Thursday, March 16, 2023

Hooray for Hollywood? Volume 2

We're back with another selection of remarks from our recently-procured book "Hollywood on Hollywood." Rather than put the book's cover on another post, I've opted to use Miss Deborah Kerr and one of her apt quotes on Tinseltown. And there are some more selections to follow! 

"The name Hollywood is, to this day, a misnomer-one very small section of an enormous area where many people work in the movie business, but hardly any people who work in that business actually live in Hollywood, as such." -- Deborah Kerr, 1977. (And still true today...!)

"I have thought, since my tours, that we in Hollywood run a great danger of becoming too insular. I know I was near it when I left. Hollywood is such a tight unit in the American scene that a Hollywoodite's map of the world is apt to show one large eastern seaboard area labeled 'New York,' and one west coast section labeled 'Hollywood.' There are a few pin dots scattered over the map reading, 'Sun Valley,' 'Palm Springs,' 'Miami Beach,' 'Bermuda.' The space between is arid waste. There are no dots reading 'Cincinnati,' 'Sioux City,' 'Augusta,' 'Spokane.'" -- Jeanette MacDonald, 1947. (Wow... Very perceptive and prescient. And decades later people on the coasts were still referring to the "flyover country" in-between.)

"I brought Ruth Warrick out to play Mrs. [Citizen] Kane because the part called for a lady. I have not been able to find a lady in Hollywood." -- Orson Welles, 1947. (He certainly did his fair share of looking...!)

The aforementioned Ruth Warrick in Citizen Kane (1941)

"Hollywood is not an easy place for two people to work. When you leave your house, you're both sleepy, since it's the crack of dawn. When you come home, you're exhausted. All you want is an Old-Fashioned and some peace and quiet. The two of you, as a result, are so full of your own problems that you can't help each other at the time when you most should." -- Cornel Wilde, the 1940s. (Wilde was, at the time wed to actress and sometimes costar Patricia Knight - from 1937-1951. Just after their divorce, he wed Jean Wallace in a union that lasted 30 years and many joint projects, but that, too, wound up in divorce.)

"People outside Hollywood don't understand how it is here. It's a battle to maintain a basic integrity; a scrap against bull and baloney. You've got to fight all the time." -- Burt Lancaster, 1949. (Lancaster was already forming a production company in order to maintain more control of his projects and it eventually emerged as Hecht-Hill-Lancaster, a success venture that put forth several notable movies.)

"There's more pressure on you in Hollywood than in New York. On Broadway, you do your performance every night and that's it. Here you have to get up at five in the morning - which is tough on me - in order to get ready in time at the studio. Then you have to rehearse, do your scenes, and you get home late where you have a relaxing dinner and start studying till bedtime. There's no let-up. There's also so much fussing about costumes and makeup and hair all day on the set. That's plausible, I guess, since the camera is on you - if you're lucky enough to get a close-up. One the stage your audience is at least twenty-five feet away." -- Vera-Ellen, 1949. (Vera-Ellen, a spectacular dancer, receded from view in the late-'50s when her sort of musicals were on the wane and a variety of ailments began to affect her physicality. The sudden death of her only child - of SIDS - in 1963 cemented her retirement from public view.)

"Young love deserves a better break on the screen. The over-age stars get all the clinches, while the young actors in Hollywood today - if they're lucky - get the meaningless kiss or two." -- John Derek, 1951. (Derek more than made up for any slights when he presented film after film featuring wife after wife in anything from semi-nudity to outright nakedness on screen! Inset features his costar Jody Lawrance.)

"In Hollywood you do nothing for yourself. You don't even apply your own make-up. You are awakened, taken to the studio, made up. You play your roles in snips and driblets, harassed by delays, interruptions and stupidities. Over the proceedings hangs a pall of indecision, the fear of the studio swami that the work may in some fashion upset a coal miner in West Virginia, a lama in Tibet. Timidity was the screen's curse. It still is. - Tallulah Bankhead, 1952. (From one of the least timid souls on earth...! This did change in the 1960s and '70s, but it's since pendulumed back to focus groups, committees, "correctness," et al, with a few exceptions.)

"Hollywood is full of these watching, waiting helpers, who look for pretty girls in distress. Mostly what they want is to help take your clothes off in their apartments. Many of them do have valuable connections, and will use them-but the asking price is rather high." -- Mamie Van Doren - 1964. (This quote was from her auto-bio "My Naughty, Naughty Life" [likely a play on Errol Flynn's "My Wicked, Wicked Ways."] She would later pen an even more frank book, "Playing the Field.")

"When I first arrived in Hollywood, they told me to get a new name, so I thought back to the best times I had as a kid playing on the tidal land [in Wales]. There was a tannery and old mills. It was really mill land. So I called myself Jack Milland but they said, 'In Hollywood, only dogs are called Jack,' so I looked down a list and picked the shortest name I could find - Ray." -- Ray Milland, 1972. (Milland was born Alfred Jones, January 3rd 1907, in Neath, Glamoran, Wales. Regardless of his desire for "Ray" he was nonetheless billed early on as "Raymond!")

