Saturday, March 17, 2012

I Can Get It for You Wholesale (1951)



The Siren's mentioned the previous life she spent behind a jewelry counter. She recalls one slow morning spent poring over a society column about a New York designer and his haute summer doings in the Hamptons. She made some wistful remark to a coworker about the elegance of it all. Came the reply, in a loud snort: "Listen sweetie, don't let the yacht fool you. He started out pushing racks around the garment district. He's tougher than you and me will ever think about being."

This nostalgic vignette came to mind when the Siren spent a sick day watching I Can Get It for You Wholesale, the 1951 Twentieth-Century Fox melodrama about the Seventh Avenue rag trade here in Little Old New York. Fashion has doubled, maybe even quintupled its everyday presence since the 50s. Now we play "who wore it best?" for all the world as though anyone strolling the local mall knows exactly how the latest Alber Elbaz should be draped. But the Siren strongly suspects the industry has stayed as tough as ever. She only wishes this movie, so brilliant through a good stretch of its running time, had done the same.

Filmed on location, I Can Get It for You Wholesale has any number of things going for it, but two stand out. First there's the street photography, night and day, crowds and traffic and windows from Seventh Avenue to Central Park. Director Michael Gordon was, on the evidence of this movie as well as Pillow Talk and Portrait in Black, good, if not quite great; we'll always have a hard time knowing how much Gordon really had, because his career is bisected by the blacklist. Gordon has a flair for amusing shots, like an errand boy with his hand cradling a dress dummy's boob, and the camera tracking around a grand dinner-dance to reveal the main characters stuck out behind a pillar. He could keep the action flowing. And the New York street scenes, via DP Milton Krasner--trust the Siren, you will plotz.

The second, and primary, thing: Abraham Polonsky's script (from Vera Caspary's adaptation), which will put the true lover of New Yorkese into a euphoric trance. Leads and character actors such as Marvin Kaplan and Charles Lane reel out line after glittering line, from the poignant

If I had money, could you learn to love me for my money?

to the flowery

Miss Boyd, you have the simple and astonishing beauty of an old-fashioned straight razor.

to the existentially profound

A young man needs a bankruptcy. It helps him to mature.

to the profoundly vaudeville.

--Haven't we treated you right?
--You want more money?
--We'll give you a raise.
--You wanna take your wife to Jones Beach? I'll lend you my Buick.
--Take my Cadillac.
--Take my wife!

My beloved auteurist friends, this is why the Siren has been known to roll her eyes when told a great director could direct the phone book or whatever platitude you will. In this case, it's the reverse. You'd have to work at messing up that dialogue. The script sings. At times Gordon is just getting the hell out of the way.

Harriet Boyd (Susan Hayward) is a model on Seventh Avenue, back when the profession was a lot more B-girl than Bundchen. She's had it up to her cute little keister with pawing buyers and slick salesmen, and she's ready to use her design talent. Harriet lures Sam Cooper (Sam Jaffe), the "inside man" who can run the dressmaking end, and salesman Teddy Sherman (Dan Dailey, as good as you'll ever see him), with the promise of their own firm, selling frocks at $10.95 in wholesale 1951 dollars. To get what she wants, Harriet will be every bit as tough as that Hamptons-swanning designer. She needs the life-insurance money her mother is hoarding, but Ma wants younger sister Marge to have it so she can start a cozy washer-dryer-baby household, despite Harriet's solid objections:

Harriet: With money she can marry anyone she wants.
Ma: A nice outlook on life.
Harriet: It's the outlook men taught me.

Ma, whose maternal warmth recalls an Easter Island statue, refuses to fork over, so Harriet manipulates sis into giving her the dough anyway, in a set-up worthy of Scarlett O'Hara. (That's a part for which Hayward was a contender, by the by, and here you can tell why that's not so far-fetched.) Afterward sister, Ma and brother-in-law, none of whom are the slightest bit interesting, obligingly take a powder. The partners conquer Seventh Avenue, but Teddy has a yen for Harriet, and there lies both Harriet and the movie's undoing.




The Siren has written before of her soft spot for Hayward, who isn't often trotted out these days when people discuss Great Stars of the Past. Hayward was born Edythe Marrener in Flatbush, and no matter what the role, Brooklyn swung in her stride and sanded the edges of her husky voice. She got her start as a teenaged New York model, which probably gives extra brush to the brush-offs Hayward delivers in the film, but she was no high-flown Method actress. Hayward was one rock-hard cookie. But the Siren says when the part fit her, Hayward could play the hell out of it. TV Guide has one of the few I Can Get It for You Wholesale reviews on the Web, and it cluck-clucks through a story about Hayward's movie-star airs. Hey, the Siren loves the stars who love their status, whether it's Hayward signing a gazillion autographs, Bette Davis showing up on 1970s talk shows to blow smoke and imitate her imitators, or Gloria Swanson playing herself in Airport 1975 and ruining the suspense because face it, nothing and nobody's gonna kill Gloria Swanson. What's the appeal of someone who approaches stardom like this gal? Brother, says the Siren, in her best Brooklyn, you can have that.

Harriet in all her gimme-gimme glory is Hayward at her best. She moves like she knows she's beautiful, she smiles like she knows what she's gonna get, she snaps like she knows what's working against her. "Didn't you hear me? I'm proposing to you," says a flummoxed Teddy. "What do you expect me to do, throw my arms around you?" is Harriet's tender response.




One more thing: this is a George Sanders movie, too. He shows up about a half-hour in, at a Dressmakers and Buyers' Ball, where he's seated at the dais. Of course. Did any man in Hollywood history, or indeed the history of anywhere, ever look so completely right seated at the dais? Sanders plays J.F. Noble, the Bergdorf-type magnate who wants Harriet to design evening gowns and also wants Harriet for himself, a promising development both ways. You don't know how it pains the Siren to reveal that Sanders' appearance signals that we have about 30 minutes of great left. After that, it's comeuppance time for Harriet. Oh, you get good stuff and some standout Sanders, like "It seems to me that you could resign yourself a little more gracefully to being rich and famous." And Sanders also manages to turn "Good evening, Mr. Sherman" into one of his funniest lines.

But--and it's so obvious this is where we're headed, the Siren isn't even going to call it a spoiler--it's time for Harriet to Learn a Few Things About Love.

God, the Siren could spit.




I Can Get for You Wholesale is based on Jerome Weidman's Depression-era novel about a man named Harry who, so Wikipedia tells us, gets what's coming to him and learns to appreciate love. (Later, the story morphed into the Broadway musical debut of Barbra Streisand, which interesting tale can be read here.) It's a truth universally acknowledged in Hollywood that a single woman in possession of excess ambition must be in want of a man. That she'll die without a man, nothing matters without a man, she might as well call in Mario Buatta and have her uterus turned into a breakfast nook without a man. Still, it would be a mistake to say this applies only to women; many's the manly magnate presumed to need love more than money, too. After all, it is love, or his version of it, that proves the undoing of Charles Foster Kane, and we all know how the Siren feels about that one. And it's a mistake to chalk things up to the era, when here's winsome Anne Hathaway in 2006's The Devil Wears Prada doing the exact same thing.

Over at Senses of Cinema, Andrew Marsden says Polonsky changed the novel's "anti-Semitism arising from its treatment of Jewish businessmen into a story about the oppression of women in the world of business," and adds that Fox "softened" the dialogue. The Siren doesn't know if that softening extended to Harriet's fate, but it should be said that Teddy wants her to have a career, just a career on his salesman-of-the-people terms.

