Cannes' 70 Most Memorable Stunts, Stars, Fights and Iconic Moments

6:00 AM 5/10/2017

by THR Staff

As the festival celebrates seven decades, THR counts down the craziest controversies, creative highs and bottom-feeding lows, from Arnold's muscle pose on the beach to Madonna's pointy bra and Borat's mankini.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, left, and Madonna
Arnold Schwarzenegger, left, and Madonna
Getty Images

Cannes turns 70 this year. The one-of-a-kind carnival of film, fashion, skin and scandal has survived Hitler and the hippies, jewel heists and muggings, fake terror threats and even the horror that was Borat's mankini.

Through the years, the festival has been a place for romance — it's where Prince Rainier wooed Grace Kelly, Brigitte Bardot flirted with Kirk Douglas and Ryan Gosling bromanced Nicolas Winding Refn.

It's been a place for business: where the majors and the moochers came to shill for their films, with publicity stunts both boffo (tanks! giant flying bees!) and brazen, including a bunch of bare Belgian butts on bicycles and endless skin on the beach. Anything to get the word out.

And it's been a spot for spats, snubs and scandal. It's where Lars von Trier called himself a Nazi and got banned, where Spike Lee threatened to take a Louisville Slugger to the jury president and where Michael Moore throttled the French language to within an inch of its life.

Along the way, Cannes has reinvented, revitalized and revolutionized cinema. Not once but again and again and again. The French New Wave was born there. So was New Hollywood. It's where Hitchcock got his start. And Godard. And Truffaut. And Scorsese. And Coppola.

Cannes has been the best of movies and the worst of movies. The festival is Easy Rider and Taxi Driver, Apocalypse Now and Pulp Fiction. It's 400 Blows, The Tin Drum, La Dolce Vita, The Leopard and The Birds. But, throughout the years, Cannes has also been Expendables 3, The Brown Bunny and Howard Stern's Private Parts.

For everyone who's ever been, first-timers or, like THR's head film critic Todd McCarthy, a 47-year Cannes veteran, the festival is where memories — good, bad, weird and wonderful — are made.

This story first appeared in the May 10 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

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    Shia Labeouf Has an Impromptu Dance-Off

    Dominique Charriau/WireImage

    The usually refined red carpet was transformed into a dance party in 2016 by the young cast of American Honey. As the DJ turned up E-40's "Choices (Yup)," stars Sasha Lane, Riley Keough and LaBeouf got their groove on. "It was the best way to go up the red carpet," says cinematographer Robbie Ryan, reportedly the instigator of the dance-off.

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    Women Are Turned Away for Wearing Flats to Premieres

    Dominique Charriau/WireImage/Getty Images

    After reports emerged in 2015 that a number of women had been stopped at the red carpet gala screening of Carol for not wearing heels, the controversy snowballed. Later reports claimed that one red carpet attendee had been turned away for wearing ankle boots and another had been physically pushed back for wearing sandals. Fremaux eventually blamed the incident on "one security guard's excess of zeal."

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    Selfies Are Banned on the Red Carpet

    Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images

    Festival director Thierry Fremaux kicked off the 2015 festival by kicking selfies off the red carpet. "You never look as ugly as you do in a selfie," said Fremaux, who added that selfie shots wouldn't be completely prohibited but would be discouraged because they cause a bottleneck on the carpet before the gala screenings.

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    Uggie Wins the Palm Dog

    Ian Gavan/Getty Images

    Jean Dujardin's Palme d'Or for best actor in 2011 for The Artist wasn't the first hint the film would be an awards contender. Just a couple of days earlier, Uggie, the film's four-legged hero, claimed Cannes' coveted Palm Dog. The Jack Russell terrier (who died in 2015) sadly couldn't be in Cannes to celebrate, so his golden collar was couriered to L.A.

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    Ken Loach Wins His Second Palme d'or (And Celebrates in Typical Loach Fashion)

    Tony Barson Archive/WireImage

    When Loach won his first Palme d'Or, for The Wind That Shakes the Barley in 2006, the mild-mannered director opted for a typically low-key celebration — he had a cup of tea. Ten years on, after I, Daniel Blake elevated him into the eight-strong group of double winners, surely there would be no excuse not to up the ante? "I think we just found a little cafe — not in the smart area — and had something very simple," he says.

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    'Muriel's Wedding' Holds a Mock Wedding Reception

    Miramax Films/Photofest

    Dressed up as a confetti-strewn wedding reception, complete with a tribute band, and held on the beach, the afterparty for Muriel's Wedding in 1994 remains one of Cannes' best remembered. "It was fabulous," recalls Film4 head Daniel Battsek, who was then at Buena Vista International. "The movie created a phenomenal atmosphere, and that was carried on into the party."

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    Fake Terror Attack at the du Cap

    Splash News

    In a clearly ill-advised publicity stunt in 2016, French company Oraxy sent six men in ISIS-like militia gear and black helmets on a speedboat to storm the Hotel du Cap Eden-Roc to promote its high-end broadband capabilities. As someone at the du Cap put it, "Just a joke — a really bad one."

  8. 63
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    Van Damme vs. Lundgren (But No, Not Really)

    Pool BENAINOUS/DUCLOS/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

    Dolph Lundgren and his Universal Soldier co-star Jean-Claude Van Damme in 1992 used the Cannes red carpet for some impromptu publicity, when the two, who had been rumored to be at odds during production, planned a staged fight on the steps of the formal staircase. "We were having a drink before we went [to the premiere], and Jean-Claude, who is a showman more so than me, wanted to do it," Lundgren remembers with a laugh. The faux tussle was widely covered by global news outlets. "Some folks still believe it was real."

