This is no festival for newbies. The audience for the 4th edition of the TCM Classic Film Festival is completely at home at the Chinese, watching their favorite films on the big screen. These filmgoers have planned their vacations around this (expensive) festival and know what they like. Unlike other fests, this one is not so much for discoveries as for re-visits.
At the screening of “I Know Where I’m Going,” moderator Cari Beauchamp asked the audience how many had seen the film before? More than a third raised their hands. It’s about seeing your faves with an audience on a big screen. No matter how big your home system may be, there is nothing like hearing the collective sighs of those around you when a beloved scene comes on.
Beauchamp talked about the collaboration of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger on 17 films; she compared their working methods to Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett (she’s writing a book on “Sunset Boulevard”). Brackett and Wilder worked together in the same room and argued, while Powell and Pressburger worked separately – the former wrote the dialogue, while the latter wrote the action. It obviously worked. “I Know Where I’m Going” is a magical film, full of Scottish legends and lore – a mystical whirlpool, a Laird that is cursed and a romance between the radiant Wendy Hiller and handsome Roger Livesey that is impossible to resist. (See trailers below.)
There are many treats to be found at this festival – among them a rare Frank Capra film, “Hondo” in 3-D, “I Am Suzanne,” starring Lillian Harvey, and Steve McQueen racing flick “Le Mans” for those who want action. Its TCM’s gift to their many subscribers– and it’s a four-day feast of the familiar on the big screen.