Some classic celebrities shine at TCM in April.

While at the Turner Classic Movies film festival, I had some opportunities to see a variety of celebrities interviewed.  I also had the chance to briefly talk with a few of them—though with over a bazillion people on hand for the festival, getting one-on-one time with the stars was practically impossible. However, as there were so many interviews and celebrities, I could only see a fraction of the wonderful special guests present for the festivities.

The toughest of these stars to see was Maureen O’Hara.  Not surprisingly, the el Capitan Theater was filled with her adoring fans for the screening of How Green Was My Valley—the Best Picture winner for 1941. Lines reached around the corner and I felt darn lucky to sit up front for this nice interview.  Miss O’Hara is 93 years-old and time has certainly not diminished her appeal.  In addition to the interview before the picture, Robert Osborne also filmed a short interview with her on the final day of the festival and it should be airing on TCM in the very near future as well as on their YouTube page.

Following How Green Was My Valley, Jerry Lewis was on hand at the el Capitan for a screening of The Nutty Professor.  While the theater was not as full, his fans were the loudest and most boisterous I heard.  Much of this is because at 88 years-old, Lewis sounded and looked significantly younger.  His amazing memory, love of laughter, the sheer length of the interview as well as his ability to tell a great story made this truly one of the best appearances at the festival.  Additionally, earlier that day, Lewis had his handprints immortalized at a Grauman’s Chinese Theater ceremony—and huge crowds of fans were also on hand for that.

Margaret O’Brien was a bit tough to recognize, since most everyone remembers her as the adorable and precocious child actress.  Now at 77, she introduced not only Meet Me in St. Louis but also a hastily arranged tribute to Mickey Rooney with a showing of National Velvet.  Much of her talk at Meet Me in St. Louis was about her love for Judy Garland and recollections of what it was like to work with this great star.

Quincy Jones was interviewed by Robert Osborne as well as introduced the wonderful car caper The Italian Job (1969).  While known for his work in the music industry, Jones has created many wonderful soundtracks for such films as The Pawnbroker, In the Heat of the Night, In Cold Blood as well as The Italian Job.  Jones spent much of the introduction talking about his career as well as talking glowingly of his love and admiration for his now-famous daughter, Rashida.

While Carl Davis is a name and face most won’t recognize, he was a special treat for me.  In addition to creating film scores for a variety of recent films, he’s quite famous for his work creating scores for silent films such as Abel Gance’s Napoleon (which, in its current abbreviated form runs well over five hours), the Kevin Brownlow and David Gill documentaries about the silent comedians as well as the Harold Lloyd film Why Worry?—which was screen at the festival.  In addition to being a wonderful man to listen to during the interview, he conducted an 18-piece orchestra when Why Worry? was screened later that same day.

Richard Sherman was interviewed following the screening of Mary Poppins and the crowd was thrilled—especially when he talked about his experiences with P.L. Travers.  He confirmed most of what was in the recent film, Saving Mr. Banks and had several amusing tales about Travers’ difficult temperament and the problems he and his brother had working with her to get the film made.

Finally, in addition to being the headline guest who introduced the film Oklahoma at the red carpet gala, Shirley Jones was on hand to autograph her new autobiography.  Her husband, Marty Ingels, was also on hand—mostly to get the crowd laughing and lend his support.

While many other celebrities were on hand, there was only one of me.  So, wonderful guests like Alan Arkin, Richard Dreyfus, Alex Trabek, Mel Brooks and many others were there—mostly when other great guests were also there being interviewed.  Picking which films and folks to see was often rather painful and it’s one of the few times I wished cloning was an option!

To view my photos from the festival CLICK HERE

Article by Lead Entertainment Writer and Film Critic, Martin Hafer