TCMFF rarities & how to follow along from home

March 31, 2017

One week from now I'll be camped out in line outside of the Egyptian Theater waiting to see the 85th anniversary screening of Ernst Lubitsch's 'One Hour With You' at the TCM Film Festival. It's one of the few films that I've circled on my schedule in pen, not pencil. It's a definite. I'll be sharing my full schedule later, but for now I wanted to share the online availability options for all of the movies that will be playing at the festival.

My reason for this post is two-fold. For festival-goers (including myself) I wanted to research the scarcity of the films playing at the festival so that I could factor that into my decision-making process. If a movie isn't even available on VHS, that makes it all the more special to see it at TCMFF! Hopefully this information will help anyone else who prioritizes rarity when they're making their selections for the festival.

I also wanted to share this information for everyone who will be following along from home. A good deal of the films are available online to rent or stream free, so if you're unable to attend the festival but would love to join in conversations about the films, know firsthand what festival-goers are talking about when they start joking about the midnight movie screening (it's bound to happen!), or just join in the movie-going fun from the comfort of your own couch, this list should help you out!

The entire line-up is listed below in alphabetical order, but if you want to follow along in real-time and watch the movies as they play at the festival you can view the schedule on the TCM Film Festival website here, or print my printable version of the schedule here.

Before I get to the whole list, here are the rarest films playing at the 2017 festival:

Cock of the Air (1931)
This movie doesn't seem to be available to stream, to rent, on DVD *or* on VHS. It was restored recently, with 12 minutes of censored footage restored in 2016. The audio was missing, so the Academy had actors recreate the dialogue. Here is a behind-the-scenes look into that process.

Cry, The Beloved Country (1951)
I couldn't find this one streaming or on DVD, but there is a VHS listing on Amazon, right here. My pass level doesn't get me into the opening night screening with Sidney Poitier, so I'm tempted to see this one instead.

Dawson City: Frozen Time (2016)
This isn't available anywhere yet, but since it has a 2016 release date I'd assume it might be on DVD or streaming sometime later this year. In the meantime, here's a peek at the trailer for the documentary about found film footage!

The Incident (1967)
This doesn't seem to be available to stream legally, and it's only available on Region 2 DVD, here. It is, however, currently uploaded to youtube here... but that might not last very long.

King of Hearts (1966)
Although this is available on DVD here, it appears to be out of print and the only copies seem pretty pricey. An added benefit to seeing this one at TCMFF is that the star, Geneviève Bujold, will be there in person!

Lady in the Dark (1944)
This Ray Milland/Ginger Rogers flick seems nearly impossible to find. The only copy I could come up with was a presumably bootleg DVD on ebay. This is another film that is circled in pen - nay, sharpie! - on my schedule. It's a rare film, and they're showing a nitrate copy, to boot!

One Hour With You (1932)
It's available as part of a Lubitsch box set, here, but it doesn't seem to be available individually or to stream.

So This is Paris (1926)
Totally, completely unavailable. I couldn't find anything except a jpeg of a movie poster. This one actually wasn't even on my radar at first, but now I'm definitely considering skipping The Magic Box in favor of this silent Lubitsch (so much Lubitsch!)

Now, on to the full list!

