Except for actual historical persons and events, characters and events in Banished From Memory are fictional, and any resemblance to real people or incidents is purely coincidental.
However, in some instances, the names of who starred in what movie and who won what Academy Award have been changed for purposes of the story and its characters or as an affectionate critique.
It can be fun to play with “what if” about movie casting, for some things are on record as ALMOST happening or they very well COULD have happened if someone had turned left and not right on Hollywood Boulevard one day. And let’s face it, not all casting decisions were or on the mark.
But this approach is not new. As you may know, Hollywood was substituting names and faces and banishing others with regularity for well over a decade before 1960, when the events of this novel take place.
Most films mentioned in the novel are real. Some are made up. Here’s a list of most of them, and if the cast changed in the novel, the official cast is listed here, along with Mary’s explanation of her choices.
American Bandstand (TV): Afternoon show that featured teenagers dancing to top 40 music, usually lip sync’ed by the performers. The show began locally in Philadelphia in 1950. Dick Clark hosted and produced the show from 1956 until 1989. Until 1963, it was broadcast live from Philadelphia, moving to Los Angeles in 1964. It was phenomenally popular in the late 1950s and early 60s, taking steam from The Mickey Mouse Club Show, which came on just before Bandstand.
Anatomy of a Murder: Dianna Fletcher has some things to say about this picture. James Stewart, Lee Remick, Ben Gazzara, Arthur O’Connell, Eve Arden, George C. Scott. Music by Duke Ellington. Produced and directed by Otto Preminger. Released July 1, 1959.
12 Angry Men: First, let me say, I don’t like Henry Fonda’s acting, and neither does Banished’s protagonist, Dianna Fletcher. She and I have the same criticism: he sounds the same in every part, the same vocal rhythm, the same flat resonance. He’s always acting! (The exception is his performance in The Grapes of Wrath.) If you happen to see the performance by Bob Cummings in the original television play, you’ll see what I mean. Cummings is more nervous, more insecure. Fonda knows he’s right all the way through. No fun. So he didn’t get the part in my novel. John Fletcher did. John Fletcher knows how to act. Anyway, here are the details for the film not in the novel: Starring Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, Ed Begley, E.G. Marshall, Jack Warden. Directed by Sidney Lumet. Produced by Henry Fonda and Reginald Rose. Story and Screenplay by Reginald Rose. Music by Kenyon Hopkins. Released April 10, 1957.
Anna Karenina: There was no 1960 or 1961 film of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. The most recent one was in 1948 and starred Vivien Leigh and Ralph Richardson. But it was a great part for Anne Foster, so why not. In 1985, a film version would star Jacqueline Bissett and Christopher Reeve, and Paul Scofield. I’m sorry I missed Scofield. I’m also sorry because Reeve learned to ride for this film, enjoyed it and kept riding, which led to his terrible accident ten years later. To this day, I haven’t figured out who starred with Anne in this fictional production. Any ideas?
The Bad Seed: Produced and directed by Mervyn LeRoy. Starring Nancy Kelly, William Hopper, Patty McCormack, Eileen Heckart, and Evelyn Varden. Music by Alex North. Screenplay by John Lee Mahin. Released September 12, 1956. What a great part for a kid! I gave it to Dianna, for whom it would have been more shocking. But Patty McCormack was not bad, either. William Hopper went on to play Paul Drake in the television series, Perry Mason, and he’s more lively in that series. In most of the movies he was in, he’s rather dull. Which is strange because he was Hedda Hopper’s son.
Beautiful Beulah: A completely made up 1960 film starring Dianna Fletcher. Walt Disney loved turn of the century movies, and this would have been of the same sweet, all-American sort of feature he did make (Pollyanna, Summer Magic, The Happiest Millionaire, and the animated Lady and the Tramp).
Ben-Hur: “I’m sorry, Chuck, but you’re going to have to be better in this part.” I didn’t say that. Wyler said it. (And Heston admitted it.) Heston is a great Moses, that I give you, and this movie is so spectacular, you hardly notice that Heston doesn’t really show simmering rage, he acts at it. He’s a “does what he’s told” actor, and do we care? He has a great voice and great presence. But…John Fletcher would have been better. For the sticklers, notice that I did not put a hyphen between Ben and Hur in the novel, so it was a different movie, if that makes you feel better. Yeah, Heston won the Oscar, but he was in a movie that saved MGM, and it swept the Oscars. Fletcher was better. Still, Heston was a nice guy, even if I didn’t agree with him on some things, and so I made sure readers were reminded of his work for civil rights. Oh, all right. The “real” credits: Directed by William Wyler. Produced by Sam Zimbalist (who died during the production). Starring Charlton Heston, Jack Hawkins, Haya Harareet, Stephen Boyd, and Martha Scott. Music by Miklos Rozsa. Script by Karl Tunberg, sorta, with uncredited work by Maxwell Anderson, S.N. Behrman, Gore Vidal, and Christopher Frye. Released November 18, 1959.
The Best Years of Our Lives: One of the films the J. Parnell HUAC (1947) gang believed was subversive, possibly because it criticized bankers, possibly because it criticized how the country treated the military back from war. This is one of the best films ever made, and something about it resonates still.. Wyler felt he “gave in” when he ended with a happy wedding scene; he said he should have ended it with Dana Andrews in the airfield. He also said that he wouldn’t have been able to make this film a few years later, given the political climate. In the novel, I made this the movie John Fletcher made when he returned from the war and got him returning to the acting he almost abandoned after experiencing the horror of two concentration camps. Anne played the Teresa Wright part. So much got cut from the novel that it’s difficult to explain the true meaning of this film to the Fletcher story. The credits: Directed by William Wyler. Produced by Samuel Goldwyn. Starring Myrna Loy, Fredric March, Dana Andrews, Teresa Wright, Virginia Mayo, and Harold Russell. Music by Hugo Friedlander and Emil Newton. Cinematography by Gregg Toland. Screenplay by Robert E. Sherwood. Released November 21, 1946.
