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There is nothing like listening to tales of Old Hollywood, and no better tellers of those tales than TCM’s Robert Osborne and Hollywood legend, Robert Wagner. There were in San Francisco on April 16, 2013 as part of the Road to Hollywood Tour screening of THE PINK PANTHER that preceded this year’s TCM Film Festival in Los Angeles.
Osborne and Wagner, who sported an appropriately tinted polo shirt, have known each other a long time, so when I sat down with them, the interview became a spirited three-way conversation about the magic of film and of filmmaking, as well as why there is no substitute for seeing a classic film in a theater. At one point Mr. Osborne referred to the process of editing film as a miracle, and, as with so many other things he’s said over the years as a host on TCM, it was something I hadn’t thought of before. As was his observation that the first films were shown in Nickelodeons using one-person viewers looking down into the machine as the film scrolled by, and, after years of super-sized silver screens, some people are now back to watching films on their phones, looking down at them as the film plays.
Naturally, we talked about Blake Edwards and Peter Sellers, director and co-star respectively, of PANTHER, and for all I’ve read about the film, including what Mr. Wagner wrote in his excellent autobiography, Pieces of My Heart, there were still surprises about the process. Effusive, illuminating, and thought-provoking, the two Roberts were more than a great interview, they were a time-machine back to an earlier age, including a brush with D.W. Griffith that Wagner had in his teens. As if that weren’t enough, that our conversation occurred on Charlie Chaplin’s birthday brought up their favorite memories of that icon. That Mr. Wagner had gone to school with Mr. Chaplin’s son Sydney made the recollection all the more special.
Click this link to listen to the interview (16:13): THE PINK PANTHER — Robert Wagner & Robert Osborne Interview.