Sweet shade of Fannie Hurst, it's frustrating, though. It isn't that the romantic choice boils down to George Sanders versus Dan Dailey, which is…the Siren doesn't even have an actor-to-actor metaphor for that one. It's more like choosing between a movie star and a windup tin mouse. It isn't even that Harriet's going all mushy is about as believable as when William Makepeace Thackeray tries to convince you that his fabulous Becky Sharp is (dramatic pause) a murderess.

No, the rub is that the trick Teddy and Sam pull on Harriet, an S.O.B. move if ever there was one, is for her own good. Done out of love, you see, which makes it so much more pure than Harriet's own scheming.

Despite her dislike of the denouement the Siren highly recommends the film, which you can see at MUBI. It's one of Hollywood's nasty ironies that the lavishly talented Polonsky, himself no bed of roses, also was defanged by external forces. The Siren likes to believe that Polonsky looked back at Harriet Boyd from time to time and thought she got a raw deal, too.

129 comments:

Yojimboen said...

MUBI charges you to watch the movie…

I can get it for you less than wholesale:

Here it’s free.

Enjoy.

The Siren said...

Ah Y., I knew that, but I wanted to throw MUBI some love. It's a good site.

Yojimboen said...

Abject apologies, dear lady, curse me for a cheapjack. If you wish to delete my comment, prithee do so, plaint shall there be none.

The Siren said...

Not at all, dear Y., I will just note that the free link is most probably recorded off Fox Movie Channel, and the MUBI version looks better. You get what you pay for. :) Tell me, what do YOU think of the script? I was in clover.

Jacqueline T Lynch said...

Would like to have this paragraph bronzed:

"It's a truth universally acknowledged in Hollywood that a single woman in possession of excess ambition must be in want of a man. That she'll die without a man, nothing matters without a man, she might as well call in Mario Buatta and have her uterus turned into a breakfast nook without a man. Still, it would be a mistake to say this applies only to women; many's the manly magnate presumed to need love more than money, too. After all, it is love, or his version of it, that proves the undoing of Charles Foster Kane, and we all know how the Siren feels about that one. And it's a mistake to chalk things up to the era, when here's winsome Anne Hathaway in 2006's The Devil Wears Prada doing the exact same thing."

I'll get around to this film probably later this year, but never with your panache.

Yojimboen said...

Abe Polonsky’s script is like a warm bath on a cold night. Even Dan Dailey – without tapping a toe – turns in maybe his most musical performance. Wise and wise-cracking is hard to pull off, but Michael Gordon manages it with a grin (who knew?).

The joy of it for me is everybody sounds Jewish (except George S. of course), which validates Saint Lenny’s fundamental edict that every man woman or child who lives in NYC is Jewish, no exception; no matter what your religious protestation, you live within the five boroughs, shuddup, you’re Jewish; and there are no Jews outside of NYC (Israel and/or Miami Beach not excepted).
Lenny would’ve loved this movie.

The Siren said...

Jacqueline, thank you so, so much.

Y., I could have quoted the script at much greater length. What a brilliantly New York movie this is.

rcocean said...

I'll give it a watch. I love Hayward and Sanders. I'm skeptical of Polonsky's great script though.

Based on his other movies, and Polonsky's verbose, forgettable dialog, well...

Of course, its based on a book, so there's that.

rcocean said...

We often give screenwriters credit for the great dialog in the original book - that very few read.

Just sayin'

The Siren said...

I haven't read the book, but Polonsky's adaptation was at one remove already -- a story version by Vera Caspary -- and already changed the antihero to an antiheroine. Everything I read indicates that the bones of the story were kept and not much else, including Marsden's remark about what the original novel was like.

We'll have to agree to disagree about Polonsky's scriptwriting. I think Body and Soul and Force of Evil are magnificent.

The Siren said...

BTW though, thanks for the memory poke Rcocean--I neglected to mention Caspary at all, a blunder I have fixed.

X. Trapnel said...

Not quite, Y. wherever there are Jews (Israel, Miami Beach, central New Jersey), there is New York.

I agree about Polonsky's brilliance as a screewriter. He cleansed the Odets idiom of the excess accretions of schlag and schmaltz.

Peter Nellhaus said...

Auteurs? Auteurists? I've taken on the assignment to write about an actor as auteur. No problem with that. Even Sarris notes that the auteur of a film is not necessarily the director.

And should the opportunity arise, I'm sure I'd enjoy watching this film, though not on a computer screen if I can help it.

And by the way, did you ever see The Garment Jungle?

Yojimboen said...

X – Argue with this:
“If you’re from New York and you’re Catholic, you’re still Jewish. If you’re from Butte Montana and you’re Jewish, you’re still goyisch. The Air Force is Jewish, the Marine Corps dangerously goyisch. Rye Bread is Jewish, instant potatoes, scary goyisch. Eddie Cantor is goyisch, Georgie Jessel is goyisch - Coleman Hawkins is Jewish.”
L.Bruce

Seriously, the tone of the film is exquisitely-wrought, with a surprising intelligence and subtlety - this from someone who this morning didn’t really care for Susan Hayward.

(Another blindsided conversion? The Siren strikes again.)

Yojimboen said...

Wow, PN, Wholesale is a frothy comedy next to The Garment Jungle; a superb drama, but violent way ahead of its time. Though Lee J. Cobb is the Lear of that piece, his performance is strong enough to consider him at least co-auteur, for me the brass ring was snatched by Robert Loggia in his best work ever.

I always suspected that while finishing the editing, director Vincent Sherman saw Martin Ritt’s Edge of the City (released a few months before), and stepped up the violence level in his film. The themes are not dissimilar (gangsters in the rag trade and on the docks), the Ritt film is a sort of On The Waterfront redo, but even more gut-wrenching.

But The Garment Jungle would make for a very interesting double bill with Wholesale.

X. Trapnel said...

Wouldn't change a word, Y (indeed, my father was in the Air Force).

ICGIFYW has always been lost for me in the first-person-singular Susan Hayward shuffle (when not climbing moutains, wanting only to live, thanking fools, crying tomorrow. That's one busy lady). Sounds like a must see.

The Siren said...

Oh well, now I must see The Garment Jungle. Title certainly summarizes how I felt about it myself, and I wasn't dealing with any Lee J. Cobb doppelgangers--well, my dealings were like Harriet's.

It's very interesting to watch Hayward in this one, because the mannerisms I know so well are there. Ex: downtilted head, eyes looking up, the better to flash at you, my dear. Except here, she's using in a situation where the *character* would be using it; a conscious move that Harriet is using as a conscious move.

I'm laughing at XT's first-person singular Hayward cosmology, but it's true! Her other two best I'd name as I'll Cry Tomorrow and I Want to Live. And there's even My Foolish Heart, first-person possessive. (still need to see that one and figure out if I ever saw it the first place) What an odd thing to mark your career.

X. Trapnel said...

And They Won't Believe Her!

The Siren said...

I have the title of my future full-length critical study. SUSAN HAYWARD: THE LADY, THE LEGEND, THE PRONOUNS.

Shamus said...

