By Tim Riley

This column has touted the desirable experience of the annual TCM Classic Film Festival for many years, and once again cinema fans from around the world have the chance to descend on Hollywood for screenings over the four-day period of April 26th through April 29th.

The TCM theme this year is “Powerful Words: The Page Onscreen,” celebrating the representation of the written word on the silver screen, from original screenplays to unique adaptations to portrayals of writers real and imagined. 

Indeed, the foundation of great film is the written word.  This concept may be underscored by the opening night presentation of Mel Brooks’ “The Producers,” for which he was both writer and director and won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.

The Festival will generate plenty of interest for the appearance of Mel Brooks for his discussion of “The Producers,” a film that achieved an exalted cult status and eventually spawned the hit titular Broadway musical that went on to win a record number of Tony Awards.

“The Producers” is not the only film celebrating its fiftieth anniversary at the TCM Classic Film Festival.  Director Franco Zeffirelli’s vision of “Romeo & Juliet,” which cast actual teenagers (Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting) as the star-crossed lovers, gets major billing.

A film that holds up really well 50 years later is the Steve McQueen thriller “Bullitt,” which inarguably has one of the most famous chase scenes in film history.  The good news is that co-star Jacqueline Bisset will be on hand for a discussion at the screening of this taut police tale.

For great laughs, “The Odd Couple,” also celebrating its golden anniversary, can’t be missed as it explains why one refers to a sloppy friend as Oscar and a neat freak as Felix, thanks to the classic comedy delivered by Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon in their respective roles.

Celebrating its twentieth anniversary is another cult favorite, “The Big Lebowski,” which has developed a devoted following at midnight screenings.  At TCM, you won’t have to stay up late to find out why the Dude abides.

The “Best Picture” Oscar went to “The Shape of Water,” and now TCM offers the chance to watch the original inspiration with the 3D presentation of the 1954 “Creature from the Black Lagoon,” a truly classic film.

Going to the TCM Classic Film Festival allows for a fan’s experience at classic venues like the fabled Chinese Theatre and the Egyptian.  Check out the TCM festival website for greater details.

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