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.
“If you saw me in The Adventures of Marco Polo,you belong to a very exclusive club.”
“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.”
“……FOUR FRIGHTENED PEOPLE was the only De Mille picture that ever lost money, and I was in it – up to my shoulders.”
“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.”
” 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.”
” 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.’ “
FRED ZINNEMANN :
“The Member Of The Wedding is both my favorite film and my biggest flop.”
“Sylvia Scarlett was a disaster…..at least the audience had sense enough not to go.”
“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.”
“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!”
“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.”
“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.”
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.”
“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.”
Anyone care to disagree (or agree) with any of the comments?