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Great Movie Industry Stories/Anecdotes

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  • seabel
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    #89411

    I thought we could share our favorite stories and anecdotes about the movie industry or similar.

    To me, this year it was very emotional to hear Sally Field explaining how she got the role of Mary Todd Lincoln.

    Another one is this Juliette Binoche quote: “I knew I had become a star when I shook hands with Simone Signoret at the 1985 Cannes Film Festival. She died four months later”.

    But to me, the most important and the one that gives me chills is Emily Watson explaining her feelings when she was at Cannes 1996 to present ‘Breaking the Waves’. She was alone there because Lars Von Trier is afraid of flying and could not be there, and seconds before the movie started, someone whispered in her ear: “Your life is going to change today”. And so it did.

    What are yours?

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    Scottferguson
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    #89413

    Akira Kurosawa, John Huston and Billy Wilder are presenting best picture at the 1985 Oscars. Kurosawa is nearly blind, Huston has been attached to an oxygen machine while seated because of his emphyzema, only Wilder is fairly spry.

    The nominees are listed, and they get the envelope. Huston doesn’t even try to open it, hands it to Kurosawa. It is beyond his capacity to tear it open. Wilder grabs it, rips it open, announces Out of Africa as the winner.

    Sydney Pollack returns to the stage, makes his speech. He then goes with the three titans as they go offstage.

    He then hears Billy Wilder say, loud enough only for the four of them to hear – “They had no problem bombing Pearl Harbor, but they can’t tear open a fucking envelope.” Pollack bursts out laughing, not at all certain if Kurosawa’s limited English caught what Wilder was saying.

    (Not a well known story, but conveyed to me by a long-time associate of Pollack’s, who loved retelling this).        
    .

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    Scottferguson
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    #89414

    Told this one some time ago, back I love it (and it was confirmed to me by Peter Fonda as true).

    On the first day of rehearsals for On Golden Pond, Henry Fonda and Katharine Hepburn greeted each other.

    Hepburn said: “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Fonda.”

    Yes, it’s true – until 1981 the two giants of movie and stage acting from the 1930s had never met. Even more incredible, the two of them shared the same long time agent (Leland Hayward) and both acted on Broadway frequently in the 1950s at the same time.       

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    Logan
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    #89415

    I think other people will be able to tell this more fully, but (since Hepburn was mentioned) I think there’s a story about her spitting on Joseph Mankiewicz for being an ass to Montgomery Clift (don’t know whether it was gay-related or not) after filming Suddenly, Last Summer. She also apparently spat on Sam Spiegel’s office floors too:

    http://classicfilmsreloaded.com/suddenly-last-summer.html

       

         

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    Scottferguson
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    #89416

    3 involving Steven Spielberg

    He was signed at a contract at Universal out of USC, having been discovered by Sid Sheinberg, head of Universal Films. He was 21 (he lied about his age strangely and said he was 20). His first assignment directing was a segment of the TV horror anthology series  Night Gallery – one that featured Joan Crawford, who in the early 1970s wasn’t getting a lot of work.

    She showed up, looked at this kid who looked like he might still be in high school and refused to work for him, figuring it was beneath her dignity and status. The series producer went to Sheinberg, who immediately backed Spielberg. This went on for a day or two; Spielberg had to be terrified even more than normal for a first shot like this. But eventually Crawford gave in and followed his direction.

    A few years later, fortunes had changed. Spielberg was basking in the glory of the release of Jaws in the summer of 1975  He had an office on the Universal lot, and basically everyone was bowing down to him.

    He had one wish that hadn’t been fulfilled – he wanted to meet Alfred Hitchcock, who for 15 years had had his offices on the lot, and had made his films from The Birds on there (when not on location). Hitchcock was shooting his last film Family Plot during that summer. Spielberg hoped to visit the set, or meet Hitchcock at his office – anything.

    Hitchcock’s secretary and production manager both kept putting him off. Finally, Spielberg went to Lew Wasserman, the head of MCA (owner of Universal, at that point the most important man in Hollywood, and earlier Hitchcock’s agent) and asked him to intercede.

