Films celebrating their anniversaries of the previous eight decades ending in “0”– 1940, 1950, 1960, 1970 and 1980, 1990 will offer TCM plenty of choices at the TCMFF in 2020 to satisfy the most discerning and demanding classic film lover. A review of these years provides a golden opportunity for TCM to showcase a number of truly classic films that will be celebrating their milestone anniversaries: 1940 (80th), 1950 (70th), 1960 (60th), 1970 (50th), 1980 (40th), and 1990 (30th). †- indicates shown at previous festival. There may be others that have been shown previously; can’t remember them all after 10 years of festivals !! BTW, an underline means I really feel strongly about the film.
In alphabetical order they are:
1940 (80th Anniversary Films)
Abe Lincoln in Illinois (Raymond Massey), All This and Heaven Too (Bette Davis and Charles Boyer), one of TCM’s “essentials” The Bank Dick (W.C. Fields), Boom Town (Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert, Spencer Tracy and Hedy Lamarr), Broadway Melody of 1940 (Fred Astaire and Eleanor Powell), Brigham Young (Tyrone Power and Linda Darnell), the “crime/comedy Brother Orchid (Edward G. Robinson and Humphrey Bogart), the Anatole Livak dramas Castle on the Hudson (John Garfield and Ann Sheridan) and City for Conquest (James Cagney, Ann Sheridan, Anthony Quinn); the Preston Sturges’ comedy Christmas in July (Dick Powell, Ellen Drew); the comedy-musical Down Argentine Way (Don Ameche, Betty Grable, Carmen Miranda), Alfred Hitchcock’s Foreign Correspondent (Joel McCrea, Herbert Marshall and George Sanders), The Bob hope/Paulette Goddard horror comedy Ghost Breakers, John Ford’s masterpiece treatment of John Steinbeck’s novel The Grapes of Wrath (Keith Carradine and Peter Fonda must return for the 80th anniversary of this classic), Preston Sturges’ political satire/comedy The Great McGinty with Brian Donlevy, The Marx Brothers comedy Go West, the landmark Chaplain comedy The Great Dictator, William Wyler’s masterful The Letter† (with Bette Davis) , and Ginger Rogers’ outstanding performance in Kitty Foyle. There is also my all time favorite Zorro movie (toping anything that Disney ever did) The Mark of Zorro (starring Tyrone Power and Linda Darnell), and the W.C. Fields and Mae West comedy My Little Chickadee. Other notable 1940 films include Our Town (William Holden) and Pride and Prejudice (with Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier). The Philadelphia Story† (James Stewart, Cary Grant, and Katherine Hepburn), Walt Disney’s Pinocchio, Alfred Hitchcock’s unforgettable Rebecca (Joan Fontaine, Laurence Olivier). Also Remember the Night (Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray), The Sea Hawk (Errol Flynn) and Ernst Lubitsch’s wonderful romantic comedy The Shop Around the Corner (Jimmy Stewart, Margaret Sullavan), and Carol Reed’s The Stars Look Down (Michael Redgrave and Margaret Lockwood), Strange Cargo (Clark Gable and Joan Crawford), and Strike Up The Band (Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland). Noir fans will like They Drive by Night (George Raft and Humphrey Bogart). Other notable films from 1940 include James Cagney, Ann Sheridan, and Pat O’Brien in one of my favorite adventure films, Torrid Zone; the Lucile Ball comedy Too Many Girls, and the Errol Flynn western Virginia City. The 1940 version of The Thief of Baghdad stars Conrad Veidt, and is not to be confused with the silent version starring Douglas Fairbanks and shown at a previous TCM festival. To cap off the year, there is the classic western, oddly-enough named The Westerner, starring Gary Cooper and Walter Brennan, and the wartime romance Waterloo Bridge, starring Vivian Leigh and Robert Taylor.
1950 (70th Anniversary Films)
While the 1950’s were fraught with change as the studios battled to keep audiences from spending too much time with the “small screen,” notable films from 1950 worthy of consideration for the festival include quite a few classic films that TCM shows regularly on the network.
Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s All About Eve (Bette Davis, Ann Baxter) has got to be at the top of the chart [this may have been shown previously at the fest, but it’s been 10 years and I can’t recall everything.] Also the musical Annie Get Your Gun and the film quintessential noir The Asphalt Jungle [again, may already have been shown] rank high among classic film lovers. Tyrone Power swashbuckles his way with Orson Welles in The Black Rose, and Judy Holiday, Broderick Crawford, and William Holden are at their comedic best in Born Yesterday. John Garfield reprises Humphrey Bogart’s role in To Have and Have Not with the film noir, The Breaking Point (Garfield’s next-to-last film), and Eleanor Parker in the prison-noir Caged. Clifton Webb, Myrna Loy, and Jeanne Crain find that it’s Cheaper by the Dozen. Fans of film noir will be put through their paces with director Vincent Sherman’s collaboration with Joan Crawford in The Damned Don’t Cry and Harriet Craig. Noir fans will also be riveted by Edmund O’Brien’s D.O.A. The unforgettable Vincente Mannelli comedy Father of the Bride (starring Spencer Tracy and Elizabeth Taylor) ranks high with classic film fans, as is the noir classic The File on Thelma Jordon (Barbara Stanwyck). Not to be outdone in the swashbuckling category by Tyrone Power, Burt Lancaster and Virginia Mayo do their best in The Flame and the Arrow. Lucille Ball has more than a brush with comedy when she co-stars with Eddie Albert in The Fuller Brush Girl. Michael Powel and Emeric Pressburger ‘s Gone To Earth (starring Jennifer Jones and David Farrar) shows off the same Technicolor magic as their earlier film Black Narcissus and has been rated by the BAFTA as one of the best films showing off the English countryside. Western audiences also got great satisfaction in 1950 with The Furies , directed by Anthony Mann (also Walter Huston’s last film). Another western that made its way into film history in 1950 was Henry King’s The Gunfighter, starring Gregory Peck. Jimmy Stewart’s imagination was in full throttle with his invisible rabbit friend, Harvey. Humphrey Bogart gets Gloria Grahame a little tight around the collar In a Lonely Place, Nicholas Ray’s signature noir. Another perhaps less known Cagney noir is Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye, and noiristas won’t feel cheated if they see Lee J. Cobb and Jane Wyman in The Man Who Cheated Himself. Continuing in the same noir vein, John Garfield jockies to lose in the sports/crime drama Under My Skin, and William Holden has an appointment at Union Station. And not to be outdone in the noir category, Dana Andrews wants to know Where the Sidewalk Ends. Winchester ’73 was shown at the 2019 festival, but Kirk Douglas blows everyone away in Young Man With A Horn.
1960 (60th anniversary films)
These include: Billy Wilder’s The Apartment† (Shirley MacLaine, Jack Lemmon), Vincent Minnelli’s Bells Are Ringing (Billy Holiday, Dean Martin), Elmer Gantry (another opportunity for Shirley Jones) , Exodus (Paul Newman and Eva Marie Saint), Home From the Hill, Stanley Kramer’s epic Inherit the Wind, Roger Corman’s Little Shop of Horrors; one of the greatest westerns ever made, The Magnificent Seven; Jules Dassin’s Never On Sunday, the western/comedy North to Alaska (John Wayne, Capucine, and Ernie Kovacks), the Doris Day comedy Please Don’t Eat the Daisies, Walt Disney’s Pollyanna, Alfred Hitchcock’s classic Psycho, Bud Boetticher’s crime drama The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond, John Ford’s Sergeant Rutledge, the Kirk Douglas and Kim Novak drama Strangers When We Meet (which I don’t think has been shown at the festival before – need to tap Barbara Rush again for this one !!), Kirk again in Spartacus (has been shown at the festival before, but I could see it again!), Fred Zinneman’s The Sundowners (story based in Australia (Robert Mitchum and Deborah Kerr), the very nostalgic (for me) Disney adventure Swiss Family Robinson (with John Mills and Dorothy McGuire) ; and one of my favorite sci-fi adventures based on the H. G. Wells novel, The Time Machine (staring Rod Taylor).
