Diana reporting from TCM Film Festival's Opening Night Red Carpet. The classic stars came out and Anne Marie and I talked to them.
4 P.M. Hollywood Blvd.
The red carpet is rolled out in front of Grauman’s, but crewmembers are still finagling with the Oklahoma! stop-and-turns as the press begins to descend on the barricades. Within a few moments, we chosen not-so-few (journalists, cameramen, bloggers) swarm to our allocated spaces along the carpet, with The Film Experience smack dab in front of the Grauman’s entrance. Tip sheet in hand and audio recorder on standby, we stand and wait.
5 P.M. The Red Carpet Opens
We are told that Shirley Jones has arrived. In the distance and with some squinting, you can see the Oklahoma! songbird looking bubbly yet elegant in a dark pantsuit with Marty Ingels, her husband of 37 years (a fact highlighted by him carrying a placard reading “37 YEARS”), by her side. As Jones makes her way down the press line, we press are prepping and mentally repeating our opening lines (mine involved her splendid performance in the 2005 revival of 42nd Street and her recent one-woman show at a Maryland Boscov’s), but alas she is called to take photos with Robert Osborne and then bypasses our section.
Leonard Maltin stops by. Being a fledgling critic myself, I jump to ask his advice to young critics and film journalists. Maltin says simply, almost pointedly, that aspiring critics just need to write, and read, but mainly write. He elaborated that he began writing criticism as a by-product of his passion for film history and that if he could have, he would have stayed solely a film historian. In regards to the festival itself, Maltin is there in an official capacity, moderating multiple talks (including Friday’s Club TCM talk with Quincy Jones) and hosting the Hubley Animation tribute, but is also looking forward to seeing as many of the screenings as he can, including Zulu.
Tiffany Vasquez, the TCM Ultimate Fan winner, is brimming with excitement at not only being on the red carpet but being there as a guest programmer, she will be introducing the 1948 noir The Naked City. Like most TCM fans would be, she was very nervous and intimidated by working with Robert Osborne in her onscreen introduction, but Osborne was so welcoming and gracious that he immediately eased her nerves [insert warm, fuzzy feelings]. Funnily enough, the New York City native originally wanted to submit Sunset Boulevard as her TCM Ultimate Fan entry, but decided to utilize her location, with The Naked City springing to mind, and shot the whole thing on the border of Queens and Brooklyn.
6 P.M. The Clock is Ticking
With only a half hour until the show begins, two Hitchcock blondes whizz by with protective publicists/companions in tow -- Kim Novak and Tippi Hedren (both breathtaking and in pantsuits, the former’s dark and the latter’s light blue-and-green floral).
Margaret O’Brien, in a stunning royal blue full-length gown and with tinted blue hair to match, says hello. As tiny and peppy as Tootie, even 70 years later, she said that Meet Me in St. Louis was her favorite filming experience, her most challenging performance was in Little Women but because she adored the role of Beth so much from the book and wanted to do it justice more than anything else. Lining up nicely with the festival theme of “Family: The Ties That Bind,” she also credited her mother as her biggest support throughout her career.
Trying to lob at least one question at the legendary and still fiery Maureen O’Hara, I asked how her evening was going (sometimes small talk can work wonders in easing to a star’s red carpet schedule). “I won’t know until the evening’s over,” the quick wit threw back.
6:30 PM Closing Time
Everyone is getting settled in for Oklahoma! and here’s Anne Marie’s write-up on the screening itself. More on the festival to come!