TCMFF 2017: The Films

Great images and viewpoint shared regarding the 2017 TCMFF!

Noir Girl

If you read multiple accounts of the fest from different people, you’ll quickly realize the range of options available for creating your schedule. We all attended the same event, but our picks are wildly different and it’s rare for two festival-goers to have the same exact selections. This versatility is one of the aspects I appreciate most about TCMFF. Sure, they feature films from the 70s-00s. But they aren’t the only option. And at the same time, there are 2-3 other films from the 30s-60s playing that still make creating a schedule for myself a game of Sophie’s Choice.

Thursday, April 6man-who-knew-too-much-blu-ray-movie-title

The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) – The first nitrate screening of the fest! Must admit, it was very difficult to tell a difference between nitrate and a regular safety print. I spent the first 15 minutes trying to figure out what the fuss was about and…

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Can’t get enough of Méliès month over at Silent-ology. Am learning a lot,

Georges Méliès: Pioneer Of Cinematic Spectacle

What a nicely written biography of the great Georges Méliès. I still have to add “Hugo” to my list of films yet to watch. Until then, I will continue to immerse myself in Silent-ology’s excellent posts about Méliès!


[His films] had a visual style as distinctive as Douanier Rousseau or Chagall, and a sense of fantasy, fun and nonsense whose exuberance is still infectious…. —David Robinson

His full name was Marie-Georges-Jean Méliès, and he was born on December 8, 1861 in beautiful Paris. His wealthy parents, Jean-Louis-Stanislas Méliès and Johannah-Catherine Schuering, owned a successful factory for high-quality boots. Their parents imagined that Georges and his older brothers Henri and Gaston would simply take over the family business one day. But little did they know that Georges would not only take up a cutting-edge industry they had never even imagined, but that he would attain global fame as one of its greatest pioneers.

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Thoughts On: “The Four Troublesome Heads” (1898)

Méliès’ work should always be in a film class 101 whether in college or high school. I was delighted to read Christina Wehner’s comment that she showed it to her high school class. Tangential Aside: I know of a French teacher who showed her South St. Paul High School French class “The Passion of Jeanne d’Arc” (1928). She wasn’t sure of her class’ attention span, but showed the first 20 minutes. After stopping it at that point, the class clamored to see more. She ended up showing the whole film! It just goes to show you that brilliant classic films stand the test of time—-just like Méliès’ work.


Well over a century old and only over a minute long, Un homme de têtes is one of Georges Méliès’s earliest and best-known worksI think the French title literally translates to “a man of heads,” but we know it today as The Four Troublesome Heads. Either way it’s one of your oddly blunt 1890s silent film titles. Classic 1890s cinema, am I right? Haw!


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Georges Méliès And The Féerie

Lea at Silent-ology not only reports interesting information on Méliès’ film style, she also gives an excellent contextual background of the theatrical trend of the times that influenced his film-making style. Kudos to you, Lea!


There is much to love about Georges Méliès. He was a technical wizard, a delightful performer, and an artist whose gorgeous work can still inspire awe.  And charmingly, he was a man who believed in dreams. He captured many of them on the screen, one painted set at a time, and today they serve as reminders of an era more open to wonder.

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Méliès’s films have a knack for taking us out of our comfort zones in the most enchanting way possible. They’re so old-timey to our eyes that they could almost come from a different planet. At times, we have to remind ourselves to stop holding them at arm’s length.

But to filmgoers in Méliès’s own time, the filmmaker’s work was not only exceptional but also familiar. In fact, he was drawing upon a long history of theatrical enchantment–specifically, the French theater genre of the féerie.

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Obscure Films: “The Merry Frolics Of Satan” (1906)

Thanks Lea for your background research on this film’s theatrical history. I enjoy your blog very much, and it has inspired me to go to the special showing of Méliès films at the Old Town Music Hall in El Segundo, CA this coming Sunday. I have a busy weekend of old film screenings!


One of my very favorite Georges Méliès films is Les Quat’Cents Farces du diable, literally translated as The 400 Tricks of the Devil. We just call it The Merry Frolics of Satan (1906), which is a title truly of its time. So is the film itself, but that’s why I love it so much.