The Big Country: As I said, I’m no Gregory Peck fan. John Fletcher played this role much more forcefully, making it even more interesting that the character did not want to fight and more believable that Carroll Baker would fall in love with him. The inner tension between the pacifist and the proud man of courage would always be simmering in the man. Peck…just doing the lines, people. Anne played the Jean Simmons part with more sizzle. Charlton Heston played Charlton Heston’s part – same criticism as before, but I can’t take all the man’s movies away. Credits: Directed by William Wyler. Produced by Gregory Peck and William Wyler. Starring Gregory Peck, Jean Simmons, Charlton Heston, Carroll Baker, Burl Ives, Charles Bickford, Chuck Connors. Cinematography by Franz F. Planer, ASC. Music by Jerome Moross. Screenplay by James R. Webb, Sy Bartlett, Robert Wilder. Released August 13, 1958.
The Blob: Dianna and her date enjoyed this movie so much they laughed through it twice. Steve McQueen shows up a little later in the novel to take some more ribbing. It probably played at that drive-in forever. Directed by Irvin Yeaworth. Produced by Hack H. Harras. Starring Steven McQueen and Aneta Corsaut. Cinematography by Thomas E. Spalding. Music by Ralph Carmichael and Burt Bacharach. Screenplay by Kay Linaker and Theodore Simonson. Released September 12, 1958.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s: Uh oh, now I’m going to get into trouble. Wait, no I’m not. I said enough about this in the book. Except that Bill Royce took Peppard’s part and I’m sure everyone on the set would have been much happier if he really had. And if you think girls saw this movie and immediately wanted to do exactly what Holly Golightly was doing, then, oh brother, how sad. This movie is not a feminist movie. It doesn’t even try to be. How sad that it seems to have become one. Says a lot. Credits: Directed by Blake Edwards. Produced by Martin Jurow and Richard Shepherd. Starring Audrey Hepburn, George Peppard, Patricia Neal, Buddy Ebsen, Martin Balsam, and, oh dear, Mickey Rooney in a demonstration of how tone deaf the times were. Everyone was sorry after, but, there it is, on the screen. Cinematography by Franz F. Planer and uncredited Philip H. Lathrop. Music by Henry Mancini. Screenplay by George Axelrod. Released October 5, 1961.
The Bridge Over the River Kwai: John Fletcher played the Alec Guinness part. Because he understood it, that’s why. Credits: Directed by David Lean. Produced by Sam Spiegel. Starring William Holden, Jack Hawkins, and Alec Guinness. Cinematography by Jack Hildyard. Music by Malcolm Arnold. Screenplay by Carl Foreman and Michael Wilson. Released October 2, 1957.
The Carol Warner Show (TV): Fictional television show starring Dianna’s pal, Mary Jane Adams. This would be similar to the many family comedies, half an hour long, that peopled the broadcast air in the late 1950s and early to mid 1960s, and probably why the people out there in the galaxy who watch these now are steering clear of us. But wait a minute – every so often, Donna breaks through – and so does Margaret. Watch for those episodes. There’s hope for us yet.
Cinderella (Rodgers and Hammerstein): The musical, which has had several iterations, including a recent bizarre Broadway show where Cinderella (in an attempt at feminism) took off one glass slipper and left it on the palace steps, even as she fled. How did she know it would survive the midnight charm? Oh, well. It was originally a lovely, live television broadcast starring Julie Andrews, then a Broadway star. The ratings were phenomenal. After a successful run on the London stage, they decided to do it again, this time, filming it for television, in a 1965 version starring Lesley Anne Warren and John Davidson. There’s no reason why they wouldn’t have tried it before then, in another live version in 1961, starring Dianna Fletcher, who crammed it into her schedule somehow. To this day, I don’t remember who played the prince in that one.
The Comancheros: Bill Royce really crammed them in there as his star rose in 1960. He nabbed this part, working with star (and director) John Wayne, his political opposite. But they got along fine so long, Bill maintained, as he kept losing at chess. Nothing against Stuart Whitman, but Bill would have been a stronger presence. Credits: Directed by MIchael Curtiz and an uncredited John Wayne after Curtiz fell ill (and shortly after, passed away). Produced by James Edward Grant and Clair Huffaker. Starring John Wayne, Stuart Whitman, Ina Balin, Lee Marvin, and Nehemiah Persoff. Cinematography by William H. Clothier. Music by Elmer Bernstein. Screenplay by James Edward Grant and Clair Huffaker. Released November 1, 1961.
The Days of Wine and Roses: The part Bill (and Cliff Robertson) lost to Jack Lemmon, who pretty much messed it up. But he was hot in those days as was Lee Remick. The television production with Robertson (Bill in the novel) far supasses the film. Do look it up. Credits: Directed by Blake Edwards. Produced by Martin Manulis. Starring Jack Lemmon, Lee Remick, Charles Bickford, and Jack Klugman. Cinematography by Philip H. Lathrop. Music by Henry Mancini. Screenplay by JP Miller. Released December 26, 1962. The first Oscar show I ever saw, Mancini won for the title song. It’s all I remember.
Detective Dog: Nope, not real. But quite similar to all the live action films presented by Walt Disney. Why he didn’t make a sequel to The Shaggy Dog is a puzzle, so here it is, starring Dianna Fletcher, increasingly unhappy with the “skunky” parts Disney was giving her. But they raked in money.
The Diary of Anne Frank: An agent who read my first ten pages told me, “Everyone knows or will search for the movie and find out that Millie Perkins played Anne Frank in the movie and you just can’t make these things up. You have to make up a movie for your character.” The agent also couldn’t name the genre of the book (historical fiction) and, most incredibly, could not accurately name the protagonist. She kept calling her “Anne” although Anne was mentioned once in the pages while Dianna was mentioned several times and had all the action. Sigh. These are the people publishers rely on to be their gatekeepers. The trouble with that is that they can’t see past yesterday’s sale. Oh, the hell with them. The reason for substituting my characters’ names and switching movie roles around is on the very first page of the novel following the copyright page; several editors told me that’s all I needed. It’s a novel. It’s my world, people, and welcome to it.
