TCM Film Festival 2023 Picks

It’s TCMFF time again! As usual, the schedule does not disappoint and the choices are difficult! In reading through the schedule, here are my picks for this year’s round of TCMFF:

Day 1: Thurs., April 13

One Way Passage (1932). A terminally ill woman and a debonair murderer facing execution meet and fall in love on a trans-Pacific crossing, each without knowing the other’s secret.

Location: Chinese Multiplex House #6, 7:30pm-9:30pm

Programming Series: WB100

Reason for Pick: I love my Pre-Codes and I can’t think of a better way to kick off the festival than with some William Powell! This movie is beautiful and the ending really packs a symbolic emotional punch.

That Touch of Mink (1962). A rich businessman and a young woman are attracted to each other, but he only wants an affair while she wants to save herself for marriage.

Location: Chinese Multiplex House #1, 9:45pm-11:45pm

Programming Series: Essentials

Reason for Pick: After a more somber film, it’s definitely time to end then night with some fun and fluff from Doris Day and Rock Hudson.

Day 2: Fri., April 14

The Old Maid (1939). The arrival of an ex-lover on a young woman’s wedding day sets in motion a chain of events which will alter her and her cousin’s lives forever.

Location: Chinese Multiplex House #4, 9:30am-11:15am

Programming Series: WB100

Reason for Pick: In honor of Warner Bros.’ centennial, I feel obligate to enjoy some Bette Davis. Plus, this is a 1939 release.

Footlight Parade (1933). Chester Kent struggles against time, romance, and a rival’s spy to produce spectacular live “prologues” for movie houses.

Location: Chinese Multiplex House #6, 12pm-2:15pm

Programming Series: WB100

Special Guest: Bruce Goldstein

Reason for Pick: I just have to give the great James Cagney his due as part of the WB100 festivities. I also adore Ruby Keeler and know their musical numbers are going to be fabulous on the big-screen. It beats waiting in line for the Great Movie Ride! (RIP)

Looney Tunes at the Oscars. Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies, Warner Bros.’ world famous theatrical cartoon shorts, remain among the most popular animated films made during Hollywood’s Golden Age. In this program celebrating the genius of animation legends Friz Freleng, Bob Clampett, Chuck Jones, and more, Academy executive Randy Haberkamp and animation historian Jerry Beck take a look at Warner Bros. cartoons that were nominated for the Oscar, one cartoon that you probably think was nominated, and the lucky ones that won.

Location: Club TCM at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, 3pm-4pm

Special Guests: Jerry Beck, Randy Haberkamp

Reason for Pick: I love Looney Tunes and was brought up on the cartoons to classics pipeline.

Banned in the South: Hollywood, Censorship, and Depictions of Race. MGM star Lena Horne famously recounted how her movie appearances would often be filmed as stand-alone musical numbers, making it easier for her on-screen contributions to be removed by exhibitors in the American South – just one example of the widespread censorship that Black performers faced in Hollywood. In this engaging conversation, actress, writer, and singer Shari Belafonte and historian David Pierce from the Library of Congress discuss the race-based censorship of Hollywood movies released throughout the South in the 1930s and ‘40s. They review the roles played by movie studios, the Hays Office, the Production Code Administration, state and municipal censor boards, local exhibitors, and theater audiences in limiting the reach of Black film artists and facilitating the censorship of their performances in some areas of the South. Ms. Belafonte guides the presentation, reflecting on the treatment of minority actors and audiences during this period while adding vitality and spontaneity to the topic.

Location: Club TCM at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, 5pm-6pm

Special Guests: Shari Belafonte, David Pierce

Reason for Pick: I find this to be a fascinating topic and really admire David Pierce’s work. I’m looking forward to his perspective on this topic.

Beach Party (1963). A bearded anthropologist studies the habits of swingin’ American teens while they enjoy the summer surfing, loving, and partying at the beach.

Location: Poolside at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, 8pm-10pm

Special Guest: Frankie Avalon

Reason for Pick: My name is Annette and I am ready to spend some quality time with Frankie Avalon.

Day 3: Sat., April 15

The Wiser Sex (1932). A young woman goes undercover to gather evidence to free her boyfriend, an attorney who has been framed for a murder he didn’t commit.

Location: Hollywood Legion, 9am-10:30am

Programming Series: Discoveries

Special Guest: Cari Beauchamp

Reason for Pick: Carie Beauchamp is one of my all-time favorite film historians and I am so excited about her introduction to this Pre-Code. Claudette Colbert is pure bonus.

