After a Friday filled with rain, I awoke to mostly sunny skies Saturday morning for the TCM Classic Film Festival. I was up early for perhaps the peak moment of the entire event--Kim Novak immortalizing her handprints at Grauman's Chinese Theater. Unfortunately, the weather was still so unpredictable that the ceremony had to be covered with a tent, but something about that made the moment even more intimate. It was essentially just a small room under that tent and only a privileged few made it in. And not only did I get in, but I got a ringside seat. There I was sitting on the red carpet riiiiiiight in front of Ms. Novak herself. Best spot in the house.
TCM's Robert Osborne hosted the ceremony followed by a few guests who offered their own congratulations and reflections. It started with her longtime manager and friend, Sue Cameron, who fought tirelessly for this honor for Kim. Then Sue was followed by another close friend, Debbie Reynolds, who brought her usual infectious energy to the event. Also in attendance sitting right beside the stage were Connie Stevens and Lainie Kazan. When Kim finally took the podium after the introductions, everyone could not wait to hear what she would say. After all, she left Hollywood with a finality that rivaled Doris Day's own departure...largely due to the politics of the studio system. Thus, it was thrilling to hear Kim say how happy she was to be back in Hollywood and feeling very loved by the classic cinema community. You can feel her pride in the photos below.
After the ceremony, I floated over to the Egyptian Theater to hear Norman Jewison discuss his direction of Steve McQueen in 1968's The Thomas Crown Affair. This would mean McQueen on the big screen looking as good as he ever did in a combination of custom made three-piece suits and classic casual clothing. His wardrobe is so incredible and influential that I'll soon be doing a Cinema Style File on it after my coverage for the festival is complete.
The role of Thomas Crown was a big change for McQueen in more ways than the costumes. He was used to playing cowboys, and here he would need to portray someone from an old Boston family who attended Dartmouth and graduated Phi Beta Kappa. With a real life background closer to Boys Town, you can see McQueen reminding himself of his character's intellectual superiority by playing with the society's key throughout the film. Even the seduction in the movie had an intellectual component...loving the challenge of Faye Dunaway's character during their courtship and ultimately losing to her in a game of chess. "Chess and sex," Jewison enthused, "and Steve ended up 'exposing his queen.'" This game was followed by perhaps the most famous of the creatively cut moments from the movie...a passionate kiss that took three full days of filming. Sigh. Yes, Faye somehow got paid for that.
My hot afternoon with GlamAmor-ous Men of Style would continue when I headed next to see Sean Connery in 1962's Dr. No. This is more iconic style, mostly on the men's side, and TCM once again made the experience extra special with the inclusion of the only two-time Bond Girls--Eunice Gayson (Dr. No, From Russia with Love) and Maud Adams (Man with the Golden Gun, Octopussy). Ben Mankiewicz had conducted the interview with Jewison earlier, and now had the tough task of talking to the ladies before this screening.
Though originally set to play Money Penny, Eunice was asked to be the very first Bond Girl--Sylvia Trench. She cracked everyone up as she told tales of her close friend Sean taking on this new and ambitious role. Like McQueen playing Thomas Crown, Connery was very different than James Bond and had to learn all the ways of elegance and eloquence. In fact, he was so nervous playing the character that cast and crew had to ply him with liquor in order for him to deliver his iconic line for the first time, "Bond...James Bond."
Sean wasn't the only one who would find his image transformed. The British film industry was in recession and largely known for being prim and proper--very Masterpiece Theater. This was especially true for the women and Dr. No would change all of that. Director Terrence Young offered the ladies a special suggestion to get in the mood. "I had to wear a rose petal down the boosy [bosom]" to evoke that sensuality, Eunice recalled. And it worked. British women would forever be thought of as sexy and this first Bond film nearly singlehandedly brought success back to their industry. Both actresses continue to be blown away by the success of the franchise. "Who knew that 50 years ago the Bond movies would still be around...much less so successful," Eunice said. And Maud added, "For actresses to be remembered for their work is rather rare, so to be remembered as a Bond Girl is a thrill....Bond Girls are immortal."
Afterward, the eventful day ended with a celebration of Turner Classic Movies' 18th birthday party at the Roosevelt Hotel. Surprise guests included classic cinema stars Robert Wagner, Margaret O'Brien, and the normally very shy Kim Novak. Before the cake was cut, both hosts shared their thoughts on their time at the network alongside other talented members of the TCM team. There were champagne toasts all around and it was incredible to be there sharing in the excitement. We all got a little misty-eyed, especially when we suddenly realized we had but one day left. Soon it would be Sunday...closing day of the 2012 TCM Classic Film Festival.
Sneaking a moment next to the cement before Kim Novak puts in her prints
and all of the rest of the media covering the event
TCM and Robert Osborne hosted the special ceremony
Kim Novak's longtime manager and friend Sue Cameron (above)
and Debbie Reynolds both offer their introductions
Vertigo star Kim Novak accepting the honor of immortalizing her hand and footprints
as well as signature in cement in front of Grauman's Chinese Theater
Kim triumphant in front of her fans
Debbie Reynolds, Robert Osborne, Connie Stevens, Kim Novak, and Lainie Kazan (above)
along with TCM heads Charlie Tabesh and Genevieve McGillicuddy
From Grauman's Chinese Theater to the Egyptian Theater...
Arriving for The Thomas Crown Affair: 1960s white keyhole dress, 1960s blue wool coat,
1960s orange patent leather purse, Guess white leather peeptoe pumps,
silver hoop earrings, 1960s silver bangle bracelet, several skinny gold bangle bracelets
The audience arrives early to listen to director Norman Jewison discuss Steve McQueen
Ben Mankiewicz introduces and interviews Jewison before screening Thomas Crown Affair
From Thomas Crown to Bond...James Bond in Dr. No
and discussion with two-time Bond Girls Maud Adams and Eunice Gayson
Maud (above) and Eunice, who played Sylvia Trench in Dr. No and From Russia with Love
TCM's 18th Birthday Party back at the Roosevelt Hotel
The hosts both share thoughts on their experience at the network
Toasting to all the years to come!
Next on my TCM Classic Film Festival coverage--
closing day Sunday at the movies!