TCMFF 2017: “Remembering Robert”

How do you have a TCM Classic Film Festival without Robert Osborne? You don’t, and you never will. At this year’s festival, the late host was with us each and every step of the way as our eternal cinephile spirit guide.

Opening the festival, his close friend Diane Baker and TCM colleagues shared cherished memories of him at “Remembering Robert,” an onstage, in-front-of-screen memorial that overflowed from TCL Theater 1 into a second theater with a projection of the live memorial rolling. (This will hopefully screen on TCM and/or be available online in the upcoming year.)

Baker spoke of their early days in Hollywood — he as the fellow fledgling actor and dear friend who escorted her to the NYC premiere of her first big film (“The Diary of Anne Frank”) — as well as their later visits in New York City, the last including a very proper lunch down the street from his Manhattan apartment. The remarks reflected that he was every inch the charming class act on and off-screen, to talent, staff, and fans alike.

Martin Scorsese, Rose McGowan, and more spoke of him fondly, reverently, touchingly in their introductions. Osborne’s favorite films were sprinkled throughout the festival (including “Laura” and “Rear Window”) and images from them lined Club TCM, including a photo of Bette Davis from “All About Eve” that looked alive enough to cackle.

Robert Osborne is still with us and still breathes life into classic film. This happens not only through the re-airing his segments and interviews, but also through the continuing and enduring love for films that he inspired and nurtured in millions of classic film fans.

Whether it was by leading us to lifelong passions for film or guiding us through life via cinema, many of us owe him a great debt and we will always be grateful, repaying that debt through continuing his legacy of classic film appreciation. Personally, I also like to envision him in heaven toasting a champagne flute to Gene Tierney as they’re about to delve into an in-depth interview.

Here’s to you, Mr. Osborne! A king amongst film historians, an idol of film critics, a masterful arbiter of true taste for film fans forever!