Apparently, a good number of the late 40's and early 50's films in Hollywood tried to convince working women to go back to their kitchens- that the war was over and there was a whole new front waiting for them at home. Thom Andersen and Noel Burch include a good ten minute chunk of I Can Get It For You Wholesale in their video essay, Red Hollywood, where they try to examine the Communist response (Polonsky was a member) to this (amongst other) propaganda. But in this case, it looks like the studio got the final word, after all.

(BTW, Burch and Andersen also call Susan Hayward, "an icon of feminism": maybe her penchant for putting the pronoun first.)

DavidEhrenstein said...

So glad you're getting around to this one, Siren. It's a gem.

I got to know Abe in his later years. He had a condo on McCarty Drive in Beverly Hills. "That's McCarty Drive not McCarthy Drive" he said, laughing. We had lunch at Neiman Marcus and all the waitresses fussed over him like he was their own grandpa. Abe was in many ways a better dressed version of R. Crumb's "Mr. Natural." He was full of fun -- taking names and kicking ass like nobody's business.

The Los Angeles Film Critics Association makes it a practice of giving our "Career Achievement Award" to those parties overlooked by other orgs. The year we gave it to Abe we were also honoring Warren Beatty for Bulworth. When Abe took the stage he said "Well was it worth it? Was it worth the shit you're going to get for giving ME this award? Cause there's another film organization in town that this year is giving their Career Achievment award to a RAT!!!"

He was of course speaking of the Oscar about to be bestowed on Elia Kazan.

Warren, who was given his first -- and BTW starring movie role in Splendor in the Grass, shook with laughter.

Abe went on --

"People say you should Forgive and Forget. Well I NEVER forgive because I NEVER forget!!!"

Abe got full screen credit on I Can Get It For You Wholesale but his credit for Odds Against Tomorrow -- ghosted by Nelson Gidding -- wasn't restored until after Abe died.

He worked as a ghost for many years, returning to actual screen credit with Don Sielf's Madigan in 1967. Then he went on to write/direct Tell Them Willie Boy is Here (with Robert Redford and Robert Blake and finally Romance of a Horse Thief with Yul Brynner, Eli Wallach, Lanie Kazan, Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg.

You need to take a look at that one Siren.

As for Michael Gordon I'm sure you're familiar with his grandson.

Yojimboen said...

(Thanks David, I won) I made a bet with X you wouldn’t be able to mention Michael Gordon without referring to you-know-who.
Nice comment BTW ;-)

Seriously, “But the Siren says when the part fit her, Hayward could play the hell out of it…”

My only carp with that is that so few roles fit her – With a Song in My Heart is a case in point. She had no real musical skills, even less ease with the body or arm movements of a torch singer, so her playback vocalizing in the Jane Froman biopic veers between sadly stilted and hilariously hapless.

A role that did fit her like a gauntlet was in Nick Ray’s The Lusty Men. But then again, is it just me or did more than a few actresses bring their very best game to a Robert Mitchum project?

But I have to say, damn, that’s a sultry shot of the begowned Ms Hayward; up until now this was my fave (Hurrell of course).

Finally, any discussion of NY rag trade movies must include the greatest of them all, Paddy Chayefsky’s (hard to find) masterpiece, Middle of the Night. IMHO, neither Frederic March nor Kim Novak were ever better.

Yojimboen said...

Correction: Middle of the Night is (finally) available, but only as part of a four-movie Kim Novak collection from Amazon; at the not inconsiderable price of $36.

The Siren said...

Shamus, I want to be clear--and fair--poor Harriet isn't dragged back to domesticity, it's just that she's expected to drop back down to Teddy's level, although she was perfectly willing to pull him up with her. That's the thing about Harriet; she's a schemer, but she makes good on the loans she get. Ma does reappear a bit towards the end, giving Harriet no end of hell even though the old broad is now ensconced on Sutton Place (helpfully telegraphed by an awning with SUTTON PLACE on it in letters that Mame Dennis Burnside would have found a touch outre--loved it). There's also some verrrrry icky references to "crawling." I would love to think Polonsky had nothing to do with them but unless Karen (where's she been?) shows up with the AFI catalog it will be hard to know for sure.

David, I am glad Polonsky still had a sense of humor. There are parts of his public character that don't much appeal to me but I like the work of all kinds of talented SOBs as long as the emphasis is on talented. I saw Madigan, wasn't much impressed, I should give the other two late Abes a whirl.

Yojimboen, a legitimate point. She had a narrow range, in a lot of ways. With great gallantry you do not even point out that Hayward as a Tatar princess was arguably even more risible than Wayne as Genghis Khan. And I am pretty much in agreement on With a Song in My Heart although that one's a great sick-day movie, not so good your illness is detracting, not so bad it's making you feel worse. In your Hurrell shot she looks YOUNG, man, like it dates to when she was auditioning for Scarlett O'Hara.

God, within her limits she could be wonderful though. There are two parts of I Want to Live that I could watch over and over. One is when she's caught by the police, who yell for her to come out with her hands up. She comes out holding her small son's stuffed animal, and I am obsessed with the slight waggle she gives the toy when she's confronted with pointed weapons. And in the end, when the prison guard, trying to be kind, tells her to count and breathe deep when the cyanide pellets drop: "It's easier that way." And talk about line deliveries (back to that old post)--boy do I love the way Hayward responds, "How would you know?" Contempt, resignation, anger, weariness fear...she got it all in.

DavidEhrenstein said...

I saw With A Song in My Heart when it opened at the Roxy. Teriffic slosh.

Hayward's best director was Joseph L. Mankiewicz. She's phenomenal in House of Strangers (a favorite of both Jean-Luc Godard and Martin Scorsese, for somewhat different reasons of course.) I also adore her in Mankiewicz's fabulous late period maudit masterpeice The Honey Pot

DavidEhrenstein said...

I like Middle of the Night too, but Kim was better in Vertigo and Freddie March was better in Good Night Bassington (aka. Design For Living)

I really love him in th 30's.

DavidEhrenstein said...

You've got my number on J-G-L, Yojim!

I think he should do a musical.

He'd be perfect as Franklin Shepherd in a film of Sondheim's Merrily We Roll Along

MrsHenryWindleVale said...

Thank you, Y. I've always had a weakness for THEY WON'T BELIEVE ME -- and for Hayward in it. There's a lovely bit where she tells Robert Young about a poem she always liked, that one about "gathering rosebuds while ye may."

The Siren said...

David, I have to be honest; I didn't recognize the JGL kid when you posted him a while back and I didn't recognize him now. Maybe the third time will be the charm.

I don't remember They Won't Believe Me, maybe that's why they won't...

Yojimboen said...

No excuse for forgetting The Honey Pot – I watched it the other day for the first time in donkey’s years – Ms Susan H more than holds her own against mistresses Capucine and Edie Adams. Of course SH has the advantage of being the Fox(Rex Harrison)’s semi-estranged wife Mrs Sheridan (née “Lone-Star Crockett”) who Harrison remembers when she was a 17 yr-old bed partner as being something of a “cross between Venus and a giant squid”.

Sadly for them, however, none of the above actresses can hope to compete against a hyper-radiant Maggie Smith who, barely lifting an eyebrow, quietly tucks the movie safely into the breast pocket of her nurse’s uniform and walks off with it.

What stands out mostly for me about SH’s performance is (vastly enjoyable despite) a Texan (?!?) accent of such unsurpassed villainy it belongs in the Smithsonian.

Yojimboen said...

Mrs HWV (credit where credit is due) Please move one letter to the left - it was M'sieur X who brought They Won't Believe Me into the discussion.
I thank you.