America, America (1963) - Available to rent on Amazon
Arsenic and Old Lace (1944) - Available to rent on Amazon
The Awful Truth (1937) - Available to rent on Amazon
Barefoot in the Park (1967) - Available to rent on Amazon
Beat the Devil (1953) - Prime Video on Amazon
Best in Show (2000) - Available to rent on Amazon
Black Narcissus (1947) Streaming on FilmStruck and available to rent on Amazon
Bonnie and Clyde (1967) - Available to rent on Amazon
Born Yesterday (1950) - Available to rent on Amazon
The Bridge Over the River Kwai (1957) - Available to rent on Amazon
Broadcast News (1987) - Streaming on HBO and available to rent on Amazon
Bye Bye Birdie (1963) - Available to rent on Amazon
Casablanca (1942) - Available to rent on Amazon
Cat People (1942) - Available to rent on Amazon
The China Syndrome (1979) - Available to rent on Amazon
Cock of the Air (1931) - Unavailable
The Court Jester (1955) - Available to rent on Amazon
Cry, The Beloved Country (1951) - Available on VHS
David and Lisa (1962) - Streaming on Fandor and available to rent on Amazon
Dawson City: Frozen Time (2016) - Unavailable
Detective Story (1951) - Available to rent on Amazon
Dr. Strangelove (1964) - Available to rent on Amazon
The Egg and I (1947) - Available to rent on Amazon
The Front Page (1931) - Prime Video on Amazon
The Graduate (1967) - Streaming on Netflix and available to rent on Amazon
The Great Dictator (1940) - Streaming on FilmStruck and available to rent on Amazon
Harold and Maude (1971) - Available to rent on Amazon
Hell is for Heroes (1962) - Available to rent on Amazon
High Anxiety (1977) - Streaming on HBO and available to rent on Amazon
I'm All Right Jack (1959) - Available to rent on Amazon
In the Heat of the Night (1967) - Available to rent on Amazon
The Incident (1967) - Streaming on YouTube and available on Region 2 DVD
It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963) - Available to rent on Amazon
The Jerk (1979) - Available to rent on Amazon
Jezebel (1938) - Available to rent on YouTube, and on DVD
Kentucky Fried Movie (1977) - Prime Video on Amazon
King of Hearts (1966) - Available on DVD
Lady in the Dark (1944) - Unavailable
Lady Sings the Blues (1972) - Available on DVD
The Landlord (1970) - Available to rent on Amazon
The Last Picture Show (1971) - Available to rent on Amazon
Laura (1944) - Streaming on Netflix and available to rent on Amazon
Love Crazy (1941) - Available to rent on YouTube and on DVD
Lured (1947) - Available to rent on Amazon
The Magic Box (1951) - Available to rent on YouTube
The Maltese Falcon (1941) - Available to rent on Amazon
The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) - Streaming on FilmStuck and available to rent on Amazon
Monkey Business (1931) - Available to rent on Amazon
Never Give a Sucker An Even Break - Streaming on YouTube
One Hour With You (1932) - Available on DVD (part of a box set)
The Palm Beach Story (1942) - Available to rent on Amazon
Panique (1946) - Available on DVD
Planet of the Apes (1968) - Available to rent on Amazon
Postcards from the Edge (1990) - Available to rent on Amazon
The Princess Bride (1987) - Streaming on Netflix and available to rent on Amazon
Rafter Romance (1933) - Available on DVD
Rear Window (1954) - Available to rent on Amazon
Red River (1948) - Available to rent on Amazon
Red Headed Woman (1932) - Available to rent on YouTube
Requiem for a Heavyweight (1962) - Available to rent on Amazon
Saturday Night Fever (1977) - Available to rent on Amazon
Singin' in the Rain (1952) - Available to rent on Amazon
So This is Paris (1926) - Unavailable
Some Like it Hot (1959) - Available to rent on Amazon
Speedy (1928) - Streaming on FilmStruck and available to rent on YouTube
Stalag 17 (1953) - Streaming on YouTube and available on DVD
Street Scene (1931) - Streaming on YouTube and available on DVD
Theodora Goes Wild (1936) - Available on DVD
This is Cinerama (1952) Streaming on Fandor and available on DVD
Those Redheads from Seattle (1953) Available on DVD
Top Secret! (1984) - Available to rent on Amazon
Twentieth Century (1934) - Available to rent on Amazon
The Underworld Story (1950) - Available on DVD
Unfaithfully Yours (1948) - Available to rent on Amazon
Vigil in the Night (1940) - Available on DVD
Way Out West (1937) - Available to rent on Amazon
What's Up, Doc? (1972) - Available to rent on Amazon
What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962) - Available to rent on Amazon
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971) - Prime Video on Amazon
Zardoz (1974) - Available to rent on Amazon

Sunday in New York on a Sunday in Hollywood, with Robert Osborne

March 28, 2017

Like most classic movie fans, I've spent a lot of time the last few weeks reflecting back on "Robert Osborne moments" -- memories of personal interactions, recollections of TCM intros that preceded our favorite films, the excitement we felt at TCM events when he walked into the room. He touched so many lives, in so many ways. I wasn't even aware until he passed just how many people in the online classic film set had met him, talked with him, taken pictures with him, corresponded with him. He was so much more than a tv host, he was like a father figure to the entire community. He was our educator, our mentor, our inspiration, and our friend.

On the last day of the 2014 TCM Film Festival, when he walked into the theater to give a surprise introduction for Sunday in New York, I simultaneously felt like I was seeing an old friend, and the biggest movie star who has ever lived. He was such a familiar, comforting figure, but with gravitas and the kind of star-power that made you weak in the knees.

Sunday in New York is one of my favorite movies and this was the first time I had ever seen Robert Osborne in person. There are no words to express how I felt when I realized that ROBERT OSBORNE was going to be introducing MY FAVORITE MOVIE. Despite being starstruck, dumbfounded, overjoyed and otherwise emotionally incapacitated, I somehow had the forethought to whip out my iphone and record the introduction.

