LONDON – Max Gash, supporting actor of a thousand films, tells the story of the Richard Burton classic The Medusa Touch.
The Medusa Touch. 1977 was an odd year. Something called Punk Rock Music was making ears bleed and for the first time ever garlic was imported into England. I shared a small bedsit with star of television Leonard Rossiter. At this time Rossiter was already a household name with his situational comedies, Rising Damp and The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin. He’d even worked with Kubrick but the fact was he was tighter than gnat’s chuff and so rather than getting a place of his own, he dossed with me, living exclusively on a diet of fried egg sandwiches, which he referred to why I’ll never know as “Banjos”.
I bumped into Richard Burton at the Pick n Mix in the Camden Woolworths. His fist tightly gripped a bunch of pear crops. ‘Ah Max!’ he said. I hadn’t seen him since we were in Where Eagles Dare and frankly I was surprised he recognised me, though in that film he had stabbed me in the neck and we had a laugh when he’d accidentally got the stage knife mixed up with the real one. He must have remembered because there was a hint of guilt in his eyes. ‘You working?’ he said.
The secret – learned from no less a talent as Michael Crawford – was never to come out and say no. ‘This and that,’ I averred.
Burton told me he had a part for me. A supernatural yarn called Whoopee! It’s Satan, they were filming in Elstree and on location in Kent. I only had a few days to prepare, but the part seemed substantial. Jack Gold was the director who I’d work with again on Escape to Sobibor. He rushed me through make up and at 8 o’clock in the morning I found myself on set, wrapped in bandages and hooked up to medical machines. Over the next few days it soon became clear that Burton had pulled a fast one. I was essentially body doubling the Welsh bastard while he got a snoot full in the adjacent hostelries. Every now and again he’d come in and sit off camera and say things like: ‘I shall bring the whole edifice down on their unworthy heads.’
Jack knew a dirty trick when he saw one and invited me to the wrap party. Munching on what the caterers had boasted was the largest scotch egg ever attempted, I bent an ear to Jack’s complaints about the production and the title Whoopee! It’s Satan, which he confided that he secretly thought was complete twat. Catching an eyeful of Lee Remick, who was pogoing to Kenny Nolan’s I like Dreamin’ and wanting to change the subject I said, ‘Did you use her much?’
Obviously the Scotch Egg filter in my mouth distorted my words out of all recognition.
‘The Medusa Touch!?’ Jack shouted. ‘Why that’s fantastic!’
And that’s how The Medusa Touch got its title.
Max Gash is currently appearing on ITV 4.
HOLLYWOOD – Shia LaBeouf and Jude Law are set to star in a Len Wiseman remake of the Second World War classic Where Eagles Dare, set to start filming in April 2019.
The action-packed snow-bound reboot will see Shia LaBeouf take the role Shaffer played by Clint Eastwood whereas Jude Law takes on the mantle of Richard Burton as Major Smith.
Len Wiseman ‘director’ says that the film will be an improvement on the original.
It’s like what we did with Clash of the Titans, which was basically a pile of embarrassing crud buckets. We always make a big show of loving the original and blah blah blah but we always and I mean ALWAYS think the original was a crock. Otherwise, why make a new one? Right?
Jude Law also took shots at the original: ‘The acting isn’t up to much. When you think about it, you have a great story and then who do you have as the main character Droney Dicky Burton. Even on a bad day I could shit Richard Burton. And Shia has already proved he’s a thousand times more charismatic than Eastwood.’
What do you think? Is everyone’s favorite Christmas war movie really a load of old piss flaps? Will Shia LaBeouf overtake Clint Eastwood as America’s most iconic leading man? Is Jude Law on drugs?
Where Eagles Dare will be released in 2020.
HOLLYWOOD- Sir Edwin Fluffer once again delves into his personal memoirs – soon to be published as ‘Not THAT Kind of Fluffer!!!’ – to recall the luminous Grace Kelly.
The number one rule of this business that I still lovingly call ‘show’ is dignity at all times. Whether one’s helping Richard Burton wipe the vomit from his shoes or lending Ollie Reed a handkerchief in order to wipe his vomit from somebody else’s shoes, one must maintain certain standards.