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    '24 Hour Party People's' Pigeon Stunt Goes Awry

    Tony Barson Archive/WireImage

    To promote the British comedy in 2002, producers doled out bags filled with hundreds of fake pigeons to the actors playing the iconic '80s band Happy Mondays. Replicating a scene from the film in which a character poisons thousands of birds, which then begin falling from the sky, the cast started lobbing the plastic pigeons from the Majestic beach onto the unassuming (and horrified) public. The stunt caught the attention of the Coen brothers, who were having lunch nearby. "One of the pigeons apparently landed on their table," says castmember Paul Popplewell. "And apparently they thought it was f­—ing hilarious." 

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    Morgan Creek Cancels Its Long-Running Brunch

    The production company's posh brunch was a Cannes staple for decades, with such invitees as filmmakers Antoine Fuqua, Jim Sheridan and Irwin Winkler over the years. But it ended in 2011. Winkler must have had a falling-out with Morgan Creek topper James G. Robinson. When asked about his fondest memories about the meal, the producer noted: "The only problem is that you had to sit there with the guy that ran the company, Robinson. It was hard to eat watching him. You can quote me on that."

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    Robert Altman Screams at Juror Pauline Kael

    THR's chief film critic Todd McCarthy remembers one of his favorite moments.

    Claude James/INA via Getty Images

    Kael's first and last visit to Cannes was as a member of the jury considering a selection of films that included Altman's 3 Women. The critic was well known as the director’s biggest champion and personal chum, but when Shelley Duvall's performance won the only award conferred upon the film in 1977, Altman was fit to be tied, as I witnessed the next day at the Nice airport. When the filmmaker
 approached the gate, he spotted Kael and, in front of
 dozens of witnesses, started hurling the most obscene
invectives at her. 'You f—ing c—, you were supposed to
be my friend, you were going to get me the Palme d’Or!' 
and on and on. It was a shocking scene, but Kael went on
to laud any number of his subsequent films.

  12. 59
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    Graham King Gets Mugged at the Du Cap

    SGranitz/WireImage

    The producer of The Departed was in Cannes in 2007 to launch his new banner GK Films when he returned to his villa at the Hotel du Cap one night to find it being ransacked by four masked robbers wearing black. They took off with cash, watches, King's passport and several other items that were never recovered.

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    'Trainspotting' Parties All Night

    Polygram Filmed Entertainment/Photofest

    When Trainspotting landed on the Croisette for a midnight screening in 1996, the film was already well on its way to iconic status. But the debauched and star-soaked afterparty — where David Blaine was spotted smashing the watch of Working Title boss Tim Bevan, while Leftfield DJ'd to the likes of DiCaprio, Elton John and Mick Jagger — cemented it into Cannes folklore. "There was an energy about it that spilled over from the screening," says David Aukin, then head of Channel 4 Films (now Film4), who admits to having only "vague" memories of the party, which went into the wee hours. And by wee, that means the next day: Oasis rocker Liam Gallagher was spotted with Trainspotting novelist Irvine Welsh at the Hotel du Cap swimming pool at 7 a.m.

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    The Salkinds Promote 'Superman' Three Years in a Row

    Warner Bros. Pictures/Photofest

    Alexander Salkind and his son, Ilya, certainly knew how to get attention. In 1975, to promote Superman, they hired prop planes, trailing banners with the film’s title, to buzz the Croisette; in '76, they flew even more planes; and by '77, with filming finally underway, they unleashed a whole fleet of planes — 40 of them, as Ilya recalls it. "Of course, everybody hated us, because we're having the planes flying at lunchtime as everyone was eating at the cafes along the Croisette," he recalls with a laugh. "But it did help the sales tremendously."

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    Director Felix van Groeningen Leads Naked Cyclists Through the Streets

    LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images

    When the Belgian helmer learned that his comedy The
 Misfortunates had been selected for Directors' Fortnight in 2009, he immediately thought it would be a great occasion to do something special to promote the film, which chronicles the misadventures of the dysfunctional Strobbe family. "During the interviews leading up to the premiere, I started saying — jokingly — that we should do this scene from the movie where the Strobbe family rides their bikes naked," recalls van Groeningen. "We decided to go for it a couple of hours before the press conference. We got undressed in the Directors' Fortnight o ice and rode down the Croisette and back. A motorcycle was following us with our underpants — in case we got arrested."

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    Kathy Burke Gets an Assist From Luc Besson

    Sony Pictures Classics/Photofest

    The actress was trying to figure out her Sunday plans when she got a frantic call from Gary Oldman. Her director on Nil by Mouth was at Cannes in 1997 when the movie debuted, and Burke, who was in England to work on a BBC project, was going to be given the best actress award. Oldman told her to get on a plane to France — fast. "The next thing I knew, I was booked on a private jet, which I think belonged to Luc Besson," remembers Burke. She made it to Cannes in time.

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    Cannes Honors Jean-Paul Belmondo

    Tony Barson/WireImage

    The legendary French actor was 78 in 2011 when the festival paid tribute to his career. He remembers it fondly: "All the photographers alongside the red carpet put their cameras down to applaud me."

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    Kanye West Peforms at an Over-the-Top Red Granite Party

    Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images

    With the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Bradley Cooper, Adrien Brody and Jon Hamm in the crowd, and West and Jamie Foxx onstage singing "Gold Digger" (after a warm-up set by Pharrell Williams), it's fair to say that the launch party of the troubled Red Granite at Carlton Beach in 2011 was one of the most audacious — and expensive — in Cannes history. Just six years on, the company has come under fire from the Department of Justice concerning the source of its funding.

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    Alfred Hitchcock Appears in the Lineup of 'The Birds'

    Jean Claude Pierdet\INA via Getty Images

    For Hitchcock, Cannes in 1963 was his ticket to the highbrow. Getting The Birds to open Cannes was part of Hitchcock's carefully orchestrated plan to improve his standing by association with the trendy French New Wave, which adored him. Ever the showman, the director — with Birds star Tippi Hedren — released 400 pigeons outside the Carlton for the film's premiere. Recalls the actress, "To go over to Cannes with Alfred Hitchcock is, well, it's Hollywood at its height."

     

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    Menahem Golan Drives
 a Hard Bargain

    THR's chief film critic Todd McCarthy remembers one of his favorite moments.

    AP Photo/Pierre Gleizes

    Working in 1978 soliciting ads for the French trade 
Le Film Francais, I thought I was making a killing
from the upstart company Golan-Globus, which bought dozens of pages
of ad space for its future ventures — real and imagined. When it came time to collect the tens of thousands he owed, however, Golan knew how to put on a good vanishing act. After promising to meet and pay up several times, he was nowhere to be found on the final Saturday. But then, by chance, I spotted him on a side street and had to start chasing him on foot until I ran him down outside the Carlton. Once I made it clear I wasn’t letting him out of my sight until he forked over the money, he entered the safe-deposit vault o the lobby and emerged with boxes of expensive cigars, liquor, watches — anything but cash. Finally, some greenbacks appeared, and I knew we were getting somewhere; he started by offering about 15 percent of what he owed, then
25 percent. When, at length, I’d pushed him to 50 percent, it was clear he'd reached his limit;
 he was constitutionally incapable of going further. I settled for this and counted myself fortunate. 

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    The Cast of 'The Expendables 3' Rolls Down the Croisette in Three Tanks

    LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images

    In order to get three English World War II-era tanks into France to promote The Expendables 3, producer Avi Lerner in 2014 had to make sure it wasn’t misconstrued as a declaration of war. "I had to sign an affidavit to the government of France that we’re not going to take over the country. It was the biggest [stunt], I think, Cannes ever had."

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    Claudia Cardinale Kisses a Real Leopard

    Keystone-France/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

    While promoting Luchino Visconti's 1963 Palme d'Or-winning film The Leopard with co-star Burt Lancaster, the actress tried to kiss the animal. "Visconti said to me, 'This is not a cat. Are you crazy?' " recalls the actress, who graces the official Cannes poster this year.

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    Warren Beatty and Natalie Wood Drive the Press Crazy

    The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

    When Beatty accompanied then-girlfriend Wood to Cannes for the premiere of All Fall Down in 1962, the duo was unquestionably the most glamorous couple at the fest. The only problem: They rarely left their room at the Carlton, leading one gossip columnist to make the double entendre, "Elle est au lit Wood," which can mean, "She is Hollywood" or "Wood is in bed."

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    Socialite Is Kicked Off the Carpet

    Mike Marsland/WireImage/Getty Images

    At the premiere of Blood Ties in 2013, Cannes veteran Lady Victoria Hervey had a run-in with security, which was irate that the socialite was posing too long on the fest's notoriously fast-moving red carpet. As she recalls, "You're not allowed to walk down just doing one side and go back and do the other — so I will not attempt that again."

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    Businessman Is Accused of Running a Prostitution Ring

    Clemens Bilan/Getty Images

    In August 2007, police broke into the Carlton hotel room of Lebanese businessman Elie Nahas and arrested him on charges of running a prostitution ring. "Why me?" Nahas told THR in 2013. "The police know what goes on during the film festival, and they turn a blind eye."

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    Prankster Sneaks Under America Ferrera's Dress

    Pascal Le Segretain/WireImage

    Those craving a bit of attention long have used Cannes to ply their trade. In 2014, it was Ukrainian Vitalii Sediuk's turn, and Ferrara was the unfortunate target: Sediuk snuck onto the red carpet for How to Train Your Dragon 2 and put his head up the actress' voluminous dress before being yanked away by security.

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    David Cronenberg's Divisive Crash Earns a Special Award for 'Audacity'

    Fine Line/Photofest

    The writer-director's adaptation of J.G. Ballard’s Crash was nothing if not audacious. So audacious, in fact, that Cannes organizers in 1996 created an entirely new one-time-only award for it (a special jury prize for daring and audacity). The film, about a subculture that finds erotic satisfaction in car wrecks, divided the festival, and producer Robert Lantos recalls being caught off guard. "Nothing prepared me for what happened. At the press screening, the packed house was divided between those who loved and those who hated the film. The haters, mostly Brits and Americans, booed. The lovers, mostly French and Italian, shouted them down. Expletives were exchanged. A fight broke out. It was a confrontation of continents and cultures."

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    A Director Wins Gold … and Insults the Crowd

    Pool DUCLOS/PELLETIER/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

    Left-wing French journalists hated — really hated — Maurice Pialat’s Under the Sun of Satan, a thorny and demanding drama starring Gerard Depardieu as a zealous but tormented rural priest. The press screening in 1987 went so badly, Pialat and his wife, Sylvie, left Cannes right afterward, only returning when festival PR called to tell them to rush back. "We were going to receive a prize," Sylvie recalls. " 'What prize?' Maurice asked. I told him they didn't say." It was the Palme d'Or. Pialat took the stage as a chorus of whistles and hoots boomed throughout the Palais. The defiant director raised his fist and told the crowd, "If you don’t like me, I can tell you, I don’t like you either!"

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    Ryan Gosling Does Mouth-to-Mouth on His Director

    AP Photo/Jonathan Short

    The bromance between Gosling and his Drive filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn was the talk of the 2011 festival, with Refn calling Gosling "his favorite alter ego" and saying he "cinematically penetrated" the actor in the making of the stylish film noir. At the awards photocall (Refn won best director), Gosling finally broke the tension by grabbing the Danish auteur and giving him a big smooch on the lips.

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    Presenter Shocks With Woody Allen Joke

    Samir Hussein/WireImage

    There are differing ways to loosen up a crowd, but few would tell a rape joke, especially if the target is Allen and it’s his opening-night lm you’re the host for. "It's very nice that you've been shooting so many movies in Europe, even if you are not being convicted for rape in the U.S.," offered emcee Laurent Lafitte to gasps at the 2016 curtain-raising ceremony for Cafe Society. The comic later claimed he "didn't know" about Allen's sexual abuse allegations and the joke actually had been referencing Roman Polanski. 

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    The Year of Jewel Thefts and Gunfire

    Venturelli/WireImage

    For Cannes, 2013 was a year of crime. First were the two brazen thefts: a safe ripped from the wall of the Novotel that contained $1 million in jewels, followed by burglars outsmarting 80 Hotel du Cap security guards to liberate a $2.6 million De Grisogono necklace. Then the bizarre: Oscar winner Christoph Waltz was being interviewed live from the Martinez beach for a French TV show when a man rushed onstage, firing a gun and threatening to set off a grenade.

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    Clint Goes Late-Night Barhopping on Croisette

    THR's chief film critic Todd McCarthy remembers one of his favorite moments.

    Jacky COOLEN/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

    The presentation of Pale Rider in 1985 marked the first of what were to become numerous trips to Cannes by Clint Eastwood. As he was arguably the biggest movie star
in the world, security was tight, and there was no way Eastwood could just amble up and down the Croisette. But he remained adamant about seeing a bit of the scene. So, very late one night, his vaunted publicity maestros Pierre Rissient and Joe Hyams decided it would be safe to walk him through town after hours. I was lucky enough to join Clint as he hit whatever places were still open. We darted from one spot to the next, finally ending up having nightcaps in the lobby of the Carlton. 

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    Lindsay Lohan Parties (Despite Being on Probation)

    Lorenzo Santini/FilmMagic

    In 2010, Lohan really enjoyed her time during the festival. Only issue? The long-troubled star was due in court for a probation progress report, and instead of catching a flight back to the States, LiLo claimed her passport was stolen — and that she was not able to get home. A judge in L.A. issued an arrest warrant as the passport hitch only exacerbated the attention and paparazzi frenzy surrounding the actress, then 23, who had been staying at Hotel 3.14 in Cannes. Socialite Lady Victoria Hervey offered Lohan, a longtime friend, refuge on her boat. "I tried sneaking her on board," recalls Hervey, "but as soon as we tried, we were surrounded by like 20 paparazzi."

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    For Its 60th Edition, 35 Auteur Short Films Premiere

    Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images
    To mark Cannes' 60th anniversary — and perhaps highlight just how powerful it had become — Cannes in 2007 commissioned 35 directors to make three-minute shorts based on the theme of going to the cinema. It wasn't exactly a rag-tag bunch of filmmakers that were assembled. Among the 35 were Roman Polanski, Lars von Trier, Ken Loach, David Cronenberg, the Coen brothers, Jane Campion, Gus Van Sant and Alejandro G. Inarritu. 
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    Jerry Seinfeld Flies Over the Croisette Dressed as a Bee

    Dave Hogan/Getty Images

    It's safe to say that former DreamWorks Animation chief Jeffrey Katzenberg is the only Hollywood studio head who has zoomed down a zip line from the roof of the Carlton Hotel to the Croisette in the middle of the night. The rigging was part of what would become the most famous marketing stunt in the history of the festival, when Seinfeld, star of DWA's Bee Movie, flew off the Carlton roof on a sunny afternoon in May 2007 dressed in a bumblebee suit. "The city of Cannes wouldn't let us put the cable up until overnight," Katzenberg tells THR. "We went up on the roof, and it was as dead as it could be. Jerry looked at the rigging and said to me, 'That looks very compelling and interesting. I think you should test it, Jeffrey.' I said, 'You know what, I think you're right.' "

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    'Irreversible' Screens to Record Walkouts, One Viewer Collapses During the Premiere

    Alliance Atlantis Communications/Photofest

    Gaspar Noe had cast France's "It" couple — Monica Bellucci and Vincent Cassel — in his 2002 Cannes competition entry Irreversible. But if festival audiences expected glamour, they were in for a shock. The back-to-front revenge drama featured some of the most disturbing scenes ever put onscreen, including a brutal, 10-minute rape. "There was a lot of yelling and booing in the audience in Cannes; people were leaving the theater to express their outrage," recalls Noe. At least one viewer fainted. "Cannes is the only place where people react to movies the way they would a political debate or a World Cup soccer game. When I see a movie I don't like there, I am the first one to boo and yell at the screen, so I really felt at home." The scandal ultimately worked in the film's favor. Irreversible was a huge hit at home and abroad. "It was the most successful French movie of the year in Turkey and Greece, coming ahead of Jean-Pierre Jeunet's Amelie!" notes Noe. "Today, taxi drivers and cops still come up to me to talk about Irreversible."

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    Michael Jackson Reveals His Ghosts

    J. Vespa/WireImage

    In 1997, the King of Pop made his first and only appearance in Cannes for a short film — essentially an extended music video — called Ghosts. The bizarre, 39-minute effort, which was co-written by horror maestro Stephen King and directed by makeup wizard Stan Winston, saw Jackson playing multiple parts, including a mysterious figure with supernatural powers called The Maestro and a chubby (and Caucasian) small-town mayor. "In 1997, Michael was based in Paris, where he was rehearsing for the HIStory tour," says Mike Smallcombe, author of Making Michael. "There were two reasons he went to Cannes: He wanted to showcase the film at a world-renowned film festival, and it was convenient."

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    'Moulin Rouge!' Throws One of the Most Memorable Afterparties Ever

    J. Vespa/WireImage

    Baz Luhrmann brought his song-and-dance spectacle Moulin Rouge! to the Palais on May 9, 2001, for a wildly celebratory night that featured an electric afterparty courtesy of dancers from the film and music by DJ Fatboy Slim. At one point during the festivities ­— often referred to by festival insiders as one of the best opening-night parties ever — star Nicole Kidman and Luhrmann jumped in the DJ booth to take a spin on the turntables. Yet not everyone has fond memories of the night. Tom Rothman, who then was the co-head at Fox, which released the film, recalls: "It was a great night, a fantastic night, until a very nasty trade review came in right in the middle of the celebration. But all it did was strengthen our resolve, and we persisted!"

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    Lars Von Trier vs. Everyone (Part 1)

    20th Century Fox/Photofest

    The Coen brothers' Barton Fink won the Palme d'Or in 1991, marking the start of a new wave of U.S. indie cinema that would dominate the festival throughout the 1990s. But not everyone was pleased. Von Trier was furious when he "only" received the third-place jury prize for his film Europa. "Lars von Trier won, and he insulted [jury president] Roman Polanski," recalls Barton Fink star John Turturro. "I remember. He said, 'I want to thank the jury and I want to thank the midget.' I was like, 'Holy mackerel!' "

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    Cannes Creates Selection Committees

    Courtesy of Cannes Film Festival

    One of Cannes' most dismal years qualitatively was nonetheless highly significant, in that new "general delegate" Maurice Bessy mercifully abandoned the antiquated system of having nations submit films to the festival for consideration. In its place, Bessy created in 1972 two in-house selection committees — one for French films and the other for international product — which would select the films to be shown at the festival.

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    Madonna Debuts Her Pointy Bra for 'Truth or Dare'

    Pool ARNAL/GARCIA/PICOT/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

    Ever the provocateur, Madonna walked the steps at the Palais in 1991 draped in a Jean-Paul Gaultier cape for the world premiere of the Alek Keshishian-directed documentary Madonna: Truth or Dare. But, like the film, she surprised the crowd with a more intimate view of the Queen of Pop by dropping the piece to reveal an instantly iconic ensemble — the white Gaultier pointy bra and knickers. Recalls Keshishian: "I remember we took a boat over from the Hotel du Cap with Harvey Weinstein and Dino De Laurentiis. I just let her lead, and I followed. I don't think either of us had any idea it would turn into such a seminal Cannes moment."

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    Michael Caine's 'Alfie' Stunt Bottoms Out

    Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images

    Following the news conference for the 1966 classic Alfie, in competition that year, the film's young star, Caine — then the coolest Brit on the planet — sat nonchalantly while a bevy of young women wearing white trousers bearing the film’s name on the left butt cheek swarmed around him. A photography legend was made. Not that it did much for the star. Alfie won the jury prize, but Caine came away with nothing, leading him to snub Cannes for almost 50 years. When finally returning in 2015 for Youth, Caine told reporters, "[Alfie] won a prize, and I didn't. So I never came back. I'm not going all that way for nothing."

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    Howard Stern's 'Private Parts' Looms Over the Beach

    AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau

    In an effort to promote his 1997 biopic Private Parts, Stern jetted to Cannes to pitch the project to European markets. The promotional plan involved inflating a 40-foot balloon of a naked Stern perched on a barge anchored near the beach. But France's then-President Jacques Chirac was visiting Cannes, and his security detail deemed the balloon too vulgar to remain standing. Stern had two choices: The police could shoot it down, or he and the film's producers could deflate it themselves. The producers chose the latter, and when Chirac left town, they reinflated the thing. "I haven’t thought about this in years, but I miss the giant inflatable me and wish he were still with us," Stern tells THR. "He was taken way too soon, and I had high hopes he would have visited America and participated in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade right next to Underdog."

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    Some Unknown Bodybuilder Named Arnold Strikes a Pose

    AFP/AFP/Getty Images

    Cannes was long accustomed to starlets flashing skin on the beach to drum
 up interest in their latest pic. But in 1977, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was at the festival promoting Pumping Iron, flipped the script. The action icon recalls: "The whole idea was that they had these girls from the Crazy Horse club [in Paris] go to the beach with me. The girls were gorgeous, but I was the only one that had no clothes on!" As he gears up to descend on Cannes once again to promote Wonders of the Sea, the conservation doc he produced and narrates, the ex-California governor jokes fans may see that photo get a reboot. "I will absolutely re-create that photo. Are you kidding me? I have the posing trunks ready, I have the baby oil ready. Everything is ready to go. The women ... I don’t know if the club still exists, but I hope it does."

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    The Vatican Takes Aim at Palme Winner 'Viridiana'

    Kingsley-International Pictures Inc./Photofest

    Cannes really had it in for the Vatican. A year after provoking the Pope with La Dolce Vita (see below), the festival jury handed the 1961 Palme d'Or to Luis Bunuel's Viridiana, a dark comedy about a novice nun and her lecherous uncle that the Catholic Church branded blasphemous. "I didn't deliberately set out to be blasphemous, but then Pope John XXIII is a better judge of such things than I am," joked the director at the time. 

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    Vatican Condemns Fellini's "Pornographic" 'La Dolce Vita'

    ©Astor Pictures

    Before capturing the Palme d'Or in 1960, Federico Fellini's now-classic portrayal of decadent Italians, La Dolce Vita, had already sparked outrage. In Milan, a man spat on the director for insulting the fatherland; in Rome, Fellini was challenged to a duel. When Cannes gave its top honor to the film, the Vatican responded by branding the film "pornographic."

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    Godard Takes a Pie to the Face

    AFP/Getty Images

    Long before Rotten Tomatoes, Jean-Luc Godard got a fan pan in the form of a literal pie-to-the-face in 1985. Belgian "pastry activist" Noel Godin, whose whipped-cream critiques have smeared the visages of such acclaimed figures as Marguerite Duras, Bill Gates and Nicolas Sarkozy, took aim at Godard because he was disappointed by the director's religious turn in Hail Mary. "He was the only one of my victims who took it well," recalls Godin to THR. "When the host of the press conference addressed the journalists to say they were running late because Mr. Godard had suffered a 'brutal aggression,' Godard exclaimed: 'It was not brutal! It was funny!' A few weeks later, he heard that I had been forever banned from the festival, and took it upon himself to call Cannes' PR to ask him to give me back my accreditation."

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    Security Thwarts a Bomb Threat

    Cannes may be on high alert now, but 1978 saw the fest's closest brush with an actual terror incident after an explosive device was discovered under the stage before the closing cere­mony. No one was hurt, and the culprit remains a mystery. "It was a small hand-crafted bomb that was quickly carried to the beach, where the explosives experts defused it," recalls then-fest president Gilles Jacob. "Compliments to the bomb squad."

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    Cannes Introduces the Palme d'Or

    United Artists/Photofest

    Cannes hasn't always proffered its greatest accolade, the Palme d'Or. In 1946, when the festival returned after a hiatus for the war, 45 features were officially presented, 11 of which shared what was called the Grand Prix. The following year, the winners were broken down by genre, including psychological and love stories (a perplexing mix), musicals, animation and documentaries. The Grand Prix thereafter returned and prevailed until eventual Oscar winner Marty was awarded the very first Palme d'Or (named after Cannes' coat of arms) in 1955.

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    Counterculture Arrives in Cannes

    Bettmann Archive/Getty Images

    Lindsay Anderson's edgy take on a private school revolution, If …, starring Malcolm McDowell in his feature debut, may have snagged 1969's Palme, but it was the hard-partying cast of Easy Rider — Jack Nicholson, Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda — who defined the counterculture vibe that year. Recalls McDowell: "I was sitting with a British delegation out on the terrace of the Carlton. It was so boring. I look across, and I see all these guys having a real good time. So I went over and said, 'Hi, I'm Malcolm McDowell, I'd like to meet you.' This guy goes, 'Hi, I'm Dennis Hopper … this is Jack.' Then they hand me something, and it's not tobacco, and I take it. I say 'thank you very much' and just had a ball with them."

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    'Fahrenheit 9/11' Takes the Top Honor

    Evan Agostini/Getty Images

    When Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 won the Palme in 2004, it was just the second time a doc took the top prize (the first being Jacques Cousteau's The Silent World in 1956). The first time Moore took the Cannes stage, in 2002, to accept a special prize for Bowling for Columbine, he made the error of trying to give his acceptance speech in fractured French. Moore's gaffe became a running joke, with winner after winner promising they wouldn't mangle the language further. By 2004, Moore had learned his lesson: He accepted the Palme with a long, but English-only speech.

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    Sacha Baron Cohen Walks the Beach in a "Mankini" (Very Nice!)

    George Pimentel/WireImage

    More than 50 years 
after Brigitte Bardot famously introduced the bikini to the world on a beach in Cannes, Sacha Baron Cohen did the same for another — not quite 
so fashion-friendly — piece of swimwear in 2006. The male thong known 
as the "mankini" made its debut when Cohen, in full character, descended to promote Borat! Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. The funnyman hit the beach with a quintet of bikini-clad girls, giving the trademark double thumbs-up to the cameras as he displayed his near-bare buttocks (and pretty much everything else). 

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    Tennessee Williams Decries Violence, But 'Taxi Driver' Wins Anyway

    Columbia Pictures/Photofest

    A "new" American cinema had begun announcing itself at Cannes with Easy Rider in 1969, and then three Palme d'Or winners: M*A*S*H in 1970, Scarecrow in 1973 and The Conversation in 1974, followed. But it was arguably Martin Scorsese's triumph with Taxi Driver in 1976 that cemented the notion that the U.S., with its new generation of hot young directors, was where the action was cinematically in the '70s. Ironically, jury chairman Tennessee Williams said before the festival that films were getting too violent, but Taxi Driver won the Palme d'Or anyway, to cheers and boos. "The whole issue about violence in the movie kind of exploded [in Cannes]," recalls Jodie Foster. "Marty, Bobby [De Niro] and Harvey [Keitel] kind of got stuck at the Hotel du Cap and didn’t come out very much." Assuming the film didn’t have a chance of winning after hearing of Williams' remarks, Scorsese and the castmembers decided to leave, Foster recalls: "Before we went home, though, we were given a dinner by Costa-Gavras and Sergio Leone, who were on the jury, and they really liked the film a great deal."

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    Jane Campion Becomes the First (and Only) Woman to Win the Palme

    GERARD JULIEN/AFP/Getty Images

    When it comes to winning Cannes' top award, the numbers don't lie: The Palme has been handed to a man in every edition. The boys' club was finally cracked when Jane Campion's The Piano managed a tie with Chen Kaige's Farewell My Concubine in 1993. "This is a kind of miracle," said actor Sam Neill, accepting the award on behalf of Campion, who couldn't attend. But 24 years on, Cannes could use a few more of those miracles.

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    'E.T.' Closes the Old Palais on an Emotional Note

    Photofest

    Steven Spielberg's heartwarming portrait of a misunderstood alien closed the festival on May 26, 1982. His longtime producer, Kathleen Kennedy, recalls the screening, which was the last in the old Palais theater before the fest built a new venue: "It had 2,500 seats, and it was extraordinary. The audience was on their feet 15 minutes before the movie ended, and they all were lighting lighters and stomping their feet. It was one of the most thrilling things I've ever been through."

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    Kirk Douglas Recalls When He Posed With Brigitte Bardot But Ended Up Meeting His Future Bride

    Patrick Morin/RDA/Getty Images

    The 1953 photos of Kirk Douglas and Brigitte Bardot frolicking on the beach — semi-spontaneous, semi-staged — captured the combination of American masculinity and European sexiness that defined post-World War II cinema and were seen around the world. Despite his obvious affection for Bardot, Douglas, then 36, was falling in love with Anne Buydens, then 34, who had just joined Cannes as the head of protocol. In this excerpt from their new joint memoir, Kirk and Anne: Letters of Love, Laughter, and a Lifetime in Hollywood, the pair, who married in 1954, recall meeting in Paris in early 1953 and their time together at Cannes that year.

    Read the full book excerpt here

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    Milla Jovovich Suffers a Perilous Wardrobe Malfunction (but Demi Moore Comes to the Rescue)

    AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere

    The festival handed curtain-raising duties in 1997 to Luc Besson and his futuristic actioner The Fifth Element. The French helmer got a major assist from star Milla Jovovich, who turned heads and snagged international headlines with a John Galliano creation that required the bravery of Leeloo, her orange-haired character. Jovovich (pictured at the premiere with Besson, left, and co-star Chris Tucker) recounts the night for THR: “When we arrived on the Croisette, the crowds went crazy. Bruce Willis was married to Demi Moore at the time, and I felt so star-struck and excited to be sharing this moment with them. As we turned to walk the carpet and the steps of the Palais, my gown began to come undone — which would have been a total disaster if not for the quick thinking of Demi. Miraculously, she had a small, complimentary sewing kit in her purse that she had taken from the hotel, and with Luc, Bruce and the rest of our party blocking the view, Demi and I ducked behind them while she sewed me back into my gown! I will always cherish Demi Moore for her quick thinking and nimble fingers!” 

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    'The Brown Bunny' Really Blows

    A sometime artist and actor who had never done anything to stimulate critical interest in him as a filmmaker, Vincent Gallo inexplicably made it into the competition in 2003 with this low-budget, indulgent home movie that climaxed with a prolonged close-up scene of Gallo on the receiving end of oral sex administered by a not very happy-looking Chloe Sevigny. Roger Ebert summed up the general sentiment: "It was the worst film in the history of the festival" and "one of the most disastrous screenings I had ever attended."

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    Lars Von Trier vs. Everyone (Part 2)

    AFP/Getty Images

    Lars von Trier already had a reputation as a troublemaker, but the Danish auteur outdid himself in 2011. At the news conference for Melancholia, starring Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg, von Trier responded to a question about the film's visual aesthetic with a rambling monologue that resembled a dark and very un-PC comedy routine. The "punch line" came when von Trier said he "sympathized with Hitler … OK, I'm a Nazi." The resulting scandal saw Cannes ban him from the festival. Peter Aalbeck Jensen, a producer on Melancholia and von Trier's longtime production partner, was watching from the wings: "Just before he went into the press conference, I told Lars: 'You made a great film. If you can just keep your mouth shut, you'll win the Palme d'Or.' "

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    Spike Lee Rages When He Loses to Steven Soderbergh

    MCA/Universal Pictures/Photofest

    It had been nine years since an American director had won the Palme d'Or, and there were three young, non-Hollywood mavericks vying for the honor in 1989: Spike Lee, Jim Jarmusch and Steven Soderbergh, whose debut feature sex, lies & videotape took the Palme. Lee was not pleased when his Do the Right Thing (pictured) didn't win, and he had to be talked out of picketing the awards. After jury president Wim Wenders criticized the film's lead character, Lee said he had "a Louisville Slugger [baseball bat] at home with Wim Wenders' name on it."

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    Harvey and Liz Launch AmfAR

    Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc/Getty Images

    When the first amfAR AIDS benefit was held May 20, 1993, at the legendary Moulin de Mougins, Elizabeth Taylor was among the honorary co-chairs, along with Michael Douglas and Mathilde Krim. The event was an immediate success and has been a glittering highlight at Cannes ever since. Cari Beauchamp, on hand that night as part of a book tour for her history of the festival, Hollywood on the Riviera, recalls Taylor being in complete command amid a range of luminaries: "RuPaul headlined and Liz made the rounds in a jawdropping white evening gown with her dog Sugar tucked under her arm. Harvey Weinstein was among the original hosts. I was seated between Liz's hairdresser, Jose Ebert, and the international arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi. … Only in Cannes!"

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    Francis Coppola Wins ‘Half a Palme’

    HUFFSCHMITT/SIPA/Newscom

    Rumor has it that Coppola told Cannes he would only let the fest screen his Vietnam epic Apocalypse Now if he was guaranteed to win. "He had put all his own money, his money from The Godfather, into the movie, and he needed it to be a hit," recalls Volker Schlondorff (pictured above with Catherine Deneuve and Coppola), whose The Tin Drum was the surprise joint winner with Apocalypse of the 1979 Palme d'Or. Gilles Jacob, then head of the festival, denies Apocalypse was a lock from the get-go. "Coppola never imposed conditions. … He knew very well the unpredictability of the competition." But Jacob admits Coppola wasn't happy to have to share his award: "As he shook my hand when I left, he said to me, 'I have won half a Palme.' "

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    Charles and Diana Steal the Show

    Anwar Hussein/Getty Images

    In a year in which the only Hollywood star on the jury was Ellen Burstyn and the most anticipated U.S. title in the lineup was Michael Cimino's dud Heaven's Gate, the 40th edition of Cannes in 1987 was desperately in need of buzz. It arrived in the form of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, who sent flashbulbs into overdrive when they showed up to honor British Film Day. Charles spoke at the event, recalling a visit to Pinewood Studios in his youth, but it was Diana's dress ­— a floor-length blue Catherine Walter chiffon gown — that received the most attention.