"They treat you so great in Hollywood, make you feel important even if you really aren't. The technician there, you could have them in your home. They're bright they're alert, they're intelligent, they're trying to help you." -- Paul Lynde, 1973. (I wonder if ol' Paul ever had a Key Grip or a Best Boy over for tea and cookies? Ha ha!)

"There's a dismal swamp out there in Hollywood where the money goes and it's never accounted for. I had 5% of Patton (1970), which cost $10 million to make and grossed $40 million, and I've never made a dime." -- George C. Scott, 1974. (Movie accountants have long been noted by many people for their "creativity" with the numbers...!)

"There I was on the screen, a pancaked, lacquered Hollywood purse made out of a Cincinnati sow's ear." -- Doris Day, 1975. (I'm drawn to quotes that include Cincinnati, as that's where I reside. Day was raised not far from my area and the aforementioned Vera-Ellen just blocks from my house! By the way, popular as she was, I think she really blossomed most when they allowed her more natural - often comedic - attributes to come more to light than all the "lacquer.")

"In Hollywood they like you until you're standing on a pedestal and they hand you an Oscar. Then they say, 'How did he get up there? Let's knock him down.'" -- Yul Brynner, 1975. (True as this may be, Yul had it better than many others... And it doesn't seem to have applied to people like Tom Hanks or Meryl Streep, to name more recent recipients.)

"Certainly, there are good marriages in Hollywood, but to imagine that people who are beautiful, and glorified by the camera and publicity, wardrobe and make-up departments and who are thrown together in close proximity day after day; to imagine they don't get involved with each other, especially when the emotional requirements of their scenes are that they be in love with each other- I mean it's not human to believe they don't!" -- Shelley Winters, 1980. (Shelley did know of what she spoke...!)

"I've always enjoyed working in Hollywood. They are so efficient. And it's so exhilarating." -- Vivien Leigh, 1964. "I loathe Hollywood, and for no other part [Scarlett O'Hara] would I have dreamed of signing a contract. All their standards are financial ones. The more I see of Hollywood, the less possible it becomes." -- Vivien Leigh, quoted posthumously in the 1969 book "Vivien Leigh: A Bouquet." (So who knows what to believe....?!)


joel65913 said...

Wonderfully entertaining as always Poseidon!!

I have to start off by saying until I read the quotes below I thought that last picture was Shirley MacLaine! Never thought they resembled each other in the slightest so it must be the angle and perhaps that hat! That said everything else I’ve read about Vivien has never mentioned her loathing Hollywood. She preferred the stage even though she was considered more impactful on screen and I’ve seen several times where she said she considered herself an international since she loved so many parts of the world including Hollywood and the USA.

Nice to know Jeannette ventured forth and discovered the wider world! I don’t think her situation was unique especially at a time before speedier travel and the internet when the world was smaller even for the famous.

I can see Cornel (and Burt for that matter) being exhausted at the end of their days. So many of their roles required such great physicality that even fit specimens such as they would be worn out by day’s end.

Vera-Ellen’s is such a tragic story compounded by some of the nutritional guidelines she followed that ultimately ended up being very detrimental to her well-being. One of the great dancers, so sad.

I’ve always liked Ray Milland. He comes across as so practical. I’m sure he had his ambitions and eccentricities but since he liked working he accepted the passage of time and the natural trajectory of an actor’s career (at least most actors) and moved into support with equanimity, though some of the dreck he accepted was awful, rather than sitting around waiting for that lead that was doubtful to come as many of his peers did.

I LOVE Doris’s early lacquered look though I know she didn’t. Her genuineness shined through no matter so the glam didn’t hurt her.

Shelley Shelley Shelley!!! What a stitch that woman was. I’m sure she was probably at times unbearable to be around but from the safety of the movie/TV screen she was always fun to see.

BryonByronWhatever said...

and on it goes...

Poseidon3 said...

Well, Joel, I'm glad *you* liked this! Ha ha! I do see the Shirley resemblance you mentioned...! Viv had a heart-shaped face, but I deliberately chose a pic from 1964, by which time she'd filled out more. With the pale skin and light eyes it somehow caused a similarity, I suppose. I watched part of Vera-Ellen's final film, "Let's Be Happy" and she just doesn't look well at all for most of it. Ray Milland stayed really busy as an older actor. He seemed to be in SO MANY 1970s movies (and made-for-TV ones.) As you say, that extended his shelf life greatly. And I do like Doris, no matter what, too. But I don't think she was ever going to be especially elegant or austere or glacially pristine like some leading ladies because her down-to-earth persona just wouldn't allow it. She looked dazzling in things, but was still loose and fun and accessible. I love her parade of mishaps at the start of "Send Me No Flowers" when she's locked out of the house in her bathrobe. She had great comic timing. Thanks!

Gingerguy said...

I love the photos, and all interesting quotes.