Directors’ cuts

By Ronald Constantino

MAN BEHIND – Then and now, in Hollywood and elsewhere, local cinema included, the man behind the camera calls the shots. “Camera, action, cut” he (or she) shouts. Highspeed dwells on Hollywood’s directors’ cuts.

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Directing Marilyn Monroe was like directing Lassie. You need 14 takes to get one right. – OTTO PREMINGER
As a beauty, Dolores del Rio is a class with Garbo. Then she opens her mouth and becomes Minnie Mouse. – JOHN FORD
I’ve directed some pretty tough customers, John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, and Ronald Reagan among them. But the toughest star I ever directed, in a film titled “Jinxed,” was Bette Midler. – DON SIEGEL

I introduced Kate Hepburn to the screen…At the end of shooting of “A Bill of Divorcement,” Kate had it with John Barrymore (who had exposed himself to her). To his face, she told him, “Thank goodness I don’t have to act with you anymore.” He answered, “I didn’t know you ever had darling.” – GEORGE CUKOR

Gable (Clark) had only one rule. He always quit at five – I think so he could start drinking. Gable was quite a drinker. In the evening he was a very heavy drinker. As a matter of fact, he once told me that if he couldn’t drink he’d as soon die. – EDWARD DMYTRYK

I’ve finished directing Jane Fonda and Robert de Niro in “Stanley and Iris.” Reporters ask me what it was like, working with these two big stars. Was there temperament? I tell them, “You want temperament, ask me about my last movie, “Nuts.” It started Barbra Streisand, who also produced it. They ask me, “Was she tough to work with?” I tell them, “Don’t ask me. Ask my predecessor – the director she fired…” – MARTIN RITT

You work with a young star, a budding star, a potential star, and just because you’re a director you’re supposed to know who has star quality, who’s going to be the next big tornado. It’s not always easy to spot star quality, to recognize a star – a lot depends on whether the studio agrees with you and agrees to give someone the star buildup.

It’s easier to recognize who doesn’t have star quality, who’s going to be a working actor or a secondary actor.

In “Rebel Without a Cause,” I saw that Natalie (Wood) had strong possibilities; limited talent, but a star buildup would take her far. Sal Mineo had star possibilities, too, but only into his 20s, say. Dennis Hopper. He’d already worked with me before, but his eyes are too empty, his lips are too tight. If he stays in the business, he’ll keep working, but he won’t be a star.

With Jimmy (Dean), the star quality’s there , hitting you in the face. But it was obvious, too soon, that self-discipline and self-nurturing were out of his reach. Star quality in and of itself is not a guarantee, is not necessarily a positive thing. – NICHOLAS RAY

(Source: “Hollywood Babble On” by Boze Hadleigh)

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