Best Of Tucson®

Q&A with Peggy Johnson

Peggy Johnson is executive director of the Tucson Cinema Foundation, a nonprofit group that took over ownership and operations of the Loft Cinema-which specializes in foreign, independent and alternative films-two years ago.

What's the best movie of all time?

I can't choose one. 8 1/2--Fellini is so great. I think it's the most interesting and creative film that explores the experience of filmmaking, and I love it. Last Tango in Paris, because it changed how cinema dealt with sexuality, and comes very close to answering the whole question of male-female relationships. ... And Down by Law, because it changed how I look at movies; it was so radical for me, and changed my taste in film. I really became enamored of American independent cinema.

What movie makes you think most of Tucson?

Arizona Dream. It was filmed in Douglas and some in Tucson, and that's the film where Vincent Gallo plays Johnny Depp's little brother, and Gallo comes to a stand-up comedy club in Tucson and does his comedy act, and it's him re-enacting that scene from North by Northwest when planes are diving at Cary Grant and Grant dives behind the corn stalks, and Gallo has these corn stalks with him on stage. That's the most charming Tucson's ever been on film.

Who's your favorite movie personality?

I guess I have to say Johnny Depp, because he could so easily have done what so many other actors did-big-budget movies, played it safe. ... Even when he does big blockbusters like Pirates of the Caribbean, his character is anything but predictable. Plus he's gorgeous, which doesn't hurt.

What's your favorite place in Tucson to catch a flick?

At the Loft--surprise, right?--because it's been part of my life since 1975. I've seen so many important films there--Main Street, this double-feature of Dr. Strangelove and Clockwork Orange, when I realized that Kubric had a message that was consistent.

Any embarrassing cinematic experiences in your life?

When Philip Seymour Hoffman was at The Loft, he hadn't seen Magnolia in a long time, and he was sitting sort of in front of me and one seat over, and these two people came in late with these salads ... and then they started eating them--crunch, crunch, crunch--and I kept tapping on their seat and pointing at them, just begging them to please be cool about this. I mean, I was all over them--and then they both got up and went to the bathroom at the same time ... I was so humiliated.

Best gym?

FIT at the River.

Best outdoor venue?

Cinema La Placita.

Best Southwestern restaurant?


Best tourist attraction?

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.