If Grace Kelly calls you a talentless self-serving ignoramus you rise above it. If she accuses you of being too drunk to remember your lines you ignore her. If she throws an ash-tray at your head you just duck and try your best to continue with the scene.
We were starring together as a husband and wife team of architects in Dial C For Corporate Manslaughter when darling Grace made her feelings for me quite clear. I was obviously smitten with her, and I still like to think that despite her protestations she felt the same.
Unfortunately her husband took an instant dislike to me and in retrospect I can hardly blame him. Some of my language toward him could be described as a little on the coarse side, and challenging him to an arm wrestling competition was not a wise move. He beat me soundly and when I suggested best out of three he had me deported. I thought ‘Prince’ was his first name, but it turns out that Prince Rainier III was in fact his official title, and to this day I am still not welcome in Monaco.
A few months later Lloyd Bridges and I were expelled from Argentina as well, but that’s another story…
October 1st, 1966
I was in London seeking financing for my one man production of 12 Angry Men when I caught sight of a disheveled Dick Burton struggling to urinate up a Mayfair telephone box. Continue reading “THE ORSON WELLES DIARIES V”
Hollywood is a beautiful town, full of beautiful people and Lee Van Cleef. But it has its ugly side and the name of that ugly side is prejudice. George Kennedy has warned me not to speak out. ‘Neddy,’ he said, ‘don’t bite the hand that feeds you,’ but something must be said and I’m the man who’s going to say it. I’ve seen racism and I didn’t like it. I’ve regularly been accused of sexism. But there’s a new ‘ism’ that we must get some do-gooder, maybe George Clooney, to organize a telethon about, and that is ageism. My name is Sir Edwin Fluffer, and this is my story.
Whenever I get a phone call from my agent, Julius ‘Gripper’ Levy, I’m always filled with excitement unless it’s about one of my ex-wives wanting money. This time he had an audition for me. ‘It’s based on a book,’ he said. ‘There’s no script as such, but lots of nudity.’ It sounded quite arty to me and already I could hear dear Tommy Hanks saying those immortal words ‘and the Academy Award goes to…’. The picture was called Fifty Shades of Grey, which is exactly the sort of project a veteran of stage and screen like myself should be involved in after missing out on both The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Quartet. I rolled up to the audition ready to give them the first act from my one man-touring version of Chicago, but before I’d even said a word the producer took one look at me and said that word every actor hates to hear: next! I just picked up my trousers and left.
I don’t mind not getting the part, even if ‘Twinky’ Redford ends up doing it. I don’t mind that I could hear them sniggering and saying ‘wasn’t that Edwin Fluffer?’ as I left. But I do mind not even being given the chance to show them what I could do. After all the years I’ve given to this industry I thought that common courtesy was the least I deserve, but apparently I was wrong. I’ll bounce back, like I bounced back after they got Dick Burton to replace me in Cleopatra. And next time I won’t get mad, I’ll get even.
I got mad when Paul Newman ate the boiled eggs I’d brought for my lunch on Cool Hand Luke, but that’s another story…
The new made-for-television movie Liz and Dick is set to challenge Showgirls as the film that people will pretend to like as camp but just find horrendously bad and think maybe they should be doing something else with their lives and isn’t the world, when you come to think of it, full of enough pain and suffering without adding this kind of drudgery to it.
It stars Lindsay Lohan as Elizabeth Taylor (an accomplished actress) and Grant Bowler as Richard Burton (an accomplished actor) and yet there seems to be a problem.
Charting the couples impetuous affair from their meeting on the set of Cleopatra on, and featuring hootingly bad dialogue, the Lifetime production has been widely and deservedly panned. The idea that Lohan’s own upended career could in anyway make her comparable to the iconic Taylor was one that should have been drowned in the Martini from whence it was born. Our very own Sir Edwin Fluffer has had to retire to his bed chamber having watched what he called ‘a travesty of a farce of two travesties of a mistake’. Avoid like an STD.