Thursday, August 18, 2011


Just finished this interesting and very entertaining book on Richard Brooks. Made more interesting since I knew so little about his life other than his films. Lot of people didn't like him and after reading the book you will know why. He was very demanding and could be very very cruel at times. He wanted things done one way and that was HIS way. You do have to admire him for being his own man even while working under the studio system but you don't have to admire or even like his tactics. He did make some very great movies and deserves to be on the list of the greatest of Hollywood directors.....and screen writers. He opened up important screen roles for minorities and women.

Brooks had a chance to do a lot of other well known and successful films but turned them down, instead choosing to do only movies for which he would write the screenplays....mostly adaptations. Before he started directing he wrote the screenplays for THE KILLERS and KEY LARGO among others. His writing and directing accomplishments are many....THE BLACKBOARD JUNGLE, THE LAST HUNT, SOMETHING OF VALUE, CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF, ELMER GANTRY, SWEET BIRD OF YOUTH, LORD JIM (a flawed but noble effort), THE PROFESSIONALS (my favorite of his), IN COLD BLOOD and BITE THE BULLET among many.

A couple of interesting pieces of trivia that came from this book....Early in the casting process, David Carradine had been given the Dick Hickock role in IN COLD BLOOD and was told not to tell anyone and Brooks meant this....he was very secretive about all his projects...and as soon as he heard that David had been telling people that he had gotten the plush part Carradine was fired and terminated immediately from the project and was replaced by Scott Wilson.

Columbia Pictures has purchased the screen rights to Frank O'Rourke's novel "A Mule for the Marquesa" with the hopes of turning it into a movie starring...get this....Frank Sinatra, Gregory Peck and Robert Mitchum. Later Richard came aboard the project and rewrote the screenplay and renamed it THE PROFESSIONALS which he ultimately made with Lee Marvin, Burt Lancast and Robert Ryan instead.

This book and Peter Ford's book on Glenn were both published by the University of Wisconsin Press.

A dang good and fast read.

Monday, August 8, 2011


Peter acknowledges in this book that his dad documented his life on cassette, letters, notes and in journals. At every opportunity Glenn would record his thoughts, fears and observations. And Peter, himself, had the chance through the years to talk with and meet many of his dad's co-stars, contemporaries and various other Hollywood luminaries. And, yes, Glenn never told his son that he loved him....near the end (of Glenn’s life) they were more like brothers than father and son. As Peter says in the book...he (Glenn) often told others that he loved me, but he never said those words to me. Glenn was a momma's boy and until her death she either lived in the same house with Glenn or in an apartment located on the same property.

Glenn sure had his way with the ladies and especially his leading ladies. He had torrid affairs with almost all of his female co-stars. It was kind of accepted at this time that leading men and their leading ladies would hook up. The only name that popped up that I was not aware of was Connie Stevens. His affair with her started when she was playing Cricket on HAWAIIAN EYE....their age difference doomed it. Peter mentions that Glenn and Judy Garland were a number at one time. Other than Eleanor Powell...Rita Hayworth was probably Glenn's greatest love. Rita lived next door to Glenn for years and she had a special gate in the fence which separated their properties that allowed her to visit Glenn without anyone knowing.

Glenn loved making westerns and, according to Peter, appeared happiest when making them. Here is what Glenn had to say about foreign spaghettis. "No foreign country can make a western. In Spain, it's not a western. It's got to be done where it happened....The public knows a real western and God help anybody who tries to fool 'em......." Interesting thing here be the devils advocate.....Glenn made THE BLACKBOARD JUNGLE totally on the back lot of MGM which stood in for the gritty streets of New York...yet people were fooled into thinking that it was made on location. What's the difference whether it be a western or an eastern?

Some interesting tidbits...Glenn always was a heavy drinker off the job but by the time THE SACKETTS was made he was also drinking heavily on the job and Peter said he could tell by his dad's looks and performance when he was loaded. On one of Glenn's westerns, DAY OF THE EVIL GUN, Lon Chaney was flown in to play one of the roles and they couldn't sober him up enough to say his he had to be sent home.

Book is a very realistic and honest portrait of Glenn, in my opinion, not like the damning books written by the daughters of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. The sad thing is...towards the end Glenn had to be hospitalized several time to detox and each time he seemed to latch onto a nurse who had ulterior motives…pretending to like Glenn and under the pretext of this and taking care of him got him to sign over powers of attorney, etc...thus shutting him away from his family and his Hollywood friends and using Glenn’s money for their benefit. Fortunately before the end Peter and some of Glenn's friends, especially Debbie Reynolds, were able to sway the courts and get back control of Glenn's health and his property. (t was a similar situation with Burt Lancaster years before his end....his young wife supposedly cut off and shut out everybody and totally isolated Burt until the day he protect her interests and not Burt's.)

