It's been a wonderful couple of weeks at the Noir City Film Festival at Hollywood's Egyptian Theatre. Thanks to the support of my family of classic film fans, I managed to see 14 movies in 7 trips in 15 days! I was accompanied by family members to some of the screenings, and I also dashed up to L.A. on my own for some of the movies while my husband and kids were busy with other activities. (Things like volleyball games and color guard practice don't stop for a film festival!) Three of the films were second viewings, and the other 11 were enjoyed by me for the first time ever.
Although the festival continues through Wednesday, April 20th, last night was my final visit to this year's festival, and the most special experience was definitely saved for last.
Last night was a double bill of Glenn Ford films which included Glenn's son Peter signing his new biography of his father. Peter used his father's diaries and wrote what looks like a very detailed book of over 300 pages.
Below, Peter busy signing his book. The entire stock of books provided by Larry Edmunds Bookshop sold out.
I enjoyed briefly meeting Peter and having the opportunity to tell him how much I admired the work of not just his father, but his mother, dancer Eleanor Powell. Peter smiled as he told me his mother was "an angel."
Peter announced the arrival of his friend Paul Peterson (THE DONNA REED SHOW) to those of us in line...little did I know how many more people were due to arrive to enjoy the movies and help celebrate the launch of Peter's book.
Alan K. Rode introduced the films, FRAMED (1947) and MR. SOFT TOUCH (1949). He then announced that a number of Peter's friends were in the audience, beginning with a great friend of the Film Noir Foundation, actress Marsha Hunt. Longtime readers know that I'm a big fan of Miss Hunt, and I've reviewed many of her films here over the years.
Also in the audience were Ruta Lee, who I had the pleasure of meeting at a screening of SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS (1954) some years ago; Patty McCormack of THE BAD SEED (1956); Daniel Selznick, whose legendary father owned the home across the street from Glenn Ford when Peter was growing up; Yoshihiro Tomita, from the cast of BLACKBOARD JUNGLE (1955); and Peter Mark Richman, known to those of us of a certain age as Andrew Laird on DYNASTY. Alan also mentioned that Ann Rutherford was expected but hadn't arrived yet.
During intermission, Alan interviewed Peter, who said he had so much material -- including his father's diaries -- that originally the book was 30,000 words longer, but the publisher insisted he edit it down.
Peter touched on a variety of topics, including growing up in a Hollywood wonderland with Charlie Chaplin and Fred Astaire as neighbors, and the difficulty of being the child of actors; he cited as one example his high school classmate Michael Boyer (son of Charles), who killed himself. He said he was determined not to go down that kind of path in life, and also said that he came to appreciate that while his parents hadn't always been there for him when he was young due to their work, they had had a wonderful impact on countless people, which he really valued. He also said that while his father wasn't a particularly good hands-on father when he was young, they later became great pals and enjoyed each other's company.
After their talk I went out to the lobby, where I found Eddie Muller and Marsha Hunt. It was so nice that Eddie remembered meeting me on the festival's opening night and greeted me, and I had the opportunity to listen to Eddie and Marsha reminiscing about her friend, the late Hugh Martin.
I then had a really special opportunity to chat with Miss Hunt one-on-one for a few minutes, which I will always remember. She shared how difficult it was to sing off-key as Mary in PRIDE AND PREJUDICE (1940) and said she had to practice for weeks because she was actually very musical. I told her one of my favorites of her films was THE AFFAIRS OF MARTHA (1942), and she said it was also a favorite of hers. I also told her how much I love her beautiful book of fashion stills from her films, THE WAY WE WORE. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves Marsha Hunt, MGM movies in general, or fashions of the '30s through '50s.
My apologies to Eddie Muller for catching him with his eyes shut in the hurriedly snapped photo below, but I wanted to share this picture of Marsha Hunt with Eddie and Alan Rode, as I think it reflects how lovely she is, both inside and out. She radiates happiness and serenity.
At one point she clasped my hand and said "I've had a wonderful life!"
For me, the chance to briefly talk with someone I admire so much was a very memorable experience.
But the evening wasn't quite over! As I was leaving, I realized that I'd just walked past Miss Hunt's PRIDE AND PREJUDICE sister, Ann Rutherford.
I also love Miss Rutherford and paid tribute to her on her birthday last year. As I saw Daniel Selznick greet her with a kiss, my mind registered that they knew each other, and then I did a mental double-take, as it clicked into focus that in front of me was one of the last surviving principal cast members of GONE WITH THE WIND (1939), talking with the producer's son. And they had just finished watching a film starring Evelyn Keyes, who played Rutherford's GWTW sister.
The lights were being switched off, the crowd was filing out, and Rutherford was busy chatting with Peter Ford and Daniel Selznick, so I didn't feel it appropriate to approach her, but I did snap a quick non-flash photo from a distance; Rutherford is in the background between Peter and Daniel. The lady in red in the foreground is Peter's wife of over 40 years, Lynda; they met as students at my daughter's alma mater, USC.
What a memorable conclusion to a great couple of weeks! My thanks to everyone at the Egyptian and the Film Noir Foundation, especially Eddie Muller and Alan K. Rode, for putting on such a wonderful festival. I hope it will return next year, and I'll definitely be there!
Links for my reviews for all 14 films seen at the festival can be found in this post. Coming soon: reviews of FRAMED and MR. SOFT TOUCH.
Update: Here are links for the reviews of FRAMED (1947) and MR. SOFT TOUCH (1949).