Oldies But Goodies
Whether you like a Gershwin tune, want to fasten your seat belt for a bumpy night, or are content to have the stars without asking for the moon, there’s something for all LGBT movie buffs at this year’s TCM Film Festival.
The second such festival offered by the cable channel, it will be held April 28 through May 1 in Los Angeles. Films will screen at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, its adjacent multiplex, and the Egyptian Theatre. There will also be panel discussions and other events at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel and the Music Box Theater. Numerous stars and directors are scheduled to appear, such as Kirk Douglas, Peter O’Toole, Leslie Caron, Mickey Rooney, Debbie Reynolds, Jane Powell, Warren Beatty, Alec Baldwin, Angela Lansbury, Hayley Mills, Richard Roundtree, and Roger Corman. TCM’s Robert Osborne is the festival’s host.
The festival’s overall theme this year is “Music and the Movies.” Its various incarnations will include salutes to the work of George and Ira Gershwin, the nonmusical films scored by Bernard Herrmann, Disney musicals, and singing cowboy Roy Rogers. Plus there will be plenty of other treats, including such gay faves as All About Eve, A Place in the Sun, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, A Streetcar Named Desire, and Now, Voyager, in high-quality prints, many of them newly or recently restored.
“I know we have a very big gay audience at TCM in general, and I know musicals are a part of that, but I think there’s a lot of appeal to the gay audience also with films like Now, Voyager, for example, with Bette Davis,” says Charlie Tabesh, the cable channel’s senior vice president of programming as well as programmer for the festival. Besides the obviously gay-beloved classics, another film Tabesh thinks will resonate with gay viewers is The Constant Nymph, a 1943 Joan Fontaine melodrama that hasn’t been seen for years because of legal snags.
In the realm of musicals, he recommends Shall We Dance, with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers doing their fancy footwork to the Gershwins’ music, plus campy support from Edward Everett Horton and Eric Blore. “I’m very excited about Fred and Ginger on the big screen,” Tabesh says. “It’s just a great experience to see their films in a theater.”
The Gershwins’ body of work will also be celebrated in the festival’s opening night gala, a screening of An American in Paris, with Leslie Caron scheduled to attend. George Gershwin instrumentals provide the background to Woody Allen’s Manhattan, a love letter to the city as well as an exploration of tangled relationships (look for a pre-superstardom Meryl Streep as Woody’s lesbian ex-wife). Mariel Hemingway, who played Allen’s teenage girlfriend in the film, is slated to be present.
Other musical offerings include Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, with what Tabesh calls “probably the best dancing you’ll ever see,” and another contender for that title, West Side Story, with New York street toughs performing to the tunes of Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim, in a 50th anniversary screening. Jane Powell will be present for the former, George Chakiris for the latter.
Herrmann, a favorite composer of Martin Scorsese and Alfred Hitchcock,
will be represented by Scorsese’s Taxi Driver and Hitchcock’s The
Trouble With Harry (the latter introduced by Jerry Mathers, not as the
Beaver—he played Shirley MacLaine’s small son), plus Citizen Kane, The
Ghost and Mrs. Muir, and The Day the Earth Stood Still. Herrmann’s
daughter Dorothy will introduce the last two films.
musical legacy will be recognized with Summer Magic, introduced by star
Hayley Mills (she’ll also be present for a nonmusical Disney comedy, The
Parent Trap, and the haunting drama Whistle Down the Wind) and
Fantasia. And while there probably isn’t much of a gay following for the
musical westerns of noted conservative Christian Roy Rogers, there will
be a chance to see such films as My Pal Trigger and meet his daughter
Other recommendations from Tabesh include
Went the Day Well? It’s a rarely seen, just-restored British World War
II drama, based on a Graham Greene story, which will have a U.S.
theatrical release. He also is excited about two silent films with live
orchestral accompaniment, Erich von Stroheim’s version of The Merry
Widow and the Buster Keaton classic The Cameraman. “I think those will
be really special experiences,” he says. “They’re up against other
things that are pretty special too—if people really want to see Kirk
Douglas at Spartacus or Jane Powell at Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, I
can’t blame them.”
Offering something for everyone, of course,
is the key to programming the festival, he notes. “Just to make sure we
have a good mix of eras and genres, and not just eras and genres but
also the bigger, better-known down-the-middle classics and then the more
obscure discoveries that people might have never had the chance to see
before—at the end of the day, that’s really what we want,” he says. “You
really want to plan it so you have a lot of variety to suit your mood
and your personal passion at that time.”
If you’re going to be in
Los Angeles this weekend, you can to find something to suit your mood
and your passion at any number of the screenings; there are some tickets
left for various films. You can find the full schedule at TCM.com.