Jermy Brett in My Fair Lady (1964) and as Audrey Hepburn’s brother in War and Peace (1956) Bill Shirley & Mary Costa as Prince Phillip & Princess Aurora
English actor Jeremy Brett was cast as Nicolai, the brother of Audrey Hepburn’s character (Natasha) in War and Peace (1956), because producers felt her bore a strong facial resemblance to her. Jeremy was an accomplished horseman. In the film, if you look closely, you will notice that only he of all the stars is aboard a real horse. Audrey, Henry Fonda, Mel Ferrer and May Britt are all clearly mounted on mechanical ones. Brett was also in My Fair Lady (1964), this time as Audrey’s suitor Freddy Eynsford-Hill. His singing (‘On the Street Where You Live’) was dubbed by Bill Shirley, the same man who provided the vocals for Prince Phillip in the 1959 Disney feature Sleeping Beauty. Mary Costa provided the vocals for Princess Aurora.
Diane Lane and Amanda Plummer Christopher & Amanda Plummer Diane Lane
The 1981 western Cattle Annie and Little Britches is worth seeing, simply because it stars two actresses who would later go on to feature in some exceptional movies. Cattle Annie is played by 23 year-old Amanda Plummer (the daughter of Christopher Plummer of The Sound of Music fame). She would later play Honey Bunny in Pulp Fiction (1994). Little Britches is portrayed by 15 year-old Diane Lane whose future screen credits would include Lonesome Dove (1989), Unfaithful (2003) and Under the Tuscan Sun (2004). Interestingly, cast and crew were filming at John Wayne’s ranch in Durango, Mexico when they learned of his death in Los Angeles. They held a one-minute silence in his honour.
Alex Karras & Susan Clark Alex as Mongo in Blazing Saddles (1974) Susan in Coogan’s Bluff (1968)
The 1971 western Skin Game starred James Garner and Lou Gossett Jr and featured the lovely Susan Clark as Garner’s love interest. She also starred opposite Clint Eastwood in Coogan’s Bluff (1968) and fans of Porky’s (1981) will recall her playing the hooker Cherry Forever. For 32 years (until his death) she was married to former Hawkeyes champion footballer and minor movie star Alex Karras, a man who achieved legendary status as Mongo in Blazing Saddles (1974) when he punched out a horse!
Claudia Cardinale Gayle Garnett
The exquisite Claudia Cardinale was one of the stars in the successful 1963 film The Pink Panther. Part of her earthy sex appeal can be attributed to her rather deep voice and charming accent, yet it is not her voice we hear in the picture. Claudia’s Italian-French accent made her difficult to understand so New Zealander Gale Garnett dubbed her throughout. Miss Garnett enjoyed vocal success in 1964 when her own composition ‘We’ll Sing in the Sunshine’ made it to number 4 on Billboard in the United States.
In the 1983 feature The Right Stuff, there is a sequence in which the seven actors portraying the original seven Mercury astronauts were required to participate in a ‘lung capacity’ contest. Each man had to blow into his own individual tube and endeavour to keep toy balls suspended in the beaker. The actors themselves soon became highly competitive as each tried to outlast the others. Who do you think won? Of the seven only one (Dennis Quaid) was a non-smoker. And he outlasted the others because of this.
Charles Dance (Errol) & Greta Scacchi (Diana) in White Mischief (1987) Jock Broughton & his wife Diana the victim Lord Errol
It was not until the 2007 suicide of Isabella Blow, the grand-daughter of Sir Henry ‘Jock’ Delves Broughton, that author Christine Nicholls chose to release new evidence she had gathered about the 1941 murder of Josslyn Hay, the 22nd Earl of Erroll, in Happy Valley, Kenya. The 1987 feature film White Mischief left the details of the crime unanswered, but Miss Nicholls has since written that Jock Broughton hid in the back of Erroll’s car after he dropped Broughton’s wife at his home, then shot his victim in the head a short way down the road. Athan Philip, a doctor neighbour of Jock’s who was in need of money, was paid to collect him from the murder site and take him back home. Broughton was tried for the murder but found not guilty. A year later he took his own life.
Alison & her father
Listed among the credits for Absolute Power (1997), playing an art student in the opening scene, is the name Alison Eastwood. Her father Clint has the lead in the picture and directs it as well. In 2011 she dropped a bombshell when she told The Sunday Times that Clint had fathered eight children by six different women! Now 88 years old, his youngest child, according to Alison, is 21. Her mother is Maggie Johnson, his first wife. Alison posed nude for Playboy in February 2003, having overcome a drug and alcohol addiction in the nineties that saw her placed on three years’ probation for drunken driving. She has openly acknowledged dating both men and women, and once had a 31 year-old boyfriend when she was barely 16.
Victoria Shaw in Alvarez Kelly (1966) Victoria and her husband Roger Smith
In the disappointing western Alvarez Kelly (1966), the role of Charity Warwick is played by Victoria Shaw, an Australian actress discovered by Bob Hope when she was modelling in her hometown of Sydney, New South Wales. He invited her to America where she met and married Roger Smith, one of the stars in the popular TV series 77 Sunset Strip. The marriage bore three children but ended in 1965. Smith then met Ann-Margret and married her in 1967.
A screenwriter emerged in the nineties who has given political features a whole new style. The brilliant Aaron Sorkin first grabbed our attention with his screenplay for A Few Good Men (1992), followed by Malice a year later. Spielberg asked him to polish the Schindler’s List screenplay that same year and he followed that with the memorable script for The American President in 1995. Aaron polished The Rock (1996), and both Bulworth and Enemy of the State two years farther down the track. Other outstanding screenplays include Charlie Wilson’s War (2007), The Social Network (2010) and Moneyball (2011). And for TV fans he churned out The West Wing in 1999. What a fabulous writer.
Hal Holbrook as ‘Deep Throat’ Mark Felt
Much of the discussion about the 1976 feature All the President’s Men centred around the identity of ‘Deep Throat’, the informant who met with Woodward and Bernstein in an underground car park and provided them with clues about the level of government involvement in the Watergate affair. It was not until 2005 that ‘Deep Throat’ finally revealed his identity. The former Deputy-Director of the FBI, 91 year-old Mark Felt publicly acknowledged that it was he who blew the whistle on President Richard Nixon and his cronies. Bob Woodward and the Washington Post confirmed his statement. Actor Hal Holbrook was chosen to portray him in the movie because he (supposedly) bore a strong resemblance to Felt at that time. Personally, I cannot see it at all.