David Bruce: Movies Anecdotes

• On 3 April 2012, British journalist Laurie Penny absent-mindedly almost walked into the path of a taxi on 6thAvenue in New York City. Actor Ryan Gosling saw what was happening and yelled, “Hey! Watch out!” and grabbed her before she was hit by the taxi. A woman standing nearby told Ms. Penny who had rescued her and said to her, “You lucky bitch.” Ms. Penny tweeted, “I literally, LITERALLY just got saved from a car by Ryan Gosling. Literally. That actually just happened.” However, she also wrote a funny article on Gawker expressing her amazement at the amount of celebrity worship in the United States. She wrote, “People do lovely, considerate things for other people all the time. I don’t believe that the fact that A-list celebrities occasionally act like human beings is in itself news — it might have been slightly newsworthy had Mr. Gosling simply floated by on a cloud of his own cultural significance whilst a young woman got smeared into the tarmac, but lucky for me, even the most chiseled-jawed of us are usually boringly dependable in times of minor peril.”By the way, it has not been confirmed that Mr. Gosling said to Ms. Penny, “Hey, girl. When a state passes a law sanctioning medically unnecessary transvaginal ultrasounds but Viagra is still covered by medical insurance, it is time to stop denying that the United States is waging a war on women.”

• Louise Brooks made a film titled Beggars of Lifewith Wallace Beery, and he drove her to a location where they would shoot for 16 days. She was not scared when he drove fast, although normally she got scared whenever anyone drove faster than 40 miles an hour. He even skidded off he road briefly to avoid hitting a dog, but she still was not scared. Louise said to him, “You must be the best driver in the world.” Wally replied, “Not only the best but the safest.” Louise knew that Wally was a man of courage, and she said to him, “Some directors call you a coward.” This did not bother him at all. He simply replied, “That’s because I won’t do the stunts and fight scenes that my double is hired to do. Have you got a double for location?” Yes, she did, she said, Wally then told her, “Then don’t let that crazy [director Billy] Wellman talk you into doing any stunts yourself because he says it will make the picture better. That’s a lot of bunk. Nobody seeing the picture will know the difference, while you are liable to be dead or in a wheelchair.” Actually, Mr. Wellman did talk Ms. Brooks into doing one dangerous stunt — jumping onto a boxcar of a train. She nearly fell under the wheels of the fast-moving boxcar.

• Walt Disney had many talents, but speaking French was not one of them. In the summer of 1949, he and his family traveled to Europe, and in a French restaurant, he once ordered fried camel. Such mistakes did not bother him. Walt was a kind man, as you would expect. The property on which his house sat had fruit trees, and his gardener complained that animals were eating all of the fruit. Walt told the gardener, “Plant more. Plant enough for everybody.” His property was large enough for a miniature train, and he had a half-mile circuit of one-eighth size train tracks. He even had a bridge and a tunnel for the train. He had the tunnel made in an S shape so that when the train entered the tunnel no one could see the end of the tunnel. One of the workers building the tunnel told Walt that making the tunnel straight would be a lot cheaper, Walt logically replied, “It’s cheaper not to do it at all.” Visitors got a ride on the train, and Walt told them, “It’s my pride and joy, and I simply love it.” Of course, people often asked Walt for an autograph. He carried autographs in his pockets so that whenever someone asked him for an autograph, he could pull one out of his pocket and give it to the autograph-seeker.

• John “Duke” Wayne, of course, is a movie icon. Movie critic Gene Siskel once interviewed him in Chicago in the middle of the night when Mr. Wayne was shooting on location. At 3 a.m. Mr. Wayne wanted something to eat. Mr. Siskel said, “We walked into an all-night greasy spoon. He threw an arm over my shoulder. I felt protected. We sat down in a booth. The waitress came over, took one look at him, and made the Sign of the Cross. She was almost trembling when she asked him what he’d like to have. ‘Eggs! And plenty of ’em!’ How would he like them? ‘Staring at me.’” Mr. Wayne could be funny. He once told movie critic Roger Ebert, “Tequila makes your head hurt. Not from your hangover. From falling over and hitting your head.” 

• In 1975, Clint Eastwood directed and starred in The Eiger Sanction. In one scene of the movie, his character dangles from a wire thousands of feet up in the air while mountain climbing. Mr. Eastwood told film critic Roger Ebert, “I didn’t want to use a stunt man because I wanted to use a telephoto lens and zoom in slowly all the way to my face — so you could see it was really me. I put on a little disguise and slipped into a sneak preview of the film to see how people liked it. When I was hanging up there in the air, the woman in front of me said to her friend, ‘Gee, I wonder how they did that?’ and her friend said, ‘Special effects.’”

• Stephen Spielberg was so impressed by Pete Postlethwaite’s performance as the villainous William S. Holabird in the Spielberg-directed movie Amistadthat he called Mr. Postlethwaite “the best actor in the world.” Wittily, and modestly, Mr. Postlethwaite said that Mr. Spielberg must have been misquoted: What Mr. Spielberg most likely said was that Mr. Postlethwaite “thinkshe is the best actor in the world.”

• “Why are you trying so hard to fit in when you were born to stand out?” From the movie What a Girl Wants.

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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