DavidEhrenstein said...

Hey Siren Here's J G-L at his most delightful

Returning to Susan Hayward, leave us not forget the fact that she alienated the terminally cranky Jerry Salinger for her performance in the film version of "Uncle Wiggley in Connecticut" -- which produced this classic title tune.

DavidEhrenstein said...

Here it is again, Bill Evans joined by Tony Bennett

"There's a line between love and fascination,
hard to see on an evening such as this,
For they both give the very same sensation,
when you're lost in the magic of a kiss."


That's engraved on my very soul, evoking long dead loves like nothing else I know.

DavidEhrenstein said...

And when I say "dead" I'm not speaking metaphorically.

Rachel said...

My vote for "delightful" JGL is his homage to Donald O'Connor on SNL.

I keep waiting for someone to ask him about his grandfather in an interview but alas. But then I'm the kind of classic film nerd who flips through interviews hoping to find out what Drew Barrymore thinks of Dinner at Eight.

Oh and since someone mentioned Fredric March, there happens to be a blogathon going on.

Shamus said...

Ms. Hayward's hair also forms a memorable part of the colour palette of Canyon Passage and, in the bargain, Tourneur gets a damn fine performance from the person beneath. Her best movie/director/performance/western?

X. Trapnel said...

I am mentally filming a harried Hayward climbing the highest mountain to get it for us wholesale, with a song in her foolish heart, hoping to live for a good cry tomorrow.

Off topic with apologies: I went to see the restored Enfants du Paradis at the Film Forum. As the lights were dimming the fellow in front of me remarked to his companion that he's seen very few films made before 1960. In the dark, I made my Henry Daniell face, shrugged, and settled in to enjoy the film. Three-plus hours later as everyone's filing out he boomed: "THAT was SO...." But alas, like Baptiste I was pushed hither and yon by the churning crowd and couldn't catch the rest.

rcocean said...

I just wanted to add Susan Hayward love to this thread. What a "tough cookie", she was. Beautiful, feminine but tough. Man, if I was fighting Indians or a playing match-maker for some tough Hombre I'd call Susan. She could handle *any* leading man.

Its too bad she's been so forgotten by the general public despite her five (?) academy award nominations. I guess her early death has something to do with it.

The Siren said...

Rcocean, maybe her reputation is also hampered because she didn't work with a lot of A-list auteurs, which would keep her name more alive on the academe/cinephile side too. David E. and Shamus name two who come to my mind, Tourneur and Mankiewicz; There's small parts for DeMille and Wellman and Clair, I'm sure I'm forgetting someone, but not a big Sarris "pantheon" classic. But you also bring up her beauty; yeah, to me she's stunning and I love her voice too.

X. Trapnel said...

No pantheon people, true, but Sarris did write a wonderful tribute to Hayward for My Foolish Heart.

The Siren said...

Oh XT, really? where, do you have a link?

X. Trapnel said...

It's in his book You Ain't Heard Nothin' Yet. A foretaste:

"This scene deviates from the wry sourness of Salinger...to the sad sweetness of Schnitzler and Zweig, Ophuls and Renoir, but with an American accent....Susan Hayward's mix of toughness and vulnerability, so perplexing to [WAIT FOR IT!] Crowther seemed to flower more in noir roles...than in the inspirational and lugubrious characterizations which became her commercial stock-in-trade...in the fifties. A beautiful creature of the night, she endowed black satin with as strong an intimation of the forbidden as was possible in the censorship-hobbled forties."

gmoke said...

When we were teenagers, my sister and I gave our parents opening night tickets to "I Can Get It For You Wholesale" for their anniversary and they saw Barbra Streisand stop the show. It was very lucky that we were able to make them part of show business history.

"Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here" is definitely worth a look.

gmoke said...

The Lenny Bruce routine, as I recall it, is that if you're goyish from a big city you're Jewish and if you're Jewish from the country you're goyish but it's been a long time since I listened to Lenny scatological scatting.

DavidEhrenstein said...

That's a truly lovely Sarris passage, X. With all the recent blather about Pauline, Sarris has become The Fiorgotten Man.

Rozsaphile said...

I detect a sense here that Hayward wasn't convincing in period roles. Yet I recall with pleasure her no-nonsense Messalina in Demetrius and the Gladiators (a better picture than The Robe) and especially her hard-headed Bathsheba opposite Gregory Peck. Her toughness there makes it possible for her to insist on full recognition (at horrifying cost) from the king she has seduced. Unfortunately that excellent picture (d. Henry King) denies her character a final resolution.

Pamela said...

I loved this movie.

As far as Susan Hayward being a "tough cookie" - I recall a paragraph from a book about her (I cannot recall which one).

She had long retired and her last husband, Eaton Chalkley, had died.
She was living in South Florida – Fort Lauderdale area, I recall, and one day some child collecting/selling something … Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, something…rang the doorbell at Condo Hayward.

Allegedly, Susan answered, the kid launched into whatever spiel there was and the description given was something like “Hayward, with her eyes squinted against the smoke from the cigarette clenched in her teeth looked at the kid and said “Can the chatter…how much is this going to cost me?” and gave whatever the child was wanting.

Tough cookie, maybe – but with a soft center.

Her son Gregory was our family veterinarian when I was a kid in Jacksonville, FL – my mom told me he was some movie star’s child, but I didn’t become a true film fan until much later in my teen-age years, otherwise, I would have bent his ear off with questions.

X. Trapnel said...

Good point, David. For all of Kael's qualities I firmly believe Sarris to be the superior critic and the better writer. And his own version of film emotionalism (I'm tired of hearing about Kael's viscera. One reason she seems so contemporary is that most films these days are aimed at the gut and not our higher organs) more engaging and engaged to the reader. Kael I read once and that's it; I always return to Sarris.

And as per Lenny Bruce, no one could be more Jewish than the NY Greek Sarris. He even married a shiksa goddess.

mndean said...

I read the list of March films being covered in the blogathon and was dismayed when I found there wasn't a single early Paramount of his in the list, not even Design For Living. I hope someone, somewhere corrects that.

The Siren said...

Mn, I am out the door and so can't do the link until tonight but Bobby Rivers showed some love for The Eagle and the Hawk.

mndean said...

I've noticed that since I last looked, there've been additions that include The Eagle And The Hawk, Design For Living, and Merrily We Go To Hell. Wonderful!

Hannah said...

Yeah Harriet's apparent epiphany makes me sick, as if she needs that sap? what the hell. But, I did enjoy despite that.

The Siren said...

Hannah, we're obviously very simpatico here.

Roszaphile, I was thinking of you with the other film I watched on my sick day, The Dark Mirror, with a score by Dimitri Tiomkin that almost blasted me out of my seat, and we all know how I feel about big scores, and that I even have a soft spot for Tiomkin. Thomas Mitchell entering his police office had a backup orchestra you could have used for a papal conclave.

Anyway, to your point; no, I'm afraid I'm more of a Modern Hayward fan. But I do have affection for Demetrius and the Gladiators, and her in it. In my hospital room after my twins were born there was no DVD player and all I had to fix my bleary eyes on was AMC during the day. I have a nice memory of a babe on each arm, watching Susie work those togas. She LOOKED great in just about anything, you have to give her that.

Pamela, that story is AWESOME. I love it. Isn't that exactly how you wanted her to be?

Yojimboen said...

