TCM “Essentials” Recap

I had a wonderful and enlightening time this year watching all 52 films listed in the the great book from Turner Classic Movies called The Essentials: 52 Must-See Movies and Why They Matter by Jeremy Arnold. Here are 10 standout films (although I really loved them all) as documented in my personal Instagram feed (and I hope you’ll also follow my Movies Past and Present Instagram feed, too).

10. “All Quiet on the Western Front” (1930)

9. “It Happened One Night” (1934)

8. “The Thin Man” (1934)

7. “Now, Voyager” (1942)

6. “Leave Her to Heaven” (1945)

5. “The Best Years of Our Lives” (1946)

4. “Seven Samurai” (1954)

3. “Roman Holiday” (1953)

2. “On the Waterfront” (1954)

1. “In the Heat of the Night” (1967)

Of course, films on the list like Casablanca, Singin’ in the Rain, Some Like It Hot, and Sunset Boulevard remain forever favorites; however, these 10 films listed really spoke to me this year.

Thanks again for following along! More movie watching projects are coming soon (like tomorrow)!

The Essentials: 52 Must-See Movies and Why They Matter is available on and Shop TCM.

2019 TCM Classic Film Festival Recap

This year’s Turner Classic Movies (TCM) Classic Film Festival just wrapped up and it was wonderful.

The festival was held April 11-14, 2019 in Hollywood, California. Headquartered at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, the festival screenings and events were held in nearby theaters, including the TCL Chinese Theater and Multiplex, the Egyptian Theater, the ArcLight Cinerama Dome, and the American Legion Post 43 Theatre.

The Films

I had a Classic Pass again this year, which provided access to all festival venues during all days of the festival (with the exception of the opening night gala screening and party) and it worked great. I got in line usually about 60 minutes before each screening and was able to get in every screening that I wanted to attend. I tweeted pics and summaries of the 14 films I saw at this year’s festival (copied below) in case you’re interested.

The Presentations

I also attended two presentations: the “Meet TCM” presentation on day one of the festival with a panel discussion from the TCM management team and a cool 20th Century Fox retrospective presented by Schawn Belton, Executive Vice Present of Media and Library Services at 20th Century Fox. Both were terrific.

The 20th Century Fox presentation was in a new venue for the festival—the American Legion Post 43 Theatre. Recently restored, the building and theater are just beautiful.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Overall, this year’s festival was just fantastic. The films, the presenters, the staff, and the venues for the most part were great. It was also such a pleasure to visit with so many nice people while in line at the festival and to have the opportunity to meet in person fellow TCM fans that I follow on social media.

Just a couple of gripes:

  • The seats in the TCL Chinese Multiplex are supremely uncomfortable. Low to the ground and with seat cushions that are in dire need of replacement, I was squirming in pain and discomfort throughout the screenings there. I know it’s not TCM’s responsibility, but I hope someone will pony up some money and help save us filmgoers who are spending hours in those horrible seats.
  • Even more so than the Mos Eisley spaceport, Hollywood Boulevard continues to be a “wretched hive of scum and villainy.” Having to navigate through the sea of tourists, the endless hawkers, and deafening street performers is something that I never enjoy. The venues at the TCM Classic Film Festival are wonderful and their surroundings are the worst.
  • Someone needs to coach me on where to find a good meal within the general area of the film festival. Everything that I ate this year was expensive and mediocre. I’ll keep trying…

Is It 2020 Yet?

I’m already planning my trip for next year’s festival. Many thanks again to TCM for providing this one-of-a-kind opportunity to see such an eclectic and excellent curation of classic films on the big screen!

(Image ©️ TCM)

Current Plan for the 2019 TCM Classic Film Festival*

*Subject to change, of course. (Image ©️ TCM)

I am excited and grateful to be attending the Turner Classic Movies (TCM) Classic Film Festival again this year. Celebrating its 10th anniversary and with the theme of “Follow Your Heart: Love at the Movies,” the wonderful team at TCM has again assembled an outstanding selection of films for this annual event. Now that the full schedule has been released, it’s time to make a plan for what films I hope to see.

As always, I want to see most everything. Since splitting into five people is not an option, I have to choose. It’s the ultimate in first world problems, but, still, it’s often a bit agonizing.

Day One – Thursday, April 11

My current plan is to spend the opening night of this year’s festival at the Egyptian Theatre. I’ll kick the festival off with the musical comedy Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) starring Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell and part of the festival’s tribute to 20th Century Fox. Next up is a 35mm nitrate screening of the comedy The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947) starring Cary Grant, Myrna Loy, and Shirley Temple.

Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell in GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES (Image ©️ 20th Century Fox)

Day Two – Friday, April 12

The difficult choices begin first thing on Friday. The festival is screening another film this year at the ArcLight Cinemas’ Cinerama Dome, Cinerama’s Russian Adventure (1966), which is the last of the Cinerama compilation films. On hand will be film historian and critic Leonard Maltin and editor Hal Dennis, Jr. Seeing a film in the Cinerama Dome is always a treat and this would definitely be a unique experience.

Instead, I’m probably going to start the day back at the Egyptian with screenings of the film noir The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946) and Walt Disney’s animated classic Sleeping Beauty (1959), which is celebrating its 60th anniversary. (Even though I’ve recently seen Sleeping Beauty on the big screen courtesy of D23, I don’t want to pass up another opportunity to see this gorgeous film.)

Walt Disney’s SLEEPING BEAUTY (Image ©️ Disney)

The next three films are in the TCL Chinese Multiplex: the classic silent film Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927), François Truffaut’s dramedy Day for Night (1973), and the western Winchester ’73 (1950). (Or I might change my plans entirely in order to see Raiders of the Lost Ark in the TCL Chinese Theatre.) The midnight movie (if I can stay awake) is Mexican cult favorite Santo vs. the Evil Brain (1961). Honestly, I’d enjoy seeing any of the 20 movies playing Friday afternoon and evening (and I wouldn’t be surprised if I changed my plans).

SUNRISE: A SONG OF TWO HUMANS (Image ©️ 20th Century Fox)

Day Three – Saturday, April 13

There’s a new venue at the festival this year–the Legion Theater, part of Hollywood Post 43 of the American Legion. The theater was chartered in 1919 by World War I veterans who worked in the movie business and has recently undergone an extensive restoration. The pictures of it look beautiful and I’m excited to check it out.

The first two movies on Saturday are at the Legion Theater and are part of the festival’s 20th Century Fox tribute: the musical The Little Colonel (1935) starring Shirley Temple, and then a session dedicated to the history of 20th Century Fox entitled Fox: An Appreciation with a presentation by Schawn Belston, executive vice president of Media and Library Services at 20th Century Fox.

Then, it’s back to the TCL Chinese Multiplex for the comedy Father Goose (1964) with Cary Grant or the romantic drama Love Affair (1939), and Robert Altman’s Nashville (1975) with actors Ronee Blakley, Keith Carradine, Jeff Goldblum, and Joan Tewkesbury in attendance.

NASHVILLE (Image ©️ Paramount)

One of the toughest decisions (again, first world problems) of the festival schedule for me is between living out a life-long dream of seeing the original (well, it’s the “Special Edition”) Star Wars movie in the TCL Chinese Theater, Star Wars – Episode IV: A New Hope (1977), or seeing one of my all-time favorite guilty pleasures Escape from New York (1981) with an intro by director John Carpenter and actor Kurt Russell. Star Wars is probably going to win (it’s one of my favorite movies ever), but it most likely will be a game time decision.

When STAR WARS played at the Chinese Theater in the summer of 1977…

Day Four – Sunday, April 14

With five “TBA” slots on the Sunday schedule, I’m going to play it by ear that day. I also plan to attend a TCM Backlot event at 1:30 p.m. at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. I’m really hoping to be able to see The Godfather Part II (1974) on the big screen, but again, we’ll just have to see what ultimately gets scheduled and what’s going on.

While the TCM Classic Film Festival is celebrating its 10th anniversary, the TCM network is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Its first day of broadcasting was on April 14, 1994 and the very first film the network played was the seminal classic Gone with the Wind (1939). The film will be shown in the TCL Chinese Theatre on Sunday afternoon at the festival, and it will also be shown on the network that same day. I’ve decided to record it on my DVR and watch it on TV when I get home, which somehow seems appropriate.

Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh in GONE WITH THE WIND (Image ©️ MGM, Warner Bros.)

The 2019 TCM Classic Film Festival will be held April 11-14, 2019 in Hollywood, California. For details, visit

Full Schedule Released for 2019 TCM Classic Film Festival

The great team at Turner Classic Movies (TCM) has released the full schedule today for the upcoming 2019 TCM Classic Film Festival.

The full schedule is here. Read it and weep (because it is awesome).

I’m already agonizing (in a good way) about what films to see. So many choices! For the latest information and updates, visit See you in Hollywood April 11-14!

