Musicals at TCM Film Fest 2017

Well, it’s TCMFF time again! This will be my fourth year attending (though only third year with a pass), and I’m already getting excited for all the films—and already somewhat dreading all the decisions to be made. The one nice thing is there are never really “bad” choices, so I can take comfort in that at least.

This year’s theme of “Make ‘Em Laugh” seemed to lead to lots of great musical comedies in particular included among the schedule, including more than a couple that I think are going to be “must-sees” for me.

So who’s coming, and which ones are you most looking forward to?


Gene Wilder in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971) – 7:30pm / poolside at the Roosevelt

“There’s no earthly way of knowing which direction we are going…” Start your festival on a sweet note with this classic, trippy musical starring the late, great Gene Wilder. Pair it with some Wonka treats from the Sweet! shop in Hollywood & Highland, but not too many—heed the fate of Augustus Gloop. [digital]


Richard Pryor and Diana Ross in Lady Sings the Blues

One Hour With You (1932) – 11:30am / Egyptian Theatre

Pre-code musical comedy starring the ever-charming Maurice Chevalier and the ever-lovely Jeanette MacDonald. Directed by Ernst Lubitsch (semi-contentiously “with the assistance of” George Cukor) in a musical remake of his 1924 film, The Marriage Circle. [35mm]

Lady Sings the Blues (1972) – 12:15pm / Chinese Multiplex House 4

Moody biopic of the legendary singer Billie Holiday, starring the great Diana Ross as the lady herself, in her Oscar-winning star debut. Also features Billy Dee Williams in his first major role, and Richard Pryor. [35mm]

Those Redheads from Seattle in 3D (1953) – 9:45pm / Chinese Multiplex House 6

Frequent festgoers may recall the 3D Kiss Me Kate screening that took place at TCM Fest 2015, and those seeking to duplicate that unique experience may be wise to check this one out. Mama and four daughters making their way in Gold Rush-era Alaska? Sounds like an obvious and logical choice for 3D, sure! [format not listed]


John Travolta boogies down in Saturday Night Fever

The Court Jester (1955) – 9am / TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX

Danny Kaye stars in a made-to-order role as a brave knight going undercover as an unassuming court jester. Kaye’s comedic skill in switching between the roles-within-a-role, as well as the opulent sets and costumes, make this a studio-era musical gem. [DCP]

Bye Bye Birdie (1963) – 3:30pm / Chinese Multiplex House 1

From the unforgettable opening shots of Ann-Margret singing in front of a brilliant blue background, this bubbly, bitingly nostalgic musical never lets up a moment of its aggressive cheerfulness. Wonderful ensemble featuring Dick Van Dyke, Janet Leigh, Maureen Stapleton, and scene-stealing Paul Lynde (with an appearance by “Ed Sullivannnn…”). [format not listed]

Saturday Night Fever (1977) – 6:30pm / TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX

One of the most iconic dance movies of all time, this film also launched John Travolta’s star career and sold millions of Bee Gees’ records. It’s a movie that’s both unmistakably of its time, but also deals with surprisingly universal themes of longing and ambition. Just try not to strut out of the theater after this one. [DCP]

Top Secret! – 9:15pm / Chinese Multiplex House 1

From the makers of Airplane!, this one stars Val Kilmer as an Elvis-ish rock star dropped in the middle of the action in East Germany. He gets into more than a couple sticky situations, and has to—what else?—sing and hip-swing his way out of trouble. [DCP]


Ginger Rogers in Lady in the Dark

Singin’ in the Rain (1952) – 4:30pm / TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX

I mean, enough said, right? [DCP]

Lady in the Dark (1944) – 7:45pm / Egyptian Theatre

In the real world, Ginger Rogers is a no-nonsense Allure magazine editor, describing her unsatisfying life to her psychotherapist. In her dreams, though, she leads over-the-top musical numbers and entertains appearances by some unlikely romantic candidates. The dreams also feature stunning set and costume creations by Raoul Pene du Bois, including the showstopping ensemble pictured above—just wait ’til you see it in Technicolor. [Nitrate]

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