HOLLYWOOD TALKS TURKEY

This 1989 book by Doug McClelland is full of funny and reflective  comments from film makers on the films considered flops when they were first released.
Here’s a selection from this great book.

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GARY COOPER:
          “If you saw me in The Adventures of Marco Polo,you belong to a very exclusive club.”

 

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EVELYN KEYES:
The Prowler was the best film I ever did, a well thought out, well constructed script. Dalton Trumbo wrote it ,but I didn’t find that out for 20 years because he was on the political blacklist. I had a small interest in the picture, but I never saw a nickel…..it flopped.(director) Joseph Losey had to move to Europe to work.”

Evelyn Keyes, Van Heflin.

Evelyn Keyes, Van Heflin.

CLAUDETTE COLBERT:
“……FOUR FRIGHTENED PEOPLE was the only De Mille picture that ever lost money, and I was in it – up to my shoulders.”

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JUNE ALLYSON:
“Even Richard (husband Dick Powell) opposed me violently when I decided to make The Shrike. All my advisors said no.
But it was a challenge I could not resist. For years I had been the perfect wife: to Jim STEWART, to Alan Ladd, to Van JOHNSON, Bill Holden, even on the screen to Dick Powell.
And now, in The Shrike, I would be far from the perfect wife. I would indeed be a monster of a wife….
As it turned out, the picture was a wonderful flop…..it was fun, and I even dreamed vaguely of an Academy Award.”

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CARY GRANT:
”       I got an Oscar nomination for playing a poor Cockney in None But The Lonely Heart, but it wasn’t the big acting – what do they say today? – ‘stretch’ that critics seemed to think.
I flt closer to that guy than to most of the well turned-out characters I was known for.
No-one came to see the picture though, so I got back into my tux FAST.”

Ethel Barrymore, Cary Grant.

Ethel Barrymore, Cary Grant.

LORETTA YOUNG:

            ” Born to be Bad was written for Jean Harlow….. I was absolutely disastrous as a man-chaser……I still remember one review which read, ‘Born To Be Bad. It is.’ “

Loretta Young

Loretta Young

FRED ZINNEMANN :
           “The Member Of The Wedding is both my favorite film and my biggest flop.”

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KATHARINE HEPBURN:
                    “Sylvia Scarlett was  a disaster…..at least the audience had sense enough not to go.”

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JOAN CRAWFORD:
“Everyone was out of their collective minds when they made Ice Follies of 1939. Me,Jimmy Stewart and Lew Ayres as skaters – preposterous. A dancer I am, a skater I’m not; whenever I couldn’t fake it or use a double, I skated on my ankles…..it was a catastrophe. The public thought so too.”

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ROBERT MITCHUM:
After the preview of Desire Me,I sneaked out with my coat collar turned up. I didn’t want to be recognised – angry ticket-buyers might have stoned me!”

Robert Mitchum

Robert Mitchum

WALTER PIDGEON:
Years later we brought the old girl ( Mrs.Miniver) back to kill her off in The Miniver Story.She died at the box office too.”

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HAROLD ROSSON:
“I Take This Woman was with Spencer Tracy and Hedy Lamarr
So much footage was shot and thrown out and shot again that wags were calling it I Re-Take This Woman.
As far as audiences were concerned though, it was strictly I Forsake This Woman.”

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ROSALIND RUSSELL:
I’ll match my flops with anyone….The Guilt of Janet AMES I rarely mention except in an inaudible whisper. And The Casino Murder Case, I don’t mention even in a whisper.”

Paul Lukas.Rosalind Russell

Paul Lukas.Rosalind Russell

BARBARA STANWYCK:
“Cattle Queen of Montana! Dreadful! Awful! You wonder how such a thing could happen.The answer is simply I made a horrible mistake…..you sign to do a picture without even having seen a completed script…… But you do your best and privately hope that nobody goes to see it.”

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Anyone care to disagree (or agree)  with any of the comments?

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7 responses »

  1. Well, me and my mum were in the very exclusive club who saw The Adventures of Marco Polo. I think she thought it would be educational for her younger son. And I agree with Evelyn Keyes about The Prowler: a great little movie. Some of the others I now very much want to get hold of: Desire Me and especially The Shrike.

  2. Good for your mum!
    Seems funny that a film like The Prowler wasn’t appreciated at the time of release.
    Desire Me isnt as bad as they say, just bad casting and location.
    Can’t wait to see June Allyson as the wife from hell!

  3. Desire Me isn’t that bad of a film, nor is I Take this Woman though Tracy seems a bit uneasy around Hedy. The Prowler is a great film noir-my husband was glued to the tv as I watched it and he’s not as much a movie fan as I am. I also now want to see June Allyson as the wife from hell!

  4. It does seem silly to include The Prowler in this book, even if it did lose money when it was released.
    We all want to see The Shrike!

  5. I’m in the Marco Polo club. Basil was good! As for Mitchum’s comment. He leaves himself open on that one with a play on words. “Stoned” being the obvious. I’ve heard that the Prowler is quite good and it’s in my pile. I’ll have to get to it.

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