When Movies Were Movies



With icons like Montgomery Clift, Gene Tierney, and Judy Garland on the screen and living legends like Anjelica Huston, Eva Marie Saint, and centenarian Luise Rainer greeting audiences, the TCM Classic Film Festival promises a movie-lover’s paradise featuring, as MGM once touted its players, “more stars than there are in the heavens.”

The festival, the first one to be held by the Turner Classic Movies cable channel, will take place in Hollywood April 22-25, with screenings at three theaters — Grauman’s Chinese, Mann’s Chinese 6, and the Egyptian — and additional events at the nearby Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.

While TCM lets film buffs watch uncut, uninterrupted classics from the comfort of their couches, “there’s nothing quite like seeing these movies on the big screen,” says TCM host Robert Osborne. “You think you’ve seen Casablanca or Saturday Night Fever or Singin’ in the Rain, but until you see John Travolta strutting down the street in Saturday Night Fever on a big screen three stories tall and share it with other people, there’s no experience quite like it. We love the fact that people love TCM, and we love to bring you movies on TCM, but we also love this other experience to be felt by people.”

The festival, which includes more than 40 films along with numerous panel discussions and Q&A sessions, offers much of interest to any fan of vintage cinema, but some titles may appeal especially LGBT audiences. For instance, the fest will screen a newly restored print of Elia Kazan’s 1960 film Wild River, starring the great gay (or perhaps bi) actor Montgomery Clift as a federal government engineer overseeing construction of a dam — and clashing with the locals — in Depression-era rural Tennessee.

“It is a very Kazan type of film; it is a story with some political implications,” says Osborne. “It is also interesting for fans of Montgomery Clift, because it’s Clift in the latter part of his career, after he’d had all that damage done to his face [in a severe auto accident in 1956], and he really doesn’t look like the Montgomery Clift of A Place in the Sun or The Heiress or Red River, but he is no less powerful an actor.” The film also features Lee Remick, Jo Van Fleet, and, in his screen debut, Bruce Dern. Curtis Hanson, director of L.A. Confidential and Wonder Boys, will introduce the movie.

Tags: film