Thursday, December 28, 2017

Leftover Christmas Turkey

Well, most of you seemed to like it when I served up some Thanksgiving Turkey, courtesy of the Douglas McClelland compilation book "Hollywood Talks Turkey: The Screen's Greatest Flops" so I've come back to offer you one more helping. Hope you enjoy the quotes and the accompanying pictures!

CARROLL BAKER: "With John Michael Hayes at times handing in pages of script only three or four days in advance of filming, we somehow managed not only to get Harlow (1965) onto celluloid but also to bring the movie in well within that skimpy, squeezed, impossible shooting schedule producer Joseph E. Levine had dictated in his race with the Electronovision version [of the same story, starring Carol Lynley.]...A team of editors stood by to cut the film the second it was hot out of the developing room. Electronovision beat us into the movie houses, but only just. We had bee very close behind, just close enough to add to the public's confusion and to damage our own potential. Levine had been the first to call our movie a bomb, and he had blamed the rival version. However, it soon became and has since remained Carroll Baker's Harlow."
ROBERT REDFORD: "How do I feel about putting so much work into a picture that fails? [1974's The Great Gatsby] It's like robbing a bank and then discovering you carried the wrong bag out, and all you've got for your trouble is a sackful of old rags. But most things fall short of the mark, and that's the chance you take. The mistake, it seems to me, is to linger over it. I think the hype on Gatsby was damaging. It was offensive to a lot of people."
AL PACINO: "Revolution (1985)--I wish it hadn't turned out that way [a $19,000,000 fiasco, out of theaters in three weeks.] How could I not care? But I never felt my career was over. I always go back to work. What else can I do?"
LAUREN BACALL: "Confidential Agent (1945) was a horror. The critics had said that I was the sun the moon and the stars when To Have and Have Not came out. When Confidential Agent was released they all said they had been wrong, and I should be sent back to where I came from. They put me up on the top rung of the ladder, and then pulled me down, and I spent the next 20 years trying to get back up."
RUTH WARRICK: "Initially, there was great interest in Arch of Triumph (1948.) It was from an internationally popular Erich Maria Remarque novel...Well, the picture was a complete disaster, a victim of terrible miscasting. Ingrid Bergman was the first one cast-that should have warned people off the bat. Like everyone else then, I admired her as an actress but here she was supposed to be playing this frail, poor little Parisian drifter. This big, blonde, healthy Swedish girl! And in the most glamorous Edith Head gowns! In the opening scene, when she's on the bridge contemplating suicide, and Charles Boyer comes up to her-well, he comes up to about her nose! Then there was a scene in the script where they go to her apartment and was was supposed to carry her up the stairs. At least they realized this would have been totally ridiculous, so it was not filmed...Most of my scenes were with Boyer...Now in Hollywood during those years not that many actors were adept at using props to call attention to themselves. But Boyer was a theater man, too. I remember one scene we had together in the cafe. We rehearsed it; our director Lewis Milestone said, 'Fine, let's shoot it.' When the cameras began to roll, Boyer suddenly pulled out this huge silver cigarette case that had been nowhere in sight during rehearsal. He lit his cigarette, puffed and puffed and blew the smoke all around my face! I laughed! I just laughed! Then I said, 'Now I know what they were talking about.' That calmed him down...There was about a 45-minute episode involving me in the hospital where I was dying with cancer. Arch was shot in 1946 when cancer was like AIDS-no one discussed it. So they felt my whole hospital segment would be a good one to discard (from the then nearly four-hour cut of the film.)"
VINCENT PRICE: "We knew during the filming that The Story of Mankind (1957) was heading downwards; the script was bad to begin with and it worsened with daily changes. I remember one puzzled visitor asking Ronnie Coleman, 'Is this picture based on a book?,' and he replied in that beautiful, soft diction of his, 'Yes. But they are using only the notes on the dust jacket.'"

ELIZABETH TAYLOR: "God, when I think of some of the movies, like Beau Brummel (1954.) I never saw that film until after Richard [Burton] and I were married. It was on television and Richard turned it on. I had to change stations after about five minutes-I mean, I was so embarrassing in it."
DANA ANDREWS: "My worst picture? Probably Enchanted Island (1958) with Jane Powell. Director John Huston originally had the rights to it, but when he sold the story, the new producer's wife [Dolores Moran] completely rewrote it, took out everything of quality in it and we were given the worst dialogue you could ever imagine to try to say. I don't think anyone ever made any sense of it. Disgraceful!"
JEANNE CRAIN: "I may have been in it, but wild horses couldn't drag me to see a movie called Hot Rods to Hell (1967.) As it turned out, most people felt the same way."

BEVERLY GARLAND: "Stark Fear (1962)? Oh, Christ! That was the worst picture I ever made in my life! We made that in Oklahoma. The head of the drama department of a college there wanted to do a movie. So he and his wife wrote this script, and they directed it, and it was a disaster. I went to see it in Westwood, and when I asked someone how long it was going to run he said, 'It's been here two days and there've been three people to see it. It'll never run again.' I was just abominable."
JACK LEMMON: "We were sitting together at a screening of Alex and the Gypsy (1976.) After it was over, Walter [Matthau] said something I'd never heard anyone say to a someone about a movie. I'd heard the remark made to an actor in a bad play. He turned to me and said, ' Get out of it.'"

