The AFI had a slew of people over last night, for a preview of "The Stunt Man," which is, among other things, a film about filmmaking.
There were three Washingtonians, and foreigners, and a small L.A. contingent, in native costume (tinted lenses). They settled into the small theater quietly to stare at the screen. Afterward they trooped upstairs to eat dinner. The AFI doesn't sell popcorn in the lobby, so everyone attacked the food with gusto. They didn't attack the film; in fact, most of them seemed to like it. Guest of honor Richard Rush, the film's director, was pleased.
Film preview, Scene One:
The Director (to the Audience, with emotion): "This film is something I've been shepherding for nine years. For years the studios wouldn't look at it. What is it, they wanted to know. Comedy, or drama or adventure? Twentieth Century-Fox finally picked it up the very same weekend we won the Grand Prix in Montreal. It's a multi-level film. So if you don't know whether to laugh or cry, turn to your left and see what your neighbor is doing."
Tall blond man, black shoes, in the 15th row: "Darling, this isn't going to be one of those light German films you're always dragging me to, is it?"
Mature woman, Bel Air tan: "So I gave him the Porsche and he said to me, 'I like it, but it might be just a little too small.' So I said to him, water ti, maybe it will grow."
Film preview, Scene Two: Buffet cocktails.
AFI director Jean Firstenberg: "I loved it. It's marvelous. I hope people will see it and see it."
AFI's George Stevens Jr.: "This is a town that jumps to conclusions, just like Hollywood. This film is making it, despite all odds, so maybe John Anderson has a chance."
Cathy Wyler, daughter of the famous director (misty-eyed): "My favorite film: I'm biased of course, but it's one of my father's, 'Wuthering Heights.' I'm named after Olivia de Havilland in that film. Olivier haunted my childhood fantasies."
Wyler to media man Carl Berstein, who arrived late: "Did you see 'The Stunt Man?' Did you like it?"
Bernstein: "I didn't see it. I was working."
Cut. Pan to small dinner tables. Slow shots of diners and rapidly disappearing spinach-cottage cheese concoction.
Turkish Ambassador Sukru Elekdag: "Very nice, very nice. A hodge-podge of dream and reality. But I like the films of Gary Cooper, John Wayne. I'm a man of action. Washington, you know, is more an 'Advise and Consent' kind of town. You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours."
FCC Commissioner James Quello, fork and knife in hand: "Well, it wasn't home entertainment, but it was certinly exciting. Never a dull moment. wBut for my taste, and this is a Michigan opinion now, I think there were a few too many f's in it. Profanity kind of turns me off. I think he could have done the same thing with eight f's that he did with 50. (Turns to wife) Right, dear? I go for 'Shogun' and 'Centennial.'"