Brandishing at Brando: When Marlon Brando scalded himself with a hot cup of tea in the cocktail bar of the “Prince de Galles” in Paris, while on location for “The the Hollywood gagsters immediately quipped, “Now they’ll retitle the film ‘Teahouse of the August Young Lion’ or ‘Fire Down Below!’ ” Poor Marlon! He didn’t receive any sympathy from the French, either. “Whoever heard of anyone drinking tea at the cocktail hour in Paris?” they asked in amazement. “In London, yes—but in Paris, c’est fou!” (crazy, that is).
During Marlon’s stay at the American Hospital, his great pal, Sam Gilman, came to visit his bedside. Sam had just bought a new camera, and he was as excited about it as a child with a new toy. Marlon, ordinarily a shy person, posed willingly enough as his first subject. Then just as Sam was all set to click the first picture, Marlon put a bedpan on his head, and popped a hard boiled egg into his mouth! Sam could have strangled him, but he couldn’t help laughing, too.
Incidentally. Marlon, with his hair dyed blonde as the German soldier of “The Young Lions,” was so unrecognizable to a great many people that a very funny incident took place on location. He was standing on the steps of Sacré Coeur when suddenly a little old French lady rushed at him and started to beat him on the chest with her purse, as she shouted in voluble French, “You German beast of a soldier! How dare you stand in front of this blessed, peaceful church, when you helped to destroy our peace here!” Fortunately, she was led quietly away before her “brandishing” sent Marlon back to the hospital.
Viva Vikings: Sitting with Kirk Douglas, his lovely wife, Anne, Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh, at dinner in the dining room of the Grand Hotel in Dinard, a charming seaside resort on the north coast of Brittany, where I was Kirk and Anne’s guest for a few days when they returned there for more location shooting on “The Vikings,” the conversation veered around to the subject of picture making away from Hollywood. “Do you realize that of the last four Academy Award films, ‘Anastasia’ was made in London, ‘On the Waterfront’ and ‘Marty’ in New York and ‘Roman Holiday’ in Rome?” observed Kirk. “Well, let’s hope the trend continues, and the next winner is ‘The Vikings,’ shot in Norway, Dinard and Munich!” grinned Tony.
Remembering Tony, when he first arrived in Hollywood, and the trip out to New York, like a magic carpet to him, I asked him if he had ever dreamed of traveling in Europe when he was a poor youngster in the Bronx. And his answer was so typical of his candid memory of his early youth: “It never occurred to me to dream about going to Europe, because as far back as | can remember, my family was always scraping money together to bring some of our poor relations in Europe to America. And now that I am in the enviable position of being able to travel abroad with Janet, the baby and a nurse, Mamma still wonders if I can afford it. “Tony, are you saving your money?’ is one of her favorite questions. The other is, “Tony, are you well? Money and fame are good, but health is better!’ ” Tony is seeing that both his mother and father are sharing health, wealth and happiness with him. He has bought an apartment building in Hollywood with a lovely terrace apartment in it for them, and his father now manages it.
Big Scene: I didn’t see Monty Clift before he took off for Strasbourg, but I’m told that while he was in Paris, he was his usual “lone wolf” self, secluding himself most of the time in his “Prince de Galles” suite. He and Marlon have only one scene together in “Young Lions,” which is a great blessing to director Dmytryk, since their approach to a scene couldn’t be at more variance. Can’t wait to see Whose interpretation Dmytryk uses.
Roman Holiday: Rome was “old home week” to everyone. Jeff Chandler ran into his favorite “Female on the Beach,” Joan Crawford, and Joan ran into a sister alumna from her M-G-M days, Esther Williams. Decorating the lobby of the Grand Hotel was Rock Hudson’s new leading lady, beautiful Cyd Charisse, who is co-starring with him in the U-I film, “Twilight of the Gods.”
During Cyd and Tony Martin’s brief stopover in Rome. I lunched with them. (Wouldn’t you know that Cyd didn’t gain a pound on the spaghetti we consumed, while I—well, “Slenderella” here I come!) Tony told me a most amusing story about his wife’s winnings at the Sporting Club of Monte Carlo. “Cyd won $500, and because it immediately burned a hole in her pocket as soon as we arrived here, she and Jack Benny’s equally ‘economical’ wife, Mary Livingston, went on a shopping spree together. Cyd came back with a little ‘bijou’ she had picked up for $2,500. Better she should have lost $500. Now I’m $2,000 out!”
My Fair Laddies: An American composer and lyricist were writing the score for a film in Paris, and they were put out of their hotel suite because some of the guests objected to the noise of a piano at night. This would not be a unique story if the composer and the lyricist didn’t happen to be Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe, who wrote “My Fair Lady,” the fabulous musical Broadway success that most of these same guests would pay any amount of money to see when they come to New York. I hate to boast, but I have already seen it six times, so no one can accuse me of any ulterior motive when I predict that “Les Parisiennes,” Alan and Fritz’s first film together, will be the most creative and lovely musical ever to hit the screen. This isn’t just an idle prophecy on my part. Happily, Alan and Fritz finally obtained a piano at the same hotel where I was staying in Paris; and on the day of my arrival, Fritz played the whole score for me while Alan read me the book and sang all the melodies. When this delightful interlude was over, I was so stimulated and excited, I felt as if I had downed a trayful of Martinis with a stinger chaser.
Leslie Caron, Maurice Chevalier, Louis Jourdan, Eva Gabor and Hermione Gingold are the lucky stars to be cast in this “loverly” production, an adaptation from the play “Gigi.” I lunched with Leslie, her husband Peter, and Louis. And had tea with ever-charming Maurice.
