HIDDEN GEMS: 22. PSYCHO

Hidden Gems brings to light little known film gems which have somehow slipped through the collective cinematic consciousness. This week psychological thriller ‘Psycho’. You’re welcome.

Despite being English and fat, Alfred Hitchcock was actually a highly regarded director in his time. Alfred what cock? you say. Yeah, I know. He has a kind of porn-y name, but believe me, hundred of years ago people liked his movies. Now, alas, no one except me knows who he is. So why don’t you dust off this totally unknown thriller and see what lies beneath?psycho

Psycho starts with a robbery. Janet Leigh is Marion Crane, an employee who absconds with a wadge of cash from work and runs away to be with her lover. Along the way she stops at an old empty motel in the pouring rain. Here she meets Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), a lonely young man under the thumb of his mother. What happens next is scarier than a lift from Ted Bundy. And it all happens in the shower. The shower? What could be scary about a shower? you say. That’s where I go to get clean. Well, you won’t think about it the same way once you’ve seen the film.

Although no longer talked about the film was actually a hit when it came out. There were a number of sequels and Gus Van Sant even made a shot-for-shot remake called Milk.

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SIR EDWIN FLUFFER RECALLS REHAB

 HOLLYWOOD – Survivor from the Golden Age of Hollywood, Sir Edwin Fluffer, reflects on the going to what insiders refer to as ‘the rubber arse’, AKA rehab.

After the wrap party for Apache Chaps Go Hell For Leather the judge made it a condition of my bail that I go to one of those drying out clinics for an extended lie down. To be perfectly frank one wasn’t looking forward to it all that much, but as soon as the studio said they’d pick up the bill I grabbed my toothbrush and headed out the door.

If truth be told I was still a bit pissed when I got there, largely due to the fact that I bumped into Errol Flynn on the way, but they checked me in and showed me to my room. It wasn’t unpleasant, and the flowers on the mantelpiece were a nice touch. They died as soon as I drank the water in the vase, but the receptionist said she’d send up more.
I’d describe the catering as ‘nutritional’ if you know what I mean, and the wine list was frankly appalling.  After a few minutes I decided there was only so much fun you could have on your own with a toothbrush, so I went out into the corridor to knock on a few doors and see what the other guests were up to. Not much as it turns out. Jiminy Cricket had done nothing since Pinocchio, and Bambi’s mum hadn’t worked in two years. I didn’t even recognise Dumbo The Flying Elephant. His boyish charm had been worn away by years propping up a bar on Hollywood Boulevard. He’d lost his teeth and tried to retain some dignity by wearing a pair of fake tusks; it was tragic really.
But it was the Tin Man I felt most sorry for. Apparently his oil can was always full of scotch, and they’d had to break his fingers to get it out of his hand. By that stage I couldn’t take any more. The bars on the windows wouldn’t budge an inch, but then I remembered that lovely scene which was sadly cut from the final edit of Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal, and I managed to smuggle myself out in a laundry basket.
I still think that that movie would’ve got the critical attention it deserved if they only kept the scene of me and Death playing Twister. But that’s another story…

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HIDDEN GEMS 21. BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN

Hidden Gems brings to light little known film gems which have somehow slipped through the collective cinematic consciousness. This week SILENT movie ‘Battleship Potemkin’. You’re welcome.

I know what you’re going to say, ‘Urgh! I hated Battleship’. Fair enough. It was awful, even for Peter Berg, but did you know it was a remake of a Russian movie? No. Well, welcome to the best kept secret of the former Soviet Union.

Battleship Potemkin tells the story of Battleship and a revolt that takes place after they find that the bread is full of maggots. The officers are all absolute douche bags and when they order the soldiers to shoot the men, a general riot breaks out on-board the ship. The people in the port of Odessa support the mutiny but then Tsarist soldiers, like assholes, massacre them on the Odessa Steps. This is the heart of the movie, and a moment when a baby in a pram runs out of control down the steps is unbelievably good. One criticism might be that this part seems to be directly lifted from Brian DePalma’s Untouchables. It’s a niggle. I know.

Director Sergei Eisenstein was not only a great director but also discovered the General Theory of Relativity. Potemkin clocks in at just an hour fifteen minutes, a whole hour under Peter Berg’s Battleship. Which could be why Eisenstein is still respected for his editing and Berg isn’t.

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SIR EDWIN FLUFFER RECALLS ORSON WELLES

HOLLYWOOD – Survivor from the Golden Age of Hollywood, Sir Edwin Fluffer, reflects on the man Hollywood used to call ‘the intellectual’s Fatty Artbuckle’: Orson Welles.

