Happy Thanksgiving! You know, in The Underworld, we really don't celebrate in the traditional manner, so when we carve up and serve a turkey, we're not dealing with white or dark meat or wings or legs. We're giving you movies that were real turkeys... at least to some of the people involved with them, if not the public at large. These fifteen pieces are from the delightful book "Hollywood Talks Turkey," which we have offered up once here and then revisited here. But there is still some meat stuck to its bones, so we're digging in AGAIN! Enjoy. And I hope you're holiday is great.
CAROL BURNETT: After my first film, Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed? (1963), I should have been given the award for "Worst Performance Ever Given in Movies by an Actress." I was confused, bored and I missed the [live] audience. Nothing was spontaneous. If CBS ever shows that turkey on their late show, I'll break my contract.
OLEG CASSINI: Despite the boycott [allegedly begun by Darryl Zanuck who was angry that his star Gene Tierney wed the designer], I did get some free-lance design jobs during this time. The first was one of Gene's films, The Shanghai Gesture (1941.) ... But the film was an overwrought turkey destroyed by the critics, who gave Gene her first bad reviews. ... As a souvenir of the experience, Gene had brought home carved figurines of each character of the film - they had been used in a particularly absurd dinner scene near the end. When the picture opened and bombed, I took the figurines out to the backyard, lined them up along the top of our fence and executed them with a hunting rifle. "How could you do it?," Gene screamed when she learned about the firing squad. "You know I wanted to keep them!" "Those characters deserved to die," I told her. "Now at least we won't be constantly reminded of that dreadful movie."
JOSEPH COTTEN: The Radio City Music Hall haunted me. Somehow, I felt I had been cheated out of a childhood ambition [to have a film open there]. Imagine my delight when, some 40-odd years later, my dream came true. I appeared in Heaven's Gate (1980), which cost over $40,000,000 and was the most expensive picture ever to open in the Radio City Music Hall. It was such a disaster that it closed the Music Hall.
VINCE EDWARDS: Frankly, I was discouraged by the poor previews for Mr. Universe (1951.) I never liked the plot in the first place. But I took it because it spelled opportunity. After I saw the picture, I was convinced I had done the wrong thing. It was a lousy way to make a debut in movies--as a big, dumb, blond kid. That kind of character gets you labeled.
JANE FONDA: Everyone has to start somewhere. But after Tall Story (1960), there was nowhere for me to go but up.
PAUL NEWMAN: I had the privilege of doing the worst motion picture filmed during the fifties--The Silver Chalice (1954.) ... How many other actors have you spoken to who can say with complete objectivity that they were in the worst motion picture made in the fifties--a film that cost $4,500,000? That makes me very special. When they ran The Silver Chalice on Los Angeles television three or four years ago, I took out ads in the newspapers apologizing for what was going to happen on channel nine that night. But it backfired. Everybody wanted to know what I was apologizing for, and the picture ended up with the second or third highest rating of any picture that station had ever shown.
ROSALIND RUSSELL: The first lead I played at Metro--it was forced on me, I went down hollering--was a B movie called The Casino Murder Case (1935), with Paul Lukas. It was so bad, and I was so bad in it, that it gave my maid Hazel ammunition for seasons to come. "If you don't behave," she'd say, "I'm going to tell people about that Casino Murder Case."
DINAH SHORE: Making movies was so boring. You sat around interminably. And I never thought I was photogenic. I thought I looked horrible on the Technicolor screen. To this day, if I hear some of those recordings and see those movies my knees start knocking. Now those monumental successes are played on TV at three o'clock in the morning. I've become and insomniac's nightmare! Anyone who'd stay up to those ungodly hours to see Aaron Slick from Punkin Crick (1952) deserves what he gets.
LEA THOMPSON: The "H" word--that's how I refer to Howard the Duck (1986.) I'd never seen the press go after something like that. I was in such shock. I wasn't prepared. You can say anything about the movie--I'm not defending it--but you have to realize how much work it was, six months, every single day. I was so committed to that duck--I had to fall in love with a mechanical ILM effect, and in order to do that you have to believe. So, yeah, it was really disappointing.
ELIZABETH TAYLOR: The final humiliation was to have to see Cleopatra (1963.) The British Embassy trapped me into it. They requested me to take the Bolshoi Ballet as my guests to a screening of Cleopatra. I couldn't very well say no. When it was over, I raced back to the Dorchester Hotel and just made it to the downstairs lavatory before I vomited. I'm being sued by 20th Century-Fox and one of their complaints is that when somebody asks me what I think of their film, I tell them.
