In last week’s post about The Making of Some Like it Hot by Tony Curtis and Mark. A Vieira, I declared the book so good, so ripe with juicy anecdotes, that all I had to do was open the pages at random and we’d be sure to stumble on a gem.
It worked then and I’m going to do it again. Nothing like living on the blogging edge.
Here we go.
Opening the book… sticking my finger between two pages… reading…
Let’s set the stage. Not surprisingly, Curtis is once again writing about Marilyn Monroe. Her selfish, careless—often booze and drug fueled—behavior dominates the narrative, as it dominated the troubled set.
The shoot is, at last, over. Marilyn cost the production hundreds of thousands of dollars in down-time and golden hours. Frequently, Marilyn would fail to appear for her production calls. And when she did show up she was often hours late. Multiple takes were the norm for the most simple line readings. It once took her eighty takes to get a scene right. Relations between Monroe and director Billy Wilder seriously deteriorated and Wilder vowed never to work with Hollywood’s greatest female box office draw ever again.
Matty [Malneck, a composer] collaborated with Izzy Diamond [screenwriter] on a title song for Some Like it Hot. Marilyn had not recorded it when she left for New York, so Matty flew there to coach her and get the song recorded. He found her quite cooperative, but for whatever reason the song was never used. While Matty was in New York, he and Marilyn has occasion to go to a restaurant. Sitting in the bar, Matty diplomatically suggested that Marilyn and Billy might mend fences. He thought their feud was silly. He had an idea. The bartender brought a phone to the bar. Matty dialed Billy’s home number and handed the receiver to Marilyn. Audrey Wilder answered in Westwood.
“Audrey, this is Marilyn.”
“Well, hi, Marilyn.”
“Is Billy there?”
“No, he’s not home yet. It’s four-thirty here, you know.”
“Oh. Well, when you see him, will you give him a message for me?”
“Of course, Marilyn.”
“Tell him to go f**k himself.”
“And my warmest personal regards to you, Audrey.” Click.
I never heard what Billy said when he got home and heard Marilyn’s message. I know that he and Izzy were disgusted by the way Marilyn treated people whom she considered underlings, people who couldn’t fight back. Cursing out an assistant director was one thing. Insulting Billy’s wife was another. Marilyn had lit the fuse to a bomb. It wasn’t a question of whether it would go off. It was a question of when.