The TCM Classic Film Festival 2017 is currently happening in Hollywood, California. Fans from around the world have gathered to watch and celebrate classic films and the cast & crew who made them. This year 80 movies will be shown over four days at various theatres in Hollywood. In addition to the movie screenings, there are other special events that will take place throughout the festival. On Wednesday night I attended a special event with Oscar winner Martin Landau to kick off the festival.
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How Did I Find Out About the TCM Event with Martin Landau? A friend of mine saw this event listed on the CITI® Private Pass® website. It was an exclusive event for card holders and a guest. I am so thankful that my friend invited me. In case a similar event takes place next year I made sure to get a CITI® card of my own. Special events are released through https://www.citiprivatepass.com on Tuesday’s. Be sure to sign up for email alerts but also check the website throughout the day on Tuesday’s.
The event was held at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in the room where the very first Academy Awards were held. Throughout the festival, this room will serve as Club TCM, a place where select pass holders can come for special events. I was very impressed with the set up in this room. It had a classic Hollywood look that I loved.
Before Martin and TCM host Ben Mankiewicz started their conversation everyone in attendance had a chance to enjoy some drinks and hors-d’oeuvres. The food was very tasty but the atmosphere in the room was really what made everything even better.
One of my favorite things in the room were three Debbie Reynolds’ costumes on display. The dress on the left is from Singin’ In The Rain, which is one of the movies that will be shown during the festival. The other two dresses are from The Unsinkable Molly Brown.
Everyone was very excited when Ben and Martin came on stage. Their conversation lasted for around 45 minutes but I think we all would have happily stayed and listened to Martin’s stories all night. This is a man who is not only an Oscar winner but someone who has worked with some beloved and well-known actors and directors. It was a fascinating conversation as he shared stories about people he has known, movies and tv shows that he has worked on. He even talked about his experience with the Actors Studio where he currently teaches. I did my best to soak up as much of the conversation as possible.
Martin is 88 years old and is not only still acting he is still very active at the Actors Studio. He spoke about how he and Steve McQueen were the only two students accepted the year he auditioned. Martin shared that later on, he had been privately coaching Jack Nicholson. When he auditioned for the Actors Studio he failed his first audition because Lee Strasberg said that he had no charisma.
As a big Cary Grant fan, I was so excited to hear Martin talk about North By Northwest. I didn’t get to hear a special story about Cary, but I still loved what he shared. Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, James Mason, and Martin were doing a scene. Alfred Hitchcock whispered something to the other three but didn’t say anything to Martin. He asked Hitch if there was anything he wanted to tell him. What happened next in the conversation was really something special. Martin did a good impression of Hitch and said: “Martin, I’ll only tell you if I don’t like what you’re doing.” He pointed out to us that it had meant that Hitch didn’t like what the other three were doing which got a big laugh from the crowd.
I had no idea that Martin was best friends with James Dean. This was another very special experience. I have never met someone who knew James Dean and to hear Martin talk about him was amazing. Martin referred to him as Jimmy and shared that he would spend holidays with Martin’s family. He also shared stories of them trying out different bits and it was just remarkable.
Did you know that Martin was offered the role of Mr. Spock on Star Trek? He turned it down and went on to do Mission Impossible which landed him three Emmy nominations. Every year he lost to Bill Cosby but he shared with us that every year he made a $100 bet with Bill about who would win. Martin won the bets so at least he walked away with something.
One of the moments that made me laugh was when Martin shared about an audition he had with Woody Allen. He basically told Woody, who wrote the script, that he didn’t know what he had written. Even though part of him thought he shouldn’t say anything he wasn’t afraid to be bold. The way he told it was hilarious! He is a very charismatic man.
The conversation ended with Martin talking about his Oscar-winning role of Bela Lugosi in Ed Wood. One thing that really stuck out to me while they talked about this movie was that director Tim Burton thought that all of the bad projects that Martin had done would help him with this role. When Ben asked Martin what it was like to hear his name called he said something that I’ve heard other winners say too. That it was an out of body experience.
Following the conversation, everyone was given a chance to meet Martin which was the cherry on top of an incredible event. Originally, I thought I would have Martin sign under his picture in my TCM the Essentials 52 Must-See Movies and Why They Matter. North by Northwest is one of the movies in the book so I thought that would be really special to have him sign. However, I started thinking about how he would have to sign over some text and I wouldn’t really be able to showcase it. That was when I got the idea to have him sign a TCM Film Festival 2017 napkin.
I am so thankful that I was able to attend this event and cannot wait to check out more events during the festival. While this was my first TCM event to attend it will definitely not be my last.
Interested in more information about the TCM Film Festival? You can check out my guide here.