Ali MacGraw & Robert Evans

Robert Evans bought the rights to the novel The Great Gatsby in 1971, his intention being to have his wife Ali MacGraw play Daisy. A shooting script was not quite ready yet, so Ali went off to star in The Getaway (1972) opposite Steve McQueen who was recently separated and free. Whilst making that picture the two co-stars fell in love and she left Evans for McQueen whom she later married. Throughout The Getaway Ali visibly wore a Cartier love bracelet that had been a gift from Evans. He angrily gave the Daisy role in The Great Gatsby to Mia Farrow who wrote that she could not create any on-screen chemistry with her co-star Robert Redford because he was totally absorbed in the Watergate scandal that was rocking Washington at the time.

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Mel Brooks bought the rights to the book ’84 Charing Cross Road’ for his wife Anne Bancroft on her birthday one year. She and Anthony Hopkins would star in the 1987 film of the same name, although they did not share a single scene in the entire picture. The two main characters, Helene Hanff  (Bancroft) and Frank Doel (Hopkins), began corresponding in 1949 and continued to do so until Frank’s death in December 1968. Helene eventually made it to 84 Charing Cross Road in the summer of 1971, only to be greeted by an empty premises. She was still alive when the movie was made but passed away in 1997.

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Michael Caine as Pte. Lockyer in A Hill In Korea (1956) 

After watching the finished film of A Hill in Korea (1956), Michael Caine’s agent Jimmy Fraser promptly dropped him as a client. ‘If I didn’t dye my fair eyelashes and eyebrows’, Caine recalled Fraser advising him, ‘I’d never get anywhere. In the few scenes of mine that had survived the cutting room, I was terrible. Not that anyone much ever got to see it. With superb timing it was released the night we invaded Suez.’ Quite a few TV appearances and the occasional tiny movie role would ensue, but it would take another eight years before Michael’s breakout role (at 31) in Zulu (1964).

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Robert Shaw as Quint in Jaws (1975) 

Any list of the great moments in movie history would be incomplete (in my opinion) if it did not include Robert Shaw’s chilling account of the sinking of the USS Indianapolis, in Jaws (1975), and the nightmarish days and nights that followed as the survivors fended off attacks from hundreds of ferocious sharks. Shaw’s gripping performance, especially in this particular scene, is one of the most watchable pieces of acting in all cinema history, yet he received no recognition for it. None, whatsoever. He was not nominated for a Supporting Actor Academy Award or Golden Globe. In fact, George Burns was handed the Best Supporting Actor that year for The Sunshine Boys. Perhaps, the Academy members thought he was on his last legs. As it happened, he lived another two decades before reaching 100 years of age, then dying a month later.

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Director Cecil B. DeMille became enraged when his leading lady, Paulette Goddard, flat out refused to have fireballs thrown at her in a scene from his 1947 movie Unconquered. He was forced to use a stunt woman who, incidentally, was burned in the process. Five years later DeMille got his revenge when he turned down Paulette’s acceptance of a key role in his big movie The Greatest Show on Earth (1952) and replaced her with Gloria Grahame. Gary Cooper was 46 years old and in poor health when he played a young frontiersman in Unconquered. Heavy makeup was used to disguise his advancing years but it could not hide the obvious. This was his last film for Paramount after 20 years at the studio as a contract player.

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The major studios would not provide the proper funding for Kevin Costner’s 1990 western Dances with Wolves. They were against the picture having about 25% of its dialogue in a language other than English. Consequently, they hated the inordinate amount of sub-titles needed. Third, they thought the movie was far too long and fourth, it was a western! Costner himself had to make up the shortfall in the $18 million budget. To the astonishment of his detractors, the film was a massive box-office success and even took home the Oscar for Best Picture. Furthermore, his share of the returns totalled about $40 million!