MARLON BRANDO: The Freshman (1990)--it's going to be a flop, but after this, I'm retiring. I'm so fed up. This picture, except for the Canadian crew, was an extremely unpleasant experience. I wish I hadn't finished with a stinker. [Brando went on to further gems such as Christopher Columbus: The Discovery (1992), The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996) and Free Money (1998). his last movie actually being The Score (2001.)]
DIANA DORS: They brought me here as a sex bomb, a supposed threat to Marilyn Monroe. And who did they give me for leading men? George Gobel in I Married a Woman (1958) and Rod Steiger in The Unholy Wife (1957)! I should have had Bill Holden or Cary Grant. I had to carry the whole burden myself, and the pictures fizzled. I was a sex bomb, all right--with the accent on "bomb." [The Unholy Wife did also have Tom Tryon as Dors' lover.]
ROGER MOORE: It's a period in my life I just laugh about now. I remember my biggest part was opposite Lana Turner in a bomb called Diane (1956.) Time said, "Lana Turner as Diane de Poitiers walked on the screen in a clattering of heels and a fluttering of false eyelashes, followed by a lump of English roast beef." I was the English roast beef. The they [MGM] asked me to leave. "Just check your wardrobe and clear out" is the way they put it. I arrived in America on April Fool's Day, 1954. I should have known that meant something.
VICTORIA PRINCIPAL: I think I have an irrational fear of features. I did something called The Naked Ape (1973), which is arguably one of the 10 worst movies ever made. That began such a painful period in my life, and I always connect it to features.
And this was my favorite! ~~~~~
MARGUERITE CHAPMAN: The Amazing Transparent Man (1960) was filmed in Dallas, Texas, with oil money. They needed a money loser, and they sure got it. It was never publicized. I don't know of any theaters that played it, though a few little fleatraps somewhere may have had a death wish. When I arrived in Dallas, Les Guthrie, our director, had just done three films in a row for these people and told me, "I've never had so much trouble. All I need now is for the motel to burn down." Later that evening...the roof of the motel caught fire and it was spreading to where I was. Quick as a flash, Les rushed in--to save me, I thought. Instead, he grabbed my studio clothes lined up by the drapes and ran out with them. A minute later, James Griffith, one of the actors in the film, hollered in, "I've got to save my guns! I'll be back for you!" ... The motel was saved. ... The odor from the fire was so foul that I asked if I couldn't please be moved to a hotel. So they put me on the 13th floor of a Dallas hotel. I no sooner got settled in than a waiter blithely announced, "Oh, this is the room where a lady jumped to her death from one of the windows"! Everyone who came in said this to me. The day after the picture finished, I called a couple I knew in Fort Worth and pleaded with them to come and get me. "I can't stay in this room a minute more," I said. ... After a while trouble popped up there, too. My friend's husband tried to rape me! ... What do I think of The Amazing Transparent Man? What would you think of The Amazing Transparent Man?! Pukesville! It was my last movie.
Wishing all my Poseidon's Underworld readers a very happy and healthy Thanksgiving!
"To Jon-I really enjoyed your blog! Love Joan" -- Dame Joan Collins (via autographed menu supplied by a mutual friend!) Photos of Menu & Joan
"Thank you for your nice message, and for the link to your blog. I had actually seen your blog before - a friend showed it to me a year or two ago. You clearly have an intense and wonderful passion for cult and genre cinema... Thank you for joining my page, and for sharing your passion for EARTHQUAKE and other films of that remarkable era in our industry. My husband would have gotten a huge kick out of it! With love, Monica"-- Monica Lewis Tribute to Monica
"Oh, and for those who are looking for fascinating, funny, often outré online reading about vintage, sometimes obscure, movies, TV shows and stars, try the blog, “Poseidon’s Underworld.” You’ll find everything from detailed and witty biographies to posts on how stars wore their clothes — or didn’t — as each show biz decade constricted or loosened up. Heavily illustrated and highly informative". - Liz Smith - Liz Smith - newyorksocialdiary.com
"I just discovered your profile about me and my career. I was flattered and very happy with the photos (some I had never seen) and your talented style of writing. As a gesture of thanks, I would like to send you a signed copy of my book. I think you would enjoy it. So if you would like one or a signed photo, let me know with an address I can send it to. - Sincerely, Mark Goddard" (via e-mail) Tribute to Mark