Re your mention of The Conqueror, it would be tacky to criticize SH’s performance (in what many critics named as perhaps the worst film ever made in America - the poster is risible enough), especially since her appearance in the movie probably killed her.

For those who don’t know, they shot the movie in Utah, 100 or so miles downwind of the Nevada Atomic Bomb test sites. The Federal Gvmt. reassured the filmmakers the area was perfectly safe (and why would a government lie?). No one at the studio apparently thought to spend fifty bucks on a Geiger counter to check the radiation levels.

Eventually, sadly, actors John Wayne, Susan Hayward, Pedro Armendarez, John Hoyt and director Dick Powell all died of cancer.

Excerpted from Wiki:

“The cast and crew totaled 220 people. By 1981, 91 of them had developed some form of cancer and 46 had died of the disease. Several of Wayne and Hayward's relatives also had cancer scares as well after visiting the set. Michael Wayne developed skin cancer, his brother Patrick had a benign tumor removed from his breast and Hayward's son Tim Barker had a benign tumor removed from his mouth.”

Yojimboen said...

Addendum: The magnificent Agnes Moorhead, also on the film, also died of cancer.

jwr said...

I think Hayward was a little unlucky on the icon front. She made plenty of interesting movies and worked with plenty of good directors. But there's no single fixating moment in tandem with a recognized giant like Ford or Hitchcock or Hawks, etc. That leaves the auteur approach adrift more often than not, no matter how much good work a performer did. And if the auteur-lovers are adrift, a mere movie star and fine actor just isn't likelty to get the level of play they deserve. Grossly unfair and never moreso than for SH. I'll put in a plug for her in Rawhide which is very good indeed--on a par with Canyon Passage. And directed by Henry Hathaway, as if to prove the good-but-not-quite-the-very-top point about her directors.)

DavidEhrenstein said...

There's a movie about the atomic bomb tests and The Conqueror

Karen said...

Siren, your "Pride and Prejudice" paraphrase made me indescribably happy--not least for it being so damnably true.

Sorry I've been MIA! I think I'll be back next week--I've been in major stress mode for my Comic New York symposium this weekend (listings in both The New Yorker AND the Village Voice! I'm gonna plotz!). Once this is behind me, I should be back in the saddle.

Not much in the AFI Catalog on this film, sadly:

Although a 26 Oct 1950 LADN article reported that novelist Jerome Weidman worked on the film's screenplay, the extent of his contribution to the completed screenplay has not been determined. According to an Oct 1950 HR news item, Dennis King was originally cast as "J. F. Noble" but was replaced by George Sanders. According to studio publicity, "large portions" of the film were shot on location in the garment district of New York City. As pointed out in reviews, the protagonist of Weidman's novel, an ambitious businessman named "Harry Bogen," had been changed to a female designer for the film version.
I Can Get It for You Wholesale marked the screen debut of stage actress Vicki Cummings. The picture also marked the last onscreen credit of writer-director Abraham Polonsky prior to his Apr 1951 appearance before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, during which he refused to deny or affirm membership in the Communist Party. Although he continued to write for film and television under different names, Polonsky did not receive another onscreen credit under his own name until the 1968 Universal production Madigan, for which he wrote the screenplay (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1961-70).
In 1962, the film's title was changed to Only the Best for its television release, to distinguish it from the successful Broadway version of Weidman's novel, starring Barbra Streisand and Elliot Gould.


I'm intrigued by the notion of Hayward as Scarlett O'Hara. She could certainly play tough and she could also play vulnerable--I'm not entirely convinced, however, that she could persuade me that she was a character who possessed both qualities at once. Also, beautiful thought she was--without QUESTION!--her beauty feels a tad voluptuous for Scarlett; Leigh's delicate beauty works better.

I'm not sure I'd have wanted to hear her assay a Southern accent, either.

DavidEhrenstein said...

Here are the GWTW screeen test S.H. is in here as "Edith Marriner."

Karen said...

Dear GOD: Jeffrey Lynn as Ashley? It is to cringe.

You can certainly see why none of those women got Scarlett--although I agree with Selznick that Paulette Goddard came closest.

X. Trapnel said...

To cringe? Nay madam; Ashley Wilkes and Jeffrey Lynn are a perfect match, each to the other.

Yojimboen said...

Given that Paulette Goddard was way too good for the role and although I was never a Lana Turner fan I think I would've gone with her and Melvyn Douglas - that's a movie I'd've paid to see.

In my book GWTW is close to V. Leigh's worst film. Leslie (randy as a stoat) Howard was a good journeyman actor who was born for Henry Higgins. He got the gig because he was closest to Margaret Mitchell's template.

SH had no real shot at the role, too young and inexperienced at the time - maybe she should've tried out for Melanie, or did she? David?

P.S. Welcome back Ms Green.
Missed you.

Shamus said...

jwr, were there (m)any lead actresses who worked with both Hitchcock and Ford? Except for Grace Kelly, I can't recall anyone offhand.

Hitchcock had Ingrid Bergman; Ford had Maureen O'Hara, and the twain shall never meet.

Rachel said...

Vera Miles. For a brief time, it's like they were competing for the same muse.

jwr said...

Shamus,

Actually O'Hara did work for Hithcock in Jamaica Inn...admittedly not an acknowledged career highlight for either. The most intriguing connection between the two directors on the lead actress front was Vera Miles, who was great for both of them twice (and also played the female lead in the pilot episode of Hithcock's TV series, where the character very much presages her role in The Wrong Man). And of course Hitchcock designed Vertigo around Miles but she had to back out at the last possible moment due to pregnancy. It's probably not too much of a stretch to say that Hitchcock saw Miles as the natural heir to Grace Kelly and Ford saw her as the natural heir to O'Hara...which makes Vera Miles one very interesting lady in my book but that's just me.

Rachel said...

Actually, I'm intrigued by what Hitchcock would/wouldn't have done with an actress like Ava Gardner (since Shamus brought up the Mogambo connection). Hitch sure did like to let the sultry brunettes stew in sexual frustration, but would Gardner have stymied him?

And I disagree on the Jeffrey Lynn as Ashley campaign. If Ashley's a complete blank space, then the love triangle vaults straight into unwatchable (your mileage of course can vary as to whether it's already there). Howard may be miscast, but to give him credit, I think he gives Ashley some intelligence and authority. More suggestive of a benevolent schoolmaster than Scarlett's white prince, but still, it's something. As opposed to Lynn, who suggests...air?

X. Trapnel said...

Well, for me GWTW is unwatchable from the the first chord of Max Steiner's wasted efforts. Leslie Howard, too old and melancholy, doesn't suggest the kind of shining nullity that the 16-year-old Scarlett might see as Galahadlike. There is a certain class element in the book (scanted in the film) that sets the shanty-Irish O'Haras against the aristocratic Southern gentility (very different from Howard's ineradicable Englishness) of the Wilkses which I believe is part of AW's attraction for Scarlett. Maybe Randolph Scott could have played him.

Shamus said...

jwr, that Ford and Hitchcock lusted after Ms. Miles (metaphorically, I mean) at the same time may be nothing more than an outrageous coincidence: it's hard to see Vera Miles archetypal of either.

It's more interesting that you point out that O'Hara worked with Hitchcock before Ford, and like Grace Kelly, with the "wrong" auteur first. I wonder that helped in her being cast in How Green.

