The 2019 TCMFF Red Carpet
May 10, 2019
For the 4th (!) year in a row, I had the privilege of covering the red carpet at the opening night of TCMFF. While it’s always an honor to speak with the festival’s special guests, the occasion this year was particularly meaningful because 2019 marks the 10th year of the festival and the 25th anniversary of TCM; though I haven’t been a fan of TCM all 25 years (I was a child when the network debuted, so I get a pass), I’m a proud TCMFF 10-time attendee.
I actually didn’t think I’d be on the carpet this year, because I only received my confirmation a mere three days before opening night. There was definitely last-minute scrambling to come up with questions, but all in all I was quite pleased with the experience. My confidence on the carpet grows with time, and it was comforting to have two familiar faces, Jessica and Nora, by my side as we worked largely as a group, oftentimes sharing general questions so we could all use the content.
When Harry Met Sally director Rob Reiner and family on the carpet.
Ben Mankiewicz and Meg Ryan
With that, below is my coverage from the 10th TCMFF red carpet. There were some familiar faces, a few new ones, and one or two that I never knew were interested in classic movies. (That would be Ron Perlman.)
Patty McCormack, Actress
My question: There were many censorship issues surrounding The Bad Seed (1956). Do you have any memories of those issues or did they talk to you about them?
Before I even asked the above question, I had to tell Patty McCormack how my high school writing class watched The Bad Seed, which led to my friend, who had long straight blonde hair like Rhoda (McCormack’s character), dressing as her for Halloween and me following suit as her mother. Of course, no one outside our class understood the costumes, but McCormack got a big kick out of that story!
OK, back to the question. McCormack said the sad thing, something she felt even as a kid, was that the ending of the play had to be changed for the film adaptation due to the Production Code’s policy that murderers had to be punished. The theater could—and did—leave the ending as it was with the mother dying and Rhoda living, which made the audience very upset, McCormack recalled—so much so, that the curtain call in the film, in which Rhoda is spanked, was created for the benefit of the Broadway audience startled by the ending.
McCormack also brought up the recent Bad Seed Lifetime revamp directed by Rob Lowe, which I actually wanted to talk to her about. She appeared in the adaptation as the little girl’s shrink, and when I asked her how it was being back in that storyline, she replied: “I thought, ‘Oh, it’s just a job.’ But it was interesting looking at her and knowing she was who I was. So yeah, very bizarre, but good!”
Barbara Rush on the right, and part of Sara Karloff on the left.
Barbara Rush, Actress
My question: When Worlds Collide (1951) was directed by the legendary cinematographer Rudolph Maté. What was it like working with him as a director?
We didn’t get to Maté, because Rush pivoted, gushing about producer George Pal: “Well the great one was George Pal… he was just the dearest thing in the world.” On the subject of the sci-fi movie itself, she said she always talks about “how there must have been over 150 men at Paramount on the backlot building this new planet that we arrived on... Very few people think about who built that…” Rush mentioned that the same scenario could probably happen someday, but joked: “I don’t think it will look as good as the backlot of Paramount!” Nope, probably not.
Sara Karloff, Daughter of Boris Karloff and Founder, Karloff Enterprises
My question: Your father is known for the horror movies he starred in, but was there one unexpected role he played or another genre he enjoyed working in?
Karloff replied that the movie screening that evening, Night World (1932), was a totally different type of role for her dad. But the biggest one was How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966). “My dad won a Grammy for that, so that’s a family treasure too,” she said.
Eddie Muller, The "Czar of Noir," Author and Host of Noir Alley on TCM
My question: After 21 years of Noir City Hollywood, is there one movie that you would love to bring to that festival that you haven’t been able to yet?
Muller promised he wasn’t dodging the question when he answered that he gets “most excited about films that I don’t even know about yet.” For instance, he recently watched a beautiful restoration of an Argentinian movie nobody has seen, which he hopes to bring to Noir City and TCMFF next year. Muller didn’t want to reveal the name, as he feared a low-quality version of the picture would end up online to undermine all the hard restoration work, but discovery is definitely an exciting part of the process: “People come to me now, and they say, ‘Have you ever seen this film?’ and it will be something from 1946, made in Argentina or someplace, and it’s like I’ve never even heard of it, and somehow we can now track it down and get it restored.”
I also commended him and the Noir City team for digging deep into the vaults and coming back with titles like Playgirl (1954), a movie that hasn't seen the light of day for decades. Muller said they were after that picture for a long time, “but you just persevere… when I first started doing this, I was the biggest pain in the ass to the people at the studios, like, ‘This guy again? Oh my God, why can’t we just kill him?’ You know, and now they come to me, ‘What do you want us to make for you this time?’ The worm has turned.”
