Next year’s TCM Film Festival: Movie recommendations

(Continuing Reveal Shot’s review of the 2013 TCM Film Festival.)

The fourth annual TCM Film Festival was the first I’d attended, and I certainly plan to attend in 2014.

Here are some movies I’d like to see:

“Mystery Of The Wax Museum” (Warner Bros., 1933)

The 3-D remake of this film, ‘House Of Wax” (1953) would certainly be a big draw at the festival after the popular screenings of 3-D classics “Hondo” and “Dial M For Murder” this year, but I prefer the original. Lionel Atwill stars as the wax museum sculptor disfigured in a fire who goes insane and begins to tomb living women in wax. Glenda Farrell is the archetypal wisecracking female reporter who uncovers the horrific facts. See Will McKinley’s review of Film Forum’s 1933 Pre-Code Festival, which included this movie, at this link.

The Big Country” (United Artists, 1958)

This mammoth Western, directed by William Wyler, was brilliantly shot in Technirama by Franz Planer. The wide-open expanses and the scale of the feud between the Terrills, headed by Maj. Henry Terrill (Charles Bickford), and the Hannesseys, led by Rufus Hannessey (Burl Ives) would be amazing to see in the proper size. There’s a scene when Terrill’s men, accompanied by a thundering Jerome Moross score, ride to the Hannessey ranch, bent on revenge; makes me smile to think about it.

“The Great Race” (Warner Bros., 1965)

A perfect follow-up, at the Cinerama Dome, to this year’s presentation of “Mad Mad World.” I always assumed Blake Edwards was specifically trying to top that film, given the huge cast headlined by Tony Curtis, Natalie Wood, Jack Lemmon, Dorothy Provine (one of the stars of Stanley Kramer‘s epic), Peter Falk (ditto), Ross Martin and so many more.

“The Fall Of The Roman Empire” (Samuel Bronston/Paramount 1964)
Having seen a just-okay print of Samuel Bronston’s “El Cid” (1961) several years ago at the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley, Calif. several years ago, this is the other epic of his I always wanted to see on the big screen. It has well-staged sword fights, a chariot race, and a brilliantly demented performance by Christopher Plummer as the mad Roman emperor Commodus.

Alec Guinness also distinguishes himself as Marcus Aurelius, as does James Mason as Timonides. Charlton Heston was to have been the lead actor, working with Sophia Loren as he had in “El Cid.” But because the two did not get along, Heston bowed out of “Roman Empire,” and Stephen Boyd stepped in. The first time I saw the film, it was  striking to see Boyd as a good guy after he had been the evil Messala in “Ben-Hur.”

“The Guns Of Navarone” (Columbia, 1961)

No matter how many times I see this one, I’m usually compelled to watch whenever it’s on. I’ve never seen it in a theatrical setting, and I would be anxious to see how an audience reacts to its big action scenes and the mounting tension between Mallory (Gregory Peck) and Stavrou (Anthony Quinn), as well as that which develops between Mallory and Miller (David Niven).

“Exodus” (United Artists, 1960)

Otto Preminger is one of my favorite directors. It has been more than 25 years since I saw this epic, over two nights on a Detroit television station. I wanted to get it on DVD several years ago, but kept reading terrible things about the transfer. If a print exists in good condition somewhere, it would be great to see it uncut, with an audience.

A Shot In The Dark” (UA, 1964)

Since “The Pink Panther” (1963) was shown at the 2012 festival, this would be a logical follow-up. Considered by many to be the funniest film in the series, “A Shot In The Dark” follows Clouseau (Peter Sellers) as he tries to absolve a beautiful woman (Elke Sommer) of the murder of her husband. The nudist colony sequences didn’t make me laugh, but just about everything else did, and I’m sure it would seem even funnier with a crowd of fans.

And the Henry Mancini main title theme is my favorite of all the “Pink Panthers.”

“The Victors” (Columbia, 1963)

Always wanted to see this movie, about a group of American soldiers fighting their way across Europe, and the toll it takes on them even though they are ostensibly winning their battles. George Peppard and George Hamilton worked together again a few years after “Home From The Hill.” Also starring Vince Edwards, Romy Schneider, Elke Sommer, Rosanna Schaffiano and Jeanne Moreau.

— David B. Wilkerson



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