Turner Classic Movies, better known as TCM or “L’Histoire du Cinéma avec Robert Osborne,” is putting on its first-ever festival right plumb in the middle of Hollywood. The TCM Classic Film Festival will take place from April 22-26, and its lineup of screenings and guest appearances is so magnificent that I shall simply link to it rather than describe it in full. But I will mention that I am introducing two films in conjunction with the festival programming based on the book Vanity Fair’s Hollywood, and, specifically, the articles of mine reprinted therein.
On Saturday, April 24, at 9:30 a.m. at Mann’s Chinese 6 theater, I will kick off a screening of Orson Welles’s second film, The Magnificent Ambersons, by discussing its making and unmaking, and its lingering effects on Welles’s life and reputation, with Welles’s dear friend and confidant, the director Peter Bogdanovich. (I reported the story long enough ago to have interviewed the movie’s editor, Robert Wise, later a famous director in his own right. Wise died in 2005, and there’s no longer anyone associated with the actual making of Ambersons still alive. But Bogdanovich has amazing stories to tell.)
On Sunday, April 25, at 9 a.m. at the Egyptian Theatre, I will kick off a screening of Joseph Mankiewicz’s epic Cleopatra (yes, the one with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton) by discussing its long and tortured making with Martin Landau, who played Marc Antony’s deputy, Rufio. (Landau is pulling quadruple duty at the TCM Festival, also appearing at screenings of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre [with the film’s director’s daughter, Anjelica Huston], North by Northwest [with Eva Marie Saint], and Crimes and Misdemeanors [again with Anjelica Huston, who by this time was his co-star].) Joe Mankiewicz’s engaging son, Tom, who interned on Cleopatra as a college kid, might join us. I have never seen Cleopatra on a proper theater-sized screen, so I’m as excited as any audience member will be.
The lineup of movies and people is, I reiterate, mind-boggling. The TCM Classic Film Festival is, as hyperbolic as this may sound, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see films from past golden ages of Hollywood on full-sized movie screens and see in the flesh some of the very people who were instrumental in these films’ production. My V.F. colleague Sam Kashner will introduce the mighty Sweet Smell of Success by chatting with Sidney Falco himself, Tony Curtis. Another colleague, Peter Biskind, will open a screening of Midnight Cowboy with a chitchat with Joe Buck himself, Jon Voight. And then there’s a screening of Singin’ in the Rain introduced by Stanley Donen himself?!? I’ll be there, pinching myself and thereby getting strange looks from others.