AFI list evokes 100 memories

GOOD MORNING: 100 great memories — that’s what the AFI’s 100 greatest American movies means to me. And some of the memories are personal. Like being on the stage at WB with Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison on “My Fair Lady” with director George Cukor for the great Ascot (Cecil Beaton costume-designed) race sequence, with Audrey, as Liza, exclaiming “Move your bloomin’ arse!” Or standing at the Circus Maximus in Rome during the chariot race between Charlton Heston and Stephen Boyd directed by William Wyler with the great Yakima Canutt staging the race — and being placed in the most advantageous site as hooves thundered by and thousands of extras cheered. Or standing in the fight ring corner behind Burgess Meredith as he pep-talked a bloodied Sylvester Stallone between rounds of “Rocky” … Or watching Spencer Tracy with Katharine Hepburn and Sidney Poitier in “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.” Stanley Kramer had invited me to the set knowing it would be the last time I would see Tracy working … Or standing in the broiling sun on the beach at Coronado, the location of “Some Like it Hot,” with Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis and director Billy Wilder, waiting for Marilyn Monroe to show up — which occasioned Wilder to make his now oft-repeated line when I asked howcum he didn’t hire someone else. “I could have gotten my aunt Sadie to play the role,” he said. “She would have always been on time every day. But who would go to see the picture?” Or being in a sweltering train station scene in Madrid in the summer, doubling for Russian winter as David Lean directed a fur-swathed Geraldine Chaplin and hundreds of extras … Or waiting with Robert Wise for the hills to come alive with sunshine in soggy Salzburg so Julie Andrews could sing her way into the world’s hearts … Or sitting alongside the ever-quiet Alfred Hitchcock as he directed film after film with outward calm and ease, making it seem like no one was directing … Or visiting with Orson Welles a few years after “Citizen Kane” when he was out at a least-likely place, Republic Studios where he was shooting a low-budget “Macbeth” with his Mercury Theater troupe. And in much later years, listening to Welles reminisce as he sat in his chair of honor near the entrance to Ma Maison. And the thrill of being on the set with Steven Spielberg as he joyously plunged into “Jaws” or seriously attacked “Schindler’s List.” Yes, these are a few recollections of the 100 chosen — which build anticipation of seeing another 100 great movies. Well, maybe 50.

CLINT EASTWOOD DOESN’T FORGET a pal. Knowing that Nicky Blair was fully recuped, Eastwood set Blair for a role in his “True Crime,” shooting in Stockton. Eastwood and Blair first teamed in 1955 in “Francis in the Navy” starring Donald O’Connor at Universal, where Eastwood was a pactee. They worked together again in “Away All Boats” in 1956, in which Eastwood had one line, Blair had two … As part of N.Y.’s “Centennial Weekend” Sunday, the Bronx Walk of Fame gets four additions: Red Buttons, Garry Marshall, Rita Moreno and Angela Bofill will be saluted with a parade up the Grand Concourse (past my old apartment at Mt. Eden Ave.!) Flags in the honorees’ names will fly over streets to be named in their honor. Buttons, who was born in the East Bronx across from the old Biograph Studios, says he “hung out” at the studio where assistants would shout, “Get that red-headed kid off the wall!” … Following Sunday night’s “Comic Relief” Lifetime Achievement Award at Radio City Music Hall, Milton Berle was again partied Monday night in N.Y., this time by songwriter, record producer and music publisher Denise Rich. Berle reminisced with Natalie Cole, whom he’s known since she was a baby; he was great friends with her father, Nat King Cole. Among other longtime pals there, Gary Morton, Pierre Cossette and Jean Doumanian … Paramount toasts its “Ambassador of Goodwill,” A.C. Lyles, June 25 on his 80th birthday — also his 70th year with Paramount (!), 61 at the studio. He started with ’em as an usher, and has the picture to prove it.

HOW MANY PEOPLE do you know who can say they’re going over to Estonia to act? Well, that’s me,” writes Arthur Hiller. The award-winning director was invited to act in writer-director Sasha Buravsky’s “The Virtuoso” with Keith Carradine, Mercedes Ruehl, Brian Dennehy, Judd Hirsch and Bronson Pinchot. Hiller plays a grandfather in the WWII drama … The WWII-set “Wings of Eagles,” to star Arnold Schwarzenegger, now has a hoped-for Spring start in Germany and Prague, says producer Alan Ladd Jr. Randall Wallace directs. He’ll also helm his “The Hand of God” original for Laddie. This one’s a love story. Ladd hopes to first launch “North of Cheyenne,” a Wyoming-set love story with a femme topper … Ruth and Harry Roman recognized Cedars-Sinai senior VP of community relations Larry Baum by naming their $1.5 million chair in Neonatology endowment in Baum’s name. Baum, at C-S 39 years, is no stranger to the Hollywood community with whom he’s worked on countless premieres and other associated showbiz events.