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 ‘blonde arse’: Marilyn Monroe.
You’ll be surprised at how many people still think that Marilyn Monroe invented the telephone, but it’s simply not true. In all fairness she was a dab hand with a screwdriver, but that level of technical knowledge was simply beyond her. Rather unfairly this added to her reputation as a ‘ditzy blonde’, but if I needed a set of shelves putting up, Mags was always the first girl I’d ask.
‘Measure twice, cut once,’ was her motto, and it served her well. I’ve never seen dovetail joints like Marilyn’s, and that’s coming from a man who got Lee Marvin to mend the skirting board in his spare room.
And despite her superstar status, she was really quite affordable: Danny Kaye wanted some fencing put up in his back yard and she did it for $250. That included the paint and materials!
Of course, Sidney Poitier was furious. He thought she was deliberately undercutting his prices, and ended up with a garage full of chipboard that he couldn’t get rid of. In the end he cut his losses and sold the lot to Dickie Burton at a knock down price, and he used it for the sets on Cleopatra. I think Marilyn got fed up with it all when Sammy Davis Jnr complained about the door frame she did in his dining room. It did stick sometimes, but nothing like as much as Sammy said it did. In the end she just put her tools back in the van and there they stayed. I begged her not to give up, but her mind was quite settled.
‘I’m just going to do the acting from now on Neddy,’ she said, and bless her heart she was true to her word.
Of course carpentry’s loss was Hollywood’s gain, but even when Betty Grable needed sanding down on How To Marry A Millionaire she just went back to her trailer and let the crew get on with it.
I did once see her chiseling Tony Curtis, but that’s another story…
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 ‘elfin arse’: Audrey Hepburn.
I’d just been nominated for another Academy Award, when suddenly the telephone rang. It was my agent asking if I would like to do a picture with none other than Audrey Hepburn! Normally I’d jump at an offer like that because of my tax problems, but even the mention of her name struck terror into my soul! For years Jack Warner had kept Audrey locked in a cage because she used to bite the other actors, but ever since she ate Lionel Barrymore people had been just too scared to work with her. In their wisdom the heads of the studio had decided to relaunch Audrey’s career by casting her against type as a cannibalistic serial killer with yours truly as the FBI agent on her trail in It Tastes A Bit Like Chicken. I thought that casting Audrey as a cannibal was a bit near the knuckle, but my bank manager talked me into it and I rolled up on set ready to start shooting. The crew wheeled Audrey’s cage out of her dressing room and removed the padlock, everyone stood well back, but she just lay in the corner whimpering. The poor dear obviously wasn’t well so the vet was called in and it transpired that she’d got food poisoning from Errol Flynn. They pumped her full of antibiotics and prescribed all sorts of medicine, but nothing really worked until she was offered the lead in My Fair Lady, and that perked her up no end! To my immense relief It Tastes A Bit Like Chicken was cancelled, but they did film it many years later as The Silence of The Lambs. I didn’t think Tony Hopkins was much good as Audrey Hepburn, but Jodie Foster had me down to a tee. The voice was uncanny! Apparently she was furious at having to shave off her beard to get the part, but that’s another story…
HOLLYWOOD – Sir Edwin Fluffer once again delves into his personal memoirs – soon to be published as ‘Not THAT Kind of Fluffer!!!’ – to recall the actor everyone called the ‘Matthau’s arse’: Jack Lemmon.
Barely a day goes by without someone congratulating me on my performance in The Odd Couple. I haven’t the heart to tell them it wasn’t me and so I don’t. It very nearly was me though, and would’ve been if it wasn’t for Walter Matthau.
He’d had the idea that we could reduce our not inconsiderable bar bill by drilling for gin in his back garden. No-one had ever tried it before, and after only a few attempts we found out why: it’s just impossible to find an extension cable that’ll reach from the plug socket in Wally’s kitchen out as far as the yard.
We drove around every single hardware store in the Hollywood hills trying to find one, but it was a fruitless task. Much like Claudette Colbert if you know what I mean!
In the end I cut the lead off his toaster and tried to attach that to the drill, but the resulting explosion caused me third degree burns and my best pair of eyebrows.
