MOVIE TRIVIA – PT61.

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Jane Wyman & Ronald Reagan

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Lew Ayres & Jane Wyman in Johnny Belinda (1948)

Ronald Reagan married Jane Wyman in 1940, but by the time she made Johnny Belinda (1948) she wanted out. She was tired, she said, of her husband’s incessant talking, for one thing. Her unutterable boredom was palpable to everyone around them. When she started a love affair with her Johnny Belinda co-star Lew Ayres, Ronnie very publicly gave her his permission. ‘The trouble is’, he explained, ‘she hasn’t learned to separate her work from her personal life. Right now, Jane needs very much to have a fling, and I intend to let her have it.’ It was more than ‘a fling’. She told Gregory Peck that she quit Reagan because, ‘I just couldn’t stand to watch that damn King’s Row one more time’. Ronnie had one of the second leads in the picture and insisted on showing the film in its entirety after every one of the couple’s dinner parties since 1942! When reporter Jim Bacon asked her about Reagan as a lover, she replied: ‘He’s about as good in bed as he was on the screen.’

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Sean Connery & Desmond Llewellyn in From Russia With Love (1963)

Desmond Llewellyn was the gadget man ‘Q’ in seventeen James Bond films from 1963’s From Russia with Love until Desmond’s final appearance in The World is not Enough in 1999. Back in 1940 he had joined the Royal Welsh Fusiliers and was sent off to France where he was captured by the Germans and spent five years in a POW camp. Eventually, he was liberated by the Americans. Llewellyn’s acting career was the antithesis of spectacular until he gained world-wide recognition as ‘Q’. Shortly after a book-signing in 1999 he was killed in a head-on car crash with another vehicle. He was 85.

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Errol Flynn & Olivia De Havilland in Captain Blood (1935)

 

Warner Bros. took a huge risk with Captain Blood (1935), spending a whopping (for then) $1 million on the production, yet casting two unknowns, Errol Flynn and Olivia De Havilland in the lead roles. They would go on to co-star in nine movies, making them one of the most enduring screen couples in Hollywood history. It seems hard to imagine now, but Flynn was so nervous in his early scenes that director Michael Curtiz had to re-shoot them all later when Errol had finally attained an acceptable level of confidence. A notorious prankster, he once secreted a snake in Olivia’s underwear, which she discovered when she went to put them on. She resisted his advances off-screen, aware of his notorious reputation as a debaucher.

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Joan Crawford circa 1945

Joan Crawford had only recently joined Warner Brothers when the studio decided to toss her into Conflict with Humphrey Bogart in 1943. Jack Warner felt it would be a fine ‘first film’ for the studio’s latest acquisition, so he sent her the script for appraisal. She read it and ordered her agent back to Warner with a message: ‘Joan Crawford never dies in her movies, and she never ever loses her man to anyone!’ Alexis Smith inherited the role and the picture was eventually released in 1945.

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007 escaping through the moon landing set in Diamonds are Forever (1971)

In the 1971 Bond film Diamonds are Forever, Sean Connery as 007 makes his escape through a ‘moon landing’ movie set. The moon buggy involved was discovered rotting in a Kentish field in the 1990s and completely restored in 1993 by the James Bond International Fan Club. In 2004 it was auctioned at Christie’s and purchased by Planet Hollywood Las Vegas for $44,000. When the picture was shot back in 1970, there was considerable speculation that the real moon landing of July 20, 1969 had been faked on a movie set. The producers of this Bond film chose to take advantage of the publicity this rumour had engendered.

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Anna Lee in King Solomon’s Mines (1937)

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Anna Lee as Sister Marguetta in The Sound of Music (1965)

If you ever happen to see the 1937 version of King Solomon’s Mines with Cedric Hardwicke in the Allan Quartermaine role, you might notice pretty Anna Lee playing opposite him as Kathy O’Brien. Fans of The Sound of Music (1965) will recognize her at once as Sister Margaretta, possibly the most memorable of her 123 screen credits. She was also Lili Quartermaine in TV’s General Hospital. Anna passed away in 2004 at the age of 91.

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Jerry Lewis and his wife Patti Palmer

Jerry Lewis admitted to an interviewer that he had led a lifetime of infidelity. ‘No different from anyone else in Hollywood’, he explained, ‘except I was a little busier’. He liked to compare his sex drive with that of JFK whom he met back in the fifties when the future president was just another politician with an outsized libido. Lewis once joked that after sleeping with Marilyn Monroe he was ‘crippled for a month.’ He confessed that his 36 year marriage to Patti Palmer was marred with infidelity. ‘This is when I’m fucking everybody in Hollywood’, he candidly admitted. His most famous son, singer Gary (of ‘Gary Lewis & the Playboys’), had no time for his father. ‘Jerry Lewis is a mean and evil person’, he told Contact Music’. ‘He was never loving and caring toward me or my brothers. He’s more worried about his career and his image than his own family.’ Jerry died at 91 in 2017.