    Word came back to Spielberg there was nothing Wasserman could do. And he never did meet Hitchcock.

    Years later, I had dinner with Terry Gilliam when he was promoting his film Brazil. (Brazil had only been released in the form Gilliam made when he had a secret screening for the LAFilm Critics, and they voted it best film of 1985, even though it wasn’t set to open that year, much less in the form Gilliam wanted. Sid Scheinberg, still head of Universal, who had ordered the reedited version, relented and let it be released in Gilliam’s form).

    Thinking I knew one reason for Universal’s reluctance, I told Gilliam that I guessed they didn’t want anything to compete with their late year Oscar contender Out of Africa. Gilliam snorted, and said, no, nothing like that at all – “Sid (Scheinberg) is backing Steven.” – in other words, the head of Universal wanted Warner Bros. film The Color Purple, directed by his protege Steven Spielberg, to win. 

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    DD
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    #89417

    What a great idea for a thread! Keep these stories coming, folks! I love reading ’em!

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    seabel
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    #89418

    SOPHIE’S CHOICE:
    After shooting the ‘I can’t choose’ scene, director Alan J. Pakula gave the order to cut, but Meryl Streep did not hear him and she continued acting. She thought everyone was speechless in the set because of her performance. Then, she was surprised they hadn’t cut and looked at Pakula, who was sleeping in his director chair. She was like… WTF?

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    seabel
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    #89419

    Early in her career, Streep received a letter from Bette Davis,
    whom most critics and cinema historians ranks as the greatest American
    movie actress ever. Davis told Streep that she felt that she was her
    successor as the premier American actress. Nowadays, the big rumour is that Meryl Streep told Kate Winslet that she felt that she was her successor now.

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    Scottferguson
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    #89420

    John Ford sustained a long career not only because he was a genius but also knew how to keep his freedom (mainly by making economical movies that made money). He also hated any studio interference, and for nearly all his career once he attained success had freedom.

    However, a studio-assigned producer, not used to the understanding of the pecking order, appeared on a set one day, and in front of the crew, told Ford he was behind schedule and needed to speed things up.

    Ford was holding a copy of the script. He opened it up randomly, tore out a few pages, and snarled, “No problem, now we’re back on schedule.”

    The producer fled as quickly as he could. Legend has it that the torn up pages were never filmed.       

    When Orson Welles was asked how to prepared for making Citizen Kane at the age of 25, he said, he studied from the masters. When  asked who specifically, he answered, John Ford, John Ford, John Ford.

    He wasn’t kidding. When he was in preproduction for Kane, he got hold of a print of Stagecoach, and spent a couple of weeks screening it over and over, each time with a different crew member (cinematographer, editor, costume designer, sound person etc) asking each to explain in detail the specific elements of their craft as presented in the film.

    Ironically, it was a great John Ford film and Ford himself who defeated Kane and Welles at the Oscars at which they both were nominated.   

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    EDUARDO FERRER
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    #89421

    Akira Kurosawa, John Huston and Billy Wilder are presenting best picture at the 1985 Oscars. Kurosawa is nearly blind, Huston has been attached to an oxygen machine while seated because of his emphyzema, only Wilder is fairly spry.

    The nominees are listed, and they get the envelope. Huston doesn’t even try to open it, hands it to Kurosawa. It is beyond his capacity to tear it open. Wilder grabs it, rips it open, announces Out of Africa as the winner.

    Sydney Pollack returns to the stage, makes his speech. He then goes with the three titans as they go offstage.

    He then hears Billy Wilder say, loud enough only for the four of them to hear – “They had no problem bombing Pearl Harbor, but they can’t tear open a fucking envelope.” Pollack bursts out laughing, not at all certain if Kurosawa’s limited English caught what Wilder was saying.

    (Not a well known story, but conveyed to me by a long-time associate of Pollack’s, who loved retelling this).        
    .

