Tuesday’s announcement concerning the TCM Film Festival 2016 revealed six of the classic films being screened to whet the appetities of festivalgoers just in time for the online sale of passes beginning for exclusive Citi cardmembers on November 17 and opening for the general public on November 19.
The TCM Film Festival, April 28-May 1, takes place at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, home of the very first Oscars’ ceremony in 1929. Films revealed yesterday include “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946), “The Song of Bernadette” (1943), “Horsefeathers” (1935), “Shanghai Express” (1932), “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” (1945), and “The King and I” (1956).
Some of the rarer, less widely screened films have yet to be mentioned, but initial announcements concerning festival films traditionally lure in fans with more perennial favorites. During last year’s festival, however, a rare Australian gem like ” The Picture Show Man” (1977) starring Rod Taylor, surprised audiences with an unusual tale of the transitory nature of the traveling silent film exhibitors.
In an exclusive interview with Charles Tabesh, Senior VP of Programming, Tabesh revealed that the decision to select “The Picture Show Man” for screening at the TCM Film Festival 2015 evolved. “Like most things at TCM,” he stated, ” I took the idea from someone else. One of our technical advisors, Chris Reyna, had suggested we do the hand-cranked projector show that we presented on Saturday evening of the festival. I thought that was a terrific idea and agreed. Then, he later mentioned ‘The Picture Show Man’ as a nice companion to that program. He provided me a DVD of the film because I’d never seen it before.”
“The Picture Show Man” (!977) was the first production of the New South Wales Film Commission, and the film evolved from the autobiographical manuscript of Lyle Penn concerning a young man’s experiences traveling with his father as he exhibited silent films throughout the Australian countryside. Tabesh claimed that “I liked the film and ultimately agreed that it was a nice fit with the overall theme” of history according to Hollywood and the film industry.
Sometimes festival-worthy films are difficult to locate, and “The Picture Show Man” was no exception. “I had no idea where to find a print,” Tabesh added, “but for a while I had been searching for a good print of ‘Breaker Morant,’ which led me to the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia. At some point during that process I asked them if they might happen to have a print of “The Picture Show Man” as well. They replied they had one in ‘pristine’ condition, so we decided to move forward with that screening, too.”
Festival participants often include international visitors, and Lisa and Phillip Leeds traveled from their native Australia to attend the TCM Film Festival in 2015, and enjoyed the screening of “The Picture Show Man.” Remarkably, Phillip Leeds’ father had actually supplied some of the period projectors for the 1977 movie, a fact unbeknownst to festival organizers at the time of the screening.
For now, anxious festival fans will have to wait for updates concerning film rarities, restorations, unusual screenings, special celebrity guests, panel presentations and a gala premiere. Passes for the festival go on sale next week beginning November 17, but the continuing popularity of the annual TCM Film Festival guarantees standing room only in the virtual online queue and active social media sites devoted to classic film.