It didn’t help that Walter tried to extinguish the flames with a bottle of rum that he won in a tombola. We were due to start filming the very next day, but after a brief chat with the producer we decided that it would be best all round if I went to hospital instead and dear old Jack Lemmon agreed to step in at the last minute.
The Academy threatened to give him another Oscar for it, but he already had one in his shed left over from Mister Roberts.
Years later I bumped into Jack at a party and he very kindly passed me the Pringles.
But that’s another story…
HOLLYWOOD- Sir Edwin Fluffer once again delves into his personal memoirs – soon to be published as ‘Not THAT Kind of Fluffer!!!’ – to recall the dog they called the ‘barking arse’: Lassie.
Robert Mitchum had just been telling me how he single-handedly introduced the tin can to Venezuela when there was a knock at the door. The room was full of the smoke from Bobby’s jazz cigarettes so it took me a while to answer, but imagine my delight to find none other than Lassie standing in the porch!
Naturally I invited her in for tea, but there were more urgent matters at hand. Through a series of excited barks it soon became apparent that Dean Martin had fallen down a well, and it was up to Bobby and I to rescue him!
I helped Mitchum to his feet, had a quick brandy and a couple of sandwiches, and we set off to find Dino. I will be honest and say that the search got off to a slow start. Neither of us knew of any nearby wells, and we did get distracted for a couple of hours in one of my favorite cocktail bars. After a while Bobby said we should forget about the wells altogether and so we started lifting up the man hole covers from the road to see if we could find Dino trapped in the sewer system.
The traffic is quite dangerous on Hollywood Boulevard and although we did try to explain the urgency of the situation to passing motorists few if any were sympathetic to Dean’s plight. Lassie ran off as soon as the police arrived, and I regret to say that we never managed to locate Dino.
I was told several years later that in fact he was at home in bed with a slight migraine the whole time, but it’s like Lassie said: better to be safe than sorry. I wish she’d been as safe around Rin Tin Tin, but that’s another story…
HOLLYWOOD- Sir Edwin Fluffer once again delves into his personal memoirs – soon to be published as ‘Not THAT Kind of Fluffer!!!’ – to recall the an incident at the Cannes Film Festival.
Dear Debbie Reynolds,
Just back from the premiere of The Great Gatsby, and you’ll never guess who was in it: dear little Leo DiCaprio! Can’t remember what part he played and if truth be told it dragged on a little. I fell asleep before the bit where the boat sinks. Got back to the hotel and found out that some bugger had pinched my cuff links! Tell Carrie I’ve got her Duty Free, she can pay me when I get back.
Lots of love,
Dear Gerard Depardieu,
Gerry! I asked the waiter at the Gilded Cheese if you’d been in lately and he tells me you’ve chipped off to Moscow. Bloody cold I’d imagine. The sun’s out here in Cannes, and a lot of the old crowd are meeting up for drinks later. Won’t be the same without you darling, but at least it’ll give the local gendarmerie the night off. I told you they weren’t really sisters didn’t I?
Dear Gene Hackman,
We’re missing you at Cannes this year, Gene old pal. Bloody Stevie Spielberg keeps trying to catch my eye because he still wants us to do the My Own Private Idaho sequel. He’s giving me all the ‘people want to see how the characters have grown’ nonsense, but I’m not falling for that again, and neither should you. I said to give Harvey Keitel a ring, he’ll whip it out for anyone.
Ask Clint if he can pop ‘round to see if I’ve got any mail.
Dear Jack Nicholson,
Having a lovely time at Cannes this year Jacky: the Mayor says all is forgiven and we’re both welcome back any time, so that’s good news. ‘Eau under the pont’ as I told him, but I’m on best behaviour just in case. We don’t want Interpol getting snooty again. I’ve found what room Jerry Lewis is staying in, so guess who’s getting my bar bill!
HOLLYWOOD- Sir Edwin Fluffer once again delves into his personal memoirs – soon to be published as ‘Not THAT Kind of Fluffer!!!’ – to recall the an incident at the Cannes Film Festival.
Dear Kirk Douglas,
Call off the search, I’ve arrived safe and sound!
There was a bit of a kerfuffle at the airport because I couldn’t find my passport, but we finally discovered it in with Steve Martin’s banjo. Had a panic on the plane when they said we were flying to France, but it turns out that’s where Cannes is. It just goes to show, you’re never too old to learn!