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Stanley Holloway (L) & Rex Harrison in My Fair Lady

Rex Harrison was not a very nice man and had a notorious reputation for treating fans rudely. One night, after a stage performance of ‘My Fair Lady’, an old woman, standing alone in the rain outside the stage door, approached him and asked for his autograph. ‘Sod off!’ was his heartless response, whereupon she rolled up her program and struck him across the face with it! Actor Stanley Holloway (Alfred Doolittle in the play and picture) witnessed what transpired and sarcastically commented: ‘For the first time in theatre history the fan has hit the shit!’

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Edward Woodward (L) & Bryan Brown

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John Waters as Captain Alfred Taylor

It might surprise Australian students of military history to learn that, whereas the movie Breaker Morant (1980) focused on the trial of three Australian soldiers, Morant, Handcock and Witton, in real life there were six defendants on trial for their lives back in 1900, the others being a Lieutenant Harry Picton, a Captain Alfred Taylor and Major Robert Lenehan, the commander of the Bushveldt Carbineers. Picton was found guilty of manslaughter and discharged from the army. Taylor had a very bloody history in both the Boer War and the Second Matabele War, accused repeatedly of murder, genocide and cattle theft, yet he got off on a technicality, the implication being that his status as a proper British officer saved him from the fate that befell Morant and Handcock. John Waters portrays him in this film.

 

6 Comments on MOVIE TRIVIA – PT61.

  1. I was also going by Sterling Hayden’s comment about Crawford.
    I saw both Mildred Pierce, and Baby Jane. Whenever I saw Nancy
    Reagan, she always appeared “plastic.” Don’t know anything about
    her personal life.

    • You’re right, of course, Shiela. Hayden HATED Crawford; said there was not enough money in the world to make him work with her again. I know Nancy Davis/Reagan’s life story very well. One of the most detestable people in the history of American politics, in my opinion. The fact that so many White House staff wrote derogatory books about her speaks volumes in itself. Kitty Kelley’s biography is a real eye-opener too, but there are a LOT of other sources about Nancy Davis – pre-Reagan and with Reagan. She appeared to love him, but she was such a two-faced faker – well, who really knows what she truly thought of him. She certainly pulled his strings.

  2. Everyone who has ever written about Joan Crawford has attested to her absolute professionalism on screen, except when she was ill. Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance reported that when Crawford guested on The Lucy Show she was falling down drunk all during rehearsals for the episode, and Ball considered firing her at the last minute. However, the second the studio audience appeared, Crawford shone, making her marks and saying her lines with perfect comedic timing. She also danced the Charleston on the show. Some feat for “a drunk.” Further, it seems to me that Joan Crawford was far more versatile than ever given credit for. (Consider The Women, Sudden Fury, Mildred Pierce and Baby Jane…she even did well in Trog, an insult by ANYONE’S standards.) Maybe she was difficult to work with; maybe she had what are nowadays known as STANDARDS. I’ll bet money on the latter. Whenever I come upon someone who thinks of Crawford as some forties glamour gal, I sit them down and we watch SUDDEN FURY and everything clicks. She thought her range was limited–maybe–but within those boundaries she went deep and for the jugular.

    • I just replied to Shiela’s comments on Crawford, Max, and I stand by what I said there. She was a pro who lived for her career and her image. I never liked her films when my folks dragged me along to the movies each week to watch her quite often, but that was because I was not into film noir and black and white melodramas as a kid. I wanted cowboy and war pictures (like most little boys back then), but as I got older I reluctantly started to alter my opinion of her.

  3. Great comment by Jane Wyman about Reagan in bed! Perhaps Nancy
    wasn’t fussy. Joan Crawford; so “special.” I suspect she may have
    been unpleasant to work with.

    • It appears that Jane REALLY disliked Reagan by the end of their marriage, Shiela. Nancy, however, worked to an agenda and set her sights on him as a future husband, especially after he became president of the Screen Actors Guild. The governorship of California must have been a real bonus to Nancy, but I doubt if even she had thoughts of the Presidency of the United States until years later. I truly detest her. She was a tramp, a schemer, greedy beyond belief, and a hypocrite of monumental proportions. As America’s First Lady she was a disgrace. Joan, on the other hand, called a spade a spade. No false fronts for her. Her reputation was savaged by Christina’s book, and opinions still vary over its accuracy. Joan’s career plan was simple. Get to the top and stay there as long as possible. At least it was a plan that never varied.

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