Thursday, October 3, 2013

Murder, She Wrote

Lana Turner at the coroner's inquest into the death of Johnny Stompanato, April 11, 1958

"After an argument, her agent notified me that she was withdrawing from [Anatomy of a Murder]. I can't see why there should be any argument over what an army officer's wife would wear. I'll get an unknown, and make her a new Lana Turner!" -- Otto Preminger, March 3, 1959
Lee Remick in Anatomy of a Murder (Columbia, 1959)

"I would not walk out of a picture for anything as trivial as a costume. It was simply impossible to deal with Mr. Preminger's unpredictable temper." -- Lana Turner, March 3, 1959

"Everybody's agent (from Gina Lollobrigida's to Susan Hayward's to Tina Louise's) has asked for the Lana Turner-vacated role in Anatomy of a Murder..." -- Earl Wilson's column, March 10, 1959
Gina Lollobrigida in Where the Hot Wind Blows (MGM, 1960)
Susan Hayward in I Want to Live! (MGM, 1958)

Tina Louise in God's Little Acre (United Artists, 1958)
Lee Remick in Anatomy of a Murder (Columbia, 1959)
“Nobody is going to yell at me like that…Otto called and immediately started to abuse me. He yelled, ‘I’ll show you that this isn’t Universal or MGM! You’ll do and wear exactly as I say!’…I’m not going to take that kind of shouting from anybody. Thank God, I’m not that hungry.” -- Lana Turner, March 14, 1959

"Last month, Lana had a tiff with Otto Preminger over costumes for Anatomy of a Murder, and walked out of the movie. A lot of folks said about her replacement, 'Who's Lee Remick?'" -- Bob Thomas' column, April 17, 1959

"I'm simply not the glamour girl type. I would be uncomfortable trying to fit into a studio's conception of what a movie star is supposed to be...I suppose it was different years ago, when studios took people with no experience and made them into screen personalities." -- Lee Remick to Bob Thomas, April 17, 1959


"I thank God neither I nor any of my family will ever be so hard up as to have to work for Otto Preminger." -- Lana Turner



21 comments:

  1. He yelled, ‘I’ll show you that this isn’t Universal or MGM! You’ll do and wear exactly as I say!’

    I believe Lana in this one . ...One can imagine the tremorous thrill Otto would get in breaking a star down. On the set he fancied himself Erich von Stroheim remaking " Greed ".

    Lana won't play? So get someone new to break up, rather than an older star to break down ...Luckily Lee was made of sterner stuff than poor Jean

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    1. I agree with you, Anne. Otto was notorious for shouting at his actors. With that behavior, it is amazing that he directed so many great movies with so many great performances. In my acting days - quite awhile ago at this point *ahem* - I was in a play with a director who was always shouting at us. It was like rehearsing with an angry drill sergeant. It was a miserable experience.

      When I first opened this site today, and saw the heading "Murder, She Wrote" before I began to scroll down and saw the photo of Lana Turner, I thought we were in for a posting about Jean Stapleton being the original choice for Jessica Fletcher!

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  2. I hate to complain, but you couldn't find room for a photo of Tina? That made me sad. Maybe from "God's Little Acre," which was from that time period?

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    1. Tina's there! There are four "reclining" photos all from that period: Gina in Where the Hot Wind Blows; Susie in I Want to Live; Tina in God's Little Acre (good call!); and Lee in Anatomy. It's not showing on your screen?

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  3. No, it is not. This morning I looked at the site from our old home desktop, and it was not there. I am now looking at it from my new laptop, and it is not there. There's Gina, Susan, and Lee, but not Tina. And it is not like there is no photo but the caption is there, as can sometimes happen. Very strange!

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    1. So bizarre!! I see it on both my desktop and my mobile. Anyone else "missing Tina"???

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    2. I can't see her either... Jx

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  4. Argh!!! I'll try to fix it when I get home. We can't have Tina Louise MIA!

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  5. Thank you! No, we certainly cannot have that. Her excellent LP of standards was titled "It's Time for Tina." I am glad that you will find some time for Tina this evening, and see if you can restore her photo for all the rest of us to see.

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    1. OK, the original still shows up on my mobile, and two different desktops (Mac and Windows), but I re-uploaded the Tina photo...can you see her now???

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    2. Yes, and a lovely photo it is! Thank you!