The critique for relieving Millie Perkins of the role of Anne Frank is in the novel, although she is not named, and she could be any model Stevens picked out. Perkins grew up to be a fine actor, but in her first role as Frank, she failed miserably, though I think she is only partly to blame. Contemporary reviews praised the film but bemoaned Perkins’ performance. Stevens did seem to want to make a saint of her, which is understandable. But that kept her dead, not a live person, and this is why Dianna fought with Stevens – a narrative that was longer in an earlier draft of this novel. Even so, this movie was, as Arthur Miller says in the novel, the first major movie about the Holocaust. It did not do well at the box office. But people who see it now are quite moved by it. In fact, I polled friends on Facebook, giving them the nominees for Best Picture of 1959, a list that included Ben-Hur. Everyone voted for Anne. By the way, since that film, there have been several filmed versions of Anne Frank’s story. Here are the credits for the 1959 film: Produced and directed by George Stevens. Starring Millie Perkins, Joseph Schildkraut, Richard Beymer, Shelley Winters, Diane Baker, and Ed Wynn. Cinematography by William C. Mellor. Music by Alfred Newman. Screenplay by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett. Released March 18, 1959. That “tomorrow is yesterday” agent’s abbreviations are PM.
Elmer Gantry: I’m not a fan of overacting, blustery Burt Lancaster who interprets every part the same, but he did have the gift of picking the right parts. John Fletcher, British born, could do blustery American to perfection, and with nuances Lancaster never thought of. I admit to being prejudiced by Ernest Lehman’s nightmarish view of BL. But it’s a great movie, and I let Lancaster produce it, although somehow that got cut out of the novel as it was published. I’m left cold by Jean Simmons. What the heck did Gantry see in her? (Well, Richard Brooks certainly saw something.) So Anne, who could play tough and fragile, got to blend both to perfection. And lost the Oscar race to…well, that would be telling. Credits: Directed by Richard Brooks. Produced by Bernard Smith. Starring Burt Lancaster, Jean Simmons, Arthur Kennedy, Shirley Jones, and Patti Page. Cinematography by John Alton. Music by André Previn. Screenplay by Richard Brooks. Released July 7, 1960.
The Execution of Private Slovik: As depicted in the novel, this never became a feature film as Frank Sinatra hoped, but his announcement that he was making the film, based on a 1954 nonfiction book by William Bradford Huie, caused an outcry. The story of an American soldier executed for desertion angered Dwight Eisenhower who had ordered the soldier’s death, one which was horrific as the firing squad could not aim well, and it took several shots to kill Slovik. Sinatra angered many people as he hired blacklisted and Hollywood Ten screenwriter Albert Maltz to write the screenplay. Sinatra, as noted in the novel, was supporting Kennedy, and his choice of topic and writer caused many to accuse him of being a Communist sympathizer. Sinatra bowed to the pressure. And so, even in the year that blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo’s name hit the screen in two movies, ostensibly breaking the blacklist, it really cannot be said it was broken. The project was ultimately picked up for a 1974 television movie starring a young Martin Sheen, who was nominated for an Emmy. It was critically praised, and I remember watching it, and being appalled and moved by the story and Sheen’s performance. And in the “what effect did the blacklist have on feature films?” – well, here’s one story.
Every Time We Say Goodbye: Nope, not real. But how nice for Fred Sybuck to pick a dream of a cast.
Exodus: I loved Eva Marie Saint in North by Northwest, but her cool, hands-off lady just didn’t work in this film, and I can’t even recognize the actor from her Oscar winning role in On the Waterfront. So I recast the part, giving it to Anne Foster, who didn’t have much liking for the project but tried to put some spice into it. The music is great, and everyone sat up when Sal Mineo turned his eyes to us. Credits: Produced and directed by Otto Preminger. Starring Paul Newman, Eva Marie Saint, Ralph Richardson, Peter Lawford, Sal Mineo, Jilly Haworth, Lee J. Cobb, and John Derek. Cinematography by Sam Leavitt. Music by Ernest Gold. Screenplay by: Dalton Trumbo. Released December 16, 1960.
Forever Is Now: No, this isn’t real, either, but it is typical. Dianna refers to beach bunny and nervous breakdown pictures as the teen ouvre of the time. This was both.
Gentlemen’s Agreement: Have I mentioned that I don’t think much of Gregory Peck? They needed him during World War II, okay? He memorized his lines nicely, but you know exactly how he’s going to deliver them before he does. John Fletcher will do it much better. Not that Peck isn’t a nice guy. Some say that the movie Crossfire, released the same year, was a stronger criticism of anti-Semitism. Credits: Directed by Elia Kazan. Produced by Darryl F. Zanuck. Starring Gregory Peck, Dorothy McGuire, John Garfield, Celeste Holm, and Anne Revere. Cinematography Arthur C. Miller. Music by Alfred Newman. Screenplay by Moss Hart and uncredited Kazan. Released November 11, 1947.
Get the Parents: Again, not a real movie starring Dianna. A bit of an audacious title, with perhaps a double meaning. The records about this film seem to be lost except that the kids loved it.
The Greatest Show on Earth: Yes, another part that John Fletcher stole from Heston, in perhaps Heston’s best “just do what you’re told” role. A strange winner of the Best Picture Oscar, it is one heck of an entertaining movie. But since the “friendly” witnesses kept telling HUAC that movies should just be entertainment and nothing more, maybe it’s what everybody wanted, given that it beat out High Noon for the Oscar. It took a couple of viewings before I could sit through the circus acts with any comfort. They’re wonderful. DeMille’s hearty narration hearkens to his good old days that never were. Jimmy Stewart wears his clown face throughout the film, denying us of his subtle gifts, but he still manages to let some of them through. The train crash is magnificent – perhaps the best circus act of all. It inspired Spielberg to take to the movies as a vocation and possibly inspired the train wreck in 1993’s The Fugitive, starring Harrison Ford. Oh, did I mention this was Dianna Fletcher’s film debut? I mention two scenes in the novel. Watch for them. Credits: Produced and directed by Cecil B. DeMille. Starring Betty Hutton, Cornel Wilde, Charlton Heston, James Stewart, Dorothy Lamour, and Gloria Grahame. Cinematography by George Barnes. Music by Victor Young. Screenplay by Fredric M. Frank, Theodore St. John, Frank Cavett, and Barre Lyndon. Released January 19, 1952.
