The Movie Buff’s Guide to Finding Rare Gems at TCM Classic Film Festival

Noir thrillers, Harry Houdini, and hand cranked flicks. You don’t need to be a diehard <em>Casablanca</em> or <em>Lawrence of Arabia</em> fan to have a good time at TCM Classic Film Festival this week

Every year, Turner Classic Movies emerges from basic cable and brings its love of old cinema to big screens in Hollywood. Although 2015 marks only the sixth iteration of TCM Classic Film Festival, it’s already established itself as one of the best film fests in Los Angeles and a top destination for the city’s repertory film scene. There’s something for everyone here, from casual fans of Old Hollywood to dedicated movie lovers hungry for more obscure fare. No one has to be sold on the well-established classics playing the fest, such as Lawrence of Arabia, Pinocchio, Grease, Raiders of the Lost Ark, or The Apartment. But if you’re in the mood for some lesser-known works that are definitely worth checking out, we’ve got you covered. Here are some of the best bets for new discoveries at TCM Fest 2015.

Too Late for Tears (1949)
This noir thriller about a woman (Lizbeth Scott) who gives in wholly to her dark side after discovering a briefcase full of money was all but forgotten until last year. That’s when the Film Noir Foundation restored it to a beautiful new print, which will be screened at the festival. A delightfully twisting (and twisted) tale, this is a must-see for any crime fans.
When: 3/26 at 6:45 p.m.
Where: Chinese Multiplex

Reign of Terror (1949)
The bloody aftermath of the French Revolution serves as the backdrop for this vicious story about the rise and fall of Maximilien Robespierre. An epic made on a shoestring budget, this game of political one-upmanship and backhanded maneuvering makes it ideal for quenching your Game of Thrones thirst ahead of the show’s return in April.
When: 3/27 at 12 p.m.
Where: Chinese Multiplex

Chimes at Midnight (1965)
Of all the films he directed, Orson Welles considered this both his favorite and his most personal. And yet very few have seen it, its troubled copyright history preventing a proper home video release. Hopefully, this new digital print will change this. The story condenses scenes from several Shakespeare plays to focus on the recurring character of Falstaff, the infamously portly former knight. Welles called Falstaff Shakespeare’s greatest creation and identified strongly with the character, and that’s in full evidence here.
When: 3/27 at 3 p.m.
Where: Chinese Multiplex

They Were Expendable (1945)
Director John Ford (Stagecoach, The Searchers, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance) served in World War II, directing documentaries and propaganda for the Navy. His first postwar film, a tribute to the men he served with, recounts the disastrous American loss at the Philippines early in the conflict. A gritty piece of humanity that refuses to sugarcoat the events it depicts, it flopped on release but has been hailed by critics in the years since.
When: 3/28 at 9:45 a.m.
Where: Chinese Multiplex

Return of the Dream Machine (1902 – 1913)
Have you ever seen a movie shown from a hand-cranked projector? Probably not. If you’d like to experience cinema the way people did in the first years of its existence, check out this series of early films, all projected by a 1906 Model 6 cameragraph motion picture machine. Selections mix classics like A Trip to the Moon and overlooked gems like Suspense.
When: 3/28 at 9:30 p.m.
Where: Chinese Multiplex

The Grim Game (1919)
Did you know that legendary escape artist Harry Houdini starred in five silent films between 1919 and 1923? Of them, this film is widely considered his best, but was also thought to be lost until quite recently, when it turned up in a private collection. This is the world premiere of the restoration of this movie, which is notorious for featuring a real airplane collision that accidentally took place while filming and was subsequently worked into the script.
When: 3/29 at 8:15 p.m.
Where: Chinese Multiplex