TCM’s April classic film fest goes virtual

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It’s safe to say Turner Classic Movies holds a unique place with its fans.

“You know,” TCM host Ben Mankiewicz, 53, explained, “we have this community. Turner Classic Movie fans are just different than any other channel on television.

This June 4, 2015 file photo shows Ben Mankiewicz at the 43rd AFI Lifetime Achievement Award Tribute Gala in Los Angeles. The 2020 TCM Classic Film Festival may have been canceled, but the film-loving folks at Turner Classic Movies have decided to air classic films like “Singin’ in the Rain,” “Casablanca” and “North by Northwest” as well as interviews with from festival past with film legends from Peter O’Toole to Faye Dunaway. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)

“With us, fans are invested in what we do, the channel means something to them. Nostalgia is a meaningful human emotion and it’s not marketable, it’s a feeling.

“That’s why they watch us — and they watch over us. They see us not just as the protector but the mouthpiece for this great art form, these classic movies.”

So when TCM cancelled April’s fan-centric Classic Film Festival in Hollywood due to COVID-19 concerns, they programmed a “Special Home Edition” that runs Thursday through Sunday.

TCM Classic Film Festival will offer long form interviews from past festivals with film legends like Faye Dunaway, Eva Marie Saint and Peter O’Toole. (AP Photo)

Beyond great films, this Home Edition shows clips, interviews and comments from its 2010 beginning, where we can see Tony Curtis talk about “Some Like It Hot” or two-time Oscar winner Luise Rainer, a spry 100, discussing and then watching her 1937 “The Good Earth.”

In 2018, Cicely Tyson was there to show her 1972 “Sounder.”

Cicely Tyson arrives at the screening of “The Producers” at the 2018 TCM Classic Film Festival Opening Night at the TCL Chinese Theatre on Thursday, April 26, 2018, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP)

Among the standouts for Mankiewicz is a one-hour special with character actor Norman Lloyd, now 105.

“We spoke in 2016 when he was just 100. His breakout scene was falling from the Statue of Liberty in Hitchcock’s ‘Saboteur’ (’42). Norman’s an unbelievable storyteller — and he’s been in a ton of movies.

“I don’t know where there’s a place that gets why Norman Lloyd matters but they (the TCM audience) know. As he comes onstage for our special, there’s a thunderous ovation.

“That was just a wonderful, wonderful piece I think everyone will enjoy.”

In 2013, the festival screened the 1972 blockbuster “Deliverance” with Burt Reynolds, Jon Voight, Ned Beatty and director John Boorman present.

“Burt wasn’t moving terribly well because for years and years he’s been suffering the effects of his own stunts, including ‘Deliverance’ where he was really battered,” Mankiewicz said.

“They had dinner at the mall attached to Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. We got a golf cart from mall security to take them down to the theater.

“And Jon Voight was so kind to Burt and Ned; he made sure they felt strong and helped them into the golf cart. Then Jon leaps onto the running board and as we drive through the mall every single person we passed had a similar reaction: ‘That’s Burt Reynolds!’ ‘That’s Jon Voight!’

“It was funny — and I was moved by Jon Voight’s kindness to his co-stars.”

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