The Guns of Navarone: Yet another part John Fletcher stole from Peck. But look at the guy. He’s flat as ever, even in a he-guy role that has him climbing mountains and leading a rather rebellious group in a heroic attempt to save our guys from certain death during World War II. Even with Anthony Quinn out to kill him. I’m with David Niven in this one, who is delightful and rich. It’s one entertaining film from Carl Foreman, exiled in the United Kingdom for several years during the blacklist. John Fletcher did a better job and enjoyed palling around with Niven and Anthony Quayle, two old friends. Nick Fletcher is in it, too.I’m sorry you didn’t see that version. Credits: Produced by Carl Foreman. Directed by J. Lee Thompson. Starring Gregory Peck, David Niven, Anthony Quinn, James Darren, and Irene Papas. Cinematography by Oswald Morris, BSC. Music by Dimitri Tiomkin. Screenplay by Carl Foreman. Released April 27, 1961.
The Heiress: In the novel, it’s obvious that Anne Foster and Olivia de Havilland did not have a good relationship. Possibly because of this film. Admittedly, it’s one of de Havilland’s best, and she won the Oscar for it. Ah, but Anne Foster, who could do both fragile roles and nerves of steel roles impeccably – and still tap dance with Astaire – won the part over de Havilland. Bill claimed that Clift lacked edge. Agree? Disagree? Let’s fight. But I still think that de Havilland’s marvelous scene at the end lacked nuance. Great presence, though. And for all of her Morris Morris lines, I didn’t see the passion, only the desperation, and that isn’t really enough. You don’t see it? Okay. I’ll get the popcorn and we can watch. Credits: Produced and directed by William Wyler. Starring Olivia de Havilland, Montgomery Clift, and Ralph Richardson. Cinematography by Leo Tover. Music by Aaron Copland. Screenplay by Ruth and Augustus Goetz. Released October 6. 1949.
Home From the Hill: Another film, not quite as well known, in which Bill took Peppard’s role. An odd story, and I’m not sure why Bill took it, except that it was there and if there’s one ambitious son of an actor, that’s Bill, ready to take over the industry in an act of revenge. And he’s marvelously suited up for it. Hmm. Should I write a sequel and show you how? Anyway, in this film, Peppard is hard to read. Bill would pounce on defining lines and make it clear. Credits: Directed by Vincente Minnelli. Produced by Edmund Grainger. Starring Robert Mitchum, Eleanor Parker, George Peppard, George Hamilton, and Everett Sloane. Cinematography by Milton R. Krasner. Music by Bronislau Kaper. Screenplay by Harriet Frank, Jr, and Irving Ravetch. Released March 3, 1960.
Imitation of Life: Dianna has some things to say about this film, but she wishes she could have had the Sandra Dee part. Credits: Directed by Douglas Sirk. Produced by Ross Hunter. Starring Lana Turner, Juanita Moore, John Gavin, Sandra Dee, Susan Kohner, and Mahalia Jackson. Cinematography by Russell Mitty. Music by Frank Skinner, Sammy Fain, and Henry Mancini. Screenplay by Eleanore Griffin and Allen Scott. Released March 17, 1959.
It’s a Wonderful Life: What can I tell you about this movie you don’t already know? As I mention in the novel, it brought James Stewart back to the movies after his somber experiences in the war. It was a film Congress criticized as possibly being subversive. And because of the plot (and a cut storyline that Stewart used to date Anne), Anne Foster starred with him in the Donna Reed part. Sorry. Reed was one intelligent woman, and yes, she won an Oscar and all that, but I still see her as a “do what they tell you” actor. Foster would have inhabited the darkness and the light of this film. And it brought a country yearning for a past innocence that may never have been or could it have been to tears. Still does. Credits: Produced and directed by Frank Capra. Starring James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Thomas Mitchell, Harry Travers, Beulah Bondi, Ward Bond (the fink), Frank Faylen, and Gloria Grahame. Cinematography by Joseph Walker and Joseph Biroc. Music by Dimitri Tiomkin. Screenplay by Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett, and Frank Capra. Released December 20, 1946.
I Want to Live!: Susan was great, Anne was better – partly because most people would think Susan was guilty, but Anne – you couldn’t be sure. She carried the love of the people with her in every performance. You could feel the horror as she walked to the gas chamber. Perhaps some might have felt differently at the novel’s end. You tell me. Susan Hayward won an Oscar for this, and even if she wasn’t Anne, she deserved it. Credits: Directed by Robert Wise. Produced by Walter Wanger. Starring Susan Hayward, Simon Oakland, Virginia Vincent, and Theodore Bikel. Cinematography by Lionel Linden. Music by Johnny Mandel. Screenplay by Nelson Gidding and Don Mankiewicz. Released November 18, 1958.
Judgment at Nuremberg: When Laurence Olivier could not play an important role, Burt Lancaster begged for it. He is awful. John Fletcher mercifully steps in and gives it all he had, and that was enough to pit him against the formidable Maximilian Schell and Spencer Tracy. Credits: Produced and directed by Stanley Kramer. Starring Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark, Marlene Dietrich, Judy Garland, Maximilian Schell, William Shatner, Montgomery Clift, and Werner Klemperer. Cinematography by Ernest Leszlo. Music by Ernest Gold. Screenplay by Abby Mann. Released December 14, 1961.
Keeper of the Flame: Really, this film should be brought to people’s attention. Divide the people by hate and then come in and rescue the country and become king. Savior. Earning a fortune for you and your pals at the country’s expense. Gee, I hope this doesn’t sound familiar. Hepburn tries to shield the reputation of her late husband, an American hero, from journalist Spencer Tracy. Credits: Directed by George Cukor. Produced by Victor Saville. Starring Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, Forrest Tucker, and Darryl Hickman. Cinematography by William H. Daniels. Music by Bronislaw Kaper. Screenplay by Donald Ogden Stewart. Released January 28, 1943.
