Dateline: April 25th 2010, Hollywood. You couldn’t drive through the mob crossing Hollywood Boulevard, with the traffic light or against it. Tourists, fans, and even celebs were rushing in both directions to catch a classic film on the big screen.
Today, the last day of this fab festival, was loaded with so many choices, attendees were marking and then re-marking their schedules trying to decide how many they could squeeze in if maybe they could catch one celeb interview, skip the screening, run to or from Grauman’s, upstairs to Mann’s Chinese (with many “houses” inside), or the Egyptian on the other side of the Boulevard to make a second interview, then careen back across Hollywood Boulevard to catch a third. This was going on all day long. It’s easier to have a root canal than it is to make decisions like these. Leonard Maltin said that even as one of the hosts, he couldn’t avoid the problem of competitive scheduling: having to introduce a new digital restoration of King Kong at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre meant he couldn’t watch a 70mm presentation of 2001: A Space Odyssey at the Egyptian theater just down the street. I know just how he felt.
I wanted to meet Jerry Lewis, who had been announced for the intro to a movie I love, Martin Scorsese’s The King of Comedy, with Lewis, Robert DeNiro, and Sarah Bernhard. It’s a black comedy about stalkers and kidnappers which didn’t draw the crowd I expected because Lewis had to cancel due, I heard, to illness. So I joined the hurrying throng snaking across the Boulevard to see the only actress who ever earned Best Actress Oscars back to back (The Great Ziegfeld, 1936; The Good Earth, 1937), the 100-year-old Luise Rainer. Trust me, she doesn’t look a day over 65.
Of receiving these awards, Rainer said, “Nothing worse could ever have happened to me,” because both studio and audience expectations ran so high, she could not meet them, certainly not in the bad films they saddled her with. Her then-husband, Clifford Odets, gave some poor advice, some say, resulting in so many flops that she’s widely regarded as the first and most extreme casualty of the Oscar Curse. When her adored producer, Irving Thalberg, died, she just quit the business and returned to Europe.
Rainer later was signed for Fellini’s classic, La Dolce Vita, but quit the production before filming due, it has been said, to a sex scene. Her last movie role was as the grandmother in The Gambler (not Kenny Rogers this time, but with Michael Gambon as Fyodor Dostoyevsky).
I dashed back to catch as much as I could of the Scorsese movie, and planned to see the final film of the Festival: a brilliant restoration of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (Blade Runner‘s forerunner). Thirty new minutes were found in Argentina (!) and filled out much that was missing when I last saw this masterpiece, which now runs at 153 minutes. You can’t even imagine what Metropolis looked like on the big screen. The crowd roared its approval for what we were seeing, and the imagination and creativity of the great Fritz Lang.
Afterwards, again across the Boulevard at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel’s Blossom Room, site of the very first Academy Awards, a huge party was held with lots of celebs, but I was just too tired to make it. Sorry, folks. But the good news is that Robert Osborne announced that, because this Festival had turned out to be such a smashing success, there will be a second one!
Here’s hoping to catch you in the boulevard-crossing mob next year!