While looking through photos from old TCM Festivals this week, I stumbled upon the video on my hard drive and realized I never shared it with you here. I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I did:

This year, unfortunately, we will be missing Robert Osborne's heartfelt, knowledgable introductions, but his presence will definitely be felt by the attendees, as TCM has dedicated the 2017 TCM Film Festival in his honor. There will be a "Remembering Robert" event at the Chinese Multiplex (House 1) at 12:30PM on Thursday, April 6th. In addition, all of the screenings on opening night will be preceded by a tribute video to Mr. O. I also read that they will be screening his 20th Anniversary salute during the festival, but a date and time has yet to be announced.

He will live on as long as there are young people who discover a classic movie one day and hunger for more. His books will be there to guide them, his TCM introductions will be there to inform them and excite them, and his passion for film preservation and historical documentation will have left a treasure trove of material for future film fanatics to feed on. And we, his fans, will carry his love of film, and his devotion to our community, with us always.

Passing Fancy (1933) at The Film Forum with live benshi

March 21, 2017

On Sunday I had the pleasure of seeing Yasujirō Ozu's silent film, Passing Fancy, on the big screen at The Film Forum. That alone would have been enough to sell me on a day trip to NYC but it gets even better! This screening was accompanied by a live piano performance -- composed and performed by Makia Matsumura -- and a live benshi performance by Ichiro Kataoka.

From the beginning of the film era, way back in the late 1800's, benshi performers would narrate silents films in Japan. Initially they were there to explain western customs to Japanese audiences before imported films, but as the medium grew more complicated, so did the benshi's role. Eventually they took to narrating foreign films during the movie, and acting out Japanese silent films in a way that essentially served as live dubbing! The benshi's popularity was so great that it's partially responsible for Japan's reluctance to adopt sound pictures until the mid 1930's! Of course, when the sound era finally began, the role of the benshi faded away. But the art form has been passed down through the generations, and benshi still perform at repertory silent film screenings around the world to this day. It's a rare treat, though, so I was tickled pink to be able to attend this special screening! In introducing the program, Film Forum programmer Bruce Goldstein said that as soon as they heard that Kataoka was going to be in town they immediately bumped something else from their spring lineup in order to accommodate this screening. For something this unique, that is certainly understandable!

Ichiro Kataoka performed in Japanese, and despite my inability to understand the language, it was still an unbelievably moving experience. I could tell that a lot of his words were meant to be dialogue, matching the mouths of the actors perfectly. He adopted different voices for each of the characters, even convincingly voicing two different women and a child.

It was so moving to me, to think that I was experiencing this film exactly the way that Japanese audiences experienced it in 1933. When Ozu made this film, THIS is how he believed the public would see it. If you ever have the opportunity to see a silent film with live benshi, I highly recommend it. Experiences like this are the closest we have to time travel, I feel. It was just beautiful.

TCMFF 2017 printable schedule

March 20, 2017

The 2017 TCM Film Festival schedule went live today!! Woo hoo! I'll have a whole post soon about which movies I'm most excited about (Barefoot in the Park!!!!!!!) but for now, I just wanted to share this printable schedule that I made. I always find that it's so much easier to plan out what movies I want to see if I'm able to physically circle things and mark up a calendar, but the festival website doesn't really let you print out the schedule.

If anyone else is having the same issue, hopefully this printable guide will come in handy! I only included movie names and start times (no special guests or release years) in order to save space and make sure I could whip this thing up as quickly as possible so everyone can start planning out their choices! I posted previews of the calendar below but for a full-scale printable PDF that you can download and print out, click here.

Celluloid and Canvas - Michèle Morgan

March 11, 2017

Did you know that French actress Michèle Morgan was not only an exceptional on-screen talent and world-class beauty, but a gifted artist as well? After having her portrait painted by Moïse Kisling in 1943, Morgan was inspired to take up painting herself and enrolled in art school in Los Angeles.

She apparently started off doing portraiture, but the only images I could find from this time are from the black and white photo featured below, on her easels and on the wall. They're absolutely stunning, and I wish I could find more of them!

Later on Morgan moved on to still life and abstract works, working on large canvases in bright, bold colors. In an interview with Paris Match in 2008 she said that she had sold at least 100 pieces but still thought of the craft as a hobby! Expressing modesty and calling herself an "amateur," Morgan definitely sold herself short -- her paintings are vibrant expressive pieces that could have easily been painted by a professional artist. As an artist myself, I admire her use of color and I envy her ability to form cohesive, striking abstract works using freeform shapes. Abstraction is harder than it looks and it takes a real talent to create pieces this beautiful.