Larksong: Fictitious film starring John and Dianna Fletcher. John won an Oscar, Dianna – age 7 – was nominated and lost to Donna Reed. A poignant film where the tomboy played by Dianna flings herself in front of her lawyer father in order to protect him and preserve justice – and dies. The movie turns out to be central to the novel.
The Last Sunset: At one point in the novel, Bill dashes off to do another western, this time with Kirk Douglas. I think this was it. Credits: Directed by Robert Aldrich. Produced by Eugene Frenke and Edward Lewis. Starring Rock Hudson, Kirk Douglas, Dorothy Malone, Joseph Cotten, and Carol Lynley. Cinematography by Ernest Laszlo. Music by Ernest Gold. Screenplay by Howard Rigsby and Dalton Trumbo. Released June 7, 1961.
Lawrence of Arabia: In the novel, John’s absence is explained by his sporadic need to head off to shoot scenes in this movie. Once again, Alec Guinness doesn’t have to annoy David Lean. But I suspect David Lean annoyed John Fletcher. Marlon Brando was a candidate for the part of Lawrence, which is mentioned early in the novel. Credits: Directed by David Lean. Produced by Sam Spiegel. Starring Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn, Jack Hawkins, Jose Ferrer, Anthony Quayle, Claude Rains, Arthur Kennedy, Omar Sharif, and Peter O’Toole. Cinematography by F.A. Young. Music by Maurice Jarre. Screenplay by Robert Bolt and Michael Wilson. Released December 10, 1962.
The Magnificent Seven: Bill, Jim Coburn, and Steve McQueen are pals and had a great time shooting this movie down Mexico way. Actor Robert Vaughn, who partly inspired the character of Bill, lost this role to him partly as a tribute, although I agree that’s a funny way to make a tribute. (Vaughn was going to college and writing his dissertation on the blacklist.) Astute readers may note that I point at Vaughn a couple of times in the novel. And if you notice, I had Sturges write an extra scene for the character of Lee. Which the part deserved. Dianna, by the way, is unimpressed by the whole thing. But she likes the music. Credits: Produced and directed by John Sturges. Starring Yul Brynner, Eli Wallach, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, Robert Vaughn, James Coburn, and (please, no) Horst Buchholz. Cinematography by Charles Lang. Music by Elmer Bernstein. Screenplay by William Roberts and uncredited Walter Bernstein and Walter Newman. Released October 12, 1960.
The Mark: Bill goes off to Dublin to make a film. This is the one. Richard Burton, still playing King Arthur in Camelot on Broadway (and not making any headway with Julie Andrews) couldn’t make shooting and a last minute cast member was added. Bill got it in the novel; he has one swell agent. Even so, it was quite a story – about a man convicted of the intent to molest a child. In jail, he underwent group therapy led by Rod Steiger, and came out of prison cured. He resumes business, begins a romance with a woman in the office, but when he is tracked down by a reporter (of course) as to what his crime was, he must begin all over again and struggle through bitterness and self destruction. What was Bill’s attraction to this story, one wonders. Stuart Whitman did a fine job in the lead and was nominated for an Academy Award. Steiger is great, Schell is cold. The film barely got past New York because of its content. Credits: Directed by Guy Green. Produced by Raymond Stross. Starring Maria Schell, Stuart Whitman, and Rod Steiger. Cinematography by Douglas Slocombe. Music by Richard Rodney Bennett. Screenplay by Sidney Buchman and Stanley Mann. Released October 2, 1961.
The Mark of Zorro: Dianna mentions that her parents had been in this 1940 movie. John Fletcher had come from England to play swashbucklers in his pre-World War II career. He’d also fallen in love with the voice of Snow White. Anne Foster’s voice! She’d also modeled as the princess for Disney Studios. It was Disney who rescued her when she got into legal hot water, but that backstory is only hinted at in the novel. She returned to Hollywood and co-starred with John in The Mark of Zorro. Studio publicity said that this was when they fell in love, and it’s not far from the truth, but John had been in love with Anne before that, and no one else mattered to her. So I gave them this movie. It was while watching this film and learning that co-stars Gale Sondergaard and J. Edward Bromberg had been blacklisted that I began to realize that the blacklist was the Fletcher family secret – and Bill’s. As for Tyrone Power, he didn’t want to do swashbucklers, but he does do a good Zorro and one delightful Don Diego. Linda Darnell was Zanuck’s good friend. He cast her as the Virgin Mary in The Song of Bernadette. Sweet, yes? Credits: Directed by Rouben Mamoulian. Produced by Darryl F. Zanuck. Starring Tyrone Power, Linda Darnell, and Basil Rathbone. Cinematography by Arthur C. Miller. Music by Alfred Newman. Screenplay by John Taintor Foote Released November 8, 1940.
The Mickey Mouse Club (TV): Daily children’s television show in the late 1950s produced by Walt Disney. It was an hour-long show complete with newsreel, kids who danced and sang called Mouseketeers, mini-serials featuring kids, guest spots featuring talented children, and memorable songs. Immensely popular, it still struggled with a television mentality that did not understand the power of demographics. In the novel, Dianna works in Disney Studios making movies, her soundstage right next to the Mouseketeers’, so they certainly became friends. Characters MJ, Terry, and Larry are fictional. When the show was canceled, only Annette Funicello was retained by Disney Studios. However, some continued in show business. What’s interesting is the song lyrics of the MIckey Mouse anthem, “Through the years we’ll all be friends…” and they pretty much were, through the years. The Road to Oz is mentioned, a movie that never came off.
North by Northwest: I only like a couple of Hitchcock movies. This is the best. It’s just fun, thank you, Cary Grant. Oh, wait. In the novel, John Fletcher plays that part. Grant wanted to do a serious movie for once. John wanted to stop doing serious movies for a change. In a poker game, they bet their parts and lost to each other. John took North by Northwest and Grant took On the Beach, a story about survivors after a nuclear war. Okay. Grant pulled it off beautifully. I’m not so sure about Fletcher. The original cast is a joy. Credits: Produced and directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Starring Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, James Mason, Jessie Royce Landis, and Martin Landau. Cinrmatography by Robert Burks. Music by Bernard Herrmann. Screenplay by Ernest Lehman. Released July 28, 1959.