Returning home from a weekend’s scuba diving with dear old Charles Laughton, I was overjoyed to find a new script waiting for me on the doormat.  Actors can be superstitious old buggers at times, and I’m afraid that I’m just as bad as the rest of them.  Gary Cooper would always insist on doing his initial read through standing on one leg. We used to call him The Stork, until a nasty fall meant he had to have a hip replaced.
 
The first thing that I do when presented with any screenplay is to have a good look at the title:  always have done and always will do! The title will often give you invaluable clues as to what the picture is actually called, and it’s not at all unusual for the name of the film and what it’s called to be exactly the same.  The next thing I do is look to see if Anne Baxter’s in it, and if she is I throw it in the bin! Better to be safe than sorry! After that I may pop out for a quick drink, and the next time I look at the script isn’t until the first day of shooting. Spencer Tracy would spend literally minutes going over his lines, and I personally believe this robbed his performances of all their spontaneity. 
 
The majority of actors, directors, producers and crews I’ve worked with don’t really agree with me on this point, but like I always tell them, you can’t rush perfection. Anyway, this particular script actually looked quite promising. It was called Citizen Kane which I thought was a great title and Anne Baxter wasn’t in it, so that was a bonus! Unfortunately the weekend scuba diving had left me with a nasty case of the bends so I had to pass, and as far as I know the picture never got made.  It was a terrible shame as I’d been led to believe that in one scene Agnes Moorhead would do a dance number with some of the Smurfs, but that’s another story…

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SIR EDWIN FLUFFER RECALLS ACTING IN THE THEATER

 HOLLYWOOD – Sir Edwin Fluffer returns just in time to cast his gimlet eye over the dream factory of Hollywood, turning his attention specifically to the place actors call ‘the wooden arse’: the theater.

There comes a time in every actor’s life when the work dries up and you have to tell everyone that you want to return to your first love, the theatre. Friends will be terribly supportive, but in all honesty it is what Audrey Hepburn used to call ‘a massive fricking ball ache’.

Theatre directors will absolutely insist you know all the lines off by heart and you have to work nights. The money’s not nearly as good as the movies either, but they’ve got you by the short and curlies and you pretty much have to take whatever crumbs fall from the table. It’s either that or television. I still remember when Sam Peckinpah fired me from The Wild Bunch because I swore at Ernie Borgnine and I was forced to do a play to clear my bar tab at the Garrick. It was one of those Shakespeare jobbies, all thee-this, thou-that, and forsooth-the-other; so naturally I assumed it was Hamlet and rolled on to stage for my big entrance only to find it was King Lear

The whole thing had the potential to go tits up, but I’d spent an entire afternoon trying to learn the words and I was determined to have a go. 
In the end the critics were not very kind, but they didn’t hold a grudge and gave me a Tony to make up for it. At the ceremony I dedicated the award to Van Heflin after he bet me $20 I wouldn’t get the word ‘flange’ into my acceptance speech. 
But that’s another story…

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SIR EDWIN FLUFFER REMEMBERS FILM DIRECTORS

HOLLYWOOD – Sir Edwin Fluffer returns just in time to cast his gimlet eye over the dream factory of Hollywood, turning his attention specifically to the figure insiders call ‘the pointy arse’: the Director.

Of course, many actors will tell you that what they really want to do is direct, and some of them are jolly good at it too: The Cable Guy by dear little Benny Stiller has got to be one of my favourite movies of all time! I never once imagined that I’d end up behind the megaphone myself, but when the chance came I seized it with both hands. The fee was simply huge, and having appeared in several of Bobby Altman’s films I thought it would be money for old rope and I was right.
Some people have written entire books to explain their theories about how directors work, but it really is quite simple. All you need is an attractive young lady in a nice frock, turn the lights on so everyone can see her, and that’s it! You really can’t go too far wrong. 