Bless This Mess: Laurel & Hardy Shorts (1934-1935). Join film archivist Jeff Joseph for a hilarious program of Stan and Ollie’s cherished short comedies. In Going Bye-Bye! (1934), the pair testify against a dangerous criminal, who breaks out of prison to seek revenge but winds up the victim of their well-intentioned hijinks. In Them Thar Hills (1934), Laurel and Hardy go to the mountains for a rest and accidentally get high on moonshine dumped into a well by locals trying to evade the law. Its sequel is Tit for Tat (1935), an Oscar nominee for Best Comedy Short, in which they run into trouble when opening an electrical repair shop next to a grocery run by their old nemesis.

Location: Chinese Multiplex House #6, 11:30am-12:45pm

Special Guest: Jeff Joseph

Reason for Pick: I have a soft spot for Laurel & Hardy. They never disappoint!

Bye Bye Birdie (1963). A rock singer travels to a small Ohio town to make his “farewell” television performance and kiss his biggest fan before he is drafted.

Location: TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX, 3pm-5:15pm

Programming Series: Essentials

Special Guest: Ann Margret

Reason for Pick: Ann Margret! This is also a very sweet and fun musical. (Sullivan be praised.)

Assisting the Classics. What was it like working behind the scenes with Hollywood legends? Hear from a few personal assistants to classic-era stars in this fun panel discussion, full of lively anecdotes and colorful stories about their famous bosses. Guests Richard Stanley (assistant to director George Cukor), Steve Stoliar (Groucho Marx), Debbie Joseph (Esther Williams), and Jody Eisenstein (Jerry Stiller & Anne Meara) represent the continued legacy of these amazing talents.

Location: Club TCM at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, 5pm-6pm

Special Guests: Richard Stanley, Steve Stoliar, Debbie Joseph, Jody Eisenstein

Reason for Pick: I know I’m going to be super late to this one, but I really want to see Steve Stoliar. I enjoyed Raised Eyebrows so much! Moreover, I’m also curious to hear from the Esther Williams’s assistant.

Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923). In 15th-century Paris, the brother of the archdeacon plots with the gypsy king to foment a peasant revolt. Meanwhile, a freakish hunchback falls in love with the gypsy queen.

Location: Chinese Multiplex House #6, 9pm-11pm

Programming Series: Special Presentation

Special Guest: Doug Jones

Reason for Pick: I have not seen this one yet! Cinema shame!

Day 4: Sun., April 16

No Man of Her Own (1932). An on-the-lam New York card shark marries a small-town librarian who thinks he’s a businessman.

Location: Chinese Multiplex House #4, 12:15pm-1:45pm

Programming Series: Discoveries

Special Guest: Cari Beauchamp

Reason for Pick: Another Cari Beauchamp introduction plus a new-to-me Carole Lombard film. Plus, Carole plays a librarian and librarian Annette approves.

Mr. Cohen Takes A Walk (1935). This is a story about Mr. Cohen, a father who owns a large department store in London and cares about being a good shopkeeper and good person.

Location: Chinese Multiplex House #4, 2:30pm-4pm

Programming Series: Discoveries, WB100

Special Guest: Leonard Maltin

Reason for Pick: This film is entirely new to me and I trust Leonard Maltin to guide the way.

Clash of the Wolves (1925). A fire in the mountains drive a wolf pack into a nearby desert where they will terrorize the local residents.

Location: Hollywood Legion, 7:15pm-8:45pm

Programming Series: Special Presentation, WB100

Special Guest: Ben Model

Reason for Pick: My first Rin-Tin-Tin film!


About Annette Bochenek

Dr. Annette Bochenek of Chicago, Illinois, is an avid scholar of Hollywood’s Golden Age. She manages the Hometowns to Hollywood blog, in which she writes about her trips exploring the legacies and hometowns of Golden Age stars. Annette also hosts the “Hometowns to Hollywood” film series throughout the Chicago area. She has been featured on Turner Classic Movies and is the president of TCM Backlot’s Chicago chapter. In addition to writing for TCM Backlot, she also writes for Classic Movie Hub, Silent Film Quarterly, Nostalgia Digest, and Chicago Art Deco Society Magazine.
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1 Response to TCM Film Festival 2023 Picks

  1. Steve Stoliar says:

    Thanks for the shout-out. I hope I don’t disappoint…….

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