The Nun’s Story: All right, now you’re going to get mad. Anne played Sister Luke, not Audrey Hepburn. Yeah, Hepburn was nominated for an Oscar. Yeah, the movie made a lot of money. But will you just look at it, please? She’s – nice. Hepburn is glorious in certain parts. She is luminous in Roman Holiday and Sabrina. But she’s limited, and as noted in the book, in this film and others, her performances were put together in the editing room. She is elegant, has style sense, and is one of the greatest human beings of all time. But her range is really limited. You can’t put her in War and Peace or The Unforgiven or The Nun’s Story. There’s no heat to Sister Luke, no inner tension even though the script says there is. She carries on with this sweet smile. The book this was based on was quite popular, and I can only think that people who read the book and saw the movie could fill in the spaces. And it is a beautiful movie with wonderful performances. Anne Foster could generate the heat and frustration and inner anger. She could portray the inner struggle. So she gets the part. Just imagine her. Credits: Directed by Fred Zinnemann. Produced by Henry Blanke. Starring Audrey Hepburn, Peter Finch, Edith Evans, Peggy Ashcroft, Dean Jagger, and Mildred Dunnock. Cinematography by Franz Planer. Music by Franz Waxman. Screenplay by Robert Anderson. Released July 18, 1959.
The Nutcracker (George Balanchine’s): Balanchine created a full-length production of The Nutcracker in 1954. When he’d been in Hollywood making dances for musicals, Anne – still in the chorus – had met him, and they had admired each other’s work. After he’d established the New York City Ballet, Anne, when in New York, would show up for company class, Dianna too when she was old enough. As a fundraiser, Balanchine gave Dianna the part of Marie for two nights in 1955 and Anne played her mother. The production was the first full Nutcracker in the United States, and it is a holiday tradition for the New York City Ballet. And now for almost every ballet company. The music, of course, is by Tchaikovsky.
On the Beach: See North by Northwest. This is a movie I can barely get through. Peck, who played the lead, had difficulties with the plot of the final script, most notably that he’d fall in love with Ava Gardner. Oh, Hollywood. Credits: Produced and directed by Stanley Kramer. Starring Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Fred Astaire, and Anthony Perkins. Cinematography by Giuseppe Rotunno. Music by Ernest Gold. Screenplay by John Paxton. Released December 17, 1959. Just in time for Christmas.
Perry Mason (TV): Long-running (1957 to 1966) lawyer show based on the novels by Erle Stanley Gardner, and my mother’s favorite show. My lawyer/judge brother loves to point out all the legal mistakes. As in the way the Fifth Amendment is treated. Bill lectures Dianna on her mistaken opinion. The novel mentions Gail Patrick Jackson, its Executive Producer, one of the few women who held such a spot in those days. She was damn good. As actress Gail Patrick, she appeared in films in the 30s and 40s, including Stage Door, which, in the novel, featured a young Anne Foster along with Ginger Rogers, Katharine Hepburn, Lucille Ball, and Eve Arden – all of whom met – according to the novel – every year for a reunion. Anne calls it a “cat reunion.”
The Philadelphian: Actually, the film was called The Young Philadelphians based on the novel The Philadelphian by Richard Powell. I switched the name early in the writing as another pointer to actor Robert Vaughn, who was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance. Bill plays in The Philadelphian, in that same role, and is also nominated. It is, as Dianna calls it, a sudsy story, but Vaughn/Bill’s performance is the best part of the movie. Paul Newman said that, too, and encouraged Vaughn to try out for the part, even helped him with the audition. Nice guy, Paul. Credits: Directed by Vincent Sherman. Produced by James Gunn. Starring Paul Newman, Barbara Rush, Alexis Smith, Brian Keith, and Robert Vaughn. Cinematography by Harry Stradling. Music by Ernest Gold. Screenplay by James Gunn. Released May 39, 1959.
The Philadelphia Story: That movie that brought Katharine Hepburn back from box office poison. I still don’t like it. Anne tosses off a line that hints she played the Ruth Hussey part. Don’t believe her. Credits: Directed by George Cukor. Produced by Joseph Mankiewicz. Starring Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, James Stewart, and Ruth Hussey. Cinematography by Joseph Ruttenberg. Music by Franz Waxman. Screenplay by Donald Ogden Stewart and uncredited Waldo Salt. Released December 26, 1940.
Picnic (TV): No such thing except in the novel. Picnic was a play by William Inge that became a 1955 movie. As Lucille Ball says in the novel, it’s about sex, and I’m not sure how a 1960 audience would take it as a television movie. Dianna frets about the part of Millie being badly written and clashes with Bill Royce, who broke out as Hal here. She takes the part, though, because there’s nothing else, and she’d have to trudge over to regular school, otherwise, and regular school is a nightmare. Even if you’re a movie star. I did, however, like giving Lucille Ball the part of the schoolteacher. I think she’d have been fantastic.
Pigskin Pete: A fictional series of movies that I tossed into Walt Disney’s catalog. It fit several of his themes, and he did do a little television series about the Pop Warner little league sports. These fictional movies set in small town America starred Dianna’s young brother, Chas.
Pillow Talk: Dianna didn’t like it, but most everyone else did. Me? I yawned through it. Credits: Directed by Michael Gordon. Produced by Ross Hunter and Martin Melcher. Starring Rock Hudson, Doris Day, Tony Randall, and Thelma Ritter. Cinematography by Arthur E. Arling. Music by Frank De Vol. Screenplay by Russell Rouse, Maurice Richlin, Stanley Shapiro, and Clarence Greene. Released October 6, 1959.
