TCM Film Fest: Why I’m missing ‘Them!’ and other difficult choices

Here is the agony of trying to plan out a schedule for what to see at the TCM Classic Film Festival. Out of more than 80 feature films on the schedule, the runaway winner as my favorite at TCMFF is one I won’t be seeing.

I was so excited when I saw “Them!” the 1954 B-movie classic about giant insects is scheduled for opening night. It’s from my favorite film genre (thanks to watching so many of these films with my dad) and it stars Buffalo born actor James Whitmore. But I won’t be there and other TCMFF attendees understand why.

When we plan our viewing schedule, it’s not always about seeing our  favorite movies – we have to take into account many other factors.

  • How often have I seen it? (If never, that bumps it up.)
  • Have I seen it on the big screen? (This carries the most weight.)
  • Is there a special guest?
  • Is it in Technicolor?
  • What other films are showing at the same time?
  • What is everyone else seeing? (Don’t discount how often your schedule will change because of someone else’s enthusiasm for a film or just because you want to hang out with someone.)
  • Does it star Ronald Colman, William Holden, Ann Harding, Barbara Stanwyck or Norma Shearer? (OK, that’s just me.)
  • What special events does the Larry Edmunds book store have planned?

With all of that in mind, here is my working schedule (surely there will be changes).

As much as it pains me, I can’t see “Them!” again. I’ve seen it countless times and it’s playing poolside which is a fun atmosphere but not optimal viewing. Plus the 7:30 p.m. Thursday start means I’ll only see one movie on opening night.

Ginger Rogers and Frances Dee in “Finishing School.”

Looks like I’ll spend Thursday night in at the Chinese Multiplex, starting with the 7 p.m. screening of “Finishing School” (one of the last films of the pre-Code Era)  if I can get into the infamously small House #4.

There’s a bit of time crunch after that with the restored “Sea Wolf” at 9 p.m. in House #6 – hopefully I’ll have time to get a spot. If not, it will be “Fail Safe” at 9:30 p.m. in House  #1.


“Witness for the Prosecution” at 11:45 a.m. in the Egyptian seems like a good bet, especially with actress Ruta Lee in attendance.

The vibrant colors from”How to Marry a Millionaire” are going to pop on the big screen. (20th Century-Fox Film Corp. )

Although I’ve seen it often, I can’t pass up “How to Marry a Millionaire” at 2:15 p.m. in House #6. It’s in Technicolor – and I can’t miss a Technicolor movie on the big screen. Plus, this is such a sweet, feel good film.

After this would be a good time for shopping – either at the TCM Boutique or Larry Edmunds Bookstore.

Later, it’s over to House #4 for the 7:15 p.m. showing of “I Take This Woman” with Carole Lombard and Gary Cooper. Fingers crossed on getting into the tiny theater.

For Friday’s final film, I’m tempted to attend “Romeo and Juliet” with Olivia Hussey, Leonard Whiting and Michael York in attendance. But for the same reason I can’t pass up “How to Marry a Millionaire,” looks like I’ll be there for “Leave Her to Heaven” at 9:30 p.m. in the Egyptian. A Technicolor film shown in a Nitrate print – this could be mind blowing.


This will be a full day starting with “A Letter to Three Wives” at 9 a.m. in Chinese Multiplex House #6. Some melodrama with my coffee will get the day off to a great start.

Next is tough: “This Thing Called With Love” with Illeana Douglas introducing her grandfather’s film at 11 a.m. in House #4 – or “Bullitt” at the TCL Chinese Theatre Imax with Jacqueline Bisset at 11:30 a.m.? I’m not as interested in seeing “Bullitt” the movie as I am in seeing Steve McQueen the size of a building on the big screen and hearing from Miss Bisset.

Can’t miss a chance to see Kay Francis, left, in “Girls About Town.”

No confusion over what to see next: “Girls About Town” is a 1931 George Cukor pre-code with Kay Francis and Joel McCrea. William McCrea, Joel’s grandson will introduce the film.

Next is the craziest block of films in the festival. I don’t have an overwhelming desire to see “Heaven Can Wait” (1978), “Show People,” “The World of Suzie Wong” or “Park Row” – yet this feels like a very important choice. Dyan Cannon will be at “Heaven Can Wait” but it is a film from the 1970s and that’s a bit “too young” for me to see at the fest. Nancy Kwan will be at “Suzie Wong” – and that seems like something you can’t ignore. But “Show People” is a King Vidor silent movie with musical accompaniment by Ben Model and an introduction by Lara Gabrielle Fowler who is writing a biography on star Marion Davies – you can’t ignore that either. John Sayles will introduce the newspaper drama “Park Row.” What to choose? This will be a game-time decision, but I have a feeling William Holden will win out.

Then it’s over to see “The Raven” introduced by Sara Karloff at 9:30 p.m. in House #4.


A very low-key day with a lot of time in Club TCM depending on how TCM fills in the empty Sunday movie time slots.

“Growing Up Mankiewicz” at 12:30 p.m. promises to be informational and hilarious. It’s followed at 3 p.m. by the talk “Mostly Lost: Identifying Unknown Films at the Library of Congress.” Yes that means I am passing up Alan Cumming with Olivier’s “Hamlet” but I’m fascinated by lost movies. Did I mention you can get cocktails in Club TCM?

My last film of the festival is a shocker because it is from the 1970s and it’s a comedy. That’s right, I’m going to see “Animal House.” Why? I can’t deny my life-long crush on Tim Matheson, who will be in attendance. I won’t be hard to find – I’ll be the one in audience sighing.

Picks from other TCM fans

Here are some other picks and posts about the festival, mostly provided by Chris Sturhann of Blogs of the Darned. (Thank you!). If you aren’t here, drop me a note and I’ll be happy to add you.

6 thoughts on “TCM Film Fest: Why I’m missing ‘Them!’ and other difficult choices”

    1. Hi Lara: I would love to hear your intro and see the movie. Thanks for reminding me – I knew you were doing it but I learned that after I did the guest notes for the films so it wasn’t in my piece. I just added that info to my blog post. I’m hoping to meet you at the fest.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Cool, I think we only have one in common, and that never happens. That said, I’m still not sure I can do Grand Prix, and the main reason, I’m having second thoughts is Witness for the Prosecution.


    1. It’s fun to compare schedules with everyone and hear/read why they’ve made their choices. That’s always where I start to change my mind. Thanks for reading. Looking forward to officially meeting you (we did meet last year – but there weren’t any formal introductions and we didn’t have a chance to chat).


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