I was fortunate to have the divine Jane Fonda as my leading lady, and she was good enough to wear her own clothes, so that helped ease the pressure on the budget that I’d accidentally spent entirely on champagne. We managed to film the whole thing in a single morning which was quite fortunate as I was meeting Jessica Tandy for lunch and neither of us were fit for anything once we got on the brandy. 
We allowed a good half an hour for editing and post production, and I sent my tuxedo off to the dry cleaners ready for a star studded premiere followed by drinks and a game of Twister. To this day it remains a great sadness that we were never able to find a distributor with the foresight and vision to risk their shirt on a theatrical release, but when it went straight to video Jane Fonda’s Workout was the most enormous success. We did talk about a sequel, but sadly nothing ever came of it. The idea was that Jane Fonda’s Leotard League would see her team up with Diane Keaton and the one out of The Golden Girls who I thought was a bloke, to play a crack squad of crime fighting aerobics instructors.
But that’s another story…

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HIDDEN GEMS: 20. THE SHINING

Hidden Gems brings to light little known film gems which have somehow slipped through the collective cinematic consciousness. This week ‘horror’ film: The Shining. You’re welcome.

Man with family stays in snowbound hotel for the winter and can’t write a book. I know. Doesn’t sound like a great film, does it? Would it help if I told you that the film has some of the most revolutionary trike shots in the history of film? No, probably not. Shelley Duvall is in it. Still not interested? Jesus.

Based on a book by an American writer called Stephen King, The Shining was so poorly received even Stephen King, the writer, came out publicly to denounce the film as ‘an unflushed toilet’ in his essay ‘Supernatural Fiction (and Shit I Think)’. Director Stanley Kubrick had given up directing. He’d moved to England and was hosting a popular chat show for the BBC called ‘Parkinson’ when he read the novel. He immediately saw the potential for a hilarious comedy. He told Jack Nicholson: ‘It’s about a bad writer, who becomes a bad ax murderer.’ Jack Torrance, the murderous novelist, is terrible at killing people, repeatedly bested by his child and wife. The only victim he manages to kill is a man who can see into the future who is worse at seeing into the future than Jack is at killing people with an ax.

The film is neither scary nor funny, but a weird amalgam of the two.  It was released to huge indifference and Kubrick went back to being a TV chat show host and never made another film again.

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DENTIST TO THE STARS: 1. GARY BUSEY

HOLLYWOOD – Malvin Putobis, Dentist to the Stars, lifts the lid on the pearly whites of Gary Busey.

Hi! My name is Malvin Putobis and I am Dentist to the Stars. I can’t tell you how much time I’ve spent inside the mouths of the rich and famous. Drilling here, polishing their, occasionally (sniff) extracting. My best pal the Studio Exec asked me if I could reveal some of the secrets about my famous clients. Immediately I said, ‘No f*cking way!’ Then he mentioned money and I said:

When Gary Busey first came into my office I said ‘it’s Xmas, or Hanukkah!’ Who cares! It’s great news. Gary has what we in the trade call ‘Table Top Joke Store Teeth’ because the upper set so closely resemble those teeth that you wind up and send across the dinner table to break the ice at parties. Point Break, Big Wednesday and various tabloids have all featured these gnashers in full throttle. It makes you feel sorry for food.

Gary needed another dentist. Rumor had it the last one had lost an arm. No one knew exactly how.  I decided to have a look inside with the swanky little mirror on a pole that we dentists call ‘the mirror’. What secrets would be revealed? Well it turns out Gary had a little spinach behind there that had been there since 1989. I say spinach, it was a vegetable plot. Once that was sorted out I polished away and looked busy. Gary seemed happy enough jawing away. Mainly maligning John Wick, someone he seemed to think was real. ‘And to think I almost got wasted by that asshole!’ he concluded.

I told him to floss and he seemed happy with the work. He ran his big pink tongue over the enamel and let out a howl of something close to ecstasy.

Next week, Mila Kunis.

SIR EDWIN FLUFFER RECALLS MARLON BRANDO

HOLLYWOOD – Sir Edwin Fluffer returns just in time to cast his gimlet eye over the dream factory of Hollywood, turning his attention specifically to what insiders call the ‘Big Fat Arse’: Marlon Brando.

Of all the neighbours I’ve had in the Hollywood hills the worst was undoubtedly Marlon Brando. It wasn’t the noise from his late night parties or continually having to return his ball after he kicked it over the hedge. What did for my nerves was that blessed lawnmower.

Brando was richer than a Roman Emperor, but I’ll tell you this now: he’d skin a fart to save a penny. Of course it was Chaplin who introduced the ride on mower to California, and by the weekend we all had one. Even Carole Lombard got one and she only had a patio! 

