Wednesday, April 17, 2013

that's my line!

Something happened at George Sidney's wrap party for "Bye Bye Birdie" in 1962 that caused a roomful of jaws to drop, a raunchy riposte that's been attributed to two different sources in two recent books.

Everyone was toasting everybody, with Sidney thanking all for their contributions to his film, when someone reportedly addressed Ann-Margaret directly. "Ann-Margret," the anecdote goes, "I just want you to know that I'm the only one here who doesn't want to (blank) you!"

In his companionable new memoir, "My Lucky Life (In and Out of Show Business)" (Crown), the star of the film, Dick Van Dyke, credits his co-star, the outrageous Paul Lynde, with the quip.

However, in his compulsively readable "Dropped Names: Famous Men and Women as I Knew Them" (HarperCollins), Frank Langella points to ... Maureen Stapleton who, by all accounts, was a pistol.

Frankly, I like Langella's version better - the imagery of it is funnier - but given that he was very young at the time (24) and wasn't there and that Van Dyke was, I have to think that Dick's is the more accurate one.

Van Dyke also recounts an eccentric bit of business by Stapleton during the party.  It seems she showed up with her own salad, which she ate with toothpicks, and spent most of her time sprawled out on the floor.

"Maureen, wouldn't you like a chair?," Dick asked her.  To which she answered: "I'd tell you where I'd like to sit, but your wife is here."


Note in Passing: Turner Classic Movies airs "Bye Bye Birie" @ 3:15 p.m. (est) on Sunday, May 5th.

Monday, April 08, 2013

cinema obscura: James Salter's "Three" (1969)

Sam Waterston, tall and dark, and Robie Porter, blond and hunky, with dream girl Charlotte Rampling in James Salter's lost film, "Three" (1969)
It's a thankless exercise delving into material already perfected by another filmmaker.

Just ask Paul Mazursky who, perhaps foolheartedly, challenged himself with the langorous relationship among two men and a woman in "Willie and Phil" (1980), despite the looming presence of Francois Truffaut's sublime "Jules et Jim" (1962).

Mazursky wasn't the only one. In 1969, novelist James Salter directed "Three," his first - and only - film in which his 23-year-old ingénue Charlotte Rampling seductively drifts around hugely photogenic Mediterranean locations, distracting college buddies Sam Waterston and Robie Porter. The film follows them as they eat, drink, tour and flirt around the subject of sex.

It's about the simple of joy of just hanging out.

Salter, a name who still intrigues cinéphiles, wrote the stories on which Dick Powell's "The Hunters" (1958), Stacy Cochran's "Boys" (1995) and Sean Mewshaw's "Last Night" (2004) were based. He penned the screenplays for Sidney Lumet's "The Appointment" and Michael Ritchie's "Downhill Racer" (both 1969 releases) and Richard Pearce's "Threshold" (1981), and he collaborated on the script for Gregor Nicholas's "Broken English" (1996). And that's it. Often described as a "writer's writer," Salter went to school with Jack Kerouac.

Note in Passing: James Salter's difficult-to-see "Three" airs on Turner Classic Movies @ 10 (est) tomorrow morning - Tuesday, April 9th. Enjoy.