X. Trapnel said...

The Hitchetypicality of Vera Miles can only be a matter of speculation, The Wrong Man being pretty atypical, but really the cool, elegant blonde business has been greatly exaggerated. There's plenty of variety among Hitchcock's heroines (though few sultry brunettes) and Miles would have been a splendid Madeleine/Judy.

On the other hand, Miles' role in The Searchers is in the usual Ford feisty little woman mold.

Yojimboen said...

Hitchcock and his blonde fetish reached some sort of weird plateau with this shot of Ingrid Bergman in Spellbound. Its one of a series (photographer Madison Lacy) of Ingrid as Diana shot for but not included in the Salvador Dali dream sequence. Reportedly Hitch let Dali go nuts – the sequence was up to 20 minutes long until Selznick stepped in and ordered it cut by 90%.

Sadly, it appears, the footage was destroyed, the stills are that remain.

Yojimboen said...

Take two: The stills are all that remain. For grins, here’s another, larger one, currently being offered for sale at $ 6,000.

X. Trapnel said...

This is odd. Bergman's Hitchcock persona is warmly emotional and tremulously vulnerable, nothing marmoreal/goddesslike about her (and Diana at that!). These images are prophetic of the armor and flesh dialectic of later Hitchcock and the general turning away from women as human beings in 50s film generally. (The Lady From Shanghai being a like prophecy).

X. Trapnel said...

ugh: general...generally

Shamus said...

XT, Maureen O'Hara is luminous in several Ford films; Vera Miles never achieved that same intensity or poetry anywhere. Either that or Ford was interested in repeating what he did in Quiet Man or How Green with Miles.

Feisty little women or not, Ford wants his women to move, and he is very attentive to certain gestures: Hitchcock often wants his blondes to stay still while things are being done to them.

X. Trapnel said...

Oh, I agree about Miles, but I think it's because she nver got many good roles. Her moment came with Vertigo and she missed it. Hitchcock's heroines were sufficiently kinetic pre-Kelly but the fifites preferred female passivity (brittle or steadfast) in several guises. Hitchcock at least made something perversely interesting of it. The Stanwyck, Hayward, and, I suppose, Sirk pictures of the decade were something else again.

Yojimboen said...

The pinnacle of Vera Miles's career is is this miraculous moment in film history.

Shamus said...

Oh, I agree about Miles
...But not about O'Hara and Ford? Hmmm...

When I first read this post, I was (irresistibly) reminded of the other drama about (sartorially inclined) working women, starring the (other) Brooklyn bombshell. Glad you could allude to the Sirk-Stanwyck collaboration, as well.

X. Trapnel said...

Yes, indeed. Sadly, There's Always Tomorrow (grimmest happy ending since Intermezzo) had no real progeny.

Ok Y, whatzat?

X. Trapnel said...

Shamus,

I've got lots of problems with HGWMV and one big one with The Quiet Man: I can't stand it.

Yojimboen said...

There's Always Tomorrow? Brief Encounter under Teutonic neon.

X. Trapnel said...

Now playing at The Alternate Universe Octoplex--I'LL ALWAYS HAVE TOMORROW, starring SUSAN HAYWARD

Yojimboen said...

HGWMV was a topic here on June 20th 2010. I'll repost my comment from then. (Then hittin' the hay. G'night boys n girls.)

HGWMV - Good as it is – though I don’t consider it great (this nit-picking Brit never approved of Ford’s casual attitude toward ethnic types) – what with poor Rhys Williams, the only genuine Taffy, completely outnumbered by Scots, Irish, English, American (and one Canadian, W Pidgeon) – for me it doesn’t come close to Llewellyn’s text. (which I can barely read without choking up – try typing it):

“Bronwen came over plenty of Saturdays after that, but I was always shy of her. I think I must have fallen in love with Bronwen even then and I must have been in love with her all my life since. It is silly to think a child could fall in love. If you think about it like that, mind. But I am the child that was, and nobody knows how I feel, except only me. And I think I fell in love with Bronwen that Saturday on the hill.”

Shamus said...

Ok Y, whatzat?

That was Vera Miles happily presiding over a brawl held in her honour by Messrs. Jeffrey Hunter and Ken Curtis on the occasion of her wedding. A detail from The Searchers (1956).

As for How Green, I rate it over and above Searchers, Stagecoach, Lincoln... hell, over everything else by Ford except Liberty Valance and the mere thought that someone somewhere dislikes HGWMV nearly breaks my heart.

(The word verifications are getting more interesting: mine now reads "ovitypp ntopless".)

Shamus said...

P.S. It seems that it isn't really a brawl if it is just two morons punching. So, in this case, the infinitely more banal "fistfight" will have to do.

Karen said...

Thanks for the welcome back, Yojimboen! AND for those amazing Bergman stills. Yowzah.

I'm with Rachel on Howard as Ashley, though. Just because Jeffrey Lynn's persona was akin to how we're supposed to think of Ashley's personality doesn't mean I think he could actually have convinced us that Scarlett would ever have fallen for him. Whereas Howard--even aging as he was--still had enormous appeal.

jwr said...

Shamus,

It wouldn't have occurred to me to make Miles an extension of either Kelly or O'Hara...I only suggest that these things seemed to occur to Hitchcock and Ford and that this seems odd on the surface given what different types they were. Although, given that O'Hara went from Hitchock to Ford and Kelly vice versa, and Miles ping-ponged back and forth, perhaps both men had more catholic tastes than they're generally given credit for.

Disagree that Miles was a lesser to O'Hara, though. Love them both as actresses though Maureen was clearly the more natural star.

(No pun intended on "catholic" btw.)

The Siren said...

Karen, you have been missed, keenly. Thanks so much for the AFI catalog snippet. Alas, I will have to find my answer as to who's idea it was for Harriet to "crawl" elsewhere. I guess I am particularly curious because of Polonsky's celebrated politics. A lot of ardently left-wing men do not walk the walk with regard to the womenfolk. I remember one close friend who was a reporter in Moscow for a few years due to fluent Russian and a deep interest and affection for the country. She told me "International Women's Day" had somehow morphed into an occasion for Russian wives to cook a big meal for the husband on his day off. But maybe it was Fox, and not Polonsky. I wanna know!

Vera Miles...well, she's in two of the greatest John Ford movies of all--and is the least interesting element in both. She's in the latter sections of Psycho, which I find almost dreary compared to the first part, and in The Wrong Man, a Hitchcock whose resurrected reputation puzzles me no end. I don't dislike her, she isn't someone whose name causes a clutch of dread or anything. But she doesn't exactly set the screen on fire, either. I never thought about what Hayward could have done with the Miles role in The Searchers, but it's worth contemplating.

I do think she's close to perfect in Revenge on Alfred HItchcock Presents.

As for GWTW, come on people. Imagine Jeffrey Lynn essaying the gentle, teasing tone Ashley has in his first scene with Scarlett, when he tells her that she cut her teeth on his heart. If that were Lynn, you'd assume she bit clean through it. Howard carries the freight of being the symbol of Southern gentility very well, and brings a breath of sexiness to a role where it sure wasn't in the shooting script.

And as for the worth of GWTW as a film, I'm kind of whomper-jawed to find that Yojimboen doesn't like Vivien Leigh in it. I've written about my own problems with it before (Leigh is most emphatically not one of them), but in its general defense I have one name: William Cameron Menzies.