But Brando insisted on still mowing his lawn with some old piece of junk he’d found in a skip. His estate must’ve run to several hundred acres and it’d take him weeks to cut it. Once he’d finished it was time to start all over again! 
I’d look out of my window in the morning and see him pushing that old thing through the grass and my heart would go out to him, but even when Vincent Price said he’d pop over with his strimmer he said no and carried on. 
It was years later that I found out the reason why he wouldn’t let us help him. Once he’d cut the grass he’d rake it all up, and sell it to Lloyd Bridges for his horses.  Bridges told me he only paid 15 cents a bag, but Gary Cooper said it was nearer 20. I’d like to say that Brando gave the money to charity but he didn’t. Most of it was lost bailing himself out of an arms deal in Botswana that went very badly wrong. He showed me some of the letters and the whole thing was a terrible mess, but then he’d wink at me and say ‘never mind Neddy! I’ll be alright while I’ve got my lawnmower!’ 
He also had a rare white shark that he kept in his garage, but that’s another story…

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HIDDEN GEMS: 19. THE GRADUATE

Hidden Gems brings to light little known film gems which have somehow slipped through the collective cinematic consciousness. This week The Graduate. You’re welcome.

The oldest student in the world falls for the youngest MILF. Then falls for her daughter. Nope, this is not a porno, but an amazing comedy from the 1960s starring Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft and Katherine Ross. Hoffman plays Benjamin, a student who has his whole life ahead of him and yet no apparent wish to set off. The grotesqueries of middle class America – ‘Plastics!’ – and his own family don’t help. Until he meets and begins an affair with Mrs Robinson. Mike Nichols’ coming of age sex comedy is full of awkwardness and embarrassment as Benjamin finds himself in the midst of an affair and at the same time falling for his lover’s daughter, Elaine Robinson. This is a world on the cusp of change. Age against youth, the 60s sideswiping the 50s. Perhaps, it was too daring for the time. Simon and Garfunkel provide a stunning soundtrack of folk pop. The duo were never heard of again. After a career of disappointments, Hoffman would finally catch a break and receive long-overdue fame for Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium.

For more Hidden Gems CLICK HERE.

HIDDEN GEMS: 18. BAMBI

Hidden Gems brings to light little known film gems which have somehow slipped through the collective cinematic consciousness. This week Bambi. You’re welcome.

Of course we all know that cartoons can’t be films. Not really. Those assholes at Pixar have tried to convince us otherwise. But we all know. That thing with Tom Hanks’ voice isn’t really. Ity’s just a picture. And so it goes. Before Pixar there was a studio called Disney started by Walt Disney, a guy famous for being not too keen on the Jews. But when he wasn’t not liking the Jews he was also busy drawing pictures of shit. One day he’d been trying to draw a mouse but kept fucking up the hand, not getting the right number of fingers. He knocked the whole pile off the desk and as they fell to the floor he noticed that the different pictures fluttering in sequence looked like motion. ‘Money!’ he shouted.

Bambi was one of his first movies and nobody has ever seen, but it is really worth hunting down. Oh, shit that’s actually not appropriate given…

So, Bambi tells the story of a deer, like the animal, growing up in the forest. His friendships with the other animals, evading the dangers of fire and hunters, dealing with parental death and it’s for kids. I know a cartoon about animals. No wonder it flopped. The film is beautiful to look at and really moving. Years later Michael Cimino was to remake it but from the perspective of the hunters. His film was a disaster because he tacked on a load of stuff about the Vietnam War. Disney disowned it in the end.

So Bambi. Give it a chance. Not bad.

For more Hidden Gems CLICK HERE.

SIR EDWIN FLUFFER RECALLS LEE MARVIN

HOLLYWOOD – Sir Edwin Fluffer returns just in time to cast his gimlet eye over the dream factory of Hollywood, turning his attention specifically to War Movies.

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that war can be an utterly ghastly affair. It really does have a tendency to drag on a bit. That said war movies can be very jolly indeed. I’ve been in more than I care to remember, and would’ve starred in The Dirty Dozen as well if they hadn’t already hired too many actors. I said they should just change the name to The Filthy Thirteen, but the studio wasn’t interested.

War movies are a bit like actual wars really in that ideally you want to end up on the winning side. When you get the script have a flick through, and if you have the line ‘for you my friend ze var iss over’ or anything like that then you’re in trouble. The best thing to do is find someone in the costume department and bung them a few quid in the hope they’ll give you the other team’s uniform. It worked for Gary Cooper in Sergeant York, that’s all I’m saying.

