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R S V P / ORANGE COUNTY : Lean's Theme at 'Doctor Zhivago' Party : The filmmaker's widow shares stories about her husband and the making of the classic movie at a screening and reception.

April 11, 1995|KATHRYN BOLD

Lady Sandra Lean, widow of film director David Lean, offered a behind-the- scenes look at "Doctor Zhivago" at a screening of the newly restored version of the Lean epic presented by the Orange County Film Office on Thursday.

After a private reception for 70 guests at Planet Hollywood in Santa Ana, Lean spoke before 300 filmgoers at nearby Edwards South Coast Plaza Village theaters, where "Doctor Zhivago" was shown--30 years after movie audiences first fell in love with the picture. The $50-per-person screening included a post-movie reception at the Red Lion Hotel in Costa Mesa and was expected to net about $1,500 for the film office.

Enduring Love Story

"David would have been touched that his work continues to stand the test of time," said Lady Lean, sporting a gray pantsuit. Lean, now living in London, said she takes "enormous interest in ensuring his films are properly preserved."

David Lean was raised in a strict Quaker family and banned from movie theaters as a child, Lean told the audience. He saw his first movie at age 13 with a group of friends. He went on to direct 16 films that received 46 Oscar nominations and 21 awards.

"Doctor Zhivago" received five Academy Awards, but best picture of 1965 went to another sentimental favorite, "The Sound of Music."

Lean filmed the movie not on the frozen streets of Moscow but in Spain on 10 acres outside of Madrid in the stifling heat of summer, Lean said.

Tons of chipped marble and melted candle wax were used to simulate the frozen ice palace--for many moviegoers the most memorable scene of the movie.

"The only thing I don't like about this movie is every time I watch it I freeze to death," joked guest Chuck Stein.

Many remembered their first time seeing "Zhivago."

"This was the baby boom generation's first romantic movie," said Steve Bone, chairman of the Orange County Film Advisory Board. "Everyone I spoke to of my generation remembered taking their wife to see 'Doctor Zhivago' on their first date 20 years ago. But when I challenged them, they said, 'Oh God, you're right--it was 30 years ago.' "

Donna Crean, the evening's honorary chairwoman, is a serious movie buff and "Zhivago" fan.

"I've always loved it. I just watched it on video, but I'm glad to see it on the large screen. I love the scene where they're in the buggy, going to the cottage in all that snow."

After the movie, 100 guests joined Lean at the Red Lion for a Russian buffet that included beef stroganoff and mini potatoes with caviar and sour cream.

Luring Hollywood South

The film office, based in Orange, is part of the Orange County Economic Development Consortium, and its main purpose is to attract filmmakers to the county. Among recent films shot in the county are "Outbreak," "Apollo 13," "Demolition Man" and "Clear and Present Danger."

"We're so close to Hollywood; they do a lot of filming here," said Cristi Silverberg, director of the film office. The office assists the film crews while they're here, doing everything from scouting locations to finding caterers.

Among those attending "Zhivago" were Ken Moore, president and chief executive officer of the Orange County Chamber of Commerce; Caroline Graham, west coast editor of The New Yorker, who accompanied Lean; Lynn Biggs; Lucy Dunn; Roger Embrey; Phil and Marilyn Engles; John Garon; Dean Hesketh; Jim and Alison Denuccio; Carol Hoffman; Mark Chapin Johnson; David Paine; Bill and Sygne Radovich, and Wayne Wedin.

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