Full disclosure is that this post is nothing more than a little appetizer to have something up while I continue to work on my next offering, which is taking much longer than anticipated (because I am clinically insane and can never leave well enough alone when looking into things...!) After one post recently about Ensign Pulver
, it got some of us talking about director Josh Logan (seen above right) and his proclivity for showcasing beefcake in many of his stage and screen projects. From there, I was interested in looking back at one example that, while very brief, is still a favorite of mine. It occurs in the movie Tall Story
(1960), all about the eligibility and romantic exploits of a star college basketball player.
Adapted from an only semi-successful Broadway play of the same name (108 performances), it was the film debut of one Miss Jane Fonda (who was nervous, unsure in the part, bulimic and resistant to the cosmetic enhancements applied to her by the Warner Brothers stylists.) Warren Beatty was considered for her costar, but there was worry over casting two unknowns together, so it fell to the more established Anthony Perkins to essay the part of the star basketball player. Fonda was his adoring cheerleader girlfriend.
Gay in real life and in an on-again/off-again relationship with Tab Hunter, Perkins not only had to learn to effectively play basketball, but also learn how to take an interest in the physical attributes of his female costar! Granted, later in his life a conflicted Perkins married and fathered children, but at this stage those happenings were years away.
Fonda fell hard for her lean and lanky leading man and later remarked that both she and Josh Logan were in love with Perkins at the same time...! But I digress. We're here to talk about my favorite 15 seconds of the film.
In his customary style, Logan wanted to include a little male hunkitude and included a moment in which Fonda absentmindedly follows Perkins into the men's locker room to return his jacket, where she dreamily gazes at him, barely able to put sentences together. Suddenly, it occurs to Perkins that his gal-pal is standing in a place where a naked man is apt to appear at any moment!
|...and just like that, one does!|
|Fonda is stunned to be facing a humpy naked collegian emerging from the showers with only a towel hanging in front of him.|
|Horrified at her faux pas, she is beside herself.|
|The slab of beefcake, however, takes in all in his stride and even flings the towel over his shoulder, giving her the Full Monty! |
|His sole line is: "If it's all right with you, it's all right with me," followed by a chuckle. The closer shots of this sequence do not match the long shots, in which his towel is always in front of him. So I don't know if there is some cutting of the moment involved (how dare they!) or if the approach to the scene was changed mid-stream. |
|Now you just KNOW that Logan had a ball casting this part. He went with fresh, new Warner Brothers contractee Van Williams. Williams, a discovery of producer Mike Todd, had his career dreams derailed when Todd died in a 1958 plane crash, but he proceeded on, winning a couple of roles on General Electric Theater before Warner's picked him up and placed him in their detective show Bourbon Street Beat. He received this 8x10 glossy publicity photo for his less than 15-second long movie debut!|
|When Bourbon Street was cancelled, his character was transferred onto Surfside 6, a cookie-cutter series much like his first. The black and white show never did capitalize on his delectable physique the way many of the show's publicity pics did. |
|This bizarrely posed shot has Troy Donohue taking in the glory of Williams, Diane McBain contorted and looking off elsewhere and Lee Patterson seeming either to be in "time out" or taking a leak in the corner...! Ha ha!|
|The gorgeous Williams guest-starred on many other Warners shows, popped up in the occasional movie and eventually landed his signature role of The Green Hornet, though it only lasted one season. By 1982, the basically shy, yet still-in-demand, actor had exited the profession to concentrate on a communications business. He'd rarely been comfortable among the various types of slick businessmen that Hollywood tended to be populated by.|
|An interesting footnote is that this sequence, featured on lobby cards for Tall Story, is not to be found in the finished film. It's entirely separate from the locker room sequence. It takes place in the camping trailer that Perkins buys from a friend of his. Logan apparently intended for there to be another dose of unexpected male nudity for Fonda but someone somewhere decided to axe it. (Okay, I'll say it again... How dare they?! LOL) |
|The trailer in the movie is owned by Tom Laughlin and his wife Barbara Darrow. I don't know if it happened to be him in that cut moment, though the body (and hair!) don't resemble him at all, or if somehow ol' Van wound up in there or what...! I may never know. |
|Another hilarious footnote is that the novel which inspired the resultant play and movie was all about a football hero, not basketball...!|
|No matter. The movie wound up giving us a quick glance at one of my most admired hunks. Williams passed away in 2016 of kidney failure at age 82, leaving behind his second wife, five children and nine grandchildren. His brief association with The Green Hornet will assure him a place in cult fandom, in no small part due to his friend and costar in the series, Bruce Lee.|