Another great book from 1992 by Doug McClelland,over 400 pages and just jam-packed with interviews with so many classic Hollywood names.
Part 1 of the book comprises exclusive interviews that the author did, and Part 2 has hundreds of comments from forties film folk, collected by Mr.McClelland from a myriad of sources.
As the title says, there are lots of lobby cards in the book, but all in black and white, which is a shame, but still great.
Below are some excerpts from the book to whet your appetite! I am only sorry it has taken me this long to add it to my collection.
“I went over to Warner Bros. to do THE UNFAITHFUL, with Ann Sheridan and Zachary Scott. This taught me something too; to be more careful when selecting a part. …..they offered me either one of the two leads, the husband or the lawyer.
I studied the script and saw that the attorney had these speeches to the jury so I said,’I’d like to play the attorney .’ Zach Scott played the husband. Afterward, I discovered that it would have been better to have played Scott’s role.”
“SHADOW OF A DOUBT remains the best picture I ever appeared in.
Hitchcock loved people….you ate at a table with him,you drank with him,you visited his home. His daughter,Pat Hitchcock,is still a friend of mine.”
“George Cukor was a perfect director ,so patient,imaginative, and colourful with actors. He never told you what to do or how to say it, but when he discussed your part with you, he colored the dialogue so you knew exactly what approach to take.
Katharine Hepburn ,Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart were brilliant,witty,sparkling,you-name-it.
Kate was always friendly and most pleasant.
Later on I did Philadelphia Story in summer stock – playing the Hepburn socialite.”
“Just the thought that Metro believed I could pass for a Ziegfeld girl, particularly next to Lana Turner and Hedy Lamaar, was the most flattering thing that ever happened to me.”
“I let them hire another singer to dub me in STATE FAIR. They paid him $159. I could have saved the studio some money and sung the tune a lot better. But I kept my mouth shut. I don’t like what happens to singers in Hollywood – nobody will accept you as an actor.”
“Joan Harrison,once Alfred Hitchcock’s assistant ,was now producing at RKO. In 1946, I had tested for one of her films,NOCTURNE, which was to star George Raft. I think I did it with Steve Brodie – I was always testing with Steve. Anyway, George Raft refused to even look at my test. he wanted a ‘name’ actress to co-star with him, so they got Lynn Bari.
But Joan remembered me and a few months later when she was preparing THEY WONT BELIEVE ME, she thought I might fit in as the sympathetic girlfriend of Robert Young.”
My only reservation about doing THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES concerned working with William Wyler, because of stories from BETTE Davis and other actors about his endless retakes and bullying.
‘I hear Wyler’s a sadist’, I told Sam Goldwyn.
‘That isn’t true’, he replied,with a genuine Goldwynism, ‘he’s just a very mean fellow.’ “
“When they show THE LETTER on television,I wish they would cut off the ending when Gale Sondergaard is arrested for murdering BETTE Davis. I had to tag that on as a concession to the Production Code….we had to put in two cops to apprehend her; it is very bad.”
“When Gable was making his first postwar film,there was widespread speculation as to who would play his leading lady.Greer Garson was picked and to publicise the vital union,I wrote the line,
‘GABLE’S BACK AND GARSON’S GOT HIM.’
“I was assigned the role of Marmee in LITTLE WOMEN. The schedule was a long one and there were many sequences in which I didn’t appear. Fred Zinnemann was doing ACT OF VIOLENCE at the time and there was a small but interesting part he wanted me for.
So for two weeks I was with the Zinneman company playing a sleazy,aging whore, with Van Heflin and Robert Ryan. It was such a contrast that it was stimulating – and reviving.”
“Edgar Ulmer was the best director I ever worked with . I had signed a two- picture contract with Producers Releasing Corporation (PRC) and DETOUR was one of the scripts my agent brought me. He took me out to PRC to meet the director,Edgar G.Ulmer. We talked for about five minutes and I never saw him again until the first day of shooting Detour a couple of weeks later.”
“Lew Ayres,with whom I did all the Kildare movies,and who projected such earnestness, had a pixieish charm that he didn’t get enough opportunity to show on the screen.
MR LUCKY, with Cary Grant,another of my favorite films. He was wonderful. The crew was crazy about him and so was I.
I was not the first choice for the role,though .They originally wanted Rita Hayworth but this was RKO on and she was at Columbia, and they couldn’t get her.
Many movie fans seem to remember me best from the Dr.Kildare series; but to paraphrase the daughter in I Remember Mama,first and foremost I remember THE LOCKET.
The Locket is my favorite film, but I almost didn’t get it…..Bill Dozier,who was running RKO,got hold of the script and wanted it for his wife, Joan Fontaine. But we all put up such a battle, that we finally got it.”
“FRITZ LANG was my favorite director and MAN HUNT,the first of four films I did with him in the 40s, is one of my favorite pictures.
Most people hated Fritz, but I loved him and responded to his direction immediately . He was very strict but painstaking; knew exactly what he wanted and would keep you doing a scene until you got it that way.
Walter (Pidgeon) and I were doing a love scene ( he is six-feet-three) and I was stretching everything I had to reach his shoulder when Fritz suddenky bellowed, ‘Get Joan an orange crate to stand on! Lovers should be on speaking terms,at least.”
“I had already appeared on the stage in THE FRONT PAGE, the play from which HIS GIRL FRIDAY was adapted. I played one of the leads,Hildy Johnson.
I had played a similar role – you know, the reliable second lead foil – with Cary Grant in THE AWFUL TRUTH.”