Fans of classic films know the importance of a grand entrance, and the folks at Turner Classic Movies are pulling out all the stops for the return of the TCM Classic Film Festival to Hollywood this week.
After two years of virtual editions due to the pandemic, the festival kicks off Thursday with the help of Steven Spielberg, who will be on hand to celebrate the 40th anniversary of “ET The Extra-Terrestrial.” He and stars Drew Barrymore, Henry Thomas, Dee Wallace and Robert MacNaughton will gather at the TCL Chinese Theater for a chat with TCM host Ben Mankiewicz ahead of the new IMAX restoration of 1982 movie screens.
This is Spielberg’s first time at the festival. He will also make an appearance to showcase a 4K restoration of George Stevens’ “Giant,” starring Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and James Dean.
“ET” isn’t the only 40-year-old reunion on the slate. Kevin Bacon, Tim Daly, Steve Guttenberg and Paul Reiser reunite for a discussion and screening of Barry Levinson’s “Diner.” And Aileen Quinn joins Alicia Malone to talk about the lead role in John Huston’s “Annie.”
The festival will celebrate talents like Bruce Dern, 85, ‘Carrie’ star Piper Laurie, ‘The Hustler’, ‘Twin Peaks’ and ‘Children of a Lesser God’ and Floyd Norman, now 90 . , the 86-year-old animator who’s been in everything from ‘Sleeping Beauty’ and ‘The Jungle Book’ to ‘Toy Story 2’. The cast of ‘Cooley High’ and ‘A League of Their Own’ will be on hand to discuss their movies and Lily Tomlin will also cement her Hollywood legacy with a hand and footprint ceremony outside the TCL Chinese Theater .
“It’s a proverbial embarrassment of wealth,” said Pola Chagnon, chief executive of TCM. “Bringing people together in these places is so special.”
Chagnon and the others behind the festival are “giddy” to finally be able to reunite again at historic venues along Hollywood Boulevard, from the Chinese Theater to the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. Both venues have been the scene of Academy Award ceremonies and are within walking distance of the Dolby Theatre, the current home of the Academy Awards. Red lipstick and fedoras aren’t necessary, but many attendees like to take the opportunity to dress up and pay homage to Hollywood’s Golden Age fashions for screenings of films and animated lectures.
In addition to screenings of well-known standards like “Singin’ in the Rain,” “Tootsie,” “Spartacus,” and “Paper Moon,” the program also features “dark gems” that aren’t widely available.
“Our fans have eclectic tastes,” Chagnon said. “Some people want to see things they’ve seen before. Some want to see things they’ve never seen. They want the discoveries.
One such find is the 1945 romantic comedy “The French Way,” starring Josephine Baker as a nightclub owner during World War II in France, which has never been shown before. Los Angeles. Another is a new digital copy of “The Pajama Game,” which has been tied to rights issues for years, and also coincides with what would have been Doris Day’s 100th anniversary year.
“I’m thrilled that people are going to find out things,” said Charlie Tabesh, head of programming.
He is particularly looking forward to the screening of Herbert Ross’ “The Last of Sheila,” a 1973 cult thriller written by Anthony Perkins and Stephen Sondheim and starring James Coburn, Dyan Cannon and Richard Benjamin.
The festival will once again be headquartered in Hollywood Roosevelt, which since its opening in 1927 has housed Marilyn Monroe, Charlie Chaplin and Montgomery Clift and played supporting roles in films like “Almost Famous” and “Catch Me If You.” Can.” At the festival, it will serve as the seat, with panel discussions featuring honorees like Dern and Laurie and poolside screenings of “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” “Soylent Green” and “Blue Hawaii.” t is also the venue for the closing party on Sunday.
They will also have midnight screenings of “Miracle Mile” and “Polyester” and a live reading of “I Married a Monster From Outer Space” with David Koechner and Laraine Newman playing the roles from the picture. 1958 science fiction.
“One of the filters for us is ‘What can we do live that you wouldn’t enjoy in the same way if it was on the network? sort of juice at the moment. You know things can go wrong! And just hearing others laugh around you makes it a special experience.
And every TCM festival has its special unscheduled moments too, even those that seem small like watching a movie legend watch one of their films. Chagnon fondly recalls sitting in a theater years ago near Tony Curtis during a screening of “Some Like It Hot” and the joy of watching him answer jokes.
“Some of this talent hasn’t seen an audience for a long time,” she said. “Understanding that their work lives on, that new audiences see their work and that it is always considered and respected? There are not many places for this opportunity.
Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr