With Cheers and Hankies, Hollywood Welcomes Director Barry Levinson's Generational Epic, Avalon

updated 10/22/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/22/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

The minute you hear a sniff in the audience, you know you're heading on the right track," figured Elizabeth Perkins, one of the stars of Barry (Rain Man) Levinson's new film, Avalon. Judging by the L.A. opening of the movie, a five-generational tale about an immigrant family in Baltimore, Perkins & Co. had little to fret about. Across the courtyard from the Century City screening was an outdoor postpremiere party, but "we almost didn't come because we wanted to go off and talk about what we had just seen," said comedian Martin Short (who came anyway, with wife Nancy). Echoed TV's Tony Danza: "It's a little hard to go to a party after something so emotional. It makes you miss your father."

One of the film's pivotal scenes takes place on a Fourth of July, so Tri-Star Pictures presented the 1,000 first-nighters with an old-fashioned picnic complete with red-white-and-blue bunting. While showbiz bigs schmoozed to music from a jazz ensemble, Baltimore-born Levinson allowed as how everything seemed to have gone okay. "I'm glad that people seemed to be affected by the film," said the director. After all, "What you hope is that by being personal, you can be universal."

From Our Partners