wages of Fear (1953) “was recently given a full 4K digital restoration, bringing it back to life and facilitating its continued reassessment,” writes Corey Atad for Movie Mezzanine. “Clouzot’s original, the story of four men driving two trucks carrying nitroglycerine across the jungle to put out an oil well fire, is a work of dark suspense; bleak, but full to the brim with humanist sympathy for its characters. Friedkin, ever the wretch, fashions the same overall structure and material into a work equal parts compelling and mocking of its own characters…. Friedkin used the capital he’d earned off The French Connection and The Exorcist to make this epic suspense story. The production was something of a disaster and the movie flopped hard in the face of Star Wars. For too long Sorcerer had been relegated to the pile of overly ambitious, failed Hollywood New Wave films waiting for rediscovery. Taken all these years later, with that history as mere anecdotal context, it’s easy to be repelled by the film’s relentless bleakness, but it’s even easier to be entranced by its immense scale, impeccable craft and astonishing suspense.”

Atad notes that, before Sorcerer hits Blu-ray, it’ll screen on Saturday, Tuesday and Friday at TIFF Cinematheque in Toronto; it’s also headed to Cinefamily in Los Angeles next week.


Updates: “Given Peter Jackson and James Cameron’s current embrace of high-frame-rate, there’s an added importance to Fox’s restoration of the roadshow Oklahoma!, which opens the TCM Classic Film Fest tonight at the TCL Chinese IMAX Theater,” writes Bill Desowitz at Thompson on Hollywood. “In addition to being shot in Todd-AO large format, the beloved 1955 musical from Rodgers & Hammerstein also experimented with 30 frames to further stave off competition from TV. The result is almost holographic.”

Dennis Cozzalio breaks down his plans for each day of the festival.

Updates, 4/11: On Saturday (tomorrow!), Quentin Tarantino will celebrate Jerry Lewis by screening four personal prints—Don’t Give Up the Ship (1959), Boeing, Boeing (1965), At War With the Army (1950) and Hollywood or Bust (1956)—at the New Beverly—for free. Nikara Johns has details in Variety.

Meantime, at Cinema Scope: “Sorcerer is fascinating on two levels,” writes Adam Nayman: “as the work of a filmmaker riding a wave of success, and also of a movie brat measuring himself against one of his idols. Where it fails, however, is in the more prosaic department of actually being a good movie.”

Updates, 4/17: At the Dissolve, Noel Murray wishes TCM a happy 20th anniversary: “The people at TCM are carrying on the curatorial tradition of critics, festival programmers, and repertory theaters, assembling blocks of movies that enhance each other and educate the viewer. And they’re not snobs about it.”

At Cinephiled, Danny Miller looks back on eight personal highlights from this year’s festival.

Update, 4/20: In his dispatch to the House Next Door, Dennis Cozzalio notes that “nostalgia is hard-wired into the very idea of a festival devoted to classic films, and the fact that TCMFF has become such a solid draw as a vacation destination for thousands of folks from all around the country and the world, young and old alike, speaks volumes about the success it’s enjoyed in translating the reverence of an older generation of film appreciation into more market-friendly terms.”

Update, 4/25: At Movie Morlocks, Susan Doll looks back on the festival and notes that “while waiting in line with other fest-goers, conversations drifted to the rapidly declining roster of Hollywood legends available to attend these events…. My solution would be to line up more presentations by scholars or industry personnel. While that might sound too academic, the presentations that I caught at this year’s festival were anything but.”

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