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Ronnie & Nancy campaigning for Governor of California

President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on Friday, 22 November, 1963. All parties in Los Angeles were cancelled that weekend; but not the Sunday, 24 November party at the home of Ron and Nancy Reagan. ‘Why would we cancel our party just because John F. Kennedy died?’ she asked. ‘Don’t be silly.’ When she answered the doorbell to admit guests, she greeted them with: ‘There’s to be no discussion of you-know-what. And I mean no discussion whatsoever.’ The sight of Reagan, John Wayne and Robert Taylor raising their glasses as if nothing had happened, un-nerved some of the guests who quietly left early.

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Arnold Schwarzenegger was paid US $15 million for his role in Terminator 2: Judgment Day. He only spoke a total of 700 words of dialogue in the entire film. That worked out at $21,429 per word. For instance, ‘Hasta la vista, baby’, earned him a lazy $85,716. By comparison, James Cameron received only $5 million to direct the picture.

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Director Joel Schumacher did not enjoy being at the helm of Batman Forever (1995) after Tim Burton dropped out. ‘Jim Carrey was a gentleman’, he recalled, ‘but Tommy Lee Jones was very threatened by him and very condescending and cruel. He was very dismissive. Indeed, Jones made a point of telling Carrey that he hated him and his films.’ To the surprise of most people on the set, Val Kilmer (Batman) and Carrey became friends during filming, the two men bonding over the recent deaths of their fathers. Had Burton been retained to direct, there is every chance that the role of The Riddler might have gone to his first choice, Mickey Dolenz of the Monkees! After Burton withdrew, Warner Brothers asked Robin Williams if he was interested in the role. He categorically refused them. Robin was still bitter about being used by the studio as bait to lure Jack Nicholson into the part of The Joker in the original Batman in 1989.

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Peter Lorre

Peter Lorre was born in Hungary in 1904, but raised near Vienna from the age of four. In 1931 he came to prominence portraying the psychopathic (yet pathetic) child-killer Hans Beckert in Fritz Lang’s classic feature titled simply M. He left Vienna for Paris and then London when the Nazis came to power in 1933. Lorre landed a role in Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much a year later. Speaking almost no English, he had to learn most of his lines phonetically.




  1. I’ve read Ali McGraw’s memoir and she’s a good writer. She also has a fine eye for interior design (which became her career after she left the movies). But I think Mia Farrow knocked the role of Daisy Buchannan out of the park. Farrow, too, writes very well and in her memoir she lets the world know that she’s aware of how crazy she can be. (Salvador Dali apparently informed her of this.) I found myself bored by The Great Gatsby, both the novel and the original film. However, I believe Gatsby introduced us to Sam Waterston as Nick, and also gave the world the line said by the chronic liar Jordan Baker, “It take two to make an accident.”

    • We are in agreement again, Max. I have always felt that Mia Farrow was under-rated as an actress. If she had not got involved with sleazy Woody Allen she might have become an even bigger star. ‘The Great Gatsby’ bored me senseless, also. I have not read Ali’s memoirs.

  2. Reagan was one of the worst POTUS we have ever suffered through.

    Sally Field did a movie with Tommy Lee Jones and found him a very difficult & threatening actor to deal with at the time.

    Joel Schumacher’s direction on the Batman films he did were horrible. He made the films silly,camp,& ludicrous.

    Arnold spoke 700 words of dialogue in Terminator 2?

    Ali looks stunning in her dress.

  3. 84 Charing Cross Road; I loved that movie! A story about an intimate
    relationship of two people who never met in person. Please, please,
    I beg! NO MORE RON AND “MOMMY.” What’s with Ali MacGraw
    “stuffed” in that dress. [Evans probably doesn’t mind.]

    • Ha! Fair enough, Shiela. As you can see, I had no time for the Reagans at all and I got a little carried away with all the stuff I was digging up about them. But I’m over them now. No more Ronnie and Nancy, I promise. As for Ali, I never saw her as a screen goddess at all. Never. More of a ‘girl next door’ type.

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