Pollyanna: The novel takes the 1960 film by Walt Disney and plants it in 1955 to coincide with the opening of Disneyland, the time and setting of the film set in that theme park’s Main Street as well as the town of Marceline, where Disney grew up. I may be one of the few people who doesn’t like Mills. She is forever awkward, picking at herself, and not quite engaged. I moved the film to 1955, gave the part to Dianna, and a little credit to Mills. Chas also played in the film, although I can’t imagine him being better than Kevin Corcoran. The supporting cast is marvelous and gave the movie its richness. Credits: Directed by David Swift. Produced by Walt Disney. Starring Hayley Mills, Jane Wyman, Karl Malden, Richard Egan, Adolphe Menjou, and Agnes Moorehead. Cinematography by Russell Harlan. Music by Paul Smith. Screenplay by David Swift. Released May 19, 1960.
Psycho: Dianna went to the premiere. Dianna hated it. But she wondered why, once again, Janet Leigh stayed in a lonely motel. And it’s true that Leigh said she couldn’t take a shower for two weeks. Almost forgot: Bill played the thankless role played by John Gavin. Probably better. Credits: Produced and directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Starring Anthony Perkins, Vera MIles, John Gavin, Martin Balsam, John McIntire, and Janet Leigh. Cinematography by John L. Russell. Music by Bernard Herrmann. Screenplay by Joseph Stefano. Released June 16, 1960.
The Robe: In the novel, John and Anne starred in this religious epic. The marching off to martyrdom ending is to die for. The first movie in cinemascope. I know, you’re thrilled. Credits: Directed by Henry Koster. Produced by Frank Ross. Starring Richard Burton, Jean Simmons, Victor Mature, and Michael Rennie. Cinematography by Leon Shamroy. Music by Alfred Newman. Screenplay by Gina Kaus, Albert Maltz, and Philip Dunne. Released September 19, 1953.
Romeo and Juliet: At age 14, Dianna played Juliet in a lush movie of Romeo and Juliet while in Rome (her parents were filming Ben Hur and The Nun’s Story there). For some mysterious reason (her parents call it a “glitch”), the movie has not yet been released when the novel opens in February 1960. She thinks she’s the glitch. Her father, John Fletcher, played Romeo in a British film in 1937, repeating a wildly popular version on London’s West End. This production made its way to a sensational reception in the States, completely vanquishing an MGM film released around the same time starring a mature Leslie Howard and Norma Shearer in a creaking production by Cukor. It made John Fletcher a great swashbuckling star in the pre-war years, and only helped him to be accepted in Anne Foster’s eyes. What a romance. Right, both of these versions of R&J only happen in the novel or the backstory.
Scent of Mystery: Mentioned briefly in the novel, this was a Mike Todd production that featured smells at various points in the picture. Called Smell-o-Vision, it really happened and was not the least bit part of this writer’s imagination. Credits: Directed by Jack Cardiff. Produced by MIke Todd, Jr. Starring Denholm Elliott, Peter Lorre, and Elizabeth Taylor. Cinematography by John von Kotze. Music by Harold Adamson, Mario Nascimbene, and Jordan Ramin. Screenplay by Gerald Kersh. Released in 1960 (also, as Holiday in Spain, in 2012 and 2015. I don’t know why).
The Shaggy Dog: After The Sleeping Beauty, Walt Disney abandoned animation for live action that involved teenagers, a typical American town, and foreign spies. Oh, and a mysterious curse that could change a normal, awkward teenage kid into a dog at pivotal points in the movie. (There’s a whole genre in the 50s of kids turning into beasts, eg, I was a Teenage Werewolf starring Michael Landon, who remained one throughout his career). This gave Ben-Hur a run for its money. It was the most profitable film produced by Walt Disney Productions. This was Annette Funicello’s film debut, in a small role as the most popular girl in town.In the novel, Dianna has a larger role, as a girl raised in France who knows her art and her dogs. (That part was played by Roberta Shore, who appeared in some Disney projects and went on to be a co-star in a 1960s TV western, The Virginian. Although Shore’s part is larger than Annette’s, Annette got better billing.) Credits: Directed by Charles Barton. Produced by Walt Disney and Bill Walsh. Starring Fred MacMurray, Jean Hagen, Tommy Kirk, Annette Funicello, and Tim Considine. Cinematography by Edward Colman. Music by Paul J. Smith. Screenplay by Lillie Hayward and Bill Walsh. Released March 19, 1959.
Silver Sierra (TV): Fictional television series that Dianna reluctantly takes on in 1960 in order to stay out of regular school. It is a great leap forward. Sponsored by RCA, which wanted to sell color sets, it went all out with lush color, spectacular scenery, and an orchestral sound track with composer Elmer Bernstein’s talents. In 1959, the popular series Bonanza had the same reason for being for NBC, an RCA company.
The Sleeping Beauty: In the novel, Dianna supplies the voice for Aurora and models for her as well, just as her mother, Anne Foster, did for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. (Actually, the voice was opera singer Mary Costa’s). A gorgeous cartoon set to Tchaikovsky’s score for the ballet, it nevertheless had a rough time pulling in a profit, as Dianna grimly notes.Credits: Produced by Walt Disney. Starring Mary Costa, Bill Shirley, Eleanor Dudley, Verna Felton, Barbara Luddy, and Barbara Jo Allen. Music by George Bruns (adapted from Tchaikovsky). Released January 29, 1959.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: In the novel’s backstory, Anne Foster, a talented but unknown singer and dancer in movie choruses,but just beginning to be noticed, performed as the voice of Snow White and modeled her for animators. (In reality, Snow White’s voice was that of a young girl, Adriana Caselotti, and Disney was unhappy with her performance and said she couldn’t sing). The backstory, largely cut from the novel, has Disney – after Snow White’s phenomenal opening – looking for the young singer/dancer who portrayed Snow White and John Fletcher falling in love with the princess from the cartoon (don’t laugh; this movie made Clark Gable cry). Anne had fled Hollywood after being assaulted by an unnamed, powerful mogul, but she ended up spectacularly discovered in a Broadway show, soaring into America’s heart and John Fletcher’s life. This explains Disney’s affection for the Fletchers and vice versa. Credits: Produced by Walt Disney. Starring Adriana Caselotti, Lucille LaVerne, Harry Stockwell. Music by Frank Churchill, Paul Smith, and Leigh Harline. Released December 21, 1937.
