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I’d Rather Kiss A Married Man—Joanne Dru

I have made many movies, and have kissed many men. It was, it seemed, my good fortune to kiss a man that thousands of girls everywhere would give their best lipstick to embrace. His name is Montgomery Clift. On the screen the kiss looked effective, but . . . but . . . I hate to say this, girls—you haven’t missed anything.

Frankly, I prefer the kisses of men who have been married.

It’s not just because I have been married twice, or because I am an actress who must kiss and be kissed repeatedly before the camera’s eye, that I have such strong notions on the subject. Like all women I’m not infallible, but—and do give me credit—I think that sexperience, if I might coin a word, is something not only to watch out for, but to be grateful for.

But to go back to Monty Clift, let’s give him the benefit of the doubt. It’s quite possible that he doesn’t kiss on the screen as he does off. He may be one of those expert actors who can put life into a role—and forget the soul. It’s also possible that when he does find a girl to love off the screen, he will make her very happy.

I shall always remember a foreign star, a top exotic actress, who once lamented to me, “But what are these young American leading men? They kiss you as if they are pushing their way through a crowd. There is no finesse, no consideration for the feelings. They have no words to make the actions believable, or acceptable. They are like bulls in a china shop, these handsome young film lovers of the Americas.”

She meant, of course, the United States. I am quite sure that if she had ever made a picture south of the border, she would have changed her mind—in a hurry. Love, even on the screen, is not always where you find it—but how you take it.

Most screen lovers, I have found, are hard to take. It has never been my privilege to be made love to on the screen by Gregory Peck. My feeling is that he, with all his private and professional experience, would be an exciting lover—on and off the screen. A woman in love, and wanting love, whether she is acting a screen role or living a real-life part, wants poise. There’s so little poise to the adolescent lover.

I once made a screen test with a heart-throb of the New York theatre. He was all hands and gasps. “Look,” I said, “you’re supposed to be making love to me. If you don’t love me, please at least pretend that you like me.”

He couldn’t get that.

Passion on the screen is a strange animal. It can cavort, snarl, and paw—but how many times is it real? One of the most effective love scenes I have ever participated in on the screen was with a man who played a heavy. He made the young hero look sick. When he glanced at you over candlelight, your heart danced. I didn’t know him too well, but in between scenes I found that he had been married three times.

“Oooh,” I said, “such experience.”

“Not as an actor,” he grinned. “I’ve been playing husbands all my real life, and now here I am—a man at large—and wondering where the next romance is coming from.”

He was an actor whose name was unfamiliar to me, and it seemed that he had not made many movies. But he brought to the screen romantic moments that would shame the young, inexperienced screen lover of today. Moviegoers who saw him felt their hearts throb, and in the audience there wasn’t a man who didn’t envy him, and a woman who didn’t wish she were in my place!

Yes, I like men, who play lovers on the screen, to have loved before—not passingly, fleetingly, or as their will or desires took them, but permanently. I think that men who have loved before—even if they have lost in the end—are better partners in romance, on the screen or off, than their fumbling adolescent brothers.

In my work, I have always felt that way. Perhaps because there is so much romance attached to my work, it is easier for me to accept the fact that if a man has known and kissed other women, he is not only more adept at lovemaking, but is more at ease.

I know that many girls want to be first in a man’s life and affections. To such a girl, the thought that the tenderness and certainty with which a man caresses her comes from experiences with another girl is a torture. That’s in real life, but with the actress it’s another story.

While I have liked all my leading men, it is obvious I cannot be in love—that is, deeply in love—with all of them. Yet, I must pretend to be in love with them, so that the performance we give on the screen will seem true and real to the audience.

Once, while making a movie for Universal-International I had the strangest experience. In its fashion, it was quite moving. One of the players came to my dressing room in tears. At first, she didn’t want to explain what was bothering her. Then, like the veteran at the game that I was, I got it out of her.

“It’s John,” she explained. (He was the male lead and this was one movie in which I didn’t get the hero.) “I know he’s married and I can’t seem to separate his film self from his married self. Every time I go into a clinch with him, I worry about what his wife may think!”

I grinned. “What are you, Mary—” I asked, “a woman, or an actress?”

She managed to grin back. “I thought I was a woman,” she said, “and I do want to be an actress. But I find it hard to play a love scene with him as an actor. I feel—” and then she really let the tears go, “—well, I feel awful.”

“He excites you?” I said.

She nodded. “I think he’s wonderful,” she confessed.

It was the old story, of course. Here was an experienced actor playing opposite an inexperienced girl—and the wide contrast registered! Clark Gable would have created the same sensations in the girl, but as for any of the unmarried eligibles, who parade Hollywood like models at a dress show, the association would have been negligible. The impact would be more decorative than lasting!

Yes, I like the married, experienced man as an acting foil. That way I feel I can give of my acting best—with all the emotions that can lend credibility to my movie roles.

Doesn’t it make sense that the man who has been married can arouse the most familiar, and often the most satisfactory of emotions? On the other hand, if he is not married, he still might be experienced enough to have been truly in love at least once. But the latter, unfortunately, I found is rare.

Let’s face it, the man who is married or who has been deeply in love before is more used to pleasing women. Is there anything more sad, romantically, than the Big Moment when the moon is just right—and your boy “goofs” the first kiss?

Of all the sorts of jealousy, I think the worst is being jealous of the girl—or man—in the past. If you stop to think about it, almost everyone has a past, and it’s because of that past that they’ve become the people you love.

When I made “All The King’s Men” for Columbia and saw John Ireland for the first time, I thought, “Here is a man whose arms I would like to feel around me.”

Although still a young man—in his early forties—he had all the earmarks of an experienced, older man, once married, the father of two splendid children. He kissed me. Not once, not twice, but many more times than the script called for (I swear). And what happened?

I married him.

I didn’t have to open my eyes to find out that I wasn’t the first girl John had kissed seriously. Even with the cameras going full blast, and under the hot lights of the sound stage, and with the director bawling instructions, John’s kiss was not a movie kiss. It was something I felt all over—and still do!

Every romance between two people is a special relationship that could never exist between any other two people. When you’re tempted to be jealous of the girl before you, just remember that she could never experience the relationship you have. She might just as easily be jealous of you! And with more reason!

We all know that boys grow up more slowly than girls, so it isn’t surprising that they need experience in order to kiss properly. I have found that the older the actor, the more finesse in the kiss—married or unmarried. In fact, men don’t really learn the art of kissing until middle age.

Of course, my ideas on kissing are most useful to me when I am making a movie. Then I like best to have a leading man who can make the script real.

When it comes to my private life—well, I don’t know. You see, then the only person I kiss is my husband.