Impetuous Bachelor—Farley Granger
If I weren’t impetuous I wouldn’t be a movie actor, I wouldn’t have this new apartment overlooking Hollywood, either.” Farley Granger sat in a streamlined easy chair, upholstered in bright green, and looked around the starkly modern living room of his first real bachelor home. His long legs, balanced across a table top, ended in large leather moccasins. Looking over his moccasins, he could see, through one glass wall of the room, a palm-studded Hollywood spread out below him. “I’m twenty-four now, and I’m more impetuous now, I think, than I was seven years ago, when I answered a newspaper ad for a seventeen-year-old actor.” Farley grinned. “In some ways this is good, and, in some ways, I guess it’s terrible.”
You show us where it’s terrible, and we’ll give you the state of California, where the impetuous Mr. Granger hangs out. The word “terrible” doesn’t belong anywhere around Farley Granger, as he’s proved by his acting, plus his own unique personality, in the pictures, “They Live by Night,” “Roseanna McCoy,” “Side Street,” and his just completed film, “Our Very Own.” And, if being impetuous earned him his new apartment (of which he is justly proud), what is wrong with that?
“What I would call a typical non-thinking decision rated me this apartment,” says Farley. “A few months ago, I moved out of the house I’d been renting in the Hollywood hills. With no place to go, I was cruising around town in a car piled with belongings, when I saw an old friend on the sidewalk. He opened the conversation by saying, ‘Hey, I know of a new apartment in a new build . . . I yelled, ‘I’ll take it!’ And that night, I moved in.”
Farley, conducting a tour about his apartment, spiels like a circus barker, about the living room’s pale brown walls, the big sunny terrace, and the enormous Hollywood bed in the blue bedroom. Most of all, he is proud of his Mexican mementos, souvenirs of his trip to Mexico last summer. “Notice this Diego Rivera drawing, and this wonderful clay candelabrum,” says he. Then he adds thoughtfully, “And looking at these things reminds me that I was a little bit impetuous in Mexico, too!”
Then he tells the story. It was his first vacation, and his first trip to a foreign country. His mother saw him off with the usual maternal advice, “Don’t talk to any strangers, Farley. Particularly, strange women. You can’t trust anybody. Particularly, strange women. . . .”
“Of course not, Mother,” Farley had said, annoyed. He was a man, twenty-four, why did she burden him with such unnecessary advice?
“Naturally, I wasn’t going to speak to strange women,” he says, in telling it. “Why, I wouldn’t think of it. And I didn’t either, until I met one! Then you couldn’t shut me up!”
He met her in exactly the setting used by all screen-writers since movies began, a dark alley. Lagging behind a party of friends who were heading for a night club one midnight, he realized suddenly that he was not alone. A strange girl had materialized out of the darkness and was walking beside him. In the dim light from the night club ahead, he saw that she was a very beautiful strange girl, indeed. She spoke first, in faintly accented English. She said, “Hello. Will you speak to me?”
“Well. . . .” said Farley doubtfully, remembering his promises.
“You are Farley Granger, aren’t you?” added the girl.
That did it.
“Flattered and amazed, I slid to an impetuous stop,” Farley says now. “And in no time, I was hearing how she’d seen me in ‘Rope,’ and recognized me. Then I was asking her a lot of questions about herself. Conversation rocketed, and the end of the story should be that I was found in the morning with a knife in my back and a missing wallet. But do you know what the ending really was?”
He pauses here, reaches into the drawer of a bleached-modern desk, and pulls out a delicately-fashioned gold necklace.
“Suddenly she gave me this necklace, pushed it right into my hand. Then she said, ‘God bless you.’ And she was gone into the shadows again. I couldn’t find her, even though I became a one-man posse for a full hour.”
Back home after his vacation, of course, Farley wasn’t able to resist gloating to his mother, “Yes, I talked to a strange woman in a foreign country, and just let me ask you, who robbed whom?” But, in telling about it, he looks more wistful than triumphant. After all, the strange woman was very beautiful. And he doesn’t even know her name!
Witness another example of Farley’s impetuosity this year, with Farley now in New York City, to act in the picture, “Side Street.” Registered in a swank hotel, with a fanfare of welcome from the excellent staff, all went well until the evening of the first day. He had spent the day acting a scene in the movie, which consisted of lying on his back on Second Avenue while a truck appeared to run over him. Naturally, when he sauntered back into his hotel lobby that night, he looked dirty and disheveled and disreputable.
“I didn’t,” he explains, “stop to think what I must look like to the immaculate hotel staff. I was too busy thinking impetuously of a hot bath when I went up to the desk and asked for my room key. The desk clerk didn’t recognize me; tried to give me the heave ho right into the street, in fact. It took all my credentials to convince him and the manager that I was the same Farley Granger who’d registered the night before!”
Farley looked again at the spreading panorama of Hollywood outside the window. “I guess my impetuousness began back in 1942,” he said, “when I answered that want ad for an actor. I was a senior at North Hollywood High School at the time, and the Granger family was definitely not in the chips. Afternoons, I worked as a grocery clerk, a baby-sitter and an expert mower of lawns. Don’t forget, I might still be doing all of those things if it hadn’t been for one little characteristic. All together, now, boys! I’m impetuous!”
As one leaves Farley’s bright new apartment with its happy owner, one thinks. Indeed, he is impetuous. Now, there’s only one thing he hasn’t done on the spur of the moment, and he’ll probably do that without warning, too.
What is that one thing? All together, now, boys! He hasn’t yet married . . . but he will!
—BY ELEANOR HARRIS
It is a quote. PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE MARCH 1950