Saint is 87 now, and as sharp, funny, and provocative as ever. She has been married to the same man - the TV director Jeffrey Hayden - for 60 years. They live in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, Calif., among friends who are artists and business folk, with just a few close ones in their own line of work (James Garner, for instance).
"I had trouble with the plot," Saint confesses, breakfasting the morning after the North by Northwest showing and recalling her conversation with Hitchcock's screenwriter, Ernest Lehman.
"He was a friend, and I said, 'Now, Ernie, where is north by northwest?' Where is it? And he said, 'I don't know, ask Hitch.'
"So I asked Hitch, and he said, 'Ask Ernie.' At that time I wanted to know. . . . Now, I don't care.
"But to this day, if I had to give a synopsis of this movie, could I do it? I couldn't do it to this day!"
It is, indeed, a serpentine affair: mistaken identity, spies, bad guys, microfilm, Cary Grant with that impossible tan.
"Oh, it was some kind of spray-on, or oil," says Saint, who is having hot chocolate and a croissant (she has never liked coffee) and who remembers her parents talking about their lunches in the Crystal Room at John Wanamaker. Her father worked for B.F. Goodrich tires in Philadelphia, and then they retired to West Chester. Saint was in college in New York, and would come down at Christmas, on long weekends. "There was so much snow in the wintertime. . . . It was beautiful there."
The night before, Mankiewicz had asked her who was sexier, Brando or Grant? Saint offered an amusing demurral, saying neither, really, and then looking out into the audience, where she found her husband sitting, watching her adoringly.
But this morning, she's ready with a different answer.
"You know who was the sexiest? Yves Montand. In Grand Prix. The last shot, I was standing next to him and he pulled me down - he was sitting - and he pulled me down on his lap and he said, 'Eve Marie, you are my favorite leading lady.'
"Oh, my goodness!"
Saint has another story from Grand Prix, the 1966 race-car drama.
"I had a young woman taking care of the children when I was filming," says Saint, who has a daughter and a son. "So one day I said to her, 'I'm filming a very emotional scene on the set with Yves Montand, so I'd rather they'd not be on the set that day.' They didn't come too often, but I never knew when they would come.
"But she forgot, and she took them to the set when Yves Montand crashes, and it's a scene when there's blood on my hand, and I'm screaming.
"My daughter is 53 now, and she still remembers. She was traumatized. Although she knew it was just a scene, that it was a movie, she had never seen her mother with blood on her hands, in such fright and shock. Well, my babysitter just felt awful.
"Some of those things, they're in your mind forever."
And what about her daughter. Did she ever recover from the scare?
"She's a therapist, actually," Saint says, smiling. "I think she's worked it all out."
Contact Steven Rea at 215-854-5629 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his blog, "On Movies Online," at www.philly.com/onmovies.