LIV ULLMANN: "I did Lost Horizon (1973) and they gave me a fantastic [Hollywood] house to live in, but you couldn't even see the toilets because they were discreetly disguised as chairs. As soon as the film was over, I went back to Sweden to make another film for [Ingmar] Bergman on a deserted island with no drinking water, where you had to walk almost a mile to an outside toilet. It was more fulfilling than doing Lost Horizon."
HARRISON FORD: "Hanover Street (1979)? Look, at that stage in my career I'd made American Graffiti, Star Wars, Heroes and Force 10 from Navarone and I'd yet to kiss a girl or be involved romantically. Then along came this love story and I agreed to do it, expecting that the script, which I didn't have total faith in, would be changed as we went along. Well, it wasn't. And making the film was not a happy experience for me. I haven't seen it so I don't like talking about it. I keep saying that if 50 people tell me they like it, then I may change my mind and see it. But so far I'm just up to 18 so there's no immediate danger of that happening."
BETTE DAVIS: "It had been decided that my work as a tragedian should be temporarily halted for a change of pace. Jimmy Cagney, who had made the gangster artistic-Jimmy, who was one of the fine actors on mine or any lot-Jimmy, with whom I'd always wanted to work in something fine, spent most of this time in the picture removing cactus quills from my behind. This was supposedly hilarious. We romped about the desert and I kept falling into cactus. We both reached bottom with that one. It was called The Bride Came C.O.D. (1941.)"
JOAN CRAWFORD: "Reunion in France (1942)-oh, god. If there is an afterlife, and I am to be punished for my sins, this is the one they'll make me see over and over again. John Wayne and I both went down for the count, not just because of a silly script, but because we were so mismatched. Get John out of the saddle and you've got trouble."
Christmas Bonus:
Joan looks particularly fretful here. Not sure if it's due to the Nazis or the fact that her career at MGM is in serious jeopardy with yet another career-killer like this turkey.
The Duke and the Queen were indeed reunited once more in 1970 when John Wayne presented Joan Crawford with that year's Cecil B. DeMille Award at the annual Golden Globes ceremony. They would both be deceased before the 1980s dawned, but perhaps were reunited still another time in the afterlife?


Rick Gould said...

What fun, Poseidon!

I never realized Joan got the GG DeMille Award. That's fantastic on its own, but for her to get the honor from Wayne, riding high on True Grit, very special.

That quote from Redford about Gatsby made me laugh... both he and Farrow were so miscast, yet Bob hardly walked away with a bag of rags...millions are more like it! I can't stand Rex Reed, but I will never forget him zinging Farrow on Phil Donahue's show--that in every role, Mia looks like an ax murderer is about to jump through the window!

...and yes, Carroll Baker as Harlow. 'Nuff said!

Cheers, Rick

Gingerguy said...

Happy New Year Poseidon. I just defrosted some Turkey for a pot pie, so this is perfectly timed.
I love the costumes in the Carroll Baker "Harlow" and it's a hoot, maybe time to see the listless Lynley version?
Jane Powell looks Poynesian, WTH? wow that looks terrible.
Hot Rods is a scream and I only know that from the underworld.
Sorry folks, I love "The Bride Came C.O.D." and never thought of it as a flop. Bette sure did though, I think she's a little old in it but really funny.
All the rest made for good reading, might have to look some of these up for the dark Winter days ahead. Looking forward to more magic here in 2018.

angelman66 said...

Fabulous flops, Poseidon, and I proudly own two of them—Harlow and Lost Horizon. Gotta love those color Panavision spectacles that are so inept they’re hilarious!
But now need to add Reunion in a France and a few of these others to my 2018 must watch list! Thanks as always!
- Chris

marksparky said...

Thanks! A thoroughly entertaining set of quotes about these turkeys. The writer/producer of Stark Fear was a childhood friend of my mother's in Oklahoma.

Poseidon3 said...

Rick, it took me a while to realize that J.C. was a C.B. Demille recipient myself! I was happy to find out as too often the silver screen actresses were sidestepped in favor of the actors. I love, love, LOVE the Rex Reed quote! I wonder what he thought of Mia in "Death on the Nile" and "See No Evil?" Of course I picked that particular photo of Redford and her because she looks so deranged in it. LOL

Gingerguy, it's been decades since I saw the Baker "Harlow" and I have never seen the Lynley one either! I do believe Lynley's is black & white? Not sure if that hinders or helps considering the subject was virtually always filmed and photographed in B&W. Poor Jane Powell was hoping for an image change away from musical ingenues, but this didn't help...! I'll have to give Bette's "Bride" a shot if it comes my way.

Angelman, I RAN to buy "Lost Horizon" on DVD when it came out. Endless hooty pleasures. What's sad about some of JC's late-day, MGM flops is that often she LOOKS so good in them and if I recall correctly, she looked really pretty in "Reunion." John looks so, so out of place in that chauffer's get up.

Marksparky, that is fascinating! I'm glad you liked these. I have such a hard time picturing anyone for any reason leaving her husband for the arms of Kenneth Tobey, as Beverly Garland apparently does in "Stark Fear!" I figured he'd be the hideous husband, but nope...