There’s also a fair chance that you’ll have to do a bit of marching. This isn’t as difficult as it sounds as long as you can remember the hokey-cokey! Basically there’s a chap at the front with a moustache, you all line up behind him, and he starts shouting out the moves. When he says ‘left’ you put your left leg in, when he says ‘right’ you put your right leg in, and you just carry on from there really. Burt Lancaster was a lovely marcher, despite his many failings as a human being. His secret was he had not one, but too wooden legs. He’d screw them on, the director would shout ‘action’ and he’d go for miles! The rest of us would have trouble keeping up! It was a great sadness that he got set upon by a family of beavers, ending an otherwise glittering career. To this day I still maintain that he could’ve marched in the Olympics he was that good.

The finest war movie ever made has to be Pearl Harbour, and were Stanley Kubrick alive to have seen it I know he would’ve agreed with me. It was my idea to cast the late Elizabeth Taylor as Pearl, and for my money it was one of her very finest performances. Goodness knows how many hours she had to spend in make up, but it was worth every moment, and with characteristic grace she refused to be credited for the role. We all laughed when she insisted on being paid in bitcoins, then we found out that the fortune she made from that was what funded her fracking operations in the North Atlantic.

But that’s another story…

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SIR EDWIN FLUFFER RECALLS CHARLTON HESTON

HOLLYWOOD- Sir Edwin Fluffer once again delves into his personal memoirs – soon to be published as ‘Not THAT Kind of Fluffer!!!’ – to recall the actress they called the ‘Holy Arse’: Charlton Heston.

Years ago Technicolor was quite the in thing and I was all for it. I know that Spencer Tracy wasn’t a fan, but that was only because it made his knees look silly. There was a time when if you were filming a biblical epic it had to be in Technicolor, or Charlton Heston would refuse to have anything to do with it! 

They were lovely pictures to make, even if they all ended up as long as the Roman Empire, and if truth be told they weren’t really that difficult. All you had to do was put on a toga, swap your brogues for a nice pair of sandals, and remember to say ‘aye’ instead of ‘yes’.
To this day I’ll still tell anyone who’ll listen about the time we were standing at the bottom of a mountain waiting for Heston to make his was back down with the Ten Commandments, and I bet Yul Brynner $15 that he wouldn’t be able to remember them all. He got stuck after the first three and started blabbering on about guns instead, and poor old Yul had to pay up! 

The only bit I didn’t enjoy was the chariots, because as soon as Heston got behind a horse good manners went out the window and he’d start racing around like a mad man and try to knock you over. I was also in that one with Betty Taylor where she played Cleopatra, what was it called? Memory falters. 

During the death scene I had a lovely bit of comic business where it was revealed that I was terribly afraid of the asp, and my delivery of the line ‘why did it have to be snakes?’ brought the house down! Sadly the film was already running at over three weeks long and my part ended up on the cutting room floor, but when I suggested to little Stevie Spielberg that he use it in Raiders of the Lost Ark he jumped at the chance. Spielberg repaid the favour by casting me as Harrison Ford’s father in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, but I had to let Sean Connery have the part after I broke one of his golf clubs. 

Incidentally it was my idea that he should have a bash at a Scottish accent in The Untouchables, but that’s another story…

SIR EDWIN FLUFFER RECALLS INGRID BERGMAN

HOLLYWOOD- Sir Edwin Fluffer once again delves into his personal memoirs – soon to be published as ‘Not THAT Kind of Fluffer!!!’ – to recall the actress they called the ‘Swedish Tractor’: Ingrid Bergman.

Of all the beautiful women I’ve stared at while they weren’t looking, Ingrid Bergman was the most beautiful of all. No-one else has ever lit up the screen quite like her, but to be perfectly honest with you, her table manners were never anything short of appalling. I once saw her eating peas with a knife, and we used to dread it when they served soup in the canteen as the noise was truly disgusting. Gregory Peck would bring in ear plugs. Things came to a head when shooting one of those Alfred Hitchcock films that she was always in, and the studio was forced to feed her from a trough next to the bins. Then seeing her make short work of a couple of turnips gave me an idea…

With Bing Crosby’s help I herded her into my car and we headed off for the woods. As soon as I opened the door Ingrid caught the scent and was off! It was all Bing and I could do to keep up with her, but then she stopped, snuffled around beneath a tree, and uprooted the biggest truffle you ever did see!

It was enormous!

Lou Costello had just opened a new restaurant and we sold it to him for a pretty penny with the promise that he’d take as many as we could find. We were onto a winner and no mistake!

Sadly Bing and I lost all the cash when Ingrid sued us over the film rights to the story, but there were no hard feelings and she ended up with Academy Awards coming out of her ears. We tried to make some of the money back by milking Frank Capra, but that’s another story…