Love to Mike and Cathy,
HOLLYWOOD- Sir Edwin Fluffer once again delves into his personal memoirs – soon to be published as ‘Not THAT Kind of Fluffer!!!’ – to recall the man they called the laughing arse: Charlie Chaplin.
Hollywood’s historians will always gleefully tell those tales of the silent stars whose careers didn’t survive the arrival of sound, or ‘the talkies’ as we called them. But few will ever remember those giants of the black and white movies whose days on the big screen came to an end with the invention of color.
I was one of the lucky ones: the dinner jacket I always wore while filming actually looked very smart in colour, but not everyone was as fortunate.
Dear Buster Keaton, for example, was absolutely hilarious in black and white, but in color his slapstick and general tomfoolery just didn’t come across. I personally think that audiences were distracted by his bright blue skin. The studio didn’t know what to do with him and after he turned down a lead role in The Smurfs he was never seen again.
It was a similar story with Charlie Chaplin.
In black and white he had the audience holding their sides with laughter, but in color his green skin just didn’t work. He read for both The Incredible Hulk and Kermit The Frog, but sadly lost out to slightly more emerald actors. I believe that in later years he moved to Japan and enjoyed a lucrative career as Godzilla.
But that’s another story…
Hidden Gems brings to light little known film gems which have somehow slipped through the collective cinematic consciousness. This week The Dark Knight. You’re welcome.
I’ll never forget the day Chris Nolan came into my office and said to me ‘Exec!’ he was informal like that ‘Exec! I’ve got an idea for a movie: the Dark Knight’. Of course, I thought it was going to be a historical epic. King Arthur perhaps. Or Ivanhoe. Still the kid was hot and floppy blond hair and an adorable British accent so I said okay and validated his parking. It wasn’t until a year later that I saw the finished product. The Dark Knight made no sense. ‘Where’s Batman’s origin story?’ I asked. ‘There’s a gaping hole where his parent’s funeral should be.’ ‘But we covered that in Batman Begins,’ Chris countered but I cut him off. ‘I want facts, not excuses.’ The film was dark and exciting. The action sequences were terrific and the pace kept on going. Even without the funeral, there was a chance we might make it.
However, audiences rejected it wholesale and it sank without a trace. With all the postmortems, it became clear that there was one major component that simply hadn’t worked. The villain of the piece was called the Joker, played by a young Australian actor Heath Ledger, but he was hopeless. I don’t want to sat it was his fault – the script gave him nothing – but the fact was he was not funny. A joker who doesn’t tell jokes? I mean screenwriting 101 guys. Maybe it also lagged a bit at the end and the part when Batman lies to protect Harvey Dent’s reputation made zero sense.
The film tanked and unfortunately so did Ledger’s career. At least, I haven’t seen him in anything recently. Nolan went back to England with his tail between his legs and is now directing the odd episode of Coronation Street – a soap opera set in Manchester, UK. If you can find a copy of the Dark Knight it still holds an odd ball charm and will make you wonder what the same material would have been like in the hands of someone a little more competent. A Zack Snyder perhaps.
HOW TO WRITE A SCREENWRITING – Is a new feature that will lead you through the process of writing a screenplay in the tradition of the great gurus Robert McKee, Syd Field and Damon Lindelof.
Part 1. Story – camera – action.
A man walks into a room. That’s a story! A woman eats a peach that’s too big for her small mouth. That’s a story! A dog has worms and keeps rubbing its rear end on your new carpet. That’s not a story. You just need to take the dog to the vet and buy a new carpet. The point is we are surrounded by story. Story is everywhere. It is in the food you eat, on television, in the newspapers, in the conversation of your co-workers. Story is the warp and woof (there’s that dog again) of life, the rich tapestry from whence we all come, the undiscovered country to whence we all go.
But how do I write a story? Which story should I choose? What story do people want to hear? And what’s the difference between a story in a book and a story in a building?
All these questions will be answered in this 23 part on line course on How to Write a Screenwriting. Whether you want to be the next J.K Rowling and die under the weight of all the money, or you want to be the next Charlie Kaufman and die under the weight of everyone going ‘what?’, How to Write a Screenwriting is the ONLY online resource you need as a screenwriter who wants to write a screenwriting.
