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FLICK PICKS: Fun with split screens and film festivals
April 21, 2010  | By Diane Werts
 
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Just old movies? Think again. Turner Classic Movies is always thinking outside the box that holds the Warner/MGM film library from which the channel was launched 16 years ago this week. They've added lots more titles, many of them newer, and they've found increasingly clever ways to lovingly package their film presentations for both edification and sheer fun.

Take Wednesday night's theme. TCM usually builds around one every night, and sometimes during the daytime, too -- often a specific actor or director, a genre, a setting, a historical moment, or a cinematic technique.

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Wednesday falls under that last category, spotlighting three movies that tell their stories using split-screen geometry -- Norman Jewison's original 1968 heist The Thomas Crown Affair with Steve McQueen (Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET, TCM), John Frankenheimer's 1966 road race epic Grand Prix with James Garner (Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET, TCM) and 1973's obscure "Duo-vision" gimmick thriller Wicked, Wicked (Wednesday night at 1 a.m. ET, TCM). Watch the screen split and split and split again in this online Thomas Crown Affair clip.

This weekend, TCM thinks outside the TV box itself, by sponsoring its first four-day Classic Film Festival in Hollywood. Bringing the virtual community of TCM fans to actual fruition, classics will be screened the way they were meant to be seen, and film greats will mix with fans at salutes, panels and parties. Tab Hunter introduces Damn Yankees, Esther Williams presents Neptune's Daughter, Jerry Lewis takes questions about The King of Comedy, and John Carpenter discusses remakes like his '80s The Thing. And lots more. You can get all the details here.

You can also get a taste of the Classic Film Festival on the tube without heading west. This Thursday through Sunday, TCM is running nightly mini-marathons keyed to festival events.

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Thursday features a five-film salute to the 20th anniversary of The Film Foundation, the Martin Scorsese-led push to preserve and celebrate "endangered cinema treasures" -- among them, this night's offerings of The Red Shoes, Once Upon a Time in the West, The River, Bonjour Tristesse, and 1932's little-seen Adolphe Menjou mystery The Night Club Lady. (That's West heavy Henry Fonda being very, very bad at the top of this column.)

Friday's double feature honors the mastery of visual effects pioneer Douglas Trumbull in 1968's 2001: A Space Odyssey and 1977's Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Saturday spotlights some of the classics whose behind-the-scenes production drama made for fascinating Vanity Fair articles -- The Graduate, The Magnificent Ambersons, Reds and Rebel Without a Cause.

Sunday wraps things up by exploring the history of Hollywood, in Singin' in the Rain, Sunset Boulevard and the 1923 silent Souls for Sale, showing how people were doing anything even back then to get famous in Hollywood.

 
 
 
 
 
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