Barbara Rush (center left) and Diane Baker (center right) share a moment on the red carpet.
Diane Baker, Actress
Group question: If Robert Osborne were here today, what do you think he would think of how far this has all come, with the festival turning 10 years old and the network 25?
Baker told us Osborne would be thrilled and very proud “because he didn’t expect it… He was not a self-aware person; he was very selfless and giving to all of you and to me and to all of our friends.”
Right before we talked to Baker, we saw her and Barbara Rush share a warm hug, and as she was talking about Osborne, she also brought up that her friendship with Rush goes way back, and commented that “Bob adored her too; we were part of his little group.”
Illeana Douglas, Actress, Director, Writer and Producer
Group question: As this year’s festival theme is Love at the Movies, what do you think is an underrated classic romantic comedy?
Douglas kept it in the family: “I’ve got to go with a couple of my grandfather’s movies—Theodora Goes Wild (1936), Too Many Husbands (1940), and I love The More the Merrier (1943). (Editorial note: That last title is one Melvyn Douglas does not appear in.) When Nora mentioned that she loved Too Many Husbands’ polyamorous finale, Douglas heartily concurred: “It’s very, very modern. The first time I saw it I was shocked.” Side note: Now I have to see that movie.
Not Ron Perlman, but this image of Leonard Maltin doing an impromptu photo shoot on the carpet is adorable.
Ron Perlman, Actor
Group question: What is your favorite romance film?
Perlman’s reply was so comprehensive that I’m going to lay it all out here: “The great thing about classic film is that they all had romance, even the noir movies, you know, like there were so many different looks… Men and women were men and women back in the 30s and 40s, you know… So there’s the Robert Mitchum-Jane Greer romance of Out of the Past (1947); there’s the classic full-on romance of Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr in An Affair to Remember (1957); there’s the reluctant, very, very difficult romance between Deborah Kerr and Burt Lancaster in From Here to Eternity (1953); there’s the really weird romance between Piper Laurie and Paul Newman in The Hustler (1961). So, the thing about classic films is that great minds of literature and great minds of cinema were coming together to shine a light on the brilliance of the human condition and the nuances of it and how complicated it was and how if you explored it from a gazillion different directions there’s no right or wrong answer, it’s just worth your time. You never thought you’d get that answer, did you?” No, sir.
As Perlman was introducing Holiday (1938), I also asked him what it was about that film that resonated with him. He laughed and admitted that he hadn’t done his homework yet, but Cary Grant and Kate Hepburn made some of the greatest comedies (1938's Holiday, 1940's The Philadelphia Story, 1938's Bringing Up Baby). Of those, he said: “They’re those movies that you watch 100 times as if you’re seeing it for the first time, because they are so rich… the energy of these geniuses and the light that emanated out of them - that’s what a classic film is, something that you are always watching as if for the first time because it’s so imbued with genius and brilliance and Joie de vivre.”
Nora interviewing Dana Delany.
Dana Delany, Actress and Producer
Group question: What is an underrated romance that you think more people should know about?
I'm not too knowledgeable about Delany's career, but after she told us that she watches History is Made at Night (1937) every Valentine’s Day you could count me in as her new biggest fan. She was introducing Love Affair (1939) at the festival, and she said the reason she chose that title was “because I wanted to watch all the movies related to it and discuss that. There’s like 7 movies related to Love Affair and I truly believe that [director] Leo McCarey saw History is Made at Night first; there’s so many similarities there, and Charles Boyer was in it and there’s the ocean liner and all that stuff and the whole theme of money and having money or being with someone you love is very similar.”
The subject of hosting TCM on-air programs was brought up, something Delany has done in the past, and while she said there are no plans for her to host in the future, she loves the research and learning that gig entails. She was speaking directly to the choir with that answer, as Nora told her we love all that too! I took the opportunity at that point to ask her if there was one movie she could select to introduce at a future festival, what would it be? Delany replied: “You know what movie I Iove that you don’t hear a lot about anymore is Thieves Like Us, the Nick Ray movie. [Editorial note: I think she meant 1948's They Live by Night, based on a novel called Thieves Like Us. Robert Altman adapted the same work in 1974, keeping the original title.] That’s a great movie, nobody talks about that one." Well, I've never caught one of Delany's introductions, but I will now have to make it a point to do so!
Thank you for reading! Though TCMFF wrapped one month ago, I'm already looking ahead to next year's celebration. Stay tuned for more coverage of the festival in the coming weeks and months.