Images ©️ TCM

More Films Announced for 2019 TCM Classic Film Festival

Yesterday’s announcements for the 2019 Turner Classic Movies (TCM) Classic Film Festival got me pretty stoked.

Image ©️ TCM

Escape from New York is one of my all-time guilty pleasures and it blows my mind that I might have the chance to see it with both Kurt Russell and the film’s director John Carpenter in attendance. And the chance to see Nashville on the big screen, again with members of the cast there, is so cool and is just what the TCM Classic Film Festival is all about.

My pass arrived yesterday, too! Can’t wait!

With the theme of “Follow Your Heart: Love at the Movies,” the lineup for the 10th annual TCM Classic Film Festival keeps getting better and better. For the latest information and updates, visit See you in Hollywood April 11-14!

20th Century Fox Tribute and More Coming to the 2019 TCM Classic Film Festival

More films were announced today for the 2019 Turner Classic Movies (TCM) Classic Film Festival coming April 11-14, 2019 to Hollywood, California.

©️ 20th Century Fox

Of particular interest to me is the 20th Century Fox tribute now happening at the festival (most likely since 20th Century Fox’s sale to The Walt Disney Company will be finalized in the upcoming weeks). Check out this lineup of Fox films being shown at the festival:

  • The Sound of Music (1965) in 70mm
  • Star Wars – Episode IV: A New Hope (1977) Special Edition (wish we could get the original version, but I’m still stoked)
  • Life Begins at 40 (1935) starring Will Rogers and Richard Cromwell
  • The Little Colonel (1935) starring Shirley Temple, Lionel Barrymore, and Bill “Bojangles” Robinson
  • Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) starring Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell
  • The Robe (1953) starring Richard Burton and Jean Simmons

Along with these previously announced Fox titles:

  • Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927)
  • Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) 50th anniversary screening
  • Hello, Dolly! (1969) 50th anniversary screening

And here’s a graphic with some additional films announced today, including more screenings in 35mm nitrate.

Of course, we can’t wait!

With the theme of “Follow Your Heart: Love at the Movies,” the lineup for the 10th annual TCM Classic Film Festival keeps getting better and better. For the latest information and updates, visit We hope to see you in Hollywood in a few weeks!

Images ©️ TCM

2019 Project: “The Essentials”

For my 2019 movie watching project, I’m going to watch all 52 films listed in the excellent 2016 book from Turner Classic Movies (TCM) called The Essentials: 52 Must-See Movies and Why They Matter by frequent TCM collaborator Jeremy Arnold. The book was an accompaniment to the series on TCM of the same name which highlighted these outstanding films (and was most recently hosted by actor Alec Baldwin).

The plan is to watch one film a week from the list below (which is taken directly from Jeremy Arnold’s Essentials book), read Jeremy Arnold’s take on what makes the film “essential,” read any other pertinent writings and relevant information about the film, and then blog and/or podcast about my experience and learnings.

I will primarily use TCM, the Watch TCM app,, iTunes, and Amazon Prime Video to locate and watch all of these titles. And I’m hoping to catch some of these titles on the big screen at either the TCM Classic Film Festival in April and the TCM Big Screen Classics series, which happens all year long.

(* indicates films I haven’t seen)

  1. Metropolis (1927)
  2. All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)*
  3. City Lights (1931)
  4. Grand Hotel (1932)*
  5. King Kong (1933)
  6. Duck Soup (1933)
  7. It Happened One Night (1934)
  8. The Thin Man (1934)
  9. Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
  10. Swing Time (1936)
  11. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
  12. Gone with the Wind (1939)
  13. The Lady Eve (1941)
  14. Citizen Kane (1941)
  15. Now, Voyager (1942)
  16. Casablanca (1942)
  17. Double Indemnity (1944)
  18. Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
  19. Leave Her to Heaven (1945)*
  20. The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)*
  21. Out of the Past (1947)*
  22. The Red Shoes (1948)*
  23. The Bicycle Thief (1948)
  24. The Third Man (1949)*
  25. White Heat (1949)
  26. Adam’s Rib (1949)
  27. Winchester ’73 (1950)*
  28. Sunset Boulevard (1950)
  29. Gun Crazy (1950)
  30. All About Eve (1950)
  31. Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
  32. Roman Holiday (1953)
  33. Seven Samurai (1954)*
  34. On the Waterfront (1954)
  35. Rear Window (1954)
  36. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
  37. The Searchers (1956)
  38. Some Like it Hot (1959)
  39. North by Northwest (1959)
  40. Ben-Hur (1959)
  41. Breathless (1960)
  42. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
  43. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
  44. Dr. Strangelove (1964)
  45. Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
  46. In the Heat of the Night (1967)*
  47. The Graduate (1967)
  48. Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
  49. Jaws (1975)
  50. Rocky (1976)
  51. Annie Hall (1977)
  52. This Is Spinal Tap (1984)

Stay tuned to the blog and podcast for my progress reports. And let me know if you want to join along!

