The 10 Classic Warner Bros. Movies to Catch at the 2023 TCM Festival

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Warner Bros. has already celebrated its centennial with a segment during the Academy Awards, the publication of a studio-supported book (Warner Bros.: 100 Years of Storytelling) and, most recently, a barrage of festivities emanating from Turner Classic Movies. TCM’s programming for all of April is being devoted to Warners films, and at the 14th annual TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood, running April 13-16, many studio masterpieces, some recently restored and remastered, will be shown on big screens around town. Here are 10 that this THR Hollywood history buff highly recommends.

Footlight Parade (1933)

Ninety years ago, during the depths of the Great Depression, Americans sought escape from their troubles with light movies like this backstage musical. Directed by Lloyd Bacon, starring James Cagney, Joan Blondell, Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler and highlighted by some of choreographer Busby Berkeley’s most kaleidoscopic dance numbers, it was a giant hit at the box office. It screens April 14.

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Casablanca (1942)

Don’t miss a rare opportunity to see the beloved World War II-set love triangle — the ultimate example of studio-system filmmaking — on an Imax screen and with a huge audience April 16. As sung by Sam, “It’s still the same old story, a fight for love and glory, a case of do or die,” and the Michael Curtiz-directed classic remains as riveting as ever.

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

This cautionary tale of greed can hold its own amid any of the Humphrey Bogart-John Huston collaborations. Scenes were all but stolen by Huston’s father, Walter Huston (who won the supporting actor Oscar for his performance), and the film will be introduced April 15 by John’s son, actor Danny Huston.

East of Eden (1955)

Inspired by the John Steinbeck novel, the Paul Osborn-scripted and Elia Kazan-directed drama, which screens April 14, introduced the world to James Dean and, along with the release that year of Rebel Without a Cause, made him a star. Oscar noms were given to Kazan, Dean (posthumously) and Osborn, while Jo Van Fleet won best supporting actress for her turn as Dean’s mom.

Mister Roberts (1955)

This dramedy about life on a Navy supply ship that isn’t seeing much action during World War II was adapted from Thomas Heggen and Joshua Logan’s hit play and directed by John Ford and Mervyn LeRoy, and its all-star cast includes Cagney, Henry Fonda, William Powell and Jack Lemmon. The April 16 screening will be introduced by yours truly.

Rio Bravo (1959)

Howard Hawks and John Wayne’s classic Western opens the fest April 13, with the film’s sole surviving star, Angie Dickinson, on hand alongside Steven Spielberg and Paul Thomas Anderson, members of the board of The Film Foundation, which helped restore it.

The Wild Bunch (1969)

Sam Peckinpah’s revolutionary Western screens April 14. Centering on a gang of aging outlaws — played by, among others, William Holden, Ernest Borgnine and Robert Ryan — during the last days of the Old West, it features still shocking amounts of gun violence in the service of a larger point.

Enter the Dragon (1973)

Fifty years after its release, the Bruce Lee action film, which popularized martial arts in America, screens April 15. Lee, who portrays a martial artist avenging his sister’s murder, died a month before its U.S. premiere, but his legacy lives on.

The Exorcist (1973)

Thirteen-year-old Linda Blair hovers in The Exorcist
Thirteen-year-old Linda Blair hovers in The Exorcist

Adapted from William Peter Blatty’s bestselling novel by Blatty himself, The Exorcist stars Ellen Burstyn as the mother of a young girl who appears to be possessed by a demon. Buoyed by head-spinning effects and Dick Smith’s makeup, it became a blockbuster and the first horror film to be nominated for the best picture Oscar. Director William Friedkin will be there for the April 15 screening.

Risky Business (1983)

Curtis Armstrong and Tom Cruise in Risky Business.
Curtis Armstrong and Tom Cruise in Risky Business.

Forty years after the teen comedy (Paul Brickman’s directorial debut) catapulted Tom Cruise to superstardom, he remains arguably the biggest star in Hollywood. Ahead of the April 14 screening, leading lady Rebecca De Mornay will be on hand for a Q&A.

This story first appeared in the April 12 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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