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    Quentin Tarantino Gets His First 'Pulp Fiction' Review on the Streets of Cannes

    THR's chief film critic Todd McCarthy remembers one of his favorite moments.

    Miramax/Photofest

    The most anticipated film at Cannes 
in 1994 was indisputably Pulp Fiction. So it came as something of a shock when the Clint Eastwood-headed jury's choice of Quentin Tarantino's second film as the winner of the Palme d'Or was greeted not only with applause but a volley of boos and catcalls as well. All the same, my initial experience of the film was rather different than that of most others. Before Cannes, not a soul outside the Miramax camp had seen it, but at the last minute a private invitational screening for a few critics was set up at the back-street Olympia the night before the official unveiling. I was among the fortunate few, and I emerged from the experience in a frankly euphoric state. I wandered slowly down toward the Carlton, and upon reaching the Croisette, who should I literally bump into but Tarantino, whom I'd very briefly met at Sundance two years earlier. Unable
to restrain myself, I enthused about what I had just 
seen, whereupon Quentin lit up, saying, "You're the first person I've met who's seen the film who didn't work on it; tell me what you thought!" What about this, what about that, he wanted to know, and we must have stood on that corner for a half hour as he dug in for deep-dish analysis. Event then, there were young fans and attractive women who would approach him and interrupt us, at which he would react, "Excuse me. Can't you see we're having a conversation here? Thank you very much, goodbye!"

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    Olivia De Havilland Becomes First Female Jury President

    Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

    British actress de Havilland (pictured with Charles Boyer), tells THR she "hasn't a clue" why she was picked to break Cannes' glass ceiling and become the first woman to lead the festival jury in 1965. She adds she found the task of judging the competition lineup — which at the time consisted of 26 films — a daunting one: "Presiding over an all-male jury was, of course, a delightful experience," she recalls, "but was, at the same time, a fearsome responsibility."

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    Francois Truffaut Ushers in French New Wave

    Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images

    1959 was the year that the future of French cinema showed its hand. Banned from Cannes in 1958 for his often vicious attacks on the festival, Truffaut, then a 27-year-old film critic, returned a year later to win the best director prize for his debut feature, The 400 Blows, which also introduced the world to 13-year-old Jean-Pierre Leaud (pictured, left, strolling the Croisette with Truffaut). Leaud would reprise his role as Truffaut surrogate Antoine Doinel in four more films over the course of 20 years.

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    Grace Kelly Meets Prince Rainier

    ZUMAPRESS.com/Newscom

    Kelly had spent the summer of 1954 staying at the Carlton hotel with Cary Grant and Hitchcock while shooting To Catch a Thief, and she didn't particularly feel like going back the following May to help represent the Motion Picture Association of America at Cannes. But Kelly, then one of Hollywood's biggest stars, was talked into it, met Prince Rainier III of Monaco in 1955 and, after what was promoted as the fairy-tale romance of the century, married him the following year. She never made another film.

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    Robert Mitchum Poses on the Beach with Topless Starlett

    HUFFSCHMITT/SIPA/Newscom

    Sex hit Cannes to stay in 1954 when unknown "starlet" Simone Sylva, during a photo op on the beach, removed her top and snuck over to nearby Robert Mitchum. "All of a sudden her bra fell or she dropped it," Mitchum reportedly said at the time. "I just put my hands out just to hide her breasts from the camera." When Sylva began posting the risque photos along the Croisette the next morning, she was asked to leave Cannes — but the photos remain among the most emblematic of the festival to this day.

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    French Auteurs Lead "May 68" Protest

    Bocaccio Distribucion/Photofest

    The year 1968 marked the festival's 21st birthday, but it did not go easily into adulthood. Cannes' dates fell in the middle of one of France's epochal moments, the period of civil unrest known as "May 68," and the festival was not immune to political events sweeping through the country and the world. Filmmakers, led by figureheads Francois Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard, had been incensed by the French government's dismissal of Cinematheque Francaise head Henri Langlois in February and instigated protests that led to his reinstatement. Then, against the backdrop of millions of workers going on strike, Truffaut, soon joined by Godard, Alain Resnais and Claude Lelouch, demanded that the festival be discontinued, and some directors began withdrawing their films. After the first week — and an amazing incident in which Truffaut, Geraldine Chaplin and others grabbed the curtain at the old Palais to try to prevent Carlos Saura's Peppermint Frappe (in which Chaplin starred) from being screened — the festival was called off. The fact that state and local employees were now on strike and gasoline was unavailable left hundreds strategizing how to get across the border to Italy, leaving stranded festivalgoers with stories of "How I Survived Cannes '68" to tell for years thereafter.

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    World War II Shuts Down the First Festival

    RKO Radio Pictures Inc./Photofest

    Determined to counter the fascist-controlled Venice Film Festival with an event of its own, France scheduled the inaugural Cannes Film Festival for the first two weeks of September in 1939. Gary Cooper, Mae West, Douglas Fairbanks, Tyrone Power and France's own Charles Boyer arrived in Cannes (which barely beat out Biarritz as the fest location thanks to the lobbying of local hotel owners), via a "Steamship of Stars." A cardboard replica of Notre Dame Cathedral had been constructed on the beach in honor of the opening-night feature, The Hunchback of Notre Dame. But Hitler had other ideas, invading Poland the very morning of the opening. After a day of dithering, Hunchback was shown but the rest of the festival was canceled for what turned out to be seven years. The fest returned for its first full run in 1946, again in September, and with 11 films being bestowed with what was called the Grand Prix International du Festival. But the opening night, featuring the Soviet documentary Berlin, was a fiasco — first the film broke in the projector, then the power went out. And Alfred Hitchcock's Notorious was not among the prize winners, probably because its reels were shown out of order.

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