Shamus said...

jwr,

I actually like Miles too: she is present and noticeable in Liberty Valance, for heaven's sake, across the barroom from John Wayne and James Stewart and Lee Marvin. I only meant she was not archetypal of Ford's women: there is no unforgettable images you associate with her, in Ford's work at least. (Lauren Bacall was archetypal of the Hawks heroine when she was only 19 and not a particularly brilliant actress.)

With Ford and O'Hara, to cite just one sublime instance, think of her wedding veil being swept in the breeze, going up up up, as she bitterly descends the church steps with her odious husband in How Green.

If as you argued, that Susan Hayward is now mostly ignored because she wan't the muse of any "pantheon" director, who crafted such indelible images about her, I can only agree.

(And, re the Catholicism of Ford and Hitchcock, it might be interesting to find compare the homosexuality underlying Rope and 7 Women.)

Pamela said...

@ Siren - yes, of course, that's exactly how I would have wanted Susan Hayward to have been!

re: Leslie Howard - according to Charlie Matthau's website, Mr Howard is allegedly the father of Carol Marcus Saroyan Matthau. Her father went unnamed in her hilarious book "Life Among the Porcupines", but there's the claim.

The Siren said...

Pamela, I've been touting the Sexiness of Leslie Howard for a while here and so far my only converts are Karen and Gloria, and they don't count because they'd already seen the Leslie Light. There's an intensity to all that feverish sensitivity that promises all manner of depravity. Plus, he was handsome. And had a beautiful voice, and I'm all about a man with a beautiful voice.

Although I freely admit that Ashley is Howard at half-wattage. To get the full effect, you definitely need Higgins, or Basil in It's Love I'm After, or a handful of others.

Karen said...

The Animal Kingdom!

Sigh.

I've seen Howard's wardrobe tests for GWTW and he looks hella old in them. Hair, makeup, and DP really did work some magic. But it's all the same to me. There's no reason to wonder why Scarlett ached for him.

I first saw GWTW when I was 8 years old, on a family trip to Miami to visit my grandmother. It was in theatrical re-release (man, remember when that was COMMON??). It blew my tiny little mind. So it's difficult for me to bring my adult critical skills to it, since it will always be tinged by the romance of that first encounter.

Thanks also, Siren, for your kind welcome back!

Rachel said...

I'll admit to a lack of fondness for Vera Miles myself but to be fair, I think neither her Ford or her Hitchcock roles really give her the kind of breakout moment you'd expect from a great star/director collaboration.

And I always thought her role in The Searchers is by far the least sympathetic Ford heroine I've yet seen. Sure she has reason to be angry and hurt but it's the terrible danger of Westerns that when men are off doing what has to be done, any woman who quite reasonably says she's fed up is likely to come off as a nag.

Miles does, however, do an excellent job in an Outer Limits episode, "The Form of Things Unknown." Taking on, of all things, the Simone Signoret role from Les Diaboliques and coming out none too badly.

DavidEhrenstein said...

Vera Miles's greatest triumph, IMO is The Wrong Man.

Abe liked Susan Hayward a lot. Spoke of her fondly.

Ava would have discombobulated Hitch. He liked cool sexuality (ie. Grace and Tippi) and Ava's as hot as they come.

I find it odd to be defending GWTW. It's a bohemoth of a film and far from a favoirte of mine for reasons too multi-facted to go into but Boy Howdy does it ever work!

My favorite GWTW experience was back in the 70's when it was given amajor theatrical re-relase. I caught at matinee at a therear on new York's west side, and the audicne was almost entirely black teenage girls playing hooky. MAN did they ever connect with Vivian Leigh!

People often forget that Scarlett is a teenager. A wilful, high-strung teenager who wants her way no matter what. Taht's how she starts and the real story is her development into an adult woman almost in spite of herself.

In the second half the film pretty much falls apart but AS GOD IS MY WITNESS Leigh is magnificent.

As is hattie McDaniels of course.

jwr said...

Just to be clear...I don't find any of Miles' main roles to be particularly warm or even likeable characters. Not for Ford, not for Hitchcock and not even for Disney. But then I also don't think any of those characters would have cared in the least what I thought--and I find it interesting that Miles played them that way. (I'd say the same about the TV episodes I've seen her in--including Revenge.)...Striving for our sympathy was evidently not her thing...I like this quality better and better for some reason as I get older...and crotchetier!

jwr said...

Interesting on GWTW...I like it a lot better than David E. does, but I had a very similar experience sitting behind two black college girls in an almost empty theater when the film was re-released in the eighties...They clearly found parts of the movie risible (to the point of falling out), but whenever Leigh or McDniel were center stage--which is, of course, most of the time--they got rather quiet and kept saying "Yep."

Shamus said...

@ Siren: re the ending of I Can Get It for You Wholesale:
Red Hollywood also devotes a segment on Woman of the Year, also (co-)written by a communist- Ring Lardner. Maybe there is a pattern. (Although Burch and Andersen are more critical of Lardner than they are of Polonsky, and for different reasons.)

But fear not: they have a remedy- Bacon's Marked Woman with Bette Davis, cited there as a proto-feminist movie for its portrayal of class solidarity and sisterhood amid the working girls. (Of course, it might be devillishly hard to get hold of a copy.)

Yojimboen said...

@Pamela – What a delightful piece of dish re Leslie Howard’s paternity polka; it’s too perfect, Ashley Wilkes, the progenitor of Holly Golightly!

Cases: Heaven forfend, chère madame, I should render anyone whomper-anything’d, I just think Ms Leigh is much better elsewhere than GWTW; by the bye, I’m long on record as praising W.C. Menzies (a child of Scottish immigrants, as if it needed pointing out, who began his studies at the University of Edinburgh), the man who invented the title ‘Production Designer’ and made Selznick, Cukor, Fleming, Wood, Vidor et al look good.

I always felt V Leigh was a bit at sea in the film; the character she reminds me most of is Jonathan Winters in The Russians Are Coming (repeat) running around screaming, “We’ve GOT to get organized!”

We have wandered afield from Ms Hayward, unfairly I think; I hadn’t remembered ever seeing ICGIFYW and (having watched it a 2nd and 3rd time) it is really as much of a revelation as advertised; so gratitude as ever is due.

Pamela said...

re: Carol Matthau:

http://matthau.com/carol-matthau/

Her mother, Rosheen, was quite the dish.

X. Trapnel said...

Poor William Saroyan, doubly screwed! (See bio for his horror on discovering Carol Marcus was Jewish). Howard parentage might have mitigated things except that the former was Steiner/Blumberg by birth. Maybe Lenny Bruce could sort this out. (Once when seeking info on Melvyn Douglas's pianist father Grigory Hesselberg I stumbled on a neo-nazi site warning aryans not to be deceived by Douglas, Howard, and others).

I am a huge Leslie Howard fan, but he does seem shackled when called on to do pipe-sucking sensitivity (cognate with the lamentable neutering of Herbert Marshall). If only he and Loy could have run off with The Animal Kingdom leaving Ann Harding to share her free spirit with Neil Hamilton.

Howard is also terrific with Joan Blondell in Stand In.

X. Trapnel said...

It just dawned on me: Leslie Howard as Walter Matthau's father in law. What a movie!

Yojimboen said...

This is getting embarrassingly incestuous. I commented here on 10/08/11:

The reason Carol gave for Marrying Saroyan twice was she couldn’t believe how bad it was the first time and wanted to be sure. The reason she gave for marrying Walter Matthau was that she simply loved to fuck him.

