My husband is neither a cinephile nor good at facial recognition.

 

 

Amanda Plummer stood behind us in line at the Los Angeles Film Festival last June. I turned to my husband and said, “Oh my god that’s Amanda Plummer!” My husband is neither a cinephile nor good at facial recognition. He glanced at her and shrugged.

I was trying to whisper to him about Pulp Fiction, but he couldn’t hear me, and as I shifted into a stage whisper, she noticed us. She was alone, so someone psst-pssting right next to her was pretty obvious. I smiled at her, and she asked us a question about the screening schedule for which I didn’t have the answer, but the next thing I knew we’d struck up a conversation.

She had the same nervous energy you associate with so many of her characters, but she was soft-spoken and friendly. I confessed I was a fan, and she kindly asked what I did for a living. Once I told her I was a film historian, our conversation caught fire — or rather, her side did.

What a clueless poseur I was!

She put me to shame. Utter shame. She mentioned all manner of filmmakers, titles, and actors — I had no idea who they were! None were American. Most were contemporary. What a clueless poseur I was! I wanted to take notes, but she talked too fast.

Satan's Little Helper
Plummer in her Carmen Miranda get up accompanied by Satan. There is a reason for the cellophane. You’ll have to watch for yourself. It’s a scream!

I finally mustered the nerve to tell her I didn’t know much about films made after 1970… although I had recently watched Satan’s Little Helper (2004) and loved it, and loved her in it.

Yes, I know, of all the cool and prestigious films she’s done, the only one I come up with is Satan’s Little Helper. I can only say her fast-talking froze me like a deer in headlights. Plus I really had just seen it. She laughed and rolled her eyes. Something about Jeff Lieberman being crazy, I think.

Amanda and Christopher
Christopher and Amanda Plummer

She asked me where I went to see old movies in L.A. I recommended the Hammer Museum, the Egyptian, the Cinefamily. In turn she recommended her favorite theaters for foreign films — I had never heard of any of them. That knocked me down a couple more pegs. I don’t know why I was surprised that she was such a cultured cinephile. She is cinematic royalty after all. I guess because I associated her with New York I expected her to be more interested in Lou Reed and Harold Pinter — though I’ve no doubt she could have taught me a thing or two about them too!

Then we started filing into the theater, and I probably would have taken her arm and escorted her in, but my German husband, to whom it was all Greek, looked at me with annoyance. So instead I said how nice it was to have met her and wished her a good evening. She left us with a smile, a wave, and a whirl of the cool scarf she was wearing.

Incidentally the film was Dave Boyle’s Man from Reno, a very fun neo-noir, set in San Francisco. Catch it if you can.

When we got home I put on Pulp Fiction and it finally clicked for my husband. “That was her?!? Oh my god!” And then he was sorry he hadn’t let me hang onto her longer. Husbands.

Amanda, we love you. You rule.

Amanda and Me
Yeah, that’s me. Hanging with Amanda. Yep.

 

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