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  6. That Lana was a great movie star is undeniable. However, I've always suspected the "costume/Otto's temper" story as a bit of a ruse. The female character is actual 4 years older than her husband (in the book & the real person). I think that may not have sat well with Lana, who was still struggling to retain a 'leading lady' status after the Stompanato incident. Johnny, incidental was also 4 years younger than Lana. Also...look closely at Ben Gazzara in the film, while not a "dead ringer", he certainly had a similar swarthy good look, that would have caused comparisons, had Lana accepted the role. Once Ms. Remick was signed, the age difference was no longer an issue. I also think she gives one of the most sensual brilliant performances put on film.

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    1. It's interesting that Anatomy was to have been Lana's first film since the Stompanato incident -- surely, there was a bit of stunt casting involved, having her play that particular role, in a film with "Murder" in the title. Perhaps, as you suggest, subconsciously, Lana wanted out because it was too soon and too close to the bone. I have no doubt that she would have insisted that even costumes that were purposely drab be fitted properly to her figure. (I mean, check out her perfect manicure in the final scenes of "Madame X" when she's in horrendous old age makeup and supposedly withering away!)

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  7. But Lana later (not that much later!) went to Acapulco (her and Stompanato's playground) and portrayed a heavy-drinking glamour-puss who dallies with young gigolos in the sun. Love Has Many Faces (1965) That was perilously similar and didn't seem to faze her at all.

    I feel like Lana was just a pampered star from the most glossy studio in existence and had trouble adjusting to new ways (hell, she couldn't even adjust decades later on "Falcon Crest!") She didn't want to wear clothes "off the rack" - being used to items designed especially for her. She claimed that she was willing to wear simple clothes, but wanted them made by her own lady to fit her properly (and, frankly, the way female stars' figures were/are scrutinized, I don't blame her at all for wanting to wear things made FOR her slightly aging body!) Preminger took it as diva behavior and laid into her. She was not at all used to being told off like that by a director. Strange, though, how some actresses never had a moment of trouble with Otto and worked for him more than once.

    I LOVE how you found similar photos of Lana and Lee. Neat!

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    1. Well, 1965 is still a jump from 1959. As I replied to Babbity Snob, maybe it was just TOO soon for Lana.

      Dorothy Dandridge, who had a secret affair with Preminger, wrote (or her ghostwriter wrote) in her memoirs that, although she loved and respected Preminger, he was fairly awful to actors on the set. He tended to treat her differently on the set of "Carmen Jones" because of their personal liaison, but was abusive to the rest of the cast. And when they shot "Porgy & Bess," by which time their affair had ended, he was just as nasty to Dandridge. Monroe (who was no walk in the park on her sets, to be fair) loathed him during "River of No Return," and Dyan Cannon used the word "destroyed" to describe how she felt after being directed in "Such Good Friends" by him.

      Thanks for noticing the photos! Little things make me giddy -- I was thrilled to find similar "sunglasses" photos of Lana and Lee, and happy with the quartet of "reclining" photos, too!

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    2. Another who had major issues with the notoriously difficult and despotic Preminger was Linda Darnell who was forced by her Fox contract to be directed by him several times. So deep was her loathing that when Joe Mankiewicz wanted a look of utter contempt from her in A Letter to Three Wives he slipped a picture of Preminger into a picture frame that was supposed to be Addie Ross without her knowledge and recorded her reaction. The look on her face says it all.

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  8. @Poseidon3. Let me just say how much I enjoy your web site and urge everyone to visit it!! You're right, Lana was a pampered star! (ask Jane Wyman) Otto WAS a terror and relished it. Undoubtedly, those two would have clashed had Lana continued in the film. My feeling is, there is a bit more to the back-story then "what is Ms. Turner going to wear?" or "Isn't Otto terrible!" "Imitation of Life" had yet to be released and Lana was still vulnerable/scared, to what public reaction would be. Once the film was a success, reestablished her and make her some real money, to take on an 'older woman' role 5 years later, wouldn't pose a problem. Especially if Edith Head was doing the costumes!

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    1. Poor Edith Head. She really must have gotten baked in the Acapulco sun (as well as gotten stoned with those beach bums) to have designed that "million dollar wardrobe" from Lana Has Many Costume Changes. Lana was a Jean Louis gal, through and through...

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