Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Hollywood Tidbits: Some Like It Hot (Part II)

The continuation from my previous entry on Tony Curtis' The Making of Some Like It Hot (2009).

One of my friends asked that I post some more bite-size quotes from the book (which I've almost completed).

* How Tony Curtis managed long hours on the set without taking washroom breaks: “I put my thinking cap on and built a funnel-and-hose thing. It went around my thigh, down the inner side of one leg, and was hidden inside the silk stocking that I was wearing. I didn’t have to stand up or sit down. It wasn’t all that comfortable, but it worked. I should have taken out a patent on it …One day Jack (Lemmon) caught me in the men’s room. I was adjusting the thing. 'What the fuck are you doing?' he asked. 'Never mind,' I answered. 'I’m inventing something.' I didn’t tell him because he might judge me. He was kind of conservative in an odd way." (p. 82)

 Billy Wilder and his perfectionism: “I remember the scene in Poliakoff’s office, the agency where Jack and I are scrounging for work. Jack got excited, and after finishing a speech with the line ‘Now you’re talking,’ he repeated the line. Billy froze. ‘That’s not how the speech reads,’ he said. Jack pleaded. It felt right to him to say the line twice. Billy walked over to Izzy (co-screenwriter I.A.L. Diamond), who was sitting a short distance away. They started talking in low tones. This went on for close to half an hour. He finally came back to us. ‘Okay, you can repeat it,’ he said solemnly." (p. 111) 

* Marilyn Monroe once took 81 takes before nailing a scene which required her to speak only one simple line - 'Where's that bourbon?' - She directed her frustration at Billy Wilder: "Jack and I were like two bad little kids in school. We wanted to laugh out loud so badly, but we had to turn away and do it into our hands. It was fucking outrageous. Next Billy tried putting cue cards inside the drawers. Even that didn't help. But he had to get the shot. There was no way to cut around it. I wish I'd bet a thousand dollars on eighty takes. It took eighty-one. 'I swallowed my pride,' recalled Billy. 'If she showed up, she delivered, and if it took eighty takes, I lived with eighty takes, because the eighty-first was very good.' Cut. Print. Faint." (p. 167). 

* Curtis always seemed to be in awe of Jack Lemmon: "I was delighted to have Jack as a costar. He could be theatrical without worrying if he was making a fool of himself. He was comfortable in his own skin. That giggle he did as Daphne wasn't just clever. It was brilliant. Jack didn't mention his personal life at work. We both came from a certain tradition. When you were on the job, you never discussed politics, religion, family or sex. It just wasn't done in those days. But when I saw him at Hollywood parties, he had a glass of whiskey in his hand and he was more forthcoming ...A lot of men who are gentle need to drink because they're embarrassed about not being cavemen. That's my theory,  anyway." (p. 159)

++ I find this passage really interesting because, if you've read the book, it's yet another example of Curtis being literally in awe of Lemmon's ability as both a comedic actor and as a human being. Curtis rarely wrote about Lemmon in The Making of Some Like It Hot (he tended to focus more on Monroe and Wilder), but when he did mention Lemmon, it was always respectful and tasteful. Curtis denied being jealous of Lemmon's talent but I wonder how true that really was because of how he writes about Lemmon -- both praising him and also pushing him into the background in favour of Monroe and Wilder. One thing I think Curtis does convey really well is the simple fact that Jack Lemmon was a class act. And Hollywood doesn't make them like that anymore. 

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