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The Man Who Knew Too Much (#110 of 4)

The 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival

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The 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival

Edward M. Pio Roda

The 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival

Almost by definition, any festival dedicated exclusively to the treasures, glories, and the occasional folly of the past is likely to be visited by ghosts, and the spirits of the dead are practically a staple at the TCM Classic Film Festival, which held its eighth gathering in the heart of Hollywood this past weekend. The memory of the late Debbie Reynolds, who had made several in-person appearances at TCMFF over the past eight years, was invoked through yet another screening (the festival’s third) of the indisputable classic Singin’ in the Rain, in which Reynolds made her first big Hollywood splash back in 1952, and at a screening of Postcards from the Edge (classic status somewhat more disputable), before which Reynolds and her daughter, Carrie Fisher, were remembered fondly by Todd Fisher, Reynolds’s son.

Even though he wasn’t represented at the festival on screen, Don Rickles, who passed away on April 6, the festival’s opening day, couldn’t be ignored. Rickles’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is located on Hollywood Boulevard across the street from the Chinese Theater complex, and as I made my way through the usual crush of tourists, desperadoes, and TCMFF pass holders toward my first screening on Thursday afternoon I wasn’t surprised to see the little square of sidewalk devoted to Rickles surrounded by flowers, curious bystanders, and entertainment reporters trolling for soundbites, and even adorned by one fan’s thoughtful memorial: a brand-new hockey puck.

The ghost that made its presence felt at almost every turn of this year’s festival belonged, of course, to TCM’s beloved host Robert Osborne, who died one month to the day before the launch of this year’s festival. Osborne began his Hollywood career in the early 1950s as an actor; his highest-profile moments were uncredited, blink-and-you’ll-miss-them appearances in Psycho and Spartacus. But his heart was never in it, and at the encouragement of Lucille Ball he abandoned acting and combined his love of movies and journalism to concentrate on writing and documenting Hollywood history, eventually becoming the genial, knowledgeable, silver-haired host who won the allegiance of TCM fans worldwide.

15 Famous Missing Persons

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15 Famous Missing Persons
15 Famous Missing Persons

In a role that’s sure to further squander her talent, big-eyed blonde Amanda Seyfried returns this weekend in Gone, a paranoid thriller that sees her character go rogue when the police won’t help her find her missing sister. Lots of folks go missing in the movies—kids, Dames, drugged fiancés, imaginary inmates—and some of the most memorable are right here in this list. So while Seyfried hopefully kicks off another search (for a new agent), click on through to see which cinematic abductees are here—and, if you feel so inclined, tell us which ones are, you know, missing.

5 for the Day: Peter Lorre

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5 for the Day: Peter Lorre
5 for the Day: Peter Lorre

Recognizable to practically everyone by looks (short and stocky, with fried egg eyes set wide apart) and voice (purring, lightly accented, cutely ghoulish), Peter Lorre has lived on as various cartoon characters, such as Ren on Ren and Stimpy, and as a fondly remembered, idiosyncratic supporting player in Warner Brothers’ films of the forties. In memory, he is always appealing to Humphrey Bogart for help (“You despise me, don’t you?” he asks, in Casablanca) or hiding out in the capacious shadow of the unpredictable Sydney Greenstreet, dreaming of the Falcon and the heist that will bring a big payday. Lorre began spoofing himself quite early, and wound up having to play in a lot of junky projects, the fearsome promise of his early work forgotten.