Tonight was the opening of UCLA's new series That Signature Style: The Films of Mitchell Leisen.
It was a wonderful evening, beginning with adding a signed copy of David Chierichetti's 1995 book MITCHELL LEISEN: HOLLYWOOD DIRECTOR to my collection. It looks absolutely marvelous, combining biography, critical analysis, and oral history; the author quotes at length from many who worked with Leisen, including Claudette Colbert, Olivia de Havilland, Ray Milland, Fred MacMurray, Macdonald Carey, and John Lund. With all but one of those actors now gone, the history preserved in the book is all the more valuable today. It's over 340 pages, amply illustrated on high-quality glossy paper. What a treasure!
It was great fun seeing two of my favorite comedies, MIDNIGHT (1939) and EASY LIVING (1937), in 35mm with an appreciative audience. (Past reviews can be accessed via the title links.) It was an evening filled with laughter...and I'd completely forgotten that dear Marsha Hunt has the fur coat dropped on her in the last scene of EASY LIVING! Dennis O'Keefe is on hand too, as one of the office staffers.
I've previously described the upcoming films in the series in detail, and Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times also wrote an excellent article on the treats in store over the next few weeks. I highly encourage Southern California film fans to spend time enjoying these movies.
To close with a quote from Kenneth Turan: "The best way to fall under Mitchell Leisen's spell is to see as many of his films as you can. You may enter the theater as a skeptic, but you will leave with an unlooked-for appreciation of an overlooked man. And you will have had a very good time in the process."