Of course writing is not easy. Look at the title to this whole course that I’m writing. Have you looked? Okay, the more perceptive among you will have noticed that there is something not quite right, something that the unkind might refer to as ‘wrong’. Of course, I wanted to write ‘How to Write a Screenplay’ but I was also thinking of ‘A Guide to Screenwriting’ and so accidentally I wrote ‘How to write a Screenwriting’, erroneously combining to the two titles because I was hungry and I was thinking about dinner – I’m thinking lasagna specifically. So do I go back and change it? NO. Why not? Well, for one thing it’s more work. But the more important reason is that LIFE DEPENDS ON MISTAKES.
Think about it.
All multi-cellular life comes from errors in replication of DNA. If there weren’t any errors, if everything was perfect, then no evolution. No evolution then no complexity; no complexity, then no us. No us, no cinema. No cinema and we’re out of a Goddamned job, just because the asshole DNA worked too damned well. Perfection is the death of life and the death of story. Do you think Jonathan and Christopher Nolan wanted to write Memento? No, they just kept forgetting the story-line and had to keep going back. Do you think Larry McMurty wanted Brokeback Mountain to be a heart-breaking gay love story? No, the original novel has the two cowboys fighting but a slip of the pen and fellatio as all over the page! Do you think Quentin Tarantino meant to write The Hateful Eight? No, his original screenplay was supposed to be called The Careful Eight, but one accidental slip of the fingers and suddenly he has to write something violent to justify the wrong title.
You NEED to make mistakes. And I promise you if you follow this EXCLUSIVE online Screenwriting course, you will be making tons of them.
THE VATICAN – Sources have confirmed that Bernie Sanders will succeed Pope Francis as the leader of the Roman Catholic church.
“Bernie was at the top of our list,” said a papal spokesman:
He’s a people person, he’s down with the kids and he knows how to play the media game. Don’t get me wrong, Pope Francis was a breath of fresh air but he’s never going to go on Saturday Night Live and do a sketch with that Christ-killing Kike, Larry David.
Informed that Senator Sanders is himself a Jew, the spokesman responded:
Yeah, but we’re willing to overlook that. He looks like he could be a Catholic and let’s be honest, they’re very similar. Anyway, nobody really believes Jesus is the son of God these days, we just keep the story going because we don’t want to change our branding. I mean, imagine how much it would cost if Disney dropped Mickey Mouse as their logo and times that by thousands.
Asked what would happen if Sanders became President before he was officially ordained as Pope, the spokesman laughed:
We chatted to Bernie about that and he’s quite happy to perform both roles but he’s still undecided whether to call himself Pope President Bernie I or President Pope Bernie I. Our social media team suggested he just calls himself ‘The Bern’ so we had some researchers examine the Bible and nowhere does it say that you have to be called Pope. In fact, it turned out that the Bible never mentions the word Pope or the word Catholic which is weird. It makes you wonder if somebody just made all of this shit up!
Pope Bernie the First will be invested sometime next year.
HOLLYWOOD- Sir Edwin Fluffer once again delves into his personal memoirs – soon to be published as ‘Not THAT Kind of Fluffer!!!’ – to recall Henry Fonda.
Barely a day goes by without someone asking me what Henry Fonda was like. If truth be told he was rather like that chap in The Grapes of Wrath, just without the dungarees. He was much more likely to wear a pair of trousers, and if it looked like rain he would sometimes carry an umbrella, but apart from that the similarities were striking. They really were the spitting image of each other!
Success never really changed Henry but time did, and as the years went he rather came to resemble that man in Once Upon The Time In The West, and they both wore hats.
I once asked him where he bought them and he told me that it was in a shop. That was the kind of person Henry was: he’d do anything to help anyone. Toward the end of his life the years took their toll, and you’d easily mistake him for the old man from On Golden Pond, especially around the eyes. He had a son who was the exact spit of Peter Fonda, and rather touchingly Peter would always call him Dad, which was very sweet of him. When I think about Henry now I’m always reminded of that chap in 12 Angry Men who was sat in a room with all those men. I wouldn’t go so far to as to call Henry angry, but he could get a little disgruntled on occasion.
Of course he blew his top when I got him mixed up with the fellow from How The West Was Won, but that’s another story…
HOLLYWOOD- Sir Edwin Fluffer once again delves into his personal memoirs – soon to be published as ‘Not THAT Kind of Fluffer!!!’ – to recall Cary Grant.
