Memorable Highlights From The 2015 TCM Film Festival - We Are Movie Geeks

TCM Classic Film Festival

Memorable Highlights From The 2015 TCM Film Festival

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For the sixth consecutive year, thousands of movie lovers from around the globe descended upon Hollywood for the TCM Classic Film Festival. The 2015 festival took take place Thursday, March 26 – Sunday, March 29, 2015 and no matter your favorite genre, attendees were treated to an extensive lineup of great movies, appearances by legendary stars and filmmakers, fascinating presentations and panel discussions, special events and more.

Friday night’s screening of APOLLO 13 was definitely one of the most exciting events of the festival. Celebrating its 20th anniversary, Ron Howard’s impressive telling of the nearly doomed mission of the 3 astronauts aboard Apollo 13 looked as spectacular as the first time audiences saw it 20 years ago.

Host and long-time NASA enthusiast Alex Trebek was on hand to introduce the film, as well as introduce fans in attendance to the real Captain Jim Lovell (played in the film by Tom Hanks). Also joining them on stage for a brief discussion before the film was Bill Paxton, who plays astronaut Fred Haise in the film.



Lovell, who also served as technical advisor on the film, shared some great insights about the story itself, as well as some fun trivia about the film. Perhaps one of the most famous lines in film history – “Houston we have a problem” was not actually said by Lovell, as seen in the film, but by fellow mission astronaut Jack Swaggart (played in the film by Kevin Bacon).

Another fun fact he shared was that he originally told director Ron Howard that he would like Kevin Costner to portray him in the film because he thought they bore a striking resemblance. After the studio’s choice of John Travolta (yes, John Travolta!) turned it down, Howard suggested Tom Hanks and the rest is film history.

Paxton also shared stories about filming the zero gravity scenes, taking over 25 flights on NASA’s KC-135 aircraft, also known as the “vomit comet.”

APOLLO 13 being re-released on Blu-ray from Universal Studios Home Entertainment on June 2nd, and its definitely worth a look.

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“Action supports the drama…” – Terry Leonard, stuntman

Hosted by TCM’s own Ben Mankiewicz, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK screened before a full house at El Capitan theater. Fans were treated to an amazing tribute video showcasing legendary stuntman Terry Leonard. The crowd went wild as Leonard came out to talk about his experiences in Hollywood.

Although famous for being Harrison Ford’s stunt double in RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, Leonard has appeared as a stuntman and stunt coordinator in hundreds of Hollywood films, including Apocalypse Now, The Fugitive, and Romancing The Stone.

In one of the most famous stunts in film history, Leonard is dragged beneath a speeding truck on his back, moving the length of the truck to come out the back on a rope, in RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. The idea of that stunt was Leonard’s – as a tribute to famed stuntman Yakima Canutt, who did the stunt originally using a stagecoach.

Leonard’s version was named 4th in a list of the best movie stunts of all time.



One of the less successful films of the “disaster” genre, EARTHQUAKE (1974) was still fun to see outside by the pool at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.

Starring Charlton Heston, Ava Gardner, Lorne Green, George Kennedy and Richard Roundtree – among many other stars of the early 70’s – EARTHQUAKE attempted to show audiences what a real 7.0+ earthquake would do to Los Angeles.


The pre-show guest was none other than Richard Roundtree. Sharing his thoughts on the film, Roundtree told host Ileanna Douglas that after having starred in the SHAFT movies and television series in the early 70’s, he was looking to break out of the mold.

For disaster film fans, the movie mostly holds up, but the dialogue and most of the “destruction of the city” scenes are unintentionally hilarious.

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Starring Doris Day (in her first starring role) and Howard Keel, CALAMITY JANE (1953) tells the story of famed wild west heroine Calamity Jane and her storied relationship with Wild Bill Hickok. The film was Warner Bros. response to the highly successful Annie Get Your Gun (1950) which also starred Howard Keel, alongside Betty Hutton as the title character.

Doris Day is perfectly cast, with her spunky dialogue, not to mention her singing and dancing chops. The song “Secret Love” became an instant chart-topper and won the Academy Award for Best Song. The film was also adapted for television in 1963, with Carol Burnett in the title role.

I had never actually seen this movie, but somehow over 60 years later, it is still so very entertaining.


Another movie I had never seen on the big screen, PSYCHO (1960) starring Janet Leigh, Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles and Martin Balsam, was extremely entertaining to see in the huge, “main house” of the TCL Chinese Theater in Hollywood.

Still as creepy today as it was 55 years ago, the film really holds up well, especially for many in attendance who had never seen it (suprisingly!). The infamous “shower scene” has become iconic in pop culture and still freaks us out every time!

On hand for the pre-show discussion was director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Worlds End), who confessed that he too had not seen it on the big screen and being a big Alfred Hitchcock fan, was excited to see it. He commented that he admired Hitchcock’s technique of showing the audience one thing and then doing something completely different. He cited one early trailer for Psycho in 1960 that actually showed Vera Miles in the shower, so as not to give away that it was actually Janet Leigh who would succumb to said psycho.

The man knows his Hitchcock and it was great to see a contemporary director downright giddy over a movie that came out before he was even born.

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With the world premiere of a new restoration, the classic 42nd STREET, starring Ruby Keeler, Dick Powell and Ginger Rogers did not disappoint. The story takes place “backstage” at a musical production, complete with snappy dialogue and toe-tapping production numbers.

Nearly 50 years after its release, the film inspired a 1980 Broadway production that won the Tony for best musical and became a long running hit.

On hand to share her thoughts on the film was Tony winner Christine Ebersole, who starred in the 2001 Broadway revival, which won the Tony for Best Revival of a Musical.

The film was nominated for the Academy Award for best picture in 1934 and in 1998 it was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.


The theme for the 2015 TCM Classic Film Festival was History According to Hollywood:
The Old West. Medieval England. Ancient Rome.

Hollywood has found endless inspiration in re-creating historical moments and bringing to life the heroes and villains of the past, creating a form of time travel for audiences through the ages and around the world.

The 2015 TCM Classic Film Festival explored how cinema has shaped how we view – and remember – history.

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