Friday, January 24, 2014

All Fall Up

Warren Beatty in 'All Fall Down:' Angelic arrogance and Angela Lansbury
John Houseman
Back into film producing at MGM in 1960 after an appropriately dramatic departure from being artistic director at the American Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford, Connecticut, John Houseman decided to turn a novel called “All Fall Down” into a film.
“Shooting started in late spring, and within 48 hours John Frankenheimer and I were locked in a fearful dispute. He rushed into my office from the set after the second day’s shooting and announced that my friend Angela Lansbury was ‘impossible,’ that he could not direct her and that the part must be recast immediately,” Houseman wrote.
Houseman had wooed Lansbury “desultorily” in the early 1940s after her notable film debut in “Dorian Gray” and “Gaslight.”
“I disagreed,” Houseman recalled. “It got to the point where he announced that if she didn’t leave the picture, he would. I stood firm. Forty-eight hours later they had become inseparable, and he refused to make his next film, ‘Manchurian Candidate,’ without her.
“From the start, our most serious problem was young Mr. (Warren) Beatty,” Houseman said. “With his angelic arrogance, his determination to emulate Marlon Brando and Jimmy Dean, and his half-baked, overzealous notions of ‘Method’ acting, he succeeded in perplexing and antagonizing not only his fellow actors but our entire crew.
“While the company was on location in Key West, our veteran cameraman, Curly Lindon, became so exasperated with him that a flew a camera-bearing helicopter within a few inches of his head. And on the last day of shooting, in a secret agreement with the local police, Warren Beatty was left to languish overnight in a bare cell of the Key West jail while the company flew back to California.”
Despite all that, Houseman noted that “All Fall Down” was the most satisfying of the films he made during the second phase of his MGM career, and that all Beatty’s obnoxious self-promotion turned out to be justified by “his subsequent brilliant career in a series of highly successful films as actor, director and producer.”
Source: “Final Dress” by John Houseman

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