Posted by tcmadminu5er on March 30, 2015
By Nathaniel Thompson
As is tradition now at the TCM Classic Film Festival, Sunday is the day the schedule fills out with encore screenings of hot tickets that left many fans clamoring for a second chance after the theaters filled up. Traditionally film noir and pre-Code titles rank at the top of the list, and that was the case again this year as word-of-mouth favorites like REIGN OF TERROR, TOO LATE FOR TEARS, and THE SMILING LIEUTENANT returned along with a bonus screening of HOUDINI complete with a live escape artist demonstration by Dorothy Dietrich, a magician and curator of the Houdini Museum. Never let it be said this festival didn’t know how to go out with a bang!
Speaking of Baker, she’s a familiar face to TCM viewers as well and was present along with Douglas again and star Millie Perkins to introduce a powerhouse screening of George Stevens’s Oscar-winning classic, THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK. Baker remembered Stevens as wanting “simplicity, naturalness” from the thespians, while Perkins (who, along with Baker, was making her debut) became homesick halfway through the shoot and wanted to go back east to be with her family. Wisely, Stevens gently urged her to stay on, and the rest is history. Among the other memories were Perkins subsisting on Stouffer’s macaroni and cheese and Baker living in costume and without makeup over the nine-month production. They also remembered Shelley Winters (who took home an Academy Award for her performance and donated the statuette to the Anne Frank House) as “a wonderful actress and a pain in the neck! She was wonderful, entertaining all the time.” Among Winters’s acting tips: cracking ammonia capsules to induce crying on camera and getting Perkins tipsy before shooting the Hanukkah scene. However, they closed out on a serious note when asked whether they agreed with the real Anne Frank’s most famous statement, “In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.” When asked whether that was still true, Perkins wistfully stated “I don’t know,” while Baker opined by gesturing to the audience, “We can’t control everyone else, but we can try to be good at heart.”
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