‘Grifters’ Premiere Engulfed by Crisis


The timing of Hollywood parties is tricky. You don’t want your party, for instance, to lose luster because of something like a bigger party on the same night.

The party for “The Grifters,” Miramax Films’ new picture based on the novel by the late Jim Thompson, was overshadowed by more momentous events. The film had its L. A. premiere Tuesday night in Century City at the hour the United Nations had set as the deadline for Saddam Hussein to withdraw from Kuwait.

“If civilization is going to end in an hour, it’s rather flattering that you’re here watching this film,” said director Stephen Frears before the picture began. The remark drew a few nervous laughs.


The evening benefited Amnesty International, the nonpartisan organization that monitors human rights abuses around the world. Volunteer workers had set up a table in the lobby with petitions and information, with a particular emphasis on the Middle East, but most of the crowd seemed to prefer stargazing.

On hand were “Grifters” stars Anjelica Huston, Annette Bening, John Cusack, Pat Hingle and J. T. Walsh, as well as actors Ed Begley Jr., Blair Brown, Sofia Coppola, Adam Horovitz, Leonard Nimoy, Raul Julia, Bill Paxton, Ron Silver, Christopher Walken, James Woods, and Teri Garr with actor Jon Lovitz.

Many of them made it to the post-screening reception at the Twenty/20 Club, where several of Jim Thompson’s relatives were among the party-goers. Thompson wrote 29 ultra-hard-boiled novels that had been out of print for decades before being reissued several years ago to new critical acclaim and public favor. “The Grifters,” a tale of con artists, double crosses, violence and incest, was typical Thompson.

“I’d never read Jim Thompson before ‘The Grifters’,” said Huston. “I’m not much of a thriller reader, so I needed some buttering up to take this role. To be honest, I didn’t know if I wanted to be this woman.” Huston had to leave the party early; she had to be up at 5 a.m. to be on the set of her new film, “The Addams Family.”

Blaine Campbell, the agent for Thompson’s work, was among the party-goers. Said Campbell: “Now that he’s dead, he’s just raking in the money. Isn’t that always the way?”