In his interview with Oscar winning actress Shirley MacLaine at the Boulder Theater Saturday night, Boulder International Film Festival producer Ron Bostwick reminded her of a speech she made at the 1974 American Film Institute tribute to James Cagney in which she recounted what Cagney had told her was his secret to acting.

“You walk in, you plant your feet, you look the other fella in the eye and you tell the truth,” Bostwick said, channeling MacLaine channeling Cagney. “I feel like you don't just do that on screen, you do that every day of your life.”

After a laugh, MacLaine, who has nearly six decades of experience in the movie business, responded, “Ya think?”

“I would say that's what has kept me going, honestly,” she added. “That and a good pair of shoes and a hat for the sun.”

MacLaine on Saturday was presented with the festival's “Career Achievement Award.” Her career accolades include a 1984 Oscar for best actress, six Emmy Awards and seven Golden Globes, among many other honors.

After a career retrospective played on the Boulder Theater screen, MacLaine and Bostwick launched into a wide-ranging and often funny interview that covered her long film career, childhood, political activities, belief in metaphysics and work as a best-selling author, among other things.

On working with legendary director Alfred Hitchcock on her debut film, 1955's “The Trouble with Harry,” MacLaine said she often ate with Hitchcock on the set, and eventually added some inches on her waistline that prompted a concerned call from the head of the movie studio.

“That's what he did movies for, so he could get free food,” she deadpanned. “I think that's true.”

 Shirley MacLaine talks and signs autographs for the fans outside the Boulder Theater. Actor Shirley MacLaine received the Lifetime Achievement Award at
Shirley MacLaine talks and signs autographs for the fans outside the Boulder Theater. Actor Shirley MacLaine received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Boulder International Film Festival on Saturday. For more photos and a video of MacLaine, go to Cliff Grassmick / February 15, 2014 ( Cliff Grassmick )

Bostwick reminded MacLaine that the last time she was in Boulder was September 1972 when she was stumping for the doomed presidential campaign of Democrat George McGovern. He produced a picture of a long-haired MacLaine that ran in the Daily Camera following that visit.

Asked why she is not very active in politics these days, MacLaine said, in part that, “Some of those politicians who think they should be our leaders should start looking within and getting more scientifically soulful and understand what leadership is really about and what future of the human race is really about.”

People lined up around the block in advance of the program.

Broomfield resident Robin Bell said her primary focus at this year's festival was to attend documentary screenings and talk to filmmakers as part of the research for her Ph.D. dissertation, but seeing MacLaine was an excellent bonus.

“I love her,” Bell said. “I look at creativity and she's a creative mind. She thinks outside the box and doesn't worry about what other people think.”

Centennial resident Rhonda Hendrickson was part of a mass of fans lined up along the red carpet awaiting MacLaine's arrival in hope of obtaining an autograph before the event.

She got the signature and a moment of face time with the actress.

“I'm so excited,” Hendrickson said. “I told her, ‘You just made my year,' and it put a big smile on her face.”

MacLaine hinted that she might like to return to the Boulder Theater to put on her one woman show.

After accepting her career achievement award from the Boulder International Film Festival's founding sisters, Kathy and Robin Beeck, MacLaine said that over the course of her lifetime she had determined that "nothing is more important than film." 

"I had to be here for this and to tell you to keep going with your films," she said to an audience populated with filmmakers and film lovers. "We do what we do because we love it but honestly, I don't think any of us have any idea how important even the smallest film is."

The festival wraps up its 10th year today. For more information or to purchase tickets to film screenings visit