    That’s no quite true: VIDEO: Out of Africa winning Best Picture 

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    Scottferguson
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    #89422

    When Ingmar Bergman was shooting The Serpent’s Egg in Germany for Dino De Laurentiis, the producer said if he wanted he get some of his other films to screen for him and his colleagues. De Daurentiis was more than a little surprised to hear back from Bergman that the one he wanted to see himself and show was his recent release Mandingo (which far more than the Italian films is the touchstone for Django Unchained).

    Reports are that Bergman et al enjoyed themselves thoroughly. 

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    Scottferguson
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    #89423

    [quote=”Scottferguson”]Akira Kurosawa, John Huston and Billy Wilder are presenting best picture at the 1985 Oscars. Kurosawa is nearly blind, Huston has been attached to an oxygen machine while seated because of his emphyzema, only Wilder is fairly spry.

    The nominees are listed, and they get the envelope. Huston doesn’t even try to open it, hands it to Kurosawa. It is beyond his capacity to tear it open. Wilder grabs it, rips it open, announces Out of Africa as the winner.

    Sydney Pollack returns to the stage, makes his speech. He then goes with the three titans as they go offstage.

    He then hears Billy Wilder say, loud enough only for the four of them to hear – “They had no problem bombing Pearl Harbor, but they can’t tear open a fucking envelope.” Pollack bursts out laughing, not at all certain if Kurosawa’s limited English caught what Wilder was saying.

    (Not a well known story, but conveyed to me by a long-time associate of Pollack’s, who loved retelling this).        
    .

    That’s no quite true: VIDEO: Out of Africa winning Best Picture [/quote]

    The exact details about why Wilder said what he did might have been off (I am relaying the story as it was told me by someone who said Pollack told him), but when he heard it would have been just out of camera view when Pollack went backstage.

    But I appreciate your finding the video, which I hadn’t seen since the 1986 broadcast.    

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    Marcus Snowden (The Artist Formerly Known as msnowden1)
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    #89424

    I heard that Shelley Winters had an audition, and she had a bag. In this bag, she had her two Oscars in it. Then, she pulled the Oscars out of her bag and said “That’s my audition”. 

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    dannyboy.
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    #89425

    Early in her career, Streep received a letter from Bette Davis,
    whom most critics and cinema historians ranks as the greatest American
    movie actress ever. Davis told Streep that she felt that she was her
    successor as the premier American actress. Nowadays, the big rumour is that Meryl Streep told Kate Winslet that she felt that she was her successor now.

    Is this true? While Winslet has been in LA for well over a decade she is and will always be considered an English actress.. Would Streep really break Davis’ tradition?

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    Scottferguson
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    #89426

    Back to Billy Wilder –

    Late in his career, Wilder, not very successful recently, was sent to a young production exec to pitch a project. He had already figured out that he was being sent a message of disinterest, even though he got the meeting.

    The young exec welcomed him to his office, they sat down as these meetings often happen on  adjoining couches, drinks were offered. The exec started telling Wilder he was a bit young to have seen most of his films, and hadn’t had a chance, just having been assigned this meeting to do his research. So could Wilder please fill him in on some of his top successes?

    Wilder’s reply?  “No, you go first.”

    This is a story I’ve told more than any other. It is about the perfect LA story, which those not familiar with our streets likely won’t fully appreciate, but DD and others based here will.

    Bette Davis showed up on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson occassionally when they were a little slow. It remained a big deal for her – she loved to play Bette Davis, and always wanted to entertain. She dressed to the nines is a fancy black dress, put on a hat, bright red lipstick. She and Johnny had done this enough so it was a bit of a strain to do anything new. But Carson was always respectful.

    On this particular visit, Johnny queried – “Bette, you’ve had a brilliant career, been a great success. I hear from so many young people who want to come to Hollywood, and I never quite know what to say. If they come here, what advice would you give them?”

    She paused for effect, thought about it, puffed on her cigarette in its holder (smoking on TV sets still allowed), and then with perfect timing said:

    “Take Fountain!”

    Johnny, Ed, Doc, the band, the crew, Fred DeCordova all burst out in massive laughter. The audience, almost entirely from out of town, had no idea that she had given the best possible advice for driving through and around Hollywood.          

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