Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
Movie director Richard Attenborough started to put his arm around the waist of Princess Anne and then reconsidered. The arm was withdrawn. He has known her for 10 years but "She's not a bosom pal or anything," he's explained earlier.
Arms militarily at his side, then, he ushered the Princess, who wore a long yellow dress and carried a small silver purse, and her husband, Capt. Mark Phillips, to a receiving line of Washington luminaries and Hollywood moviemakers Wednesday at the Kennedy Center for the premiere of the new $25 million war movie, "A Bridge Too Far," which Attenborough directed and Joseph E. Levine produced.
The 1,100 invited guests included 60 senators and 270 representatives, according to Jack J. Valenti, president of the Motion Picture Association of America, and organizer of the gala shebang. He introduced Her Royal Highness, who had arrived by plane earlier in the day from England, to the anxious glitterees waiting in the receiving line.
The Princess made terribly civilized small talk with each person in line - with producer Levine, in his traditional dark glasses, and Mrs. Levine, and Levine's son Richard, co-producer of the film, with writer William Goldman, who adapted the book by Cornelius Ryan for the screen, with a few of the starring actors who had showed up for the premiere and the party to follow upstairs.
The Princess asked Anthony Hopkins who he played in the film. "Lt. Col. John Frost," Hopkins said, smiling. "Oh, I know him well," the Princess said, and Hopkins laughed.
The Princess spent a minute or two chatting with German actor Hardy Kruger but hardly an instant with Kruger's girl friend, Anita Levin.
"Did you have a nice conversation with the Princess?" Kruger was asked later. "No, she was having a conversation with me ," Kruger replied stiffly.
Elliott Gould, looking very Gatsbyesque in his tuxedo and with his black hair slicked way back, was last in line and proved most daring in the chitchat department. "Did you ride your horse over here?" he asked the Princess.
"No, I never take him travelling," the Princess replied unblinkingly.
The Princess and Phillips were expected to arrive at the Center at 7:15 p.m. They proved more than punctual and arrived at 7:14. Kennedy Center Chairman Roger L. Stevens and his wife came forward to greet them while a very small crowd of tourists and onlookers watched rather quietly.
Inside the Hall of Nations there was the predictable press melee as the Princess entered. One television cameraman yelled angrily at a Park policeman, "Hey, officer, get down a little bit; you're in the picture for the whole damn network!" When the officer declined to get down the cameraman went a few steps higher on his little metal stepladder.
A young woman tourist with a camera wondered aloud to her friend, as she was shoved from three or four directions, "Should I be rude and yell out, 'Princess Anne'? No. I won't be rude and yell out 'Princess Anne.'" She had to settle for a picture of the back of the royal head.
From the Hall of Nations it was a slow trek indeed, with policemen stumbling over one another, and photographers running into one another, to the Eisenhower Theater, where the film would be shown. Attenborough had spent part of his afternoon making sure the projection would be ideal. Knighted 18 months ago, Attenborough was asked if this had changed his life considerably. "It just makes it easier to get tables in restaurants," he replied.
The crowd of well-dressed moviegoers - who were in for three hours of blood and guts waiting for them on the screen - included White House Press Secretary Jody Powell, Iranian Ambassador Ardeshir Zahedi, and Chief Justice Warren Burger.
While the Princess and entourage were being escorted to the presidential box, Burger was upstairs trying to read the number on the outside of his box with and then without his glasses on. He seemed to be lost. "No, no, I'm just waiting for my wife," he said. "What's going on over there?"
He was told the commotion was over Princess Anne. "Oh, I'd forgotten Princess Anne was coming," Burger said. He tried to get a look at her through the barricade of photographers but didn't see much. Burger said he's already met the Princess previously in London.
Valenti was downstairs doing his usual splendid job of gladhanding as guests arrived. Lots of people would say, "Jack, how are ya?" and Valenti would make with the handshakes. But when Sen. Barry M. Goldwater (R-Ariz.) came past the ticket-taker and looked at Valenti, neither man said a single word to each other or even smiled.
Valenti was very impressed with the Princess. He had been the one to introduce her to each dignitary or movie star in the receiving line. In fact, he had been rehearsing the right protocol minutes before the Princess had arrived, even as Park Police and Center ushers were tangling themselves up in the velvet ropes still being installed.
"You know, this is the first time I've walked through a receiving line with a member of the Royal Family," Valenti said later. "I must say, she is a master of receiving-line talk, a very difficult and arcane art form. She had something to say to each person. That is not an easy thing to do. She really gave a splendid shine to it all. She gives it a cachet." Valenti compared the "nice patina" the Princess bestowed on the event to the glamor of an appearence by Robert Redford.
Redford, paid $2 million for his five weeks' work in the film, was among the people not at last night's gala. Valenti had hoped to lure President Carter, the President's son Chip, and National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski to the event, but Powell was the highest-ranking White House representative to attend.
It was Attenborough who talked the Princess into coming. She was coming to the United States anyway, partly to take part in the second annual Queen Anne's Day celebration to be held this weekend in Centerville, Md. The Princess, scheduled to have lunch today with Chip Carter and his wife, is five months' pregnant. Her last visit to the United States was in June 1975.
The film chronicles the disastrous results of Operation Market Garden, a huge flop by the Allies in the closing months of World War II. The picture includes a great deal of carnage, as might be expected during a world war, and at least one rather blunt four-letter word.
Princess Anne was expected to stay for the entire film but was not to appear at the party to be held in the South Gallery immediately after. She would be whisked back to the embassy because, after all, though it was 11 p.m. here in the States, it was 5 a.m. in London.
Although they had just seen a recreation of a battle in which 10,000 men lost their lives, the guests had little trouble getting into the party mood once the film was over and they moved upstairs. Charles Robb and his wife emerged from the theater accepting congratulations on Robb's recent victory in the Virginia Democratic primary. Robb said he only got three hours sleep last night because he had to attend a chicken festival in the state earlier yesterday. Such are the demands of a political career.
Producer Levine, 71, had been sitting next to Her Royal Highness at the film. He said in his typically cagey way that she seemed to think the film was "very powerful," but he declined to actually quote her. According to Valenti, when asked if she enjoyed the film, the Princess replied, "I don't know if 'enjoyed' is the word. It was interesting and fascinating."