Monday, January 11, 2010

Studio Stories I

For the unfamiliar, a "reveal" in screenwriting parlance is the placement of key, revelatory information in a story. Most times, the last reveal is the most important revelation of all.


This is the first in an irregularly recurring series I’ll call Studio Stories. If it sounds oddly familiar, it’s because it is directly inspired by Scott Myers’s great blog, Go Into The Story and his regularly recurring Hollywood Tales series. I feel there’re enough of these to go around, and I have gathered enough to get a series started.

They are not meant to compete directly with Scott’s series, and will not appear as regularly as do his. If any of these repeat something Scott has already done in months or years past, it is unintentional. But to avoid that, I will conduct a review of all of Scott’s Hollywood Tales posts to prevent such a thing.

I’ve been coming across such recollections since well before blogging existed, and I’ve been looking for a way to work them in to my (otherwise, mainly) opinion-based blog. These will generally be shorter than my usual 1500-3000 word posts. I will, on occasion, comment on them when I have something to say. So, here’s our first Studio Story:

Film director, Irving Rapper, who lived to just 27 days shy of 102 years of age, and was one of the last surviving directors from Hollywood’s golden era (b. 1898, d. 1999; High Sierra, Juarez, Dark Victory), tells the story of choosing Ernest Haller as his cameraman for Deception which starred Bette Davis:

“Ernest Haller (was)... very concerned with making the stars look beautiful... Five days after we started, (Ms. Davis) said, ‘Have you seen the rushes (previous days’ film)?’ I said, ‘Of course, I see them every day.” And she said, ‘What do you think?’ And I said, ‘Bette, you’re giving a marvelous performance.’ And she replied, ‘I’m not talking about my acting. How do I look?’ ‘Bette,’ I told her, ‘you sound like Paulette Goddard. ‘Don’t be funny!’ she told me. She stormed into the projection room, and I came in and there was a big argument going on between her and Haller. And she said to him, ‘Ernie, you photographed me in Jezebel, didn’t you?’ And he said, ‘Yes, what about it?’ ‘Can’t you photograph me like that?’ And he replied, ‘Bette, I was seven years younger then.’”

Source - The Celluloid Muse: Hollywood Directors Speak, interviews by Charles Higham and Joel Greenberg, Henry Regnery Company, 1969, Signet paperback edition, 1972, p.231.

I’d say at least 50% of us can relate to the need to be 7 years younger, particularly in our dealings with the other 50%. #


Lee A. Matthias

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