The Siren has no particular reason for posting this anecdote, other than the way it consistently cracks her up. It concerns Samuel Goldwyn, whose fate it was to figure prominently in many anecdotes that simply never happened. His occasionally fractured English was irresistible to Hollywood wags, and eventually publicity folks just started making stuff up. This story, however, is from A. Scott Berg's excellent biography of the mogul.
Sexual liberation in the sixties turned the motion picture screen into an orgiastic playground, and most of Hollywood's latest product turned Goldwyn off. His private screening of Blow-Up in 1966 was going just fine until the scene in which David Hemmings cavorts with a couple of young girls. "Oh God," Goldwyn cried out, calling a stop to the screening; "this is a goddamned dirty picture!" Not long after that, Goldwyn complained to Billy Wilder that he had seen an even more disgusting disply--Hello, Dolly! Wilder was puzzled--not only because he could not imagine anything scurrilous in that harmless musical but also because Darryl Zanuck had not released it yet. Goldwyn insisted he knew what he saw, and it was one of the filthiest pictures he had ever seen. Wilder asked him to recite the plot. "Sam," he interrupted upon hearing about the drug-taking and sex lives of three aspiring actresses, "I think you're referring to Valley of the Dolls." "That's just what I said," Goldwyn insisted. "Valley of the Hello Dollies."
As the Siren flips to the notes of Berg's books she sees that the source for this bit of utter hilarity is Billy Wilder himself, which may, may mind you make it a teensy bit suspect. Like John McElwee the Siren has never bought the old story of Wilder telling L.B. Mayer--Mayer!--"go fuck yourself" after the first screening of Sunset Boulevard.
But it's a great story, isn't it?
The Siren will be mostly off-line today but she invites you to catch up with the following, as she has been.
Speaking of old dark houses: Six Martinis and the Seventh Art brings you The Bat Whispers.
Film in Focus's Behind the Blog interviews fine film writer and all-around good guy Peter Nelhaus, one of the Siren's first friends in the blogosphere.
The Siren has been tracking Gareth's Watching Movies in Africa project and finally read his entry on Captain Blood, a feast for any admirer of red-blooded 1930s screen manhood.
Gloria uses a splendid photo of Charles Laughton and Elsa Lanchester as a jumping-off point for...well, go read it, I won't spoil it. And Elsa looks quite pretty.
Brian at Bubblegum Aestheticswrites a lengthy and utterly absorbing post on the intertwined, but not-so-parallel lives of two film legends who shared a birthday.
Raquelle at Out of the Past is writing up a storm about TCM's Latino Images in Film (did anyone else catch the original And Now Miguel? lovely film), and she endeared herself to the Siren no end by putting in a good word for George Stevens' great widescreen epic Giant. On a related note, last month Allure ran a post full of scans from Latin American movie magazines.
Another way to get on the Siren's good side: praise Charlie Chaplin.
This also goes back to March, but the Siren has to point out Greenbriar Picture Shows' beautiful elegy for Wallace Reid.
Not classic-era, but kudos anyway: Stinky Lulu issues a defense (albeit somewhat qualified) of Marisa Tomei's unjustly maligned Oscar-winning turn in My Cousin Vinny. Why does everyone complain, year after year, that the Academy snubs comedy, and then pitch a hissy fit when an extremely funny performance wins over actresses doing Important Drama? Yeah, Miranda Richardson was great in Damage. The movie was a mess, and the Siren says this as a longtime Louis Malle lover. The Siren's own pick that year would have been Judy Davis for Husbands and Wives, but all the same, if you fired up Vinny on the DVD player right now, the Siren would happily watch just for the part where Mona Lisa Vito gets out of the car and says, "I bet this place has lousy Chinese food." As an Alabama native, the Siren has to tell you truer words are seldom spoken on screen.