"Style in the Movies" is the central theme of this year's TCM Classic Film Festival, opening tonight in Los Angeles with the world premiere of the new restoration of Cabaret (1972) and running through the weekend. For the AP, Lynn Elber calls up Liza Minnelli, who'll be there with Joel Grey and, if he can make it, Michael York: "Minnelli, whose turn as cabaret singer Sally Bowles captured a best actress Academy Award and cemented her young stardom, said making Cabaret was a joyful 'secret,' filmed in Munich and far away from meddling Los Angeles studio bosses. Director Bob Fosse 'got away with murder. We all did,' Minnelli said… 'We'd take chances, and the studio would send notes like, "Too cloudy. It will break up on drive-in (screens)." Fosse would read that out loud, tear it up and throw it over his shoulder — in front of the whole cast and crew.'"
"TCM's four-film tribute to director Stanley Donen is smartly split between the musicals for which he is best known and narratives he made sing with muscular energy," writes Mark Olsen in the LA Weekly. In the latter category: Charade (1963) and, newly restored, Two for the Road (1967). In the former, Funny Face (1957) and, commemorating Gene Kelly's 100th birthday (August 23), Singin' in the Rain (1952). Donan, who turns 88 tomorrow, will be there. The New York Post's Lou Lumenick talks with Debbie Reynolds, who "was only 19 when shooting began in June 1951. It was the former Miss Burbank's first lead after several supporting roles, and the first time she did major dancing in a picture — opposite two legends, Kelly (then 38) and Donald O'Connor (25). 'Gene was sort of stuck with me by [MGM boss Louis B] Mayer, but he worked really hard with me…. I had five dance teachers, including Fred Astaire, who was doing a picture on the next stage. So with everybody's help, I became a dancer. We'd dance 15 to 16 hours a day, with only Sundays off. My first day on the picture, my feet were bleeding afterwards.'"
Also in the LA Weekly, Tom von Logue Newth rounds up the noirs, Michael Nordine picks out several notable rarities and Doug Cummings writes: "Directed by Hungarian Pál Fejös, Lonesome may be the greatest (mostly) silent film you've never seen. With its deeply romantic, fable-like spin on urban living, this visually exhilarating tale of two city workers who meet and fall in love on Coney Island rivals Sunrise or The Crowd…. The film charts the rituals of hectic workdays, the ennui that follows and the upswing into weekend whimsy; its graphic rhythms register almost musically, reinforcing the narrative role songs play in bringing the characters together. Never released on home video, Lonesome is one of George Eastman House's most beloved restorations."
A new 4K restoration of Jean Renoir's Grand Illusion (1937) sees its US premiere tomorrow before its theatrical release in May. It's currently in London and, today in the New Statesman, Ryan Gilbey lists five reasons it must be seen. More from Ginette Vincendeau in Sight & Sound.
Not Coming to a Theater Near You has opened up a special section on the festival and reviews will be appearing there throughout the weekend as well. Rebecca Keegan has an overview in the Los Angeles Times and In Contention's Kristopher Tapley talks with TCM host Robert Osborne about the festival.
Updates, 4/14: Susan King talks with Donen in the Los Angeles Times and, for Vanity Fair, Julie Miller has notes from the Cabaret premiere — a lot of notes. Minnelli in particular was pretty talkative, evidently.
Update, 4/25: "The fest proved to be a communal experience, a learning opportunity, and a chance to reflect on the power of movies to connect us as a society and culture. Watching 14 movies in four days was exhausting but also rejuvenating." Susan Doll looks back at Movie Morlocks.