Over the years I’ve been deeply honored to work with so many talented actors, some big, some small, but the only one who could convincingly pull off both was the wonderful Cary Grant.
The first time I saw ever saw Cary he was standing on the opposite side of that giant parking lot at Warners.
‘It can’t be him’ I thought, ‘he looks tiny!’
But as he walked toward me something happened that I can only describe as magical. With every step he appeared to get taller and taller until by the time he was stood next to me shaking my hand Cary Grant looked every inch of his full six feet. I was gobsmacked!
‘How did you do it I Cary?” I asked.
‘What, this?’ he grinned, and as he walked back to his car again he got smaller and smaller.
‘See you on set Neddy!’ he shouted and I was left there dumbstruck.
Over the years this little routine became Cary’s party piece.
We’d marvel at his height over cocktails, then he’d say ‘right, watch this,’ open the patio doors and walk down to the end of the garden. By the time he got to the fence he’d become a fraction of his normal size.
Myrna Loy went to her grave convinced it was witchcraft, but over a particularly fine brandy late one night Cary let me into his secret. It turns out that before he left England for Hollywood he was in the circus, and Cary had picked up this trick from an old gypsy lady in return for a ten bob note. On a visit back to Blighty I did try to track her down, only to discover that she’d passed away many years before and taken her secret with her.
I was eventually charged with three counts of grave robbing and the studio had to hand over rather a rather large sum of money to get them dropped, but that’s another story…
HOLLYWOOD- Sir Edwin Fluffer once again delves into his personal memoirs – soon to be published as ‘Not THAT Kind of Fluffer!!!’ – to recall Bruce Lee.
Hugh Jackman, Cate Blanchett, Dame Edna Everage, you can’t throw a boomerang on a film set these days without it hitting an Australian.
Dear little Barry Luhrman even made a picture about them called William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, but years ago you couldn’t get an Australian actor for love nor money.
Skippy The Bush Kangaroo was fine for a frothy romantic comedy, but put him in a costume drama and he stuck out like the proverbial sore thumb. Admittedly his Mr Darcy in Pride and Prejudicewas the exception to the rule, but I still thought you could see his tail.
My favourite Australian actor was a lovely chap called Bruce. He did a lot of these martial arts movies, and when he wasn’t giving one of the extras a roundhouse to the face you couldn’t hope to meet a nicer chap. I used to visit him on set and he’d be having a barbecue with Charlie Norris, but as soon as the director shouted ‘action’ he’d jump up and start kicking everything in sight. That was Bruce for you!
He cleverly masked his Australian accent by getting a lot of his dialogue dubbed, and to this day I don’t think that people ever really knew that he came from the Land Down Under.
He showed me his nunchucks once, but that’s another story…
HOLLYWOOD – Sir Edwin Fluffer once again delves into his personal memoirs – soon to be published as ‘Not THAT Kind of Fluffer!!!’ – to recall King Kong.
After Hedda Hopper every actor’s worst enemy is typecasting.
I lost count of the number of friends who enjoyed a big hit only to see their careers go straight down the lavatory never to work again. Just look at King Kong. Don’t get me wrong, he thoroughly enjoyed all the trappings of his success, the mansion house, the fast car, the women, but deep down I think he would’ve swapped the lot for another shot at the big time.
We all tried our hardest for him, but nothing seemed to work out. Chuck Laughton managed to wangle him a few days on Mutiny on the Bounty, but King got seasick and it affected him quite badly. He kept climbing to the top of the mast and swatting at the seagulls as they flew past and in the end they had to let him go.
It was a similar story on Casablanca. Every time Bogie tried to say goodbye to Ingrid Bergman at the airport King would run in, pick her up, and start attacking the plane. For me his finest performance will always be when he played Rod Steiger in In The Heat Of The Night. The Academy Award was the industry’s way of saying thank you for trying, but by then his best years were behind him. He saw out his last days on the golf course with Bing Crosby, and although there was some talk of an album of duets I don’t believe that anything ever came of it. He read for the Cookie Monster on Sesame Street and roles like that, but by then he’d got mixed up with the Scientologists and there was a furious row with Big Bird about his addiction to prescription painkillers.
But that’s another story…