Pamela said...

Yojimboen:

"Life Among The Porcupines" (no matter how suspicious I am of about 99% of the stories it contains) is possibly *the* most hilarious memoir I've ever read.

Her story of Matthau & Co visiting Belsen (I think that was the camp) is absolutely hysterical. I know that's not the usual state of being associated with stories of concentration camps, but I swear it's true.

She was quite the character. I also read Matthau was fond of saying to strangers "My wife is white"...and when people would give a double-take, he'd say "No, really, she's very white and pale" (Mrs Matthau favored that Kabuki-esque look that Gloria Vanderbilt sported in the 80s.)

Anyway - I highly recommend the book.

Yojimboen said...

Pamela - I’ll trade you “Life Among the Porcupines” for the vaguely on (sub-)topic, “Scarlett O’Hara’s Younger Sister”, Evelyn Keyes’s brilliant memoir; one of my two favorite un-ghosted H’Wood actress autobiographies.
(The other, “Tallulah”.)

DavidEhrenstein said...

Life Among the Porcupines is indeed teriffic.

Carol Matthau is great in Elaine May's Mikey and Nicky

I had the indescribabale pleasure of chatting with her a number of years back when I was writing about a book on Chaplin that had just come out. She and Oona were great pals (and make an appearance in "La Cote Basque: 1965" the story from Answered Prayers that brought Truman Capote's career to a screeching halt.)

I asked her "You and Oona met in college, correct?"

Carol Matthau's reply: "Oh my dear we didn't go to college -- we went to marriage"

Pamela said...

Yojimboen:

I've read that! And thanks for reminding me about it - I think I'll re-read it!

And what the heck - totally off-topic, but another one I love is Liz Renay's "My Face For The World To See".

gmoke said...

Hmm, I wonder if anyone's read Carol Grace Marcus Saroyan Saroyan Matthau's novella based on her experiences as a foster child, The Secret in the Daisy.

One of her sons is Aram Saroyan, a poet and writer. (I thought his book on Lew Welch, Genesis Angels, was less about Lew and more about Aram but then I am inordinately fond of Lew Welch's work.)

Pamela said...

gmoke:

I have not read it, but have searched for it sporadically over the years. Thanks for the reminder!

Karen said...

Pamela, there are a ton of copies available at Bookfinder.com.

Pamela said...

Karen:

There are a number on biblio.com too, but a bit pricey. I'll get around to investing the dough at some point.

Thanks for the lead!

Pamela

barrylane said...

Hayward, because she is a Brooklynite, probably pulls this off. Dailey is good too, but only if you see a taller and better looking Billy Crystal into his performance. As for George Sanders, his casting is ludicrous. There is no one like him in and around this business. Lee J. Cobb might have been effective, or at lest someone with some ethnicity. That's what the business and part required. I suppose Richard Conte might have done. IN anay case, you are celebrating a minor picture that is about half good. The other half makes one shudder. And that's all the stuff mentioned by other posters.

The Siren said...

Barrylane: Ah, well then. Apologies for my shortcomings, including but not limited to liking the screenplay, liking the movie, writing at length about a "minor" movie and thinking it really doesn't matter if George Sanders resembles actual department-store magnates living or dead.

jwr said...

"Some ethnicity?"

Is there such a thing as a person who has no ethnicity?

mas82730 said...

Siren, is it me or is there a propensity to confuse Hayward with Gloria Grahame? I found myself thinking 'Yeah, Hayward was great in 'The Big Heat', er wait that was Grahame. Both are two tough sisters under the mink.

DavidEhrenstein said...

But Grahame had a predatory streak a mile wide. SH did not. She went after what she wanted eneregetically but not ruthlessly.

barrylane said...

JWR:

Of course there is. Somone like SAnders. By ethnicity it should be read that the meaning is first generation, upwardly mobile individuals trying to make it in the world of George Sanders. That they can't, at least during the period of Wholesale, is a part of the scenario. The part of producers had fear of.

Karen said...

Siren, some of us love what you write whether we like the movie or not. If you ask ME, every film you discuss is elevated at the very least by your treatment of it.

barrylane said...

Siren:

I like all you write and say. But having a different sort of insight isn't negative, but rather the basis for a conversation. Yes...?

X. Trapnel said...

A mile-wide predatory streak, David? Not in Grahame's two signature roles (In a Lonely Place, The Big Heat). On the contrary, I think she really had the vulnerability, slightly daft sexiness, and crazy humor wrongly attributed to M*r*l*n, evident even in The Bad and the Beautiful, It's a Wonderful Life, Odds Against Tomorrow, and Oklahoma. Susan Hayward is far more conventional, which is not to sat she lacks interest and appeal. My Foolish Heart and SH in it are all that Sarris say they are.

rcocean said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rcocean said...

While I have problems with parts of the script - the casting is perfect. When was Lee J. Cobb ever witty or classy? I thought the Sanders character is supposed to be an Upper-class type to contrast with our salt-of-the-earth Dan Dailey (Who as Siren points out Hayward returns to for no good reason).

Trish said...

I look up from beneath a days-long crushing migraine and look what I missed! What to say.... After recently reading another novel by Jerome Weidman, I also read that Polonsky threw everything out but the title in ICGIFYW. I wondered why, because "The Price is Right" is a very good book (wish they had make that movie), with the same atmosphere of men and woman trying to seize what they want now. A few other notes, I liked the dresses Ms. Hayward's character wore earlier in the film (the $10.95 dresses), that the more glam stuff she wore later on. And after recently seeing her in a series of 50s and 60s films with scenes of her hungover and howling for a drink or cigarette or someone to answer the door, she looks and sounds fabulous in ICGIFYW.

DavidEhrenstein said...

I'm thinking of Sudden Fear, X.

Also the off-screen Gloria. She liked to enrage men so they would hit her -- whcih she greatly enjoyed.

Yojimboen said...

Don’t believe everything you hear, David, and only half of what you see.
Sometimes, it really is only a movie.

barrylane said...

rcocean:

At that time in this business there isno upper class type. Cobb would have been fine. Don't like him, Morris Carnovsky, Luther Adler. Sanders played British kings, the people in the garment district, especially circa Wholesale, are eastern european jewry for the most part. The do not have Fifth Avenue penthouses, nor do they mix with the Astors and Vanderbilt types. Maybe today, not historically. In this film about upwardly mobile jewish people, the producers have used Irish Americans and English actors. No problem, if you don't take it seriously.

rcocean said...

Thanks for the response BL. To honest I don't take it seriously, its a just a movie. I understand your dislike for Hollywood's inaccurate portrayal of the 1951 Garment industry.

Well, join the club! Hollywood's portrayed a lot of cities/groups/people/ professions inaccurately.

How many people in real life are as witty as the George Sanders character? And how many can say a witty line and look as good as George Sanders?

Nobody. But thank goodness there's unrealistic film.

barrylane said...

rcocean:

That's a really good response. I like it a lot, and on that basis, agree with you.

barrylane said...

rcocean:

That's a really good response. I like it a lot, and on that basis, agree with you.

Buttermilk Sky said...

I love Leslie Howard as Henry Higgins, but he always torpedoes GWTW for me -- too English, too old. I wish they had waited a few years and cast Joseph Cotten.

And now to decipher the prove-you're-not-a-robot words -- yuck.

DavidEhrenstein said...

And sometimes a movie is a dress rehearsal for life Yojimb.