The screening of How Green Was My Valley (1941) at the TCM Classic Film Festival was such a spectacular event. It was worth waiting in line for almost two hours to make sure that I not only got in but that I got a good seat as well. I waited in line with K.C. of A Classic Movie Blog, Jessica of Comet Over Hollywood and Dan of Celebrity Cafe. We had a blast chatting that the 2 hours flew by. I got sick during the festival and was at my worst point right before the screening. However, there was absolutely nothing that was going to get in my way. I was going to see Maureen O'Hara!
Once we settled into our seats at the historic El Capitan theatre, we were treated to some music before the event commenced. Robert Osborne came out onto the stage to introduce the film and Maureen O'Hara. How Green Was My Valley won Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Donald Crisp), Best Director (John Ford), Best Cinematography and Best Art Direction. Some people harbor resentment towards this film because they feel that Citizen Kane (1941) deserved to win the Oscar that year. Osborne reminded us that Citizen Kane wasn't as well understood or appreciated as it is today and How Green Was My Valley was a great film in its own right.
Then it was the moment we were all waiting for! Maureen O'Hara, escorted by her grandson Conor Beau, made her grand entrance.
There was a roar of applause and O'Hara received a standing ovation. She seemed overcome with emotion and was seen wiping away tears. O'Hara motioned to us to sit down which I thought was very sweet. She seemed to be very humble but also very sassy too.
The audience listened with rapt attention. O'Hara was a bit hindered by her advanced age and at one point got very religious and philosophical. It might have been awkward if she wasn't the MAUREEN O'HARA! I'm sure I speak for all of us in attendance that it was such a blessing to have her there. O'Hara could have just wielded insults at us for an hour and we'd all be grateful for every word. And believe you me, we hung on to every word she said.
I loved the moment when O'Hara told the audience not to think that she does magical things. Osborne replied that she does do magical things on the screen. With the help of directors who are magicians themselves, actors and actress do incredible, magical things on screen that make us feel a gamut of emotions. We are all captivated by the magic of the movies.
Before the film started we were treated to a video tribute to Maureen O'Hara's career. I believe this came before the interview. It was a wonderful tribute and I really wish the video lived somewhere online so I could share it. It was so well done and I also really loved the one shown in tribute of Charlton Heston at another event. Whoever writes the copy for those tributes is absolutely brilliant.
I had never seen How Green Was My Valley (1941) so this screening was a very special way to be introduced to a film. Of all the movies screened at the festival, I think this one fit the theme Family in the Movies: The Ties That Bind the best. I was already very emotional from seeing Maureen O'Hara in person that the film's ending just destroyed my already fragile emotional state. Theaters should extend the courtesy to patrons by leaving the lights off a little longer when a film has a particularly sad ending. That way we'd all have a few moments to wipe away our tears and compose ourselves.
It wasn't enough for me to see Maureen O'Hara once at the TCM Classic Film Festival. When Robert Osborne announced that he would be interviewing O'Hara at ClubTCM the following day it became imperative that I go to that too. Several folks camped out in front of the screening area in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel early so they could get up close to Maureen O'Hara. I was too sick to do that so I had to wait until around the time it started. I didn't get the best view but it was still glorious to catch little glimpses of O'Hara and to listen to a more in-depth interview with her. The interview will be airing on TCM some time in the future so watch for it!
At the end of the interview, Osborne and O'Hara posed for pictures. She also took a few questions from the audience. Her grandson Conor Beau was escorting her out when he was stopped by O'Hara so she could say one last thing to the audience. She recited a rhyme and was then whisked away. I think the rhyme was "Love is like a lizard; it winds itself around your heart and penetrates your gizzard."
I thought it was really interesting that Maureen O'Hara was not scheduled to appear at the screening of The Quiet Man (1952). O'Hara has said in the past that it's her favorite of her films. Perhaps she was added too late to the festival's roster that their original plans for that screening could not be changed.
Seeing O'Hara and watching How Green Was My Valley on the big screen are experiences I'll never forget and I'm infinitely grateful to TCM for making this all happen at the festival.
Here's a little video I shot of Maureen O'Hara's exit from the How Green Was My Valley screening. Enjoy!