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Samuel Goldwyn – Goldwynisms, real or orchestrated?

March 12, 2015 // 2 Comments

  The most surprising thing about movie producer Samuel Goldwyn is that he had nothing at all to do with the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) studio and its pictures. In 1917, while he was still Samuel Goldfish, he joined with brothers Edgar and Archibald Selwyn to form Goldwyn Pictures Corporation. He liked the combination name so much that he renamed himself Samuel Goldwyn. Funnily enough, had he [...]

HUGH GRANT – The jury’s still out.

March 11, 2015 // 0 Comments

While making the enormously successful film Four Weddings and a Funeral (1993), Hugh Grant, its male lead, privately stated that in his opinion the picture was just plain ‘awful’. Andie MacDowell got the female lead at the last minute after it had been turned down by both Melanie Griffith and Brooke Shields, but she liked the picture and agreed to take percentage points in lieu of a straight [...]

CHARLIE CHAPLIN – An over-sexed genius.

March 10, 2015 // 0 Comments

For many of Charlie Chaplin’s peers his seemingly effortless grace, style and timing were a wonder, but a source of much frustration. ‘The son of a bitch is a ballet dancer’, wailed comedian W. C. Fields after watching The Great Dictator (1940). ‘He’s the best ballet dancer that ever lived and if I get a good chance, I’ll strangle him with my bare hands’. Chaplin’s comedic gifts [...]

Clark Gable – the King?

March 3, 2015 // 4 Comments

    Clark Gable befriended people he thought could benefit his career. He even married a couple of them. When he arrived in Hollywood in the mid 1920’s he brought with him his much older wife, his acting tutor Josephine Dillon. He quickly ditched her for the equally older (but considerably wealthier) Ria Langham, whom he proceeded to cheat on as well with several young stars and [...]

MICHAEL CAINE – A movie-making machine?

March 2, 2015 // 0 Comments

  Thirty year-old Michael Caine went to London to audition for the role of Private Henry Hook in Zulu (1964), but was informed on his arrival that it had already gone to Cockney actor James Booth. As an afterthought the producer asked him if he could do an aristocratic accent for the much larger part of Lieutenant Bromhead. He could, and was given the second lead in what turned out to be a [...]

JAMES STEWART – Feet of clay? Surely not.

March 1, 2015 // 15 Comments

    Even though he earned an architectural degree at Princeton and was very intelligent, Jimmy Stewart’s favourite method of relaxation on the set was to read Flash Gordon comic books. Away from the set he was, according to legend, considerably more active. His name has been linked, in fact, over the years before his marriage to no fewer than 263 of Hollywood’s glamour girls. How [...]

Brad Renfro – a wasted life

February 28, 2015 // 0 Comments

  Brad Renfro in The Client ( 1994 ) Author John Grisham did not want a professional Hollywood child actor, complete with phoney southern accent, to play the pivotal role of Mark Sway in The Client (1994). Enter the 11 year-old unknown Brad Renfro from Memphis, Tennessee. His only acting experience was in a school production, yet he beat out thousands of contenders for the part, including [...]

BUD ABBOTT & LOU COSTELLO – Not all laughs?

February 28, 2015 // 4 Comments

  Abbott & Costello in Buck Privates ( 1941 ) Bud Abbott ( 1895 – 1974 ) Lou Costello ( 1906 – 1959 ) Before running off to try his luck in Hollywood, Lou Costello was an amateur boxer in his home town of Paterson, New Jersey, fighting under a fake name so his mother would not find out. He won 32 consecutive victories before being knocked out one night. When Bud Abbott and [...]

RICHARD HARRIS – Hell raiser supreme.

February 27, 2015 // 0 Comments

    Richard Harris’s violent temper and manic drinking bouts were legendary in Hollywood. In fact, it was generally accepted by most producers that the signing of the wild Irishman for any picture meant adding a further week onto the shooting schedule, simply to allow for days lost through his bingeing. Not that he was the worst offender in that regard. Richard Burton’s signing [...]

Sean Penn – an enigma?

February 26, 2015 // 0 Comments

    Throughout the entire two-month shoot of Fast Times at Ridgemont High in 1982, Sean Penn insisted on remaining in the Jeff Spicoli character on and off the set. He immersed himself in his character’s persona and refused to answer anyone unless they called him Jeff. Even his message bank was subject to the same conditions. One day, while sitting around waiting to shoot a scene, he [...]
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