Eva Gabor, with whom I have endless phone conversations in New York and Hollywood, was another chum whom I caught up with when in Paris. She, too, was thrilled about being in “Parisiennes,” especially since Cecil Beaton, who dressed her for the theater, has designed a breathtaking wardrobe for her. Naturally, we couldn’t be in Paris without going to a fashion show, so we went to Pierre Balmain’s, where we drooled over the divine creations. Eva ordered an exquisite ball gown for $1,000. Balmain confessed that it was breaking his heart to give it to her at this special price. “Well, it may he breaking your heart,” retorted Eva, “but it is breaking my pocketbook!”
Esther’s “Eden”: Esther Williams, who doesn’t want to be a bathing beauty in films anymore, but does want to develop into a dramatic actress, has already given up swimsuits—for bikinis! She fell madly in love with this French and Italian beachwear that expose you more completely to the sun—and everyone else—while she was filming “Raw Wind in Eden,” in a tiny coastal fishing village, Castiglione della Pascia, three hours north of Esther and her two co-stars, Jeff Chandler and Carlos Thompson, really roughed it in this primitive town, where there was no heat, no electricity and the plumbing was strictly a “do it yourself” problem.
Rendezvous with Carlos and Jeff: Esther had to come all the way to Rome to meet her two co-stars, Jeff Chandler and Carlos Thompson—and Lilli Palmer. Lilli flew from Germany to Castiglione della Pascia to visit the actor who has now changed her name from Mrs. Rex Harrison to Mrs. Carlos Thompson, and if she had gone to the North Pole and the South Pole she couldn’t have come back with two more completely opposite personalities. Carlos, an Argentinian, is a brilliant linguist with a keen intellect like Lilli’s. To while away the lonely hours away from her, when she was filming in Munich, he wrote a novel. He has already had two books published in South America. Lilli is perhaps the most important dramatic star in Germany today, and Carlos, who has now mastered German like a native, is building up a following playing opposite her.
Jeff Chandler had no problems of separation from his loved ones. His wife, Marjorie, and two young daughters, were with him, living in a huge castle they leased at Castiglione—with no heat, no electricity, etc., etc.! I never knew that Jeff had a hidden talent as a singer until he confided that, immediately on his return to the States, he was making an album of show tunes, and he hoped U-I would take the hint and put him in a musical! I had a drink with Jeff at Rome’s most popular outdoor cafe, Doni’s, and the Italian movie fans swooped down on him as if they were playing “Sons of Cochise.” This is the picture they seem to have seen and like—multo bene!
Mario Magnifico: I couldn’t say “Arrivederci, Roma,” without seeing Mario Lanza who, coincidentally, is making a film called “Arrivederci, Roma.” At least that’s the Italian title. In America it will be called “Seven Hills of Rome.” We lunched together at the Titanus Studios, where I had hoped to hear him sing one of the eight numbers he introduces in the film, but Mario had already recorded them in the record-breaking time of three four-hour sessions in the Pope’s personal auditorium, the first time in Papal history that any outsider has ever been allowed to enter this sancta sanctorum. Lanza is an idol in Italy. When his boat landed in Naples, it required all the police force available to restrain the uncontrolled excited mobs, who consider him the greatest singer of Neapolitan songs in the world today. To all of Italy, he is their “Great Caruso.” No wonder he has leased a villa e here for two years, where he will base with his wife, Betty, and their four “bambinos,” while he makes more pictures and recordings in addition to giving concert tours all over Europe. He’s in wonderful form, literally as well as figuratively. He’s down to 190 pounds and has never looked better, or seemed happier. “And he’s a good boy,” producer Jack Welsh and director Roy Rowland told me. “Never once late on the set, and wonderfully cooperative.”
Bonjour, Paree: During my stay in Paris, I also caught up with my dear friend, Deborah Kerr, whom I also saw in London, and Jean Seberg. Deborah, who plays Jean’s mother in “Bonjour Tristesse,”’ didn’t have any A scenes to play until she reached location at San Tropez, so we were able to have a nice long, lingering gabfest over lunch at the Ritz. But Jean starts the picture in Paris, and so I went up to Montparnasse to watch her shoot her first scene, under the direction of Otto Preminger, who discovered her. I only wish Otto had launched her career with “Bonjour Tristesse,” because she is so much more eminently suited to this young Francoise Sagan heroine. I’m sure there won’t be any “burning” of critics this time, only praise for a matchless performance.
Acts of Todd: I’ve known Mike Todd a long time, and the longer I know him, the more fabulous he becomes. When they made him, they broke the mold, but then, as Elizabeth Taylor wisecracked, “I don’t think the world is quite ready for another Mike Todd!”
For a week before “Around the World in 80 Days” opened in London, Mike had a balloon flown over the A city, like the one that flies David Niven and Cantinflas in the film. A guest coming out of Claridge’s, watching it float by, commented to the liveried doorman, “I guess that’s some more of Mike Todd’s showmanship for ‘Around the World.’ ” Whereupon the doorman retorted, “I wouldn’t know, m’lady, I thought it was an advertisement of some sort. But who is Mike Todd?” When this story was repeated to Mike, did he fire his army of press agents? He did not. Instead, he went around to Claridge’s, found the doorman, who was unaware of his existence, and presented him with two opening night tickets at $150 each! Needless to say, from now on, the name Mike Todd will remain evergreen in the doorman’s memory!
It is a quote. PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE NOVEMBER 1957