The Sound and the Fury: Another one of Bill’s many movies, pre-novel. I find it hard to remember this one, too. Once again, Bill pulls the rug out from under Stuart Whitman. Credits: Directed by Martin Ritt. Starring Yul Brynner, Joanne Woodward, Margaret Leighton, Stuart Whitman, Ethel Waters, and Jack Warden. Cinematography by Charles G. Clark. Music by Alex North. Screenplay by Harriet Frank, Jr and Irving Ravetch. Released April 6, 1959.
Spartacus: In the novel, John plays Crassus, while Anne plays Douglas’s wife, Varinia. You’d think Douglas would not have cast John since John got to be Ben Hur, a part Douglas wanted (and perhaps might have played better than Heston). But the guys were pals, and Douglas preferred his pal to other candidate Laurence Olivier (who actually did play the part brilliantly. Confused? Good.) Anne of course, had more heat than Jean Simmons, and the “is she naked or isn’t she” scenes would have floored the nation, especially since Anne was “getting on” in movie years for women. (She’s thirty-eight in the novel.) In the novel, Dianna notes the astounding byplay between her parents in a climactic scene, one the real movie really truly lacks. But it’s still a great movie, hampered by directors and costs, and largely financed by Douglas, in that era of independent productions taking over from the studios. Some might call that self-publishing. Of course, Dalton Trumbo’s name appears on the screen. Credits: Directed by Stanley Kubrick. Produced by Edward Lewis. Starring Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier, Jean Simmons, Charles Laughton, Peter Ustinov, John Gavin, and Tony Curtis. Cinematography by Russell Metty .Music by Alex North. Screenplay by Dalton Trumbo. Released October 6, 1960.
Stage Door: See Perry Mason. Anne Foster’s breakout performance in the Anne Miller role. Credits: Directed by Gregory La Cava. Produced by Pandro S. Berman. Starring Katharine Hepburn, Ginger Rogers, and Adolphe Menjou. Cinematography by Robert De Grasse. Music by Roy Webb. Screenplay by Morrie Ryskind and Anthony Veillor. Released October 8, 1937.
Suburban Rebel: A fictitious film of 1959, something like Rebel Without a Cause, starring Nick Fletcher.
Suddenly, Last Summer: Anne wanted this part, God knows why. Elizabeth Taylor got it. Got nominated for it, too. God knows why. Credits: Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz. Produced by Sam Spiegel. Starring Katharine Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Montgomery Clift. Cinematography by Jack Hildyard. Music by Buddy Orr and Malcolm Arnold. Screenplay by Gore Vidal and Tennessee Williams. Released December 20, 1959.
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn: Dianna made this film in 1956, a remake of one starring Dorothy Maguire in 1945 and directed, as this seems to have been, by Elia Kazan. She doesn’t talk about it much.
Those Three (The Children’s Hour): A possible role for Anne, which she apparently snagged from Audrey Hepburn, and that’s probably a good thing. Credits: Directed by William Wyler. Starring Shirley MacLaine, Audrey Hepburn, and James Garner. Cinematography by Franz Planer. Music by Alex North. Screenplay by John Michael Hayes. Released December 19, 1961.
The Time Machine: Dianna goes to see this and enjoys it until Weena utters one strange line. Credits: Produced and directed by George Pal. Starring Rod Taylor, Alan Young, Yvette Mimieux, Sebastian Cabot, and Whit Bissell. Cinematography by Paul Vogel. Music by Russell Garcia. Screenplay by David Duncan. Released July 22, 1960.
Touch of Evil: Apparently, John played (again) the Charlton Heston part, which is a good thing, don’t you think? Dianna notes, uneasily, that Janet Leigh played both her father’s wife and Bill’s girlfriend in different movies. Again, one wonders why Leigh would stop at any lonely motel after this uneven but riveting picture. Welles is some kind of man. I still can’t figure out why Heston’s guy checked himself and Janet into such a crummy hotel on their honeymoon. Some people get very excited by the opening track shot. Credits: Directed by Orson Welles. Produced by Albert Zugsmith. Starring Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh, Orson Welles, Joseph Calleia, Akim Tamiroff, Marlene Dietrich, and Zsa Zsa Gabor. Cinematography by Russell Metty. Music by Henry Mancini. Screenplay by Orson Welles. Released April 23, 1958.
West Side Story: Dianna sure wants to play Maria. Should we let her? Natalie Wood played it, of course, apparently after one mammoth search that included Yvette Mimieux. So help me God. Natalie is pretty, was a good child star, and grew up to be one of the actors who play by the “do as they’re told” method. She plays Maria as she’s told to do, and poor Richard Beymer got stuck being directed to play Tony as a nice juvenile, musical comedy style. It doesn’t work, and the sub-plot and dance took over this movie, and who notices? In the novel, second choice for Tony Russ Tamblyn, gets to rehabilitate Tony into a former gang member, with Dianna’s pal Larry taking Riff – but Tamblyn was great as Riff, too. Ah, but let him be Tony. The ballet mentioned fleetingly by Jerome Robbins, danced in silence, is Moves. Dianna’s realization that a Puerto Rican could not be cast as Maria or in any major Hollywood film may be redeemed by Steven Spielberg’s forthcoming remake, although how he thinks Justin Peck can remake Robbins choreography (unless it becomes a lesser part of the picture) is beyond me. Peck is good but he ain’t breathtaking. He does what he’s told, too. Credits: Directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins. Produced by Robert Wise. Starring Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, Rita Moreno, George Chakiris, and Russ Tamblyn. Cinematography by Daniel L. Fapp. Music by Leonard Bernstein and Irwin Kostal. Screenplay by Ernest Lehman. Released October 18, 1961.
Wuthering Heights: Before her escape to New York, Anne was just beginning to be noticed, especially as Isabella. Credits: Directed by William Wyler. Produced by Samuel Goldwyn. Starring Merle Oberon, Laurence Olivier, David Niven, and Geraldine Fitzgerald. Cinematography by Gregg Toland. Music by Alfred Newman. Screenplay by Charles MacArthur, Ben Hecht, and uncredited John Huston. Released March 24, 1939.