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While not as widely discussed as A Trip to the Moon and more familiar from clips turning up in documentaries on early cinema, it’s one of Méliès’s most elaborate works and a real treat for the eyes. Its plot can be…quite mystifying even if you’re paying close attention, so here’s a detailed recap (I believe some of the information originally came from the Star Film Company’s catalog):

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The Sidney-Poitier-as-Social-Barometer Film Theory

“No Way Out”—as socially relevant today as it was then. Sidney Poitier–always powerful as an actor!

Silver Screenings

Sidney Poitier (standing) confronts Richard Widmark. Image: Dr MacroSidney Poitier (standing) confronts Richard Widmark. Image: Dr Macro

We’re working on a Sidney Poitier film theory.

We started developing this theory while watching the 1950 thriller No Way Out, in which Poitier portrays a young doctor at a busy city hospital.

As the film opens, Poitier is asked to fill a shift in the hospital prison ward, where he examines two white prisoners. The two are brothers, and are sporting gunshot wounds they received while robbing a gas station.

Although neither man has life-threatening wounds, one of them is barely conscious and has laboured breathing. Poitier decides to perform a spinal tap to diagnose his condition, which horrifies the brother (Richard Widmark).

Now, Widmark’s character hates African Americans, and he continually chides and belittles Poitier. It’s a wonder Poitier’s character can concentrate on his job with Widmark’s racial pummeling.

But. The ailing prisoner dies while Poitier is doing the procedure, and this sends Widmark into hysterics. He accuses Poitier of…

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Why We Need John Garfield in a Cary Grant Movie

A great article highlighting the contributions of John Garfield to “Destination Tokyo”!

Silver Screenings

John Garfield is a hit with the dames. Image: Ultimate Movie RankingsJohn Garfield brags about dames he’s known. Image: Ultimate Movie Rankings

Here’s a movie from World War II: Destination Tokyo (1943). It stars Cary Grant as an American submarine captain tasked with sneaking his vessel in and out of the enemy waters of Tokyo Bay – without getting blown up.

Destination Tokyo is the supposed story of American weather “intelligence” gathering in preparation for the Doolittle Raid. According to, the film is entirely fictional; however, the website says, “the attention to detail is impressive, since the script is based on a story by a former submariner.”

Not that we (as in, yours truly) are any kind of submarine expert, but we do feel the film has lots of realistic adventure: the battle scenes with enemy ships; the dislodging of an unexploded bomb; the sneaking around Tokyo Bay. All of this transpires under the watchful eye of Captain Cary Grant.

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All’s Fair in The Love War

I remember the “movie-of-the-week”—my mom loved them. This one sounds like an early influence of John Carpenter’s “They Live.” Enjoy!

Silver Screenings

Angie Dickinson wants to know why Lloyd Bridges is so strange. Image: ModcinemaAngie Dickinson thinks Lloyd Bridges is handsome but strange. Image: Modcinema

Although we (as in, yours truly) are not the most enthusiastic supporters of television, we do feel an odd nostalgia for televised events we never witnessed, such as Elvis Presley’s first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, or the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Another bit of TV business for which we recently developed a fondness is ABC’s Movie of the Week series, described as an “anthology” of made-for-TV movies.

Although the American network NBC was the first to produce a made-for-TV film in the mid 1960s, it was ABC who glommed onto the idea. They produced films to air Sunday nights from 1969 until 1976 under the ABC Movie of the Week banner.

(Confession: We had never seen a Movie of the Week until recently because we – wrongly – assumed they were cheap and unimaginative.)

These movies attracted some powerful talent…

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Buster Keaton and the Important Things in Life

A look at the father-son relationship in Steamboat bIll, jr.!

Silver Screenings

Buster Keaton loves Marion Byron, despite her father. Image: Music at the Red DoorBuster Keaton (L) woos Marion Byron, despite her father (R). Image: Music at the Red Door

There is a scene in the 1928 comedy, Steamboat Bill, Jr., that beautifully showcases the genius of its star, Buster Keaton.

It’s not the scene where he clings to a flying tree, or the scene where he piggybacks a girl while dangling from a rope over a ferocious river.

Nay, we feel the genius of Buster Keaton is the quiet scene where he goes to the jailhouse to visit his recently-imprisoned father. Keaton sits, politely, in a chair across from the sheriff’s desk and in view of his father’s cell. He has brought a ridiculously large loaf of bread with him.

Keaton begins to communicate with his father through hand gestures, even though his father is annoyed and uninterested. However, Keaton persists, aware that the preoccupied Sheriff may not be distracted for long.

First, Keaton signs to his…

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