Even More Films Announced for 2019 TCM Classic Film Festival

The always awesome Turner Classic Movies (TCM) Classic Film Festival is happening next April 11-14, 2019 in Hollywood, California.

Today, six more titles were added to the list of films being screened.

Image ©️ TCM
  • The Great K & A Train Robbery (1926), a silent western film starring Tom Mix and Dorothy Dwan; directed by Lewis Seiler
  • Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949), a comedy starring Dennis Price, Valerie Hobson, and Alec Guinness; directed by Robert Hamer 
  • Marty (1955), the Academy Award-winning romantic drama starring Ernest Borgnine and Betsy Blair; directed by Delbert Mann
  • Open Secret (1948), a film noir starring John Ireland, Jane Randolph, and Sheldon Leonard; directed by John Reinhardt 
  • Outlaws of Red River (1927), another silent western starring Tom Mix, Marjorie Daw, and Tony the Wonder Horse; directed by Lewis Seiler
  • Winchester ‘73 (1950), a western starring James Stewart and Shelley Winters; directed by Anthony Mann

With the theme of “Follow Your Heart: Love at the Movies,” the festival lineup keeps getting better and better. For the latest information and updates, visit We hope to see you in Hollywood next April!

2019 TCM Big Screen Classics Films Announced

Turner Classic Movies (TCM) has announced the 14 films that will be included in their 2019 Big Screen Classics series. TCM screens these films in movie theaters across the U.S.A., giving film lovers the chance to see classic films on the big screen as they were intended to be seen. Also included with each screening is commentary before and after the film from Ben Mankiewicz and other TCM hosts that provides context, insights, and other pertinent details about the film. All in all, it’s always a great time at the movie theater.

Here’s the lineup for 2019.

All images ©️ Turner Classic Movies.

The Wizard of Oz (1939) 80th Anniversary – January 27, 29, and 30, 2019

My Fair Lady (1964) – February 17 and 20, 2019

To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) – March 24 and 27, 2019

Ben-Hur (1959) 60th Anniversary – April 14 and 17, 2019

True Grit (1969) 50th Anniversary – May 5 and 8, 2019

Steel Magnolias (1989) 30th Anniversary – May 19, 21, and 22, 2019

Field of Dreams (1989) 30th Anniversary – June 16 and 18, 2019

Glory (1989) 30th Anniversary – July 21 and 24, 2019

Hello, Dolly! (1969) 50th Anniversary – August 11 and 14, 2019

Lawrence of Arabia (1962) – September 1 and 4, 2019

The Shawshank Redemption (1994) 25th Anniversary – September 22, 24, and 25, 2019

Alien (1979) 40th Anniversary – October 13, 15, and 16, 2019

The Godfather Part II (1974)- November 10, 12, and 13, 2019

When Harry Met Sally (1989) 30th Anniversary – December 1 and 3, 2019

For the latest scheduling information and to find a theater near you where these films are playing, visit the Fathom Events website.

More Films Announced for the 10th TCM Classic Film Festival

We’ve snagged our pass, made our hotel reservations, and already can’t wait for the 10th annual Turner Classic Movies (TCM) Classic Film Festival happening April 11-14 in Hollywood, California. Now comes the fun part—waiting to see what films are going to be screened during the festival.

Nine films were previously announced for the festival. Now today, TCM has announced five more films, including the opening night film, When Harry Met Sally with director Rob Reiner and actors Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan in attendance.

Image ©️ TCM

With the theme of “Follow Your Heart: Love at the Movies,” the festival lineup is starting to take shape. The other four films announced today fall right into the festival’s theme:

  • The Clock (1945), romantic drama starring Judy Garland and Robert Walker; directed by Vincente Minnelli
  • Indiscreet (1958), romantic comedy starring Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman; directed by Stanley Donen
  • Love in the Afternoon (1957), romantic comedy starring Gary Cooper and Audrey Hepburn; written and directed by Billy Wilder
  • Mad Love (1935), the horror/obsession film starring Peter Lorre and Frances Drake; directed by Karl Freund

Also, the TCM network will celebrate its 25th anniversary on closing night of the festival. It’s all exciting stuff for classic film lovers! We hope to see you in Hollywood in April!