The 2018 Turner Classic Movies Film Festival: Still More Adventures in Paradise — Part III

Now that the dates for the 2019 Turner Classic Movies Film Festival have been announced (April 11-14, 2019!!), I think it’s a great time for another installment in my ongoing look at this year’s event.

On the second day of the event, I was faced with one of many time slots that featured numerous films that I would love to see; among these were The Set-Up, a first-rate noir with Robert Ryan and Audrey Totter; Sounder, starring Cicely Tyson; and a Lee Tracy pre-Code, Blessed Event. But while I could have gleefully seen any one of these three, my ultimate selection was kind of a no-brainer – I chose to stand in line for A Hatful of Rain, because that screening featured a discussion with none other than the star of the film, Eva Marie Saint.

I know that Miss Saint has been at the TCM Film Festival on several occasions, but I’d never seen her, and I wasn’t going home this year without that experience under my belt. And I’m here to tell you, it was worth the wait – the 93-year-old actress, interviewed by TCM host Ben Mankiewicz, was a sheer delight.

In A Hatful of Rain, Saint played the pregnant wife of a morphine-addicted Korean War veteran (Don Murray). Also starring Anthony Franciosa and Lloyd Nolan, this harrowing, grimly realistic production was the third feature film for the actress, who had high praise for the director, Fred Zinnemann.

The setting added to the feeling of claustrophobia.

“The thing that I found amazing about this movie is it’s filmed like it’s a stage production,” Saint said. “The three of us (her character, along with those played by Murray and Franciosa) were living in this little apartment. I wondered when I first saw it why (Zinnemann) didn’t open it up – it was so claustrophobic. And then I realized that was the point.”

Saint shared that when she was in college at Bowling Green State University, she initially wanted to go into the teaching profession, but one of her professors suggested that she try out for a school play and, Saint said, “one thing led to another.” While she was playing the part of Rosebud in a production of As You Like It, she realized that she wanted to become an actress. “When I told my father I wanted to be an actress, he said, ‘Honey, whatever you want to be, your mother and I will be there for you,’” Saint recalled. “That changed my life.”

My view of Miss Saint was perfect!

Saint’s career, which has spanned eight decades, began in live television and theater; her early credits included both the NBC telecast and the Broadway production of The Trip to Bountiful, for which she won an Outer Critics Circle Award. Saint also studied with Lee Strasberg of the famed Actors’ Studio, and recalled a scene at the studio where she was required to cry.

“I was so shy. At home when we wanted to cry, we had a crying room, so I didn’t cry in front of another person,” Saint said. “In the scene Lee had chosen, I had to cry and I was terrified. I reached that part when I had to cry, and I looked out and I could see my peers crying with me. That was a tremendous moment. It gave me strength and confidence in myself.”

I can’t tell you what a joy it was to hear this American treasure recall her life and career. Seeing her was one of the highlights of the festival for me. Interestingly, I recently read an article in the Los Angeles Times, posted a few days before the start of the festival, in which Ben Mankiewicz offered up his “can’t miss picks.” Among them was his upcoming interview with Eva Marie Saint.

“Spending time with Eva Marie,” Mankiewicz said, “is like being with your grandmother if your grandmother had an Oscar and was one of the kindest, sweetest, most charming people on the planet. So nothing like being with your grandmother.” (I love this!)

Stay tuned for my next month’s installment of the 2018 TCM Film Festival!

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~ by shadowsandsatin on October 8, 2018.

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