1970 (50th anniversary films)
1970 was also one of my favorite years for films. Among the ones I rate highest are: Airport (starring Burt Lancaster, Dean Martin, the inimitable Helen Hayes, and Jacqueline Bisset -any excuse to see Jackie again!!! - and Van Heflin’s last film) and which I placed on the TCM festival survey as one I wanted to see at the festival in 2020; Perhaps the premier western of 1970 was Little Big Man, a signature work for Arthur Penn and stars Dustin Hoffman. In the same genre, Sam Peckinpah’s The Ballad of Cable Hogue and the western comedy Cheyenne Social Club (Jimmy Stewart Henry Fonda and produced by Gene Kelly), Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s only western starring Kirk Douglas and Henry Fonda, There Was a Crooked Man, and the historically inaccurate but entertaining John Wayne western Chisum also merit attention. Mike Nichols’ made the culturally impactful film Catch-22 [the original, not the recent TV mini-series remake with George Clooney ]; many of the cast are still around: Alan Arkin, Richard Benjamin, Paula Prentiss, Art Garfunkel, Martin Sheen, Bob Balaban, Buck Henry, Jon Voight, Charles Grodin and it would be great to have a “cast reunion” for this film the way TCM did for Deliverance in 2013, or Nashville this year. Blake Edwards’s Darling Lili and Diary of a Mad Housewife, starring Carrie Snodgrass also merit attention. The Jack Nicholson film Five Easy Pieces followed his breakout role in the previous year’s Easy Rider. James Earl Jones’s Oscar-nominated film The Great White Hope [I am pushing for a hand/footprint ceremony for Jones in 2020 along with the 50th anniversary showing of the film]. The multiple Academy-nominated film I Never Sang for My Father (starring Melvyn Douglas, Gene Hackman and Estelle Parsons). 1970’s biggest splash was Love Story, starring Ryan O’Neal and Ali McGraw (another potential cast reunion in the making for this blockbuster ?). Another box office smash and cultural earthquake [and, I will admit, perhaps not the most appropriate for the TCM Classic Film Festival] was M*A*S*H (starring Donald Sutherland and Elliot Gould). This would obviously not be appropriate for juveniles and, if TCM shows it, would have to place the appropriate caveats in the program guide. Another memorable Jack Lemmon comedy came out in 1970: the Out –of-Towners, directed by Love Story’s Arthur Hiller. David Lean’s film Ryan’s Daughter is a classic in every sense of the word and also has an outstanding cast that includes Robert Mitchum, Trevor Howard, John Mills, and Sara Miles. While it won’t be Christmas during the festival, the late Albert Finney shone bright in the musical Scrooge. Could be a way to do a tribute to him ? Two notable war films also made their debuts in 1970: Patton and Tora ! Tora! Tora ! [Patton has already been shown at the festival, but in my opinion Tora ! remains the quintessential Pearl Harbor movie, with apologies to From Here to Eternity shown in 2019.
1980 (40th Anniversary)
Three (IMHO) potential opening night films will be celebrating their 40th anniversaries in 2020: 9 – 5 (Lilly Tomlin, Jane Fonda Dolly Parton); Any Which Way You Can (Clint Eastwood); Caddyshack (Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield). Lesley Nielsen takes off in Airplane!† and Burt Lancaster gets an Academy nomination in Atlantic City. Sissy Spacek earned a Best Actress Oscar for the biopic Coal Minter’s Daughter. David Lynch’s The Elephant Man garnered eight Academy Award nominations, and prompted the creation of a new Oscar for Makeup and Hairstyling since there was no Oscar for makeup effects at the time. Gena Rowlands gets an Academy nomination for Gloria. 1980 was also known for Michael Cimino’s budget-busting flop Heaven’s Gate (let’s skip that at the FF, shall we?). Catherine Deneuve may return from the 2019 showing at the TCMFF of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg in Francois Truffaut’s The Last Metro. Angela Lansbury leads an All Star cast in Agatha Christie’s The Mirror Crack’d. And speaking of cracked, Goldie Hawn finds that army life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be in Private Benjamin, one of the top films of the year. Martin Scorsese and Robert DiNiro score big in Raging Bull. Initially derided by critics, Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour find themselves Somewhere In Time, which has since become a cult classic. John Travolta has a run-in with a mechanical bull in Urban Cowboy. Yes, I know that Ordinary People won the Oscar for Best Picture that year, but I’ll leave it to the TCM programmers if they want to deal with the film’s subject matter at the festival.
1990 (30th anniversary)
Some may consider this year too close to the present to be considered “classic,” but a number of significant films from that year are celebrating their anniversaries. Among them I would list the following: Driving Miss Daisy (great teaming of Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman). And as long as we’re talking cinema, how about the Academy Award for best foreign language film, Cinema Paradiso.