Friday, April 22, 2011

Tale as Old as Time

Howdy, I know I haven't updated in awhile, but I have something update worthy!  Over the weekend (now a few weekends ago), I attended TCM's Road to Hollywood screening of The Manchurian Candidate in NYC.
It was presented by Robert Osborne and he interviewed Angela Lansbury prior to the movie.  It was such a great experience, made me reminisce about last year's film festival and got me even more excited for this years (which I didn't think was possible).  I was lucky to be able to make it to this screening this year.  I missed the screening of All About Eve in the city last year because I had class and I'm probably going to miss the screening of The Birds on Long Island, again because of class.  Damn you grad school!

Anyway, I was looking forward to this event and even arrived an hour and a half before they opened the doors.  When I arrived there was already a line around the block, it was amazing to see so many people lining up to see a classic movie in the city.  I was actually even a little worried that perhaps too many people were attending the screening and I wouldn't get in, but my worries were unfounded. 

I even had a glorious time waiting in line; I waited in line behind a cute pair of friends and we discussed the history of the Academy Awards and debated over whether or not Judy Holliday deserved her Oscar  in 1951.  She was up against both Bette Davis and Gloria Swanson, what a tough year!  That then led to a discussion where we couldn't quite understand how Judy Garland didn't win the Oscar for "A Star is Born."  Needless to say this was a wonderful in line experience.  I very rarely get to have these types of discussions, most of my friends don't even know who Judy Holliday is, and they certainly wouldn't know who she was up against in 1951.  Anyway, that's just one of the things I adore about attending Classic Movie screenings.  Now onto the main event, I am apparently a very bad judge of the number of people in a crowd.

 There were two "actor" chairs set up at the front of the theater and they had blow-up posters of the Road to Hollywood advertisement.  At around 7:30 a DJ (from a radio station I don't remember) came to the front of the theater and welcomed us to the screening, made a couple of jokes about the snake that escaped from the Bronx Zoo and then he introduce Robert Osborne.  Like a rock star, Robert Osborne walked to the front of the theater and, again, welcomed us to the theater and shared all the ins and outs of the upcoming film festival.
 He shared information about some of the more notable screenings and special guests, but then also noted that all the passes were pretty much sold out.  The man next to me got very angry about that, he hadn't even known about the festival and was now angered that he couldn't go to it.  I told him there will probably be another one next year (I didn't really know what to say).  Anyway, Robert Osborne then introduced Angela Lansbury and she emerged from the back of the theater.  She looked beautiful!  And so skinny!  She walked right by my row, but I didn't get to take a picture.  She received a standing ovation and seemed thrilled to be there!

 The 'interview' was wonderful.  It didn't really feel like an interview, it seemed like Robert and Angela were old friends who were just having a discussion.  He began by asking her about her film career, she confessed that she never felt like she had 'made it' in Hollywood and that the only good movies or good roles she was offered were in 'The Manchurian Candidate' and 'Bedknobs and Broomsticks.'  She said that she had to go to the theater to find success.  I was shocked by her assessment of her career!  I had always felt like she was a great actress who had an impressive film career (hello?!  Beauty and the Beast!).  But after thinking about it, I do see Ms. Lansbury's point...while she is a wonderful actress she didn't really have those iconic or amazing roles.  But, I don't think that should diminish her acting or her impact in films.

After discussing her career she shared some stories of what it was to work on her very first picture...Gaslight.  She told us that she had been made to feel very welcomed on the set and that George Cukor made sure to treat everyone with the same level of respect.  She said that because of that experience she always did that when there were guest stars on 'Murder She Wrote'  (at the mere mention of the show the crowd erupted into applause).  She also talked about working on The Manchurian Candidate and how it felt to be cast as a "mother" at such a young age.  She didn't seem to mind and knew that it was a worthwhile part.  She had nothing but positive things to say about everyone she worked with and all of her experiences.  Around this time Mr Osborne opened up the conversation to a Q&A from the audience.

This is when things got weird...I don't know what it is about Q&As, but I guess the people brave enough to ask the questions are the people who are a little more outspoken and perhaps a little more brazen.  The first person raised their hand and didn't quite have a question, but demanded that no one give away any spoilers for 'The Manchurian Candidate', that he had waited in a snow storm after Ms. Lansbury's premiere performance of Sweeny Todd and that she was kind enough to give him an autograph.  And that he was born on the same day as the premiere of 'The Picture of Dorian Grey.'  At this point she made a little joke and asked the gentleman not to reveal the year.  He then just kind of sat down.  The next person asked if she thought that the role of Dorian Grey destroyed Hurd Hatfield's life....Ms. Lansbury was very candid with her answer and shared that it was a very all encompassing role and that his every move was determined by the director, so that it was a very taxing role for him and it was hard for him to do anything else after that.  Then finally a gentleman in the back informed everyone that he was a professor and noted the political intrigue in the movie and asked her if when thinking about today's current events would she change anything in the movie.  It was kind of strange question, but Ms. Lansbury thought about the question, said that she wasn't the writer of the movies, but that she probably would've gotten rid of the Russian influence.  I guess in the end it was interesting to hear the answers to those questions, but at the time it just seemed kind of uncomfortable and slightly awkward.

In any event, Angela Lansbury was wonderful!  The movie was spectacular and I'm so grateful that I had the opportunity to see this movie.  Sorry all for the less than timely post.  I hope to be updating again soon.


  1. Thanks for sharing this. I'm so glad you made it; it sounded like a fun night. TCM doesn't say anything about needing to be there 1-1/2 to 2 hours before the doors open, but it's required for these events, I've learned (I attended the Chicago showing). It seems like there's always that "one" person during the Q&A who will take up precious time. A the Chicago screening last year, a woman who was given a microphone wasted about 3 minutes talking about how much they admire Robert Osborne and how it was a dream of theirs to work for TCM; they actually brought their resume with them and asked Robert if he'd take it. I was like, this is not about YOU! In the meantime Eva Marie Saint was just sitting there. How interesting that the professor asked Ms. Lansbury that question; one might think that the 2005 remake of the film (starring Meryl Streep as the mother) would have answered his question.

  2. Hi Tom, thank you so much for the comment. I'm happy to hear that you went to the Road to Hollywood screening in Chicago, sounds like it was a good time. You're so right about the people who make the whole event about them, it's such a strange phenomenon. Which movie did they screen in Chicago? North by Northwest? Are you going to the film festival in LA next week? Thanks again

  3. Hi Diane, no I'm not going to the one in LA but it sounds fun. I went to the showing of Seven Brides with Jane Powell in Chicago last month (I posted some videos). The stalker I mentioned was at the screening last year when Eva Marie came (some pics of that event are here).