As someone who was there put it, ''Cannes hasn't seen anything like this since Brigitte Bardot in 1963.'' And there definitely was an overheated sense that history was being made at the film festival. Madonna had arrived, and the whole world seemed to go hog-wild.
Which made the hottest ticket at Cannes the party thrown for Madonna by Dino DeLaurentiis, who is distributing her Truth or Dare documentary, retitled In Bed with Madonna, in Europe. Staged at the Palm Beach Casino, the party drew an enormous crowd. Among the 900 or so who got in were Quincy Jones, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tina Turner, Billy Crystal, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Robin Givens, Malcolm McDowell, Linda Hamilton, Spike Lee, Bill Duke, Dennis Hopper, Bernardo Bertolucci, festival jury chief Roman Polanski, director Alan Parker, movie moguls Thomas Pollock (Universal), Harvey Weinstein (Miramax), Mario Kassar (Carolco), the MPAA's Jack Valenti, and surprise guest Eddie Murphy.
Madonna herself seemed more interested in the scribes. She sat beside the dance floor, Scarlett O'Hara-style, surrounded by adoring American film critics David Kehr (Chicago Tribune), Richard Corliss (Time) and David Ansen (Newsweek). After greeting TV's Roger Ebert on the dance floor, the gregarious star asked, ''Where's Vincent Canby?''
The biggest crush of the week, though, was earlier, at the Dino DeLaurentiis Co. ticket office, Room 128 in the Majestic Hotel, where throngs of potential revelers tried to wheedle their way onto the party list. Among the appeals and complaints heard:
''I can't believe it. I've been in this business for 20 years. It's a mistake that I'm not on that list.''
''Pascal sent me up here and said it wouldn't be a wild-goose chase. I even told him I'd go alone and leave my wife at home.''
''I swear on my children's lives (a DDL rep) was just with me and told me to come and get the tickets.''
''Look, I do a lot of business with CAA and this was supposed to be taken care of.''
''If you come to New York, I'd do you a favor get you tickets to a show, pay you back.''
''I'm a friend of Madonna's.''
''I'm a friend of Dino DeLaurentis'.''
''I left my ID on the boat.''
''If you come to Berlin, I'll give you anything.''
''So I guess it's out of the question to bring my wife.''
The premiere of Truth or Dare, held the night after the party, was another story. Not enough people got in. Zealous crowds and overzealous guards kept even ticket holders away from the theater. And so, while invitees were trapped outside, the huge Palais was only half full. Madonna cried with disappointment. Really.
''Seeing the restaurant will be like experiencing a hit movie,'' said Arnold Schwarzenegger, in Cannes to promote Planet Hollywood, the new restaurant chain (the first one opens in New York soon), in which he's an investor with Bruce Willis, producer Keith Barish, and entrepreneur Robert Earl. ''Since I have always been very successful introducing anything to do with motion pictures, I thought Cannes was the best place to introduce a restaurant,'' quoth Arnold.
CHECK IT OUT
How expensive is socializing at Cannes? The festival equivalent of the consumer price index is the cost of two drinks (more than $20) on the terrace of the swanky Carlton Hotel. For the same price, you can buy all of the following in Cannes' city market: a liter of milk, half a dozen eggs, a handful of baguettes and croissants, a little tin of coffee, a head of lettuce, a couple of tomatoes, a bunch of radishes, half a pound of ham, a small box of detergent, hand soap, and a bottle of vin ordinaire.