Peter and Debbie Reynolds and other Hollywood greats tried to get the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to honor Glenn with an honorary Oscar, to no avail, even though in the late 50's Glenn was number one at the box office in the world. The Academy of Motion Pictures and Arts and Sciences when Peter and other approached them about honoring Glenn they seemed to dismiss his career...forgetting that THE BLACKBOARD JUNGLE was a major, major breakthrough in film making and story telling. They couldn't even get AFI to honor Glenn AFI’s statement was that he never supported them....yet he was one of the founding fathers of the organization.

Book goes into a lot of other details about Glenn's life and there are other interesting anecdotes from the making of his films. In my opinion Glenn lived too long to be appreciated. If he had died 20 years earlier he would have been deified. Glenn did a lot of crappy things towards the end of his career, but he didn't do any of them just for the money. He did them because he liked to work.

One more thing about THE BLACKBOARD JUNGLE. This is the first movie wherein Glenn wore his hair short. He didn't want to cut his hair, even though the director Richard Brooks insisted he do so....he didn't want the military-like haircut. He almost had to be tied down for them to cut it.....but when he saw the look, he liked it so much that he kept his hair short for the rest of his career.

Totally worth reading.

One thing I remembered that was either over looked in the book or totally ignore… Johnny Carson's attack on Glenn during his opening monologues. After Johnny and his wife Joanne Carson broke up (separated or divorced....not sure) Glenn started dating Joanne and this was during his Cade's County days. I remember Johnny making some really bad jokes about Glenn and often he included Edgar Buchannan in them...sometimes they bordered on being homophobic. I remember hearing them live. Lot of people wondered why Carson was being nasty to Glenn. Glenn and Edgar were friends for many many was Glenn and William Holden even though in their early years both were often up for the same roles.

One sad note...everyone that Glenn picked to be his pallbearers died before he did..such as William Holden, Henry Fonda, Frank Sinatra, and Edgar Buchanan.

I found this amusing. Peter did The Dating Game....he actually cut a few records that did ok. The other two personalities involved in the show were Bobby Sherman and Rod Lauren. I knew Rod , back in the day, under his real name of Rod Lauren Strunk. Rod had a career moment of a couple of years with some records in the top 40 and he made movies with Rory Calhoun and Peter Breck. Years later Rod moved to The Philippines and married one of the top movie/tv stars there. Then she died under mysterious circumstances and he returned to Visalia where he died a few years ago. Until the day he died Rod was under suspicion of having had something to do with her death. Never charged and, obviously, never proven.

Interestingly Glenn's bedroom was so big that one of his granddaughters learned how to ride her bike in it. Glenn had his bedroon suite at one end of the house and Eleanor's was at the other end. AND...between them was Glenn's mother's bedroom. It was common back in the day for stars and their spouses to have their own bedroom suites...but not ones with a parent located in the middle. Glenn was a momma's boy from day one and his mother really doted on him.....she was good to Peter, too.

Book is well written and a very good read. I wholly recommend it.

Friday, August 5, 2011


Saw COWBOYS & ALIENS this morning and really liked it....excellents blend of oater and sci-fi. Like several other reviewers have said....Craig does remind me of Steve McQueen...and not in a negative way.......Steve McQueen lite. I will probably see it again in the next week or so with my son, if he can find the time. Movie kept moving along and time sped with it....not a slow spot in it. Lottsa fun. We gotta encourage all our amigos out there to go see this movie or the cycle of big budget westerns might end before it begins. Sure some of the stuff was a bit preposterous, but so what! And to top it off the movie was well cast...maybe the weakest of the actors was Paul Dano as Harrison Ford's son. But then an unwritten rule of the western, continuing from back in the day, is that either Rance Howard, John Carradine or Royal Dano had to be in every oater made. Since the last two are deceased John's son Keith was cast as the town sheriff and the only Dano they could find was Paul. Kudos to Producer Ron Howard for having the balls to not cast brother Clint or dad Rance...but then Rance probably couldn't find time in his schedule to do COWBOYS & ALIENS since it appears he's going to be in 700 movies released in the next year.